What’s always impressed me about this poem is its conception of civilization as an individual entity. You can almost see him, with his fingers of armies and his skyscraper-window eyes.
We could become far more intelligent than we are by adding to our stock of concepts, and by forcing ourselves to use them even when we don’t like what they are telling us. This will be nearly always, because they generally tell us that our self-evidently superior selves and ingroups are error-besotted.
Of course, not everyone likes the idea of spreading scientific understanding. Remember what the Bishop of Birmingham’s wife is reputed to have said about Darwin’s claim that human beings are descended from monkeys: “My dear, let us hope it is not true, but, if it is true, let us hope it will not become generally known.”
The sophisticated “scientific concept” with the greatest potential to enhance human understanding may be argued to come not from the halls of academe, but rather from the unlikely research environment of professional wrestling.
This essay discusses my current sense of our challenges. Importantly, this should not be read as gloomy, pessimistic or hopeless. I’m deliberately focusing only on our challenges and limitations here. Unsurprisingly, many of our challenges are also our opportunities (e.g., exponential technology growth).
By our very attitude to one another we help to shape one another’s world. By our attitude to the other person we help to determine the scope and hue of his or her world; we make it large or small, bright or drab, rich or dull, threatening, or secure.
Our beliefs concerning large scale patterns of the present world carry predictions for the future and explanations of the past. Yet, when we think about society as a greater whole and the humans in it, it seems all too natural to consider these kinds of models separately.