The Process

Table of Contents: Simple Wisdoms Overview

The process is important. Useful simple wisdoms become evident when studying about consciousness (from Jaynes), self-reflection (Hofstadter), and about what has happened in history (What others have learned.). Simple insights filter from past experience collected wisdom to help us now.

Where can a student of life find a concise, comprehensible expression of the collective experience of dealing with people? Who has distilled the collective wisdom of the thoughtful men of history? Some of those wisdoms are expressed in art and literature with varying degrees of success. Little effort has been spent honing such statements stressing clarity, simplicity and conciseness. As Huxley said in Brave New World, we are conditioned to believe without knowing.

The simple collected wisdoms are the building blocks of a framework for living. They form not a capital-I Ideology as such as one by Karl Marx or the dogma found in Christianity. Yes, there is a theory, but made of things that stand whole and sound unto themselves. They individually make sense.

A successful framework should be valuable regardless of the opposition. It should become more valuable as a result of the constructive use of criticism. It should be self-healing; self-correcting; responsive to criticism. Each idea nailed down in clear writing is open to scrutiny from any side. Resulting comments help forge more robust statements which constructively consider the valid criticisms lodged against the original idea. Simultaneously presentation is refined cleaner, simpler, and more effective. Then, it's back to the crucible of close scrutiny. Resubmit the revised ideas to see if the problems have been addressed. If so, fine. If not, further refine the writing.

The best statement of the ideas is writing that clearly and concisely addresses why the first writing was not acceptable. A refining process, a major problem is not with the ideas, but presenting those ideas in a manner cogently, completely, and palatably to people.

To teach rules alone won't successfully inoculate against a bad idea. Useful ideas cannot be imposed on people. "Do this. Do that." Coercion makes a fool of both the coercer and the coerced. "Thou shalt not kill" is a rule. What of the exceptions to that rule and the exceptions to those exceptions? Far better than teaching a rule is to develop a variety of mechanisms for evaluating what to do when than to project hard and fast rules.

What to do? Should you play the flute or do your homework? Faced with any one of a number of paths, consider how wise men before us chose to decide. Try to be true to what Confucius called the Golden Mean; or what the Greeks called a whole or wholesome life. What will give the best balance. If you have a paper due tomorrow morning and would like to play the flute, if you have done a lot of homework and very little flute playing, balance would suggest you play the flute. But sense of time and your place in it suggests that you consider the future nows. That suggests that you do the paper tonight and play the flute tomorrow afternoon.

Then there is the fundamental question of whether this is a fundamental question. Notice how the statement feeds back on itself. We are continually in a tangled loop when we consider what we have to do. The best decision must be made based on the best information available at the time: the fairest appraisal of reality as can be deduced. Objectively examine our own objectivity.

Nevertheless, there is always the possibility that we just might be wrong. For any decision, consider the possibility for error, and reserve decisions for as long as possible. Make decisions only when they must be made.

We are looping yet again. As we feedback on ourselves, we have to be sure that this process that we are using to <find out what the best thing to do is> is the best way to go about finding what the best thing to do is. How can this be undertaken without becoming caught in an infinitely regressive loop. Without a process to recognize and react to the feedback loop one risks becoming a compute-bound catatonic.

Table of Contents: Simple Wisdoms Overview