This website is the creation of Thomas A. Burns, Ph.D.
Your adventure on the website begins with a Welcoming statement,
Followed by an introduction to the Basic Point of View of Dynamic Humanism.
Dynamic Humanism concerns maximizing human potential in all respects and promoting the development of human societies and cultures to take full advantage of this potential. If this issue is of interest to you, you are invited to enter the discussion. We are all explorers, and there are no “correct” answers. The answers we propose reflect our experiences, and how we understand these experiences is significantly influenced by the cultures that help to define how we see both one another and the reality that surrounds us. The quality of both our exploration and our proposed “answers” will reflect the degree to which we are open-minded. Fixed or absolute views are by definition non-exploratory and characterize the perspective of the bigot, the fanatic or the fool. So, if you know you own the “truth,” you qualify to join the “buddha on the road,” and this is not a site for you. If you respect the fact that the state of human knowledge and awareness is very partial and that humans therefore must be in a constant state of discovery and open to substantial changes in even their fundamental assumptions as well as their particular views, the door is wide open for you.
The materials offered on this site present a worldview, a comprehensive proposal for how human capabilities can be conceived and how cultures and points of view within them reflect different orientations to these capabilities. This set of offerings is intended as part of the ongoing dialogue on these big picture concerns of humankind, a discussion as old as the first humans to look to the sky and, utilizing their capacity for self-reflection, wonder how their existence is to be understood. If you are serious, let’s talk; but if we talk, let us talk concepts and ideas and evidence, not people and bibliographic references and disciplinary or paradigm jargon. Where names, references, and jargon prevail, discussion becomes exclusive and ideas tend to get lost.
Dynamic Humanism Basics
In Dynamic Humanism [DH], “dynamic” refers to the need for the balanced development and appropriate use of the complementary human capabilities of Intellect and Intuition – always infused at the proper level with appropriate emotions. In this framework, I see Intellect as the primary vehicle of the material, objective perspective on reality, the tool that supports reason, analytical skills, and scientific inquiry. Intellect and the scientific and technological consequences of its use are of critical importance for achieving physical and material well-being at both the individual and social levels, and it is the mode emphasized in modern Western culture, including American culture. By contrast, I see Intuition as the primary tool of the spiritual, subjective perspective on reality, which supports holistic, synthetic skills and expansive awareness. Intuition and the psychic, communal, artistic, creative, and spiritual consequences of its use are of critical importance for human personal, social and cultural development and well-being. Intuition is the mode given a pervasive position in many native cultures and the mode allowed a lead role in complex societies where religion is the key institution defining both the spiritual and approved human relations and behavior.
While I regard Intellect and Intuition as complementary human mental faculties, they rarely operate in isolation. Instead, nearly all of the time they are simultaneously engaged and, depending on circumstances, infused to varying degrees with different emotions. To be addressed most effectively, different human tasks require the combination of Intellectual and Intuitive inputs in different proportions and in relation to appropriate emotions. Cultures that encourage high level development in both Intellect and Intuition in their members as well as the sophisticated and appropriate use of the two in the whole range of possible combinations qualify in my view as the most “advanced.” Individuals and cultures are limited to the extent that they fail to balance and recognize the importance of both Intellect and Intuition and the social institutions that derive from them to serve the variety of human needs and desires.
Individualistic and communal values emanate from intellectual and intuitive mental capabilities respectively and correspond to material and spiritual perspectives respectively. We can array the institutions of all cultures on the continuum between these poles of essential dynamic influence, and we can assess the overall degree of development and balance for each society and its worldview. In the view of Dynamic Humanism, all individuals are most productive and “happy” when they are balanced and sophisticated in the use of both intellectual and intuitive capabilities and living in societies whose institutions are informed by balance between the individualistic and communal values and material/objective and spiritual/subjective perspectives.
In this dynamic situation, there are many ways for individuals and cultures to be or become imbalanced. Cultures can carry the Intuitive to extremes and without the brakes being applied by the Intellect end up spinning their wheels and devoting much of their time, energy and resources to worshipping and attempting to placate all kinds of supernatural agents [ancestors, gods, spirits, messiahs, saints, etc.]. On the other hand, cultures can carry the Intellect to extremes and without the countervailing force of Intuition justify self-aggrandizing and aggressive activities among their citizens and across groups that can threaten and even destroy social integrity at all levels.
At root, Dynamic Humanism is all about BALANCE, and high level development individually and socially within balance. Ultimately the goal through balance and sophisticated development is to encourage individuals and the societies and cultures of humankind to be creative, exploratory, responsible, respectful and flexible so as to allow our species to take full advantage of its window of opportunity.
Religion per se is little mentioned in the outline above of the Dynamic Humanism basics, and I need to comment on this issue at the outset. I make a fundamental distinction between spirituality and religion. In Dynamic Humanism, the Intuitive is the mental faculty in humans that accesses the Spiritual or subjective perspective. Religion is the social institution that circumscribes and interprets the experience of the Spiritual. In this view, the Spiritual is primary; religion is secondary. The core Spiritual experience of unification – referred to as being Born Again in Christian fundamentalism – is universal, and it is the foundation experience at the core of all religions. But there are many different social interpretations of the Spiritual and of this primary unification experience, each with its own belief and ritual system [different religions]. And it is very easy for the differences among these religions to become the basis for devastating human conflicts when the dogma and ritual of one interpretation of the Spiritual is held to contain the exclusive and absolute truth and when all other “interpretations” are regarded as heresy/paganism/beliefs of the infidels. As humankind seeks balance and sophistication in both its individuals and societies, religion is one of the major places where it can find itself traveling down a very limiting and dangerous path. All religions contain an essential truth – unification, but commitment to a particular religion is not necessary for either individuals or societies to engage and develop within this truth. Indeed, it is my view that such a commitment, as seemingly important as its results may be for its subscribers, invites misunderstanding and conflict across different religious groups.
For an alternative short presentation of the Dynamic Humanism perspective select: Dynamic Humanism in a Nutshell