Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D.

I've had the luxury of circumstance to spend the second half of my life wondering carefully without a lot of social constraints. I write, teach and research full time. My income doesn't depend upon it so I don't have to curb what I think to keep myself fed. 

I take good insights where I find them. I'm a very fussy shopper among interpretations, not that it ensures that I find good ones. Still, I try by means more rigorous than the usual self-confidence by which we declare ourselves discerning. A lot of my articles are about the art of science, the art of shopping among interpretations. 

I've latched onto some reliable sources of insight, chief among them my mentor, collaborator, debate partner and friend Berkeley Professor Terrence Deacon, the fussiest shopper I know. For me, a lot of truth emerges from arguments with this friend. 

With Terry, I've spent the last 20 years researching the most fundamental question in psychology, indeed in life. What are selves and aims and how do they emerge in an aimless physical universe? How does mattering emerge from matter? How does means-to-ends behavior emerge from cause-and-effect events, life and mind from physics and chemistry?  I have a book coming out with Columbia University Press on this research – Neither Ghost Nor Machine: The Emergence and Nature of Selves. It's a short non-technical presentation and interpretation of Deacon's Ideas. I've written over 1100 blog articles about everyday decision making, most of them informed subtly by the Deacon collaboration.

Though the blog is called Ambigamy, sexloveromance are not my primary topic. Ambigamy was an early term I coined for what could also be called romanticynicism, or romantiskepticism – to really want to intimacy but to recognize one's wariness. An early motto for my work was "no matter how hard I chase the truth, it will never catch me." I'm interested in the tension between wanting intimacy with reality and with people, chief among them ourselves. Ambigamy then can be thought of as the tension between the pursuit of the likely and the liked story.

I think dilemmas are much more fundamental than principles. Universal principles are basically our strained unsuccessful attempts to escape dilemmas. I study the fundamental universal dilemmas that we deal with over and over all life long. To give a sense of it, try this: 

Hard left, hard right, hard center, hard choices

Hard left:  Love is the answer. Hard right: Ouch. Toughness is the answer. Hard center: Ouch. Tough love is the answer. Hard choices: Ouch. Tough love is the question, when to be loving; when to be tough. 

I spend a lot of time on the question: What is a butthead other than someone I butt heads with? In other words, what is an objective definition of out-of-bounds behavior? In a free society we don't want to dictate what people should do, just constrain it within reasonable bounds. 

Seeking an objective definition of butthead is part of my general campaign against exceptionalism. I think our biggest human weakness is a tendency to forget our fallibility when challenged, indeed our motivated fallibility–our inner weasels, our bias and hypocrisy. My aim is to know the follies of humankind by introspection. I am my own lab, and when I find myself being inconsistent, it's usually the inspiration for a new blog article. I aim to be "intellectually bi-curious." I don't think I really understand something well enough to voice an opinion about it until I can make a compelling case for the argument against my opinion. 

I read a lot, mostly by speedlistening to books. I have a masters in Public Policy from Berkeley and a Ph.D. in decision theory and evolutionary theory from Union Institute and University. 

I've raised three children. I was married once for 17 years. I now consider myself either retired or on sabbatical from sexloveromance. I love my wide circle of friends, and connect mostly over ideas, though I also play jazz, funk, soul music. I'm a singer and bassist, electric and upright. Occasionally I write songs, another medium for conveying the ideas that interest me. 

Feel free to contact me with questions, critique or suggestions. 


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Ambigamists embrace the tension between opposites, faith and doubt, romance and skepticism, being partial and impartial, loving and tough, yin and yang. They don't try to reconcile opposites with some middle ground universal solution.  For example, ambigamists know that tough love isn't the answer but the chronic question--when to be tough?; when to be loving? They seek the wisdom to know the difference between situations that call for the tough courage to try to change things, and the loving serenity to accept things as they are.

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