Using Experimental Philosophy to Combine Incompatible Ideas
In a provocative thought experiment, Jonathon Keats considers how two seemingly incompatible systems - religion and science - might find a way "to talk to each other or at least to cross paths."
In his Big Think Mentor Workshop, Jonathon Keats looks at how to ask naïve questions, how to invert perceptions, how to combine incompatible systems, how to remix metaphors and finally how to pursue paradox.
These all represent a way of thinking that is vital to creative problem-solving. While the problem at hand may be abstract, or even absurd, as we shall see in one example below, the way of thinking through a problem that Keats introduces can be greatly applicable in life.
So what is an example of combining incompatible systems?
Consider the age-old problem of the incompatibility of science and religion.
"Science claims to be a system that can discover absolutely anything," Keats says. "Religion also claims a comprehensiveness that is based in reality where God - whatever that deity may be - is absolutely real, maybe even more real than anything or anyone else."
In a provocative thought experiment, Keats considered how those two systems might find a way "to talk to each other or at least to cross paths." So Keats took the idea of God "to be as literally real as you and I, as a building, a dog, a cat anything else." He then took science at its word "that it could learn everything about anything that was real, anything that had any substance in the world."
So here's the fun part: "To do that I decided that I would attempt to scientifically figure out where on the phylogenetic tree, which is the master map of all the species on Earth, where you might put God." In other words, What species is God? And is there a way to address this question scientifically?
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Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
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Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
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- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.
- How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
- To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
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