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Ideas Worth Spreading
by Linda Lane
2007-12-13 10:31:22
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I am sure there are other ways to transmit this information to you, but here goes.

As long as I have been in the UW Master of Science in Information Management program I have been thinking about Information Architecture as an artist, designer, Buddhist, thinker and would be architect. As you may know I do interior design, because when my parents divorced my sister asked me not to become an architect, out of respect to my mom, but to do something else. So I studied a great number of things, geology, psychology, philosophy, computer science, oceanography, photography, film making, and graduated with a degree in fine art; one of the degrees which should teach the sentence, "Would you like fries with that?"

So today I queried on the term "Information Architecture" and lo and behold, the term was coined by a real live architect, Richard Saul Werman. Following the Wikipedia link out to the wiki on Werman, and to Werman's Art Director's Club Biography -- I devoured that link, comprehending that it was an architect's planning and writing which lead in great part to thinking about information architecture from the top down and bottom up.

This I followed by an informed query "TED" to the conference information. "TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an invitation-only event where the world's leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration" (See here).

You may have read, heard or stumbled onto the TED conferences in the past - now I understood where they came from. And I understood what they meant. Scanning quickly through the site, I noticed immediately the real subject of my life's desire - to understand and express "How the mind works" (marked by a tika on the forehead of a Japanese person) and my main goal, my delight, to encourage creative communication about everything. Voila' - in the list of the Talks these folks give - we arrive back with a Tibetan Buddhist - the renowned monk, photographer, and writer Matthieu Ricard: Habits of happiness (See here).

And now you know where I sit.

Why does this warm the cockles of my heart? Look at these people, listen to these folks ... this information is produced with love, on every topic of interaction and growth, let me know what you think!

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Emanuel Paparella2007-12-13 15:46:22
Be careful of what you ask for….I’d like to respond to your query with a rather personal anecdote. As you may or may not know, I teach Humanities and Problems of Philosophy at a local college (Barry University) here in Miami Florida. Previously I have taught at various other schools spanning a teaching career of some forty years. I have always made it a point on the very first class of a course I teach to give to my students a synopsis of my philosophy of education and point out to them that the role of any education worthy of that name is definitely not that of conveying information, even information that is creatively and discriminately conceived. For that we used to have libraries with big encyclopedias and now we have personal computers with google at one’s fingertips which can be consulted in the comfort of one’s home and has made libraries almost obsolete for that purpose. Pretty soon the teacher himself will be obsolete for that purpose. Most students are able to retrieve with some competency reliable information and document it in a paper. Some even get an A for those papers. Not with me. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-13 15:47:10
I tell them that if I get a paper that contains merely information, giving no evidence of any critical thinking, the most they can expect is a B-. The information may be precious but it is still the lowest form of knowledge within the framework of how the human mind works. Then I draw a pyramid on the board with five terraces: On the bottom I place information which is important in itself and necessary for the higher terrace but is the least important. On top of that I place ideas which indeed relies on information but requires that creative connections be made between what is gathered from the world out there, either a priori or a posteriori. In other words, one’s mind has to be used, not just google. On top of that I place the dialogue between ideas (or philosophers or philosophies as the case may be) which has been going on since the beginning of knowledge and is still ongoing. On top of that I place critical thinking which means that the student, having appropriated this perennial dialogue, proceeds to becoming part of it; meaning that he/she does his own thinking and does so rigorously, objectively, without personal biases and prejudices. At the very top of the pyramid I place wisdom and tell students that wisdom in all its multifaceted forms presupposes the other for tiers of knowledge but no school can ever teach it and certify it and grade it. One discovers wisdom on one’s own or one never discovers it. In fact one falls in love with it or never does (it has a woman’s name: Sophia) and remains mired in the world of mere information or perhaps that of mere scientific or philosophical ideas with which to play around.

Linda Lane2007-12-15 00:29:11
Hi Emanuel,

Thank you for your comments.

I am not sure what that has to do with Matthieu Ricard presntation on Habits of happiness? or the Ted Ideas conference?

Please advise.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 12:13:58
Greetings Linda and thanks for the feedback and the dialogue. I wish there was more of it in Ovi. Sometimes one gets the impression of being at a cocktail party where everybody, slightly inebriated, talks solipsistically and precious few listen and converse.

You ask what does my anecdote have to do vis a vis with on happiness? Perhaps nothing except an attempt to convey, as also does, that we need to be holistic and attempt to tell the whole story of Man and what makes him tick. Information is surely the basis of knowledge and education. One cannot begin from the top, although there are some architects who assure me that it can be done nowadays, perhaps but it remains unpractical. In any case, the point being that one cannot remain there at the level of information. Man’s potential is much greater than that. One needs to go on higher to ideas and the nexus and the dialogue between them and ultimately attain to critical thinking by which one joins the great conversation. Then one may hope to attain to wisdom which as Aquinas teaches and as Socrates also knew some 14 centuries before, is the sine qua non of happiness. Indeed, that is what the great conversation is all about.

I greatly respect and even revere Buddhist monks. As a Westerner which is what I am, it will undoubtedly be beneficial for me to complement my knowledge with what they have to say in the East on any subject or issue but I already have a whole treatise spanning eight articles on happiness in the Summa of Aquinas who, as you know, lived some 800 years ago. Surely Buddhist monks can in turn get something on the subject from Aquinas. Consider, for example, this introduction to the subject by the same: (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 12:20:44

Whether happiness is something uncreated?
Objection 1: It would seem that happiness is something uncreated. For Boethius says (De Consol. iii): "We must needs confess that God is happiness itself."
Objection 2: Further, happiness is the supreme good. But it belongs to God to be the supreme good. Since, then, there are not several supreme goods, it seems that happiness is the same as God.
Objection 3: Further, happiness is the last end, to which man's will tends naturally. But man's will should tend to nothing else as an end, but to God, Who alone is to be enjoyed, as Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i, 5,22). Therefore happiness is the same as God.

On the contrary, Nothing made is uncreated. But man's happiness is something made; because according to Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. i, 3): "Those things are to be enjoyed which make us happy." Therefore happiness is not something uncreated

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 12:21:54
(continued from above)

I answer that, As stated above (Question [1], Article [8]; Question [2], Article [7]), our end is twofold. First, there is the thing itself which we desire to attain: thus for the miser, the end is money. Secondly there is the attainment or possession, the use or enjoyment of the thing desired; thus we may say that the end of the miser is the possession of money; and the end of the intemperate man is to enjoy something pleasurable. In the first sense, then, man's last end is the uncreated good, namely, God, Who alone by His infinite goodness can perfectly satisfy man's will. But in the second way, man's last end is something created, existing in him, and this is nothing else than the attainment or enjoyment of the last end. Now the last end is called happiness. If, therefore, we consider man's happiness in its cause or object, then it is something uncreated; but if we consider it as to the very essence of happiness, then it is something created.

Reply to Objection 1: God is happiness by His Essence: for He is happy not by acquisition or participation of something else, but by His Essence. On the other hand, men are happy, as Boethius says (De Consol. iii), by participation; just as they are called "gods," by participation. And this participation of happiness, in respect of which man is said to be happy, is something created.
Reply to Objection 2: Happiness is called man's supreme good, because it is the attainment or enjoyment of the supreme good.
Reply to Objection 3: Happiness is said to be the last end, in the same way as the attainment of the end is called the end.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 12:24:04
P.S. Correction: line five of my comment: "as also does" should read "as also Matthieu Ricard does in habits of happiness."

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 12:29:26
P.S.S. A brief follow-up. This comment which I placed under the fine article by Alessandra Pereira on War and Peace and Love, may be relevant here also. I copy it verbatim below:

In this context of the whole story that needs to be told to preserve our wholeness, Eric Weislogel, Vice President of the Metanexus Institute writing in Global Spiral had this to say at the end of his last essay:

"In an earlier essay in the Global Spiral, I contended that: the challenge of the 21st century will be to integrate or synthesize the exponential growth in human knowledge into a meaningful whole. It’s not that specialization needs to be overcome; it’s that individuals, communities, and civilization in general will need to develop the complementary means by which to appropriate and take the measure of all particular expertise. We must attempt to follow the imperative of Periander, one of the seven sages of ancient Greece (ca. 625-585 BC): μελÝτα τü παν, which the German philosopher Martin Heidegger translates as, “Take into care beings as a whole.” We must regain our ability, a facility, an adeptness, at taking the whole into our most profound concern.12
When we say we are after “the whole story of the whole cosmos for the whole person,” we mean that unless we exercise this profound concern we can never have hope in the quest for our own wholeness. A complete and comprehensive story of the whole for us mortals is impossible, but its very impossibility—which we must never forget—makes hope possible. And if hope, perhaps faith and love.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 17:17:28
And here is a comment posted under another article where the very origins of the mechanistic barbaric view of life is identified in Descartes, the father of modern Western rationalism contemptuous of humanistic modes of thought, in case you Linda are wandering where it might all begin.

The chief villain of this abysmally uncivilized mind-set is Rene Descartes, the grand rationalist who contemptuously rejects humanistic modes of thought and begins the notion that Man is nothing but a machine; so much “matter extended into space.” Descartes advised a vivisectionist not to be upset by the squeals of agony emitted by animals on which he (the vivisectionist) was experimenting. He told him to regard the animals as fundamentally "res extensa" and to interpret the agonized screeching as no more than the screeching of wheel which needed a little oil.

Sand2007-12-15 18:20:06
It is good, Paparella, to discover you are a vegetarian who cannot inflict unjust pain and torture on animals.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-15 19:10:39
Indeed, eventually the barbarian shows his true colors.

Sand2007-12-15 19:59:18
Since most barbaric cultures worship some god or other or a whole bunch, I take it you are confessing to be a meat eater.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 00:46:53
That kind of confused thinking may get you an high five from your sycophants in this forum but it would net an F in a class of Logic 101.

Sand2007-12-16 09:26:33
Instead of sending me to a library to read half a dozen books of dubious relationship to the topic at hand or criticizing my logic, why not directly confirm or deny directly whether or not you eat meat and thereby let me know whether you approve of the cruel and unjust industry that raised and kills animals for consumption? But no, you never answer a question directly. You continue to make vague references to rationalists or the Holocaust and dodge, dodge, dodge. Why not run for president? You have all the characteristics of a slippery politician.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 09:51:38
Politicians are often villains but at least they can think straight and be rational. Most of them would tell you that only fools answer leading questions, that is questions designed to trap to which the interlocutor already knows the answer, designed to harm and not in the least for finding the truth. In ancient Greece they were called Sophists and those who practice that method of questions are involved in sophistry. If I was Machiavelli I'd put you in The Prince as exemplary of modern political sophistry pompously parading as scholarship. BUT THE EMPEROR REMAINS NAKED.

Sand2007-12-16 10:17:41
Stop the blather and give me a straight answer.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 11:08:19
Straight answers are for those who are sincere. If a Nazi were to come to my door and ask "Are you hiding any Jews in your attic" I would not give him a straight answer. Now, that may confuse you but that is because it does not fit your neatly pre-arranged (a priori) categories in your computer of meat,i.e., your brain or what the Greeks labeled the mind.

Sand2007-12-16 11:32:16
The simple question which only you can answer remains unanswered. Do you or do you not eat meat?

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 11:56:52
I eat mozzarella and I acknowledge that cows make milk. You need to try sufboarding to get more...

Sand2007-12-16 12:18:39
The simple question which only you can answer remains unanswered. Do you or do you not eat meat?

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 12:37:05
You already said that. You are beginning to sound like the parrot sitting on your shoulder. Oh, I also eat lasagna and I will invoke the Geneva Convention and give no other information of my eating habits to the used by the enemy in the citadel of culture.

Sand2007-12-16 14:00:09
Right. I can therefore, by your absolute refusal to answer, feel free to assume that you consume meat which contributes heavily to the mistreatment of animals which you so roundly condemn in Descartes. Unless, of course, you choose to declare that you don't eat meat.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 15:06:45
Indeed, it is with that kind of self serving and self-deceptive logic, which does no honor to rationality, that we misguidedly ended up with a war in Iraq. The fact that Descartes was or was not a vegetarian has nothing to do with the kind of advice he gave to the vivisectionist on the suffering of animals based on his miguided philosophy. Even Forrest Gump knows that much. As I suspected, having missed the point, perhaps purposefully, you then go on to the leading question for which you had the answer ready in your computer of meat. I submit that such is not a dialogue but a prosecution but unfortunately most authoritarian bullysh personaties cannot distinguish the difference. So, the answer for your is this: if a scientist or philosopher not to your tast had made the same statement as Descartes would you not have piled up a pile of insults, comeing out of the hole.... to add to the general condemnaton? No need to answer to me. Answer it to yourself in your head, without the counselling voices, and then you'll have an idea of how objetive and universal are your views. It is by far easier to make a universal cake than to have a genuinely objective universal thought, I am afraid.

Sand2007-12-16 15:34:12
Very good. So you stand with Descartes in open admission to hypocrisy. Thank goodness that's settled.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 16:14:13
Is that what the voices told you? Don't believe them. They are liars.

Emsnuel Paparella2007-12-16 16:22:35
That Descartes with all his vaunted objectivity had difficulty distinguishing his idealistic ratioanalism from common sense there is little doubt (pun intented). But whether it is me or you who stand with him, there is plenty of doubt. After all, you are the one who will not answer whether or not you would have condemned his shabby attitude toward animals had he been a philosopher uncongenial to you. I have done so and have also indicated the fallacies of his philosophy leading to such an attitude (having nothing to do with vegetarianism) while we have not heard from you yet.

Sand2007-12-16 17:11:23
Hey jerk! I'm not talking about Descartes. I'm talking about you. Pay attention!

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 18:29:46
As they say: first impressions don't lie. I knew I was dealing with a jerk from the first exchange.

Sand2007-12-16 19:50:52
You can't even dig up an original expression of contempt. What a pitiful creature you are.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 20:20:18
No doubt the "corageous" raising of the level of boorish insults to that of "jerk" netted you a high five from those who also has the mentality of a second grader and must have made your day in the the barbaric wasteland and desolation of your mind, oops, computer of meat. The more the pity!

Sand2007-12-16 20:30:37
Your paranoia is going wild. Where is this imaginary claque you attribute to me? I have heard not a peep.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 20:45:52
The claque are the voices in your head that keep counselling you as to what jerky proposterous statement and/or august insult you will issue next. You ought to stop listening to them. They are not good for your mental stability.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 20:47:08
Pardon, I meant for the functioning of your meat computer.

Sand2007-12-16 20:49:39
As a purveyor, obviously you are terribly annoyed that I think. Religious people don't. They cite authorities.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 21:02:16
And what do you purvey Mr. Sand? Are you aware of what you have been purveying in this forum as in a drama signifying nothing?

Sand2007-12-16 22:51:31
To be rid of an affliction is something worthwhile.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-16 23:46:58
Indeed. The modern affliction is ideological rationalism rationalizing what ought never be rationalized.

Sand2007-12-17 05:21:52
The worm in the mind that religion is not only is necessary to expunge but to understand as a major distortion of reality so that humanity can take advantage of its intellect free of enslaving fantasies.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-19 14:37:01
The worm in the mind are the misleading voices you keep hearing that present a distorted view of reality and makes you come out with sladerous and biased foul-mouthed pronouncements. The paradox is that you seem unable to perceive what obsession the constant trashing of religion has become for you.

Sand2007-12-19 19:22:58
Sladeriety is only appropriate against a foul tradition that twists the world towards undeserved guilt and deception to enrich a totalitarian regime.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-20 00:29:12
uhm? Lunatic's ravings?

Sand2007-12-20 06:24:16
Introspection, Paparella, may indeed indicate that some of your output tends towards the lunatic but I merely assume that your amusing typos might have some value in communication. Chin up, old man. Once you leave off quoting deluded and misinformed ancients your mental product may induce a touch of reason in your prose. Poetry, unfortunately, seems well outside your area of competence.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-20 09:55:57
It may be too late for an old dog to learn new tricks but hopefully before you are deactivated you may get an inkling that competency in understanding the poetic has precious little to do with being a philistine versifier with delusions of being a great universal poet.

Sand2007-12-20 12:59:17
Your proclivity for exaggeration is a bad habit you should watch. First I an a Grand Inquisitor because I ask reasonable questions and now I am a great universal poet. Yes, I ask questions and I write poetry and I enjoy the skills involved but I do not pretend to the inflated personalty you seem to slaver for. I sincerely doubt you could even write a simple limerick but I am willing to be surprised.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-20 15:15:12
Projection? The shadow knows!

Sand2007-12-20 19:54:12
That had no rhythm nor rhyme nor even any sense.

Here's a beginning for you just to get you started. A poetry devotee like you should have no problem at all.

Paparella with projection
Makes very small connection
As any shadow knows.
Since he has little direction
We must enforce selection
Which way his hot air blows.

OK, go for it!

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-20 23:52:23
Any high fives for that? May I send a laurel wreath so that you may walk around Helsinki with it on your head like the spirit of Christmas past accompanying uncle Scrooge? You'd look good with it.

Sand2007-12-21 04:39:01
Sorry, insults do not substitute for efforts. Next you will tell me the dog ate your homework. Professor, you have earned an F.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-21 06:47:16
Since you have by now cast aspersion on and relegated to the virtual bonfires luminaries such as Aristotle, Dostoyevsky, Jung, Socrates, Vico, Jesus Christ, Ellul, Blake, Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Dante, Jonathan Edwards, etc, etc, I suppose if you took a class with any of them, you'd also evaluate them with an F. I suspect though that you'd be the only one. What do rationalists say? So much the worse for reality; reality is in my head.

Sand2007-12-21 08:35:32
Blather on. Still no poetry.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-21 23:41:57
It's all around you. All you need to do is look and listen with the eyes and ears of your heart!

Sand2007-12-22 18:47:01
Yes, of course it is all around you. No one is disputing that. What has been amply demonstrated is that you have none of it inside you to display.

Linda Lane2008-04-14 04:00:20
Hi Paparella,

What is really surprising to me is how welcome people from all religious traditions or no faith whatsoever made His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama feel in Seattle, as he was invited to come here to help start the compassion movement intended to end so much harm to the children who wind up in the foster care system, in part, and to teach compassion to children and learn it ourselves. This is what I mean by happiness. That great happiness which comes from the joy of helping others because we can.

Linda Lane2008-04-14 04:06:29
Hi Jan,

Did you have a chance to read my new poem about the turtle and the fish?

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