Conscious Personal Evolution
Valuescience is science for addressing roots of a full spectrum of human concerns in a sound, integrated manner. It is science for living well and dying at peace, and for contributing to others’ doing so.
Werner Erhard, who touched the lives of a million people directly and many more indirectly with his est training and its successors, famously said, “Understanding is the booby prize.” In the context of est, in which people enrolled with intent to change for the better, altered behavior—thinking, feeling, and acting differently—rather than some “understanding” of how to behave differently, marked success.
Erhard was a relatively recent figure in a long line extending through widely separated times and places who emphasized primacy of action. Early 16th century Confucian philosopher Wang Yangming, 17th century English historian Thomas Fuller, and 19th century biologist Thomas Huxley are among those who preceded him. Similar conclusions from disparate sources is a hallmark of consilience.
We build this valuescience course upon praxis: theory informing practice and practice informing theory. “Learning” about valuescience without applying that learning is like learning the grammar and vocabulary of a language without ever speaking, writing, listening to, or reading it. We encourage course participants to include in learning action evidencing purposeful personal change. By such action we enhance capacity for subsequent success.
We reference Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit to introduce a concept of “keystone habit,” behavior to which many others are linked, and which therefore can be means to alter them. We urge course participants to design and execute a practicum for changing a keystone habit.
We understand that some participants prefer to enroll without including a practicum, and we acknowledge that this choice may be sound in some circumstances. If you elect to do this, we still invite you to consider carefully how you may incorporate a specific, well-defined application of valuescience into your life, and how you may take advantage of sangha and of teaching team expertise to valuescience more consistently, competently, and consciously, and thereby lay a foundation for future deliberate personal change.
Many thoughtful people have acknowledged teaching as means to become aware of, and push back limits to one’s understanding and praxis. Many also have remarked the salutary effects of taking a stand for views outside or even orthogonal or contrary to those in the mainstream. Finally, many accomplished and highly respected leaders in both natural and social science are increasingly emphatic in extolling the virtues of scientists’ engaging members of the public in becoming better able to science for individual and collective benefit. When we communicate to promote others’ understanding and application of valuescience we learn it better, become stronger and better able to stand for science, and further common good.
While practicing valuescience may be less than sufficient to ensure that we and others live and die well, it may well be necessary to these ends. Humanity is now so numerous, so powerful, and acting on global scale and with such speed and novelty that errors in discerning value and actions we base upon these pose existential threat. Absent a scientific approach to value—by whatever name—we will almost certainly accelerate into collective impoverishment. As people aware of valuescience and able to muster evidence and reason for its potential to improve individual and collective well-being, course participants have opportunity and responsibility to communicate it to others.
To this end we shape media to deliver an argument for valuescience supported by evidence for its efficacy in addressing some aspect of living and dying well. With these messages we tie personal gain to public service, demonstrating means to resolve a conflict often painfully felt as we seek satisfaction at every level of Maslow’s Hierarchy. We aim to do good and do well.