Intellect versus Spirit

I found an interesting post about the intellect warring against the spirit:

I personally think the intellect is the best servant ever, but a sucky manager. When it is allowed to rule, there is no end to the trouble it can create. Which dog will win? The one you feed the most. I call Spirit “the heart.” Purification of the heart is essential. Left to its own devices, the intellect is truly scary.

This is because it is capable of justifying anything imaginable. Even a look at the scientific method reveals the limits of the intellect. The first step to research or looking for a solution is to define a problem. Stop right there. Who gets to decide what a problem is or isn’t? Solutions from one political party become the next set of problems for the opposing party to solve during their time in office. And on it goes.

Science can be dangerous. Hitler used all sorts of science to justify extermination of people he disapproved of. The KKK will use science or the Bible to prove whatever agenda they may have.

The mind can take any bias, resentment, hatred, love, or emotion and find logical and scientific justifications for it. The only thing that grounds the mind to reality is empathy with others that one shares the planet with.

The only science I respect is the kind that lists its assumptions right up front. The first time I found a scientific paper listing assumptions, I was thrilled. That’s a level of honesty seldom seen in normal discourse. Most people have zero awareness of their assumptions; they simply assume their perspective reflects the facts. However, the Internet has taught us that, if you look long enough and hard enough, you can find facts that support the most ridiculous ideas ever. A few weeks ago, I found a website that defended a geo-centric version of the universe. That’s right, the same earth-centered version of the universe debunked centuries ago by regular science, represented by Galileo.  Of course, it was a religious website. Go Cardinal Bellarmine! If you can sound smart enough, you can put anything out there and someone somewhere will eat it up.

The mind has the ability to justify anything the heart desires, no matter how wonderful, horrific, and/or just plain ignorant. Never underestimate the danger of being unaware of one’s assumptions.

My feeling is that the bigger picture you can get (one that includes other people and creatures and their wants, needs, and feelings), the more likely you are to make choices that help, or at least not hurt, everything and everyone around us. The bigger picture includes spirit, a willingness to admit that one does not know everything, and, in my opinion, a sense of mystery and beauty.

The hazard of the intellect is that it can falsely believe that it knows everything. Having an MBA means I know more about Strategic Management than the vast majority of people; beyond that, it means absolutely nothing. The higher you go education-wise, the narrower and more specific your expertise. You can become the world’s foremost authority in some tiny sub-discipline of a larger field. My theory is that you’ve used your brain cells all right here and don’t have a lot left over for use in other areas. I know a PhD in anthropology that cannot pick out clothes for himself. He would come to class wearing striped pants, a plaid shirt, and one of those blazers with elbow patches. But nobody explained anthropology in such a clear and concise manner, the mark of a true genius in my opinion. He is the nicest guy in the world. Needless to say, I would never ask his opinion regarding marine biology (unless we’re talking submerged ancient civilizations and their effects on the local biosphere).

Nobody knows everything. Worse, the more you know about one specific area, the more likely you are to know zero about anything else. Many experts in one field are the opposite of jacks-of-all-trades. It’s all about how you use your mind and for what purposes. The point is that the mind is to be used, as a tool, not obeyed, because it has no vision of its own.

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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