Ideas are the Vocabulary of Thought – Mortimer Adler
It cannot be too often repeated that philosophy is everybody’s business. To be a human being is to be endowed with the proclivity to philosophize. To some degree we all engage in philosophical thought in the course of our daily lives. Acknowledging this is not enough. It is also necessary to understand why this is so and what philosophy’s business is. The answer, in a word, is ideas. In two words, it is the Great Ideas, – the ideas basic and indispensable to understanding ourselves, our society, and the world in which we live.
Truth is a Model – Neil Gershenfeld
The most common misunderstanding about science is that scientists seek and find truth. They don’t. They make and test models. Building models is very different from proclaiming truths. It’s a never-ending process of discovery and refinement, not a war to win or destination to reach. Uncertainty is intrinsic to the process of finding out what we don’t know, not a weakness to avoid. Bugs are features; – violations of expectations are opportunities to refine them. And decisions are made by evaluating what works better, not by invoking received wisdom. Making sense of anything is making models that can predict outcomes and accommodate observations. Truth is a model.
This Will Make You Smarter – John Brockman
What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? Here the term “scientific” is to be understood in a broad sense, – as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be human behaviour, corporate behavior, the fate of the planet, or the future of the universe. A scientific concept may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or any other analytical enterprise, as long as it is a rigorous tool that can be summed up succinctly but has broad application to understanding the world.
New Energy for a New World – Barry Lord
In the early years of this century, it is clear that we need a new global energy strategy, balancing a mix of our existing and newly developing energy sources not only against their harmful effects on the planet, but also against our need to intensify production in some parts of the world, and our concern to restrain population growth everywhere. The economic pressure of a capitalist system powered by an assumption of growth and increasing profits, and concerns about the environmental effects of our dependence on carbon-based fuels, add to the urgency of finding this balance and expediting the development of new or additional sources of energy.
The Power of Story – Ric Young
The ability to frame and champion a compelling narrative is central to the work of transformational leadership. Great leaders are first and foremost creators of stories that galvanize others, – stories that can invest distant and challenging goals with meaning and appeal. Recent research in neuroscience has shown how human beings are hard-wired for stories. We have story-patterning brains, both constructing and attending to meaning in narrative form. But even without the brain-mapping confirmation of this, the powerful force of stories is evident throughout cultures and throughout history.
The Best Story Wins – Ian Gill
In the end, what a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable resilient society needs most of all is a good story. Or 35 million of them, told to each other every day in the most inventive, inclusive, constructive, and inspiring ways we can stoop to conjure. For all the sorry state of our media, Canada’s media moment might just be now. The art might be less in trying to engineer new media technologies, but rather in formulating not just for ourselves, but for the world, a new narrative that privileges personal and community growth – a narrative that is utterly disruptive to the status quo. A narrative that, if powerful enough, will find its way onto whatever platforms there are to mobilize it in the public sphere.
Exploring for Universal Patterns – Ken Wilbur
Humans everywhere have the capacity to form images, symbols, and concepts, and although the contents of these concepts often vary, the capacity is universal. These universal and cross-cultural patterns tell us some very important things about the human condition, because if you have found something shared by most or even all humans, you have probably found something of profound significance. Certain patterns in language, cognition, and human physiology, for example are quite similar wherever they appear. Humans everywhere have the capacity to form images, symbols, and concepts, and although the contents of these concepts often vary, the capacity is universal.
A Culture of Creativity – Ken Robinson
Creativity is related to culture. Cultural conditions can kindle or kill creativity. We do not have creative ideas in a vacuum. Individual creativity is stimulated by the work, ideas, and achievements of other people. We stand on the shoulders of others to see further. This is true in all fields, in business, science, sport, music, design, fashion, whatever. Human intelligence is creative in a profound sense. Thinking and feeling are not simply about seeing the world as it is, but of having ideas about it, of interpreting experience to give it meaning. Different communities live differently according to the ideas they have and the meanings they see.
Discovering the New World – Jack Weatherford
In ignoring the Indian cultures we are doing far more than slighting the American Indians of their earned place in history. We may be hurting ourselves because of what we have all lost. We lose a whole world view, for each culture creates the world in a different way with unique knowledge, unique words, and unique understandings. While most of this cultural knowledge may be of no importance today, we have no idea what value it may yet hold for our children in generations to come. The world has yet to utilize fully the gifts of the American Indians.
Evolution of a Superspecies – David Suzuki
The human brain conferred a massive memory, insatiable curiosity, and a remarkable creativity, qualities that more than compensated for our lack of physical or sensory abilities. And that brain had become aware of itself, conscious of its presence in time and space, capable of imagination and dreams. We observed; learned from accidents, mistakes, trial and error, and discoveries; remembered what we had experienced; recognized causal relationships; and came up with innovative solutions to problems
The Culturally Modified Brain – Norman Doidge
As we age and plasticity declines, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to change in response to the world, even if we want to. We find familiar types of stimulation pleasurable; we seek out like-minded individuals to associate with, and research shows we tend to ignore or forget, or attempt to discredit, information that does not match our beliefs, or perception of the world, because it is very distressing and difficult to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways.
We Are All Co-Creators – Vaclav Havel
When I talk about contaminated moral atmosphere, I am not talking about the gentlemen who eat organic vegetables and do not look out of the plane windows. I am talking about all of us. We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all, – though naturally to differing extents, – responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim. We are all also co-creators.
Now We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do? – Bruce Mah
One thing is certain. We don’t need a thought police. We need discussion. We need thinking. We need critical faculties. We need to embrace the dilemmas and conflicts of design, and take responsibility for the outcomes of our work. When we use the term “we”, we don’t mean designers as separate from clients, or as some extraordinary class of powerful overseers. We mean “we” as in citizens collectively imagining our futures. The future of global design is fundamentally collaborative.
Framing our Choices – Jonah Lehrer
How does the mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better? Ever since the ancient Greeks, assumptions have revolved around a single theme: humans are rational. It is not how the brain works. Whenever someone makes a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions. Even when a person is trying to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence judgment.
The News and Democratic Politics – Alain de Botton
For all the talk of education, modern societies neglect to examine by far the most influential means by which our populations are educated. The news is the single most significant force setting the tone of public life and shaping our impressions of the community beyond our walls. It is the prime creator of political and social reality. Modern societies are still at the dawn of understanding what kind of news we need in order to flourish.
We Believe What We Want to Believe – Seth Godin
What’s your story? Will the people who need to hear this story believe it? Is it true? Every day we see mammoth technology brands fail because they neglected to ask and answer these questions. We see worthy candidates get little attention and flawed ones bite the dust. There are small businesses that are so focused on what they do that they forget to take the time to describe the story of why they do it.
The Contribution of Language – David Crystal
Human beings are able to communicate their thoughts and their feelings in many different ways. If I have the ability I can paint them, draw them, sculpt them, dance them, compose them into a symphony or a ballet or a piece of jazz, and express myself in all the ways that are called ‘arts and crafts’. Each does something none of the others do. But if we want to describe what it is that we’ve seen and heard, or give it a name, or discuss it with others, then we do need language. Language allows us to talk about our experience of the world in a way that no other means of communication can.
How Advertising Ate Our Culture – Terry O’Reilly and Mike Tennant
On a given day, at least three hundred, and as many as six thousand marketing messages are lobbed your way. Statistics suggest that people spend more time exposed to advertising than they spend eating, reading, cooking, praying, cleaning, and making love combined. Marketing has transformed childhood games into multi-billion dollar sports empires, manufacturing heroes and sculpting our history.
Why Addiction is Increasing – Bruce Alexander
The Globalization of Addiction shows that the social circumstances that spread addiction in a conquered tribe or a falling civilization are also built into the globalizing free-market society that is sweeping the planet. Global free-market society is magnificently productive – between recessions – but it subjects people to irresistible pressures towards individualism and competition, tearing rich and poor alike from the close family, cultural, and spiritual ties that have always constituted the fabric of human life
There was Always a Story – Martin Goldfarb and Howard Astor
Everybody has a story to tell. Most people want to tell their story, and people should be encouraged to tell their stories. Today, with new social networks, this urge is increasingly satisfied. More and more people are sharing their stories through Facebook, twitter, Youtube, blogging, etc. Storytellers need audiences, people who are willing to listen, to become engaged in the process. It would appear that we are living in an age of the renaissance of storytelling and shamanism.
The Magic of Writing – Christopher Vogler
Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural, on the borderline with telepathy. Just think: We can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts. The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended. Words can bind us, condemn us, or bring us joy. They can hurt or heal us with their magic power. Writers, like the shamans or medicine men or women of ancient cultures, have the potential to be healers.
Writing with Intent – Margaret Atwood
How do we learn our notions of what a story is? What sets a story apart from mere background noise, the wash of syllables that surround us and flows through us and is forgotten every day? What makes a good story a unified whole, something complete and satisfying in itself? What makes it significant speech? Those little black marks on the page mean nothing without their retranslation into sound. Even when we read silently, we read with the ear, unless we are reading bank statements.
Changing Minds – Kevin Dutton
If you are in a situation and not sure how to act, you are going to look to other people and the norms of that situation. ‘Join your fellow guests in helping to save the environment. In a study conducted in fall 2003, 75 per cent of guests participated in our resource savings program by using their towel more than once.’
Achieving Your True Potential as an Actor – Larry Moss
Sometimes we feel we have a gift to give that no one can see because we don’t have the tools or the confidence to reveal it. Sometimes we have a raw talent that comes out every now and then, maybe even brilliantly, but because we lack technique we don’t know how to consistently give the gift to its greatest effect. This is simply a lack of education about how to do the job technically, – whether we feel like it or not, whether we are terrified, intimidated, or emotionally blocked.
Thinking, Critically – Daniel J. Levitin
We, – each of us, – need to think critically and carefully about the numbers and words we encounter if we want to be successful at work, at play, and making the most of our lives. This means checking the numbers, the reasoning, and the sources for plausibility and rigor. It means examining them as best as we can before we repeat them or use them to form an opinion.
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
The best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread just like viruses do. Why is it that some ideas or behaviours or products start epidemics and others don’t? And what can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?
Bringing a World of Information Into One Place – Tom Chatfield
For the first time in human history, it is possible almost endlessly to copy and distribute words, sounds, images, ideas; and it is possible to access, adapt, and create all of these on the same devices. In 2011, around two billion people, – almost a third of humanity and one third of the planet’s population, – have some form of access to the internet. The news is not all good. The internet is as powerful a force in the hands of as many of the world’s repressive and censorial regimes as it is in the hands of those using it to liberate, educate, connect, and delight. This makes understanding its history, structures, potentials, and possible futures all the more vital.
Grassroots Journalism – Dan Gillmor
Tomorrow’s news reporting and production will be more of a conversation, or a seminar. The lines will blur between producers and consumers, changing the role of both in ways we are only beginning to grasp now. The communication network itself will be a medium for everyone’s voice, not just the few who can afford to buy multimillion-dollar printing presses, launch satellites, or win the government’s permission to squat on the public’s airwaves.
Reimagining Us and Them – J. Edward Chamberlin
And where is home? Home may be where we hang our hat, or where our heart is … which may be the same place or maybe not. It may be where we choose to live or … or where we belong, whether we like it or not. It may be all of these things or none of them. Whatever and wherever it is, home is always border country, a place that separates and connects us, a place of possibility for both peace and perilous conflict.
Politically Correct – Theatre by David Mamet
The essence of democracy is this: that the individual is free to embrace or reject, praise or abominate, any political position, – that in this he is accountable to no one and need never, in fact, articulate his reasons or defend his choice. That any political act could possibly be termed correct posits a universal, incontrovertible, superdemocratic authority, – that is, – a dictatorship. Political correctness can only exist in, as it is the particular tool of, totalitarian oppression. The actual meaning of the phrase is “ideological orthodoxy.”
The Global Awakening – Jack Weatherford
Whether in their policy of religious tolerance, devising a universal alphabet, maintaining relay stations, playing games, or printing almanacs, money, or astronomy charts, the rulers of the Mongol Empire displayed a persistent universalism. Because they had no system of their own to impose upon their subjects, they were willing to adopt and combine systems from everywhere. Without deep cultural preferences in these areas, the Mongols implemented pragmatic rather than ideological solutions. They searched for what worked best; and when they found it they spread it to other countries. The Mongols had the power, at least temporarily, to impose new international systems of technologies, agriculture, and knowledge that superseded the predilections or prejudices of any single civilization; and in so doing they broke the monopoly on thought exercised by local elites.
The Web Changes Everything – DonTapscott and Anthony D. Williams
For today’s Web companies, building trust is the alternative to controlling customers. “Something really interesting happens when you trust your customers” says Celik. “They trust you.” More and more web companies are realizing that openness fosters trust, and that trust and community bring people back to the site. Peterson considers it a new cultural orientation.
Telling Truths about Canada – John Ralston Saul
Canadians have a fairly solid sense of themselves. If you seek, among the complexities of our national life, the expressions of common themes, the often repeated desires, the shared indications of intent or frustration, you can identify quite easily what sort of country we keep saying we want to be. Whenever asked, whenever listened to, citizens express with some confidence what kind of education system we want, what kind of health care, what minimum standards of living, what approach to justices. These are contemporary manifestations of fundamental themes. If a people know how they want to treat social and physical well-being, and shared rules of behaviour, and responsibility versus authority, then they have a good handle on the way they want to live together.
Canada as a Global Leader – The Aga Khan
The rejection of pluralism is pervasive around the globe, and this rejection plays a significant role in breeding destructive conflicts. No continent has been spared the tragedies of death, of misery, or of the persecution of minorities. Are such high-risk situations predictable? If the answer is yes, then what can be done about them, to pre-empt the risk that the rejection of pluralism will become the spark that sets human conflict aflame? Is the onus not on leadership, in all parts of the world, to build a knowledge base about such situations and consider strategies for preventing them? I deeply believe our collective conscience must accept that pluralism is no less important than human rights for ensuring peace, successful democracy, and a better quality of life.
What Canadians Think – Darrell Bricker and John Wright
We think, and we hope you agree, that all Canadians want to know what Canadians think. And while no Canadian is exactly like any other, when we begin to put one opinion beside another, then add another belief, and put that beside a preference or an aversion, and so on, and we let the numbers add up, after all the years we’ve been at this, we get a pretty good idea of what is on Canadians’ minds.
Making Room for Culture – Max Wyman
Buildings with Canada’s history embedded in their bricks and beams can be found across the country, and new initiatives should go far beyond the merely preservative. Much of Canada’s built heritage, with irs diversity of references to colourful stories, its stylistic distinctiveness, and the stability implicit in its survival, lends itself to the imaginative reuse in urban development. Turning heritage structures and sites into centres for cultural activity is only the most obvious approach; the careful integration of those structures into evolving cityscapes will add vitality and cultural resonance to urban planning, and could lead to intriguing collaborations between designers and conservation experts.
Deliberative Democracy in Canada – Genevieve Fuji Johnson
Deliberative democracy is a rich ideal. It invokes a democratic system of governance in which citizens actively exchange ideas, engage in debate, and create laws responsive to their interests and aspirations. Canada appears to have good prospects for realizing interconnected sites, forums, and procedures informed by its central principles of citizen participation, inclusion, equality, reasoning, agreement, and empowerment.
The Pattern That Connects – Ken Wilber
Evolution is in part a self-transcending process. It always goes beyond what went before. And in that novelty, in that emergence, in that creativity, new entities come into being, new patterns unfold, new holons issue forth. This extraordinary process builds unions out of fragments and wholes out of heaps. The Kosmos, it seems, unfolds in quantum leaps of creative emergence. Particularly with the systems sciences, the vivid realization has dawned: we live in a universe of creative emergence.
Our Own Story – Thomas Homer-Dixon
I argue that at this crucial moment in humanity’s history, three changes are essential to better understand how and why we see the world the way we do and what makes other people’s views sometimes so different from ours. Second, instead of passively accepting a dystopian image of what will come tomorrow, we need to actively create together from our diverse perspectives a shared story of a positive future, – including a shared identity as “we”, – that will help address our common problems and thrive. And, finally, we need to fully mobilize our extraordinary human agency to produce the future.
The Everywhere People – John Stackhouse
If Canada is to maintain or even build our relevance in a technology-driven world in the decades ahead, we may have no greater tool at our disposal than our expats. We can start by recognizing them, and acknowledging that after centuries of attracting diasporas, we have one of our own, – formed not out of hardship or misery but on the shoulders of opportunity. The energy and enthusiasm that took those Canadians abroad can be harnessed for the whole country, to enhance our interests, to promote our values and connect us in a more networked world. They may even help us understand what it means to be Canadian, no matter where you live.
The Way We Are – Michael S. Gazzaniga
We can solve problems that no other animal can solve. The only possible answer is that we have something that they do not. Yet we find this difficult to accept. As we are perched here at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we have more information to help answer some of these questions, information that was not available to the curious and inquiring minds of the past. And curious were those who have gone before us. Human interest in what and who we are is at least as old as history.