July 31, 2012

I stumbled onto the news about Jonah Lehrer’s resignation from The New Yorker magazine and that got me looking into what he has written.  I came across an online post of his about Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow in which Lehrer claims to undermine the notion that self-knowledge is so helpful.

I know I’ve had this thought, or series of thoughts, before: social scientists and journalists are trying replicate within their own disciplines ideas that can be more fully understood in the spiritual realm and through using different parts of our mental apparatus to do so.  If a designer handbag is a material imitation of its Platonic form, these social science incarnations of the forms look to me kind of like knock-offs of designer bags.

Earlier today I wrote a comment to a post by John McQuaid on the Forbes website about what I think happens when the messenger starts to focus too much on the messenger and not on the message, so to speak —  which is that their connection to their source becomes corrupted and they fall in some way.

I try to view attempts by social scientists and journalists to explain the world and our place in it and how to fulfill our potential as neutrally as possible, and sometimes, as I’ve written here before, I can see them as merely speaking the same ideas in a different language, a language that will reach people who are not reached by the language of people who think of these ideas in spiritual terms.

In the end, though, I don’t need to figure out this sort of situation (what happened to Jonah Lehrer and why) myself — to evaluate them or their work or their brands or their personal gain or how helpful any of it actually is.  (I suspect it’s one of those “three steps forward, one step back” sort of thing — what they do helps get across some information but also contains aspects that later must be unlearned or corrected.)  Things will play out according to the dynamics of the universe.  All I need to do is what I am called upon to do, to do my part as well as I can.  Although a part of me is watching what happens, kind of like the way as a child I used to watch out the bedroom window the older kids playing kickball in the street in front of my house after I had already gone to bed.


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