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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 [email protected] 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

[email protected]


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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 planned of Human needs



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Suffering as the default state of the human condition OF LIFE

  • 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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Challenges OF LIFE 1/4

  • 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. OF LIFE 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 OF LIFE

  • “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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CHALLENGES OF LIFE 2/4

  • 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 OF LIFE 3/4Alternatives to the great discourses?

  • Grotesque worldviews (fundamentalisms, New Age…)?

  • Relativisms?

  • Consumerism and Postmodernism: vacuity as a worldview.


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Challenge OF LIFE 4/4

  • 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 to expect from a worldview : OF LIFE 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 OF LIFE

  • 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 : OF LIFE 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 : OF LIFE 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 OF LIFE

  • violence,

  • elimination,

  • appropriation,

  • submission,

  • exclusion,

  • exploitation of nature and humans

  • ....


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Avatars of co-operation OF LIFE

  • 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 : OF LIFE 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 OF LIFE

  • 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 OF LIFE

Behavioural mix adapted to society

AGGRESSION

CO-OPERATION

Time, Complexity


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CONSEQUENCES OF INCREASING COMPLEXITY OF LIFE

  • 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 OF LIFE

Time, Complexity

Behavioural mix adapted

to society

Acceleration

AGGRESSION

CO-OPERATION


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How do we cope with our genetic misfitness OF LIFE ?

  • 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 OF LIFE

Time, Complexity

Behavioural mix adapted to society

AGRESSION

Genetic

mix

CO-OPERATION


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An ETHICS OF LIFE

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 : OF LIFE 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: OF LIFE 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 : OF LIFE 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 OF LIFE

  • 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 OF LIFE

  • 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: OF LIFE 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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Conventional Question (CQ) l’ est pas.

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 l’ est pas.

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


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



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This was a snapshot. l’ est pas.

Next question:

does happiness progress?


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Health l’ est pas.

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 l’ est pas.- stable?- in regression?- in progress?


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Liberties, Self-determination and Control l’ est pas.

  • Over death: palliative care and euthanasia.


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Liberties, Self-determination and Control l’ est pas.

  • Over death: palliative care and euthanasia.

  • Over procreation.

  • Over sex life.

  • Over partner choice.


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CONCLUSION l’ est pas.

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 : l’ est pas.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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How do we live? l’ est pas.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 : l’ est pas.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 : l’ est pas.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 l’ est pas.: 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 : l’ est pas.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 l’ est pas.

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 l’ est pas.

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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