06 August 2010

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Do we really become what we think?

Do we really become what we think?

Dear friends,
This Sunday we are discussing: Do we really become what we think?
Don't forget that this Sunday, and for the rest of August, we'll be
meeting at 7pm because Molly Malone's opens at six thirty.
In the meantime it is a bit early to start writing essays, unfortunately
I do not function very well with all this heat around. However, I did
manage to get some ideas together.
The word –become- is itself open to two interpretations: become as in
our work career or become as in our persona? In a way it does not matter
which way we interpret this word since I imagine the process is the
same; more or less.
The question does give the impression that what we think is somehow the
same for every one and more important of all a process that might be
objective and rational. The problem with our epistemological state of
affairs is that it all depends on the information we feed our brains
with. And indeed, do we all think the same way?
Thus if we think we have what it takes to become a certain person, with
a certain type of character and, yes, maybe a certain type of social
achievement than it is a matter of filling in the details and joining
the dots. If our thinking is, however, lousy then there is much hope for
But, I suggest, that it is a big step to move from thinking to becoming
what we think. Firstly, of course, I would argue that it is false to
assume that the way we think is necessary objective and rational.
Secondly, we still have to establish that all brain activity of a
certain type is thinking of a certain type. But that's an issue for a
later date.
One of the reasons why our thinking might be flawed, at least in the
context of society, is that the so called society does not train us to
be objective and rational, but generally society trains us to be
conformists and obedient. Objectivity is not, at face value, compatible
with the status quo of a society. Objectivity implies that sometimes
there might be a need to disagree with society.
I am using society here in a rather open meaning: not only do I mean
with society whatever we normally consider society to be (even if this
is a chimera) but also such institutions as the business community,
religion, social classes and castes, and every other institution and
association we come across.
If we take the institution of education, as an example, these past few
decades this has become the plaything of do gooding politicians and
social engineers. Every so often someone or a group of political or
social thinkers comes up with yet another education formula.
And such formula will fail by definition because at the basis of modern
education the logic is to exclude the weak either those who fail to
grasp the supposed knowledge package students are supposed to learn or
more crudely exclusion is because of lack of economic means.
Thus, thinking is not only, generally speaking, not objective and
rational, but our training in thinking has been in avoiding failure,
instead of how to achieve success. We are basically trained to know what
and not to know how. To know what information haze been accumulated but
very few are allowed to discover how to achieve the next bit of
information. Einstein, for example, achieved the next bit of knowledge
that is the foundation of modern science during his spare time.
But the paradox is that by being able to think in terms of achievement
rather than avoiding failure, this does not make us self centred but
rather more cooperative. Success is always achieved with the cooperation
of others.
If we become what we think then it matters a lot to examine what we
think and what information we use to think with. For the time being I am
more confident that we become what we are tainted to think, of
ourselves. Of course, some actually do make it out of the gravitational
grip of their society but there is always some price to pay; and all of
this is in conformity with the norms of physics. If we become rich and
famous we lose our privacy and if we become non conformists we pay the
price of rejection.
Take care



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Tertulia with Ignacio and friends: Every Thursday, from 19:30 to 21h, at
Moore's Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal).
from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Do we really become
what we think?

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