Thoughts About Thinking Our Way Forward

This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

Hannah Arendt

Beyond Defining

Defining is natural in human beings. It has helped us focus on survival needs and safety, but it is often the bane of creative problem solving and innovation to see the world as separate pieces like a puzzle that can be taken apart and put back together. It is why teeth are not included in medical care and the mind is considered separately from the body. The world is complex more than complicated. What people construct is complicated. Nature is complex and can’t be separated into discrete units that can be analyzed separately and then shoved back into the mix. This is the main reason that things made by people fit so poorly into the structure of a living planet. People make clumsy chunky stuff without the subtle mechanisms developed over billions of years of evolution and interaction with the complex systems that integrate with each other to form the planetary environment. We can’t take into account all the multitude of ways objects, creatures, plants, elements, and weather work on each other to make the world new every day. We need to learn to think in creative ways that take us out of our little human box in order to solve many of the problems our myopic simplistic approach to exploring nature and using resources. It will be interesting to see if we can shift our thinking enough to save ourselves from problems our limited way of thinking causes to begin with.

This entry was posted in All part of the process, anthropology, banality of evil, Being Human, delusions of progress, mindworks, Other peoples words, paying attention, philosophy, thinking in words and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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