Motivated by a recent debate, I decided to try to sketch what I value in my mental life. All four colored circles in my model represent important mental skills which I highly value:
- Epistemological Humility (EH): Deep doubting of even the most treasured beliefs
- Pragmatic Engagement (PE): Commitment to outcome even without sufficient evidence. Survival-driven realism.
- Scientific Rigour (SR) : Careful hypothesis testing, and fearless, careful weighing of evidence
- Artistic Playfulness (AP): Rule-breaking, humorous, stretching, emotion-focused, freedom-loving and pleasure driven.
You will notice that EH and PE pull in opposite directions as do SR and AP. Many people may be tempted, at times, to take a firm stance in any one of these apparently opposing stances as best fits their temperament and/or circumstances. Yet a more integrative (whole) view holds all these apparent-opposites inside of a nebulous, fuzzy area with less defined borders.
Each of the four mental skills also have “Near Enemies” (a Buddhist term). “Near Enemies” are views that are perversions of the mental skill when taken in exclusion to other positions. These “Near Enemies” are located outside the red circle.
Readers will notice that triangulating between these positions ( or “ways -of-knowing”) is the predominant theme of my blog. I hope to use this diagram to aid me in other discussions. It is not final, just as none of my posts or ideas are final. So if you have suggestions, doubts or corrections, please fire away.
Credits: I must give a very deep hat tip to the influence of David Chapman’s model of Nebulosity for my model. In no way am I trying to interpret, restate or summarize his view — this is my view this year. :-)