An Emergent Cosmopolis

The trouble with most of us is that we know too much that ain't so.

Mark Twain

Why an Emergent Cosmopolis Institute?


Who do you choose to be? How do you know if you're making the right choice? Doing the right thing? If you don't want to bend to the winds of fate, you have to know what is going wrong, what the root cause may be, and what remedial options are available. Personal decisions concerning one's orientation in life (intellectual [honesty], moral [courage], and religious [compassion] conversion and differentiation of mind [common sense, empirical science, interiority, transcendent, etc.]) conditions one's evaluation of the situation at hand, which in turn conditions any diagnosis concerning the root causes of the dysfunctional situation. And since foundational realities trump rational intelligence, there is always the question of the scope and constraints on reason.  What to do, for in the end to do nothing is to act.


What difference might such an institute make? Members of an emergent cosmopolis institute seek the deeper trends and currents of history rather than short term gossip and commentary, seek wisdom and goodness over flashy intellect and undisciplined selves, seek the deep anchors of human living free of short term interests and biases based in either egotism or group allegiance--or both. It is to embrace the best of what it means to be human in a Judeo-Christian civilization. For humans, left to their own devices, prefer to enslave and dominate those around them--if they can do so. And the rationalizations and justifications used to do so become embedded in human intellectual endeavors, resulting in the diminishment and fragmentation of the public sphere where there is no possibility of rational discourse. If common sense runs rampant with no checks and balances, it destroys the very unity of a civilization.


What do you have to loose? Well, quite a bit, actually. Mostly any confidence in what you know as being what you know. The reality is that the words we use, the thoughts we thinking, and the questions we ask have all been contaminated by centuries upon centuries of deliberate distortion as various power seekers and holders have sought to rationalize or justify their "right" to hold power over others. Thankfully, we have Lonergan's work in both Insight and Method to provide guides to walking through the intellectual mine-fields that bedevil us.


And that's only the start of things. The socio-political world in which we play out our lives is itself fragmented and fragmenting beyond any human effort to correct, for the very act of attempting to correct the situation automatically adds to the very fragmentation going on around us. Our world seems to be tearing itself apart and we have no idea why passions are so high and conflict so dear--only that they are.


And rationality goes by the board. When passions run high, when fads sweep over the public realm, when fantasy and myths are preferred over the difficult task of affirm what is in fact true, when history is set aside as irrelevant to contemporary concerns only to leave whole cultures adrift and thus susceptible to demagogues and rabble rousers, then what use is reason in the management of public affairs?


Sometimes you have to set current passions aside and spend the time and effort to get at the root of things. This may not be an easy thing to do when your world seems to be collapsing around you. Yet we have inherited more leisure time than most civilizations have ever seen to do just that. The question is: are our tools adequate to the task at hand?


Welcome to the Cosmopolis Institute project. This is a totally impossible endeavor, yet since many apparently impossible things are taking place on a daily bases, I'm putting my hat in the game. Of course, the ultimate arbitrator is the Divine Mystery and the universal perspective it holds. Given this transcendent reality, it will be interesting to observe how events unfold over the years, decades, and centuries to come. For there is more going on than we think (the Renaissance was only recognized as such long after the fact).


All the material contained within are either prototype educational experiments or resource materials for those interesting in joining our little community. Dense it is and has to be, for we are engaged in a multi-prong endeavor involving locating our collective blind spots, enhancing our freedom to follow the good via actualizing our potential for ongoing conversion, and seeking ways to bring that good into a world that seems to shun its very being.


Like many things of worth, the journey is not an easy one, perhaps impossible for most for few have the potential and the skills to consciously operate at the reflective level of the human good. And so it should be, for this is a specialized task within a greater whole. But it may well be essential for the well-being of our world and for whatever good we may pass down to our descendants.

Russell C. Baker

October 17, 2018

In Loving Memory of the Divine Mystery

And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire 20th century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.” The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Recent Additions

June 19th notes on the first viewing of President Trump's 2019 SOTU Address added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump I

June 20, 2019


June 7th and 14th notes on concrete inferences from classical laws added to Educational Projects: Insight--Emergent Probability.

Systematic and non-systematic processes.

June 18, 2019


Initial reactions to a first viewing of Trump's CPAC 2019 speech, posted in Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump I

June 15, 2019


Final conclusions on Peterson's foundational stance, plus methodological considerations, posted in Educational Projects: Foundations: Peterson II

June 6, 2019


Session notes comparing mathematical with scientific insights added to Educational Projects: Insight--Emergent Probability.

June 5, 2019


The May 22nd session notes have been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Peterson II.

Topics include mediation, the difference foundations make, the notion of an evaluative history in dialectics, and a foundational problem within the Church

June 4, 2019


The novella JesusLand: The 3013-15 Existential Crisis is the first artistic output designed to impact our culture. The original has been updated and placed in a new folder named C-Productions: JesusLand I

June 2, 2019


May 15th notes: Intellectual conversion as a radical change in direction: but what direction? Added to Education Projects: Foundations: Peterson II

May 21, 2019


Peterson Conversion 2 added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Peterson II. How do we know that our foundational stance will not lead to hell?

May 21, 2019


Road Map to Chapters 2 through 5 of Insight, focusing on emergent probability and the truncating effects of relying on a scientific methodology for control over meaning, posted in Educational Projects: Insight-Emergent Probability

May 17, 2019


May 1 notes on key questions and background information posted in Educational Projects: Foundations: Peterson II

May 14, 2019


JesusLand: The 3013-15 Existential Crisis has been added to A Cosmopolis Institute: Professional Practice: Transdisciplinary Variables. This is the complete story of the unfolding and eventual possible solution of the crisis. This is the first actual cultural output of our cosmopolis project.

May 10, 2019


First cut at objectifying Peterson's foundational stance, added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Peterson II

April 26, 2018


Revised outline in The Project

April 23, 2109


Peterson's responses to "real" questions posted in Education Projects: Foundations: Peterson II

April 20, 2019


Broad outline added to The Project

April 18, 2019


Additional notes extending our understanding of what it means to objectify another's foundational stance, added to Education Projects: Foundations: Peterson II

April 15, 2019


A new project (The Project) has started, one where all the prior work of over 25 years is brought together as part of a single unified initiative.

April 14, 2019


Peterson's responses to ideologically-driven questions posted on Educational Projects: Foundations: Peterson I

April 14, 2019


A one page overview of becoming human has been added to the bottom of the Becoming Human page

April 11, 2019


Part I of an introduction to the empirical residue added to Educational Projects: Insight Elements-2: Section 1-Elements

April 6, 2019

GIGO: garbage in, garbage out.

Wilf Hey

Foreword

It is a mark of maturity when a person learns to take responsibility for their own actions. This is a far cry from from the victimhood and ungratefulness that characterizes a culture built around rights rather than duties: an ungrateful people convinced and secure in their own status as victims are little more than slaves in training. Casting aside all responsibility for their miserable existence may be emotionally gratifying, but it does little to change their situation.


Becoming truly human is a difficult task at best--and our "Progressive" culture does not make it any easier. Perhaps this can be best observed in prevailing attitudes of elites and ruling classes to consider themselves as arbitrators of all moral behavior, using their power and position to lord it over others who are perceived as beneath their consideration, i.e., "deplorables." This is a far cry from the older idea of noblesse oblige, where the wealthy classes were expected to fulfill certain social responsibilities for those less well off. Even this is a wild cry from the once common Christian notion that to lead one had to serve. Cultural failures have their consequences.


And a fundamental institution change ranging from global to regional to local  levels that started over a century ago is now playing out on the world stage. Is is part of the eternal battle between freedom and slavery, between good and evil. As such, this change demands a response, demands taking a position. For there are two fundamental orientations at play, an elite ruling class whose virtual signaling defines them, and a "deplorable" class whose traditional Western values are being swept under the table. Already, in phrasing the dialectic in this way, a position has been taken. But the question still remains: which one constitutes a position in Lonergan's sense that while incomplete is firmly grounded in reality and capable of being improved, and which one is a counter-position grounded in myth and magic and hence only open to ultimate failure? In the end, only one side will prevail. And whether you like it or not, whether you admit it or not, you are playing a role in how this conflict will end.


But how are we to know what we should do? This is a hard question to answer, given that the multitude of cultures surrounding us lead to a relative morality lest any group be offended, and the failure of any empirical heuristic structure to accommodate the richness and density of human existence. It is to answer this question that we propose  an emergent cosmopolis institute firmly grounded in Bernard Lonergan's transcendental method and functional specializations as well as Otto Friedman's notions of professional practice during times of fundamental institutional change.


One can be a slave and leave it all up to fate; or one can take a stance and see where it leads. But in any case we are living at a time when great changes are taking place, where the status quo no longer holds, and where the challenges of our times will affect us all. And the freedom to choose is more important than ever. But who of us are truly free?


An emergent cosmopolis institute is one such response to such fundamental change. It would combine into one organization a focus on reflective understanding as the path to freedom, on improving one's own foundational stance through mutual self-mediation, on seeking authenticity through intellectual/moral/religious conversion, on providing tools for taking a professional approach to practical action, and on providing specific services to the general populace and universities by bringing the Divine Mystery into planning and policy-making where its absence has been most noticed.


This is a work in progress. Details of our explorations and discoveries may be found throughout the site.


Russell Charles Baker

December 1, 2018