Sunday, January 08, 2006

Excellence from top to bottom

The basis of the philosophy of areté is the idea that, if you "improve" yourself enough, the world's your oyster. The interesting thing about this philosophy is that, as you read it, you're probably muttering to yourself "well that's bloody obvious, isn't it". But how many of you actually believe it? How many of you act as if it were true? I know at least one person who's convinced that "networking" is far more important than true quality will ever be, despite the fact that in the Quality schema of life networking is a comparatively small part. So is it really that obvious to you? Or have you just been told that Quality is a good thing long enough that you've started parroting it back? Think about that.

On to detail. The way I view my interactions with the world is as a sort of network stack (if you're not geeky enough to know what I'm talking about, see here, and if you still don't understand give me a yell). The application of areté here is to work on improving each level, attempting to improve each in turn. In the coming posts, I'll be talking about the work I've been doing on each level of the Quality stack. If there's anything you'd particularly like me to talk about, do mention it - it might conceivably be something I hadn't thought to work on.

A basic overview of the Quality stack would look something like:
  • Body
  • Mind
  • Social interactions
(If you're religious it would probably be valid to substitute "spirit" for the last one).

The reason that they're arranged in that order is that each is a small, yet abnormally important, subset of the one above. Mind is dependent on brain, but despite the fact that it's effectively just a chunk of the body it demands special effort. Social behaviour is probably the single most important element of the mind*, and demands an entirely new paradigm to handle it fully. Each acts to some extent as a driving force for the previous one.

I'll be covering these areas in absolutely no particular order. Maybe after I've done a complete braindump of all my thoughts I'll be able to go back over them and figure out how the pieces fit together.

* In fact there's an hypothesis that the reason we evolved big brains is so we could lie more effectively to each other. Go figure.

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