Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Nature Thinks: New Introduction


I have rewritten the introduction to my book, How Nature Thinks, since it moved too slowly while being insufficiently direct and clear. I share with you the first paragraph.


Tradition teaches that intelligence and impulsive desire are contraries, wherein intelligence must subjugate desire. However, studies over the last century have established that we are bodies first and minds second. Believing that intelligence must conquer desire is akin to expecting the tree to conquer its roots. It is an absurdity, but one that we are still trying to comprehend, since our intuitions lead us to believe that we cannot be responsible individuals if we cannot control our desires. John Dewey insists that we have misunderstood the problem. Intelligence and agency arise from well-ordered desiring, such as a moral character that bends impulse to productive purposes. We should improve the soil from which individuals grow, because the roots of a good character are the environment, culture, and community. Terroir gives us our characteristic intelligence, and a bad ground can twist and corrupt it. Dewey approached the problem as an educator, a champion of democracy, a philosopher of culture, and a scientist.


To recap, the topic of my dissertation is the interrelation of "desire," or motivated human purposiveness,  and experienced meaning. In truth, the whole theory is analogous to a Freud's theory of repression, although without the notion of a subconscious, etc.

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