Personal Philosophy

QM, Wisdom, and the PhD Degree

If we want to know in which direction our life is heading, then we should pay attention to what we are enthusiastic about. The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek en theos: the God within. What we feel enthusiasm for is what inspires us to put forth our best efforts to achieve our goals against any odds. This is true whether our goals are for good or ill. It’s usually a good idea to be thoughtful about our passions, before we follow them.

Perhaps surprisingly, finding our “enthusiasm” does not come easily for some of us. We spend decades pursuing goals for which we have little or no enthusiasm at all. Like the Israelites, we may have to spend 40 years wandering around in the wilderness without any real landmarks to guide us, before we discover who we are and in which direction we want to go. 

My father died in 1947 when I was four months old. Traditionally, the father is the person who introduces the child to the world of work. Growing up, I had no real sense of what I wanted to “be,” that is, what I wanted to do for a living. As a first-generation Lebanese-American, I was given the usual choices: medical doctor, lawyer, or dentist. None of these appealed to me. 

Without feeling particularly enthusiastic about any career, I sort of drifted toward psychology. I always had been interested in people’s behavior, including my own patchwork personality. I took my first psychology course in high school. 

In college I majored in psychology with minors in sociology and philosophy. Although the psychology courses were interesting and enjoyable to me, it was the philosophy courses that most ignited my enthusiasm. Philosophy seemed to address the big questions I had in mind about life. 

In 1984 after about 10 years of work as a master’s level mental health counselor, I first learned about neuroscientist Paul MacLean and his triune brain model of human behavior. At the time I was working at an alcohol counseling center. MacLean’s triune brain model was presented as a tool for understanding the alcoholic’s mind.

His ideas stuck to me. The triune brain model helped me clinically to understand how alcoholics think, which made me a more helpful, empathetic clinician to clients in general. Over time I came to appreciate how his model could be useful in nonclinical, personal ways. In 1997, as a doctoral-level psychologist, I presented my first version of his model. I presumptuously titled it, “The Triune Brain and the Kingdom of God: A Neurospiritual Philosophy of Human Development.” I made my presentations as a licensed psychologist, but from the beginning it was more about philosophy than psychology.

My PhD degree gave my mother a lot of pride, which made me happy. But even after a few years of being called “doctor,” it still wasn’t part of my self-image. It was only a professional honorific title. But then I started to think about what “doctor of philosophy” really meant. No, not the “piled higher and deeper” meaning of PhD that I had learned as a child, although that might be applicable at times. And not the traditional academic meaning as a research degree. It is now in my later life that I’m able to feel enthusiastic about my doctorate because of what it means to me personally. 

PhD is a doctor of philosophy degree, no matter for what field of study it is earned. From the Latin we know that “doctor” means “teacher.” And from the Greek we know that “philosophy” means “love of wisdom.” So, a person with a PhD, doctor of philosophy degree, should, before anything else, be a person who teaches the love of wisdom. Wisdom is something I can feel inspired by. Teaching the love of wisdom is something I can feel enthusiasm for. 

The quadrune mind model of spiritual consciousness is my effort to teach “wisdom” as I understand it. I hope I’m not as presumptuous as I had been in earlier years, out to save the world. I really don’t know if the quadrune mind model will represent “wisdom” for anyone else as it does for me. But I do believe that it expresses the “love of wisdom” that my PhD degree and my “God within” inspire me to have. There is no better part that I know of myself to share with you.