1914. Clarity of purpose and means

Lets do better with ourselves, our society and our planet.We need clarity of purpose and clarity of means.

The purpose has to be growing good and interesting people, and that means developing our environment and society to support that goal.

Gross National Product and other measures of growing the economy in terms of dollars is a rush to produce more so as to keep the people in a slavish fever producing more that can be skimmed off at the top. The whip. Everyone suffers.

We obviously – so obvious we are forced by the media, the well-funded spectacle to forget that the goal is good people and good lives.

This is not so hard to understand. Plato and Aristotle, two guys struggling with their own time – saw that well-managed estates (the root of the word economy) produced a surplus, and the compelling question was, what to do with it. The modern answer is reinvest to make even more (of which scraps to the people, feasts to the very rich) or buy stuff, from Oreo’s to Yachts.. Keep people busy working and consuming.Plato and Aristotle’s answer was clear: the surplus should be used to create leisure time, and that tine to be used in self-development, education and participation in the community in politics and philosophy. The surplus should not be spent on things.

The task for humans must be to create a world that grows people, a garden approach to green aesthetics and economics. Our DNA has run rampant over the surface of the globe and gotten us into trouble.

• Philosophy is about the good life
• Economics is about the material and social arrangements to create it through, family, health and education.
• Politics is the coping with diffidence of opinion as they arise and need compromise rather than war.

A parallel view comes from China

• Tao is the flow of humans and nature
• Confucianism is the social structure, education and relationships   to support the Tao.

These two appear to be different but have diverged  from the essence in the separation of cultures. When the fruit is in trouble, return to the root.

Hinduism fits the rough terrain and climate of India. Islam fits the tough terrain and climate of the middle east.  With care we can all work together. After all, these are people.

The West with its science and secularization is also a belief system which tends to be aligned around power and money wealth, and believes that things are more important than people – look at how we treat them. For the great spiritual traditions knowledge is for understanding self and the relevant world for liberation. Science, for all its usefulness, has the more limited goal of understanding things under a kind of dissection. Science can inspire awe (Feynman) but this is rarely spoken about.

We have a lot to think about that we are not thinking about. We should distinguish between having stuff and developing our character.[1]

Socrates says to his friend.. You have Three rimes as much but I am satisfied with mine but  you are not.You want more to have more things and will never be satisfied. I am quite content with what I have. Therefore I am richer than you are.

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From Pre-Classical Economic Thought From the Greeks to the Scottish Enlightenment edited by S. Todd Lowry
“For the ancients the end of activity and all human institutions is human happiness. Economics is not conceived as an autonomous abstract inquiry but as a subordinate, concrete, and morally oriented discipline. Politics is the master discipline, the art of arts, in terms of which the Greek understanding of economics, acquisition of material possessions of the household, is subordinated. The art of arts, for the Greeks as well as the later Christian tradition, is the cure of souls. Physical health requires the treatment, and occasionally harsh treatment, of the body. The health of the soul also requires training, education, and culture.
The cure of souls requires a radical individualism or personalism that goes far beyond the abstractions of methodological individualism and the problem of scarcity. It is precisely the bewildering variety of men in their circumstances which makes economics and politics into an art rather thana science in the modern sense. Socrates does not start from some abstract problem of scarcity. He starts by confronting individual persons of all sorts and conditions. He starts from opinions and feeling which must be the raw material for all rational process. Reason is the sifting out of this opinion, the examination of the wants and desires that men express, and thus by its nature ad hominem.

This radical personalism helps to explainthe elusive form of discourse and dialectic which the Greeks used to express their teachings.”

 

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