Human personal learning – a lost cause?

This text is about the importance of real learning and personal growth, and how a significant number of people prioritise social and academic learning and material success instead. The author, a humanist, finds humour in the fact that even AI recognises the lack of emphasis on personal learning. The article includes quotes from the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes.

So- I’ve fed Moshé Feldenkrais’s speech “Real learning is having choices” to one of the many document eating Artificial Intelligence websites so I could ask questions about the text.

Alfons: What is this speech about?

Document AI: This document is about the importance of real learning, which involves having choices and becoming an expert in different ways to achieve what you want. It emphasizes that this type of learning allows individuals to have control over their lives and make it the way they want it. The document also suggests that academic or social learning is important for fitting into society, but not necessarily for personal growth. Finally, it argues that humans have the ability to make more complex choices and adapt to their environment.

Alfons: What are the most impressive quotes I can use in my business to attract new customers?

Document AI: I’m sorry, but the section you provided does not contain any quotes that would be suitable for a business to attract new customers. The section is discussing the abilities of animals and the limitations of human learning.

This actually made me laugh out loud. I mean, for me it’s interesting. [a] Academic learning, [b] social learning, and [c] personal learning. What a nice categorisation. But I’m a humanist, who is shy of the rat race—as opposed to most adults around me: they pump iron in the gym, they eat meat and dairy products (to grow stronger), they undergo artificial genetic modification (to do the right thing) and are happy to do whatever it takes to stay socially afloat. And while they appreciate humanistic attributes, in their actions they value money and success more. What kind of car, motorbike and apartment can you afford? Where do you go for your holidays? What wrist-watch are you wearing? Who is inviting you to which event? Which schools are your children attending? Which charities are you supporting? What birthday present could you afford for your spouse? “OMG the therapists of my children and my personal trainer are SO expensive—but absolutely worth it!” Even the machines know that humanism and personal learning is a lost cause for the general public.

But of course, ChatGPT would not write in that style. ChatGPT always comes along with an uplifting tone and shines a positive light on different perspectives. ChatGPT is trained to be informative, positive and helpful. It’s just me, the human, who is un-moderated and un-regulated and thus able to struggle against himself in a comico-cynical sentiment.

Alfons: ChatGPT, please explain the phrase “a lost cause”

ChatGPT: The phrase “a lost cause” typically refers to a situation or endeavor that is considered hopeless or futile, where success or a positive outcome is highly unlikely or impossible to achieve. It suggests that any effort, resources, or time invested in pursuing that cause would be wasted or ineffective. [..] It implies that the objective or goal is beyond reach due to insurmountable obstacles, lack of support, or inherent flaws in the situation.

As far as I can see they won’t stop running in their hamster wheels any time soon. And actually, I do depend on them and their success. Therefore- I’m happy to support, alleviate discomfort and help as good as I can. Meanwhile, while business is slow (which the philosopher in me appreciates), I will finish typing this blog post, sort my vocabulary spreadsheet, read a bit of Hermann Hesse, playfully prod ChatGPT with questions about humanism, and then… since it’s a fine day with gentle sunshine and a light breeze of surprisingly clean air… I’ll walk over to the pond to gaze over the prisoner fish standing in their stale water.

Alfons: ChatGPT, please give me some quotes by Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher

ChatGPT: Certainly! Here are a few notable quotes attributed to Diogenes:

  1. “I am looking for an honest man.” This statement by Diogenes is often interpreted as a critique of the prevailing dishonesty and hypocrisy he observed in society.
  2. When asked why he was taking a drink of water with his hands instead of using a cup, Diogenes replied, “I save the cup for the thirstier man.” [..]
  3. “Happiness is a good flow of life.” Diogenes emphasized the importance of finding contentment and happiness in the present moment. [..]