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Presentation - Vrije Universiteit Brussel

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In response to the paradigma shift
FROM SURVIVAL TO QUALITY OF
LIFE (the greatest ever) :
a progressive
evolutionary worldview
ECCO Jan. 25th 2007
Jan Bernheim
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
jan.bernheim@vub.ac.be
A poorly prepared project takes
three times as long as planned
A well prepared project takes twice
as long as planned
Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid
of Human needs
The greatest paradigma shift ever: FROM
SURVIVAL TO QUALITY OF LIFE
Suffering as the default state of the
human condition
• Nature is indifferent to suffering: only survival
matters
• Examples: spider wasps, predators
• пѓ Escapisms: renunciation (oriental
philosophies) or metaphysical transcendency
(religions, mysticism, the eternal life of the
soul…)
Challenges 1/4
• The
old
discourses,
religions
and
communism, for example, are discredited.
• Richard Dawkins (The Delusion of Religion, 2006) :
religions are pernicious because:
- Fallacious
- Calamitous
- Obstructive for progress
President Bush says God talks to
him.
If he had said it was through his
hairdryer, there would have been
a national emergency.
I for one don’t see what the
hairdryer adds to the ridicule of
the situation
Sam Harris
In: Letter to a Christian Nation 2006
Pros and cons of religions
• “Good people do good things and bad people
do bad things. But for good people tot do bad
things, it takes religion.”
Stephen Weinberg
• “And for bad people to do good things also
that takes religion.”
Freeman Dyson
CHALLENGES 2/4
• The old discourses filled needs. Their discredit
leaves voids:
пѓ Believers are happier, give more to charities…
пѓ Unbelievers know better what they don’t believe
than what they do believe.
пѓ A world without God is cold and gloomy, without
transcendence.
пѓ Can one replace religions by a scientific
worldview that would be at least as satisfying?
Challenges 3/4
Alternatives to the great
discourses?
• Grotesque
worldviews
(fundamentalisms, New Age…)?
• Relativisms?
• Consumerism and Postmodernism:
vacuity as a worldview.
Challenge 4/4
• From
heteronomous
(communitarianisms,
authoritarianisms),
humans
have become autonomous
• (пѓ individualism).
(Also according to modern christians, e.g. Roger
Lenaerts S.J.: De droom van Nebuchadnezar,
Lannoo, 2004)
What after the grand discourses?
Alternative
philosophical
strategies
:
•
No worldview
The end of History
(Fukuyama)
•
Postmodern
Relativism
Two separate worlds:
Material
(life IN the world)
Spiritual
(religions,
belief in belief ,
New Age …)
One world
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
Objective
• Can we, following Leo Apostel, construct a
contemporary worldview based on the
sciences and multidisciplinarity?
• Let’s rise to the challenge: the Darwinian (~
matter) and historical (~ time) perspectives
lead to a
progressive evolutionary worldview
Evolutionary Theory :
short instructions for the user 1/3
• 1) variation and пѓ 2) selection of better
fit variants
– Evolution is both conservative and
progressive: what works well persists and
what works better is selected.
– It obtains for both genes (units of biological
transmission) and for memes (units of
cultural transmission)
– Fitness for what? For capacity of survival
and procreation
Evolutionary Theory :
short instructions for the user 2/3
• The two imperatives of de existence are:
SURVIVAL and PROCREATION
• In a competitive world, with limited
resources, the two survival strategies for
which we were selected are :
- agression - egoism
and
- co-operation - altruism
Avatars of Aggressivity
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
violence,
elimination,
appropriation,
submission,
exclusion,
exploitation of nature and humans
....
Avatars of co-operation
•
•
•
•
•
Kindness, friendship, love (in that order),
solidarity, compassion, care (in that order),
benevolence, helpfulness
credibility,
justice
пѓ in short: what we call the VIRTUES, a
universal ethics, “secular humanism”, the interreligious common language proposed by the catholic
ethicist Tristram Engelhardt MD.
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
Agression and co-operation as
survival strategies
• A mix of both strategies is necessary for
survival.
• Problem: Our genes by and large are
those of the hunters- gatherers of
10.000 years ago, selected for what
THEN was the best mix of agression
and co-operation: we’re �misfits’, poorly
adapted to the present world, which is
far more complex.
An ETHICS
Behavioural
mix adapted
to society
AGGRESSION
CO-OPERATION
Time, Complexity
CONSEQUENCES OF
INCREASING COMPLEXITY
• The more complex a society,
the more opportunity for
aggression & co-operation,
• More interactions = more
feedback
пѓ aggression inhibited
пѓ co-operation rewarded
An ETHICS
AGGRESSION
Acceleration
CO-OPERATION
Time, Complexity
Behavioural
mix adapted
to society
How do we cope with our genetic
misfitness?
• We compensate for our obsolete genes
by memes: horizontally and vertically
transmissible cultural factors, such as:
behaviours, judeo-christian norms et
laws or secular humanistic principles ...
• пѓ Civilisation is a means to cope with
our obsolete genes.
An ETHICS
Behaviou
ral mix
adapted
to society
AGRESSION
Genetic
mix
CO-OPERATION
Time, Complexity
An ETHICS
AGRESSION
Behaviou
ral mix
adapted
for
society
CULTUREL
AJUSTMENT
NEEDS
Genetic
mix
CO-OPERATION
Time, Complexity
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
An ONTOGENESIS:
where do we come from?
Ontogenesis repeats phylogenesis / development reiterates history (Haeckel’s law)
– For anatomy
– In the mental and behavioral realm: developmental
psychology
– For societies and civilisations: modernity
versus
the anteriority (not inferiority!) of alternative societal
models
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
The purpose of life?: an
AXIOLOGY
• From survival to QOL: the greatest
revolution ever
• Its utilitarian ethics, suffering and
enjoyment as the measure of all things
(JS Mill, J. Bentham, Peter Singer, …)
also provides the purpose of life:
maximising the ratio of enjoyment and
suffering
Definitions of Happiness
• Relativistic, from Aristotle to postmodernism
• Escapistic
• Evolutionary: sustainable pleasure, i.e . the
feeling one has when the indicators for
satisfaction of needs are favourable : food,
shelter, love, growth and (Maslow!) selfactualisation
A tall order:
to measure subjective well-being,
the perception quality of life
i.e.
To quantify what is qualitative
To make objective what is subjective
Mesurer ce qui est mesurable,
et rendre mesurable ce qui ne
l’ est pas.
RenГ© Descartes
Conventional question versus Anamnestic Comparative Self
Assessment (ACSA). Which global question is better suited?
Conventional
Question (CQ)
Biographical
Question (ACSA)
On this scale I rate the
current period as …
I am ...
+5
very satisfied
5
satisfied
4
neither/nor
3
unsatisfied
2
very unsatisfied
1
... with life
as a whole
OR
best
period
0
-5
worst period
… in my life
Examples of sequential ACSA measures
during disease
5
5
3
3
1
1
-1
-1
-3
-3
-5
-5
-7
-7
5
5
3
1
-1
-3
-5
-7
-9
3
1
-1
-3
-5
-7
•
Bernheim, J.L., and M. Buyse: 1984, J. Psychosoc. Oncol. 1. 25-38
Total
End-Stage
Liver Dis. (POST ltx)
End-Stage
Liver Dis. (PRE ltx)
Diabetes Mellitus
Metabolic Dis.
Circulatory Dis.
Dependency Dis.
Somatization Dis.
Affective Dis.
Anxiety Dis.
Post-Traumatic
Stress Dis.
Eating Dis.
Discrimination (inter-group comparisons)
& Sensitivity to objective change (after life- and
QOL-saving transplantation in End-Stage-Liver Disease )
12
10
8
6
ACSA
CQ
4
2
0
The distribution of happiness
in the world
This was a snapshot.
Next question:
does happiness progress?
OBJECTIVE indicators of
(SUBJECTIVE) happiness
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Health
Wealth
Security
Liberties
Equality
Tolerance
Information,
knowledge
In short:
The Universal
Declaration of
Human Rights
(1948)
Are these indicators
- stable?
- in regression?
- in progress?
Liberties, Self-determination
and Control
• Over death: palliative care and
euthanasia.
Liberties, Self-determination
and Control
• Over death: palliative care and
euthanasia.
• Over procreation.
• Over sex life.
• Over partner choice.
CONCLUSION
Yes, if
• Happiness is the highest good,
• And the evolution of the
objective conditions for
happiness is the indicator of
progress,
• then there is objective
progress.
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
Maslow’s Pyramid of Human
Needs
How do we live?
A political-economical PRAXEOLOGY
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights :
condition of happiness
• NEW phenomena :
-> the entrance of ethics in Realpolitik
-> intolerance for unhappiness
-> the extinction of generation conflicts
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
The progressive evolutionary
worldview in everyday life:
a LIFE PRAXIS
• Good deeds: in complex systems, small
actions may have great consequences.
• Hope is a rationel use of probability / Risk
acceptation
• It is highly irrationnal not to take emotions
into account
What to expect from a worldview :
help in confronting the big questions
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
What exists?: an ontology
Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis
The purpose of life?: an axiology
Where are we going?: a futurology
Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology
How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis
An explanation of behaviours?: a praxiology
Good and bad?: an ethics
A rational framework for emotions and mysteries
Scientific Emotionality,
evolutionary spirituality.
From Spinoza to Teilhard to Apostel 1/2
• Feeling the
presence of God
• Feeling the world becoming
ever more complex, and
entropy decreasing
• Feeling deep
peace and
harmony
• Profound satisfaction with
the reality of progress and
our place as the temporary
endpoint of the evolution of
living beings at the heart of
the continuum between
elementary particles and the
universe
• A wish to come
closer to God
• Wish to understand ever
more about the cosmos,
nature and ourselves
A progressive evolutionary
worldview
Provides
• Not a road, but a roadmap
• Not roots, but a GPS
• Not a destination, but reference points
(you need lighthouses, but the last thing
you want to do is head for them)
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