Pondering the past, wondering about who we are as human beings, and attempting to decipher the code of human heritage are all components of the research found at human journey. We live in a time unprecedented in human history when, and where we are able to use science as a tool to refine our understanding of the past, unlocking the code of human evolution.
Werner Herzog, and his recent film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams points to an earlier time in human history, a time when humans had a capacity for art, long before most of us think of human beings as the artists we have become in the twenty first century. www.wernerherzog.com
Thank you to all who put these ideas into the ethers, and for all of the great educators who continue to propel our understanding of things.
G. Polya, “How to Solve It“, 2nd ed.,
Princeton University Press, 1957, ISBN 0-691-08097-6.
1 UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
You have to understand the problem. What is the unknown? What are the data? What is the condition? Is it possible to satisfy the condition? Is the condition sufficient to determine the unknown? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant? Or contradictory? Draw a figure. Introduce suitable notation. Separate the various parts of the condition. Can you write them down?
2 DEVISING A PLAN
Find the connection between the data and the unknown. You may be obliged to consider auxiliary problems if an immediate connection cannot be found. You should obtain eventually a plan of the solution. Have you seen it before? Or have you seen the same problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a related problem? Do you know a theorem that could be useful? Look at the unknown! And try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown. Here is a problem related to yours and solved before. Could you use it? Could you use its result? Could you use its method? Should you introduce some auxiliary element in order to make its use possible? Could you restate the problem? Could you restate it still differently? Go back to definitions. If you cannot solve the proposed problem try to solve first some related problem. Could you imagine a more accessible related problem? A more general problem? A more special problem? An analogous problem? Could you solve a part of the problem? Keep only a part of the condition, drop the other part; how far is the unknown then determined, how can it vary? Could you derive something useful from the data? Could you think of other data appropriate to determine the unknown? Could you change the unknown or data, or both if necessary, so that the new unknown and the new data are nearer to each other? Did you use all the data? Did you use the whole condition? Have you taken into account all essential notions involved in the problem?
3 CARRYING OUT THE PLAN
Carry out your plan. Carrying out your plan of the solution, check each step. Can you see clearly that the step is correct? Can you prove that it is correct?
4 LOOKING BACK
Examine the solution obtained. Can you check the result? Can you check the argument? Can you derive the solution differently? Can you see it at a glance? Can you use the result, or the method, for some other problem?
Another way of summarising the ideas in George Polya’s book “How to solve it”:
SEE , PLAN , DO , CHECK
Understand the Problem – (SEE)
Carefully read the problem.
Decide what you are trying to do.
Identify the important data.
Devise a plan – (PLAN)
Gather together all available information.
Consider some possible actions:
look for a pattern;
draw a sketch;
make an organised list;
simplify the problem;
quess and check;
make a table;
write a number sentence;
act out the problem;
identify a sub-task; and
check the validity of given information.
Carry out the plan – (DO)
Implement a particular plan of attack.
Revise and modify the plan as needed.
Create a new plan if necessary.
Check the answer – (CHECK)
Ensure you have used all the important information.
Decide whether or not the answer makes sense.
Check that all of the given conditions of the problem are met by the answer.
Put your answer in a complete sentence.
OBSERVATION: POLYA’S ideas about problem solving show a sequence of form, allowing one to observe, enhance, and define problems through the use of series, or progression. Do art, science, and mathematics have common ground for investigation? Is there a similarity between these three seemingly disparate fields of study? Posing a problem, recognizing its parameters, observing it, and ultimately solving it are essential to the function of curiosity and investigation, and are central to the process of creativity. HEURISTICS: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods, also: of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance such as a heuristic computer program.
Berlin, Isaiah, Russian Thinkers, Hogarth Press, Viking Press, 1978.
The Hedgehog and the Fox: “A queer combination of the brain of an English chemist with the soul of an Indian Buddhist.” E M de Vogue
page 42…..”There is a particularly vivid simile (War and Peace, epilogue, part 1, chapter 2) in which the great man is likened to the ram whom the shepherd is fattening for the slaughter. Because the ram duly grows fatter, and perhaps is used a a bell-wether for the rest of the flock, he may easily imagine that he is the leader of the flock, and that the other sheep go where they go solely in obedience to his purpose. He thinks this and the flock may think it too. Nevertheless the purpose of his selection is not the role he believes himself to play, but slaughter–a purpose conceived by beings whose aims neither he nor the other sheep can fathom.”
OBSERVATION: Berlin is a thinker who helps us see, and understand beyond the surface that presents itself. Perception, the enlightened activity of insight, and the ability to recognize the function of words, conceptualization, and communication assist us in the quest to understand who and what we are. As human beings, it is our duty to know, to think and ponder. Perception, point of view, content, all drive understanding. How effectively and accurately we use these various conceptual tools, helps us truly understand the nature of reality, and our individual part in the human collective.
Frederick S. Lane, The Decency Wars : The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture
M. Katherine B. Darmer and Robert M. Baird, Morality, Justice, and the Law : The Continuing Debate
Michael Ruse and Christopher A. Pynes, Editors, The Stem Cell Controversy : Debating the Issues, 2nd Edition
Steve F. Sapontzis, Food for Thought : The Debate over Eating Meat
Peg Tittle, Should Parents Be Licensed? : Debating the Issues
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Same-Sex Marriage : The Moral and Legal Debate
M. Katherine B. Darmer and Richard D. Fybel. Editors, National Security, Civil Liberties, and the War on Terror
Edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Death Penalty
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Euthanasia : The Moral Issues
Robert Zubrin, Energy Victory : Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil
Michael Ruse and David Castle, Editors, Genetically Modified Foods : Debating Biotechnology
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Caring for the Dying : Critical Issues at the Edge of Life
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, The Ethics of Abortion : Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice, Third Edition
Lee Nisbet, Ph.D., The Gun Control Debate : You Decide, Second Edition
Michael Ruse and Aryne Sheppard, Editors, Cloning : Responsible Science or Technomadness?
Robert M. Baird, Reagan Ramsower, and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Cyberethics : Social and Moral Issues in the Computer Age
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Hatred, Bigotry, and Prejudice : Definitions, Causes, & Solutions
Robert M. Baird, William Loges, and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, The Media and Morality
Jeffrey A. Schaler & Magda E. Schaler, Smoking : Who Has the Right?
Robert M. Baird & Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Pornography : Private Right or Public Menace?
Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D., Drugs : Should We Legalize, Decriminalize, or Deregulate?
John Donnelly, Suicide : Right or Wrong?
Robert M. Baird and M. Katherine Baird, Editors, Homosexuality : Debating the Issues
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Punishment and the Death Penalty : The Current Debate
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Animal Experimentation : The Moral Issues
Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Editors, Morality and the Law
Kristina Borjesson, Into the Buzzsaw : Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press
Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA, Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts
Al J. Venter, The Road to Nuclear Armament: The Third World Threat
Steven K. O’Hern, The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad
Ann Fagan Ginger, Challenging U.S. Human Rights Violations Since 9/11 : Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
Lewis S. Feuer, Imperialism and the Anti-Imperialist Mind
Eliezer J. Sternberg, Are You a Machine? : The Brain, the Mind, and What It Means to Be Human
Josias Semujanga, Origins of the Rwandan Genocide
OBSERVATION: In order to function as a thinking and productive human being it is necessary to grasp and understand information. Without access to data, we are left in the blind. Without the ability to imagine, interact, and communicate we are also left blind. It is only by actively participating in the life of ideas where we contact, process, and interpret information that we have any opportunity to exist beyond the mundane.
Zinn, Howard, Terrorism and War, Seven Stories Press, 2002.
page 22 “In war the evil of the means is certain and the achievement of the end, however important, is always uncertain. That is, war always sets off a chain of events that are unpredictable. For instance, in World War II, you could not be certain that you would defeat fascism. You might be fairly certain that you would defeat Hitler and Mussolini; but you could not be certain that you would be doing away with all the elements of fascism, with militarism, racism, imperialism, and violence. In fact, after 50 million deaths, that did not happen. Considering those issues, and thinking about the prospects for the human race given the horrific technology of war, persuaded me that there could no longer really be a war that we could call just. I decided that whatever problems we faced, whatever tyranny we faced, whatever world situation we faced, whatever act of aggression we faced, we had to come up with a solution other than the mass killing of human beings.”
OBSERVATION: In order to make any reasonable assessment of information it is necessary to be literate. Literacy means several things, and especially requires the ability to read and comprehend facts, data, ideas, etc. While the internet, mass media, publicity and marketing drive a large percentage of available data, it is important to read beyond these content delivery systems. Books, whether in the form of ebooks, or print, and the ability to select, and discern value in content is paramount to any developed understanding of complex issues. Teachers, and the value they provide the world, access to genuine data, the ability to understand, cross-reference, and make conclusions about issues and ideas provides positive action. The statistics regarding illiteracy in the world, and the resultant damage caused by illiteracy are both issues underlying many of the social ills facing the human population. It is necessary for all of us to take the time to learn, to apply Kohlberg, and his ideas about behavior above simple self interest in order to make the world a healthier place to live.
Buy a book today: read it, comprehend it, pass it along!
Harold Bloom, How To Read and Why, Scribners, 2000.
“Because my ideal reader, for half a century has been Dr. Samuel Johnson, I turn next to my favorite passage in his Preface to Shakespeare: This, therefore, is the praise of Shakespeare, that his drama is the mirror of life; that he who has mazed into his imagination in following the phantoms which other writers raise up before him may here be cured of his delirious ecstasies by reading human sentiments in human language, by scenes from which a hermit may estimate the transactions of the world and a confessor predict the progress of the passions….Let me extend Johnson by also urging us to recognize the phantoms that the deep reading of Shakespeare will exorcise. One such phantom is the death of the Author; another is the assertion that the self is a fiction; yet another is the opinion that literary and dramatic characters are so many marks upon a page. A fourth phantom, and the most pernicious, is that language does the thinking for us…..I urge you to find what truly comes near to you, that can be used for weighing and considering. Read deeply, not to believe, not to accept, not to contradict, but to learn to share in that one nature that writes and reads.”
OBSERVATION: Certain individuals help us understand the process of profound understanding, they help us see with the mind, perceiving realms beyond the commonplace, unmasking the mysteries hiding behind various surfaces.
Edward O. Wilson, CONSILIENCE, The Unity of Knowledge,
Alfred Knopf, 1998.
PAGE 24-25 “In his 1941 classic Man on His Nature, the British neurobiologist Charles Sherrington spoke of the brain as an enchanted loom, perpetually weaving a picture of the external world, tearing down and reweaving, inventing other worlds, creating a miniature universe. The communal mind of literate societies–world culture–is an immensely larger loom. Through science it has gained the power to map external reality far beyond the reach of a single mind, and through the arts the means to construct narratives, images, and rhythms immeasurably more diverse than the products of any solitary genius. The loom is the same for both enterprises, for science and for the arts, and there is a general explanation of its origin and nature and thence of the human condition, proceeding from the deep history of genetic evolution to modern culture. Consilience of causal explanation is the means by which the single mind can travel most swiftly and surely from one part of the communal mind to the other.”
OBSERVATION: In any life, teachers and mentors provide opportunity for insight, perhaps even epiphany. Some teachers provide insight filled with wisdom and clarity of expression. These teachers provide us with a way to ponder ideas about life, helping us all to understand the complex world in which we live. Edward Wilson is recognized as one of the great thinkers of our time, and it is this authors belief that his insights need to become more widely known, and applied in the everyday lives of individuals around our planet. Wilson’s book, The Superorganism should be required reading in every school, for through these insights all might prosper ultimately creating a more enlightened and socially aware population.
HISTORY OF HISTORY: IDEA IS HISTORY
History (from Greek historia, meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”) is the study of the human past. It is a field of research, which uses a narrative to examine and analyze the sequence of events, and it sometimes attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events. This discipline of history can be used as an end in itself and as a way of providing “perspective” on the problems of the present.
Etymology: Middle English histoire, historie, from Anglo-French estoire, histoire, from Latin historia, from Greek, inquiry, history, knowing, learned; akin to Greek eidenai to know
1 tale: story
2 a: a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes
2 b: a treatise presenting systematically related natural phenomena
2 c: an established record
3 branch of knowledge that records and explains past events
4 a: events that form the subject matter of a history
4 b: events of the past
4 c: one that is finished or done for
4 d: previous treatment, handling, or experience
Extant Pronunciation: \_ek-st_nt; ek-_stant, _ek-_\ Archaeologists to identify and recognize cultural and social customs from ancient historic periods use extant examples. Scientists use various mechanisms to examine the past, using the geologic record, and the data contained within rock formations to understand forces working at specific times, and geographic regions. Astrophysicists and astronomers use telescopes, spectrometers, and other machines to examine the physical universe. This data allows the scientist to look back through history in order to identify cosmic circumstances, ultimately to know how the universe formed, when things happened, and how the dynamics of celestial mechanics continues in the present, predicting future developments. Extant artifacts define Art history. These objects and ideas allow us to speculate and re-create a social history of any specific time. It is necessary to clearly understand that art history is an actual history only defined by the continuing presence of the idea. Some cultures maintain an oral tradition carrying significant icons into future generations through the transmission of the word and idea. Many examples exist in the historical record of painting, sculpture, architecture, and print offering a glimpse into what people thought, and in effectively maintaining the idea as a living entity. Ideas are sometimes lost, destroyed, or fail to be cared for. These ideas then depart from the historical record. Artists engage the historical record through the creation, capture, and maintenance of ideas. Properly maintained ideas live well into the future as ideas flow through dialogue. The persistence of history is the key element to preserving truly human pursuits. How, who, why, and what ideas are maintained determine the course of human history evidenced by the ideas themselves.
Etymology: Latin exstant-, exstans, present participle of exstare to stand out, be in existence, from ex- + stare to stand
1 archaic: standing out or above
2 a: currently or actually existing
Archaeologists to identify and recognize cultural and social customs from ancient historic periods use extant examples.
Scientists use various mechanisms to examine the past, using the geologic record, and the data contained within rock formations to understand forces working at specific times, and geographic regions. Astrophysicists and astronomers use telescopes, spectrometers, and other machines to examine the physical universe. This data allows the scientist to look back through history in order to identify cosmic circumstances, ultimately to know how the universe formed, when things happened, and how the dynamics of celestial mechanics continues in the present, predicting future developments.
Extant artifacts define Art history. These objects and ideas allow us to speculate and re-create a social history of any specific time. It is necessary to clearly understand that art history is an actual history only defined by the continuing presence of the idea. Some cultures maintain an oral tradition carrying significant icons into future generations through the transmission of the word and idea. Many examples exist in the historical record of painting, sculpture, architecture, and print offering a glimpse into what people thought, and in effectively maintaining the idea as a living entity. Ideas are sometimes lost, destroyed, or fail to be cared for. These ideas then depart from the historical record.
Artists engage the historical record through the creation, capture, and maintenance of ideas. Properly maintained ideas live well into the future as ideas flow through dialogue. The persistence of history is the key element to preserving truly human pursuits. How, who, why, and what ideas are maintained determine the course of human history evidenced by the ideas themselves.
ARISTOTLE (384 BC), PLATO (427 BC), SOCRATES (470 BC), AESCHYLUS, LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452), MICHELANGELO BUONAROTTI, GIOVANNI BELLINI, RAPHAEL, ALBRECHT DURER, J ROBERT OPPENHEIMER, ENRICO FERMI, PTOLEMY (90), EDWARD TELLER, ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879), STEPHEN HAWKING (1942), PYTHAGORAS (570 BC), DEMOCRITUS (460 BC), NICOLAUS COPERNICUS (1473), FRANCIS BACON (1561), NIKOLA TESLA ( ), GALILEO GALILEI (1564), THOMAS HOBBES (1588), SIR ISAAC NEWTON (1642), RENE DESCARTES (1596), VOLTAIRE (1694), GEORGE BERKELEY (1685), WALTER BENJAMIN, CHARLES DARWIN (1809), KARL MARX (1818), SIGMUND FREUD (1856), EMILE DURKHEIM (1858), VLADIMIR LENIN (1870), CARL JUNG (1875), BERTRAND RUSSELL (1872), NOAM CHOMSKY ( 1928), ARCHIMEDES (287 BC), JOHANNES KEPLER (1571), ROBERT BOYLE (1627), BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706), JAMES WATT (1736), CHARLES DARWIN (1809), LOUIS PASTEUR (1822) ALFRED NOBEL (1833), ALEXANDER BELL (1847), THE WRIGHT BROTHERS (1867/71), ALEXANDER FLEMING (1881), CARL SAGAN (1934), ALEXANDER THE GREAT (356 BC), RAMESES, JULIUS CAESAR (100 BC), CONSTANTINE THE GREAT (280), LOUIS XIV (1638), PETER THE GREAT (1672), CATHERINE THE GREAT (1729), GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732), THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743), NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769), ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809), MAHATMA GANDHI (1869), WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874), FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT (1882), CHARLES DE GAULLE (1890), NELSON MANDELA (1918), MATRIN LUTHER KING JR (1929), ADAM, NOAH, ABRAHAM, MOSES, CONFUCIUS, SIDHARTHA GAUTAMA, JESUS CHRIST, PATANJALI, DHARMAKIRTI, TSONG KHA PA, MUHAMMAD, BAHA’U'LLAH, JALAL AL-DIN RUMI, MARTIN LUTHER, JOSEPH SMITH, PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA, KASYAPA, MILAREPA, DINNAGA, CHANDRAKIRTI, ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI, JOHN CALVIN, POPE JOHN PAUL II, DALAI LAMA, NEALE DONALD WALSCH, BUCKMINSTER FULLER, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, VITRUVIUS, ARTHUR C CLARKE, LINUS PAULING, LAWRENCE KOHLBERG, HOWARD BLOOM, TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, JOHANN CARL FRIEDRICH GAUSS (1777), EDWIN HUBBLE, MARIE CURIE, JEAN PIAGET, FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, PIERRE DE FERMAT, MAX PLANCK, IVAN PAVLOV, GOTTFRIED LIEBNIZ, ST THOMAS AQUINAS, IMMANUEL KANT, B F SKINNER, AND ………
OBSERVATION: Attempting to list all of the great minds who have contributed to the developments of human capability is an exercise of limitless proportion. In the process of contemplating the great thinkers throughout human history, it is necessary to include names of those who contributed intellectual, human, and technological awareness, as well, as to recognize anonymous individuals who contributed ideas without recognition. This being the case, it may not be possible to include all people who should be included in this list of great thinkers. As new revelations come about the list will be updated!