How Does Action Shape Thought?

First Comes Movement

A creature didn’t think in order to move; it just moved, and by moving it discovered the world that then formed the content of its thoughts.

…..Larissa MacFarquhar, “The mind-expanding ideas of Andy Clark,” The New Yorker

Action Shapes Thought

How do we think? The natural answer is: with words. Everything from ancient philosophy to the theory of evolution is assembled and transmitted through language. But our ancestors did not speak, and neither do infants – yet they still think. So, if we can think before we have language, then what are our thoughts made of?

In Mind in Motion, psychologist Barbara Tversky makes the case that movement and our interactions in space, not language, are the true foundation of thought.

Spatial Thinking

Spatial thinking enables us to draw meaning from: our bodies and their actions in the world; shape, size, and relation; and transformation, trajectory, and speed. Actions on thought are like actions on objects.

Spatial thinking underlies our ability to create and use maps, assemble furniture, devise football strategies, design buildings, create art, and understand the flow of people, traffic, water, and ideas. Spatial thinking even underlies the structure and meaning of language: why we say we push ideas forward or tear them apart, and why we’re feeling up or have grown distant.

Science, art, literature, and the great ideas of the world – these originated not just in our brains, but in our entire bodies.

Mind in Motion
Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought

Barbara Tversky

 

How Can Flexible Thinking Bring Us Peace?

Psychological Flexibility

Overview

Flexible thinking, also known as psychological flexibility, allows us to turn toward our discomfort and disquiet in a way that is open, curious, and kind.

It’s about looking in a nonjudgmental and compassionate way at the places in ourselves and in our lives where we hurt, because the things that have the power to cause us the most pain are often the things we care about most deeply.

Psychological Flexibility Practices

  • Defusion
    See our thoughts with enough distance that we can choose what we do next, regardless of our mind’s chatter.
  • Self
    Notice the story we’ve constructed of our self and gain perspective about who we are.
  • Acceptance
    Allow ourselves to feel even when the feelings are painful or create a sense of vulnerability.
  • Presence
    Direct attention in an intentional way rather than by mere habit, noticing what is present here and now, inside us and out.
  • Values
    Choose the qualities of being and doing that we want to evolve toward.
  • Action
    Create habits that support these choices.

A Liberated Mind
A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters

Steven C. Hayes, PhD

How Can We Transform The World?

Self Transformation

What you are, the world is.
And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.

     — Krishnamurti

Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti
Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti
…..Krishnamurti
……. J. Krishnamurti
……. Wikipedia

Ancient Roman Logistics & Expenses

Ancient Rome

Military Considerations

Half Rome’s budget at end 4th century went to feeding & paying the army of about ½ million.

Logistics of army supply was the single most important element that linked the imperial provinces together, along with the need to feed the imperial capitals.

Imperial Tax System

Underpinning all these structures, and making them possible, was the imperial tax system, which was based above all on a land tax, assessed on acreage, through buttressed by a much lighter tax on merchants and artisans.

High taxes were needed for several reasons:

  • To pay the salaries of soldiers, bureaucrats and messengers.
  • To feed the capitals of the empire.
  • To fund the enormous scale of Roman public buildings and state wealth. 
  • To connect the different parts of the empire together physically, as grain in ships moved northwards from Africa, Sicily and Egypt, and olive oil moved out of Africa, the Aegean and Syria. The movement of goods was essentially Mediterranean-based, as it was far easier and cheaper to transport in bulk by water than by land.

The Inheritance of Rome
The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000

Chris Wickham

Tao Te Ching – A Timeless Message

The Tao

The way you can go
isn’t the real way.
The name you can say
isn’t the real name.

Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name’s the mother
of the ten thousand things.

So the unwanting soul
sees what’s hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.

Two things, one origin
but different name,
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

…..Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching
Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way
Ursula K. Le Guin
….. Ursula K. Le Guin website
….. Wikipedia


The Tao Te Ching was probably written about 2,500 years ago by a man called Lao Tzu, who may have lived at about the same time as Confucius. Nothing about it is certain except that it’s Chinese, any very old, and speaks to people everywhere as if it had been written yesterday.

The Tao Te Ching is partly prose, partly verse; but not as we define poetry now, not by rhyme and meter but as patterned intensity of language, the whole thing is poetry. I wanted to catch the poetry, its terse, strange beauty. Most translations have caught meanings in their net, but prosily, letting the beauty slip through. And in poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is meaning. It is the truth… I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day… perhaps un-male reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul.

…..Ursula K. Le Guin