Science is My Life Coach

Conversations about science and religion often begin with the statement that science doesn’t provide us with ways of and codes for living. That is the role of religion. The falsity of this statement grows by the day for me. Science can - and does - provide us with ways of living. Science provides us with the seeds of cultural elaboration and the shared myths by which we live our lives. We can and do grow the tissues of experiential existence on the reductionist ribs of science.

The scientific and technological models of the era always have a way of shaping the societies’ collective models for the world. This is demonstrated by our changing models of human anatomy through the stages of industrialization and modernization. From the mechanical to the hydraulic to the electric to the digital \ computational, etc. It is what Ken Wilber gets at in his four quadrant model as the evolution of worldviews. From physical to protoplasmic to vegetative to locomotive to uroboric to typhonic to archaic to magic to mythic to rational to centauric and so on…

Scientific discoveries and theories make there way into our cultural at the scale and pace of corporations. Yochai Benkler talks about political science and corporations building models and infrastructures based on the self-interest models of game theory. Prevailing paradigms and modes of operation in (too) many social systems and industries are shaped by Herbert Spencer’s survival of the fittest. In this vein, Benkler predicts that the resurgence of group evolution and altruism theories over the last two decades will shape the development of corporate compensation and reward strategies.

Here are examples of scientific ideas slowly penetrating the collective worldview and eventually providing cultural templates for living. Can this process happen at an organismic timeframe and scale? Can we construct personal codes for living from the fabric of science? In many ways, we do already. I am always entertained by the career specific analogies by which my friends break down their daily lives. For example, my financial analyst friends understand the intricacies of shopping or dating quite differently than my dancer or programmer friends.

In the last six months, my personal models for understanding the world and myself in it have been reshaped through an absorption of scientific theories. Take Turner’s proposal that “the universe can be described as a gigantic self-nested scale of vibrations” and that “Out of these vibrations, often in the most delicate and elaborate mixtures of harmonies of tone, everything is made.” This scientific perspective makes very real the Eastern spiritual conceptions of oneness with the universe. It provides a highly visualizable framework on which to understand Buddhist ideals. Today I sat in Central Square people watching and had a Matrix-like moment of oneness with everyone around me - we were suddenly all harmonics on a glorious wave of vibration. (It was this emotion that prompted this blog post in fact.)

Recent findings on mirror neurons and phenomena of emotional entrainment between individuals has fundamentally altered the way I view myself and my social interactions. Through these theories I have come to better understand certain aspects of my personality like why I smile so much or why I hear prosody but not lyrics in songs.

In the way that the truth of the underpinnings of religious belief is irrelevant for its efficacy, so is the truth of the underlying science driving our personal and collective myths. The difference with science, though, is that it continually seeks to improve and correct itself, constantly forming new soil in which to plant.

Because of the self-similar, Mandelbrotian tendencies of the universe, the scientific analogies we apply to daily life take on a deep truth. Through science we come to understand how the universe really works. Another exciting byproduct of codes for living built from science is their nack for accurate prediction of future scenarios. They embrace and build upon the themes and tendencies of the universe.

We are often warned - usually by those with religious leanings - of the dangers of basing our lives on science. They point our attention to those tragic moments in history where science was used to justify terror. Let’s reexamine the role of science in daily life and focus on some positive examples. Not only does science allow us to deconstruct and understand our current ways of living, it sews the seeds of these ways of living and constitutes the fabric from which we construct our collective and personal myths of the world and our place in it.

E.O. Wilson calls for a unification of knowledge in the the sciences, for social sciences to root themselves in the physical sciences. What if we make this consilience personal? What happens when we acknowledge and embrace these natural chains of cultural development, the fact that science is and can be positive nourishment for culture? Can we more readily and explicitly construct codes for living from the shifting fabric of scientific discovery? Can this process provide us with a more flexible and living bible, one rooted in the fundamental tendencies of the universe?

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7 Responses to “Science is My Life Coach”

  1. Life Coaches says:

    Hi Eric,

    Everytime I see or read of someone bringing science to coaching I get a little rise. I think it is so important for the coaching profession that more people quantify (where ever possible) the actual benefits of coaching.

    You have done a great job here Eric. I applaud the effort and will be sure to check back again for your latest thoughts!

    Cheers

    Jesse

  2. IMHO I think that people instinctively know how to make themselves happy, but they are swayed by greed and egotism. Logic (science to a certain degree) dictates our life path and if we follow the signs and don’t let others cloud our vision with their plans for us, we will find and sustain happiness. More often than not the simple things are the most enjoyable.

    Spencer :-)

  3. Justified says:

    Hi guys, if you’re encountering problems with the page loading, it might not just be your browser. Make sure you delete your cookies and try to reload the webpage. That might make it work better.

  4. A Life Coach is sometimes very necessary so that we do not loose our way in our lives.:`.

  5. a life coach is sometimes needed if you sort of lost direction in your life.,:;

  6. Hi just thought i would certainly let you know something.. It is twice now i have landed on your blog within the last 3 weeks searching for completely unrelated things. Odd or what?

  7. Mason Adams says:

    i had a mid-life crisis and what i needed was a life coach.:*

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