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January 9, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Thinking Lessons Revisited DFQ#4 Elizabeth Spelke

Eizabeth Spelke, Harvard Professor of Psychology, talks about the human ability to rise above challenges. The lesson is a long quote from Elizabeth with the following question:


What core idea have you risen above, most recently?’

My original response was:

That I should and can be good at everything that I think I ‘need’ to do.

I realise that I am great at some things and I should focus on those rather than getting bogged down on areas that will never yield a practical result or personal happiness.

Almost a year on, I don’t think I would make any revision to this. The only addition would be to point out that within the semantics of the quote and the question, you could look at the component ‘rise above’ and exchange it with ‘circumnavigate’ which is closer to what is going on here.

The ability to overcome, is the combination of the tenacity to try to do so, and the ability to find alternatives, as found in biological, and memetic evolution. Alternatives are a lateral movement, not so much a rising above. It’s a small thing but points to the mechanics of how to go about rising above in a scientific way.


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