Second Language Improves Cognition

translation

In his seminal work, “God Passes By” Shoghi Effendi summarized the Baha’i Faith into approximately a dozen principles which are “the essential elements of that Divine polity”. Among these is “the adoption of a universal auxiliary language”.

This idea was proposed by Baha’u’llah as a practical method to increase unity in a linguistically fragmented world. In the Tablet of Ishraqat (Splendours) Baha’u’llah writes:

The sixth Ishr??q is union and concord amongst the children of men. From the beginning of time the light of unity hath shed its divine radiance upon the world, and the greatest means for the promotion of that unity is for the peoples of the world to understand one another’s writing and speech. In former Epistles We have enjoined upon the Trustees of the House of Justice either to choose one language from among those now existing or to adopt a new one, and in like manner to select a common script, both of which should be taught in all the schools of the world. Thus will the earth be regarded as one country and one home. The most glorious fruit of the tree of knowledge is this exalted word: Of one tree are all ye the fruit, and of one bough the leaves. Let not man glory in this that he loveth his country, let him rather glory in this that he loveth his kind. Concerning this We have previously revealed that which is the means of the reconstruction of the world and the unity of nations. Blessed are they that attain thereunto. Blessed are they that act accordingly.


And in the Tablet of Maqsud:

Among the things which are conducive to unity and concord and will cause the whole earth to be regarded as one country is that the divers languages be reduced to one language and in like manner the scripts used in the world be confined to a single script. It is incumbent upon all nations to appoint some men of understanding and erudition to convene a gathering and through joint consultation choose one language from among the varied existing languages, or create a new one, to be taught to the children in all the schools of the world.

But language is not merely a passive tool for communication. No, it is much more complex than that because it in return shapes our manner of thinking. It is difficult to realize this if one only knows one language, just as it is impossible for a goldfish to contemplate existing outside of its watery home.

We know, for example, that children benefit greatly from speaking more than one language. Even more remarkable the benefits of multiple language competence has been show to retard cognitive diseases such as dementia.

And a recent study shows that those who speak two languages have better critical thinking and decision making skills (“The Foreign-Language Effect: Thinking in a Foreign Tongue Reduces Decision Biases”). The authors write:

Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases. Four experiments show that the framing effect disappears when choices are presented in a foreign tongue. Whereas people were risk averse for gains and risk seeking for losses when choices were presented in their native tongue, they were not influenced by this framing manipulation in a foreign language.

Two additional experiments show that using a foreign language reduces loss aversion, increasing the acceptance of both hypothetical and real bets with positive expected value. We propose that these effects arise because a foreign language provides greater cognitive and emotional distance than a native tongue does.

We all recognize that there are two modes in which we think: conscious, analytical and rational and the other, subconscious, fast, emotional. Or “right brain” vs. “left brain”. It appears that simply by ‘thinking’ in a different language people are less prone to making emotionally charged decisions based on fear and more likely to accurately weigh the options and make rational analytical choices.

Getting back to the issue of an auxiliary language, the Baha’i Faith has not taken any steps towards issuing a decision or lobbying for any specific language. But other groups are active in this discussion. Among the first was the “Delegation for the Adoption of an International Auxiliary Language” who in 1901 decided to choose Esperanto with a few modifications (known as “Ido”). That decision yielded no real results because the group did not have any political or social clout.

The discussion on a world auxiliary language has continued off and on since then, mostly within academic circles. Because of the gargantuan effort needed to mandate an official international auxiliary language, we may never have such an artificially imposed decision. Instead we may see a naturally evolving acceptance of one candidate as it becomes the dominant language. English would seem to be an organic candidate because of its adoption as the official language of aviation, maritime travel, and other major fields.

While the selection process is ongoing this is a beautiful example of yet another Baha’i principle: the harmony of science and religion.

Image credit: Megan Eaves (flickr)

  • Antiwar

    Shoghi Effendi’s “God Passes By” a seminal work?! You jest…

  • It is a pity that your information about Esperanto is completely out of date.  Many ill-informed people describe Esperanto as “failed” – others say that if human beings were meant to fly, God would have given them wings.
    Esperanto is neither artificial nor a failure however.  Now that the British Government now employs Esperanto translators it has ceased to be a hobby. More recently this international language was used to address the United Nations in Bonn.
    During a short period of 125 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide. It is the 22nd most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of, Skype, Firefox, Ubuntu and Facebook and Google translate recently added to its prestigious list of 64 languages.
    Native Esperanto speakers, (people who have used the language from birth), include World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet. Financier George Soros learnt Esperanto as a child.
    Esperanto is a living language – see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670 Their online course http://www.lernu.net has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per month.  That can’t be bad 🙂

  • Baquia

    Brian, thank you for your comment. It would seem you’ve misunderstood what I wrote; that the Delegation’s attempts to mandate Ido failed, not the language (Esperanto/Ido) itself.

  • Baquia

    Yes, well, perhaps not the best adjective. Among the general Baha’i community it is considered a ‘seminal’ work as it has been both influential and the inspiration of other works. Historians on the other hand may regard God Passes By as not a completely accurate or objective work.

  • Fubar

    Please explain how this is a matter of science and religion? Leading edge cognitive-linguistic theory (which references evolutionary theory) tends to result in the invalidation of much of traditional “axial” religion.

    On the other hand, George Lakoff is critical of the “mechanistic” (atheist) model of science, and his work, along with many other collaborators such as Mark Turner, does show that the human brain is basically a metaphor machine, not a calculator. Lakoff’s model is one of integrative cognition, metaphoric (story telling/poetic/spiritual) capabilities are consistent, or “harmonious” (to use bahai jargon) with rational, mechanistic, or mathematical capabilities.

    Please note that Lakoff and others are developing computer models of fundamental linguistic constructs operating in the human brain. Thse models should yield tremendous fruit as to what human consciousness, and the “construction of meaning” actually consist of.

    (see Martin Buber’s “I-Thou” construct, and Koestler’s Holons.)

    An Integrative evolutionary model will still not be supportive of much of the “metaphysical baggage” of Mythic spiritual traditions, and will see such Mythic religion’s “baggage” as a roadblock to progress, just as it sees the “mechanistic” model of science to be based on flawed, limited cultural constructs.

  • Fubar

    Humanity does not yet even have practical answers to the problems created by postmodernism, much less some grand unifying theory that could provide the paradigm from which a completely “artificial” language could be constructed by some silly global political structure.

    All of the “semi-world” languages are part of imperialistic religion, culture, politics, and economics.

    Since bahaism seeks to create a world empire, it needs a imperial language.

    In that sense, the whole construct is silly. As are much of the rest of the core bahai “social principles”.

    Human DNA dooms humanity to tribalism. At best, large supertribes will attempt to create imperial cultures. Such supertibes are completely unstable, and none of them will ever last more than 500 years, and usually far less.

    The only hope for a universal language might be binary code, after a superior robot species takes over the world.

    So far, the human use of binary has simply made things worse: more concentration of wealth and power, and destruction of culture by so called “capitalism”.

  • Kratos

    The various languages and idioms of the world generate only confusion once it’s beocme east to each any part of the planet in a matter of instants. 

    Baha’u’llah is right, countries are nothing and we must unify. Languages creatr cultures and create conflict. It is almost impossible for two people speaking different languages to find a common ground unless a common language AND identity is adopted…and such common ground is HUMAN NATURE. 

    Languages and cultures make people forget their common human nature, which is all that matters in the universe. Countries, languages and cultures are NOT important and a man or woman identifying himself or herself with that is not as enlighetened as a person who realized how insignificant his own culture, nation and language is.  

  • CoL

    And now for a quote conspicuously missing from Baquia’s post (maybe because it undercuts the cited studies that show speaking more than one language strengthens cognitive skills?). 

    “We have formerly ordained that people should converse in two languages, yet efforts must be made to reduce them to one, likewise the scripts of the world, that men’s lives may not be dissipated and wasted in learning divers languages. Thus the whole earth would come to be regarded as one city and one land.” – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, Words of Paradise, 8th Leaf, p.69 

    Language departments the world over are shaking in their boots. Polyglots of the world beware! 

  • Desir0101

    Language is a means of communication.
    This sound energy resulting from the combination of the elements water fire air and dust a manifestation of the spirit through one of its various agencies.
    This vibrational energy is the intermediary between one’s spirit and the material world.
    One of the many ways the spirit can manifest and express itself in this world.
    Using the four elements to create vibrational energy.
    May be in the Bahai cycles, to meet the unifying exigencies a universal language is required.

    I am convince,(it’s only fiction up to now) that we can upload the brain with such data within hours, days to champion any languages or any literature that will take us many many years to learn in the traditional way.

    My personal opinion I believe in view of the bahai context the arabic/persian language can be a candidate.

  • CoL

    Linguistic genocide on a global scale for the sake of unity: one of the stupidest Baha’i ideas ever. Monolingualism does not equal concord or peace. 

  • Wombat

    Back in 1967, I think it was, the late Hand of the Cause Taraz’u’llah Samandari visited the city in Asia where I was living at the time. (He was the last living person to have seen Baha’u’llah, so a great to-do was made of his visit.) I remember the meeting where he held up a glass of hot tea and said it was called blah1 in Farsi, blah2 in Russian, and what-say? in Chinese. “Now see how silly all that is,” he said. “When we have one thing like this, we should be able to call it by just one name wherever we go in the world and be done with it.” Then he sat back and waited for me to translate. I sort of felt insulted. Here was this old geezer saying we should have one international language yet he had nothing substantial to offer and could only lean on others to translate into existing languages wherever he went. I didn’t detect any respect for the skill and effort involved on the part of the translator. It’s sort of like going to a doctor, getting treated, and then saying “There’s gotta be a way so we don’t need guys like you anymore.”  

  • Desir0101

     We are breathing the same air, heated by the same sun, trampling the same earth ,We have been fashioned in the same way,so what the problem of having a common universal language.

  • Hello

    Im looking for Kitab al Aqdas, in English pdf format. For some reason I cannot find it on-line? Please.

  • Baquia
  • Baquia

    CoL, you’re right. Baha’u’llah also makes mention of this in several other tablets:

    “Second: Languages must be reduced to one common language to be taught in all the schools of the world.”  Lawh-i-Dunya
    (Tablet of the World) Tablets of Bah??’u’ll??h, p 89

    “Likewise He saith: Among the things which are conducive to unity and concord and will cause the whole earth to be regarded as one country is that the divers languages be reduced to one language and in like manner the scripts used in the world be confined to a single script. It is incumbent upon all nations to appoint some men of understanding and erudition to convene a gathering and through joint consultation choose one language from among the varied existing languages, or create a new one, to be taught in all the schools of the world.” Lawh-i-Maqsud (Tablet of Maqsud) Tablets of Bah??’u’ll??h, p 165

    I could be wrong but this seems to be a goal for the very very distant future considering that the Baha’i dispensation is for 1000 years (or 831 years and counting).

  • Baquia
  • Bozorg

    Whether it’s tomorrow or 10 centuries from now, the idea of steamrolling all languages in favor of just one remains morally indefensible and inconsistent with the putative Baha’i celebration of diversity. A universal language taught in all nations for the sake of forging global solidarity and exchange? Sounds good. Destroying the myriad languages of the world for the sake of forging global solidarity and exchange? Stupid. 

  • Desir0101

     Fubar.

    Nice to meet you again
    I have deeply appreciate the excerpts from Armstrong.
    This make sense.
    There are ocean of knowledge and wisdom within our grasp.
    With an aware consciousness we can develop unimaginable capacity latent within us.
    Life is so wonderful and thanks for this precious gift.
    Shortly The world will urge to the necessity to adopt a universal language.
    It will not be imposed. it will be a natural necessity. And humanity will welcome it.
    You are an intelligent person but I don’t understand your reasoning on this topics.

    I am convince that Bahaullah has gone much farther that any one here to the source of knowledge.
    May be He has used this acquired knowledge in his favor, as many other who proclaim to be Divinely guided to help mankind to find a way to peace and tranquility.

    What wrong has he done.??

  • Antiwar

     It is also how American capitalist empire operates which should tell you something about bahaism.

  • Forrestpoppy

    Hi Baquia,

    The Baha’i writing has never said that we should only learn one language to the exclusion of all others. In fact  the excerpt below from Abdul-baha in Divine Philosophy, p.26 states otherwise:  Every one will need
    but two languages, his national tongue and the universal language. All will
    acquire the international language.  (Abdu’l-Baha,
    Divine Philosophy, p. 26) .

    Obviously you can not tell all the peoples of the earth to forget their own cultural backgrounds or mother tongues – I dont belive that is what the Baha’i teachings intend, otherwise why would Abdul-Baha tell us that we need two languages – our mother tongue and a universal language? Rather, the universal language is intended however, for dialogue on the an international scale.

    You have stated the following:

     But language is not merely a passive
    tool for communication. No, it is much more complex than that because it in
    return shapes our manner of thinking.

    If language indeed is not merely a  passive tool for communicating, and if we support your argument that it is much more complex in that it shapes our manner of thinking, then one can argue that language in shaping how we think, also shapes how we interact with others as a result. Therefore how much easier would it be on an international scale, if we all did speak a universal language whereby our thinking is universally shaped by the one and only language which we all share. The following excerpt by Abdul-Baha beautifully illustrates the poiint I am trying to make here.

    “In order to
    facilitate complete understanding between all people, a universal auxiliary
    language will be adopted and in the schools of the future two languages will be
    taught — the mother tongue and this international auxiliary tongue which will
    be either one of the existing language or a new language made up of words from
    all the languages — the matter is to be determined by a confederation met for
    the purpose which shall represent all tribes and nations. This international
    tongue will be used in the work of the parliament of man — a supreme tribunal
    of the world which will be permanently established in order to arbitrate
    international questions.       (Abdu’l-Baha,
    Divine Philosophy, p. 84)Note the emphsis is on two languages, the mother tongue which is what we are all raised with within our family units and a universal language. But I would like to particularly emphasise the words “schools of the future”.  This universal language is obviously an endeavor which will take many years to achieve and its achievment and culmination into a mature universal language will obviously occurr in “THE FUTURE”, where there will be the means by which this universal language can be constructed. The Baha’i community is in an infancy stage, – Baha’i faith is less than 200 years old – and as such many of the laws and precepts that Baha’ullah has set out will take many years to come to full and mature fruition. We can not expect everything to have happened today or yesterday. Many of these things will take  a better part of another 1-3 hundred years to bear the fruits of what the Baha’i community is so painstakingly working to achieve. Many of us will not be alive to see these things come to fruition, but you must trust the will of Baha’ullah, you must be steadfast in his teachings (which is steafastness in the covenant)  and you must patiently look at what is occurring as the growing pains of new growth and spiritual realisation.  Just because we dont have a crystal ball to see into the future does not mean that what Baha’u’llah has ordained (and confirmed by his son Abdul-Baha) will not occur. 35 years ago, did you think we would have something like the iphone, did we even think that the way we communicate across time and space via the web was possible? We could not see into the future at that stage – therefore we we could not understand or envisage the way we communicate today. Man’s thinking is limited in comparison to the divine – how can we puny individuals hope to understand the wisdom in what Baha’ullah has set out for the next 1000 years to come?Furthermore, and meaning  no disrespect to you, I believe that people need to increase or deepen their knowledge in the faith. In addition I believe that it is not enough to only consult one resource rather you will need more references and Baha’i resources and writings before you can put forward the arguments you have above in a manner which can be said to be convincing. Note the emphsis is on two languages, the mother tongue which is what we are all raised with within our family units and a universal language. But I would like to particularly emphasise the words “schools of the future”.  This universal language is obviously an endeavor which will take many years to achieve and its achievment and culmination into a mature universal language will obviously occurr in “THE FUTURE”, where there will be the means by which this universal language can be constructed. The Baha’i community is in an infancy stage, – Baha’i faith is less than 200 years old – and as such many of the laws and precepts that Baha’ullah has set out will take many years to come to full and mature fruition. We can not expect everything to have happened today or yesterday. Many of these things will take  a better part of another 1-3 hundred years to bear the fruits of what the Baha’i community is so painstakingly working to achieve. Many of us will not be alive to see these things come to fruition, but you must trust the will of Baha’ullah, you must be steadfast in his teachings (which is steafastness in the covenant)  and you must patiently look at what is occurring as the growing pains of new growth and spiritual realisation.  Just because we dont have a crystal ball to see into the future does not mean that what Baha’u’llah has ordained (and confirmed by his son Abdul-Baha) will not occur. 35 years ago, did you think we would have something like the iphone, did we even think that the way we communicate across time and space via the web was possible? We could not see into the future at that stage – therefore we we could not understand or envisage the way we communicate today. Man’s thinking is limited in comparison to the divine – how can we puny individuals hope to understand the wisdom in what Baha’ullah has set out for the next 1000 years to come?Furthermore, and meaning  no disrespect to you, I believe that people need to increase or deepen their knowledge in the faith. In addition I believe that it is not enough to only consult one resource rather you will need more references and Baha’i resources and writings before you can put forward the arguments you have above in a manner which can be said to be convincing. Lastly regarding the language of Esperanto – I have copied below an excerpt from the Baha’i writings in regard to this language:

    “The love and
    effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered, “but no one
    person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council
    representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It
    will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions;
    neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything
    indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the
    camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well
    as the revised Universal Language.”   (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in
    London, p. 93)

    I hope this is of some benefit to all who read this blod.Thanks,poppy”The love and
    effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered, “but no one
    person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council
    representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It
    will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions;
    neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything
    indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the
    camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well
    as the revised Universal Language.”   (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in
    London, p. 93)

    I hope this is of some benefit to all who read this blod.Thanks,poppy
     But language is not merely a passive
    tool for communication. No, it is much more complex than that because it in
    return shapes our manner of thinking.

    If language indeed is not merely a  passive tool for communicating, and if we support your argument that it is much more complex in that it shapes our manner of thinking, then one can argue that language in shaping how we think, also shapes how we interact with others as a result. Therefore how much easier would it be on an international scale, if we all did speak a universal language whereby our thinking is universally shaped by the one and only language which we all share. The following excerpt by Abdul-Baha beautifully illustrates the poiint I am trying to make here.

    “In order to
    facilitate complete understanding between all people, a universal auxiliary
    language will be adopted and in the schools of the future two languages will be
    taught — the mother tongue and this international auxiliary tongue which will
    be either one of the existing language or a new language made up of words from
    all the languages — the matter is to be determined by a confederation met for
    the purpose which shall represent all tribes and nations. This international
    tongue will be used in the work of the parliament of man — a supreme tribunal
    of the world which will be permanently established in order to arbitrate
    international questions.       (Abdu’l-Baha,
    Divine Philosophy, p. 84)Note the emphsis is on two languages, the mother tongue which is what we are all raised with within our family units and a universal language. But I would like to particularly emphasise the words “schools of the future”.  This universal language is obviously an endeavor which will take many years to achieve and its achievment and culmination into a mature universal language will obviously occurr in “THE FUTURE”, where there will be the means by which this universal language can be constructed. The Baha’i community is in an infancy stage, – Baha’i faith is less than 200 years old – and as such many of the laws and precepts that Baha’ullah has set out will take many years to come to full and mature fruition. We can not expect everything to have happened today or yesterday. Many of these things will take  a better part of another 1-3 hundred years to bear the fruits of what the Baha’i community is so painstakingly working to achieve. Many of us will not be alive to see these things come to fruition, but you must trust the will of Baha’ullah, you must be steadfast in his teachings (which is steafastness in the covenant)  and you must patiently look at what is occurring as the growing pains of new growth and spiritual realisation.  Just because we dont have a crystal ball to see into the future does not mean that what Baha’u’llah has ordained (and confirmed by his son Abdul-Baha) will not occur. 35 years ago, did you think we would have something like the iphone, did we even think that the way we communicate across time and space via the web was possible? We could not see into the future at that stage – therefore we we could not understand or envisage the way we communicate today. Man’s thinking is limited in comparison to the divine – how can we puny individuals hope to understand the wisdom in what Baha’ullah has set out for the next 1000 years to come?Furthermore, and meaning  no disrespect to you, I believe that people need to increase or deepen their knowledge in the faith. In addition I believe that it is not enough to only consult one resource rather you will need more references and Baha’i resources and writings before you can put forward the arguments you have above in a manner which can be said to be convincing.

    Note the emphsis is on two languages, the mother tongue which is what we are all raised with within our family units and a universal language. But I would like to particularly emphasise the words “schools of the future”.  This universal language is obviously an endeavor which will take many years to achieve and its achievment and culmination into a mature universal language will obviously occurr in “THE FUTURE”, where there will be the means by which this universal language can be constructed. The Baha’i community is in an infancy stage, – Baha’i faith is less than 200 years old – and as such many of the laws and precepts that Baha’ullah has set out will take many years to come to full and mature fruition. We can not expect everything to have happened today or yesterday. Many of these things will take  a better part of another 1-3 hundred years to bear the fruits of what the Baha’i community is so painstakingly working to achieve. Many of us will not be alive to see these things come to fruition, but you must trust the will of Baha’ullah, you must be steadfast in his teachings (which is steafastness in the covenant)  and you must patiently look at what is occurring as the growing pains of new growth and spiritual realisation.  

    Just because we dont have a crystal ball to see into the future does not mean that what Baha’u’llah has ordained (and confirmed by his son Abdul-Baha) will not occur. 35 years ago, did you think we would have something like the iphone, did we even think that the way we communicate across time and space via the web was possible? We could not see into the future at that stage – therefore we we could not understand or envisage the way we communicate today. Man’s thinking is limited in comparison to the divine – how can we puny individuals hope to understand the wisdom in what Baha’ullah has set out for the next 1000 years to come?Furthermore, and meaning  no disrespect to you, I believe that people need to increase or deepen their knowledge in the faith. In addition I believe that it is not enough to only consult one resource rather you will need more references and Baha’i resources and writings before you can put forward the arguments you have above in a manner which can be said to be convincing.

    Lastly regarding the language of Esperanto – I have copied below an excerpt from the Baha’i writings in regard to this language:

    “The love and
    effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered, “but no one
    person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council
    representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It
    will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions;
    neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything
    indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the
    camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well
    as the revised Universal Language.”   (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in
    London, p. 93)

    I hope this is of some benefit to all who read this blod.Thanks,poppy
    “The love and
    effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered, “but no one
    person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council
    representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It
    will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions;
    neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything
    indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the
    camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well
    as the revised Universal Language.”   (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in
    London, p. 93)

    I hope this is of some benefit to all who read this blod.

    Thanks,
    poppy

  • Baquia

    Interesting article from National Geographic related to this topic: Vanishing Languages

  • Fubar

    Desir, it is great hearing from you, as always.

    Some information on the current leading edge of the scientific understanding of human cognition and linguistics: http://markturner.org/

    Culture is a product of evolution. Culture and DNA limit human possibilities, but the specifics are difficult (dangerous?) to define and predict.

    We can imagine more than we can do correctly. This is why superheros are in comic books and movies, but nowhere in “real life”.

    We can “imagine” (for purposes of religious conversion and apologetics, or many other purposes) “World Peace”, but there is no model of human behavior that would support the idea that we can transcend our tribal DNA and actually *implement* something that exists outside our existing human capability.

    For instance: a study that finds that Altruism (the bedrock of spirituality) is genetically determined to be dependent on War. Without War, human beings have no incentive to “bond” into tight (protective “unifying”) social units by activating our evolutionary capability for Altruism and Self-Sacrifice. So, the idea of World Peace not only appears to be scientifically nonsensical, it might actually be making us less “spiritual”. (!)

    I see no need for any “universal” system of politics, economics, religion, language, etc.

    The more “universalized” and “centralized” human activity becomes, the LESS HUMAN (authentic) it actually is, and the more “colonized” by “systems” it becomes. (Habermas)

    Authenticity is defined as “shared value commitments”, “local wisdom” and so forth.

    As any “universal” language is imposed by politics, economics, religion, or any other IMPERIALISTIC SCHEME based on power and greed, authenticity becomes marginalized.

    Bahaullah was a spiritual genius, but like all human beings, his viewpoint was overwhelmingly influenced (in both good and bad ways) by a limited form of culture that contains many outmoded metaphysical and other constructs.

    The very ideas of “infallibility” and “prophetology” that are used as the “ultimate” legitimizing rationale for the core “truth claims” in bahaism are easily deconstructed by an objective understanding of human nature and history.

    Human beings are, by nature, superb liars and hypocrites. Those qualities are of basic importance in the history of the survival of socially bonded human beings that form social networks. The emotional bonds necessary in human groups make lies and hypocrisy necessary.

    This means that religions that propose formal models of ethical “perfection” (rules and roles) are doomed by cognitive dissonance.

    http://www.theworsthorse.com/why-v1.html

    There is substantial evidence that “too much spirituality” can actually cause psychiatric problems. When a person becomes extremely deep in the area of spirituality, but not in other areas of life, the imbalance and disharmony can cause enormous pain.

    Traditional cultures had various imperfect ways of dealing with the “waste” caused by people that were “too spiritual” for their own good, but the unfortunate reality is that they just make a lot of other people’s lives cr*ppier (while promising the opposite).

  • Fubar

    Yes. There is no requirement that bahai “teachers” make much sense. Very few of their projects are ever subject to real world tests. Their purpose is to maintain myths and fantasies, not solve real problems.

  • Fubar

    Leading edge evolutionary theory of human cognition, language, construction of meaning:

    ***PLEASE NOTE THE EXPLANATION OF HUMAN LIMITS***

    (linked from http://markturner.org/ )

    http://ilevolucionista.blogspot.com/2009/09/linguistica-cognitiva-entrevista-mark.html

    excerpt:

    1. How do we think?

    Like other primates, but
    with a big difference. Other primates integrate conceptual structures in
    rudimentary ways. We integrate them in both rudimentary and advanced
    ways. We can integrate them even when they clash in core structure, such
    as causal, temporal, spatial, modal, and aspectual structure. Our
    advanced form of conceptual integration, called “double-scope blending,?
    is the big difference: it gives human beings the capacity for
    higher-order cognition and behaviors: art, music, religion, language,
    mathematical insight, scientific discovery, culture, fashion, advanced
    social cognition, advanced tool use, sign systems. Other animals are for
    the most part restricted cognitively to a local scale. But human
    beings, thanks to double-scope blending, can anchor vast networks of
    conceptual arrays in human-scale blends. We use those human-scale blends
    as platforms from which to understand, manipulate, grasp, and work on
    these networks. Human beings can think at network scale, which is much
    larger than human scale.

    2. What is the deep meaning of art?

    Double-scope
    blending is a species-wide mental ability that makes culture possible.
    Art is at once a great flowering of that species-wide ability and a
    remarkable demonstration of how it endows us with the capacity to evolve
    culturally, that is, in cultural time rather than evolutionary time.
    There is no evidence as yet that basic human mental operations have
    evolved during the last fifty thousand years or so, but during that time
    []

    [***] almost everything we regard as marking our humanity has been invented

    [],
    art often leading the way.

    3. What is language? How did it arise? How did it evolve?

    Gilles
    Fauconnier and I provide our answers to these questions in chapter nine
    of The Way We Think. The evolution of double-scope blending solved the
    central problem of language and made it possible for our species to
    advance far beyond the sorts of impressive communication we see in other
    species.

    4. What are our cognitive limits when we think
    about economic or political questions? Is there any possibility to find
    in them some universally accepted truth?

    [***] Our cognitive
    limits in thinking about anything are severe. The human brain operates
    at a basic, local, human scale except that our capacity for double-scope
    blending allows us to understand vast conceptual networks by anchoring
    them in human-scale blends. The indispensability of human-scale blends
    is a strong constraint on thought. There are many aspects of our
    thinking about political and economic decision-making that should be
    universally accepted, such as that a self is variable, and that a self
    at any moment knows that it is subject to variation and takes defensive
    and offensive actions against its past and future versions. These basic
    truths from cognitive science are papered-over by classical economics,
    which assumes a constant self, in the form of a utility function. But a
    self is a complicated and dynamic outcome of complicated conceptual
    integration networks.

    5. In which sense is language metaphoric?

    Words
    do not mean. Expressions do not mean. Terms do not refer. Language is a
    system of tiny prompts for guiding listeners to construct elaborate
    meanings.

    [***] We use the small toolbox of language to prompt others, and
    ourselves, to activate mental operations we already possess to work on
    things we mostly already know. Sometimes, we construct a conceptual
    integration network that contains a metaphoric link. Double-scope
    blending makes both language and metaphor possible.

    6. What is the meaning of the meaning?

    It
    might seem obvious that life and its events should have meaning for
    human beings and some other animals, but how we experience the world as
    meaningful and even have consciousness of some of that meaning is a
    question on which there is no scientific consensus. The most promising
    current approach derives from the hypothesis of ?embodied cognition?:
    the brain is built to run the body, and some of those bodily states are
    directly meaningful, providing a basis for constructing further meaning.
    Antonio Damasio has taken this question up in The Feeling of What
    Happens.
    [end excerpt]

  • Fubar

    American capitalism, as formed after the industrial revolution and evolved up to the present, is really Plutocracy. It advanced the Strive/Achieve memes as part of a paradigm shift into modernity (science, technology, democracy, separation of church and state, free markets, entrepreneurs, etc.)

    Plutocracy “reanimates” medieval (imperialistic) forms of culture and psychology/archetypes, and destroys populist democracy. Plutocracy ALWAYS involves GLOBAL TRADE.

    Here are some of the main GLOBAL COMMODITIES whose INTERNATIONAL TRADE has always destroyed the possibility of populist democracy:

    SILK, SPICES, TEA, OPIUM/DRUGS, GUNS (WEAPONS SYSTEMS), MONEY (GOLD, ETC.), OIL.

    All of those things right directly through the middle east and the Judeo-Christian-Islamic empires.

    Like Islamic culture in general, Iranian bahai culture has never respected, or understood, western or american culture.

    The “godlessness” and “materialism” of the west is Kryptonite to Eastern Mysticism’s Superman myth.

    To Persian bahais, the west, and america, was a tool to accomplish a Persian/Shia agenda.

    American bahais are simply being used, and will never get any respect, except to the extent that they ASSIMILATE AND CONFORM to the MYTH REQUIREMENTS of Persian/Shia culture (at which point they have abandoned their own culture and traditions and become absurd, backward vestiges).

    What is needed is Integral/Holsitic Culture. Bahaism is seriously deficient in providing the psychological basis of Holism. It is too deeply mired in the Shia “antiscience” (“othering” or “us vs. them”) prespective. Bahaism fails the “Non-exclusion principle” (which only appears at the “level” of postmodern culture, not the medieval culture that bahaism is rooted in).

    http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptB/part2.cfm

    excerpts:

    On
    a metatheoretical level, exactly how to incorporate what are at times
    conflicting paradigms into an integrative web is a difficult, delicate issue.
    If we accept the validity of a plurality or multiplicity of paradigms and their
    enacted phenomena–and given the fact that many of these paradigms do not,
    to put it politely, accept each other–then how to weave them all together
    in something of a coherent whole becomes a difficult task indeed. To say that
    “Everybody is right” is one thing; believably weaving them together,
    quite another.

    There
    appear to be at least three integrative principles or guidelines that are
    useful in this endeavor–that is, three guidelines that can help
    incorporate the most number of truths from the most number of sources (and thus
    validate the most number of people, who are already engaged in those practices
    anyway).

    The
    first useful integrative principle is
    nonexclusion.
    Nonexclusion means that we can accept the valid truth claims (i.e., the truth
    claims that pass the validity tests
    for
    their own paradigms
    in their own fields, whether in hermeneutics, spirituality, science, etc.)
    insofar as they make statements about the existence of their own enacted and
    disclosed phenomena, but not when they make statements about the existence of
    phenomena enacted by other paradigms. That is, one paradigm can competently
    pass judgments within its own worldspace, but not on those spaces enacted (and
    only seen) by other paradigms.


    The Second Useful Principle: Unfoldment

    This heuristic principle suggests that all paradigms, like all moments, are in
    themselves true and adequate; but some paradigms can be more encompassing, more
    inclusive, more holistic than others. This does not render the other paradigms
    wrong, inaccurate, stupid, illusory, or anything of the sort–they are true
    but partial.


    The Third Useful Principle: Enactment

    phenomena are
    enacted and brought forth by injunctions, paradigms, or social practices
    (“if you want to know this, you must do this”). And here is the
    point: all paradigms or injunctions are initiated by a subject (or group of
    subjects), and all subjects have available to them different states of being or
    states of consciousness. It follows that a different state of consciousness
    will bring forth a different world.

  • mambo

    Seminal is from Semen?

  • Baquia

    they have the same root – from the latin seminalis: seed

  • disqus_xxieilTWOu

    Dear Baquia, It seems you consider yourself an authority in every subject on this planet! You even think you know better than the divinely guided Universal House of Justice!!! And you also have managed to gather some supporters of your own, so why not open up your new religion, as it seems the only thing you do is to criticise the Faith and its Institutions! If you have accepted Baha’u’llah, then everything else that you see now, is part of a greater plan by Baha’u’llah. So if you don’t have the vision to see that, please keep your invalid doubts to yourself and don’t be a source of misguidance for other naive people. If you’d said your obligatory prayer everyday and read your Holy Writings everyday morning and evening, and wasn’t so occupied with the faults and sins of others, you’d surely be in a better spiritual position than you already are and the mysteries of the world would unfold little by little before your eyes. You and people like you
    are a very good example why this world has to change. Be a mystic not a misfit…

  • PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE USED TO ENFORCE MYTHIC CONFORMISM WITHIN BAHAI COMMUNITY

    Your critic is locked into a paradigm of mythic conformism and ideological/cultural exclusion (not inclusion, diversity and a healthy harmony of science and spirituality). In such a backward system, any persistent nonconformists are first marginalized as being “spiritually unworthy”.

    If they continue to persist, they are attacked by either individuals with dysfunctional intellects and/or personalities, or similarly dysfunctional representatives of bahai institutions. If the nonconformist continues to persist, perhaps becoming a full blown dissident after noticing the pervasive and systematic structure of fraud and lies that exist in bahai culture, they are further attacked, and in some cases, they are expelled from the religion for unstated reasons. This of course frequently causes personal trauma.

    Hilariously your critic stupidly does exactly what they complain you are doing:
    “occupied with the faults and sins of others”

    This is simply one of millions of stupid things done and said in the name of “religion” and “god” every minute on planet earth.