We should not tell children: “You’re not the center of the universe.” This statement is not only cruel, it is manifestly false. Instead, let’s say: “You are not the only center of the universe.
A friend of mine has a habit of sending me emails consisting of simple, beautiful questions. Years ago he introduced me to Christopher Alexander. When Alexander died I sent him an email, and that started a discussion of Alexander’s later work. This was the context (at least for me) of his latest question-poem: What is … Continue reading Since you asked…
Until quite recently, design has been monocentric. All the various x-centric design disciplines were named after the single protagonist of the design. User-centered. Employee-centered. Customer-centered. Citizen-centered. In search of something more general and accommodating, most designers have settled on “human-centered’. Human-centered design centers design on the experience of a person. While “human” can, of course, … Continue reading Polycentric virtues
The bits of reality that understand that they and all other bits of reality are finite participants in absolute infinitude — each its own center-point in the infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, but whose circumference is nowhere — seem almost essentially different from the finite bits of reality that mistake themselves for the absolute … Continue reading Sacred and profane
Live in accordance with the axiom: I am not the only center of the universe.
Decentering one’s self or one’s identity as a response to one’s former egocentrism or ethnocentrism is just this year’s model of altruism. Altruism is benevolence modeled on a stunted vision of individualism, which it tries to overcome by simply inverting it: Selfish people care about themselves at the expense of others, so unselfish people care … Continue reading Please do not decenter yourself
What have I learned reading millennia of eloquent bellyachers? Every generation is convinced it is the last because life without self is inconceivable. What we can’t conceive, seems to us, nonexistent: thus, the eternally receding nigh of endtimes. Every generation longs for the simplicity of earlier days, because all we want to bequeath the future … Continue reading Passage
We seek common ground to serve as a foundation for establishing new agreements. However, common ground has another equally important, but often neglected, function: providing landmarks needed for precise triangulation of subtle but consequential disagreements. Without shared points of reference, it is impossible to trace perspectives back to their originating standpoints — which, for each … Continue reading Foundations and landmarks
….it was said that one god, Hermes Trismegistus, had dictated a variously estimited number of books (42, according to Clement of Alexandria; 20,000, according to Iamblichus; 36,525, according to the priests of Thoth, who is also Hermes), on whose pages all things were written. [Anomalogue: From what I’ve read, Hermes Trismegistus was not a god; … Continue reading Meditation on the ten-thousand everythings
(Published in multiple collections, including Labyrinths and Other Inquisitions.) Perhaps universal history is the history of a few metaphors. I should like to sketch one chapter of that history. Six centuries before the Christian era Xenophanes of Colophon, the rhapsodist, weary of the Homeric verses he recited from city to city, attacked the poets who … Continue reading “Pascal’s Sphere” by Jorges Luis Borges
To preserve the simple self-evident fact that the Earth was the center of the universe all kinds of complex mechanisms had to be devised, cranking the heavenly bodies in epicyclical orbits, around orbits of orbits. Likewise, to preserve the simple self-evident fact that the principle active cause of inequality between categories of people is prejudice … Continue reading Ptolemaic social justice
A teacher says to a student: “You are not the center of the universe.” The perspective of the statement can be seen as a question inherent in the statement, to which the statement is the answer. In this example, the question is “Who or what is the center of the universe?” and the answer is … Continue reading Anatomy of perspective
From last week: “We teach children that they’re not the center of the universe, and in doing this we make solipsistic animals into human beings. But wouldn’t it accomplish the same moral goal, but with less intellectual violence, to teach them that they’re not the sole center?” Maybe a better way to say it: It … Continue reading Spheres and centers
We teach children that they’re not the center of the universe, and in doing this we make solipsistic animals into human beings. But wouldn’t it accomplish the same moral goal, but with less intellectual violence, to teach them that they’re not the sole center? * To attempt universal decentering as a means to socialization sets … Continue reading Danger of objectivism
Perspectivism begins with the idea that seeing involves both a seeing subject and a seen object. Nothing is seen apart from the seer – you – and that you, the seer, always necessarily see from a position relative to what is seen. The position one takes relative to what is seen affects the line of sight … Continue reading Anatomy of a perspective