A post to Wild Resiliency on The Seven Keystone Processes – adding that thought is an ecological experiment too.
I liked the statement at the top, that:
“we too easily believe ourselves to be the center of the universe and the measure of the world”.
How we somehow manage to conjure up the notion that the flickering images of our minds as the facts of nature, actually placing each human at the center of “their” universe, has long been a puzzle to me. I see its power often enough.
It’s a great deal of fun to have a quite believable universe to live in, much as a fantasy, where we each can have everything we see or experience mean anything we like to fit the other beliefs we happen to like.
Of course, I also regularly see groups of people getting carried away with that, agreeing on some new fantasy as their common reality. It maybe the economists that declare the resources of the earth to be infinite and that it gives them value by being consumed as fast as possible.
It maybe social groups organizing around a set collection of recently discovered “urban myths” like that improving productivity and efficiency slows resource consumption.
It occurred to me to look up the word “believe”, see what it means. I’ve found it very helpful to break words apart sometimes, and trace the etymology of each piece and find hints of how they got put together.
So I looked it up in the online 1903 Webster’s Unabridged dictionary that I’ve found useful for that. It seems to me I found it means “give license to the authority of another, lacking personal knowledge of the facts”, using “-lieve” as you would in “give leave to”. It helps to follow the link to see the note on the entry for the etymology for “leave”.
In any case, the serious flaw in believing anything, then, is apparently that belief results in trusting a concept in your own mind as being a fact of nature, arrived at purely by granting it, not knowing what else to do when lacking a way to know it to be fact. Belief seems to be a remarkable kind of shortcut.
For example, if people take as fact, without knowing, and believe housing prices will rise and make good on all bets, that becomes self-fulfilling, and found to be confirmed by everyone around them, a simple obvious truth. That kind of belief that it is “normal” for wealth to continually multiply seems to be at the heart of all financial bubbles in fact. It invariably appear in hindsight as if the whole community gets swept up it and goes completely mad.
Almost nothing is more appealing to people than having bets they are sure to win, allowing them to add their winnings to their bets… however clearly self-deceiving that truly is. It’s universally popular. It’s even very popular scientists who study the very predictable results, believing in endless compound multiplying money as they study the catastrophes that invariably result for what the problem is.
So what alternatives do we have to either discarding or accepting popular myths as fact, and granting them your be-lief? Our minds, being the source of their own meanings for what our senses record, at best inventing possibilities in the world, really shouldn’t be relied on as authoritative and trusted as fact as most people naively seem to do much of the time.
What the meanings that our minds give us, appearing like magic from who knows where as we think or respond to others, seem to betoken is much more like the results of an experiment. We let some hint or inkling flower in our minds, drawing on the whole ecology of our mental experience.
If you think about it, there seem to be a great many features of thought that make it appear to work as an ecology. The accumulative evidence makes me trust it more than just granting that idea the authority of a belief.
Thoughts are a lot like plants, developing from their seed in their particular environment. They turn out to both “change the world” and be just “throwaways”, also like plants and everything else in nature. Thoughts are a flowering that bears fruit and seeds, and enriches its soil in passing.
Of course, a logical world simply could not work that way, having all its parts simply do whatever they do as self-expression, acting as throwaways with no consequence but leaving seeds and soil for other things to grow as nature does. So, I like the idea that the resiliency of nature depends on it being wild like that, and is necessarily also rather illogical.
It seems to fit. Both mind and nature seem to rely on individuals developing in open environments, as they will, as self-expression, and their value to others being what they simply throw away.