Believing things to be true because one wishes them to be true is a prime malady of the human condition. It is an opposite of objectivity, reflecting a shortfall of intellectual honesty. It has led to wars, famines and other guarantors of human suffering.
Meditation for Sunday of Week 25 in the season of Ripening
The third stage of development is not easily defined. The second draws the distinction from the mere capacity to perform at some level, into the capacity to perform with at least passing skill and competence. The fourth stage represents a level of excellence attained by only a few, which we might call being exceptional or transcendent. The middle ground between the second and fourth stages could be called proficiency or excellence. By standard normative definitions, this group represents the top five percent in level of attainment, whereas the second level represents the ninety percent above the bottom and below the top five percent.
This may be an acceptable definition for skills in relation to the material world, such as the ability to solve mathematical problems. However, that is not quite what this model is about. The values in the respective domains at this level of development are involvement, scientific method and initiative. Those are qualities of personal attainment, not qualities of technical skill. I am reluctant to employ standard normative analysis to a model for personal development and spirituality, which are not competitive endeavors. We do not know what might be possible in a society in which children were routinely trained in a model based on universal worth and dignity, and the social norms supported the verbal lessons. Theoretically, and for all we know, nearly everyone may be capable of becoming a spiritual master. The best definition I can give of the distinction represented by this level is that the individual has attained a high level of accomplishment but not the level of transcendence that is attained by only a few. Perhaps you readers can help me refine this definition.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- K. Anders Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich and Robert R. Hoffman, eds., The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
- Kiese Laymon, Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribner, 2018): “When Excellence Is a Survival Strategy”
- Maria Konnikova, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win (Penguin Press, 2020: “How a Writer With a Ph.D in Psychology Became a Poker Champ”
Film and Stage
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Nicolò Paganini was among the greatest violinists of any age. His six violin concerti demand a high level of technical proficiency, and also reflect excellence of musical composition.
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in D major, Op. 6
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7, “La Campanella”
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 in E major, M.S. 50
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 4 in D minor, M.S. 60
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 5 in A minor, M.S. 78
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 6 in E minor, M.S. 75, Op. Posth.
- Hahn, Piano Concerto in E Major (1931): a showpiece for a highly skilled pianist.
- In his Piano Sonata No. 30 in A major, Op. 109 (1820), Beethoven employed all the genius and skills of his mature years to a composition dedicated to a musically gifted young girl.
- Beriot, 12 Scénes on Caprices pour le violin, Op. 109
- Anthony Braxton, “For Alto”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Steve Howe’s Remedy (2004), Part 16