Project FearNaught- ‘It Was Never an Apple’

Temptation is among the core themes of many religious and philosophical conversations. In Christian culture, the apple in the garden of Eden is often the first example of temptation, and also cited as the source of the fall of man.

Funny enough however, most remember this story wrong.

…it was never an apple.

The story goes that the fruit that was eaten came not from an apple tree, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

That’s a crucial distinction.

It was not a randomly selected fruit, used as a temptation for humanity to test their resolution. The consumption of this fruit was not simply a failing in our self-control, but represents rather a crucial definition in the capabilities of humanity which is closely tied to our concept of the Metaphorical Imperative—it’s about the expansion of our cerebral capacity that makes us human.

Like our ability to ask and answer questions about the world, this knowledge of good and evil is to humanity not a fall, but a burden or responsibility. With our minds, humans are capable of thought, consideration, and knowledge—and this gives us the responsibility to act rightly. We have this responsibility simply because we know better…we are accountable.

If we were no more mentally competent than locusts, our destructive actions would be excused by our nature. But eating from the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means that we know better—human consciousness sets us apart, and it thus behooves us to act like it, or suffer the consequences.

Original Sin therefore should not be taken to mean that we are born of sin, but rather that we are born with a responsibility to avoid it. It’s a key part of what makes us human, and also what makes us fallible. Knowledge—and free will to use it as we choose—is the true Original Sin.

Knowledge is ever a double-sided blade though, as our ability to consider extra-temporal reality allows us to create it—which also allows us to make excuses and ultimately let ourselves down. Just as we know the difference between right and wrong, we know the shortcuts to fooling ourselves, to deny this truth, and to act against it.

In a perfect world, this knowledge would be enough. To rise above the domain of brutes and act upon this morality that we can clearly see should be our destiny, but because we know that not all will do so, we are often hesitant to risk it ourselves. Acting right when others do not may open us up to deception and cruelty, and soon the world begins to look like a non-zero-sum game; what others take, we may lose, and thus we, besot by doubt, hedge our bets against decency, and towards self-preservation.

In all things now, there is doubt and fear. In business, in friendships, in relationships, and in our daily conduct, the taint of fear has bewildered our senses and blinded us to the basic truths of our being.

Our knowledge is both our blessing, and our downfall. It has long been the bane of political philosophers to seek some system of governance that would allow people to thrive happily and free, but each one fails due to greed, pride, and fear.

Simple codes have never been enough, nor have the religious doctrines which are meant to bolster them.

It grows hard to believe these days…the light is fading.

What can possibly bring us back to those truths now? What story or system can erase this fear, and help us to chart our course through these dark tides? What must we risk to find it, and what will we lose on our search? These are the sources of fear we must face, no matter the associated price. For if our will is bent, if we fail now, there may not be another chance.

We must persist, because we know better.

…I know better.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Why You Should Seek Contrary Friendships

purelyspeculation‘Socially Constructed Realities’ (SCRs) are the assumptions we all act under subconsciously. They may be assumptions about how the world works, how people are, why we do what we do, how we should act, etc. By nature, these are formed within us due to the society and culture we grow up in.

They help us to anticipate outcomes and react quickly to key events. They also limit our ability to learn, as we often practice ‘selective noticing’—noticing things and interpreting events in a way that only reinforces our current notions, while discounting anything which challenges them.

With the internet, it is easier than ever to find groups of people who fit exactly into our predefined SCR’s—Facebook alone is replete with large groups for even the most wildly absurd types of people—Flat Earthers, conspiracy nuts, Juggalos, Trump supporters, etc. The problem with this is that by surrounding ourselves with people who operate under the same assumptions as we do, we limit our ability to have these assumptions challenged, and thus stunt any potential for intellectual growth.

Essentially, we deny ourselves the experience of other viewpoints while reinforcing the limitations of our own. This is a terrible abuse of our inherent potential. It creates greater polarity between people, leading to division, group think, and more often than not, hatred.

This is not to say we shouldn’t enjoy the company of like-minded individuals, which is of course a very important element of a healthy and balanced social life. But we must be cognizant to avoid doing so to the exclusion of all differing viewpoints—as doing this prevents our learning and growth.

Rather, we should challenge ourselves to find those with radically different SCRs, and seek (with patience and respect) to better understand them. Often, we may find this allows us to better understand ourselves as well, as it enables us to more effectively assess and challenge the assumptions driving our own worldviews.

So find those you disagree with—who challenge all that you hold dear. Question them and learn from them. Assess the assumptions that drive your actions, and consider the differing views of others. Do not enshrine yourself in the familiar, but search for the radical, the different and the seemingly absurd. This is the path to self-actualization, and ultimately, a more understanding and respectful society.

-Brad OH Inc.

You Know Nothing About the Moon

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI got a strange phone call the other day. A friend of mine phoned to point out that he could see both the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time.

Certainly, there was nothing unusual about this other than his desire to call and tell me about it. But—he then pointed out—the moon had a shadow on it.

He didn’t need to say anything more; I saw the problem immediately.

All my young life, I’d grown up with the simple understanding that the dark spot or ‘shadow’ on the moon was caused by the Earth blocking out some of the light from the sun—essentially throwing its own shadow across the moon and hiding part of it from our sight.

I remembered—I was certain—elementary school teachers explaining this concept to us in great detail—likely using plasticine models, and perhaps a flashlight. It was, at any rate, a scientific ‘fact’ I had taken as sacrosanct my entire life.

In that one phone call, the idea was demolished entirely.

If I could see both the sun and the moon, that meant the sun had a direct line to the moon—unobstructed by the selfish machinations of the Earth. Therefore, the shadow across the surface of the moon could not possibly be caused by the Earth, as I had always understood.

Suddenly, everything I thought I had known about the lunar cycle was in shambles. This may seem like a small loss to anyone who gives even an average amount of consideration to the nature of celestial bodies, but I have a particular affinity for the sanctity of knowledge, and I found it quite troubling indeed.

Immediately, I set off to correct my false understandings and learn the truth about this now mysterious phenomenon. It took no time at all, and my understandings were soon corrected to incorporate this newfound information,. But I was nevertheless left with an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

Asking around over the following weeks, I soon discovered—to my small comfort—that I was far from alone in my naïve misunderstandings—in fact, I could scarcely find any other person who knew the truth about how the lunar cycles worked.

Do you?

No, probably not.

But you thought you did.

Most everyone I talked to thought the shadows on the moon were created by the Earth—just as I had so very recently. Simple fools!

The truth is, you see, that the dark spot on the moon is caused not by the Earth, but by the moon itself. Depending on the moon’s position relative to the sun, one half of it will always be fully lit (the side facing the sun), and one half will be dark (the side opposite the sun). The lunar cycle we witness is a product of the angle at which we view it. If the Earth is between the sun and moon, we will look back at it and see it fully illuminated. If the Earth is behind the sun and moon, we will see little of it, as we look towards its unlit side.

Finally, it the moon is somewhere between those extremes, we will see part of its illuminated side, and part of its dark side—as was the case on the day in question. (Source).

Once again, the function of the lunar cycle made sense. The world was right again.

…or was it?

No. Not quite. In the end, I was left questioning far more than just the moon. I’d been so confidant in this understanding. In fact, I would have likely gone so far as to say I ‘knew’ how it all worked. How then could I now remain confident in anything else I thought I knew, upon learning firsthand the fleeting transience of my knowledge?

It made me think of the nature of knowledge itself, and how much of what we claim to know is truly only suspected, or worse still, believed. It spoke to me of information bias and the ubiquity with which we cling to false truths.

Socrates once asked, “Can we ever truly ‘know’ anything?”

No, I suppose we cannot.

-Brad OH Inc.