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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Conclusion: The End of Thinking

The End? Hardly. We are just at the beginning of our path to Infinity, Universality, Integrity--or what Spinoza called Divine Love.

We are so fortunate to have lived beyond the moment of the scientific revolution in the age of reason, harbingered by Socrates and his successors, when we have, as David Deutsch puts it, "jumped to the universal" to experience "the beginning of infinity" in our physical universe. We can only hope that we will do the same in our moral universe by transcending our clan, class, and tribal ways of thinking in a "jump to integrity" to experience the "beginning of universal love."

We are a species "in via." We can be proud of our great accomplishments in religion, in art, in science, and, yes. in morality and politics.  But problems remain to be solved. We decide whether they are opportunities or obstacles to our progress by how and whether we think.

We think through categories, analogy, symbols. But the category of category itself may need to be modified. And analogy! Do we live in an analogue or digital universe? A good case can be made for both. But in the case of our physical universe, our digitalized science and technology has advanced our knowledge immensely. How wonderful that we evolved hands with fingers (digits) to count and conceived a zero!

Yet we are far from achieving universal integrity and love in our moral universe where our categories and symbols imprison us in narrow, parochial behavior. Our religious traditions often divide by sanctifying tribal symbols of intolerance. Our science is put to the use of special group interests. Even some of our most advanced and progressive thinkers judge success by the very narrow measure of money. They rightly advocate a mentality of abundance over that of scarcity, boldness to the future over fear of loss of the past; but they still use very narrow and individualistic economic measures to evaluate progress.

I am struck by how many pessimists see national and global degeneration and claim that their progeny is worse off by the narrow measure of money. I personally am grateful to Socrates, Jesus, Mohammed, Aquinas, Luther, Newton, Jefferson, Beethoven, Lincoln, Einstein and all my ancestors because of all my ancestors. I revere them not for the financial wealth I enjoy, but for the knowledge that makes me better off than they were. My children and their children will be better than I. And I trust that is my small way I contributed even by the mistakes I made that they had to overcome. I will be contributing if in any way I encouraged them to think beyond my categories and symbols and question my assumptions and answers.

At the same time, I realize that our species could think itself into oblivion. It would do that most by curtaining thinking. When thinking ends so does humanity. If humanity ends by stopping thinking, by imprisoning itself in the parochial mind of clan and tribe, I hope that thinking will not end. Even if our species is subsumed or transformed into a higher, more inclusive species on this planet or another, the thinking we have done including the mistakes we have made will continue towards Infinity, Integrity, and Universal Love.