Monday, March 21, 2011

new humanism

Recently the NY Times columnist David Brook's wrote an article entitled New Humanism.  He talks about the new insights we have into human nature and their potential implications on politics, economics, and our own self-knowledge.  He highlights three of these insights.  I particularly liked the second two, and the are that:

(1)  Emotions are dissenter of our thinking.  They assign value and are the basis of reason. "Reading and educating your emotions is one of the central activities of wisdom."  (2)  "We are not individuals who form relationships. We are social animals, deeply interpenetrated with one another, who emerge out of relationships."

Instead of  looking at things like IQ, degrees, professional skills, he also suggests new ways to measure human capital.  This list contains:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.
Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.
Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.
Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.
Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.

In his article/speech, he lacks ways to practically use this insight, but it's all definitely something to think about.  He also discusses these insights here (if you can get past the bad jokes in the beginning)...

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