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Critical Thinking Downhome Style

“We’d like the answer to life, the universe and everything. We’d really like an answer. Something simple.” Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy I was afflicted with the western quest for certainty most of my life. The quest for certainty is why we quote authorities, spout talking points and print bumper stickers. The very worst … Continue reading

Where Do We Come From? Meet Great Grandma X

DNA studies show that we all trace back to Africa and the San people trace no further back; they are genetically the root of the human family tree. While it is true that the San people may have changed in appearance over the past 100,000 years or so, the changes have probably been very small. … Continue reading

Politics and Morality: Karl Marx

Karl Marx (1818-1883), like John Locke, Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill, was a product of the Enlightenment. Both Marx and Mill were committed to basing politics on a scientific theory and the freedom of the individual. Yes, Marx also wanted to free individuals-from exploitation by the elite into a classless, stateless society. It is … Continue reading

Politics and Morality: John Stewart Mill

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was son of James Mill, who was a friend of Jeremy Bentham’s, and a true believer in utilitarianism. To achieve maximum utility, James was very concerned to provide his son the most efficient possible education. Tutors were brought to his home and in fact, John turned out to be a brilliant … Continue reading

Politics and Morality: Jeremy Bentham

While other Enlightenment philosophers appealed to natural law, a set of universal truths, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) said natural law is nonsense; nonsense on stilts. Bentham is the father of utilitarianism, which states that we should do whatever maximizes the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. This idea is very much alive and kicking … Continue reading

Politics and Morality: John Locke

John Locke (1632-1704) was an early Enlightenment philosopher and physician who had a huge influence on Thomas Jefferson and by extension all Americans. The early Enlightenment sought certainty and answered the question: “How can you claim to really know a thing?” with the concept of maker’s knowledge. You can claim to know a thing if … Continue reading

Depression: The Cold Gray Blanket of the Soul

It’s getting to be that time of year again when many people fall into mild to serious depression. For years I noticed that life seemed overwhelming to me right around the third week in December. Although it’s mildly embarrassing to talk about such personal things, I hope this might help someone. The holidays, they say, … Continue reading

When Your Front Teeth Fall Out

I was on a cleaning binge and found this half-finished portrait from many years ago. The thing is, this young lady now has a daughter whose front teeth have fallen out. Mary, show this to your toothless daughter. My apologies for using this blog for a distinctly private message. Facebook won’t let me upload a … Continue reading

The Ugly Side of Private Property

For most of human history land was not owned by anyone in particular; it belonged to the tribe; or more accurately, the tribe belonged to it. The bones of ancestors were buried in the same earth from which everything necessary for life-food, water and shelter was provided. “What is this you call property? It cannot … Continue reading

Sacred Spaces

Since the beginning of humanity until only very recently, people lived in intimacy with nature. I like the proverb attributed to Native Americans, regarding spring: “Walk gently on the ground, Mother Earth is pregnant.” Although I was raised as a Catholic, I definitely “get” the nature-oriented religions I study. Yet this is no contradiction. If … Continue reading