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.

Cognitive Activism

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.