Ursine Epistemology

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvement stuff.

I know that surprises people – us bears are supposed to be happy with who we are and not too interested in losing weight, being smarter, and all that. Maybe it’s having the phone that changed my mind about it.

There’s lots of apps to make you a better you, whoever you are.

And now that I have what I need to take a selfie, there’s a lot of improvement ideas that just come to mind every time I look at one.

Having better hair would be the first thing I’d work on, but the hair care websites I see don’t say much about matting and dealing with pear-sized ticks. There is some useful advice, though. So next time I break into a camper there’s a list of shampoos I’m looking for.

He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods
He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods

And by the way – I’m unclothed in all my selfies, just like a celebrity. It’s not that big a deal – so hack away, hackers. You won’t have to try too hard to get a shot of me naked.

So far, I think my best chance for self-improvement is in the brain department. I like this article about the mental virtues. It’s talks about a way to size up your character, taken from a book, called “Intellectual Virtues.”

The virtues are:

  • Love of Learning
  • Courage
  • Firmness
  • Humility
  • Autonomy
  • Generosity
  • Practical Wisdom

I have no idea what this book is about.

The title says it’s “An Essay in Regulative Epistemology“. At first I thought this had to do with your timetable for emptying yourself in the woods, which, if you’ve ever heard the popular question about bears, is definitely the place where we do it, so always answer ‘yes’. I like questions where I know the answer from my real-life experience, and that’s definitely one of them.

But I think this “epistemology” stuff is really about all the different ways of knowing things, and it’s full of tricky questions like:

  • What is knowledge and what are its limits?
  • Can we know anything?
  • How do we know what we know?
  • Can we know something without knowing that we know it?

I don’t have any of these answers, and so I thought maybe getting this book would give me something distracting to do while I lie low during the bear hunting season and maybe all the way through hibernation too. But then I saw that on Amazon, it costs $99.36. So I figured one way to apply that section called “Practical Wisdom” without even reading it was to skip buying the book all together.

Anyway, Amazon doesn’t have a very good track record of shipping stuff to “Hollow Beneath A Log, The North Woods, Minnesota, MN”, which is the best address I can come up with. Maybe once they start delivering stuff with drones it will work better, I don’t know.

I’d still like to improve my mind, though. And have cleaner, silkier hair.

Your pal,

What do you do to improve your mind?

81 thoughts on “Ursine Epistemology”

  1. Read People Magazine and watch Lifetime movies. While true enough, l also read Eckhart Tolle’s second book at least twice a year because every time l do, l feel cleansed of my pettiness and getting bogged down in unimportant everyday matters. Right now, l’m reading a book about how the embedded notion of positive thinking has done damage to a lot of people over the years (l had to read this for my therapist book club).


        1. Either way is good. If the original stands, then she fits right in on the Trail. If it was a typo, then she fits right in on the Trail!!!!

          Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m a sucker for the Great Courses, the One Day University, and TED Talks. And books, of course. I’ll admit that it’s a rather random assortment of knowledge that I acquire this way, but some of it actually comes in handy when watching Jeopardy and doing crossword puzzles. I wouldn’t really call this an effort to improve my mind, it’s more satisfying my curiosity, and enjoying discovering new ideas.

    Here’s a link to a rather lengthy (18 minutes) video that I found very interesting. Tim Minchin is an incredibly talented man. He’s got it goin’ on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. l’ve wondered for a long time what “TED” stood for and what it is?? A friend did send the links to a Renee somebody who spoke about shame and they were great! What is TED, please?????


      1. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. (copied from the internet… not my words)


        1. Ted.com. I didn’t know what it stood for either, which is slightly embarrassing to admit, since I’ve been following it for a couple of years now. I always figured it was some rich guy named Ted who started it!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning. I have just started reading Flow which is one of the books we picked out to read for Blevins Book Club. When I finish reading this book I should know more about mind improvement. I think it covers information related to this topic.

    The information at the start of Flow on how the mind works is interesting. I like books that provide me with interesting information. Am I improving my mind by picking up new information found in books? I don’t know.

    I am somewhat resistant to making changes suggested in self help books. However, if I learn new things and those are things that could help me improve my mind, maybe I will find a way to improve my mind. It is more likely I will just continue on as best I can and follow my own path without making use of any mind improvements suggested in books or other places.


  4. Morning all. Seems awful that Bart is up in the beautiful Northwoods reading self-help books. Hope he can change it up every now and then with some good fiction. In a book discussion last week, I realized that I don’t read self-help anymore; I didn’t make a conscious decision about it, but I can’t remember that last SH that’s passed through my life.

    Never thought about how I improve my brain – but I suppose if it’s not reading, then I don’t know what it is. Hopefully all the crosswords helps as well


  5. Hanging around with people smarter than me and/or knowledgable about things I do not know keeps me on my toes. So does chasing after a curious 10-year-old (I really knew I was going to have to keep on top of many things when I found myself explaining evolution and the big bang theory to her…at age four…).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed. Keeping up with the conversation of the s&h these days is brain buster enough.

      We have now achieved the level where I can best help with math homework by having him explain it to me.

      For the record, that actually is useful to him.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes. Youngest daughter used to help a friend with their math homework and she said it helped her understand it better when she had to explain it to someone else.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I enjoy puzzles and games. When I was writing on a regular basis, I’d be researching a lot of interesting subjects. Lately, I’ve just been trying to stave off stupidity.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yep, reading reading reading, though not necessarily Self-help. I find I learn as much from good fiction about how the world works as anything. And Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me for help in coping with the news; crosswords, sudoku, and (occasionally) ping pong. Hanging around with interesting people like Babooners. Singing and dancing.


  8. I have to do 40 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain my psychology license. This year I am going to Houston for a play therapy conference. That will be fun. Husband always has stacks of library books lying around the house, and I read his stuff. I also do crosswords. I think being on the Trail is a mind improver, too.

    Happy Birthday, MIG.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. l totally forgot about the 40 CEUs l also need! Perhaps that because 80% of them are so boring that l have to fight going to sleep? The only exception to this is an east coast therapist, Terry Real, who does “hands on” couples experientials over a two day period while a group of 40 therapists actually sit in a circle in rapt attention.


  9. OT. I need lots of good energy sent my way this week. One of my siblings is visiting next week and between the to-do list (To-do-plegia?)and the ambivalence about the visit itself, I’m imploding a bit!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My mental challenge is Klondike solitaire. I’ve had my current computer about ten years, and in that time I’ve played 24,300 games (the game keeps statistics if you choose to have it do so). Just playing solitaire doesn’t tax the brain, but I try to play at the highest possible level. I win 35% of the time. That is hard! Having even one little glass of wine will cause me to slip from that standard, as will playing while slightly unfocused. I really enjoy the discipline of doing that.


  11. These days, I think a wee bit more sleep would do the brain oodles of good.

    I do see a little light at the end of this long haul. Counting days.


  12. Happy birthday, MIG! I hope it’s a good one.

    The only thing I do to try to improve my mind these days is get a decent amount of sleep. Exercise is supposed to help, too, but I’m not exactly going overboard with that.

    OT – I was going to take youngest daughter to Lynden’s Soda Fountain in St. Paul for a fun outing. She’s been a bit down this summer since the school shooting/friend killed thing and I thought it would be good to have a simple enjoyable thing to do together. BUT after we planned a week to go there, they CLOSED FOR THE SEASON (yes, I’m yelling). This was before Labor Day, for pete’s sake I was really looking forward to trying an egg cream or something like that and they crushed my hopes. My question: any suggestions for some other fun thing? Don’t say Izzy’s because they turned down daughter for a summer job and we don’t feel like going there now.


      1. No kidding. Since when does the off-season last for 7 months (shortly before Labor Day until April 1st)???? And how can they make enough money to stay in business if they are closed for that long? And since when is the end of August the end of “the season”???


      1. Looking for something a little more unique – Lynden’s sounded cool cuz of the old-time things like phosphates, egg creams, and so on (which we’ve never had). Doesn’t have to be a soda fountain, just something more out of the ordinary than getting an ice cream cone somewhere.


  13. OT- thank you all dearest Baboons for your warm wishes. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to escape to the witty, generous, satirical, cleaver, caring world of the Trail with something as simple and yet complex as a few clicks of the keyboard.

    I look forward to what the coming year will bring.


  14. i have the challange of stopping the damn self stuff. people ask me how i think up all the new stuff i noodle on and i always ask how you stop. the same with new stuff. i am interested and a sponge. edx is the free course offering from mit and harvard that is incredible. i take music lessons on youtube. try to learn new stuff from the surroundings i have put myself in the middle of for the moment although i must admit i often feel like i am on a ride on my shit. ted is wonderful . it comes on my auto alert every morning as a reminder to get some new stuff. i have recently tried to find quiet time instead of always plugging in stuff to absorb sometimes its good to take a couple of extra moments and let the juices flow while the fermenting goes on its merry way.
    i remember the first time i saw wayne dyer on johnny carson talking about your erroneous zones and how to deal with all the stuff i get wrong. i still smile when i think of his coming home and telling his mother he overheard his teacher saying he was a scurvy elephant. when his mom checked with the teacher the corrected phrase was that the was a disturbing element. i have always been accused of the same thing and the learning and self improvement need to be constant ongoing and ever vigilant or i will get stuck in this spot im trying to skitter out of at the moment. i do try to enjoy the moment and i can do that very effectively for about 15 minutes then its onward and upward.

    dale the photoshop skills are coming along quite nicely. how did you wrap the text around the coffee can yesterday? i love the starry starry night treatment of the leaves in todays bart lead. you have been doing a little self improvement yourself. thanks.


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