I just had one of those creative conversations, where I was moved to say things I didn’t know I knew.
I found myself saying, “Intersectionality is true in a deep sense. Our existence is radically intersectional. But it is not an intersection of social categories. It is an intersection of love relationships — participation in transcendent being in which we experience our personal being.”
I also related this with an old thought: “In my meandering journey through atheism, I learned to disbelieve in many different notions of God. Though I’ve found an understanding of God I cannot even doubt, my past atheisms all survive in me. I still disbelieve in every one of my rejected notions of God.
“Years ago, when my daughters came to me and proclaimed their atheism, I asked them what it was they disbelieved in. They would explain, and I’d say ‘Wonderful! Definitely refuse to believe in that!'” To have a healthy faith, it is important to disbelieve everything you find unpersuasive
I also realized last week, talking with another friend that the notion of institutional racism is rooted in a legitimate intuition that there are institutional personalities. Our participation in these collective forms of being — these egregores — do, in fact, change how we perceive, think and respond to the world, and not always for the better.
But to change the collective personality of an organization requires profound structural changes — changes in how participants in the organization interact and exchange service with one another. Attempting to change the mindsets of all the people within the organization, and worse, doing so through coercive means, will only create new forms of institutional oppression.
The organization must be redesigned to make people naturally want what is better for everyone. The most effective way to change an organization’s personhood is service design.
A conversation with yet a third friend gave me a third insight. Identity crises are an essential part of young adulthood. In youth, we outgrow the roles we are given by our parents and seek new ones. And this role is almost always a category of some kind or another that we share with others we see as our people.
My friend reminded me how, in our profoundly musical generation we adopted music genres and specific bands as our identities. When we met someone else who loved our music we knew something about their ideals and behavioral norms. We were very protective of these identities, scorning poseurs who tried to appropriate our style. If we’d found a way to defend the boundaries of our identities with coercive force, perhaps we would have done it. But adults barely noticed what we were doing and even if they had, they would never have indulged our feelings of ownership over the borrowed foundations of our selfhood.
Young people today favor different categories, and unfortunately many of these identities have been politicized and are enforced by nominal adults in positions of authority.
But it is important to remember, those who are still in this stage are doing their best to establish their selfhood. We cannot condemn them for that. But as adults we have a responsibility to help them mature past this stage.
One there was a Christian emperor who enjoyed unlimited power over his dominion.
His spies had infiltrated every corner of his holy empire.
If anyone spoke against the emperor or defied his will, they would never do so again.
This Christian emperor, however, was deeply bothered.
He read in the Gospels that the first would be last and the last would be first, and that the meek would inherit the earth. He understood that the powerless were privileged in the eyes of God, even when — especially when — they were scorned by society.
The emperor, of course wanted to be first. He wanted to inherit the earth, and to pass it down to his heirs. Most of all, he wanted to bask in God’s approving gaze. But alas! He could only do so if he became last and meek and powerless.
After extensive inner work, the emperor found a solution: He renounced his power, and proclaimed himself powerless. And having renounced his power, he could now become an ally of the meek, scorned, oppressed and last in rank.
And the emperor’s spies and court also renounced their power, and joined the ranks of the powerless.
Anyone vicious or ignorant enough to defy the emperor or any of his powerless allies would be called out and brought before the tribunal to confess the corruption of their judgment and to renounce their unjust abuse of power.
In this way, the emperor empowered the marginal and powerless, and for the first time in human history created conditions of justice for all who deserved it.
For better or worse, my own mind is radically wired for vision.
I understand that this is generally true for all human beings. Our species’s primary sense is sight, and our visual processing apparatus, relative to other animals, is hypertrophied. But experience has demonstrated to me that I rely on visual intelligence more heavily than most. I use the visual mode of understanding for cognitive functions other people might (and maybe should) assign to linguistic or logical or even kinetic intelligence.
My over-reliance on visual intelligence allows me to understand things other people miss, but it also makes me mentally incompetent wherever visual intelligence is the wrong tool for the job. Luckily, visual intelligence is a flexible instrument, and I’ve gotten it to do all kinds of things it shouldn’t. But where it fails, I fail. And it fails in some pretty simple workaday competencies that people reasonably assume is basic to adult functioning, where nobody even suspects failure is possible. Polite political euphemisms normally obscure painful truths, but applied to me “differently abled” is revelatory.
I understand reality in geometric and topological terms. I do this despite knowing that this necessarily introduces distortions, blindness and nonsensical noise and artifacts into my understanding. I try to rely on “complementarily abled” others to compensate.
And a central operation of understanding for me is eversion.
I recently read in a trusted source that inside-outside is the primary relationship the horizontal, worldly plane, and that above and below is the relationship on the vertical plane. I can’t decide if this means that I am unconsciously trapped in a horizontal mode of understanding, or if eversive knowing (eversivity) is a synthesis of verticality and horizontality.
Weird post, I know.
Thanks for reading.
(I live on that magenta line.)
Last week I realized several important things about service design.
First, the modus operandi of service design is to create conditions for summoning and sustaining benevolent collective being (a.k.a. egregores). We arrange the roles, the rules and the material artifacts required to receive a collective animating spirit in which those receiving, delivering and supporting services participate. I cannot talk this way in a professional setting, but knowing this helps me feel the full importance of my work.
Second, I am realizing that one effective way for me to explain what service design does it do point out the contagiousness of feeling. The best strategy for ensuring any one person has a good experience is to ensure that every person has a good experience. A miserable clerk will darken a customer’s experience. And too many miserable customers will sour a clerk’s experience, and over time, it will sour their life, and that clerk will darken the experience even of cheerful customers. Only by baking mutual benefit into our social systems can we ensure that the primary contagion passed in our interactions is good moods.
Third, in any organization, the less direct control it has over the behaviors of its customers, employees and partners, the more it can benefit from service design.
All design is an appeal to freedom. Design assumes choice — the choice to attend or ignore, the choice to select or reject, the choice to cooperate or rebel, the choice to invest or divest, the choice to advocate or denigrate, and so on. Only organizations with coercive power over people do not need design.
Wherever an organization must persuade, design can help. Design helps organizations understand what is persuasive to those people it wishes to persuade, helps it produce the most persuasive options, and helps it ensure that these options stays the persuasive option available.
The design industry has gotten pretty good at producing persuasive options for particular types of people. Witness the prevalence of X disciplines. UX (user experience), CX (customer experience), PX (patient experience) are established industries. Employee experience and citizen experience are becoming more common.
But now, increasingly, organizations face the challenge of designing for multiple types of people. To make it even more complicated, these types of people often interact with each other, on behalf of the organization, but not under its control. Think about platforms like Uber or AirBnB who mediate services exchanged between providers and receivers, but whose brand depends on the quality of these service exchanges. The organization cannot directly control what happens, but must instead create conditions where each participant in the service benefits by benefitting the other.
Organizations who must compete for employees, motivate them and retain them, while simultaneously competing for customers, are also in this boat.
Organizations who produce a product that is a component in a partner’s service, whose product is experienced in the context of this service are in this boat.
Organizations who produce a product but who depend upon partners to present, recommend, distribute, deliver, install, customize or support that product are in this boat.
Organizations who coordinate networks of partners to achieve some greater good are in this boat.
Elected officials who oversee public services, whose careers depend on the votes of an alert, informed, critically-engaged public should be in this boat, at least in theory.
When an organization finds itself in this general position, where it must persuade multiple kinds of people to interact with one another in mutually beneficial ways that support the goals of the organization — that is when service design is most valuable.
I’m thinking about all these things because I am working on designing an online course called “What the Actual Hell Is Service Design?”
Etymologically, to comprehend means to grasp-together.
What does “together” comprise? It is the new object of knowledge together with the existing body of knowledge.
In comprehension, new and old knowledge are grasped together and integrated.
Not all forms of knowledge can be grasped together. Whenever we comprehend some matter, some remainder of the matter refuses to be integrated.
The remainder that is left out of comprehension we call “irrelevant”.
The remainder that remains, but which can’t integrate, we call “contradictory”.
The part of comprehension that is intentionally integrated through a mental assembly process we will call “synthesis”. Etymologically, to synthesize means to put-together. Syntheses are held together with logic, causality, hierarchy or other formal organizing principles. This is the stuff of theory, epistemology and logic.
The part of comprehension that is spontaneously integrated through spontaneous intuition is concept. Etymologically, to conceive means to take-together. What is conceived is taken-together as a given. This is the stuff of ontology.
Sometimes when we synthesize a new idea from an assembly of ideas, the new idea is spontaneously intuited as a whole, so we comprehend it both as a synthesis and as a concept. Or sometimes when we carefully examine a concept and disassemble it into components we find that the components are each intuitively conceived. The components can now be disassembled and reassembled both synthetically and conceptually. When we know this way, we understand through “analysis”. Etymologically, analysis means loosen-up.
When we are able to analytically loosen a synthesis up into concepts, then re-synthesize the parts into a concept whose conceptual sub-components remain visibly present as parts of a whole, our understanding is “articulate”. Etymologically, articulate means to separate into joints.
Ultimately, all understanding, whether conceived or synthesized or both, is developed up from givens, which, as explained above, are taken as givens. But we can only take what we have capacity to conceive. Anything we cannot conceive, even if it is real and actually present is inconceivable, and we are oblivious to it. Etymologically, oblivious means smoothed-over. When we are oblivious to something, not only is nothing there, but the nothingness is smoothed over, so nothing is missing. The thing exists, but to us, it is non-existent.
All of this is theoretical knowing. And it is only one kind of knowing.
Theoretical knowing that conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is one-third of wisdom. As philosophers would say it is a necessary condition of wisdom but not a sufficient condition.
Practically knowing how and morally knowing why conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is the other two-thirds of wisdom.
Wisdom is known in our hearts, felt in our souls and done with our strength.
But even wisdom is not enough.
Wisdom must also be wisdom that loves, because love is our participation in being in whom we are only part — an organ — together with others who, with us, are participants in a being who sustains us as who we are. When we love our spouse, this is our participation in the being of our marriage . When we love our friend, this is our participation in a friendship. When we love an organization, we participate in the life of a group who sustains who we are as a person — a member — an organ of this living whole.
These wholes in whom we participate are inconceivable and incomprehensible in theoretical terms. We can certainly theorize about the limits of theoretical knowledge, as I am presently doing, and it can be helpful (which is why I am doing it) but it is insufficient.
Without threefold loving wisdom that not only conceives, but also does and feels, we are oblivious to the beings in whom we participate, and we remain oblivious to the Being in whom our own being and all being has being.
Obliviousness to the the Being in whom our own being and all being has being is atheism. We say with Bertrand Russell “I have no need for that hypothesis” without recognizing that belief in God not a matter of theory.
We must wisely love beyond the limits of ourselves, with the entirety of our hearts soul and strength, and this is actualized by loving our fellow participants in being and in Being.
The virtue of humility is helped along by heartfelt humiliation.
I told my daughters:
There are four sides to every argument.
There is my side.
There is your side.
There is what I think your side is.
There is what you think my side is.
Here, some will object: “There there is also a fifth side — the truth.”
For a liberal, there is no such fifth side.
This absence is the quintessence of liberalism.
When we are young we lack awareness of how much awareness we lack.
We see all the faults, stupidity and pure viciousness embedded in the system, and we have a vision of a system without all these faults. We see it so clearly! Why shouldn’t we tear out the faults, or even dismantle the system and rebuild it more purely and on cleaner ground?
We would — if it weren’t for the powerful. They will not yield their place. They insist on blocking the way for those who wish to change the world for the better. They have power and wish to keep it, enjoy it and multiply it.
So think the powerless. So think those who have lived under the shelter of other people’s imperfect (sometimes bungled) efforts to make order from the chaos of reality. So think those who have benefitted so much from this orderly sheltering that they believe order, equality and justice is the natural default state and that these defaults persist unless some wicked person disrupts it.
When something goes wrong this must have been inflicted by some other person. They cry out in indignation: “Who is responsible for this?”
It does not occur to them to notice when things go right, and even less when things stay right for long durations. It does not occur to them to cry out in gratitude: “Who is responsible for this?”
Humility develops when one actually takes responsibility for one these sheltering layers. Failure is inevitable and imperfections turn out to be ineradicable. And gratitude grows with awareness of how much sheltering is still happening.
One begins seeing life against the background of chaos.
Health happens against a background of decay and death, and only with effort does health expand out by decades.
Reason happens against a backdrop of insane passion, and only with effort does it expand further and further out into the inexplicable, arbitrary and meaningless.
Justice happens against a background of inequality, coercion, physical violence snd terror.
Leisure happens against a background of toil.
Contentment happens against a background of discomfort and deprivation.
In this age, a great many old people make it to then end of life, never having given shelter to anyone, and without developing humility or gratitude. They still think, had the world been more just and reasonable, they could have done it better. Entire professions exist that permit people to grow old without ever maturing. (Can you guess what these are?)
Entire generations can live under the shelter of ancestors, whose accomplishments were so effective the generations following them are not even aware of the stormy skies outside the azure ceilings under which they have lived. Instead of repairing leaks, they curse those responsible for the leaky roof that is the very bane of their existence.
I am a liberal, but a weird liberal. Through my own persistent trying and failing, I have come to appreciate what a monumental but fragile accomplishment liberalism is. Even under the many superstructural roofs and substructural ceilings over my own head, I still struggle to keep the modest ceilings for which I am responsible intact and dry.
I do not want to surrender this imperfect but mostly-good order to naive idealists who credit themselves (and their kind) for a sunshiny faith that people are innately good, that the world itself is innately good, that order, benevolence and fairness is the default state of things — unless someone makes it otherwise. I do not want to put people in charge who feel that their responsibility is only to prevent wicked people from introducing wickedness into what would otherwise be an automatic paradise.
These idealists feel that all that stands in the way of possessing the order, goodness, reason and justice to which they are entitled is to displace those responsible for this flawed system that deprives them of perfection — and, of course, to replace them with less biased, more aware and more morally awakened people who, on this basis, deserve power. I do not want to live under the rule of innocently ambitious, naive ingrates. It was not their fault that they were badly parented and miseducated — but who (besides them) says that not being in charge is a punishment? They are simply unqualified. They see only the dark side of responsibility.
Perhaps I have become a conservative liberal. So be it.
…To feel something as real in the measure of its full reality is to love. It is love which awakens us to the reality of ourselves, to the reality of others, to the reality of the world and to the reality of God. In so far as we love ourselves, we feel real. And we do not love — or we do not love as much as ourselves — other beings, who seem to us to be less real.
And what is the sense of unreality — of ourselves, of others, of the world, of God? That is alienation.
I could have sworn I wrote this already, but I can’t find it…
In Existentialism: A Reconstruction, David Cooper states that the entire purpose of existentialism is to overcome alienation. He identifies three kinds of alienation:
- Alienation from one’s own self
- Alienation from other people
- Alienation from the world
And I add a fourth category of alienation:
- Alienation from God (or, if you prefer, alienation from what is beyond our experience, but which involves and obligates us)
I believe all religion is essentially existentialist. But not all existentialism is religion, and this is a function of whether this last fourth category is included or excluded from the goal of one’s existentialism.
“A moment is being, not an entity. Intuition knows being together with those entities who are being’s content at the moment.”
Content is synthesized, but being conceives and is conceived. Can you intuit the difference?
Conception means spontaneously taking-together as given. Our being must have a capacity for taking-together any particular given, or we are oblivious to its presence.
That for which we have ears to hear, eyes to see or a mind to know, — for those with the means to conceive a particular reality — a given is self-evidently present.
Conversely, that for which we lack the means to conceive is not present. It is nothing. And we can’t understand how others who claim something is present are unable to see that nothing is there.
And it does not help at all that many who see nothing claim to see something, and perhaps even manage to see what they imagine. They gush about the emperor’s new clothes, and the cynics rejoice. The emperor, however, is clothed — sometimes quite majestically.
But we all conceive some kind of content. The question is only: which content.
The content we manage to conceive we can combine in any number of ways. We make arguments. We construct theories. We build bodies of knowledge.
Some of this knowledge is only conceived at the base, but is synthesized all the way up. In order to make immediate, intuitive, experience-near sense of it all, the whole must be traced back to its simple components.
Some knowledge, however is conceived at the base and also at the crown and is conceived through and through. The edifice is reinforced throughout with immediate intuitions. We intuit not only elementary particles, the sun and moon, and whole, wide world but also such important in-between realities, like love, responsibility and inspiration.
We need much more of this latter knowledge. Physicists ought to think like physicists, but the rest of us should think like the beings we are, playing the roles we are called to play. If we all think like physicists, we will not only be second-rate physicists — we will all duplicate the kinds of mistakes physicists make, and we will not be the beings we need to be to see where the physicist’s sharp sight is most blind.
We must become wiser about how we know. We must reroot all our knowledge in what is beyond the limits of knowledge, in the immediacy of intuition. This rooting of knowledge in mystery beyond knowledge is wisdom.
Intuition relates to what is present, in its passage from who it was to who it will be. The memory and anticipation of the present moment is who that moment is.
Strange language. Why “who”? Why not “what”?
A moment is being, not an entity. Intuition knows being together with those entities who are being’s content at the moment.
A subject is beneath and beyond every object.
A subject plucks definites from the infinite.
When we learn the subject Mathematics, we are able to count, add and subtract what was merely none, some or many. When we learn the subject Literature, we are taught how to make imagination a good neighbor to actuality, because “Good fences make good neighbors.”
When we learn the subject Myself, we learn how to give and accept presents from beyond ourselves.
Intuition is not about things, but, rather, movements of being, and intuiting gives us access to participating in such movements. So it is more how things have been to how things will be. But it is not only about anticipation but influence. Anyone who has participated in craft will recognize this: Intuition is how things have been and how they ought to be next, and next again.
Later, we may reflect. We may intuit patterns in these events in which we participated, and these patterns may enhance our future participation. We may experience our participation more lucidly, remembering further back and anticipating further beyond in one bright intuition. If this happens, knowledge is glorious. And we might convey our knowledge to others and enhance their intuitions. If this happens, knowledge is great.
But if knowledge tries to substitute itself for direct intuition of reality, if knowledge tries to think or feel where it ought to intuitively be in the moving suspense of the present, then it becomes a logical usurper and a verbose kidnapper of souls.
Everything good is rooted in being’s direct skin-to-skin contact with the realities of reality.
Intuition is being’s direct skin-to-skin contact with what is beyond itself.
Our understanding of the reality is rooted in our participation in the world around us.
Some of us participate mainly by observing, which is certainly one good mode of participation, but it gives us only one type of knowledge.
Experimentation — trial and error in various domains of reality is another. We might experiment with matter, or with logical forms or with words and sounds. Or we might experiment socially, and try out different public personas. Or we might experiment interpersonally and see what kinds of interaction is possible with different people in our lives. Anywhere reality is, experiment is possible.
Some of us participate in life mainly by learning about various realities second-hand and trying to construct a clear, consistent and comprehensive theory of everything.
Years ago, I noticed Kant used the word “intuition” strangely.
I always thought of intuition as hunches — as a mysterious kind of knowing arising from the depths of the unconscious. But this was just an artifact of the distorting schema of the freudian worldview (or maybe vulgar freudianism), which thinks with words about a spoken-about world. In this world, anything that is not sayable is just a sayable thing that cannot be accessed. The content of the unconscious is suppressed, or concealed in darkness — but in principle, but once it is brought into the light of consciousness, what was dark is now lucid and articulate.
But, it turns out intuition is much simpler than all this.
Intuition is our access to reality which bypasses language.
But many of us have it in our heads that it is always better to think things out carefully before acting. We inventory and assess the elements of a situation. We apply our theories in order to project the likely outcomes of our actions. We look for gaps in our understanding. We look for errors, contradictions and inconsistencies in our logic. We talk it out in our own heads and with each other. Then we make a plan. Then we execute that plan.
Things get decided this way, far, far away from the situation discussed. And often these decisions are made by people with shockingly little first-hand experience of the situations. They have never observed these situations directly, let alone participated in them or experimented with them. It is all second-hand knowledge. And plans are guided by theories which are also often not informed by first-hand participation. And often, on the ground, on the front-lines, these decisions are made to work, despite being unhelpful or even harmful to the situations in question.
Intuition is spontaneous response to situations. Intuitions might be purely practical. Or they may be unsayable understanding, but which, with effort and skill, can be outfitted with words. Intuitions might be a sense of significance — a sense of “something might happen here” or “this is important” or “this is good” — or the opposite of these. Intuition might trust or mistrust. All these can and do happen — and should happen — prior to language.
Whether words are “experience-near” or “experience-far” to us is a function of whether our intuition can handle these words directly, or whether other words must assist our use. When we must think about words, using other words, before we can get them to convey a point, we are in the realm of experience-distant, and those words feel dry and awkward or even meaningless.
And sometimes the words we use are just memorized strings that seem to refer to something real, but serve other purposes. Sometimes they convey a general attitude or mood. Or they may serve as shibboleths, signaling membership in a tribe. We say things ostensibly about the world, but in actuality, are meant only to indicate who we are — or, more accurately, what we are.
Experience-near language is informed by real, intuitive experience, and this allows the words to also be used and understood intuitively.
Experience-distant language can be used with skill and force, but it always feels separated from anything recognizably real.
Ideally, we would equip ourselves with language that intuitively connects with the things closest and most important to us. The tradeoff might be an inability to explain more distant phenomena and integrate the whole into a clear, consistent, comprehensive theory of everything. But there are tradeoffs in the other direction, too. A clear, consistent, comprehensive theory of everything might, for instance, be able only to theoretically account for things such as love, pain, morality or beauty — but be unable to offer any practical guidance or insight or do justice to the experiences of these things.
I am desperately trying to find much simpler ways to convey how service design works. Here is one of my recent simplifications. And it is a simplification that intentionally errs toward over-simplification. It not precisely, exactly accurate, but it is directionally true and helps illuminate the logic of the methodology. It is a helpful heuristic.
The structure of service design is palindromic. That is, it has a mirror structure. It goes 1-2-3-4, then 4-3-2-1.
The first motion is understanding what the current state of the service is.
The second, reversed motion is one of instaurating what the future state of the service ought to be.
- 1. Understand the current organizational capabilities.
- 2. Understand the deployment of these capabilities in the current service delivery.
- 3. Understand the current experience of those who receive, deliver and support the experience.
- 4. Understand where the opportunities are: what should and can change.
Then, in reverse order:
- 4. Prioritize the opportunities: what should and can change.
- 3. Envision a better future experience of those who receive, deliver and support the experience.
- 2. Design a future service delivery capable of actualizing the better service experience.
- 1. Develop the capabilities required to support the better service.
Above, I linked to an old post, a lengthy excerpt from Bruno Laour’s An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. As apt a term as “instauration” (discovery-creation) is in any truly creative act, it is even more true in service design, where an organization providing a service is dependent on voluntary actors choosing to participate in a way that sustains the service — as opposed to refusing to participate in the service, or participating in a way that undermines the service.
…we find ourselves in a strange type of doubling or splitting during which the precise source of action is lost. This is what the French expression faire faire — to make (something) happen, to make (someone) do (something) — preserves so preciously. If you make your children do their vacation homework assignments, you do not do them yourselves…
As any leader knows, even employees must be persuaded to participate in their employment. But in service design, often much of the service is delivered by partners, many of whom are not under the control of the organization. Participating in the service must be valuable to them or they will opt out or lame out.
Service design wins participation in service systems by designing for mutual benefit. It instaurates conditions where win-win interactions spontaneously occur between service actors.
And this is the single biggest difference between service design and other experience design disciplines, for example, user experience and customer experience. Service design is like them, in that those people who receive the service (whether we call them users, or customers, or consumers or patients, etc) are supposed to find that experience a good experience. That is, the design is functionally helpful, easy to understand and interact with and, hopefully, resonates with their aesthetic and moral ideals. But service design is just as concerned with the experiences of those people on the front lines, actually delivering the service. And it is also concerned with the experiences of people behind the front lines who support that service.
Services are optimally effective when they serve everyone who participates in the service — receiving the service, delivering the service and supporting the service. And, I should add: They must also work for those sponsoring the service. That is, the service must help the sponsoring organization flourish.
In the near future I’ll be posting more and more on service design. I am taking a class on designing online courses, and my project will be to design an actual course, “What is Service Design, and What Does It Do?”
I am absolutely convinced that the praxis of service design is a path to a much better way to work, live and experience life. I would love to see service design become mainstream and become our next collective enworldment, at least for everyday life.
For those souls whose highest value is attacking existential threats, the deprivation of existential threat is an existential threat.
I am buying books to read to my grandson, Jack.
- Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (video)
- Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young (video)
- The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss (video)
- Sherlock Hemlock and the Great Twiddlebug Mystery by Betty Lou (video)
If are a parent or grandparent, I recommend that you buy all these books and read them to your child, especially if your child is between the ages of 20-40.
I do not doubt in my heart that there is higher and lower, better and worse.
A person who, looking at the duck-rabbit optical illusion, sees only a duck or only a rabbit has a worse understanding than a person who sees an optical illusion. A person who understands others primarily as instances of categories is morally worse than someone who approaches others as subjectively real persons — as a fellow I, addressed as Thou.
There are others who share my certainty regarding higher and lower and better and worse, but whose ideas of higher and better are lower and worse than mine.
Of course, it is possible that I am wrong. And, of course, if I am wrong, I cannot know it. But it does not follow from this that I must assume skepticism toward my own beliefs. Absolutely not. I will doubt when and only when I arrive at actual doubt, and not a minute before.
Meanwhile, I will fight for what I know to be right against what I know to be wrong, and I will do do with the same fervor and ferocity of those who confuse the artificial clarity of ideology with the natural immediacy of intuitive contact with reality.
C. S. Peirce, from “Some Consequences of Four Incapacities Claimed For Man”:
We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. …
A person may, it is true, in the course of his studies, find reason to doubt what he began by believing; but in that case he doubts because he has a positive reason for it, and not on account of the Cartesian maxim. Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.