Natural Philosophy: Introduction

This is the catch all title I am giving to my current wide ranging literature review which is both academic and personal, to provide a wider context for the understanding of ritual, and what it means to be human. I am looking at various topics including:- human universals and unique qualities that differ from other animals, the nature of the mind and cognitive biases, the mismatch between human nature and the modern world, how human behaviour can be changed, spatial perception, origins of ritual and ritual efficacy.

I have also been on a lengthy personal process which started with writing down my own personal worldview, favourite maxims and quotes, and has now moved on to gathering data on current thinking across disciplines, about the topics listed above, and then to check against them. As my maxims put it “I want to find out what is right, rather than trying to prove myself right”, whist bearing in mind that “the map is not the territory” and that “ideas are tools not rules”. The main reference I use is New Scientist magazine which allows me to maximise coverage and currency in my literature review, but I will be looking at a selection of practical philosophical and other literature as well. (Note: I do not have access via an academic institution to relevant journals).

This is both an exercise to better understand the various topics listed above and to understand myself, so that when I write up other research I can be as honest as I can about my own personal biases and world view up front. I am also using this process to gather scientific and philosophical points on how to lead a good life, become a better person and so make an, on- balance, positive contribution to the world. This has been a long process but will hopefully condense down to a few easy to remember maxims and simple practices for daily use.