On Intellectual Unwillingness, Part 2

comments 17
Science

I’ve been reflecting on my previous post and thinking I’m not too happy about what I did there. I’ve been feeling a cocktail of embarrassment and shame actually. I felt strongly about the ideas I discussed—ideas that I love about water and the human body and how this universe works—but also I felt angry about the way some people have used their influence to progress certain ideas. While there is nothing wrong with anger in and of itself, how it expressed is important, and I realize in looking back that in my anger I took the internal step of making Richard Dawkins the “other.” At least I did so within my own mind.

I wish to apologize for that. If ever there were a step I’d like to advocate not taking with one another it’s that one. While I don’t like the way Richard has communicated on certain issues, that is secondary to the fact we share a common heart. That is the reality, and it is far more important than being right about something. When we attempt to cleave ourselves from one another in that interior way, we are creating suffering. You may have sensed this or felt yourself on the periphery of that unfortunate state from my writing this last time out, for which I am sorry.

Being right at the expense of another is a weighty thing, and a troubling thing. I felt the weight of it fairly quickly, and I don’t want to function that way. I do want to explore some ideas that come to mind when I listen to Sam Harris’s podcast, but I want to find a way to do it much more positively. I want to do it in an inspiring and uplifting way, and I will.

I also want to note before jumping into a second piece that I’ve retitled the series Intellectual Unwillingness. The term intellectual dishonesty can come across fairly strongly, and I’m not attempting to suggest that Sam Harris or any of his guests are dishonest people, or attempting any sort of nefarious manipulation of the truth. I’m simply suggesting that deliberate choices are being made about what is and is not included in particular discussions, that those choices are interesting to me, because I think there are some stones being left unturned, so to speak. As I noted in a comment to the last post, this omission of particular ideas is better categorized as an intellectual unwillingness than in terms that suggest any sort of character flaw. These are certainly differences of opinion on what is reasonable.

So I wanted to say these things, and will return soon with a more positive offering. Thank you for bearing with this interruption in the regularly scheduled programming…

17 Comments

    • Thank you, Brad. Your support means a lot to me. As I just noted to Hariod, were we to extend to one another the mutual benefit of the doubt, and give ourselves the spaces in which to uncover our difficulties, we’d not need to be perceived in the light of some personally-conceived, conceptual perfection all the time. And we could get to the really good stuff… We all, I’d wager, have places that are difficult for us to navigate. With one another’s help we can traverse them…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • I completely agree Michael. Being willing to share my imperfections has been liberating, along with allowing others to be imperfect too. Plus sharing the journey with others can lighten the load. peace…

        Liked by 2 people

    • Many thanks for your continued support, Hariod. I’ve put myself through something of an emotional ringer here. But I feel as though I was able to navigate through some difficult spaces internally and reach a new plateau in the process. It’s all too easy to step off the path, and I think we’ve all been there. It’s part of our humanity I think. What matters is not the initial discovery of a stored, unseemly thought, but way in which we’re there to pick one another up. And our willingness to consider what has been shown to us. Without the opportunity to step into a pile of dung once in a while, we might not discover we’e not been as attentive to our inner narratives as we thought. Grace is the shared space of our recovery…

      With Love
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • It barely appeared any sort of transgression in my eyes, though your feelings are of course true to yourself; and yes, we’ve all been there, our feathers a little ruffled occasionally. Still, there’s a freedom in owning this kind of thing (if indeed a thing it be in this instance), and only ever a store of disquietude if not. Better to cleanse the matter and be done with it — something I find myself having to do periodically.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I appreciated your title “On intellectual Honesty,” on the previous article. I think that’s a positive call for more inclusive reasoning. I had some thoughts that I don’t know about what Richard Dawkins might or might not have been aware of when making the video. I’m wondering a lot about inclusiveness of all perspectives, assuming that the number of perspectives that could potentially exist could/would be unlimited. Your dialogue seems to really an illustration of what intellectual curiosity brings to mind, how one can be inexhaustible in their search for revealing what is currently “known” scientifically. Could there really be such a known body of science – aren’t there people experimenting with their influential machines (to the experiment) who live in obscurity? Isn’t it potentially good for experimentation to take place outside of the ready and observable public domain? I have a lot of questions that I don’t expect answers to, directly or indirectly. (These thoughts/questions are still coming from your previous post.) I didn’t think you were being unfair. I felt that you were speaking and questioning from a place of your own integrity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ka.

      I don’t personally think there will ever be an end to science, or what we can learn. Just as I don’t think there will ever be an end to what we may desire to share and create together as beings in an evolving universe. The challenge is that we too often think we’ve got our hands right on the pulse I suppose. So I agree with you, the possibilities are literally infinite. Part of my frustration is that out of that limitless field, we seem to be choosing one or two things and trying to make them “IT.” The result is conflict because we’re anchoring ourselves to incomplete notions.

      I was definitely intending to come from a place of integrity. While I think I was doing my best to present factual information, I also know it felt afterwards as though I was layering in there somewhere a bit of personal attack. I’m most interested in conversations that begin and end in good faith, where we’re working on something together in an environment of mutual exchange, and I didn’t think I’d quite begun that way.

      It’s a complicated issue for me. Writing about people and events third-person makes it all the more difficult. I recognize that I know only my perception of things, and not what those directly involved may know, which is an important consideration. I think disagreement is good. But I also think the drawing of lines between me and you, us and them, those who think this and those who think that, is never really helpful. And I felt I drew a line. We can help one another correct our errors without making them anything other than simple mistakes. When we elevate mistakes into personal flaws, or into something more, we are losing touch with what is truly helpful I think.

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • I appreciate your heartfelt response, and your desire to not be personally attacking of anyone. I do hope you can forgive yourself for what you might never have meant, in earnest… to be a detractor from good faith. I don’t think you strayed so far, and I appreciate your self-curbing; nevertheless, I didn’t see you as doing anything other than questioning.

        Keeping my mind on what’s the heart of the matter here: Are you going to write more about water? What about Mae-Wan Ho? How about Emilio Del Giudice? How about quantum coherence or superconducting of superfluids? It would be truly helpful, I think to know more.

        Thank you for starting all this.

        All my very best wishes, Ka

        Liked by 1 person

        • I will absolutely write more on those topics, Ka! With a request like this how could I refuse!? 🙂 But I do want to finish what I’ve started here first, I think. At least get the next post or two up and then turn to water and life again. It would be fun…!

          And yes, forgiving ourselves is quite important, too. Thank you for sharing your support and wisdom, Ka. It is always appreciated.

          Joyfully!
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, David. I think I would have felt even more awkward deleting it, actually. Readers had already read it, and they would wonder, where did it go? It’s just gone! Ha! It was an interesting process to explore how I felt and why. And to understand what was most important to me to communicate in the end. 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

    • Haha! No, definitely not. But we are creatures of habit after all. We’d like to think there was regularly scheduled something, wouldn’t we?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe so. Sometimes emotions simply whirl around. But usually they’re well-intentioned once we take the time to understand them, and if the reasons at their core are not appropriately conceived, it’s best to change the core… Everything follows from that…

      Thank you, Kim!
      With Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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