©2015 Aaron Garrison
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Like most revolutionaries, I have a dream: of genuine empathy between people -- as to truly see through someone else’s eyes, and discover all it can teach us.
Also in the revolutionary spirit, I have a manifesto, presented as the following essay.
In my aforementioned dream, the abounding empathy I envision is enabled by technology, and, together, the two spark a human revolution. Before delving into these subjects, however, I must first discuss one of the primary problems facing the world today.
We have empathy issues.
This problem is inclusive and international, knowing no one people, class, or nation. So, rather than a question of existence, our empathy problem is a matter of degree. Though, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves handicapped in this area. Being unable to access another person’s mind and see through their eyes, many of us are unaware of the very concept of empathy, much less a lack of it (or, what benefits that empathy can bring about). Even for the empathic minority, their empathy is often flawed, being couched in their own, limited perceptions of themselves, others, and the world, as to restrict their perspective (resulting in that old mental stumbling block of “measuring others by oneself,” more often than not). For this reason, the most empathic of us can still be restricted in just how much they can vicariously “see” into another’s mind and thoughts, being deprived of the many subtle, subjective mental and perceptual parameters which comprise the individual’s unique inner world. Indeed, we see through that empathic “glass” only darkly, such that even the most empathically advanced of us could benefit from a more explicit peek into the mysteries that lay behind another’s eyes.
As for the effects of this condition, they are complicated, and can be quite obscure.
When it comes down to it, our worldwide want of empathy is seen primarily in more-visible, better-known issues -- namely, that of large-scale misunderstanding and miscommunication. Dig to the root of nearly any problem -- from big to small, personal to national, social to economic, physical to spiritual -- and you are likely to find the culprits to be a lack of empathy and clear communication, in some way or another. In my experience, this dysfunction is common in today’s world, if not universal; and, as a student of history, I can confidently say that this has been the state of things, more or less, for some time (if they were ever any different at all). Worse, ours is a condition that feeds on itself, with non-empathy and misunderstanding begetting only more of same. And so it goes on, day after day, generation after generation, all over the world -- and, worst of all, the problem stays largely invisible, due to its transparent nature. Though I am not a doomsayer, my experience has forced me to conclude that, short of a drastically unprecedented development (or, divine intervention), we are doomed to continue in this emotionally and spiritually destitute state, for any sort of peace or abundance are otherwise temporary and unsustainable.
Heavy stuff, I know. But I am not one to sugarcoat the truth as I see it.
With this condition being global, obscure, and self-perpetuating, there is no easy fix. It would be reassuring to think that the remedy lay in education, government reform, or international diplomacy (or maybe a self-help summit with a catchy title); but, as The Police said in their landmark song, “There is no political solution.” I make this frank diagnosis not out of pessimism, but a compassionate realism. To be sure, politics certainly have their place, and are not useless; however, they are presently undermined by the very problems they would seek to address, for our institutions and social infrastructure are founded on the non-empathic, non-communicative mentality outlined above. To try and sort out this mess using a traditional approach and existing resources, we’d be employing the exact same things which have caused the problem in the first place, like trying to use a broken tool to repair itself. The situation is summed up by Einstein’s famous anecdote, that problems cannot be solved from within the same consciousness in which they were created.
In my careful opinion, there is no quick, Band-Aid remedy for our conundrum, and the only solution is a real one, from the ground up -- that is, a global move toward empathy, understanding, and communication. No small order, certainly; but it is, so far as I can tell, our only hope.
It’s quite a predicament, our empathy issues. And, naturally, there are consequences.
Most notably, a lack of empathy narrows one’s thinking, as to distance them from reality.
I speak of the “island-mind” syndrome, when someone gets so used to their own personal, subjective reality that it is confused for objective, outside reality. That is, what that person sees, thinks, and believes (their “headspace,” if you will) is considered to be, simply, all that can be seen, thought, or believed -- an insular mind indeed. Then, one runs the risk of accepting their individual mental reality as, just, Reality, thereby disregarding the very idea of a subjective reality -- a rather dangerous condition, the equivalent of seeing what isn’t there. Without an empathic anchor in one’s thinking, we are apt to develop selective perception in this way, plus other mental and perceptual distortions, all of which corrupt our grasp on reality. And, keep in mind: that’s if the person ever learned the concept of subjective reality in the first place , for it is so easy not to, considering that such things are not taught in school, and, as mentioned earlier, that we cannot normally leave our own minds for those of others’, the same way a fish doesn’t normally leave the water. Ask a fish what water is, and they couldn’t tell you, never knowing anything different -- and so it is with us, if we don’t keep in perspective that others might have vastly different thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of the same world, perhaps so hugely different as to be alien.
From a practical standpoint, this particular consequence of non-empathy keeps us at a remove from other people and their point-of-view, which, in turn, keeps us from accurate perceptions of things in general, all of which can cause any number of problems in day-to-day life. Without empathy, one is apt to exist in “their own little world,” such that, when thoughts of others occur at all, they are limited to the observer’s perspective, and thus restricted to the narrow range of possibilities contained therein. When all is said and done, the non-empathic observer can develop a mental “echo chamber,” in which they see the world only in terms of themselves and their own subjective reality, rather than the broader space comprised by what lies outside their experience.
In short, seeing the world through the lens of one’s own, limited thinking is to hold a distorted view of things (in the same way that when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail). This cognitive dissonance can be seen most vividly in the way we perceive one another in our routine interactions -- or, specifically, what we don’t perceive in one another. That is, someone without empathy tends to see a flat, lifeless Other, rather an other person. Sound strange? Of course it does, from the outset; however, look closer and things clarify, troublingly so. It comes down to psychology -- namely, that of illogical thinking, and a divide between the conscious and subconscious minds.
Logically, we know that other people are, in fact, people; however, this understanding is often superficial in nature, running no deeper than the conscious mind. To really take root and be realized in our total thinking, that knowledge of other people’s humanity must run into the bedrock of the subconscious, such that this obvious-yet-profound truth aligns with our instant, moment-to-moment perceptions of one another, as to be reflected in how we immediately regard our fellow man. Otherwise, we run the risk seeing only that hollow, alien Other, rather than a human and an equal, however much we might consciously know better. More often than not, the subconscious determines such heat-of-the-moment perceptions, and, ultimately, it is these fleeting, automatic reactions which govern our behavior and decision-making. Thus, we see the potential for problems, in which we act on our illogical, paradoxical subconscious feelings, however much they run at cross purposes to what we consciously know to be true. It’s a case of “the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” you could say.
Thankfully, empathy can help correct this chronic disconnect between conscious knowledge and subconscious confusion; and, likewise, empathy could be greatly facilitated by that mind-machine interface I’ve mentioned. Together, these two things could revolutionize the world, inner as much as outer.
Before I expand on that idea, however, consider a real-world example of empathy and its practical power: the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, when Germany surprised the world by launching an offensive in the Ardennes mountain range. At the time, such a campaign was thought to be so illogical and counterproductive as to be impossible -- yet it happened, taking the Allies totally by surprise (and claiming countless lives, on both sides). How did this "impossible" development come about, and why didn’t the Allies see it coming? The answer is rather simple: because it was assumed that the German high command would act like their Allied counterparts, when this was just not so. In reality, the German commanders were completely at the mercy of their fuehrer, Hitler, who was by then acting rashly and unreasonably, such that, for him, a self-destructive campaign in the Ardennes made a perverse sense. Had the Allied command been able to accurately empathize with the German mindset and its irrational contextual elements, the Ardennes attack might not have been ruled out.
Such single-minded thinking is human, and quite understandable; yet it is potentially lethal, and avoidable.
Take the Allied command’s constricted mentality and apply it to all of life, and the consequences of impaired empathy become apparent. Without a healthy sense of empathy in one’s thinking and affairs, we live behind a veil, created by ourselves and our own perceptual shortcomings. Worst of all, this mental veil acts as a means of perpetuating those same flaws, such that we can develop “island-mind” syndrome and become “mental shut-ins,” deprived of the perspective vital to a sound grasp on reality. Also, non-empathy deprives us of a sense of possibility, without which the mind becomes so entrenched in itself, one can become a prisoner in “their own little world,” as to forget that there could be anything but that little world.
All in all, a lack of empathy hinders us in all areas of life, almost without exception. And therein lies the crux of the problem, and why it’s so important that it be addressed.
Conversely, regular empathizing is beneficial in all of life, and you don’t have to be a general at war to prosper from it. We need only to empathize with others and then factor that insight into our thinking and decision-making, after which new perspectives emerge. Then, one’s inner world expands thusly, as to never be the same -- the figurative fish leaving the "waters" of its insular, subjective reality, as it were. Knowledge, understanding, and personal sensibilities are, usually, the fruits of healthy empathy.
In a word, empathy is a teacher.
Here, I’ll cite my personal experience as an example of empathy’s benefit. So many times, I’ve witnessed some behavior in another person, then immediately concluded upon that behavior, including the thoughts and motives behind it -- that is, I’ve passed judgment , and hastily. However, a pattern soon emerged: sooner or later, I would find myself doing that particular thing I’d observed -- and, to my surprise, find it to be totally different than I’d previously concluded. The point? That my hasty, one-sided judgment was based almost entirely on my own assumptions and self-measurements, as to be premature (a jumped-to conclusion, you could say). Though, this habit ended up being a good thing, for it granted me a broadened perspective (as much on myself and others as the behavior in question).
This is a simple example, sure; but the implications are humongous. Were I to learn so much just from firsthand experience of something (in my own subjective “headspace”), then what might I learn from experiencing it completely from the other’s headspace, by way of actual, total empathy? I could experience not only what I’d observed, but do so from within the other person’s perceptual and mental framework (which is, most likely, far different than my own). It gives new definition to “walking a mile in another’s shoes.” Cool!
But I digress, for empathy’s benefits, good as they are, are not the focus of my manifesto-cum-essay. I mention them only to highlight empathy’s importance and application, and as a primer to the type of problems which empathy can solve. Rather, this essay concerns one aspect of empathy in particular, that which can trigger the revolution referred to earlier.
I speak of empathy in its truest expression: that of literally seeing behind another’s eyes.
The Unsuspected Revolution
Ask yourself: what might result from the ability to peer into another’s mind and view the world through the prism of their perception? The answer: an incredible type of empathy, of a shocking new order, never before possible -- an empathy powerful enough to, perhaps, bring about a revolution of equally unprecedented magnitude.
Yes, such mental eavesdropping would likely cultivate the radical empathy described above; however, that would only be the start, for this super-empathy would be a gateway to greater and greater awareness of one another -- and, ultimately, to whole other ways of life at large (ways that might hard to imagine in the present, "island-minded" world). The ability to literally transplant oneself into another’s all-inclusive inner reality would enable profound new experiences, of a depth and novelty previously unknown. By tasting the alien world of another’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, we would, I believe, find ourselves in uncharted mental territory, something akin to Columbus touching down on American soil.
Of course, we cannot yet perform such superhuman feats. But, for the moment, suspend your disbelief, and assume that mankind gained the magical ability to jump into another’s mind and thoughts.
The implications would be enormous, and seen most readily in the sciences, mainly psychology and related fields. This alone would probably produce an initial, lesser revolution, for psychological academia would be turned on its head, not only in its conclusions, theories, and models, but in the very way that psychology is conducted , both in practice and in training. As it were, accessing another’s mind is psychology’s final goal, for every psychological practice works towards that end -- but no longer, with such a fantastic "shortcut" into one another’s mind and thoughts. Direct, transparent access to the Other could render obsolete any traditional model of psychological schooling, not only from the raw explosion of new knowledge, but in the ease of obtaining that knowledge. Rather, psychological schooling would likely revolve around interpretation of what is seen, instead of the basic ability to see it. Naturally, this psychological reform would be apt to spark follow-ups, eventually revolutionizing science in general as our exponentially evolved psychology touches other fields, in a domino chain of incidental progress. Since there is, really, no true separation of sciences, with all of them ultimately being branches of a single, interconnected Science, no field would escape the impact of such an excellent psychology, the same way that a rock would ripple a pond.
Big changes, yes. But we are still only touching the tip of the super-empathy iceberg.
Just as with any monumental shift in the global scientific paradigm, the real implications of this mystical super-empathy would be seen on the human level, after our newly gained scientific progress has been applied . So, when I say "human revolution," I mean it quite literally: all aspects of human life on our planet could undergo drastic change from the sudden ability to experience another’s subjective reality. From industries and economics, to culture and government, right down to transportation and entertainment and food and laundry and everything else -- all would be irreversibly altered by these sweeping changes, in ways truly unsuspected. When I attempt to foresee such a post-super-empathy world, I get only a great, blank page, that containing the enormous possibilities opened as a result, instead of the specific ways in which they might manifest. So, rather than elaborate, I’ll let the reader’s imagination suggest what a future, super-empathic world might hold.
I will, however, detail one possible means of such empathy: technology. Namely, that of linking one’s mind with a digital computer, for a mind-machine interface.
The Primary Obstacle
Before exploring the mind-machine interface and its novel role in this empathic-revolution business, we must first discuss the primary obstacle for empathy and its emotional brethren: the subtleties of the mind, and their bearing on miscommunication, misperception, and human behavior.
Here, consciousness is the name of the game, for it lies at the heart of the worldwide humanitarian problems that an empathic revolution might address.
Defined as a living being’s basic, irreducible awareness, consciousness is, I believe, perhaps the most intricate thing in existence, as variable, enormous, and mysterious as the universe itself. Consider the complexities of even the most basic feelings and experiences; those psychological mechanics that enable simple being . Rather than the rigid product of mere biochemistry and other nuts-and-bolts physical phenomena, consciousness is, for me, the total opposite, instead being the end result of a limitless spectrum of mental, physical, and environmental parameters -- an oceanic tangle of cognitive clockwork, all combining to bring about an elaborate matrix of perceptual and emotional values. And, enriching this "consciousness matrix" further, each person’s can be highly different, varying not only in what perceptual values are or aren’t registered, but also in the breadth and nature of that resulting unit of consciousness. In the end, that individual consciousness can be greatly variable, if not outright unique, due the highly complex and interpretive nature of the mind, such that perceptions of even the exact same external environment can differ between individuals (resulting in that “own little world”). Yet we commonly refer to this infinitely convoluted mind-matrix as, simply, “thoughts.” Such a restrictive terminology is, in my opinion, like describing the ocean as “just water and sand.”
So, consciousness is a big thing, way bigger than many people think (no pun intended). And, when we take into account the cognitive dissonance and other perceptual distortions mentioned earlier, we see the gross potential for misunderstanding and misperceptions of the world and one another. But what does this all mean in a practical sense, for “the man on the street”? Something as big and important: that things are not always as they appear, especially when it comes to psychology and human behavior. That is, the same observed actions can originate from entirely different thoughts, such that, for the person experiencing it, the reality of that behavior can be totally different than the conclusions drawn by the outside observer (like my experiences of concluding upon an observed behavior, then being forced to reverse my conclusions after undergoing that behavior myself). Even when we’re doing the same thing, we’re not doing the same thing, you could say.
Of course, appearances suggest otherwise -- that the same observed behavior is always the same -- and there lies the source of many a problem, from neighborly disputes to lawsuits to world war. Thus, there is a perpetual rift between the seen and the experienced, and it is potentially a very large one (the "fruit that produces many jams," as the saying goes). In fact, this type of cognitive dissonance is, I believe, the root of most of the world’s oldest problems -- and that is why the man on the street should concern himself with the vastness of the mind, for it does indeed impact the real world, from top to bottom.
So, as these issues relate to empathy, the primary obstacle is this: a mental rift exists in our present world, in which we commonly simplify, generalize, and misconstrue one another’s deeply complicated and individual behavior, bringing about divisive consequences. What’s to be done? Empathy, being the gateway to understanding, is one solution; and, in this sense, so is the ability to interface the mind with the digital computer, for such an interface can, I believe, cultivate the super-empathy touched on earlier.
In the 1995 film Strange Days, a mind-machine interface has become a reality, producing such sci-fi wonders as true virtual reality and the recording and playback of sensory experience. Consequently, one can capture the complete, total sensations of another’s experience (referred to, psychologically, as the gestalt) much as we once recorded TV shows on VCRs (or DVRs, for the millennial generation). In that fictional world, the mind-machine interface opens a whole new medium, bringing with it new joys, social problems, markets, and more. Through this technological wizardry and the Pandora’s box it opens, the planet is changed.
The Strange Days scenario is something like what I’m getting at … but not quite. When I envision a world that includes such sophisticated technology, I see bigger changes. Much bigger.
Things like super-empathy.
To sum up this essay thus far: much of our modern-day turmoil can be reduced, more or less, to flawed psychology -- communication breakdowns, distorted thoughts and perceptions, assumptions and jumped-to conclusions, and other things that originate on the individual level before rippling upward and outward. This worldview, however, differs from that prevailing in most cultures, in which problems are typically thought to originate in the physical, such as scarcity, disease, or other common hazards of life on earth (or, as just plain "bad luck"). Under that mentality, psychological factors play a minimal role, usually resulting from external problems, rather than causing them. I disagree. Instead, I am of the opinion that our psychological and spiritual infirmities instigate those of a physical, tangible nature (extending even to the environment in some cases, such as with pollution and other manmade circumstances). It’s not that the physical and natural sides of things have no bearing on our final condition; rather, they are secondary in their influence, with our reactions and attitudes being the primary determiners of how those circumstances affect us. It’s something along the lines of, “Free your mind, and the body will follow.”
Thus, my proposed solution is common empathy -- something which, presently, is not so common. But, what if empathy wasn’t so scarce? What if it was, instead, abundant, and accessible with the same ease with which one might today flick on a TV? Imagine how the world might change.
Take entertainment, for starters.
Here, there is no better example than a sci-fi novel I wrote some years ago, which could be seen as my version of the Strange Days scenario. In my book, it’s the year 2095, and a mind-machine interface has been invented, then advanced to the point of cheap, reliable, and safe application, so that the technology is as ubiquitous as the TVs and smartphones of today. Computers, having been reduced to microscopic nanomachines of near-limitless processing power, are no longer used in traditional, external fashion. Instead, they are introduced by the billions into the bloodstream via a skin patch, before entering the brain and interfacing directly with the mind, to be controlled purely by thought. A whole new world of cyborg-like personal computing is forged.
A fascinating scenario. However, this essay is concerned mainly with how we would interact with these theoretical mind-machines, by thought, for such a total, low-level interface would, theoretically, serve as a bridge to our biological sensory data. That is, we could digitally access the “feeds” from our sensory organs: what our eyes see and our ears hear, plus tactile sensations and other stimuli. Here, things really get interesting, for if we could splice into our raw sensory information, then it stands to reason that we could capture and alter that sensory information. In my novel, the brain-borne nano-machines can do just that, seamlessly overlaying artificial visual, auditory, and tactile content onto the natural “feeds” emitted by one’s organs, before delivering this processed data into the end-user’s mind (as a “pirate” feed, of sorts). Furthermore, the book’s imaginary computers can intercept and record one’s biological sensory information, therefore creating sensory-recording “episodes,” to be replayed, edited, and transmitted to others via a worldwide wireless network, no different than one might presently record a video clip and upload it to YouTube. Want to tour a prospective home? Just download a sensory episode captured from a sales agent touring the premises. See a music concert? Download an audience member’s recording (from various seats and perspectives, of course). Go skydiving? Bungee jumping? Have a romantic evening with a mate of any appearance, body type, or gender? All such recordings are available, on demand and at a reasonable price, to be played within the privacy of your own head. And, it’s all indistinguishable from actual reality, as to allow one to experience anything and everything with full, living totality.
If television cracked the doors to vicarious experience and its consequent mind-expansion, a perfected mind-machine interface would blow those doors open (if not destroy them completely). Then, one could, quite literally, walk that fabled mile in another’s shoes, right down to how those shoes smell, and how one is a little the softer than the other, and the way water seeps into a crack in the left one’s sole.
For the first time ever, the individual’s vast, incommunicable consciousness would become communicable. The potential for empathy would be staggering. Not that technology is the only means of developing empathy, to be sure; rather, empathy-by-machine would be a highly accessible and effortless means, as to be "push-button" style, without requiring the disciplines of mind and personality otherwise necessary for such empathic development. The concept is similar to recreational drug use in the 1950’s and -60’s, which offered mainstream Western society an "encapsulated" means of altering consciousness and, hence, developing an overarching sense of consciousness in the process -- not a replacement for traditional, natural development of consciousness, surely, but at least presenting a springboard to such development, as a means to an end. Basically, the transmission of consciousness via mind-machine, even in the form of crude, stripped-down sensory recordings, would elevate man’s awareness of the Other as no present media can -- taking our fishlike minds out of our mental waters, into the big, alien space of the open air, if you will.
However, don’t mistake my enthusiasm for over-optimism, for I am well aware of the speculative nature of all points made thus far; on the other hand, those points are not lessened by being conjectural, either. Yes, my take on the mind-machine interface is hypothetical, both in terms of its particular implementation as well as its utility, and the technology’s final effect -- but "hypothetical" should not be confused with "irrelevant" (or "impossible").
Though, to be fair, “hypothetical” should not be confused with “possible,” either, for any number of factors could preclude the scenarios I’ve described. What if there exists, say, a marked discrepancy between certain kinds of thoughts, such that they are expressed very differently within the mind, thus complicating any sort of inclusive digital interface? Or: Perhaps we will find that raw sensory data can indeed be digitized and communicated, but that emotional data, and that of other higher-minded perceptual phenomena, is not communicable (or, at least not in the same, straightforward fashion), due to its being of a fundamentally different nature than that of simple sensation. This selectiveness could, theoretically, strip an entire dimension from those episodic sensory recordings, therefore leaving the playback to be couched within the viewer’s own emotional and perceptual framework, as to somewhat diminish the overall "walking a mile in another’s shoes" effect. (It brings up the classical question of what constitutes mind and consciousness, and even leads to age-old "ghost in the machine" controversy.) Likewise, there is always the human element to consider, which introduces all manner of factors that could derail the technology’s development and pro-empathic use. And, let’s not forget the second-tier consequences of a mind-machine interface, those brought about by any significant change, butterfly-wing-flapping-style -- the consequences of the consequences, both positive and negative, any of which could alter the flow of all matters mind-machine in such a way as to disrupt the revolutionary processes I’ve sketched here. Etcetera.
Such unpredictable hindrances are many, and might include one so significant that it thwarts the technology entirely; but, nonetheless, even a clunky, expensive, imperfect sensory recording could trigger an explosive expansion of our existential frame-of-reference, as to provide much empathic perspective on one another, much the same way that the motion picture did a century ago. As it were, the more advanced, functional, and elegant the mind-machine interface, the more its potential to cultivate the super-empathy envisioned in this manifesto.
And, once again, that’s all just for starters, for such technology, when and if it comes to be, would truly tear down so many walls -- from those that divide us, to those that define us, to those that restrict our very experience, and the possibilities in which we dwell. But, regardless, this section’s main point is that the mind-machine interface can, in this fashion, serve as a gateway toward the introduction of super-empathy into our collective psychological fabric, as to potentially bring to awareness, and repair, some of mankind’s oldest underlying problems. In this way, a mind-machine interface can, in turn, be a gateway to a global revolution (with such effectiveness, speed, and degree as to be unprecedented).
Why a Revolution?
So, I’ve now defined “super-empathy,” its merits, and the problems they would seek to solve. And, I’ve touched on a theoretical mind-machine interface, and outlined how these two seemingly unconnected ideas could compliment one another in intriguing ways. Yet, the question remains: Why does any of this imply a revolution?
The answer, as hinted at already: the emergence of super-empathy and a mind-machine interface could trigger a massive, fundamental paradigm shift, one that could shake us to our foundations. At this point, I’ll expand on why I feel that this particular outcome would emerge. To flesh out my vision and the reasoning behind it, we’ll now explore some key areas of life that could be drastically affected by mind-machine-aided super-empathy, and how their cumulative effect could culminate in a polemic shift in daily life -- and, perhaps, reverse the dire global situation in which we presently find ourselves.
The Rediscovery of Honesty
First and foremost, consider a novel concept: the rediscovery of honesty.
In frank discussion, most would agree that, by and large, the modern world is essentially dishonest. This is reflected most everywhere, from our nationalistic governments and institutions, to our defensive systems of transaction and enterprise, to our wary personal policies and our assumptions of routine conduct and affairs. Take a good look at our conventions, and it’s clear that the majority of today’s civilization has been founded on the basic premise that we are to act in a biased, self-interested manner. Today’s prevailing ethos is to uphold one’s personal survival and that of friends and family, at all costs, even at the expense of any "outsiders," whomever they may be -- understandable, of course, but no less selfish (and, ultimately, unsustainable). This disposition is seen in our generally unquestioned practices of duplicity, insincerity, and obscurity, such that this is the unspoken, assumed standard of behavior, as if there were no alternative. However, there is an alternative -- true, practical honesty -- and in the event of an empathic revolution as described, I foresee an end to our present, self-centered paradigm, for a super-empathic society could very well assume a standard of trust and transparency as a viable alternative to the prejudiced, imbalanced way of life just described.
Sound a bit too good to be true, perhaps a little naive? Maybe. But, once again, that doesn’t make it wrong or impossible, for with the proper amount of empathy, such an honest society becomes a real possibility.
It’s been said that honesty is the best policy; and, in my experience, that’s profoundly true, much more than a well-circulated old anecdote would imply. To see just how profound, consider, first, the predominantly dishonest standards active within many modern societies, seen most readily in social practices done in the name of politeness and good manners. However subtle and unintended the dishonesty in these gestures might be, the dishonesty is no less there -- and it still has consequences. As it were, empathy can resolve these quietly poisonous social conditions; after all, if we can empathize with someone, that person is no longer so “other,” such that empathy can expand our circle of “us” (and, with enough of it, perhaps expand that exclusive “us” until there is no longer any “them”). And, that’s just the normal type of empathy; when it comes to super-empathy, we could discover just how deep our public and private dishonesty runs, along with the negative, far-reaching effects that often result, as to facilitate change like nothing else.
When it comes to our widespread dishonesty, nothing speaks more loudly than contrast. And, nothing provides contrast better than a sound ability to empathize.
In this case, empathy and contrast are abnormally powerful, if only because we’ve been living dishonestly for generations, so long that we’ve become largely unable to imagine anything else. But, super-empathy could break us of this vicious cycle, with benefits that might not be immediately obvious. Imagine being able to treat one another with actual, unreserved, bread-on-the-waters honesty, in both personal and business relationships -- how many laws might be abolished as unnecessary (written and unwritten alike)? How drastically might our institutions be reformed, with us able to take one another at our word? Furthermore, imagine the social climate of a people who are innately and unabashedly honest with one another, free of fear of consequences or reprisal of any kind, or psychological hang-ups and other restraints. What new avenues of communication and understanding might open, and how wonderfully beneficial might they be? Life in a politically honest society would, logically, be highly familial, as characterized by a new, fundamental innocence, leaving us emotionally naked in the way of small children -- communicative, understanding, and unashamed, with nothing to hide and no one to hide it from.
Basically, this state of unconditional honesty and unity would be the polar opposite of today’s fearful, antagonistic, and exclusive social system. And, empathy is the key to it.
Difficult to imagine, and perhaps a bit too utopian-sounding? Certainly -- or, at least, it is when seen from within our current predicament of dishonesty, impaired empathy, and non-communication, with all the fear, bias, and confusion it inspires. When considered within the broadened horizons of super-empathy, however, widespread political honesty becomes completely possible (if not probable). I repeat: honesty only sounds so outlandish because we have become so entrenched in our state of dysfunction and dishonesty that we’ve lost sight of any alternative. With a more balanced view of things, public honesty doesn’t sound all too alien at all; were it to be adopted, our newfound honesty would feel totally natural, I believe.
Do not underestimate the power of honesty, nor the depth of our present dishonesty . Our everyday insincerities are tricky things, hard to pin down, yet no less consequential. Like the seeds of a tree, they might start small -- with thoughts and attitudes, and our daily interactions -- but, ultimately, they grow and branch, gaining strength and momentum, until they manifest as something much more noticeable (yet not necessarily recognizable as originating from simple dishonesty). Such manifestations are seen far and wide, from things such as fear-based laws and super-legalistic public policy, to treachery, crime, and blatant self-interest, perhaps even destruction and war. Just as a lack of empathy lay at the root of many problems, so can insincerity and dishonesty be seen in the lines of causality.
Once again, the question arises: Why is all this important, in a real-world sense? Think of it this way: in an honest social climate, there would be no need to switch between talking "on" or "off" the record, for there would be no distinction between the official and the actual (or, what is "wrong" and what is "illegal"). Then, we would no longer have to live, think, and act under the constant threat of frivolous litigation, or social reprimand, or self-punishment from inferiority complexes or other neuroses -- or any of the other ubiquitous human handicaps which compel fear and duplicity in our daily lives. As another example of the gravity of our dishonesty, consider the adage of the naturally lying child. It’s often observed that children don’t need to be taught how to lie -- but that’s not quite true. Children are taught how to lie; it just happens so early in life, and so silently and inclusively, that such education goes largely unnoticed. Worse, we are the ones who teach such things. Only because we do so in ways that are largely invisible -- through implied standards and subconscious social conditioning, and the subtle, unspoken penalties we impose on one another, by parents and peers and the media -- is an illusion created, that no such process is taking place. And, further obscuring the fact that this education occurs, those doing it are often unaware of doing so . And so it perpetuates, in a cycle that is nothing less than vicious -- and is, at heart, symptomatic of our deep-seated, unquestioned condition of duplicity, insincerity, and social pretense, which is, in turn, a product of living in a world largely devoid of empathy.
There it is again: little empathy equals big problems.
Thus, once our collective empathy becomes as deep and persistent as our current dishonesty, only then will we at last begin to communicate with one another and, perhaps, reverse some of our chronic problems. Though, none of this would happen overnight; instead, the adoption of honesty would be a long, multi-stage process, as I see it. First comes revolutionary super-empathy, and then, continuing the sociological domino effect, improved communication and understanding. And then, finally, the foundation is laid for a truly candid and honest way of life, and other high-minded social conditions -- or, at least, that’s the logical progression. I’m not so bold as to try and predict, concretely, how things would actually unfold. As I’ve indicated, humans, like all conscious beings, are far too complicated and unique to be so predictable.
To recap, the rediscovery of honesty could contribute to an empathic revolution (and vice versa), as well as benefit mankind in general, improving upon today’s selfish and unsustainable social landscape. Though, these qualities should not overshadow the greatest part of an honest social state: not its direct, individual effects, but in what that state would enable. That is, because of old psychology and values being displaced by such a powerful new social dynamic, honesty would make room for a general expansion of consciousness , beginning with empathy and communication but extending to all kinds of other virtues -- faith, compassion, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, forbearance, and other classical ideals that have been on our collective social radar but were previously impractical on a massive scale.
That’s why super-empathy and its offspring hold such revolutionary potential: by not only clearing away the old dysfunction, but opening new mental and emotional horizons, beyond which the sky is the limit. Empty your cup so that it may be filled. In this regard, empathy, honesty, and communication would be the harbingers of this broadened consciousness, of the sort necessary to undo the legacy of problems that have been perpetuated for millennia.
Truly a revolution, in every sense of the word.
(This section, with its talk of social paradigms, evokes the Hindu concept of eternal transition. In Vedic doctrine, mankind perpetually passes through conditional phases, called “Yugas,” of which the Kali Yuga is characterized by a total lack of empathy and its kin. I cannot help but draw parallels between it and the present state of our world; and, as it involves us presently, perhaps the mind-machine interface and an empathic revolution are one means of changing that state, as to usher in a new, healthy Yuga. Mind you, this assessment is not of doom, but of hope. Perhaps a new Yuga is upon us, as to return us to an emotional Golden Age.)
Communication, also, would be revolutionized by a suitably functional mind-machine interface, and it too would play a key role in an empathic revolution. These changes can be summed up in one term: Language 2.0.
When it comes to the prospect of a mind-machine-aided revolution, nothing would be more greatly affected than our communications, for communication is so vitally integrated into every facet of life, from the physical to the psychological and everything in between. Consequently, language is a key component in our collective functioning and psychology, bearing on identity, mental associations, self-image, and self-expression, along with their external equivalents, such as law, economics, and political practice -- and that’s just language, ignoring its derivatives and the countless other forms of human communication, all of which have equal influence on the way we live and think. Being a prime mover in our interactions with one another and the world, our communications dictate, to some degree or another, nearly everything within the human sphere. Thus, anything that impacts our communications will see expression in the world at large, external and internal alike.
And, really, what could affect communication more than a technology that allows direct transmission of our very thoughts and feelings?
Here, let’s return to my sci-fi novel and its implementation of a mind-machine interface. In several scenes, the book’s characters are depicted going "mind-to-mind" -- that is, engaging in direct-thought communication by connecting the blood-borne, microscopic computers operating within their brains. In lieu of speaking, the characters lock eyes, tap each others’ temples, and then, after up-linking their respective mind-machines, begin conversing silently. I had some fun with my imagined version of the technology: when going mind-to-mind, one could "speak" with any voice they wanted, in any accent, however loud or soft, and with perfect equalization from any distance or positioning (which lent itself to the mental playback of music, as to outperform even the best-tuned physical stereo or concert hall). Or, the mind-to-mind communication could be performed without language at all, as a transmission of images and other sensory information, or even subtler mental objects, such as raw emotions, "mind movies," and other perceptual intangibles. Additionally, there was nothing limiting the mind uplink to just two people, as illustrated by another scene in the book, in which a roomful of partygoers are connected to a shared, augmented reality. Via a central server, their augmented minds were "seasoned" with auditory, visual, and tactile sensory data, as to institute a private, parallel universe that only those connected could experience.
However, these futuristic communications tools are, once more, only scratching the surface of a vast trove of possible applications, from the novel to the profound -- and that’s just from the outset, concerning merely the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of communication. With such a powerful and radically new technology, what changes could be expected on a deeper, human level?
In this regard, the changes would again be far-reaching and multidimensional, as to alter our basic faculties of communication in tremendous ways. For instance, not only could direct transmission of thought free us from the countless limitations imposed by language and other traditional forms of expression, it would also enrich the resulting communications, adding a breadth and depth that were previously difficult or impossible, as to transform the information’s qualitative nature. This communicative broadening could be thought of as a higher “bandwidth,” similar in some ways to that of an internet connection or other digital circuit. And, also like high-speed internet, the effects of such expanded communications would transcend the merely technical, as to change the very experience of that communication. To illustrate this, consider the collateral effect of broadband internet access in the late 1990’s and the 2000s, after which fundamentally new forms of web content became mainstream. Dubbed the “Web 2.0,” this new standard constituted a previously unseen level of substance that just wasn’t practical over the slower, previous generation of internet connections, thus raising the bar for communication, interaction, and immersion.
The same basic shift would likely occur with the availability of the mental counterpart to broadband internet and the upgraded web: a “Language 2.0,” if you will, to be comprised largely or totally of pure thought.
Once again, sweeping changes would be seen.
There would be, first, the expected shift in our communications on a mainstream, everyday level. These would include the obvious, such as a considerable, if not total, reduction in the use of language, gesture, and other traditional communications, to be replaced with their presumably faster, richer, and super-convenient digital alternatives. More profoundly, however, would be the potential for psychological change, such as the reduction or abandonment of the basic communications systems that have, in one way or another, served humanity for time out of mind -- our basic semantics and their corresponding psychology, extending even to the physical corollaries of such mental activity, and the formulation of perception. But, even more interesting would be what might emerge in the old systems’ place . Namely, we could see a fundamentally new "syntax" of thought, perhaps one far more elegant and streamlined than anything ever accomplished by language, internally or externally -- something that would be, simply, more "communicative." Furthermore, Language 2.0 would likely come with an upgraded integrity . This would be important in itself, for it could trigger changes in the emotional- and moral arena, too, due to the explosion of superior understanding and empathy that could result, thwarting the aforementioned misconceptions which so tragically hamper present-day communication.
To illustrate the enormity of better integrity, I’ll again draw a parallel to computing technology, in the differences between analog and digital data. The foremost advantage of digital encoding lay in its objective, incorruptible integrity, which is impossible via analog formats -- or, at least, is inherently capable of indicating corruption if it does occur. So, were a Language 2.0 transmission to become corrupted, that corruption could, theoretically, be taken into account, then interpreted as such by the recipient (instead of being blindly accepted as uncorrupted, as we do today when misunderstanding one another in conversation). With this in mind, I see Language 2.0 as something more than a mere upgrade to traditional linguistic exchange, or anything analogous; instead, I envision a totally new human medium, possessing not only superior breadth and purity but, simply, a greater scope, to be intrinsically more comprehensive, comprehensible, and expressive. In this way, the new communications standard would possess a righteousness of sorts.
Naturally, Language 2.0 would be instantaneous or close to it, in addition to enormously richer and multidimensional; and, again, this holds the potential for emotional and psychological implications. Consider, first, the burden of context, and its essential bearing on any communication. No matter the topic, massive amounts of contextual and experiential discussion are requisite to any kind of true understanding between people; and, unfortunately, it’s just this type of information that is so poorly conveyed by language, quickly or slowly, such that it’s often omitted entirely from today’s conversation (with devastating consequences, as it were). However, with mind-to-mind communication as I imagine it, context could, for one, be conveyed in the first place; and then, second, this contextual information could be conveyed with gratifying speed (and, potentially, with the perfect integrity mentioned above). Of course, such logistics are presently unknown, and will probably remain so right up until the technology sees widespread use, in the event that it ever does; but, assuming an absence of obstacles, these features are safe bets for being included in Language 2.0. In that case, the new order of language would not only increase gross communication, but those communications would be of a clarity and latitude never before experienced in recorded history.
For the first time, we could see the abolition of old-fashioned, vocalized speech, and other evolutionary hand-me-downs. A world struck mute, but more communicative and expressive than ever before.
On top of everything else, Language 2.0 presents yet another possibility: universality. With mind-machine communication being based on the transmission of pure, unadulterated thought, it stands to reason that it would be inherently understood, without any sort of “translation” necessary (both in terms of straightforward transliteration, and perhaps also even the deeper, semantic translation necessary for today’s languages). As I see it, this universal understanding would operate on the premise that thoughts can be transmitted in an archetypical, “unformatted” fashion, for then there would, conceivably, be only a single, irreducible language, that of the mind, intelligible by anyone, anywhere (or, perhaps, even by anything , such as animals or even "alien" life, if a basic standard of consciousness is indeed shared by all beings). Really, this universal mind-language would be more akin to music or art than language -- something felt more than comprehended, and impossible to verbalize or intellectualize (which, in this case, wouldn’t be a problem). A "non-comprehension," or "anti-translation," if you will.
Though, Language 2.0 might prove to be not nearly so universal. With its comprehension being contingent on so many factors, any one of them would pose a potential stumbling block. First, it might turn out that there can still be discrepancies, misunderstandings, and other corruption in Language 2.0 communications, just not in the manner that two different vocal languages might present. For instance, we might still face the "lost in translation"-type scenario, such as between, say, two individuals of highly different cultural background and, thus, accordingly different psychology and perceptions. Or, alternately: a divide in the age and/or maturity of those attempting to communicate, or a difference in their general intelligence. And the list goes on. There are, again, far too many unknowns to make predictions; but, in any case, there remains the theoretical possibility of an automatic and universal understanding of Language 2.0 -- or, at least, an understanding much broader than today’s clunky and inelegant system of translation and transliteration, with greater comprehensibility and integrity to boot. Even if such universality is only minimally applicable (perhaps continental or multi-regional, rather than worldwide), the social and human effects would still be marked, as to weigh upon the general psychological and emotional revolutions that would be likely to coincide with Language 2.0. Considering how divisive a simple language barrier can be (it’s so visible between people, almost a physical thing), any improvement in this regard could only help mend these mental fences, and, in turn, nurture the human solidarity that would be the empathic revolution’s logical conclusion.
So, we see here the potential for a broad, instant, incorruptible, and universal medium of communication. Were it to emerge as described, the world would certainly be swept with change; the question would, again, be only one of size and depth. However, these communicative changes hold special place, for their psychological impact could extend to our deepest selves, penetrating us on levels that might not be immediately considered to involve communication at all. That is, our communications could be altered on the emotional level (and, perhaps, that which could be considered the "spiritual"), as our drastically widened "bandwidth" facilitates a newfound exchange of emotion and other higher thought. Candor, earnestness, frankness, respect, understanding -- all of these subtle, hard-to-articulate feelings would at last become communicable (and, probably, become that much more functional as a result, since their emergence into our communications palette would likely spur an increase in sheer use). In effect, we might find ourselves doing more than just “talking” to one another via mind. That is, we could end up foregoing vocal language and its syntax-based expression entirely, perhaps favoring that symbolic, archetypical, image-based form of communication mentioned earlier, with the transmission of all-inclusive “thought-forms” that contain multiple dimensions of information, from the sensory to the emotional to the raw-perceptual. Or, perhaps we would develop other modes of communication completely, of a nature impossible to predict until they are erected by these mind-to-mind pioneers.
How fascinating -- and enticing!
Once again, we are only scratching the surface of the actual changes that could come about with the advent of such technology -- and, likewise, the many unforeseen problems . For instance, the logistics of transmitting pure thought -- would they be as simple as capturing, encoding, and transmitting raw mental and sensory "data," much as one would the 1’s and 0’s in a digital transmission? Or would a more elaborate format be required, such as a mental programming language of sorts, to psychologically reconstruct the precise thoughts and perceptions of the transmitting mind? And, subsequently, were such a "cerebral language" to come about, how might it empower the underlying mind-machine technology? Could cerebral programming be used to, say, create a virtual reality on the mind’s primary, perceptual level? More than just a glorified computer game, this would be a true virtual reality, like a perceptually-genuine sensory recording except interactive -- a totally contained, subjective universe, able to mold and manipulate our most basic psychological awareness. And, with this in mind: what if a cerebral programming language is required for true transmission of thought, and it proves to be a massive undertaking in itself, requiring as much time, effort, and additional new technology and infrastructure as the initial mind-machine interface? In this case, the advanced levels of mind-to-mind communication might only become possible after mastery of this theoretical cerebral-programming language. Then again, perhaps there exists a far simpler, tidier method of manipulating the mind’s “data,” of which I haven’t even touched on.
These are but some examples of the sea of possibilities at play here, which could be speculated on endlessly.
Family and Society
Now that I’ve introduced the mind-machine interface, super-empathy, super-honesty, and Language 2.0, the question arises: How might these things affect the family unit (and the larger social macrocosm)? The answer, as I see it: a familial renaissance, no less pronounced than the other revolutions I’ve described.
Optimistically, this renaissance would be positive. With us being so newly understanding and communicative (equally from improvements in technology and psychology), it stands to reason that we will, on the whole, be more harmonious in our interactions, with family and non-family alike (assuming that this distinction is even still made, post-revolution). As touched on when discussing the rediscovery of honesty, it’s not inconceivable that, in the wake of an empathic revolution, we might resolve the vast rift of "Otherness" which characterizes so many of today’s cultures, as to grow much closer in general, perhaps to the point of a principally communal society -- not a "Communist" state, necessarily, but simply a status quo in which we focus more on our similarities and common causes than our differences. Then again, neither a mind-machine interface nor super-empathy guarantees such an outcome; I foresee this harmonious society only as a possibility.
One area that could see significant reform is that of crime and misconduct. With so many of our punitive and regulatory standards hinging on communication, empathy, and understanding, there are bound to be consequences in this arena, as much in how we commit future crimes as in their punishment (or if they are punished at all , at least in terms of what we would presently identify as such). On the level of the immediate family, consider the reprimand of a disobedient child under this new paradigm. A father goes to spank his unruly son, but first, the man transmits a message via mind-link: the old disclaimer of, "This’ll hurt me more than it will you" -- except, this version is accompanied by the existential context which lay behind the trite-but-true phrase. That is: the father’s life experience , transmitted in total, as to establish why punishment is necessary, and why it would, illogically, hurt him more than its recipient. Today, children usually must have to punish their own disobedient offspring to really understand why such punishment can hurt the parent more than the child, since words say so little and experience so much -- but, with the advent of Language 2.0 and the mind-machine-interfaced family, no longer. Rather than having to re-experience the same hard-won lessons necessary for understanding, the child will know these things, completely, then and there, thanks to the father’s ability to directly communicate his subtle thoughts. How, then, might the child respond? Would the experience, perhaps, be powerful enough to reform them of their misbehavior, on the spot? If so, how might the widespread institution of such effective parenting translate to society at large? In light of this possibility, might we see an exponential reduction in crime and misconduct in the world as a whole?
The same goes for punishment. With empathy and communication being so crucial in the judgment of criminals and their crimes, and in determining an appropriate punishment, what changes might we see in this vein, in a post-mind-machine world? For instance, in a future, mind-linked court, where case information is exchanged and analyzed light-years faster and more objectively than today, justice could be greatly simplified. Rather than the traditional judge-jury-executioner format, this Court 2.0 could consist of a skeleton crew of legal staff, analysts, and authorities -- or, possibly, just a single, all-powerful judge. Theoretically, this lone judge would wield a God-like perspective on their cases, having the ability to review, via the mind-machine’s many improvements and augmentations, an enormous mass of collected mental data (such as, say, sensory recordings harvested from eye witnesses, or from the victims or perpetrators themselves, as to provide a perfectly objective, untainted account of the crime in question). And, furthermore, what if the judge has access to purely mental and emotional data from the criminal on trial, such as a digital “snapshot” of the offender’s entire mind and psychology, “downloaded” directly from them? So informed, this supreme judge could then weigh the criminal’s very motives behind, and perceptions of, their crime, as to illustrate the criminal’s own perceptual “version” of it, perhaps alongside those of others involved. With such a wealth of raw data, the case would be illustrated with startling accuracy, so that the judge could super-empathize with the criminal and the victim both, as to rule with a level of certainty and objectivity never before possible.
Plus, so much more might be improved upon, court-wise. Besides the trial’s fact-finding being orders of magnitude faster and more complete than that of present-day systems, the evaluation of those facts would be equally optimized and enriched -- as well as the judge’s capacity to issue an appropriate punishment. This last one’s a biggie, for it would, finally, allow the subtleties of a crime to be introduced into evidence and, thus, factored into a verdict and punishment (not to mention taking much of the speculation and guesswork out of the equation, and just solidifying the overall legal process by leaps and bounds). Practically speaking, such broad evaluation of a case would be the difference between issuing a good, appropriate punishment, or one inappropriate to the crime in its deeper, proper context. For example: punishing a mercy killing instead of a murder, where the killer did not consciously and knowingly understand themselves to be committing murder, instead believing they were, say, putting their victim out of their misery (or, in the case of insanity, if they believed they were killing anyone at all). That is: vastly different crimes, from the criminal’s standpoint, and so deserving vastly different punishments -- but, under today’s imperfect justice system, punished identically. Again, this is all highly speculative; but, nonetheless, it’s a possibility that I find notable, and quite worth pursuing, given what’s at stake in matters criminal. (Personally, were I on trial, I would like the most complete, empathic verdict possible, rather than being "railroaded" as so often happens today.)
As it were, this “enlightened” type of parenting and law enforcement would contrast the flawed, often clumsy system of behavioral reinforcement and discouragement that defines much of our current justice system, governmental and social alike. Instead, such truly constructive authority could be the first steps toward another historically unprecedented shift: the institution of functional, sustainable, corrective solutions to our crime problems, rather than the limited, Band-Aid-style fixes we currently rely upon.
All in all, the empathic revolution’s possible implications on family, society, crime, and punishment are like the rest covered in this essay: innumerable, as well as unpredictable. However, one thing is for sure: the future I envision would leave our social structure unrecognizable from its current form, for better or for worse.
While on the subject of family and society, sexuality deserves mention, for it too would be affected by a mind-machine interface and an empathic revolution, in equal measure.
Naturally, any large-scale sexual permutation will translate to social change in its own right -- and, without doubt, our sexuality would be changed, if not totally transformed. Sex would, first, be impacted peripherally, whether by all the fancy means of communication and entertainment enabled by the new media (such as the pornographic sensory-recordings speculated on earlier), or by the various human revolutions making the rounds, in the form of the new standards of empathy and honesty, and the reformed conduct that might follow. Any and all of these factors would have the power to rearrange us sexually. For instance, with our newfound luxury of hundred-percent-authentic sensory recordings, we could, theoretically, have "sex" with virtually anyone, anytime, anywhere, over and over again, and with zero threat of disease, pregnancy, or even social awkwardness. With such a game-changer as "artificial sex" available, even on a small scale, there’s no telling how the worldwide libido would evolve (or devolve).
Thus, we could see yet another standalone revolution, so immense would be the overarching changes to our sexuality. And, like communication and language, any change to sexuality would, due to its integration into human life, ripple outward, into the social, the governmental, the economical, and the political (and even the criminal sphere; human trafficking would, logically, see a big downturn in customers, once sexual deviants and the like can get their thrills virtually). We could even see the emergence of that old, utopian scenario of genuine physical sex performed only for procreation -- and wouldn’t that turn family life on its head.
Death and Memory
Even death would not escape the reach of a mind-machine interface.
Here, the real question is: In a world where mind and machine are reliably entwined, will death continue to exist at all? The answer: Perhaps not, or at least not so inevitably and completely as today. In the event that we develop a moderately advanced mind-machine interface, it would open the possibility to encode, store, transmit, and even reproduce an individual’s total consciousness, to be permanently preserved (so long as our technological infrastructure remains intact, anyway). Then, we could see the realization of a scenario often depicted in science fiction: of perpetual, unlimited continuation of consciousness via a digital medium.
Implications abound. In addition to being merely preserved, the “image” of one’s consciousness might remain active once transferred, within the computer -- that is, one could "live digitally," in a virtual reality (perhaps to be shared by other such "undead" images of consciousness, much as one would presently assume an avatar character in an online role-playing game). It would be something more than your typical, garden-variety virtual reality -- an "emulation" of existence itself, if you will. Or, one’s stored consciousness might even be "installed" into a robotic body, much as an operating system would be loaded onto a computer. Of course, these exceptional applications would hinge on many unknowns, not the least of which would involve the very nature of consciousness and the mind, as to dredge up the age-old "ghost in the machine" debate. But, regardless of feasibility, these possibilities are fully conceivable (especially with mastery of the technology, and, perhaps, of that hypothetical "cerebral programming language" touched on earlier).
So, in addition to slaying mankind’s emotional demons, a mind-machine interface could very well help overcome their physical counterparts, too, as to grant us quasi-immortality.
(And, on that note: with the sweeping social, political, and economic changes that could coincide with those affecting mortality, we could see not only of the end of death, but also of taxes , for it’s not out of the question that taxation will be made obsolete by the proliferation of our communal spirit (perhaps wiping out so much as the very need for currency, with us suddenly so cooperative and harmonious, if super-empathy and its brethren affect us as I suspect). So, the empathic revolution could end even our death-and-taxes state -- the sure sign of a new Yuga if there ever was one.)
As a matter of course, this side of the technology exposes another fascinating application of the mind-machine interface: the augmentation of memory. Benefiting from the same enhancements that would enable our "immortality," memory would see an all-around upgrade -- though with a twist. There would, first, be the obvious benefits: increased integrity, accessibility, and organization of existing, biological memory, plus the extension and externalization of those memories (imagine the mind-machine version of a day planner). However, the most interesting point in this regard is the alteration of one’s memory. That is, not only could we expand, enrich, and accelerate our memory processes, but we could, theoretically, use the same technology to manipulate our memory data. In this case, we would find ourselves faced with another classical sci-fi scenario, now with moral underpinnings: the ability to delete or otherwise “edit” our memories.
Of course, such a powerful capability would present a huge potential for abuse. For example: a plague of artificially induced self-delusion, in which great numbers of people shape their memories as they’d like them to be, as to distort their pasts to their liking -- "wishful thinking" made flesh, all at the expense of truth and reality (with all the potentially destructive consequences that accompanies such self-trickery). Furthermore, the manipulation of memory opens us to another troublesome possibility: that other people could corrupt our memories, for profit or other self-serving ends. It evokes yet another scenario straight out of several sci-fi films and books: “mind-hacking,” a mind-machine version of today’s digital breaking-and-entering, in which access is gained to one’s head instead of a secured computer system. Then, we could see mankind manipulating one other as never before -- perhaps right down to our moment-to-moment thoughts along with our memories, at the mind’s deepest, most critical level, as to shape the victim’s very perceptions. That is, using the same means that could hypothetically bring about a true, fully programmable "virtual reality" on the perceptual level, a successful mind-hacker would be free to supplement, alter, replace, or delete whatever they wanted to from their victim’s most basic awareness and sensations -- a "digital insanity," of sorts, comprised of these manmade illusions, like a mind-machine version of a Photoshop’d image. This, too, recalls a piece of mind-machine cinema: the movie Ghost in the Shell 2, in which a mind-hacked man is led to believe himself to have a totally fictional life, complete with a nonexistent wife, child, and dog, all for the benefit of a mind-hacker’s criminal enterprise.
Some scary stuff, yes; but at the same time, tantalizing and incredible. Needless to say, our mind-machine adventures should be tempered with caution and foresight.
Chances are, the reader has seen the movie The Matrix, in which Neo, the main character, all at once “knows kung-fu,” infallibly and functionally, after being digitally “taught” via that film’s implementation of the mind-machine interface.
Is instant, computerized education at all realistic, assuming the development of a functional mind-machine interface? In my opinion, the answer is yes (albeit conditionally so).
How powerful would it be, to “download” learned skills and behavior directly into the mind? Inevitably, such automatic learning would, on its own, propel mankind to new heights; its biggest effects, however, would come indirectly -- namely, from the discontinuation of the old schooling methods, with their many handicaps and structural flaws. By learning in such immediate, digital fashion, we could at last abandon the losing battle of our present educational paradigm (which is, in a word, ineffective). Today, we teach information which is, first, often rigid and one-dimensional, as well as riddled with all kinds of practical shortcomings, as to be only situationally useful in the real world. And, second, whatever good, functional education we achieve is eventually lost to death, obsolescence, disuse, or simple failure of memory (and that’s if it was ever truly absorbed by the student to begin with). However, with Neo’s “hyper-schooling,” we would possess not only a functional replacement for today’s imperfect system, but one that takes a quantum leap forward. Besides being superior in raw speed and accessibility, this Education 2.0 could prove to be everlasting, ever-expanding, and virtually indestructible, with the potential to survive generational decay and even biological death. Functionally speaking, our upgraded school system would be a whole new animal (unforeseen flaws notwithstanding).
Like so much regarding the mind-machine interface, the educational implications are massive, and massively fascinating.
One byproduct I foresee is a global "relearning," for those born prior to the technology’s advent. If and when such hyper-schooling establishes itself, we could see a widespread "reprogramming" of the pre-mind-machine generation, as those raised under the old education system are brought up to speed -- a worldwide "back-to-school" initiative, where adults receive the newly available libraries of knowledge, starting right back at kindergarten or its modern equivalent (if, that is, there are even such a thing as grades anymore, since hyper-schooling could involve nothing more than the seamless and instantaneous "knowing" of Neo’s kung-fu, perhaps to be downloaded in bulk at a certain childhood age or maturity level). In fact, if cost, convenience, and effectiveness allow, such schooling might end up being a regular, perpetual habit of the general population, such that mind-linked citizens will routinely download new or updated "knowings" as they become available. Ideally, this could even be done daily, as one would presently buy a morning paper, or check their favorite websites over breakfast.
In addition to improving vocational development and formal education, hyper-schooling presents another possibility: the free exchange of other, miscellaneous "knowings" and "learnings." That is, we could see people digitizing their own, personal skills and behaviors, to be replicated and made available to others via whatever incarnation of internet-like network is in place. Here, things really get interesting, for we could see not just practical, "book-learnings" being circulated, but those of a novel, trivial, and "fun" nature (including, perhaps, those completely unique to an individual, such as wiggling one’s ears or belching the alphabet). Imagine a YouTube of the mind, offering a massive collection of uploaded mental miscellany with which to augment one’s psyche, from calculus and classical English and other classroom subjects, to wrestling moves and intricate dance, to Neo’s ready-made martial arts, all alongside any number of sensory recordings and other mind-machine wonders -- a veritable Library of Alexandria for the mind, available instantaneously and, perhaps, for free.
As for just how far such an incredible exchange of mental and sentimental data could go, there’s just no telling. Consider the original internet and the web, and the wholly unexpected and unprecedented directions they’ve gone, creating products and services never even dreamed of by the technology’s inventors -- except, this mind-machine version would be orders of magnitude more powerful, something comparable to going from a sailboat to a starship. Were I to fully explore the potential of this medium of mental communication alone, this essay would become a book.
While on the subject of schooling, one potential hurdle comes to mind: resistance from the old guard of academia, perhaps to the degree of thwarting hyper-schooling’s acceptance. As with anything involving a human element, some tricky factors are introduced into the equation: fear, self-interest, egotistical- and emotional thinking, and other illogical psychology, all of which could be influential enough to prevent change. We could expect a shockwave of this reactionary thinking, not only from the university professor clinging to hard-won tenure (or the high-school English teacher thinking of feeding their family), but from the many industries with interests in traditional forms of education, from textbook publishers to curriculum planners -- all the makings of a classical campaign of self-preservation and the continuation of the status quo. In the face of a startling new educational paradigm and the many goods and services it would make obsolete, certain forces could, in the end, nip a wonderful opportunity in the bud, purely out of fear and self-interest, however much such a reaction would, in the big picture, shoot ourselves in the collective foot. Of course, that’s not to say that such resistance might always be unmerited, such as if, for instance, mind-machine hyper-schooling proves to be not quite the panacea that I’ve described, due to its own flaws or shortcomings; then again, merit can be manufactured, if enough people want it.
In any case, one thing is for sure: with the emergence of a widely available mind-machine interface, the way we learn and teach will most certainly be changed.
After so much talk of possibilities, it’s only appropriate we address the potential complications of an empathic revolution and a mind-machine interface.
Once more, when it comes to explicit predictions, it is hard to say what, exactly, we will or won’t have to deal with in this regard; however, there is one hurdle that is almost to be counted upon: resistance to change, the same I touched on while speculating upon academia’s reaction to mind-machine-aided education. As with any game-changing idea or technology, those which I’ve detailed will almost surely be challenged, and almost surely in the form of social backlash. The most obvious variant of such backlash (and most potentially damaging) would be that arising from those somehow displaced by the reformative, fat-trimming new paradigm instituted by the mind-machine interface and its attendant social revolutions. Regrettably, much of this resistance could be unwarranted, arising purely from the bias of those who stand to lose as a result of the new way of life, much as the motion picture drove the radio star into extinction. These displacements would include lesser technologies, and even whole industries and infrastructures; however, the most pronounced and prohibitive resistance could arise from elsewhere -- namely, from the disruption of psychological and sentimental commodities, as those of us emotionally invested in the old system try desperately to retain the emotional nourishment it provides them. (As a modern-day example, consider the cancellation of certain television shows or other prized entertainment, and the passionate, almost violent reactions that sometimes result.) In the end, these types of self-defeating reactions could, sadly, derail an empathic revolution and/or the interfacing of mind and machine, thus robbing everyone of their potential benefits.
Historically speaking, it’s not hard to imagine considerable resistance of this type from various organizations, institutions, and special interests. For instance: labor unions of threatened industries holding strikes and boycotts based purely on an effort to preserve a need for their outdated services (including sinking to even the oldest and dirtiest tactics, such as demonizing and making false, biased claims). Such self-interest is, of course, understandable, for the new paradigm would certainly bring short-term upset to the existing way of life, forcing many people to adjust, perhaps significantly and uncomfortably; however, this sort of reaction is no less shortsighted and, ultimately, self-destructive, since the new ways would likely be far superior to anything they would replace. Maybe that’s just our destiny, to remain self-restricted to the point of extinction; then again, maybe not. It’s up to us, I believe.
I repeat: I make these forecasts not as a cynic or doomsayer, but, simply, as a concerned man offering word of caution. And, caution is quite necessary in this regard, for the stakes are high (perhaps direly so, considering that the most probable alternative is to continue along our path of confusion, fear, and degenerate infighting).
So, even if the requisite technology develops, and an empathic revolution is within our grasp, my vision of the future could remain unrealized, due to social backlash or similar factors, real or imagined. However, I do hold the hope that my dream will become real, despite whatever human challenges emerge. Like most anything so powerful (and, let’s face it, fun), the mind-machine interface and super-empathy could, in the end, simply be too attractive to be defeated by anything less than a total deal-breaker, even with the fiercest social and institutional resistance. We see here one rare instance where past precedent would probably apply to future events, in that society would eventually accept the changes and then adapt, suffering the consequent growing pains either with a smile or a frown (but, nonetheless, accepting them, as one must the current when adrift at sea).
Though, social resistance isn’t the only hurdle to be cleared, for we could still have any number of technological issues to work through. For starters: side effects of the mind-machine interface.
No matter how extraordinary or promising a technological development might be, we must always ask: what are its costs and drawbacks? That applies universally, but, when it comes to something so bold and newfangled as jacking our heads into a computer, it goes double, for there’s no telling what kind of side effects and eccentricities might emerge, whatever the mind-machine’s implementation. What if we do, in fact, learn to reliably interface ourselves with computers, but in a fashion which is unavoidably hazardous to health (such as, say, inducing brain cancer from the electromagnetic radiation produced)? Or, what if the technology is benign enough to be of use, but brings with it psychological and social consequences, such as those which arose in the wake of television? Here, I’ll again refer to my sci-fi novel, in which the mind-machine interface creates new, deadly addictions and social ills, such as users being so engrossed in a sensory recording, they stay sedentary to the point of chronically impaired circulation, giving way to an epidemic of stroke and other ailments. Or, thanks to the cheap, thought-controlled robots available to my novel’s future citizens, many people become physical shut-ins, choosing instead of live vicariously through their mind-interfaced robots and, thus, developing a host of psychological issues when forced into any sort of flesh-and-blood socialization. Etcetera.
To be sure, there’s no telling what kind of Pandora’s Box might be opened by a mind-machine interface; and, despite my fanfare, I’ll be the first to admit it, for it’s best we give pause now rather than after the fact, when it might be too late.
And, still, there remains the biggest obstacle of all: that a true, functional mind-machine interface is just plain impossible (or is only be possible far into the future, at a point when it’s unnecessary or already obsolete). Or, alternately, perhaps the technology will prove to be possible but unfeasible, such as, say, from requiring some rare or delicate substance that renders the end product too expensive or volatile for mass production. There are, certainly, no shortage of possible reasons why any sort of true mind-machine interface is flatly out of our reach, and I won’t attempt to list them; and, of course, there remain those troublesome human factors, which could see even the most progressive of ideas and concepts undone at our own hands.
As for just how complicating these complications would be, that’s another question presently without an answer, since it hinges on so many unknowns. However, I do foresee one particular, in-between possibility: that a mind-machine interface might never materialize as grandly as I envision it, but that an empathic revolution will. That is to say, however imperfect, limited, or side-effect-prone the initial incarnation of the technology might be, it could still be functional enough to initiate super-empathy and its byproducts. In this case, if the revolution can still be pulled off, and proves as sociologically and holistically significant as I’ve proposed, it’s possible that any short-term negatives would be justified by the long-term benefits. Then, it might turn out that any initial damage done by the mind-machine interface could be reversed as we reach the empathic revolution’s singularity-like state of highly accelerated learning and progression. So long as we could just hit that point of critical mass without totally destroying ourselves, any damage incurred along the way could, theoretically, be corrected, by way of technological- and human improvement after the fact. This isn’t a given, of course, and should by no means be counted upon; however, it is, no less, a consideration to be made.
Here, a related point is brought up: that a mind-machine interface and an empathic revolution are not reliant on one another. That is, one might arise without the other, in any shape or form, with complete independence -- a very important fact to keep in perspective, as it were. After all, a mind-machine is not the only means to super-empathy and an emotional revolution, nor a surefire guarantee of these things (a mind-machine interface can lead us to empathic waters, but it can’t make us drink). Rather, the interfacing of mind and machine (and, as it were, technology in general) is just one potential bridge to the empathic revolution I’ve described, for the two are related but separate (the way news is associated with a newspaper, but hardly one in the same). I make this distinction as not to confuse the means with the end, so that, in the event that a mind-machine interface remains an object of science fiction, we might always stay open to other roads to super-empathy and its bounties.
Regardless, when it comes to possible complications, technological and social alike, I repeat: great caution is warranted. When dealing with such potentially explosive matters (including those of an emotional nature), we should approach them delicately, with the utmost precaution, as to, hopefully, prevent any nasty byproducts at their incipience. Of course, humanity doesn’t have the best track record in this regard, with us historically tending to throw all caution and restraint to the wind once a powerful enough incentive is placed before us, be it a big enough dollar sign, an enjoyable enough sensation, or a strong enough ego-stroke. But, all the same, these warnings must be stated, for I am not cynical enough to think that we can’t break this cycle and take the long-view, for a change.
Though much more can be said on the subjects addressed in this manifesto, I will now conclude by asking: what does it all amount to, in the big picture? What will be the total, takeaway outcome of an empathic revolution, a mind-machine interface, and their endless implications? Assuming that these possibilities arise, and change the world as indicated, where will it take us?
Unfortunately, when all is said and done, specific predictions, or even so much as probabilities or a timetable, remain out of reach, unless you have a crystal ball. (Mine’s in the shop.) I will, however, venture one prediction: a worldwide migration toward understanding, communication, and social harmony, as to propel us to new heights of mind and spirit.
In every sense of the word, it would be a revolution, from which humanity could emerge anew, like a butterfly from a cocoon.
Will it happen? I cannot say. But: Can it happen? I believe it can. And, really, that’s all that matters at this point: to know that, indeed, such a revolution is possible , along with the trust, cooperation, and communication that could result, internationally as much as individually. As it were, that possibility’s existence and validity are my manifesto’s bottom line, for without being aware of, and believing in, the possibility of something, one cannot imagine it -- and, thus, cannot manifest it. If this essay has one central point, it’s that our present state of un-empathic discord is not inevitable -- that there are, first, alternatives, and, second, that they might be vastly better. But, most importantly, these alternative ways of life are real, and so can be pursued, whether through the technological means I’ve proposed, or something else entirely.
With belief, all is possible -- even my grand vision of a worldwide empathic state, free of the ancient ills that have plagued mankind for time out of mind. Without belief, however … even the smallest, simplest of goals will remain a phantom.
So, I plead one thing of the reader: just believe. Not that an empathic revolution will come to pass, for this essay has certainly not established its immanency; only, believe that such can come to pass. That’s the crux of my empathic manifesto, and that’s all I ask that you consider (and, really, all anyone can).
Recently, I was praised for a certain skill of mine: the ability to “split” my thinking, as to exist in a psychological duality. Also, I was encouraged to share this skill with others, and this is advice which I’ve decided to heed, in the form of this essay.
I will, first, define and describe this particular concept of duality, and then outline the unexpected virtues which can spring from its application, along with some of my personal experiences in doing so.
Duality as a Positive
Traditionally, “duality” is used in the negative; but not here. Before anything else, I should clarify this narrow view of the concept, for this essay’s “duality” is purely positive. (Likewise, “dualism” is not used in the traditional, Kantian sense used often in philosophy.)
Double standards, bad logic, general nonsense and insanity -- these are the typical no-no’s conjured by a label of "duality." Of course, it wouldn’t be wholly wrong to label the sort of broken thinking listed above as "dualistic," but that doesn’t mean that something deserving of the term is automatically negative. Here, I use "duality" as a broader, positive connotation, as regards my "split-thinking" and its life-enhancing qualities.
This expanded concept of duality is either dead simple or hugely complicated, depending on how one looks at it. To think with a “split” mind would usually imply inaccuracy in some regard; however, in the context of a refined, self-aware mind splitting in this manner, that’s a whole other ballgame. Consider, for instance, a psychiatrist, who must identify and empathize with their patient, and ultimately think like them, yet remain an outside observer capable of objective insight on that patient’s behavior. Or, alternately: a detective working a case, getting into the criminal’s head while still retaining use of their own. Etcetera. These examples, among many others, would qualify as “dualistic” thinking, yet no one would deny the utility of said thinking.
Thus we see illustrated a positive and functional duality of mind, and the valuable application thereof. When my personal skill in duality was recently recognized, it was in this regard. (Namely, thinking in terms of both the spiritual and the earthbound, as it were.)
The Perfect Duality
So, I’ve now defined the “duality” cited in this essay: not as a flaw, but a potentially beneficial skill. However, there is more to my personal application of this positive duality, for I not only think dualistically, but I exist as such.
Here, I must stray into subjective territory, for there is no other way to convey this curious double existence but through my own experiences with it.
I see the world in two ways: the physical and the spiritual. That is, I see the overt, everyday, "earthly" reality (that constructed by physicality and the senses), while simultaneously seeing the covert, clandestine, "heavenly" reality beneath it all -- two different dimensions of the same life experience, each separate yet fundamentally intertwined. I have one foot in "Heaven" and the other on "Earth," if you will. What does this mean from a practical standpoint? Were I to, say, see a man get hit by a car while crossing the street, I would perceive both a simple, cause-and-effect accident (the earthly version), as well as a deeply meaningful intersection of spiritual energies and unseen forces (the heavenly -- or, at least, my subjective interpretation of such, due to the personal spiritual beliefs which govern that perception).
Make of this example what you will (since its significance hinges on whether the reader, too, believes in a spiritual dimension to anything), but the fact remains: I see the world in two totally different ways, immediately and interchangeably, and with equal clarity. Also, I experience these worlds impartially . If my split perception is at all biased, that bias is very slight, perhaps a 51/49% ratio, in favor of the spiritual (because I believe that to be the ultimate nature of reality, with the physical being a causative offshoot of spiritual phenomena). Without my being skilled in dualistic thinking, such a broadened perspective would be impossible (or, at least, far less functional).
Here, I must reiterate: whatever one’s take on my double-perceptions and their content, their validity is ultimately irrelevant. The point, as far as this essay is concerned, is that such an intricate and balanced mode of thinking is valid (and that it’s possible in the first place). And, furthermore: that dualistic thinking can be applied to day-to-day life and moment-to-moment perceptions, as to allow the observer to exist in, essentially, a more-complete overall experience of the world (hinging on the accuracy of said perceptions, of course).
That is the crux of this essay, and will be assumed as true from here on.
The Virtues of Duality
At this point, the logical question arises: What is such a duality good for?
The answer: many things. First and foremost, education.
It might not seem like the most obvious application, but learning is, for me at least, dualism’s primary benefit. By possessing two individual, independent, yet communicative minds, I have learned more than I can possibly transcribe in this essay. For instance: the opportunity to compare and contrast the “earthly” and “heavenly” aspects of the same occurrence (as with the man getting hit by a car). I’ve gained endless insight from such analyses, from world events to human behavior to why the chicken crossed the road. Thinking along these lines, I may then combine alternate points-of-view into a greater mosaic, as to grant a full, rounded understanding, to degrees otherwise difficult in a one-dimensional mindset.
The spiritual/physical example is, however, only the beginning, for dualistic thinking’s basic, two-pronged model can be applied to nearly everything in life. Just as there are three sides to every story, most everything expands when seen from multiple perceptual viewpoints.
Another use for dualistic thinking: mental “sandboxing.”
Here, I am referring to the mind branching from itself, by way of self-observation. That is, instead of splitting one’s mind into “spiritual” and “physical” divisions, one might, instead, split off into a different self -- a "virtual person" within the mind, existing in parallel, with its own, independent thoughts, feelings, and "reality." Think of this as how computers can emulate other computers, as "virtual machines" (which, in turn, can run their own, separate software, including their own virtual machines, fractal-style). Or, alternately, mental sandboxing can be thought of as a type of empathy, in which one might, by assigning a separate identity to their virtual "self," truly see behind another’s "eyes," to the point of almost full-out immersion in the parallel person’s subjective reality. Here, dualistic thinking enables just such "virtual" minds and selves, yet allows the individual to experience them fully, as if they were lived (or, at least, fully enough to gain benefit of the simulated experience).
Mental sandboxing has near-endless uses, in itself. What insights might be gained from simulating another, separate mind within the confines of one’s own? A strengthened sense of empathy would, it seem, be only the tip of the iceberg. (If nothing else, imagination would be taken to a whole new level.) Though, upgraded empathy is nothing to sneeze at; with it being perhaps the greatest virtue of all, much could be said about the sweeping benefits of dualistic thinking, mental sandboxing, and their cultivation of empathic perception. For the sake of focus, however, I’ll move on.
Next, dualistic thinking can even be used to aid survival and wellbeing. I will, again, illustrate this use with a personal example: my own ill health, and how my odd duality helped me to cope and recover.
After leading a damaging, sedentary lifestyle throughout childhood and adolescence, I had been sick for nearly my entire adult life, over a decade. In addition to physical symptoms, my illness had many psychological and perceptual effects, which would skew my thoughts, feelings, and how I experienced the world. However, these effects were not constant, and as I went back and forth between various states of psychological distortion, I learned to distinguish between the actual and the imaginary, as to actively discern what was "real" from what was merely "all in my head" -- two different "realities," as it were. With time and experience, I came to weed out my illness’s perceptual influence, in real-time, as things happened. Eventually, when sensing mental distortion, I would automatically separate the actual from the imagined, and with such expertise that the two realities would coexist in my mind -- so that I would all but live in two separate-but-simultaneous "worlds." Even years later, the novelty has yet to wear off.
Had I not been able to perform these mental gymnastics, my distorted perceptions might have influenced my behavior, such that I would’ve been acting on a make-believe non-reality -- not a good thing, to say the least. In retrospect, I see how I otherwise could have easily ended up in a hospital or jail (or, dead). So, for me, my dualistic thinking was nothing less than a survival tactic, in an all too literal sense. (As it were, these experiences were how I discovered and developed my duality skills in the first place.)
But, again, these examples are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Take the applications listed here, expand them into nearly any imaginable field of endeavor, and one sees the huge potential of dualistic thinking.
And so we are shown, in a nut, the concept and benefits of a dualistic mentality.
Of course, there is far more to the subject at large, including whole other dimensions of its nature and use. However, I will stop here, once more to keep this essay within an appropriate scope (that is, as a primer, not a guide). To be sure, this text attempts only a description of dualistic thinking, rather than an encapsulation of how it might be learned and executed. Yes, it is possible to exist in a mental duality, and with magnificent applications in one’s daily life; though, how one attains this skill is up to them, for it requires mental disciplines that build upon themselves (and are learned subjectively, to boot).
This essay has indicated the destination. As for the path, that’s for the reader to find.
(The best I can do in this regard is to direct the reader to a book I’ve written: Learn Yourself: A Manual for the Mind.)