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In response to the paradigma shift FROM SURVIVAL TO QUALITY OF LIFE (the greatest ever) : a progressive evolutionary worldview . ECCO Jan. 25th 2007 Jan Bernheim Vrije Universiteit Brussel jan.bernheim@vub.ac.be. A poorly prepared project takes three times as long as planned.

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In response to the paradigma shift FROM SURVIVAL TO QUALITY OF LIFE (the greatest ever) :a progressive evolutionary worldview

ECCO Jan. 25th 2007

Jan Bernheim

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

jan.bernheim@vub.ac.be


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A poorly prepared project takes three times as long as planned

A well prepared project takes twice as long as planned


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Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of Human needs


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The greatest paradigma shift ever: FROM SURVIVAL TO QUALITY OF LIFE


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Suffering as the default state of the human condition

  • Nature is indifferent to suffering: only survival matters

  • Examples: spider wasps, predators

  •  Escapisms: renunciation (oriental philosophies) or metaphysical transcendency (religions, mysticism, the eternal life of the soul…)


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Challenges1/4

  • The old discourses, religions and communism, for example, are discredited.

  • Richard Dawkins (The Delusion of Religion, 2006) : religions are pernicious because:

    - Fallacious

    - Calamitous

    - Obstructive for progress


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President Bush says God talks to him. If he had said it was through his hairdryer, there would have been a national emergency. I for one don’t see what the hairdryer adds to the ridicule of the situation Sam HarrisIn: Letter to a Christian Nation 2006


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Pros and cons of religions

  • “Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. But for good people tot do bad things, it takes religion.”

    Stephen Weinberg

  • “And for bad people to do good things also that takes religion.”

    Freeman Dyson


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CHALLENGES2/4

  • The old discourses filled needs. Their discredit leaves voids:

  • Believers are happier, give more to charities…

  • Unbelievers know better what they don’t believe than what they do believe.

  • A world without God is cold and gloomy, without transcendence.

  • Can one replace religions by a scientific worldview that would be at least as satisfying?


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Challenges 3/4Alternatives to the great discourses?

  • Grotesque worldviews (fundamentalisms, New Age…)?

  • Relativisms?

  • Consumerism and Postmodernism: vacuity as a worldview.


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Challenge4/4

  • From heteronomous (communitarianisms, authoritarianisms), humans have become autonomous

  • ( individualism).

    (Also according to modern christians, e.g. Roger Lenaerts S.J.: De droom van Nebuchadnezar, Lannoo, 2004)


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What after the grand discourses?


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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Objective

  • Can we, following Leo Apostel,construct a contemporary worldview based on the sciences and multidisciplinarity?

  • Let’s rise to the challenge: the Darwinian (~ matter) and historical(~ time) perspectives lead to a

    progressive evolutionary worldview


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Evolutionary Theory :short instructions for the user1/3

  • 1) variation and 2) selection of better fit variants

    • Evolution is both conservative and progressive: what works well persists and what works better is selected.

    • It obtains for both genes (units of biological transmission) and for memes (units of cultural transmission)

    • Fitness for what? For capacity of survival and procreation


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Evolutionary Theory :short instructions for the user2/3

  • The two imperatives of de existence are:SURVIVAL and PROCREATION

  • In a competitive world, with limited resources, the two survival strategies for which we were selected are :

    - agression - egoism

    and

    - co-operation - altruism


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Avatars of Aggressivity

  • violence,

  • elimination,

  • appropriation,

  • submission,

  • exclusion,

  • exploitation of nature and humans

  • ....


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Avatars of co-operation

  • Kindness, friendship, love (in that order),

  • solidarity, compassion, care (in that order),

  • benevolence, helpfulness

  • credibility,

  • justice

     in short: what we call the VIRTUES, a universal ethics, “secular humanism”, the inter-religious common language proposed by the catholic ethicist Tristram Engelhardt MD.


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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Agression and co-operation as survival strategies

  • A mix of both strategies is necessary for survival.

  • Problem: Our genes by and large are those of the hunters- gatherers of 10.000 years ago, selected for what THEN was the best mix of agression and co-operation: we’re ‘misfits’, poorly adapted to the present world, which is far more complex.


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An ETHICS

Behavioural mix adapted to society

AGGRESSION

CO-OPERATION

Time, Complexity


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CONSEQUENCES OF INCREASING COMPLEXITY

  • The more complex a society, the more opportunity for aggression & co-operation,

  • More interactions = more feedback

     aggression inhibited

     co-operation rewarded


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An ETHICS

Time, Complexity

Behavioural mix adapted

to society

Acceleration

AGGRESSION

CO-OPERATION


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How do we cope with our genetic misfitness?

  • We compensate for our obsolete genes by memes: horizontally and vertically transmissible cultural factors, such as:

    behaviours, judeo-christian norms et laws or secular humanistic principles ...

  •  Civilisation is a means to cope with our obsolete genes.


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An ETHICS

Time, Complexity

Behavioural mix adapted to society

AGRESSION

Genetic

mix

CO-OPERATION


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An ETHICS

Time, Complexity

Behavioural mix adapted for society

AGRESSION

CULTUREL AJUSTMENT

NEEDS

Genetic

mix

CO-OPERATION


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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An ONTOGENESIS: where do we come from?

Ontogenesis repeats phylogenesis / development re-iterates history (Haeckel’s law)

  • For anatomy

  • In the mental and behavioral realm: developmental psychology

  • For societies and civilisations: modernity

    versus

    the anteriority (not inferiority!) of alternative societal models


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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The purpose of life?: an AXIOLOGY

  • From survival to QOL: the greatest revolution ever

  • Its utilitarian ethics, suffering and enjoyment as the measure of all things (JS Mill, J. Bentham, Peter Singer, …) also provides the purpose of life: maximising the ratio of enjoyment and suffering


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Definitions of Happiness

  • Relativistic, from Aristotle to postmodernism

  • Escapistic

  • Evolutionary: sustainable pleasure, i.e . the feeling one has when the indicators for satisfaction of needs are favourable : food, shelter, love, growth and (Maslow!) self-actualisation


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A tall order:to measure subjective well-being, the perception quality of lifei.e.

To quantify what is qualitative

To make objective what is subjective


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Mesurer ce qui est mesurable, et rendre mesurable ce qui ne l’ est pas.René Descartes


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Conventional Question (CQ)

Biographical Question (ACSA)

Conventional question versus Anamnestic Comparative Self Assessment (ACSA). Which global question is better suited?

OR


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Examples of sequential ACSA measures during disease

  • Bernheim, J.L., and M. Buyse: 1984, J. Psychosoc. Oncol. 1. 25‑38


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Discrimination (inter-group comparisons)& Sensitivity to objective change (after life- and QOL-saving transplantation in End-Stage-Liver Disease )


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The distribution of happiness in the world


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This was a snapshot.

Next question:

does happiness progress?


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Health

Wealth

Security

Liberties

Equality

Tolerance

Information, knowledge

In short:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

OBJECTIVE indicators of (SUBJECTIVE) happiness


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Are these indicators - stable?- in regression?- in progress?


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Liberties, Self-determination and Control

  • Over death: palliative care and euthanasia.


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Liberties, Self-determination and Control

  • Over death: palliative care and euthanasia.

  • Over procreation.

  • Over sex life.

  • Over partner choice.


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CONCLUSION

Yes, if

  • Happiness is the highest good,

  • And the evolution of the objective conditions for happiness is the indicator of progress,

  • then there is objective progress.


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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Maslow’s Pyramid of Human Needs


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How do we live? A political-economical PRAXEOLOGY

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: condition of happiness

  • NEW phenomena :

    -> the entrance of ethics in Realpolitik

    -> intolerance for unhappiness

    -> the extinction of generation conflicts


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxeology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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The progressive evolutionary worldview in everyday life: a LIFE PRAXIS

  • Good deeds: in complex systems, small actions may have great consequences.

  • Hope is a rationel use of probability / Risk acceptation

  • It is highly irrationnal not to take emotions into account


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What to expect from a worldview : help in confronting the big questions

  • What exists?: an ontology

  • Where do things come from?: an ontogenesis

  • The purpose of life?: an axiology

  • Where are we going?: a futurology

  • Truth and un-truth?: an epistemology

  • How to live in uncertainty? a life praxis

  • An explanation of behaviours?: a praxiology

  • Good and bad?: an ethics

  • A rational framework for emotions and mysteries


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Feeling the presence of God

Feeling deep peace and harmony

A wish to come closer to God

Feeling the world becoming ever more complex, and entropy decreasing

Profound satisfaction with the reality of progress and our place as the temporary endpoint of the evolution of living beings at the heart of the continuum between elementary particles and the universe

Wish to understand ever more about the cosmos, nature and ourselves

Scientific Emotionality, evolutionary spirituality.From Spinoza to Teilhard to Apostel 1/2


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A progressive evolutionary worldview

Provides

  • Not a road, but a roadmap

  • Not roots, but a GPS

  • Not a destination, but reference points

    (you need lighthouses, but the last thing you want to do is head for them)


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