What is the Idea Emporium? Is it an Idea Market, Idea House, Idea Space Idea Place? Most, What is an Idea? What is a Definition of Idea? 9 Definitions.
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One of my lifelong concerns has been trying to make sense of reality. What is happening? Why is this happening?
And with that I come to ideas - ideas about reality, ideas that need to be checked against reality, not just believed in like the tooth fairy is accepted by a child. But how does one check them? What qualifies as proof, as evidence? What thinking skills does one need?
It's questions like that, that brought me to The Idea Emporium - or you could call it The Idea Space, Idea Place, Idea Market, House, Mall, Shop, Store. But I liked the image of an Idea Emporium, a large crowded space full of a whole assortment of fabulous and sometimes strange ideas.
Something else brought me to create this idea space. A question. Why, so often, is evidence of no interest to people? I've done a lot of thinking about that, because at first I had no idea how this could happen. But we have masses of evidence of how good many people are at denying evidence when it goes against what they believe. Millions have denied, and continue to deny, the equality of women and men, of Jews and nonJews, of atheists and Muslims, gays and heterosexuals. People are incredible experts at denying reality - what is seen, experienced. Of course we need to interpret reality - we do not know it "pure" but through our limited senses, our limited memory, our limited ability to perceive and make sense of the amazing array of information that does gets perceived.
Still, it boggles the even slightly rational mind - how can so many people be so utterly blind to, let's say, findings about nutrition? It amazed me to find out, when I was growing up, that there was evidence for the health benefits of whole grains over refined products - because masses of people stuck with white flour, white rice, white sugar. How could they be so closed to evidence? Somehow they had a wall against the evidence.
The ideas I want to explore are those that go with, not against, the evidence, that try to make sense of evidence.
So, the Idea Emporium.
What is an idea, by the way? What is the definition of idea? I hadn't thought of that when I chose the name, The Idea Emporium. It just seemed the obviously right name.
It was months before I realized I had a hard time putting into words what I meant by idea. I began to think about the word.
Sentences with the word, idea, floated into my mind. Like,
"I have an idea. Why don't we order pizza?"
That was an eye-opener for me.
My guess is that most of us use
the word without knowing exactly what it means. "I have an idea
of what we might do. Maybe we could go out for Chinese food. But It's
just an idea" - meaning this need not come to pass, but we think
it might be fun. That is obviously not what I meant by idea.
Here I'm taking idea to mean (and I think this is what most of us think of when we think of the meaning of the word, idea) some thought one has about something.
I also think that, when I named The Idea Emporium, I was blurring words together in my mind - idea, concept, conception, understanding, hypothesis.
The Idea Emporium - a place for all these things.
This is not the same as people
having "an idee fixe" - meaning, a fixed idea, a rigid belief that something is one way or another.
That is not The Idea Emporium.
The Idea Emporium -
That doesn't mean the idea need to be timidly set forth, all hemming and hawing, tentative even when the evidence is strong.
The Idea Emporium –
The Idea Emporium. Smart opinions - meaning, drawing on every resource possible, rather than "it's my opinion, that's why I believe it, and it's as good as yours any day. Who are you to say blacks can do math, women can learn to read, Jews deserve to live. I have every right to my opinion."
Personally, I'd rather do my best to think well, but many others are clearly proud of their avowed right to be thoughtless.
That's not The Idea Emporium.
The Idea Emporium. Critical thought - that means we do our best to think well, to apply logic, information, all our capacities.
The Idea Emporium. Good analysis. Again, that means we try to ensure that we use valid arguments - not, "because it's my opinion," "because I say so" "because I know that's right" "because my god says so" "because everyone knows that's right" . We both draw conclusions from evidence (so there may be evidence showing patterns and tendencies in certain groups (for instance, I've done lots of research on the impact of rights movements on those who get involved, and have found lots of evidence for patterns of response) - and at the same time we are careful not to generalize, to draw conclusions beyond what we have evidence for, and even contradicting the evidence ("Women are ..." "Muslims believe ..." "everyone this happens to ..." "Jews are..." "Gays are ..."
The Idea Emporium. Perception. Not easy to perceive. We each do it through a filter of experience, memory, assumptions, and so on. We have all learned not to perceive many things - denial - and to magnify other things. The goal at The Idea Emporium (and this should be the goal everywhere) is to be as perceptive - taking in as much information - as possible.
The Idea Emporium. I could go on and on. But this is enough for a start. More important now to put it into action - because it's ideas came first, surging inside me, wanting to find a place to be heard.
I'm (among other things) a college teacher, so my teaching gives me one outlet for my ideas, to express them, modify them, listen to other ideas, test the evidence, the power (or lack thereof) of different arguments.
But that hasn't been enough for me. One small class at a time.
I have a sense that I have some ideas that could be valuable to many people - ideas many people don't have (many have very different ideas), ideas where my ideas may help other people struggling with some of the same concerns, and so on. I think these ideas could help make some kind of positive difference in the world, reach people who are reachable, maybe even break through some shells many people live inside, shells that stop them from perceiving things.
There will be space for the ideas of others as well. Right now I am starting with a few ideas of mine. But I envisage that The Idea Emporium is a place that will grow, enriching both others and also myself - that I and my ideas will grow from some of what comes back.
What is the Idea Emporium?