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Thread: Are we on a “Ship of Fools”?

  1. #1

    Default Are we on a “Ship of Fools”?

    Are we on a “Ship of Fools”?

    From Katherine Anne Porter's novel, Ship of Fools, which was a big prizewinning best-seller in 1962, the producer and director Stanley Kramer produced a powerful and ironic film. I saw this film many decades ago but still remember much of it because it was so powerful.

    This film is a drama about of characters traveling on a vessel from Veracruz, Mexico, to Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1933.

    This quote comes from a web site about the film: “It is the poignant figure of the doctor that Mr. Kramer and Mr. Mann have framed to symbolize the exhaustion of that old and cultivated German class that might have stopped the Nazis, had it possessed the wits and energy. And it is he whom they have clearly made the symbol of the helpless healer in this soul-sick ship of fools.

    All of this is symbolic of the passage of foolish humanity into the maw of Nazism, if you chose to see it that way, and it may even be symbolic of the eternal folly and helplessness of man. Mr. Kramer has put it into motion at a leisurely, rolling pace that suggests the cyclical rhythm of a voyage across the sea—or across the horizon less stretches of a complacent world.”

    Are we a hopeless and foolish humanity traveling on a globe much in the manner of the passengers on the ship of fools?

    Are we going to hell in a shopping cart?

    Our culture is permeated with an obsessive desire to acquire stuff. We educate our self so as to gain quick entry into the race for the acquisition of more stuff than our neighbor. We are going to hell in a shopping cart because our educational system focuses attention upon the practical problem of preparing our self for the race to efficiently produce and consume more stuff.

    Normal science, i.e. those sciences controlled and guided by paradigms, which I guess are primarily those based upon the sciences of physics and chemistry, have been so successful in meeting their respective goals that we have placed this form of intellectual inquiry on too high a pedestal. We have become deluded into thinking that the methods utilized by these sciences are not only the best but the only useful means for acquiring valuable knowledge.

    Normal science graduates too many sophomores (sophomoric—conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and [intellectually] immature). American culture enshrines and ritualizes hubris (exaggerated pride or self-confidence). Specialization is a boon to narrow mindedness.

    It is human nature to be attracted to the mere appearance of things; the survival of many kinds of animals is dictated by the ability of the male and female to attract one another resulting from the colors and forms of eye appeal. We dress in the morning often based upon what type of trial we are facing; we gain a sense of confidence when we are confident of our appearance.

    Our culture provides us little incentive to examine the common principles of our nature in such matters as morality and aesthetics. Such principles represent the very foundation for our actions. We finish our formal schooling without even rudimentary comprehension of these fundamental aspects of our nature. Not only do we finish our schooling with this fundamental ignorance but we leave schooling with a disdain and dismissive attitude of such matters.

    We finish schooling with a prejudice against our self. We develop a satisfaction only when we think of our self as being surrounded by objects and laws independent of our self. We finish school unaware of the psychology which is the instrument of our speculations about these laws and principles. We aggressively dismiss the exclusively “subjective and human department of imagination and emotion…we have still to recognize in practice the truth that from these despised feelings of ours the great world of perception derives all its value, if not also is existence…had our perceptions no connection with our pleasures, we should soon close our eyes on this world”.

    I think that specialization is perhaps a necessity but it is not necessary, nor is it health, for us to graduate sophomores who lack the rudimentary knowledge of fundamental human capacities and limitations. Also the self congratulatory attitude resulting from a mistaken hubris leaves us handicapped in any effort to develop a sophisticated comprehension of our problems after our school daze are over.

    ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ (Mohandas Gandhi)

    Quotes from The Sense of Beauty: Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory by George Santayana

  2. #2
    Once Was Array Synarch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    You could probably see it this way. But, ultimately, I don't think we are.
    "Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave."

  3. #3
    HAHHAHHAH! Array INTJ123's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    That makes alot of sense to me. Most people arn't even aware of it themselves. Consumer based economy is doomed because resources can be limited, if we keep choosing to manipulate it in such destructive ways, there are renewable ways though hope is not lost. We need to go green in order to survive this hell hole we created.

  4. #4


    I suspect that most of us are willing to agree that, broadly speaking, we have ‘fact knowledge’ and ‘relationship knowledge’. I would like to take this a step further by saying that I wish to claim that fact knowledge is mono-logical and relationship knowledge is multi-logical.

    Mono-logical matters have one set of principles guiding their solution. Often these mono-logical matters have a paradigm. The natural sciences—normal sciences—as Thomas Kuhn labels it in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” move forward in a “successive transition from one paradigm to another”. A paradigm defines the theory, rules and standards of practice. “In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possible pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant.”

    Multi-logical problems are different in kind from mono-logical matters.

    Socratic dialogue is one technique for attempting to grapple with multi-logical problems; problems that are either not pattern like or that the pattern is too complex to ascertain. Most problems that we face in our daily life are such multi-logical in nature. Simple problems that occur daily in family life are examples. Each member of the family has a different point of view with differing needs and desires. Most of the problems we constantly face are not readily solved by mathematics because they are not pattern specific and are multi-logical.

    Dialogue is a technique for mutual consideration of such problems wherein solutions grow in a dialectical manner. Through dialogue each individual brings his/her point of view to the fore by proposing solutions constructed around their specific view. All participants in the dialogue come at the solution from the logic of their views. The solution builds dialectically i.e. a thesis is developed and from this thesis and a contrasting antithesis is constructed a synthesis that takes into consideration both proposals. From this a new synthesis a new thesis is developed.

    “When we are dealing with mono-logical problems well circumscribed by algorithms the personal biases of the subject are of small concern. In multi-logical problems, without the advantage of paradigms and algorithms, the biases of the problem solvers become a serious source of error. One important task of dialogue is to illuminate these prejudices which may be quite subtle and often out of consciousness of the participant holding them.”

    Our society is very good while dealing with mono-logical problems. Our society is terrible while dealing with multi-logical problems.

    Do you not think that we desperately need to understand CT, which attempts to help us understand how to think about multi-logical problems? Do you not think that it is worth while for every adult to get up off their ‘intellectual couch’ and teach themselves CT?
    When we attempt to solve problems in physics we have the logic (principles) of the prevailing paradigm to direct our efforts. We have a single logic (set of principles) to guide us.

    When we encounter an ethical problem we almost always have to deal with economic considerations, religious considerations, perhaps legal considerations, etc. Each one of these domains of knowledge has its own set of principles, its own logic.

    Thus in solving problems in a normal science, one with a paradigm, we have a monological problem. When we deal with many other types of problems that we encounter in living we must deal simultaneously with several domains of knowledge each with its own logic, thus we have multilogical problems.

    Monological is single logic, multilogical is more than one logic.

    Quote from Critical Thinking: What Every Person Needs to Survive in a Rapidly Changing World by Richard Paul

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