1 “The way we think we’re living our lives isn’t the way we live them“—so startlingly says The Path, a book by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh on often misrepresented Chinese philosophers (whose old thoughts can yield new ways to see ourselves, unWEIRDly).
2.2 Likewise, psychology’s “fundamental attribution error,” places “undue emphasis on internal characteristics” over situational factors.
3.1 “The way we think we make decisions isn’t how we make them.” Science is relearning that we evolved to act quickly without “deciding” (via indirect rationality). But influential “rational choice theories” deny abundantly evident imprudence and muddling (feeding “rationalist delusions”).
4.1 Confucius believed “every situation is unique.” Plato, however, sought abstract universalizable, timeless knowledge (preferences embodied deeply in geometry, algebra, and physics, all atomically built on sameness).
4.3 Our word “knowing” is overworked, but Hebrew distinguishes knowing abstractly from “da’at”: knowing by concrete particular relationship.
4.4 Supporting Confucius over Kant, Eden’s “tree of knowledge of good and evil” uses da’at.
5. Plato’s pupil Aristotle preferred concreteness and promoted situationally apt virtues. Likewise, The Wuxing’s “Inward Training” teaches dynamically orchestrating virtues, harmonizing contextually, never overemphasizing one element (echoing Aristotle’s every virtue has two related vices—contextual deficiency, or excess).
8.2 Hume claimed “Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
8.3 Millennia earlier the Wuxing counselled reason to slowly retrain those master passions.
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.