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Toward the Age of Clarity

We must move from the current age of confusion to an age of clarity.

This blog was jointly authored by the Theory Of Knowledge (TOK) Society's Executive Committee

Preface: In an ideologically-fractured culture, it is all-too-easy to lose sight of our common humanity. While there are many reasons for our collective failure to achieve consensus in the spheres of ethics and politics, we believe that our current spiritual malaise reflects, at least in part, a breakdown in our very capacity to share wisdom. As such, we believe it is important to find ways to communicate that free us from unnecessary confusions and allow bridges to be built between refined knowledge systems and fundamental common-sense propositions. In short, if our society is to move from confusion to clarity, wisdom must be consolidated and shared in a way that fosters understanding and collective well-being.

Tragic mass shootings, a deeply troubled educational system, a broken political system that lacks intellectual integrity and produces excessive polarization and a large disenchanted political “center,global threats to democracies and the general world order, dramatic increases mortality rates due to drugs and suicide, and skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression in our youth are just some of the features that make this the Age of Confusion.

Why are we experiencing such existential angst and what can be done about it? First, we must understand that our powerful and ever-growing technologies are creating a massive flux in how we live our lives, and are fundamentally changing how we feel, think, and act. The futurist philosopher Alexander Bard aptly describes this as the “digital tsunami.” It is crucial that we adapt to these enormous changes in a wise way.

Unfortunately, however, we are currently adrift in a sea of philosophical chaos. This is the second major driver of our current confusion. To understand this disarray, we need to understand what the Enlightenment did and did not accomplish. The Enlightenment was remarkably effective in transforming our knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, and related disciplines. However, despite these successes, it failed to produce consensual knowledge in the social sciences and humanities. Indeed, given the magnitude of our existential confusion, it has arguably generated more confusion than light in these domains.

Regardless of one’s ultimate theory of truth, the current state of our knowledge in psychology, the social sciences, and moral values is “postmodern.” The fact is these domains of inquiry are characterized by a multiplicity of fragmented, pluralistic language games that do not cohere into any shared picture of understanding. A similar situation is found in modern philosophy writ large. And this fragmentation is having a profoundly negative impact on individuals, our society, and our political process.

This upcoming April a group of scholars from the Theory Of Knowledge (TOK) Society will convene to explore ways to clear the fog and reverse these troubling patterns. The general mission of the TOK Society is to move from the current state of fragmented pluralism toward a more “integrative pluralism” that frames but does not imprison human knowledge. An integrated pluralism recognizes differences in emphasis that stem from disparate histories, needs, goals, concerns, and preferences, but seeks to delineate a common base of shared, general understanding. Titled Toward an Age of Clarity, the conference will bring individuals together who have adopted “meta” perspectives on psychology, the social sciences, and morality, ethics and wisdom.

Our hope for success in this challenging endeavor begins with a clear recognition of where and why the Enlightenment breaks down. The failure can be clearly located in what is called “the problem of psychology.” Why here? Because historically there was no philosophical (or ordinary) language system that could effectively frame scientific investigations of mind, consciousness, and human persons, and also serve as the ground for general moral judgments regarding how we ought to live our lives.

The solution we will be exploring involves the following linkages: First, we will examine how to link the science of psychology to biology and crisply define the “mental order of nature,” based in part on recent advances in philosophy and systematic metaphysics. Second, we will examine how to link human psychology with the rest of the social sciences by connecting a clear map of human motives for social influence with aggregate-level social forces and fields of relation. Third, we will be exploring how to bridge the descriptive, explanatory systems of science with a moral vision and an educational platform that is simultaneously practical and deeply grounded in ethical philosophy.

Finally, the participants will explore these links in the context of a new “metaphysical – empirical” Theory Of Knowledge (TOK) that emerges as a function of the synergy between Gregg Henriques’ Unified Theory and Unified Approach (UTUA) and Edward Kroger’s Philosophy of One Divide and Theory of Emotional Warfare (see here and post script). With its Tree of Knowledge (ToK) System of natural philosophy and larger UTUA synthesis, Henriques’ framework sets the stage for a new view of consilience between the sciences and the humanities. In a remarkably complementary fashion, One Divide is an analytical and practical philosophy, and philosophy of psychology that ultimately captures a systematic approach towards metaphysics and philosophy — uniquely combining to provide a bridge between naturalistic accounts and moral living. One Divide emphasizes the nature of human division and conflict by identifying the Pattern(s) of Emotional Warfare and provides a universal psycho-educational platform and language system for human transformation that directly aligns with the UTUA Framework. Both systems are aimed at conceptual clarity and are grounded in the notion that philosophy has an inescapable responsibility to provide direction. And although they were developed independently, they fit together in a remarkable way—much like a lock and a key.

Our world is seeing unprecedented advances in understanding human behavior, technology, and globalization that require a revised view of how we pursue a virtuous, ethical life and society. We contend that the synergy between the two frameworks sets the stage for a larger system-to-system advancement and a vision for human transformation. Together they provide the conceptual foundation for establishing the One Divide Institute, which will further develop and research the real-world utility of the universal moral framework and Dual-Transactional Behavior Model (DTBM) provided by the One Divide / Emotional Warfare platform anchored to the academically refined UTUA TOK Framework. The purpose of the upcoming TOK Society conference is to examine such linkages in detail. The integrative pluralistic vision that is emerging gives rise to a coherent picture of the world and our place in it, while simultaneously preserving our individuality and freedom.

In a recent 4-part essay series exploring the linkages between UTUA framework and the One Divide / Emotional Warfare platform, Henriques captured the intent that is driving this collaborative endeavor:

“The vision that we are beginning to develop is a realistic one that is grounded in our natures, our histories, our limitations, and the complex contextual and very real world in which we find ourselves. What is clear to both of us is that too many lives are lost both figuratively and sometimes literally to the tragic consequences of Emotional Warfare. And both the academy and the populace are missing the necessary language and schematics to stop the carnage and reverse the cycles toward emotional peace and freedom and healthier ways of being. Moreover, we are deeply concerned that the massive global, cultural, and technological changes and challenges that are bearing down on our psyches are functioning to generate much intense pressure to grow our False Selves in increasingly damaging and polarizing ways. By bridging our divide and linking the refined academic knowledge system provided by the UTUA Framework with the pragmatic Philosophy of One Divide and its accessible ‘Map’ delineating the Patterns of Emotional Warfare, we hope to channel our authentic, shared passions toward a positive social mass movement that allows more and more people to [as framed within the One Divide Philosophy] reverse the cycles of the False Self and to achieve True Positive Self States that creates an authentic generativity toward the moral good.”

The hoped-for consequences have now been amplified by a TOK Executive Committee formed to guide the Society’s efforts in cultivating and echoing these sentiments into an intellectual and moral vision. As such, the stage has been set for a transformational movement that can promote a vision of consilience and human unity to clear the fog of confusion through the identification and reduction of the Patterns of Emotional Warfare, while simultaneously increasing generativity and True Self-flourishing. In short, as a group, we are devoted to closing the One Divide and moving towards an Age of Clarity.

The TOK Society Executive Committee

Gregg Henriques, Edward Kroger, Joseph H. Michalski, Steven W. Quackenbush, and Waldemar A. Schmidt

Post script:

One of humanity’s longest standing goals is a unified, elevated state of collective consciousness. The Philosophy of One Divide highlights, in a new way, the major source that perpetuates human conflict and inhibits human unity. The term One Divide refers both to the separation within individuals between their True Selves and False Selves, and to the conflicts patterns of Emotional Warfare create between people. We propose a deeper recognition and identification of the Patterns of Emotional Warfare resulting from the One Divide platform, now grounded in the UTUA TOK Framework, may lead us toward a “closing of the Divide” and generate higher rates of authentic, True Self-flourishing.