Friday, June 20, 2008

Reality - Dreams = Animal Being
Reality + Dreams = A Heart-Ache (usually called Idealism)
Reality + Humor = Realism (also called Conservatism)
Dreams - Humor = Fanaticism
Dreams + Humor = Fantasy
Reality + Dreams + Humor = Wisdom

Lin Yutang's self-labeled "psuedo-scientific" formulas: from The Importance of Living, pg 4.

I finished re-reading Straw Dogs and I've been noticing the prevalence of idealism in our culture -- People really are drawn to the idea that striving to be better is a virtue. Conversely, they see acceptance of imperfection to be laziness and a lack of strong distaste for imperfection to be apathy. I tend to side with John Grey & Lin Yutang who seem to hold living in the moment without large romantic ideals of progress as being better than constantly striving to make life as ideal as possible.

So I'm brought back to John Grey's description of the Taoist idea of the good life in Straw Dogs.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rider on an elephant's back

"[The rational part of our mind] is a rider placed on the elephant's back to help the elephant make better choices. The rider can see farther into the future, and the rider can learn valuable information by talking to other riders or by reading maps, but the rider cannot order the elephant around against its will. I believe the Scottish philosopher David Hume was closer to the truth than was Plato when he said, "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

In sum, the rider is an advisor or servant; not a king, president, or charioteer with a firm grip on the reins. The rider is Gazzaniga's interpreter module; it is conscious, controlled thought. The elephant includes the gut feelings, visceral reactions, emotions, and intuitions that comprise much of the automatic system. The elephant and the rider each have their own intelligence, and when they work together well they enable the unique brilliance of human beings."

Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis, pg. 16-17