Weekly choice, by peers

What is Morality?

We speak about morality in many occasions. This time I want to present a link to a more scientific article. In «How does morality work in the brain? A functional and structural perspective of moral behavior»

moral

“Neural underpinnings of morality are not yet well understood. Researchers in moral neuroscience have tried to find specific structures and processes that shed light on how morality works. Here, we review the main brain areas that have been associated with morality at both structural and functional levels and speculate about how it can be studied. Orbital and ventromedial prefrontal cortices are implicated in emotionally-driven moral decisions, while dorsolateral prefrontal cortex appears to moderate its response.”

http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnint.2013.00065/full#

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Leadership crisis

While today’s column could focus solely on the government shutdown or various components thereof, a lack of leadership isn’t just a problem in the United States; it’s a global problem. It’s also much more than an indictment on global politics; it’s a systemic problem that pervades every level of society. I don’t think there’s much debate the world is ensnarled in a crisis of leadership. The question becomes what do we do about it?”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2013/10/10/a-crisis-of-leadership-whats-next/

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Motivation

Through his personal experience, Scott Smith goes through 4 concepts that tent to put an end to our motivations. His revision of those problematic discouraging points might help us recognize it in ourselves and contribute to another small progress of eliminating and overcoming them.

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/overcome-4-massive-motivation-killers/

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TED’s best for the week:

“What is jealousy? What drives it, and why do we secretly love it? No study has ever been able to capture its “loneliness, longevity, grim thrill” — that is, except for fiction, according to Parul Sehgal, an editor for “The New York Times Book Review”. In an eloquent meditation she scours pages from literature to show how jealousy is not so different from a quest for knowledge.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/parul_sehgal_an_ode_to_envy.html

jealousy.

Book of the week!

Benito Cereno – Herman Melville

The question of interculturality is a constant theme in many books. Whenever there is an encounter between characters from different origin, the reader witness a way of unveiling the notion of the otherness in our fellow human kin. However, there are very little books that present this interaction in such an overwhelming way. Melville’s Benito Cereno is certainly one of them. While Herman Melville is known for his literary canon Moby Dick, the novella Benito Cereno is an incredible story that not only teaches us about the painful truth of the slave trade but also shows us a reality of three cultures. This encounter between the African, the European and the American is a mastery of a constant change of roles of the Hegelian Master & Slave. As we see in the selected quotes below:

Famous Quotes from the book:

  • “In fact, like most men of a good, blithe heart, Captain Delano took to Negroes, not philanthropically, but genially, just as other men to Newfoundland dogs.”
  • “All this, with what preceded, and what followed, occurred with such involutions of rapidity, that past, present, and future seems one.”
  • Forget it. See, yon bright sun has forgotten it all, and the blue sea, and the blue sky; these have turned over new leaves.”
    “Because they have no memory,” he dejectedly replied; “because they are not human.”
    […]
    “You are saved, Don Benito,” cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; “you are saved; what has cast such a shadow upon you?”
    “The Negro.”
  • “Benito Cereno, borne on the bier, did, indeed, follow his leader!”

Benito Cereno, Melville (pdf / audio book).

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Person of the week!

Antoni_Gaudi_1878For whoever visited the great city of Barcelona in Spain must have visited one or more of the sites designed and constructed by Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926). The world known architect designed some of the most fascinating buildings and parks in the world. Gaudí, a prominent Catalan cultural figure studies, worked and lived in Barcelona. With his work he developed a particular architectural language of the highest esteem. The same esteem this great man had for nature, his great inspiration, as he once said: “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.”

In Homage to Catalonia, (1938) George Orwell wrote on the Sagrada Familia: “For the first time since I had been in Barcelona I went to have a look at the cathedral–a modern cathedral, and one of the most hideous buildings in the world. It has four crenellated spires exactly the shape of hock bottles. Unlike most of the churches in Barcelona it was not damaged during the revolution–it was spared because of its ‘artistic value’, people said. I think the Anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance, though they did hang a red and black banner between its spires.”

La Sagrada Familiahttp://www.gaudisagradafamilia.com/. For a Short clip on its magnificence, Click here. Moreover, Gaudí was so responsible for its work that he made instructions for the continuance of the construction postmortem.  The magnum opus that began in 1883 is destined to end on 2026. Here is how it will look:

Park Güellhttp://www.gaudidesigner.com/uk/parc-guell-visite-parc.html

Casa Batlló  – http://www.casabatllo.es/

Weekly choice, by peers

Never give up, Harvard Business Review

“I’ve always repeated the mantra “never, never, never, never give up.” These words of Winston Churchill’s have rallied me for years; they are a core tenet of our family motto, and hang, framed, on the wall just inside the front door of our home. But I’ve started to wonder if not giving up is sufficient.  (…)Dreaming is at the heart of disruption.  Whether we want to disrupt an industry or our personal status quo, in order to make that terrifying leap from one learning curve to the next, we must dream.  The good news is that the causal mechanism for achieving our dreams is always, always, always showing up:  and as we show up, our future will too.”

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/10/always-always-always-show-up/

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R (Relationship) related

Spooning

“His love for himself is so strong he does not need to gain the acceptance of others by trying to be something he is not. His strength is not physical so much as it is in the clarity of his mind and emotions. These are character strengths that a woman not only admires, but feels safe with. (…)When a man is distant emotionally or physically from her it may bring up feelings of loneliness, or fear of a break up. Seeking this type of emotional safety can lead to emotional drama.(…) By discouraging him to do other things she is increasing their time together. It is possible the man ends up feeling guilty for having done the “wrong” thing that caused her to be upset. (…)A woman can choose to wait for a man with the character and integrity that she respects and wants. But as she waits she should prepare herself as well. Being with a man of integrity will not be like being with other men. He will be seeking a partner that will treat him with the same level of unconditional love with which he treats himself. If she brings her judgments, fears, and emotional reactions to the relationship, he may decide that he would rather be with someone else.”

http://www.pathwaytohappiness.com/relationship_safety.htm

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Embracing uncertainty

“We talked a lot about embracing uncertainty, especially because all of us were surrounded by doubt and fear as graduation loomed closer and our futures were seemingly blank. I learned not to interpret the future as empty, but as open, full of possibilities, full of opportunities waiting for me to be the key player. We often interpret the unknown as bad or scary, but it is all in the viewer’s perception. Just as you can choose to see the glass half full instead of empty, so can you choose to view the future as brimming with possibilities instead of emptiness.”

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/embracing-uncertainty-the-future-is-open-not-empty/

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TED’s best for the week:

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

“Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.”

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Book of the week!

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann – The Magic Mountain

While combining opposed principles: intellect and sensibility, spirit and nature, intrinsic and extrinsic, the main character of this novel succeeds to gain important cognition about the essence of life. “Death is just a moment in life and nothing more” says Hans Castorp paradoxically, in a near death experience. Thus, spiritual education, abundance of mythological allusions and ironical inversions accompany this masterpiece of realistic yet grotesque narration. As we see in the selected quotes below:

“Passionate—that means to live for the sake of living. But one knows that you all live for sake of experience. Passion, that is self-forgetfulness. But what you all want is self-enrichment.”

“Who then was the orthodox, who the freethinker? Where lay the true position, the true state of man? Should he descend into the all-consuming all-equalizing chaos, that ascetic-libertine state; or should he take his stand on the “Critical-Subjective,” where empty bombast and a bourgeois strictness of morals contradicted each other? Ah, the principles and points of view constantly did that; it became so hard for Hans Castorp’s civilian responsibility to distinguish between opposed positions, or even to keep the premises apart from each other and clear in his mind, that the temptation grew well-nigh irresistible to plunge head foremost into Naphtha’s “morally chaotic All.”

Here’s a short clip, part of a movie that was made based on the book (from 1982):

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjhjp7_hans-castorp-s-dream-in-thomas-mann-s-the-magic-mountain-1982-film_shortfilms

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Person of the week!

Canadian author Alice Munro holds one of
The Canadian Alice Munro, wizard of short stories, Nobel Prize Laureate 2013!

“In twenty years I’ve never had a day when I didn’t have to think about someone else’s needs. And this means the writing has to be fitted around it.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlsF_ZLpNHY

“Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind… When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.”

Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

Weekly choice, by peers

Glad to announce this new category of post that will be uploaded on a weekly basis and will have a selection of articles, videos, inspirational quotes and ideas and what ever constructive and creative link you have in mind.  It is open for any participation, recommendation from any of information you wish to share. It is a wonderful opportunity to interact and share our, as well as your, interesting cybernetic discoveries.

Thank you for your interest and don´t forget to add your link of the week.

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path to happinessMost everybody has heard that money doesn’t make you happy, other people don’t make you happy, and that you have to make yourself happy. Very few people will tell you how. (…) Happiness and fulfillment obtained solely from focusing on your external reality is fleeting and may leave you wondering, “Is this all there is?” To discover a greater and more lasting happiness you will have to follow a path of dismantling the virtual reality of the mind.”

http://www.pathwaytohappiness.com/happiness/2007/09/27/mind-affects-happiness/

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About communication style. “Your amygdala is probably saying to you and to me, “I don’t want to do either of those things. These people are obnoxious and unreasonable. Why should I kowtow to them?” Here are several reasons…”

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/10/how-to-listen-when-your-communication-styles-dont-match/

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TeaIf you want to make some tea, first learn how to make tea. Next gather all the ingredients you need. And then make tea. Don’t worry about whether it will come out right. Don’t worry if anyone will like it. Don’t worry about whether you are worthy of making tea. Don’t worry about coffee drinkers. Don’t worry if you will ever get to make tea again. Don’t worry about what you will do after you make tea. Just. make. tea. And when you are done, move on.”

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-simple-personal-commitments-to-overcome-low-self-esteem/

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TED’s best for the week:

If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them… But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

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images (1)Interested in being creative? See what they have to say about it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weIQIthC3Ks&feature=youtu.be

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lou_reeThere were rumors that his feelings for Luisa and his enormous desire to conquer her, inspired Nietzsche’s literary potential. The famous philosopher used to say that she was a person with a brilliant mind and superb way of thinking, more than he had never seen before. It is believed that he actually marked Lou Salomé’s character in one of his most known books “Thus spoke Zarathustra”.

“You know these things as thoughts, but your thoughts are not your experiences, they are an echo and after-effect of your experiences: as when your room trembles when a carriage goes past. I however am sitting in the carriage, and often I am the carriage itself.
In a man who thinks like this, the dichotomy between thinking and feeling, intellect and passion, has really disappeared. He feels his thoughts. He can fall in love with an idea. An idea can make him ill.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvn_1VvTOSE

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Person of the week!

“I know my limits. That’s why I’m beyond.”

Jane+Birkin++Serge+Gainsbourg+flower
Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

http://www.europeandme.eu/17diaphragm/921-study-like-serge-gainsbourg

For a wonderful French documentary about his life, click here

What are friends for?

A simple question that in appearance evokes a rather simple answer, but (of course there will be a ‘but’) it seems not to be so trivial if we take under consideration different scholars’ opinion. For example, a Hegelianist will answer that friends are for reaffirming our being by recognizing our self-consciousness. A Dawkinsist will affirm that friends are for interaction in order to create an established social structure that will boost the odds for my genes to survive. A Jehovah Witness will probably say that they are the creation of God (which can say everything or absolutely nothing, depending on your views).

So, different perspectives that can easily be intertwined or on the contrary, be completely distinct from one another. Of course, these are only a small taste of the infinite possibilities. A New Age hippie might answer that friends are to help spread the endless love we and the world have to offer. A hard working broker might say something cited from somewhere but really think that a friend is to create a competition and make one-self improve skills and dare. A soldier might say that a friend is to save your life. To that last perspective, a gangster might also join as at times it seems somehow similar.

happy-friendship-day

So what are friends for? The simple answer will be all of the above, each person depending on the perspective and the social role she procures to follow. There are, however, a few dilemmas that create difficulties to some and understanding to others. They are best introduced in social psychology studies as social experiments (here are about laughter and Q&A). In them we can perceive and understand the difference in the examples above. One illustration is how we divide our social network into different scales of friends when the most common will be a social configuration of about 150 people, from family (first of kin and close relatives) to friends (best, recent best, acquaintances etc.). This is why for a common person there are about 150 facebook friends that he actually know relatively well (out of which 4-8 he will chat on a more regular basis) and the rest that are for filling/feeling numbers.

Today, with the Internet networking some even claim that we passed from 6 to 4.74 degrees of separation (read here). Even though, I tend to agree that, in spite of the common saying, we are not becoming ridiculously international (nice TED talk about it here).

negotiationBe the need for social interaction as it may, one thing is for sure, friendship is necessary. If we learn anything from the different studies, as for example the prisoners’ dilemma is that we can choose the relationship we maintain with our friends (confessing and sharing in the plea dilemma or sharing equal gain in the negotiator’s dilemma). The reiteration in the interface of the dilemma is about the interaction. I mean, if you choose to be the individual that wins the most, you have to take the risk to lose the most etc.

Taking under consideration this delicate and rather instinctive self-consciousness I tend to apply trispectivism to whenever I´m facing a conscious decision. Where I try to figure the best possible outcome reasoning the individual (me) with the universal (friend or group of friends) and the probable interaction between us. For some of course it may sound somewhat rational and cold but if it will prevent 80% of misunderstanding and quarrels, for me, the preference is simple. As to how, well, relating to your natural self interest alongside with our dependence on the Other, reciprocal trust by association is probably one of the best methods, wouldn´t you agree?