Knowledge Concepts

Litany of Gendlin

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

Scientific Method

The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.


Cognitive Systems

When we make decisions and analyse information, we tend to move back and forth between two broad kinds of thought—one faster, more automatic, and more closely tied to our emotions, and the other slower, more effortful, and more closely tied with our explicit thoughts and beliefs. In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman described them as System 1 and System 2:

System 1

Evolved earlier
Wordless, “black box” thinking
Processes information quickly
“Intuition,” “reflex,” etc.
Always on
Doesn’t use working memory

System 2

Evolved later, more unique to humans
Verbal, “transparent” thinking
Processes information slowly
“Concentration,” “reflection,” etc.
Often on standby
Limited by working memory

Each “system” is complex, made up of a variety of parts, and neither is perfect. Our knee-jerk, automatic processes are prone to making the wrong connections—if a new acquaintance resembles an old enemy, you may find yourself feeling anxious or cold without really knowing why. Our deliberate, explicit processes can fail by leaving out information—if you can’t put a fleeting feeling of unease into words, you may be tempted to disregard it, and exclude it from your calculations.

Often, people make the mistake of thinking that rationality is the process of muting those primitive, intuitive processes and just relying on System 2. It’s an understandable mistake—after all, those are the “higher brain” functions, the ones that allow us to do things animals can’t, like writing and philosophy and math and science.

But turning off or ignoring large parts of your brain is rarely helpful, and applied rationality is about using every tool in your possession. In the classes at this workshop, we’ll talk about how to balance and combine these two types of thinking, learning to understand the strengths of each so that you know when to bring them to bear and how to use them effectively both together and apart. The aim is to make deliberate, thoughtful use of your whole mind—a whole that’s much greater than the sum of its parts.