Friday, 5 February 2010

Why only six pillars?

No doubt, the happiness of humanity cannot depend only on six pillars. However, at the dawn of a new millennium, we selected only those that strike us as the most important means to promote human happiness. By focusing on the means rather than the ends, we left out some important values like peace, friendship, family bonds and a healthy body and soul, as these are simultaneously means and ends in the pursuit of joy by humankind.

The most controversial pillar that we have left out is religion. Because of its crucial role to secure compliance with moral values and to help us face death, it should have a prominent role. Yet, since religion is at variance with the scientific method and it is often used to fuel hate and extremism we cannot consider religion as an unequivocal pillar of human betterment.

We see the six pillars as sustaining an equal number of columns in the gate of human progress. We looked for such beautiful gates with an historical significance but all we could find to illustrate our approach were the stone archway at Yuling, in China, and Hadrian’s Gate in the Ancient City of Ephesus in Turkey. Neither is particularly well suited to show the many sides supported by each pillar (so, if you are keen on art and may help us find a more beautiful gate we will be obliged). We are looking to add to each column the many ratings appropriate to monitor the multi-faced nature of the columns supported by each pillar.

Each pillar will be the subject of future posts. For now we close this post with a simply note on their role. The first two – representative democracy and constitutional liberalism are essential to understand how to manage power for the benefit of all. The next pair – market capitalism and productive work – is the key to a prosperous economy. The last two – scientific method and enlightened virtues provide the foundation for a gratifying life that goes beyond the satisfaction of our material needs.

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