why it matters

Jose asked me the other night, "why do you spend all this time thinking about philosophy etc?"
I want to understand people.  I want to figure out the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, so that we can make rational decisions.  People do ‘irrational’ things, like attack Russia in fall, or bike from new york to boston nonstop, or whatever, for rational reasons.  They are acting, within their own framework, rationally.  And following the micro-macro domino theory*, it all makes sense
If we can figure out what makes people tick, we can use that knowledge to engineer society to make our survival more likely.  What keeps me up at night is the worry that we’re going to blow it.  The issues of environmental degradation and fossil fuel use will not be addressed in time, and civilization is going to collapse.  It won’t do us any good to argue about it then in the dark, we need to address it now.  and however radical the changes may seem, they’re going to be better than the forced changes later.  You can always scale back taxes or rationing when there’s still oil in the ground, but when the well’s dry, the well’s dry.  I’m worried that we’re going to go over the edge–when the crisis becomes aparrent, there won’t be enough left to bridge the gap.  How are we going to feed 9 billion people?  how will we ration energy, how should we live?
and that’s where the philosophy and psychology and NY times reading come in.  How is society to be engineered?  How do we make people care about the starving africans and flooded out Burmese, when as humans we’re not adapted to care about those not in our ‘circle’?  How do we end nationalism, ethnic strife, inane competition for resources, war, famine, etc?  What is truth, and how do we seek it?  and how do we make people believe in it?  and then what is utilitarian?  How do we guarantee a decent standard of living for everyone, and how do we make people believe that everyone is entitled to a decent standard of living, even if it doesn’t go over so well with the voters?

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