Friday, April 21, 2006

My Wimpy Pseudo Blogroll, IIII: "Passionate Users"; "Reflective Happiness"

Yes, the erudite among you will note that I use the classical, non-Julian form of Roman numeral four. The rest of you will just have to figger it out. A one, and-a-two:

1) I found this blog by way of Winds Of Change. "Creating Passionate Users" is the name, but that, as with many good blogs, doesn't really describe where the author[s] go[es].

LATER: Whoops! The "About" page mentions three contributors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates, and Eric Freeman. Apologies to all for my earlier error. P.S. The pic on this post is from their site.

Recent gumption-relevant posts appear to include
As might be implied by my desultory posting, I am at chronically low gumption myself these days. I think Kathy [, Bert and Eric]'s blog might help me some there. And I'm looking into this one:

2) One fellow who has devoted his professional career to exploring "learned helplessness" and its alternatives is Dr. Martin Seligman. I expect any good search engine will point you to his stuff. He and some associates have recently unveiled the new, improved Reflective Happiness site.

Sure, some people give "happiness" a bad rap, but I think it's clear that habitually helpless, anxious, depressed or angry people don't always get the gumption, flow, or results they could if they were only episodically in those states. I believe the chosen expression, Reflective Happiness, is aimed at puncturing the notion that happy == fatuous. It ain't necessarily so.

Yes, it's a subscription service. No, I have no financial interest in it. No, I am not a subscriber (yet). If/when I know more, I'll report.

As a final note, some correspondents have asked me to post more personal-experience anecdotes. I think the expression one person used was "Why don't you get off your high horse and tell us something!"

Hmm! In the old days I was never mistaken for a cavalryman. Maybe it is time to get more down to earth for a spell.


Blogger Paco Pond said...

I have been reading Seligman, et al. I've also been interested in the virtues, having written a master's thesis on moral obligation and the ethics of virtue. You might be interested in this link.

26 April, 2006 21:14  
Blogger Nortius Maximus said...

Thanks for the link. I find things to nod at and bones to pick a-plenty. It's a funky stew. Yay!

Given the problem with Confucius's "Rectification of Names" all the way up to Wittgenstein, I'm reluctant to try to fix (either correct, or hold-still) the categories about thinking.

Four things come to my mind, some or all of which probably ought to drive full-blown essays:

1) I had an earlier post (now offline) where I mention the imperative for an esthetics of ethics. I'm sure JH in the piece you point to would hate that claim. I hope to get it in shape to republish someday soon.

2) The following are not really interchangeable terms, though we tend to treat them as such (and I'm only speaking English here!):


There are many other words in that thought-cluster -- I'm deliberately pruning.

If Hofstadter is right, and most thinking (and the substrate of all other thinking -- call it "thinking-sub-zero") really is fluid and analogical, it makes sense that "thinking-sub-one" as reasoning, problem-solving or logic is much rarer; and that due to its rarity and other factors is considered hard.

And of course we all know that people hop around this space as they try to convince or justify.

This overloading of the word "thinking" sheds a light on the old "Most people think that they are thinking when they are merely re-arranging their prejudices" -- in that aphorism, there's an elevation of what thinking is, to something beyond thinking-sub-zero, and an implicit call for thinking-sub-one or better (whatever that is).

This is right nearby another old jape: "Man is not the rational animal -- he is the rationalizing animal."

But rationalizing is still a kind of problem-solving, and it employs reason, and even logic, does it not?

If "how to justify" trumps "what is so" or even "what heuristics ought to have the most salience", we get a certain quality of thought, don't we?

The words are all used in a slippery and analogical fashion: in the very article you cite, Reason and reasons are made mention of. And "reasons" means "justifications". Arrgh. Justification looms large. And yet...

3) I'm reading Bartley's Second Edition of The Retreat to Commitment". His second edition was published 22 years after the first, which I read a year ago, and I'd say he was not just spinning his wheels (or re-arranging his prejudices?) in the interim.

It's a full-court press against justification, without abandoning reason(ing). Still not all that popular an approach.

He and his votaries say it's possible to believe and defend with rationality while sidestepping dogma and justification, and to avoid relativism's siren call. But 44 years on, it still hasn't gotten much traction. Still I persist in wondering whether folly must ever be our nemesis.

4) The piece you cited will almost certainly work its way into the thing I'm trying to write about deontology versus consequentialism. We do appeaer to be wired for both.

The deontology ("that's just WRONG!") function appears to be closely coupled to, at minimum, repugnance(which I suspect is tied to gut single/few-trial learning a la "don't eat those berries").

What all is the consequentialism function (I guess, originally for cause-effect rational/operant stuff, predator modeling and trajectory prediction, that sort of thing, possibly connected also to animism) tied to?

Explaining stuff post hoc? Probably. What else?

27 April, 2006 21:32  

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