|The Laymanís Petition/Preface 2017 US Federal Election|
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Getting specifically back to your recommended reads of EMPIRE OF ILLUSION and THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE, both books were fascinating and challenging exercises. EMPIRE OF ILLUSION for spotlighting the electronic/digital divorce from literature (nuance) and its chilling prediction of the developing social/political climate. And THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE for the extraordinary and monumental perspective on just how far mankind has actually come in the struggle to achieve peace. I can say that both books were life changing in regard to the discouraged resignation of my thoughts in recent years. I am however a little logistically concerned with Steven Pinker’s (THE BETTER ANGELS ...) message that the “Long Peace” is due in part to global trade. Although I agree with many fundamental aspects of that, I am not quite sure what he is ultimately suggesting. A corporate mentality could easily interpret or construe his meaning to be that we can and have ‘shopped our way to peace,’ and therefore it could follow that anyone who stands in the way of ‘shopping’ (either free trade or protectionism) would be an ‘enemy of peace’ (‘peace’ currently amounting to a global corporate control of markets without constitutional regard for human, environmental or planetary consequences). Mr. Pinker does not really address how mankind would reconcile growing bipolar beliefs about shopping with the fact of finite resources, ecological damage and conflicting age, economic and culture-related interpretations of what human existence ultimately means.
As far as I can recall and I will re-read ‘BETTER ANGELS,’ Steven Pinker does little to significantly further the articulation—from either a neuroscience or practical consequential perspective—of what ‘thought itself’ actually ‘is,’ and so therefore how our consequently unknowing/unthinking (unconscious) markets would police those human and environmental impacts on this ‘transition to peace through shopping’ (my words). He does address the subject through a discussion about sympathy verses empathy, but he does not, in my opinion, connect an understanding of what ‘thought actually is’—with a natural and spontaneous expression of a global adulthood that holistically embraces sympathy (intelligence) without the time-depleting contingent sequential knowledge of specified kinship (expanding circle of empathy). He does indeed spend a great deal of time examining which parts of the brain are active in various neurological scenarios; survival/natural-selection issues, and seemingly hundreds of remarkable observations about the motives, historical context and conditioned interactions of our thoughts; but he still does not, in my opinion, examine directly what ‘thought’ is. Perhaps Steven Pinker discusses this in his other books, but I am concerned here, in this specific and potentially volatile context, that he is proposing a social/economic scenario that I believe will ultimately feed into existing and future conflicts if it is not tied inherently to a larger discussion about ‘thought itself’ (and thought’s conspicuous absence of a social/legal definition). As we teach adolescents what their reproductive systems are and how they work, so also should we be teaching them what their ‘thought’ is, and how their ‘thought’ works. Not what they ‘should or should not think,’ but what their brain is ‘actually doing,’ as it builds up the subjective and conflicting complexities of thought, one compounding/conditioned image at a time. As we teach them how to understand their developing sexuality and so prevent unplanned reproductive outcomes, so also should we be teaching them how to understand and recognize their thought’s material and chronological parameters, and so enable them to intelligently recognize how and when they are forming physically and philosophically conflicting images about their developing global adulthood.