My New Intellectual Long March

Many thanks to Xiaolei and Peter! You inspired me to consciously and aggressively take on a New Intellectual Long March. This is not going to be easy. There will be high casualty: I will have to de-construct some of my existing structure and re-educate myself. Many "obvious truth" shall be re-evaluated before being accepted again. But it will be a lot of fun. It will be exciting.

I am now wondering how much of my existing view points are really valid, even by my current judgment. Why am I defensive about certain issues? Where does that view come from? How has my upbringing formed my world view? Should I accept my own "default setting" as the universal truth? Have I really thought about it thoroughly and "internalize" it?

So why have I been turning a blind eye to certain issues? In the end, I am never in lack of reflection. I think it is a matter of "relevance" in different times. At different stages of our intellectual development, we are consumed with different things.

My problem was that there were so many other things to sort out in life that I simply do not have the intellectual CPU to process some very fundamental assumptions. Now I am settled and have been exposed to enough questions and realities, so I can come back and examine those fundamentals. This is probably where I am going to get the worth of a Hampshire education.

Now here I am, ready and pumped, standing at an important crossroad on my way to truth. One year ago, I wouldn't be prepared enough to take on this Long March. So, what happened today proved (once again) that nothing happens randomly. There's a reason for everything incident in life.

This Long March is certainly not the final one. I have to break through a bottle neck. Now I am equipped with the WMD of Logic, so I am more confident in this new conquer.

At the same time, I should not be overly concerned with the superstructure. I still need to keep my finger on the pulse of the real world. The real world is my best laboratory. Here's an analogy: the "superstructure" determines the direction I am going, and the "economic base" is the power of my motor. Without a powerful motor, I can't get anywhere, no matter how correct my direction is. But without a right direction, a powerful motor might be counter-productive, leading me to the wrong destiny. Many thanks to Karl who came up with these useful phrases.

So what is exactly my New Long March? I have been always critical to other people's views, and to some of my own views as well. Now I need to do two things: be even more critical, and be critical to ALL of me. It is not easy to face oneself truthfully. But no matter how painful it's going to be, I am going to do it. Self-reflection is where we are going to learn most. As my friends pointed out, I come here not to strengthen my existing views, but to challenge it. My existing knowledge is not necessarily wrong. I just need to take a step back and check it again.

So what I should do next? I don't know yet, otherwise it would not be as fun. But here's something that I will do for sure, as suggested by my wonderful peers: do readings, do good readings, do good readings well, and do a lot of good readings well. The greatest minds of human history, they won't disappoint their readers, even though they always confuses the readers at the beginning.

When I do these readings, I should be attentive to their logic. See how THEY understand the world, how THEY proceed with their logic. Does it make sense to me? What is their arguments based on? What's the life experience of the author? Answering these questions will give me a taste of critical thinking, for real.

Actually, this New Long March is not really new. For years, I have been trying to understand how the world works. I've been working on my critical thinking. Today is more of a revival of this passion. The great discussion with my friends reminded me why I am here and what I originally set out to accomplish. The discussion also reminded me that I still have blind spots in my critical thinking, a lot of them. I need to be more critical, especailly to existing knowledge. Look at them again!

At the same time of criticizing the system, I still need to advance inside the system. In the end, the best way to understand (and then change) a system is from inside! No matter how corrupted the system is, I need to get into it to have a better look at it. Only when I am inside the system can I make effective change. Changes from outside always come with blood and misery.

So now it is pretty clear what I should do: be more careful with my existing views (maybe they are just prejudices), take a closer look at them, use them to strengthen my critical thinking, and go on with life!


十七五 摘要



  • 发展:经济结构战略性调整,转变经济发展方式,(传统的经济发展方式是当前制约中国进一步发展的主要瓶颈,加快转变经济发展方式是中国经济社会领域的一场深刻变革)
  • 坚持改革:大力推进经济体制改革,积极稳妥推进政治体制改革,加快推进文化体制、社会体制改革,(社会体制改革---使上层建筑更加适应经济基础的发展变化,为科学发展提供有力保障)
  • “包容性增长”:以人为本,全面协调可持续,统筹兼顾,保障和改善民生,社会公平正义,加强社会建设、建立健全基本公共服务体系,促进就业和构建和谐劳动关系,合理调整收入分配关系,努力提高居民收入在国民收入分配中的比重、劳动报酬在初次分配中的比重,健全覆盖城乡居民的社会保障体系
  • 科技进步和创新,
  • 建设资源节约型、环境友好型社会,
  • 加强现代能源产业和综合运输体系建设
  • 加快教育改革发展,建设人才强国
  • 推动文化大发展大繁荣、提升国家文化软实力

  • 人均资源拥有量少
  • 经济社会发展的资源环境承载能力较低
  • 经济增长过多依靠物质资源消耗的模式使生产资料的供给与需求矛盾日趋尖锐
  • 生态环境日趋脆弱
  • 未来经济发展面临的资源环境约束日趋强化
  • 投资和消费、内需和外需的关系不协调
  • 城乡区域发展不平衡
  • 收入分配差距较大
  • 各类社会矛盾增多
  • 科技 创新能力不强,许多核心和关键技术仍然依赖进口等问题。


Limitation of Our Logic

Here I want to explain why I think our logic is based on empirical observation, and therefore, our brain is not equipped to understand concepts that do not exist in this world, like "nothingness" or "infinity".

Humans are the result of a evolution in this very unique world. Our way of thinking comes with the physical environment around us. For example, "(P or Not P) is a tautology" is taken for granted because in our universe, black can not be white, and white can not be black. Our logical thinking is based on such crude observation.

But the Wave-Particle Duality challenges our fundamental assumption. A thing can be both wave and particle. So is "(P or Not P) is a tautology" still true? Or another example: scientist found that certain particles behave differently depending on whether or not there's people around. Another example: in our comprehension, there is always an end to a physical space, and beyond that end, there's something else bigger. Outside my house is the earth; outside the earth is galaxy. So what is outside the universe? Is there an end to our universe? If there is an end, then what is on the other side of that end?

These problems require us to rethink our fundamental assumptions. Our existing assumptions are made in a world of Newton physics. Our logic is then built on those assumptions. This logic is very powerful in dealing with questions in our layer of existence. But new scientific discoveries has revealed that when we go into other layers of existence (like quantum physics or astronomy), our old assumptions do not hold anymore.

This leads to my point: our logic belongs to our universe. With such logic, we can not imagine or understand things beyond our universe. We can not understand infinity or nothingness because they are not apart of our layer of existence.

"But", someone says, "of course we understand infinity. When I say the word 'infinity', you know what I am talking about, right?" Yes. I've heard the word "infinity". But that's far from understanding what infinity is. I tried hard, but there is no way that I can imagine infinity, or find a convincing explanation. Our definition of infinity is a compromise. We accept this compromise because it seems to be working pretty well in solving many problems, like in calculus. But this does not mean that we've really got it right.

I am fully aware that I am new to the field of logic and philosophy; I am not the first to ask certain questions; answers to my questions might have existed for thousands of years. I love to learn about my ignorance. Please let me know if there's a book that I should read, or some great minds that I should pay attention to. I'd love to hear your view points!


Reflections on the Rock

Coming back from rock climbing. Three days without shower is not that bad. OPRA teaches me a lot about life.

Rock climbing is a very meditative sport. With your fingers connected to rocks that are millions of years old, you will realize a lot.

Rock climbing is very mentally challenging. It is a test of how strong your will power is.

In many situations, you see no hope at all. You want to give up. But once you push you legs and stand up on your feet, a whole new world opens up in front of you. Even if it is just several inches higher, you will see so many new opportunities.

Sometimes, I feel exhausted up in the air, hanging in my harness. Then I realize that I am actually not physically exhausted, but mentally. I am running low on confidence, not strength. Mental strength is just like physical one. It needs practice; it needs rest. Sometimes, you really need several minutes of break, taking deep breathes, and refresh your mental homepage. The good thing about mental strength is that you can refresh it any time, much faster than a physical recovery.

There are others things that I am thinking about when I am on the rocks.

I realized how lucky I am. I have the time, money and freedom to go rock climbing. We have world class instructors and the best peers to climb together, debate together, laugh together, cook pasta together. This is indeed very lucky and luxurious.

I was thinking about the power and limitation of human will. Human Wills determine everything. All great success are driven by unparalleled wills. There's not much difference in IQ. The difference lies in how strong our will power is. At the same time, we have to respect the Law of Nature. There are limits to what our wills can achieve. Our will power has to match our physical ability. Otherwise, a too strong will can burn the physical body that is hosting that will. "Having a strong will" is called courage, but "knowing the limit of our wills" is called wisdom.

This is true for a nation. The ambition of a nation must be built on its economic, military and cultural foundation. Don't overstretch, don't underestimate.

I am also thinking about this year's Nobel Peace Prize. I think we should cancel the "Nobel Peace Prize". It is creating more trouble than it solves. Nobel Prizes in sciences are easy to accept by the whole world. Science is a sure (or less controversial) thing. But "Peace" is value judgment. Behind each definition of "peace", there is an agenda and an ideology. The Nobel Peace Prize is promoting only one among many types of ideology, which creates a lot of issues.

I do not believe that any group can decide "what is peace" for the rest of the world. Any attempt to "define peace" is dangerous and fruitless. It will cause even greater conflicts. Awarding one kind of peace will destroy another kind of peace. Who are we to say what kind of peace is the true peace?

If the Nobel Committee really insist on issuing a annual peace prize, then we should simply ignore it. In the end, the Nobel Committee is a nice group of Norwegian grandpas, deciding on their favorite list. They are 100% free to do so. But, given how much they love democracy, the prize's selection process is not open or democratic at all. Why should the rest of the world pay so much attention to it?


Are You Afraid of Death?

I am not afraid of death. Though not yet totally clear, but I can feel my destiny. Death is just the end of my physical existence, the destruction of my body form. Even if I die now, I will come back to earth, stronger than before, in another incarnation, and continue my journey, till my destiny is realized. What happens afterward, I don't know.

That's why I never collect stuff. I minimize my worldly belongings. For me, collecting is a bad hobby. It makes you hang onto things too much. You long for what you don't have, and you become too protective of what you own. Possessiveness makes people blind.

I need mobility and efficiency. I must be able to pack my bag within one hour and be ready to leave. Even my body will perish, why should I accumulate other stuff? They are merely burdens that you have to drag with you.

Therefore, I never spend money on souvenirs, and I never save gift cards. If people give me presents, it should better be things I can eat or use. I do collect one thing: experience. Experiences will not add to the weight of your luggages. Instead, it strengthens your wisdom.

Not being afraid of death does not mean taking life lightly. I take life very seriously because I know how difficult and lucky it is for a person to get to this point.

Be a nomad. Move on. Death is merely one point in the cycle.