Abstract submitted for Passion Talks 16, held August 12-13, 2016 in Mt. View, California.
America is experiencing a level of political and cultural polarization not seen since the 1960’s. In this talk, I will explore how productive work can be a powerful tool for breaking down the assumptions, habits, and tribal structures that contribute to social polarization. I will start by presenting a simple conceptual model of the causes of polarizations, then discuss two case studies from my experiences at MIT and Apple demonstrating how to use that model to bring together mutually suspicious communities. I will end with suggestions for how technologists, entrepreneurs, and activists might leverage this model to better achieve their societal and business goals.
By: Billy Rojas
What is Radical Centrism like?
Elements of Radical Centrism
- Empiricism -the need to rely on concrete evidence and objective logic
- Realism -an honest outlook on life, including honesty about our perceptions
- Surrealism -acknowledgement that the unconscious matters in human creativity
- Scientism -reliance on science to provide reliable answers to questions
- Historicism -the view that there are patterns in history that have meaning
- Cosmopolitanism -the attitude that human diversity is generally for the good
- Ecumenism -in the interfaith sense primarily
- Reformism -strong preference for political change through constitutional processes
- Originalism -interpretation of Amendments by reference to their original intentions
- Futurism -social forecasting as crucial to viable -testable- political ideas
- Functionalism -the view that the place of religion in the public square should be evaluated on the merits of what faith groups actually do, the social functions they provide the community, and other objective criteria
- Transformationism -considerations about major changes such as enhanced human intelligence, extended life span, biocomputers as human prostheses, and other developments sometime associated with the “singularity” effect, are also worth serious thought. Maybe not for any near term future, but certainly in the coming decades.
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
as it appears, has had the effect of generating intelligent life and civilization.
- Ayn Rand’s Objectivism
- Moral Relativism
- Totalitarianism in all forms, Nazi, Communist, or anything else.
- Social Innovationism
- Self Actualism
1b) These objective facts, when taken collectively, contain all of existence
1c) A fact is a piece of incontrovertible truth which exists at a specific point in time, or over a length of time
2) Under no circumstances can humans be perfect (or optimized)
3) As a result, humans can’t have perfect knowledge of facts
Result: No claim by humans of objective truth can be correct. Humans can only have working rules.
1) Humans can’t have perfect knowledge of facts
2a) Humans can improve their situation by applying solutions based on correct understanding of facts
2b) The human situation is the current state of either a single person, a group, or collective humanity
3) As a result, humans can improve their situation, but their application of solutions is imperfect
Result: There is a distinction between “correct knowledge”, which can help humanity improve its situation, and “perfect knowledge”, which is an impossibility involving total understanding.
1) Humans can improve their situation, but their application of solutions is imperfect
2a) Humans can improve their situation through careful study and application of innovation
2b) Innovation is anything created or concocted by humans that exists outside of nature
3) As a result, careful study and application of innovations can improve humanity’s situation, though imperfectly
Result: Broad (ideological, say) rules don’t suffice in improving the human situation.
1) Careful study and application of innovations can improve humanity’s situation, though imperfectly
2) Even though facts don’t change, our understanding of facts can change
3) As a result, our imperfection in applying innovations is a reflection of a lack of understanding
Result: When we change our position, it’s not an admission that we don’t think facts are absolute- it’s that we were wrong.
a) retained eternal objectivity, and removed objective truth from the controlling hands of humans
b) removed human perfectibility from consideration (destroying communism), yet protected things like transhumanism and futurism as incremental enhancement
c) defended the ability of humanity to continue solving problems
d) wholesale destroyed broad “moral imperative” ideologies (socialism, modern progressivism, evangelicalism), in favor of incrementalism
RadicalCentrism.org is proud to announce a monumental new work by Billy Rojas:
100 New Constitutional Amendments for the 21st Century
A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future:
100 New Constitutional Amendments
Billy Rojas – RadicalCentrism.org – 2011
Update: The contents of this page have become part of the sub-site A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future: 100 New Constitutional Amendments for the 21st Century.
From Dr. Ernie:
I am “done” with philosophy.
I’ve moved on to something I call “zoasophy”. Zoasophy is related to Philosophy the way Engineering is related to Science — the goal is to actually build systems that work, not just think about them.
The word “zoasophy” means “liver of wisdom”, in contrast to philosophy which means “lover of wisdom.” It comes from the greek word “Zoa” meaning life, as in zoology and Zoe Girl. Not “liver” as in the bodily organ — that would be hepatosophy. 🙂
The foundational principle of Zoasophy is:
The Truth is What Works
What Works is not the Truth
That is, the ultimate test of truth is whether it actually works. At the same time, just because something works does not mean it is true. Truth emerges from repeated examination of results and competing hypotheses, as encapsulated in my Radical Centrist Manifesto.
As such, zoasophy shares much in common with pragmatism, in that we care about the “cash value” of ideas. But where pragmatism is traditionally analytic — trying to uncover truth — zoasophy is primarily synthetic, trying to construct useful (if imperfect) truths. It is similar to what little I understand of Frank Ramsay‘s approach to truth. [Update: and, as pointed out by several people, the activism of philosophers John Stuart Mill and John Dewey, whom I need to learn more about].
Zoasophy is closed related to “prefuturism”, another neologism I toss around. The pre-future is — obviously! — what comes after the post-modern. 🙂
More specifically, a prefuturist believes we are continually creating a future with a deeper understanding of truth and reality, but we aren’t there yet — and never will be. Everything we make is flawed and imperfect, and usually in some ways worse than what went before, but overall we can move things incrementally forward.
Thus, zoasophers believe in the improvability but not perfectibility of human constructs — including perhaps our selves. In particular, we believe that rational arguments can approximate but not quite capture the real world. That is, our mathematical and conceptual models can become extremely good at capturing many aspects of the real world, but are only partial approximations, and must continually be tested against reality — especially in new contexts.
Ultimately, the real test of a zoasopher is not what they say, but how they live. Or rather, their ability to actually live as they say they will, and achieve the results they claim for the reasons they provide.
Which is why, as a good zoasopher, I should probably stop talking about it and go back to practicing it…
Canadian Free Press – This is indeed a book that suits the times with the approaching American presidential election of 2012 in which a large segment of the public may be expected to follow the same trajectory of political thinking by rejecting the ‘glamour appeals’ of the Left with its penchant for identifying itself with so called ‘progressive’ policies.
The Left is Seldom Right, Norman Berdichevsky
To all Conservative and Independent friends tired of the constant Right-Left invective in politics…..If you would like to stage an exciting event with a dynamic speaker….I believe your members will find my new book ‘The Left is Seldom Right’ challenging conventional wisdom and both novel and insightful. I would be pleased to speak about the book before your group.
- THE ANDREA SHEA KING SHOW -Right vs Left and A Troublemaker 08/23 by Andrea Shea King | Blog Talk Radio
Both interviews begin about ten minutes into the program.
I argue that the political terms Left and Right, have often become stale clichés but that the Left has a vested interest in maintaining use of this terminology due to the pronounced left/liberal slant of the media, Hollywood, and many “celebrities”, artists and writers. My book also alerts the public to the imminent dangers of militant Islam and how Jihad has been tactically endorsed by both the Far Right and Far Left in the past
With best wishes,
Dr. Norman Berdichevsky
p.s. You can find my website at nberdichevsky.com. More details about my book below…
from the site : Jesus Creed
January 9, 2009
Adam Hamilton’s Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics is a perfect blog book. I would love to see a host of evangelical churches using this book for group studies and discussions. It will surely bring out how it is that many think about various topics; it will also reveal what folks think.
What Hamilton makes clear to me is that the Third Way is not the way of compromise; instead, it is the way working out a Christian view of things regardless of which “party” prefers that option. It is a refusal to be an ideologue, a refusal to say “liberal is always right” or “conservative is always right.”
Do you think the middle is expanding? Do you see a trend for those on the right to move to the middle? Is a radical center attractive to you? Both politically and theologically? Overall, what do you think of this book?
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An Open Letter from Billy Rojas to the Harvard Divinity Bulletin
A letter by Leo Shatin which appears in the Winter/Spring 2011 issue of HDB deserves serious comment. It is all well and good to teach about religion, following the template of Comparative Religion or similar programs, and do so starting at the public school level. As a retired teacher of history and Comparative Religion myself I can hardly argue with that premise.
This is crucial in a pluralistic democracy which is home to hundreds of millions of people who identify with a multitude of faith traditions. And it is crucial for anyone who intends to have dealings with people who live in other nations –India, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Japan, Brazil, Russia & etc– which do not share many of the assumptions and values that are foundational to American culture. It is a really good idea to promote the kind of education which allows US citizens to get along with each other and to understand the outlooks of the peoples of the Earth.
Cyrus the Great understood exactly this principle in the 6th century BC, which is what his famous Cylinder advocating religious tolerance throughout the polyglot Persian Empire was all about. And we can find similar sentiments expressed in such diverse sources as Malachi 1: 11 in the Bible, the Lotus Sutra, and Ludlul Bel Nimeqi, “I will praise the Lord of Wisdom,” of ancient Mesopotamia.
All of this said, however, Shatin made a vital point. If we are to teach religion truthfully shouldn’t we , as he put it, “incorporate historical instances and examples of misuses of religion” ? The reasons should be so obvious that further elaboration is not necessary. But there is an implication within this excellent suggestion that must be spelled out so that its importance is not lost.
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A great summary of general principles we seek to follow. — Ernie P.