“The great men of culture are those who have had a passion for diffusing, for making prevail, for carrying from one end of society to the other, the best knowledge, the best ideas of their time; who have labored to divest knowledge of all that was harsh, uncouth, difficult, abstract, professional, exclusive; to humanize it, to make it efficient outside the clique of the cultivated and learned, yet still remain the best knowledge and thought of the time, and a true source, therefore, of sweetness and light.” – Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy

In the last 8 posts I suggested a classification system for societal roles and reasonable decision and success factors the reader may wish to consider in proceeding. Table 6 in the appendix provides a modeling of the decision process based on the earlier discussion. Below is a sample calculus and its explanation which I did for myself.

Age 63
Health Excellent
Aptitudes Science, Math, Reading, Philosophy, Medicine
Tolerance Medium to low Candid assessment
Location u.s.
Political Environent Free, Progressive Few limitations
Historicity 21st century
Human Destiny Galactic Human Colonization Optimistic preference
Size Large Hope for larger impact
Likelihood High to medium
Measurability Medium Can accept
Multiple Low Limited by age.
Desirability ? Timeliness
Proportion High Team role less desirable
TABLE 6.  Social Purpose Decision Chart

The first item to resolve is the ordering of the three main categories – individual, external, and intrinsic. Since I have already completed a career as a physician and am in late middle age, individual factors are the most important. This may be less true for a young person. Since I reside in the open society of the United States, external factors are least relevant making intrinsic factors intermediate.

My age forces me to work quickly making the prospect of obtaining a Ph.D. in philosophy and finding a job as a professor less judicious. In addition my relatively low tolerance of obstacles and the interference of others and my preference to work alone make the choice for independent study and writing the more desirable course for me. At this point in life, having already completed one career with medium impact, I am looking for something larger, preferably which can outlast my lifetime. Given these considerations, I am willing to accept a lower likelihood of success and of measurability.  Desirability is the most difficult consideration. Philosophy, even if limited to the study of ethics, appears to be out of favor. However, like the Stoics, I have little concern for fame or popular opinion, as long as the potential for some contemporary success and future interest exists.

The net result of this factoring process is that I chose to create a philosophy website and work on a book for possible future publication. Should this fail, I am learning key skills that I can use for a later purposeful function – perhaps a website to explain and update medical literature for lay readers.

Hopefully this demonstrates the use of Table 6, but as always, readers are encouraged to pose questions on this site for further clarification.

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