Saturday, May 6, 2017

The End is Near

Living in an Empire of Illusion

The following points are great topics for TOV Center “Must Have Conversations.” Their source is the book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.

A culture dominated by images and slogans seduces those who are functionally illiterate but who make the choice not to read.

Propaganda has become a substitute for ideas and ideology.

Knowledge is confused with how we are made to feel.

Commercial brands are mistaken for expressions of individuality.

And in this precipitous decline of values and literacy, among those who cannot read and those who have given up reading, fertile ground for a new totalitarianism is being seeded.

The culture of illusion thrives by robbing us of the intellectual and linguistic tools to separate illusion from truth. It reduces us to the level and dependency of children. It impoverishes language.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Fundamental Truths about Human Beings

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s book Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity contains valuable insights about human actions, like the one below:

Fundamental truths about human beings:

(1) People make choices about how to act, even if they do not choose the context in which they make them.

(2) People make these choices according to their understanding of the social world and their views of what is right and wrong, good and evil, and of their own understanding of how the world is to be shaped and governed, even if different contexts make some choices more or less plausible, or easier or more difficult to choose.

(3) People ultimately are the authors of their own actions because humans are fundamentally beings with a moral dimension [which does not mean we endorse their moral views], and they are so because the human condition is one of agency, namely the capacity and burden of being able to choose to say yes, which means also being able to say no.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Truth About Trust

A great book to add to your reading list is The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More by David DeSteno, PhD © 2014; Hudson Street Press, New York, NY. We highly recommend this book. Here are some very insightful quotes (highlights added):

Can I trust you? This question — this set of four simple words — often occupies our minds to a degree few other concerns can. It’s a question on which we exert a lot of mental effort — often without our even knowing it — as its answers have the potential to influence almost everything we do. Unlike many other puzzles we confront, questions of trust don’t just involve attempting to grasp and analyze a perplexing concept. They all share another characteristic: risk.

● At the base of trust is a delicate problem centered on the balance between two dynamic and often opposing desires – a desire for someone else to meet your needs and his desire to meet his own. Trust is about trying to predict what someone will do based on competing interest and capabilities.

● The more we examine vacillations in emotions and moral behavior, the more we realize that trust often played a central role.

● Trust influences more than most of us would have imagined. It affects how we learn, how we love, how we spend, how we take care of our health, and how we maximize our well-being.

● At the most basic level, the need to trust implies one fundamental fact: you are vulnerable. The ability to satisfy your needs or obtain the outcomes you desire is not entirely under your control.

● Trust isn’t about finding the perfect strategy – there isn’t one. It’s about realizing that selfishness and cooperation, disloyalty and trustworthiness, exist in an ever-changing equilibrium. It’s always been that way; it always will.

● If you truly wanted to avoid the risks inherent in trusting other people while still benefiting from cooperation, there is really only one route: transparency.

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