Metaphorical ‘Stepping Stones’
‘Stepping stones’ is a metaphor that occurred to me whilst thinking about the way I use sources of information: I’m inclined not to ‘believe’ or ‘disbelieve’, agree or disagree with any author’s assertions, but rather to seek literature that proves to be the most stimulating to my own thoughts.
Exploring the Sphere of Thought
To illustrate a little further, imagine the globe as representing a sphere of all human thought, where subjects, concepts, and themes are mapped to different locations, within which various theses, theories, and mythologies can be found (generally, in conflict with one another!) The metaphorical stepping stones, then, represents the means by which you explore the sphere of thought and engage directly with these subjects, concepts, and themes; that is, you visit these locations – as opposed to settling (or even seeking to settle) at any one – before moving on in your continuous journey to develop understanding of life and the world.
As indicated by this metaphor, I utilize the works of authors despite whatever fallacies I may perceive in the thoughts and information they offer—which, to be sure, includes even profound fallacies (for I occasionally discover a thesis that’s flagrantly erroneous but nevertheless entwines it with a uniquely stimulating discussion). In this way, I use other people’s thoughts, experience, intelligence, and articulateness to assist the intellectual ‘journey’ of developing my own understanding: in a sense, I use the thoughts of others as ‘stepping stones’ for my own.
The Principles & Practices of Stepping Stones
‘Stepping stones’ is not a philosophy or methodology I developed but is simply a description – formed in self-reflection – of inclinations that come naturally to me. This being stated, I can clarify my meaning of the metaphor by summarizing it in those terms (i.e. a philosophy with a methodology) to inform readers of the spirit in which I seek and utilize information, as well as the spirit with which I now share it. Should it resonate with you or provoke your own thoughts, the effect would be an embodiment of the purpose of this site: to provide intellectual stimulation for the development of understanding—to provide stepping stones for the mind.
By Way of Stepping Stones . . . .
The Use of Stepping Stones in . . . .
- Utilizing streams of thought or exposition that are intellectually stimulating and as high in density of meaning as possible.
- Detachment from authors’ contexts and assertions, particularly in making use of substantial but flawed information.
- Integrity of discernment by the uncompromised motive to understand.
- Purity of understanding by tolerating doubt or confusion and maintaining detachment from opinions.
- Studying to comprehend information, both as isolated statements and as inter-related concepts in a body of work (i.e. a theory, ideology, philosophy, religion, or story).
The Discovery of Stepping Stones in . . . .
- Seeking substantial literature in any sphere of thought, provided a significance is detected either in its degree of substance or in its uniqueness of information.
- Conducting research to enrich one’s pool of resource materials, both in scope and in depth, so that quality information is already familiar and on-hand whenever a particular subject becomes of heightened interest.
- Discovering (by investigation) and uncovering (by perceptiveness) significant subjects and concepts on a regular basis.
The Purpose of Stepping Stones in . . . .
- Consolidating information into knowledge by frequent exercise of observation, contemplation, and investigation.
- Broadening awareness, both in areas of thought and in particulars of information, naturally and periodically.
- Using awareness to enrich the overarching context (or Weltanschauung, which is roughly translated to ‘worldview’) from which one seeks information and by which one considers the validity of authors’ assertions and perspectives.
- Sharpening and strengthening discernment by cumulatively enriching one’s intellectual and experiential context (Weltanschauung).
The Context of Stepping Stones in . . . .
- An age of ‘information overload’ or ‘data deluge’ that effectively obscures relevant and significant information (i.e. that which would be best to fully engage one’s intellect).
- Vast availability, accessibility, and affordability of the most substantial and useful information (that is, for anyone who chooses to seek it).