Fundamental Facts and Processes
The importance of fundamentals
The degree of validity of the fundamental premises of any system of thought and action is crucial in determining whether or not anyone using (or being used by) that system will be effective in obtaining the desired and intended results of those actions which are guided by such a system.
False fundamentals will point us in the wrong directions
In the 19th century the primary premise of the cause of disease was the miasma theory. This belief (taken as a fact during that period) held that most, if not all, disease was caused by inhaling air that was infected through exposure to corrupting matter. Today, we can see that this idea might account for a minority of some infectious diseases. Yet this fundamental idea was taken as fact by the vast majority of physicians and intellectuals of that era. Consequently, it took the renegade John Snow to test and demonstrate that the epidemics of cholera in London during that century were not caused by "night air" (as miasma was called), but by polluted water. Even with his rigorous demonstration of this fact, the acceptance of his discovery and the death of the miasma theory did not occur until well after his death (in 1858) and even persisted into the beginnings of the 20th century.
Establish clearly your fundamentals and make sure they are really facts
Most of us are either not aware of or do not posit the fundamental ideas that constitute the system of thought and action (often called ethics) that we live our life by (whether developed consciously or by default). Therefore, we often end up being guided by a set of dysfunctional interlocking ideas, resulting in much unnecessary suffering, conflicts within ourselves as well as conflicts with others. Being clear about our fundamentals and their validity is essential for living a life that we love.
Below are some fundamentals that I base all my thinking on.
I say these are fundamentals are facts and generally factual principles. In cases where there might be definitional ambiguity, I provide a definition (as in the case of the word "happiness"). Also, I also indicate an contextual exceptions that may exist for a fact or a principle.
1) All human behavior is positive in intention, either by moving towards happiness/pleasure/eudaimonia or away from unhappiness/pain/suffering.
The extent to which the results match the intentions is another issue. And whether the intention is focused on long-term or short-term or both can vary. Often we cannot see the positive intention or benefit of many behaviors, being acutely aware of the costs. For example, when couples shout at each other, you may wonder what benefits they intend or get. Yet, if you look closely, they are each attempting to feel power by expressing their righteousness, trying to defend or protect themselves. Shouting can also provide a sense of immediate release. Bottom line: all "negative" behaviors are positive behaviors in disguise. They can be positive because they are trying to move away from pain or suffering of one form or another. They can be positive short-term, even though costly long-term. They can be positive selfishly but negative altruistically. They can be positive altruistically but negative selfishly. Or best, they can be all positive long-term and short-term, both selfishly and altruistically, without any associated costs.
When interested in effecting a change, either in ourselves or others, we're more likely to succeed if we can both a) uncover/create more benefits, short-term and long-term, toward the desired new behavior and b) identify and remove/modify the benefits, short-term and long-term, that exist for the current unwanted behavior. For example, consider the behavior of feeling guilty. The #1 benefit we get from feeling guilty (which usually goes unnoticed) is that it helps us to feel safer from the actual/possible blame and/or withdrawal of approval from others. Without conscious awareness we're essentially addressing others (at least in our mind), "Look, I'm already feeling bad about this. Please don't blame me so much." Therefore, the solution I use (with myself, if needed, and with others) to dissolve this guilt is to use the undoing fear process as in, "Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I'm so scared that others (or some specific person or people) are blaming me for..." or it could be, "Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I'm so scared others are disappointed in me for..."
Getting smart about ethics (video) (April 20, 2017 for 1:18)
Happy as 1800? The New Ethics (video) (April 30, 2021 for 1:05)
Interviewed by Clint Lee (January 17, 2020 for 33:33)
Is a science of ethics possible (video) (April 20, 2017 for 1:39)
Unfighting with reality: Byron Katie (May 18, 2017 for 5:59)