Summary of Theory

Aug 9th, 2021

EVE AND ADAM THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

by

B. J. Glass

Preamble:

Much of the theory of this Institute is in this essay.  It summarises the reflections of its author who wrote without active research into what the experts say. This is reminiscent of a composer in his circle who after years of listening to the classical greats now will not listen to their compositions in that he feels it permeates too far what might have been his own original composing.  There is the possibility that this approach can lead to ‘reinventing the wheel’ but the thinking in this institute is that people should think things through for themselves.  As it happens, subsequent study corroborated much that is in these pages.

Time spent in reflection is to be encouraged in these stressful, speeded up days.  The mentality for it can enhance practical wisdom, a quality to be prized.  It can help identify realistic plans and reshape behaviour patterns and much besides that is in line with worthwhile purposes of society and the way we live our own lives.

The habit of thinking over matters of relevance to one’s personal life and that of one’s society is a primary aim of western-style meditation, including the habit of challenging one’s own habit of thought.  Lateral thinking, rumination, care in coming to conclusions, peace of mind, and more, are part of a mix that makes of reflection an activity of value.

Introduction:

Are there ways in which the validity of principles and understandings can be curated by oneself so that we can live better-adjusted lives?

Many of the inmost drives of humankind are taken for granted without considering the intricacies or the interlocking ideas behind conclusions in systems of belief in religion, spirituality, politics or daily life.  What is this basic thinking?  Does – and why does – this mosaic often tend to skewed conclusions?

A general summary of assumptions and instincts gives a snapshot – if a fuzzy one – of a communally shared mental landscape, including fundamental ideas.  The concepts arising from them permeate the everyday world.  There is much that is odd in what we believe.  Some ruling ideas can be adjusted to advantage.   Recent findings of science surely ought to affect deep beliefs.  Reassessment leads on to possible improvements over a range of issues in private lives and in societies – assuming however, as always, that the best decisions have the best outcomes and repercussions given that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’.  The road leading to heaven no doubt is thronged with evil-doers.  Whether they get past the Pearly Gates is another matter.   The appendix to this essay has a check-list of innate drives of men and women that create or influence our systems of thought. Their fons et origo derives more from convenience and outdated imperatives than what might be termed objectivity.  This plays out in political systems, faiths and perceptions of ourselves.  Once a sufficient list of shared human characteristics and traits is itemised – not a thing often if ever done – and seen in aggregate with its warts, special pleadings, illusions, and so forth, a re-evaluation of beliefs becomes more within reach.

Some ideas in these pages are well known, some are controversial.  It is hard to know in advance who will think what about which of them.  No overall theory needs to be embraced but an idea here and there may twitch an antenna.  An angel can be in a detail.  An unobtrusive element can turn out to be the kernel of a big idea which needs only exposition and reflection to light up a whole landscape.  The journey is more important than any arrival in a scary cul-de-sac. We can lose our way if we don’t know where we are going.

Pointers, rather than encyclopaedic analysis, to the way forward are proposed in these pages, some as pilot schemes.  Observations en route about life may be signposts to help reorient stragglers.  Proposed alterations in thinking or habits may be marginal but from acorns do oak trees grow – a variant of the ‘1% rule’ that ‘small compounded improvements lead to significant overall gains.’

The world is so full of distractions and often terrible news but the hard-won norms of hard-won civilised thinking should not be overlooked because of grappling with them.

Wisdom, practical wisdom, contemplation, habits of thought and the like ideally should not be swamped by the needs of the day. Some ways of thinking can be helpful for our peace of mind and in our making wise decisions.

Eve and Adam Thorough The Looking Glass is inter alia one individual’s thinking about commonly held perceptions that he finds perplexing or controversial. Many ideas expressed in it can be found elsewhere but the author earmarked on this intellectual adventure by himself.  It has a certain period charm for the author in that many ideas in it are well discussed elsewhere, as he subsequently found.  The effort of thinking through things for oneself ab initio is a part of the journey that in many ways makes it worthwhile.   It is a journey that we can all undertake.  It is worthwhile spending some little time in reflecting on your thinking, a journey that you may owe to yourself and to those in your circle.

How may results of this process affect what we do in life? Sometimes tiny shifts of thinking about some basic ideas or habits ultimately may result in big changes in the conclusions that we reach and the actions that we take. Are there ways in which the validity of our pet principles and understandings can be better monitored so that we can live better-adjusted lives?

Exposition

The habit of thinking over matters of relevance to one’s personal life and that of one’s society is to be encouraged. This can be a primary aim of meditation including the habit of challenging one’s own habits of thinking. Lateral thinking, rumination, care taken in coming to conclusions, peace of mind, and more are all part of the mix that makes of reflection an activity of value.

Many of the inmost drives of men and women are taken as read without considering the interlocking ideas that lie behind conclusions manifested in systems of belief, whether in religion, spirituality, politics or daily life.  What – in brief – is this basic thinking and why can it tend to make for skewed rather than objective conclusions?  The categories include fundamental ideas and the concepts based on them and their effect in the real world.  Many can be challenged at various points and ideally be made more fit for purpose.  Once a sufficient list of human characteristics or traits is itemised – which is not often done – and seen in aggregate for what it is, a re-evaluation of some beliefs becomes more within reach.

Eve and Adam Through the Looking Glass is partly about Practical Wisdom, a reminder of a quality that is ever more needed in todays’ world. Solutions or panaceas put forward in these pages can be controversial.  Pointers, not encyclopaedic analysis, to the way forward are proposed with some sketched out as pilot schemes.  This journey of ideas is accessible and open to all.  A brake applied to an autopilot journey may prevent us haring off into darker passageways of thinking and codes of behaviour. A winnowing, clarifying process is recommended before construction of theories built on the resultantly more solid foundations.   It is a painstaking job to identify and evaluate the many ways in which we think individually and as a society.  Who ventures on such a project?  It is a job that normally goes by default.  The barrack rooms are stuffed with lawyers flexed to gum up every inch along the way.  Such a check list cannot be exhaustive. Characteristics are mentioned only glancingly. The hope is that insights surface in considering it.  Tendencies surprisingly thick on the ground and – useful in some situations as they may be – can be spotlighted that are apt to lead towards fundamental conclusions about ourselves and the world that do seem pretty odd, most would agree, if held up to the light of day in many contexts.   In addition, the findings of many scientific experiments may lead to a re-evaluation of some core beliefs.

Proposed alterations in thinking and habits may be marginal but from acorns do oak trees grow.  Some ideas are well known, some are controversial.  It is hard to know in advance who will think what about which of them.  No overall theory needs to be embraced but an idea here and there may twitch an antenna.   An angel can be in a detail.  In a detail can be the kernel of a big idea which needs only exposition and reflection to light up a whole landscape.  The journey is more important than any arrival in a scary cul-de-sac. We can lose our way if we don’t know where we are going and observations en route in these pages about life may be signposts to help reorient stragglers. The end may be near the start; circularity rather than a straight path may lead to conclusions.

What to do about it?

Time spent on reflection should be encouraged in these stressful, speeded up days.  The mentality for it can enhance practical wisdom, a quality to be prized.  It can help identify realistic plans and reshape behaviour patterns, and much besides, in line with worthwhile purposes of society, and the way we live our own lives.

What not to do…  Chuck in the towel before one gets going.

It was once said of English culture that a man would fight to the death to uphold the right of another to hold principles with which he totally disagreed. This cornerstone of thinking is under attack and it is the hope that this institute in a small way can play its part in helping redress the balance. Open-mindedness should be a part of honest reflection.

This little excursus is less a blueprint for direct or immediate action than a possible ingredient in the thinking of people in the engine rooms that make society tick.  Questions rather than answers are par for a course in a quest to try and unravel a riddle in a blur.   It can be a fun ride or a useful intellectual adventure but the time is ripe for a spot of spring-cleaning so as to buff up some of the mustier niches in our minds, even turn them into vitrines.

© Copyright November 2021 All Rights Reserved – J. Glass.  info@chanadon.org

Eve and Adam Through the Looking Glass