Tag Archives: behavioral science

More Varieties of Ultimate Satisfaction

This is the fifth in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

We have seen examples of ultimate satisfaction involving appraisals of “fittingness” from conceptual-aesthetic, natural-aesthetic, artistic-aesthetic and moral perspectives. Notice something interesting here: in each case, the individual whose world is held together by this ultimate satisfaction had a breakthrough or initiation experience in which the world suddenly made sense in this new and fundamental way:

  • Russell’s experience of Euclid’s proof and my own experience of elegance in Cantor’s proof are clear examples of the world suddenly making sense in a new, conceptual-aesthetic way.
  • Recognizing deep unity with nature is frequently the result of a nature-based rite of passage, or a spiritual practice of an ecstatic tradition.
  • Virtually every artist, musician or performer has a story of their first encounter with their art, when they experienced its creativity directly and knew “this is what I’m here to do.”
  • Most spiritual paths have practices of initiation in which the new member of the community experiences what it’s like to be “one of us.”

Note that each of these involves direct encounter with community members who already see the world as this community does, and experience directly how this world makes sense. Ultimate Satisfaction is connected to a specific world, of a particular community – no exceptions.

But many people have no memory of experiencing breakthrough into a new world – and it’s not the sort of thing one is inclined to forget. Continue reading More Varieties of Ultimate Satisfaction


In a World of Logicians and Their Ways: Russell’s Paradox Redux

This is the first in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists. This series requires a more careful reading than most prior posts on this blog; I believe the work you put into it will be well-rewarded.

Worlds are subtle, pervasive, powerful. We are to our worlds as fish are to water: We take our world as given, existing outside of and independent of us. We live in the world; all our actions take place in and are shaped by our world; without the world we could not exist.

But fishy metaphors can only take us so far. Persons, whether we realize it or not, shape our worlds fully as much as the world shapes us. We almost certainly don’t consciously create or choose our world. But sometimes events occur that blow our worlds apart, and we are faced with the task of putting it back together, or reconstructing it in a new form. In either case we engage in active, conscious choice and creation. We recognize once and for all that we are not fish. Continue reading In a World of Logicians and Their Ways: Russell’s Paradox Redux

Aftermath: Living in a Radically Changed World

Peter Ossorio put it succinctly and exactly: “A person takes the world to be as he has found it to be.”

But sometimes, suddenly and without warning, we find the world to be radically different than we had previously found it. Something happens that had been  unthinkable to us – the events in Newtown, an economic collapse that wipes out our hard-earned wealth, the events of 9/11 – and we find ourselves living in an unknown world. What now? What do we do when the unthinkable becomes possible, or even real? Continue reading Aftermath: Living in a Radically Changed World

Take the Cash and Let the Credit Go

Behavioral science research reminds me of the fabled Rocky Mountain oil shale deposits: Both are reservoirs of tremendous potential value, locked up in a framework that makes tapping that potential next to impossible.

Solving the oil shale problem seems to require better and stronger technology; solving the behavioral science research problem requires better and stronger conceptualization. Fortunately, that conceptualization is available and well-developed, in the powerful conceptual net called Descriptive Psychology. What is called for now is a thorough reconsideration of behavioral science research, to create a fresh understanding of what has been discovered that unlocks the value in the findings.

Let me be clear: since at least the 1970’s an enormous body of sound empirical research has been accomplished in behavioral science, including, among many other domains, behavioral economics, social psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience. I take these findings as given. It is not my intention to question the findings; rather I intend to question the explanations researchers have given of their findings, and to offer other, more plausible and considerably more powerful explanations in their place.

As Omar Khayyam said in a different context, I intend to “Take the cash, and let the credit go.”

Here’s a specific example: Continue reading Take the Cash and Let the Credit Go