Sunday, June 21, 2020
My beloved wife, Tina Su Cooper, has been home for a month or so after two operations, one of them uncovering what would have been a lethal infection if it had continued undetected. She then had four weeks of intravenous antibiotics that saved her life, thanks to the skilled nursing care she gets at home, paid for through my IBM retirement benefits.
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Socrates enjoined us, “Know thyself.” He helped his followers achieve greater understanding by using what we call, “the Socratic method,” questions designed to reveal fundamental truths. We are more likely to retain and benefit from insights we have reached that way than those spoon-fed to us.
This excellent new book by David Edelstein and I. C. Robledo, entitled Question Yourself: 365 Questions to Explore Yourself & Reveal Your True Nature, brings the Socratic method to the modern audience in paperback or Kindle ebook format, at bargain prices at amazon.com. I bought the Kindle version, which is well done, and I might want to get the paperback, too, because of its useful format.
With “365 Questions” and 365 days in the year (except leap years, like 2020, giving us an extra day to take a break from soul-searching), it is natural to set out to answer one question per day, and most convenient to write one’s answer in the space provided under the question in the paperback version.
There are 11 topics, although that fact is not revealed until the end of the book: Identity, Relating to Others, Love, Action, Ethics, Spirituality, Feelings, Knowledge and Learning, Money, Truth, and Time. For example, there are 14 questions relating to Truth (an issue I find very important) and 35 relating to Money (not a big interest of mine). Other topics having particularly many questions include Identity, Relating to Others, and Ethics. Page by page, the questions are not segregated by topic, so one encounters a variety of topics day by day, although one can find all the numbered questions listed by topic at the book’s end.
To give the flavor of the book, I start with question #1, “Are you ultimately defined by your strengths or by your weaknesses?” Hmm. My youth was defined by success in school (and not in sports) and my career (environmental science research and teaching) defined by scientific and writing aptitude. It would have helped to have been handsome. Now, my physical weaknesses/limitations are more influential. “Define” seems to come from the same linguistic roots as “finite” and “final” and relates to endings and boundaries.
How about the next question, “What was a great mistake you made which ended up having a positive outcome.” Easy: married the wrong woman the first time and married the right one after that first marriage failed.
Here’s #350, “How does almost dying change things?” I’d say: you understand not to sweat the small stuff…and most of the stuff is small!
You get the idea…and pondering the questions will generate more ideas.
Besides the questions, the authors offer links to additional helpful tools, and they welcome correspondence from their readers. I.C. Robledo lists and links to over a dozen of his books from which to obtain further guidance and insight. David Edelstein and Robledo both welcome your email.
To learn a bit more, I went to amazon.com and searched for Issac Robledo’s works and found the following, a treasure trove in both English and Spanish:
The book is a bargain in either paperback or ebook format. Not to be missed.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.
Formerly, Associate Professor of Environmental Physics
Harvard (now Chan) School of Public Health