license

Creative Commons License
Where the stuff on this blog is something i created it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, 22 May 2015

in search of a fuller #life #RSAZeldin - a 10 point mega-summary ...plus the detail after that


Yesterday lunchtime I listened to an RSA event "In Search of a fuller life" with philosopher Theodore Zeldin speaking. The event was chaired by Joe Hallgarten RSA Director of Creative Learning and Development

Under the mega summary directly below is more detail of what I heard - and in particular what caught my interest - constructed using my own notes and others tweets.  At the foot of this posts are links to other posts that might interest you



If you are short of time my mega summary of Theodore's key points as I heard them is:



1) try to find out about others by listening to them & so open yourself to other's memories

2) We can't create something new if we don't know something about what has happened before

3) People are hungry for conversation and to understand other people and to be asked for their opinion and listened to. 

4) we should harness the power of curiosity to stimulate our ideas and make us truly alive.

5) the art of living isn't to calm down & be mindful - its to be more excited & think in different ways

6) our brains often reject the unfamiliar - it requires great effort to see the relevance of something when it doesn't fit into our habitual way of thinking - being receptive to others needs work

7) social media can be very useful - but its inconveniences are that it produces brief statements and interactions - we need time to understand and that is what it sometimes misses ....in rushing from one to another (to be efficient) we are becoming stupider and stupider

8) the uniqueness of artists is that they don't give predictable results - they invent as they create - so the result is often a surprise, an adventure into the unknown

9) Laws are never applied as was intended

10) To be human is to be a heretic, curiosity is what carries us through the fear barrier and into the unknown



and in a bit more detail ....




Acclaimed philosopher Theodore Zeldin takes us in search of what a full and flourishing life could be


Theodore started off by saying that 

"Our greatest problems & opportunities come from our relationships"
Zeldin argues that it's only by relating to others that we can break out of our stultifying patterns of thought and behaviour


He described how a lifetime of thinking on the question of how to live was that we can't follow previous approaches - due to the explosion in population & educated people.

'We don't yet think of business as the buying and selling of time, but it is'




We need to invent new types of jobs, new ideas of work and business for all these people because their education has led to minds that look beyond work to a wider wish to discover
Security is no longer the goal. People want to discover. est

In looking at what is a worthwhile life he posed these questions ...
'What is an interesting life? What is a worthwhile life? How should we spend 100 years?' Theodore Zeldin


Theodore argued that to answer these questions we need a different way of thinking about the past, present and future. He cited an Einstein quote which I think was ....

'We need to expand our memories and become aware of the memories of others'.


"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion"



Theodore summed up the reason as to why we need to discover others memories as being

"We can't create something new if we don't know what has happened before"

He described how he has looked at some basic questions and then sought individuals from the past who have tried to tackle those questions - e.g. a chinese person who grappled with "What is a wasted life?" - to which his answer was - ignorance of what others are doing

"All the things we do not notice; all the things we do not see"




Theodore thought that what characterises us now is our isolation - even though people are hungry for conversation and to understand other people and to be asked for their opinion and listened to.  Indeed if we take the advice to "know yourself" then we'll quickly find this is impossible unless we discover what others think about us

Put simply we need to talk to others to understand what it means to be human, who inhabits this world, what we can give to the world.  All people are interesting.  Instead of power and property we should harness the power of curiosity to stimulate our ideas and make us truly alive.  So for example Theodore explained how he isn't interested in others explaining to him their religion ... but he is interested in how they apply those beliefs to their lives



After giving some examples of being interested in others and some insights from them ....

"there are as many minorities in France - and indeed GB - as their are inhabitants"


"at the end of 1 hour insulting me an Imam embraced me at the end and said he wanted to meet again - because he had been listened to "



... Theodore then talked about institutions

Institutions do not listen Do not allow this. Is this that insts CANNOT listen? Can they be designed to do so?


He also added that freedom to say what we want is fine but if we are not listened to ...
"Institutions are not helping (its not entirely their fault) - they are very specialised and don't teach people how to live"



and then he turned to work ....

"Work is not organised to please us - so how can we reorganise it so it does?"

So Theodore talked about how we need to embark on some experiments in work and gave examples from some things he'd done with IKEA:

- how he talked with managers and suppliers

- and tried out ideas like superstores as cultural centres - for example - info/technology in stores where you can find out who made that piece of furniture, who designed it, learn a bit about them, get to know something about the salespeople on the floor.  

- or why not organise music lessons for children who come to the store?
Note these ideas challenge the anonymous nature of retail and how it doesn't let us see beyond the facade



Theodore then riffed on a number of subjects which I've summarised in the quotes below


"the art of living isn't to calm down & be mindful - its to be more excited & think in different ways"
"our cells die when they are not connected to other cells - that is a metaphor ...."


"age is a disguise that hides what is inside & how we interact with others - we need to change the whole idea of age"
"we don't know what we want - even if we do it might not work - we need to expand our imagination"



We then moved to a Q&A session - the ideas I heard via this where



"Philanthropists act like AA (UK roadside recovery organisation) repair people - they contribute to fixing a problem - but rarely direct their giving at avoiding the problem in the 1st place"

 
: "Half the world's wealth is owned by 1%. They don't know what to do with their money. We will tell them." - Theodore Zeldin



for example - how do we help them act like the wool merchants did - looking beyond their immediate interests and giving some of their profits back into the society that helped them create the wealth (so for the wool merchants this was setting up grammar schools to benefit those who otherwise couldn't afford that further education)


"our brains often reject the unfamiliar - it requires great effort to see the relevance of something when it doesn't fit into our habitual way of thinking - being receptive to others needs work"


"social media can be very useful - but its inconveniences are that it produces brief statements and interactions - we need time to understand and that is what it sometimes misses"

"in rushing from one to another (to be efficient) we are becoming stupider and stupider"


"the uniqueness of artists is that they don't give predictable results - they invent as they create - so the result is often a surprise, an adventure into the unknown"

The separation of art & work is one of the great tragedies of history



"Laws are never applied as was intended"


and finally on fear and curiosity


The problem is not greed or altruism but fear. Curiosity is the only thing that can make you forget your fear

 1 hour ago
"To be human is to be a heretic" curiosity is what carries us through fear barrier and into the unknown

and that was it. I add my thanks to those below for a truly interesting session

Thank you to the wonderful Theodore Zeldin for his talk this afternoon!






other posts on RSA, TED, other lectures, conferences, others blog posts
11 headlines on why we use facebook & social media - summarised out of a very rich buffer post by Courtney Seiteron  
18 top tips and thoughts about using #social media to enable #community source = an article by  Anatoliy Gruzd PhD & Caroline Haythornthwaite PhD 

2014
Data Protection & Privacy - 8 issues from an International Conference
escape your social horizon limit & understand more - source = a blog post summarising the work of  Jeffrey A. Smith, Miller McPherson & Lynn Smith-Lovin
social media & death - 10 things you may not have thought about - #DORS conference

2013
the development of the U2 spyplane - source = CIA historians Gregory Pedlow & Donald Welzenbach
considering culture and business process improvement  - source = an article by Schmiedel, Theresa, vom Brocke, Jan, & Recker 
ideas that may help you attract older volunteers - source = a paper by Brayley, Nadine, Obst, Patricia L., White, Katherine M., Lewis, Ioni M.,Warburton, Jeni, & Spencer, Nancy
physical factors which help people get better quicker - source = a paper by Salonen, Heidi & Morawska, Lidia 
a new approach to school and education - by Geetha Narayanan 
guiding principles on designing construction kits - by Mitchel Resnick & Brian Silverman
signs of overparenting - source = an article by Locke, Judith, Campbell, Marilyn A., & Kavanagh, David J
making ideas happen - source = a 99U conference

2012
how to spot a liar - by pamela myer 
measuring happiness - source = talk by jim clifton, jim harter, ben leedle