Philosophy of the Information Age
It is called “The Information Age” because this digital revolution is causing a fundamental shift in the evolution of human beings. Anthropologists have documented that early humans first started transferring information in a recorded form some 70-90,000 years ago. This evolutionary adaptation enabled one or more of the human species around at that time to pass information on to the next generations causing an increase in brain development leading us out of the Stone Age into more and more complex relationships and ultimately the earliest known forms of communities. This digital revolution we are in is creating a new fundamental shift in our brains, our bodies and the way we interact with life. It has been said that “What the information age is posed to do can be equated with what fire did for our ancient ancestors”.
This digital age has produced an abundance of information in any field of study or thought and seems apparent that the “discernment” of information is of utmost importance. Understanding and applying “critical thinking” on your journey may be the difference between developing and living a unique and fulfilling life or getting caught unwittingly into feeding the economic machine driven by big corporations, controlling governments or organizations promoting their delusionary belief.
There is one overbearing point we must understand is the need for “discernment”. When anyone, anywhere can access the wealth of the world’s knowledge from a mobile phone the critical point becomes how to discern what information is going to support a life of meaning and purpose. Learning to evaluate and sort through the bad information, the bullshit and the plain useless information to get reliable accurate information that can contribute to helping you understand yourself, better understand and interacting with the other people especially when they have a different perspective and contribute to making this world a better place.
In this article Daniel explores what the information age, what it means to humanity and some valuable techniques that you can use to gather, discern and apply information to increase your awareness and ability to effectively interact with this world. Read More >>
“Reality”, what it is or means has been discussed and debated as long as humans have had the capacity to debate it. In the 21st century science has demonstrated that reality is not is what it appears to be. We know that our brain has its own way to interpret information as it comes in through our senses revealing a slightly different reality for everyone depending on possibly unlimited factors. In one of the better science documentary series on the brain David Eagleman demonstrates this point clearly throughout the six part series. In Part 2 “What Makes Me” he says “you don’t see objects as they are, you see objects as you are”.
So, anyone with a basic understanding of our brain and how we understand it based on our current knowledge should realize our experience, what we see and feel does not necessarily reflect reality. It is real to us but not necessarily “empirical reality”. Empirical reality gives us a foundation of knowledge outside our subjective experiences. Example: We can say that we “know” the earth is not at the center of the universe based on our observations and “empirical” evidence. You can wish it isn’t to fit a particular belief, or just decide to hold some other view despite the facts, like the church did in the 17th and 18th century but that doesn’t change reality as we understand it.
Reality is for the most part and varies from person to person but there is a need to form some conclusions as to what you choose to believe. You cannot live in total absolutes as our knowledge is way too limited. You cannot live if total relativism as you have to make decisions in your day to day life. When you’re crossing the street you have to decide that car coming toward me at 80 km/hr is real and I better wait until it passes before stepping out onto the street. This leaves us humans having to make some decisions and or come to some conclusions as to what we are going to believe. I certainly hope, especially for my daughter that she makes these decisions based on empirical reality and not some nice feel good organization that is trying to live a delusion. Don’t get me wrong, we all live with a level of delusion as our senses are faulty data collecting devices so we to think critically and make our best judgments based on empirical evidence and our goals and dreams.
Let’s look at some definitions of Empirical Reality:
Empirical reality is the reality that can be deduced from repeatable observations of the senses. While many thought experiments can be created that test the a priori assumptions that this is the “true” reality, epistemological methods that rely on the validity of an empirical reality are by far the most successful ever created.
Webster Merriam Dictionary:
- originating in or based on observation or experience
- relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory
- capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment
- of or relating to empiricism
Critical Thinking is becoming more and more popular as the need continues to become more and more apparent. “Critical Thinking” is a buzz word often used and mostly abused. Critical thinking is well defined in organizations by organizations like the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking – with a goal to “articulate, preserve, and foster intellectual standards in critical thinking research, scholarship, and instruction ” is full of excellent information [http://www.criticalthinking.org] and demonstrates the importance and value of this characteristic and skill which typically gets weakened as more and more people use it without regard to its importance and impact on our lives.
To solve the problems in my life the understanding and application of “critical thinking” seemed to be the answer, probably because it is not an answer but a process to engage in raising my level of awareness allowing me to identify the causes and effects of my beliefs and actions. I would like to share a couple of points that I found after years of asking questions, gathering knowledge, and challenging widely held beliefs.
Critical Thinking involves great human capacity to ponder deeply on specific subjects or issues removing our biases, wishes, wants or preferences. Being able to absorb facts and or knowledge then evaluate and sort through eliminating what doesn’t fit our observations, goals, wants or desires. Being courageous enough to challenge the “status quo” or “accepted belief” and push further for greater understanding and awareness is critical thinking.
Outstanding men and women throughout history have revolutionized our minds, beliefs and ways of thinking. All the way back to the deep mental practitioners of thought like Hindu’s and Buddhists to more well know figures like Sir Isaac Newton pondering deeply about the apple falling advancing our understanding of gravity and Darwin and his deep thinking about species and evolution revolutionizing our understanding of biology.
Many of humankinds greatest discoveries came from men or women that thought critically, that pondered deeply, asked the question “why” didn’t settle for simple or inadequate answers, got precise in meaning, communicated their results inviting scrutiny and accountability and raised our level of understanding.
***** Critical Thinking Application:
Following in the footsteps of great scientists or philosophers start thinking critically about “who you are and how you came to be”. This is not some silly exercise or something easy to do but taken serious you will unlock or engage in a fundamental characteristic of being human and a real sense of personal development. I believe this gets at the very meaning of Socrates (470-399 BC) and his well-known quote “The unexamined life is not worth living!”
To think critically about “who you are and how you came to be” will propel you on a scientific journey understanding biology, cell replication and evolution which leads you to “how you came to be”. Exploring “who you are” will take you on a philosophical journey understanding the environment that shaped, the people that influenced you making you who you are today.
I invite you to join many of us on this personal journey of critical thinking to enrich our lives and make this world a better place. This website is full of resources to help you on this journey. Dan² Dialogue for Development provides a platform to further explore and interact with others on this journey.