Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Ideas Make The Man

Jessup Cellars, Yountville, California, USA

April 26, 2016



"Manners maketh man." ... William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, Chancellor of England, circa 1376

"Ideas make the man ..." ... Laurence Platt, Conversations For Transformation, circa 2016

"... and thereby hangs a tale." ... William Shakespeare, The Taming Of The Shrew, As You Like It, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Othello, circa 1626




It's neither simple nor easy to articulate what makes us uniquely human. I mean, what is it exactly which defines our essential humanity? We could create lists of many characteristics which narrow this definition down to its essentials. And having done that, we may find a characteristic which, setting all others aside, could be one which makes us uniquely human. What if it's we have ideas?  - which is to say what if it's humans have a capacity  to have ideas? Even if that is not the  characteristic which makes us uniquely human, then it is at least an important catalyst for a brainstorm  which comes up with the definition of our uniqueness and our essential humanity.

It's also been counter-asserted that the capacity to have ideas is not  a uniquely human characteristic. It's been suggested for example that dogs might have ideas too. And there is really no telling if dogs do have ideas or if they don't, is there? It's certainly possible, yes? Even if that is so ie even if dogs do have ideas (given we really don't know if dogs do or if they don't), what's patently true is dogs can't or don't communicate their ideas easily and prolifically with human beings through language.

So it seems as if there are two characteristics in tandem  which make us uniquely human: human beings both have  ideas, and  we have the capacity to communicate them with other human beings through language. This genesis  is clear. It's Life itself  → ideas  → who you are  → speaking  → listeningwho I am  → ideas  → speaking  → listeningwho you are  → ideas  → Life itself  etc. Ideas are the results of truly thinking for yourself. And thereby hangs a tale ... or at least an essay.

When it comes to pure, simple, knock-you-on-your-ass elegance, there is literally nothing  in the elegance league quite as elegant as an elegant idea. Nothing else will come even remotely close. You'll find elegance (but not this  kind of elegance) in clothes and fashion ie in haute couture. You'll also find elegance (but not this kind of elegance) in architecture. You'll also find elegance (but not this kind of elegance) in interior design and in interiors. Yet there's literally nothing in the same league as an elegant idea. Perhaps the only thing more elegant than an elegant idea, is an elegantly communicated  idea. Elegant ideas are in their own league. Our capacity to have and to communicate ideas distinguishes us as human beings. It's also our ability to appreciate the elegance of ideas which is an essential component of our humanity.

Even prior to our ability to appreciate the elegance of ideas, we were shaped  by ideas - by our own ideas, by listening others' ideas. It's a woman's ideas which define her. It's a man's ideas which define him. Ideas make the woman. Ideas make the man. Our ideas also shape those listening our spoken ideas. There is no leverage we have with people (for worse or for better) more effective and more powerful than the leverage spoken and listened ideas have. If language is the scalpel of experience, then ideas are the source material for all those people of good will everywhere whose very utterances and conversations heal and transform our world, our planet, and our universe. Anyone who's had conversations which altered who they are (and haven't we all? at one time or another?) can attest to the power of ideas to transform.

This is the genre  on which the work of transformation stands. It's the foundation I discover under my feet when I realize what I'm mostly enamored with is ideas, and with whatever human capacity it takes to come up with great ideas, also with whatever it takes for us to communicate them tersely. I'm interested in the impacts ideas have too. But given the elegance of an idea as the thing in itself, that's actually only a secondary matter. And what I find so enthralling about the entire process is that coming up with great ideas isn't something that can be taught, yes? It can  however be inspired. But you have to be open  to being inspired. And the willingness to be open to being inspired by another human being or by other human beings, is a quality courageous human beings show, which I love and respect the most - bar none.



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