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Intellectual Values


"Thinking is what we do for entertainment." Dr. Candace Naomi Keirns Davis

Following is a list of intellectual values inspired by Jefferson and Sagan.

"There is a rampant dumbing down in progress..[ at every level of our culture.]" Dr. Carl Sagan, Psychology Today interview, Jan-Feb 1996

  • Humanism
  • Environmentalism
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evolution
  • Academic Values
  • Population Growth and Birth Control
  • Science
  • Nonviolence
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Censorship
  • "Our beliefs are the very opposite of the fanatics - we believe in reason, democracy and tolerance... These beliefs are the foundation of our civilised world."

    "They are enduring, they have served us well and as history has shown we have been prepared to fight, when necessary to defend them. But the fanatics should know: we hold these beliefs every bit as strongly as they hold theirs. Now is the time to show it."

    "We have respect for human life. They do not. We hold essentially liberal values. They do not. As we look into these issues it is important that we never lose sight of our basic values." Tony Blair, address to Parliament, Sep 15, 20001

    "Earlier in this century, the Heisenburg principle established that the very act of observing natural phenomena can change what is being observed. Although the initial theory was limited in practice to special cases in subatomic physics, the philosophical implications were and are stagerring. It is now apparent that since Descartes reestablished the Platonic notion and began the scientific revolution, human civilization has been experiencing a kind of Heisenberg principle writ large." Al Gore, Earth in the Balance, Ecology and the Human Spirit(1)


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    The Enactivist Theory of Cognition

    "This shift from the language of physics to the language of biology is an important one, as the images of forces, trajectories, and direct causes are replaced with thinking about thinking in terms of constant change and complex interdependencies. Cognition is thus understood as a process of organizing and reorganizing one's own subjective world experience, involving the simultaneous revision, reorganization, and reinterprentation of past, present, and projected actions and conceptions."from "Cognition, Complexity, and Teacher Education" Davis and Sumara, Harvard Educational Review

    "The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness...Hence the inestimable value if intellectual pleasure. Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride, serene and sublime, above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence..." [from Thomas Jefferson an Intimate History, by Fawn M. Brodie]


    THE HALCYON Cosmopolitan Entertainment Third Culture,Transpersonal And Humanistic Psychology:"Those who make a distinction between education and entertainment don't know the first thing about either".

    The Development of Epistemological Theories individuals make the shift from a dualistic wiew of the world to a view of contextual relativism that will continue, with modifications



    Humanism
    "The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in religious beliefs throughout the modern world. The time is past for mere revision of traditional attitudes. Science and economic change have disrupted the old beliefs. Religions the world over are under the necessity of coming to terms with new conditions created by a vastly increased knowledge and experience. In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism."Humanist Manifesto, Humanism page
    There is a common element to all religious experience, although it is seldom found in a pure form. Einstein calls it "cosmic religious feeling." He says of such cosmic religious feeling that "it is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it." Einstein's Writings on Science and Religion

    Jefferson's research , uncovering an error in English common law.



    Environmentalism

    "A global environmental crisis threatens to overwhelm our children's generation. Mitigating the crisis will require a planetary perspective, long-term thinking, political courage and savvy, eloquence and l eadership--all of which are in evidence in Al Gore's landmark book." -Carl Sagan United Eco-Action

    "In a recent Time magazine dedicated to Global Warming, the editors published an open letter to Bush expressing the urgency of the climate issue. Among the signers were Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, John Glenn, Walter Cronkite, Gerorge Soros, Jane Goodall, Edward O. Wilson, Stephen Hawking, and J. Craig Venter. Not a bad crew to have on our side." by Kert Davies in Whole Earth magazine, summer 2001, pg 85

    "A strageic initiative to plant billions of trees throughout the world, especially on degraded lands, is one of the mose easily understandable, potentially popular, and ecologically intelligent efforts on which the Global Marshall Plan should concentrate. The symbolism - and the substantive significance - of planting a tree has universal power in every culture and every society on earth, and it is a way for individual men, women, and children to participate in creating solutions for the environmental crisis." from Earth in the Balance, Ecology and the Human Spirit, Al Gore, Houghton Mifflin, 1992, page 323

    San Francisco Votes to Produce Its Own Solar and Wind Power

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS November 8, 2001

    SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 7 (AP) - San Franciscans voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to make their city the nation's largest producer of sun-generated electricity, but two ballot measures that would let the city seize the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's transmission lines were still too close to call today.

    Proposition B, which allows the city to issue a $100 million revenue bond to finance solar projects for city- and county-owned buildings and capture wind power elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay area, won with 73 percent of the vote in Tuesday's balloting. It would allow the city to install as many solar panels here as the entire nation does each year.

    Another solar measure, Proposition H, which allows city supervisors to issue future bonds for renewable energy projects without voter approval, received 55 percent support.

    Within a year, San Francisco could produce 10 to 20 megawatts of electricity by using solar panels. A megawatt is enough electricity to power roughly 750 homes.

    powertothepeople.org


    Critical Thinking.

    "Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking with a view to improving it."

    "Critical thinkers seek to improve thinking in three interrelated phases. They analyze thinking, They asses thinking. And they upgrade thinking (as a result). Creative thinking is a result of the third phase." A Substantive Conception of Critical Thinking. By Richard Paul

    "It simply will not do for our schools to produce a small elite to power our scientific establishment and a larger cadre of workers with basic skills to do routine work. Millions of people around the world now have these same basic skills and are willing to work twice as long for as little as one-tenth our basic wages. To maintain and enhance our quality of life, we must develop a leading-edge economy based on workers who can think for a living. If skills are equal, in the long run wages will be too.This means we have to educate a vast mass of people cabable of thinking critically, creatively, and imaginatively." Donald Kennedy, past president of Stanfod University.

    The intellectual roots of critical thinking are as ancient as its etymology, traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practice and vision of Socrates 2,500 years ago who discovered by a method of probing questioning that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge. Confused meanings, inadequate evidence, or self-contradictory beliefs often lurked beneath smooth but largely empty rhetoric. Socrates established the fact that one cannot depend upon those in "authority" to have sound knowledge and insight. He demonstrated that persons may have power and high position and yet be deeply confused and irrational. He established the importance of asking deep questions that probe profoundly into thinking before we accept ideas as worthy of belief. He established the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, analyzing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as well. His method of questioning is now known as "Socratic questioning" and is the best known critical thinking teaching strategy. In his mode of questioning, Socrates highlighted the need in thinking for clarity and logical consistency. A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking

    Semantic Freedom and Critical Thinking

    "This is the first of a series of letters on semantic freedom. One of the most important factors that makes us humans unique is our ability to communicate. If we claim that we are the dominant species on earth, then our ability to communicate must play a major role in making us dominant. The ability to communicate gives us phenomenal power."

    "The way we use words has consequences."

    "Taking conscious responsibility for the meanings in your head puts you in a position of power."

    "Automatically accepting meanings from others - including implied meanings from dictionaries - puts you in a position of weakness." from SEMANTIC RIGIDITY, FLEXIBILITY, AND FREEDOM by Frederick Mann


    Another related essay: TO BE OR NOT TO BE: E-Prime as a Tool for Critical Thinking..E-Prime! The Fundamentals D. David Bourland, Jr.



    Evolution...
    Biologists consider evolution to be a fact in much the same way that physicists do so for gravity. However, the mechanisms of evolution are less well understood, and it is these mechanisms that are described by several theories of evolution.from | Biology and Evolutionary Theory | Harvard's biopages section on evolution
    Human Origins National Museum of Natural History
    | Timeline of Evolutionary Thought | | Evolution Happens | | Thermodynamics for Two, Please |


    Multi-Culturalism...
    "When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds, and who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be know as the warriors of the Rainbow -- Old Native American Prophecy" The Rainbow Family


    Population Growth and Birth Control
    "I'm reminded of what Bertrand Russell once said about people's unwillingness to think about population growth. He said people would rather commit suicide than learn arithmetic. " Edward Wilson
    "It is essential to support policies to slow population growth, but it should not be viewed as an isolated problem -- it is part of an intertwined set of issues that includes profligate use of resources by wealthy countries, unsound development patterns, and poverty. Efforts to slow population growth should occur in the context of progress on these other social, economic, and environmental problems." The Union of Concerned Scientists section on Population Growth



    science...

    Scientific Values

    "Since the Exploratorium's inception, the museum's exhibits and programs have focused on human perception: how do we see, hear, smell, feel, and otherwise experience the world around us? It is natural to expand that focus, going beyond perception to include all of cognition--in other words, using the mind to understand the very workings of the mind itself." The Exploratorium

    Space Expolration
    President Bill Clinton has made the emerging capabilities of the National Information Infrastructure a central element of his Administration's efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy and improve the quality of life for its citizens.
    "These networks of distributed intelligence will allow us to share information, to connect and to communicate as a global community," President Clinton has said. "From these connections we will derive robust and sustainable economic progress, strong democracies, better solutions to global and local environmental challenges, improved health care, and--ultimately--a greater sense of shared stewardship of our small planet."
    As part of this effort, NASA is deeply committed to spreading the unique knowledge that flows from its aeronautics and space research. This commitment grows from the Agency's unique, original congressional mandate to "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof." NASA

    SETI@home The program consists of two parts: an application and a screen saver. The application (which is based in your system tray) downloads blocks of data from radio telescopes across the world through the Internet. It then performs the number crunching on that data looking for orderly patterns that might be artificial, returns the results, and retrieves another block of data.



    Internationalism
    The developers of NetWorld Game invite you to lead the world into the twenty-first century! We invite you to participate in a unique experience designed to place you in charge of the world, give you enormous powers, even larger responsibilities, and challenge you abilities to solve real-world problems - all the while in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment. You will be placed in a situation where you will be both over-loaded with information and not have enough information to make a decision of which you fully know the outcome. You will be competing and cooperating with the other regions of the world for the resources, technology, money and other things you will need to raise your region's standard of living. Net World Game .

    Academic Values

    In the past thirty years anti-intellectual trends have resulted in an education system that functions in some areas without academic values. The purpose of such schools seems to be merely to create good consumers.

    From "Dumbth", and 81 Ways to Make Americans Smarter, by Steve Allen, 1989

    In August 1976, The Los Angeles Times, in a four-month investigation into what it termed "The widespread erosion of academic standards within the American education system" - which had produced "declining achievement and rampant grade inflation among students" - traced the roots of the decline to a shift in social and educational values during the 1960s that led to a massive cut in the number of basic academic classes, less strenuous graduation requirements, and an overall emphasis on less demanding elective courses. [Dumbth , pg 45)


    Intellectual skills..

    "The contemporary "Knowledge Explosion" is far from unique in human civilizations. A predecessor and counterpart had its root in early Greek civilization (circa 530-300 B.C.) in which universities proliferated, each with an organized curriculum covering the expanding fields of information. However, to approach the frontiers of knowledge and extend them with new thoughts, ideas, discoveries, and inventions (i.e., to become a leader or participant in the advance), it became necessary for the superior intellect of that time to attend a school, academy, or institute for advanced studies and research. " | The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE)|


    Teutonic Values

    In about 1906 Iwan Bloch wrote a 766 page book on contemporary
    sexual attitudes in Germany. [1]
    
    Here is a quote from Bloch:
    
    "...modern European society simultaneously makes fun of the 
    'old maid' and condemns the unmarried mother to infamy. This
    double-faced, putrescent, 'morality' is profoundly immoral, it is 
    radically evil. It is moral and good to contest it with all our 
    energy..."[2]
    
    Kerr says about the study by Bloch:
    "...it was full of outraged polemic, couched in therms consonant with
    the sensibility of the German-speaking world. It was not sufficient
    that a change in sexual practices be practical. Such a change had
    to be simultaneously moral, scientific, and compatible with high
    culture."
    
    When I read this passage, I thought; "Teutonic Values! That is the
    kind I grew up with. Reasons should be scientific, and morality
    meant more than just abstaining from certain social practices,
    and higher education was a family value."
    
    Of course, after WW1, the term "Teutonic" got associated with a 
    different set of issues, but it seems apropriate for the 1906 world.
    
    Meanwhile, in England, William Bateson concluded in 1918:
    
    
    "If posterity takes any interest in history,...they will observe that 
    the unusual feature of the Victorian epoch was not the exceptional 
    distinction of the notables it produced,... but the truly extraordinary 
    circumstance that at that time intellectual distinction was held in 
    public estimation as a thing of great worth. "  [3]
    
    ------
    
    [1] "A Most Dangerous Method, the story of Jung, Freud and Sabina
    Spielrein", by John Kerr
    
    [2] "The Sexual Life of Our Time in Relation to Modern Civilization",
    Ivan Bloch, 1906, quoted in [1]
    
    [3] pg 72, Gregory Bateson, The Legacy of a Scientist, by David Lipset
    
    
    
    

    "WHAT THE WORLD WANTS AND HOW TO PAY FOR IT USING MILITARY EXPENDITURES Below are annual costs of various global programs for solving the major human need and environmental problems facing humanity. Each program is the amount needed to accomplish the goal for all in need in the world. Their combined total cost is approximately 30% of the world's total annual military expenditures. " | What The World Wants)|


    The Value of Knowledge:

    a Miniature Library of Philosophy tracing the development of ideas on the relation between consciousness and matter through the words of 120 philosophers over 400 years:



    Nonviolence

    TV=tendency to violence

    "Watching just one hour of television a day can make a person more violent towards others, according to a 25-year study. In some circumstances, TV watching increases the risk of violence by five times."

    Journal reference: Science (vol 295, p 2468)

    fromNewScientist

    The greatest challenge in promoting nonviolence is the English language and its limitations. The next is our perception, rooted for centuries, that violence is the only way we can resolve our problems.

    Going back to the first challenge when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi developed his philosophy of nonviolence in South Africa and wanted an appropriate word to describe it he could not find one. "Passive Resistance" and "Civil Disobedience" did not appeal because he said there was nothing passive or disobedient about the movement. He even offered a reward to anyone who could come up with a positive English word to describe what he had in mind but, alas, no one could.

    from the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence


    THE HALCYON Cosmopolitan EntertainmentThird Culture,Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology


    Excerpt from Philip Martinšs column in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sunday, 12/30/01.

    "...in 1938 Thomas Mann said in a speech called 'The Coming Victory of Democracy' that 'in a democracy which does not respect the intellectual life and is not guided by it, demagogy has free play and the level of national life is depressed to that of the ignorant and uncultivated...[i]f the conception of culture and its level are determined from below, according to the ideas and understanding of the mob--this, precisely, is nothing but demagogy; and we have its perfect example in the so-called 'Kultur' speeches of...Hitler." " I know he was talking about the tyranny of the dull normal." (Philip Martin)


    Political Spectrum

    (1) from Earth in the Balance, Ecology and the Human Spirit, Al Gore, Houghton Mifflin, 1992, page 253

    National Security Study GroupThe Hart-Rudman Commision


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