Beware Cognitive Mitosis!


If you’ve ever worked on a large writing project — like a book or a dissertation — you’ve probably encountered a curious phenomenon, idea mitosis. More specifically,  what starts out as a single chapter turns into two chapters, three chapters, twenty chapters!  Yes, this is scary stuff.

Some years ago, I had intended to write a book about the deeper meaning of modern life. One of the chapters in the book was to be on modern relationships. According to my outline, the chapter would be a maximum of twenty-five pages. I remember actually being concerned that I’d have enough to say. Ha! Ha! How foolish was my concern! Because, before I knew it, that chapter on modern relationships grew larger and larger, forcing me to divide it into multiple chapters.

It eventually became the book, Awakening with the Enemy: The Origin and End of Male/Female Conflict. Now I realize that my original writing project had the seed for ten or more books.

My Website Splits into Two

Something similar has happened to my website, Over time, it became clear that I really had here a dual focus:

  1. On the one hand, it’s addressed to people seeking counseling and life coaching. It has articles on everything from anxiety to chronic gambling to eating disorders. I approach those problems from both a psychological and philosophical perspective.
  2. On the other hand, it has articles on the problems relating to careers, the workplace, etc.

It’s true, of course, that these two domains are not separate. Indeed, there is great overlap, for one’s psychological and spiritual concerns profoundly impact one’s job and career. All the same, having so much contained in one website has proved confusing for many people. And so it is that mitosis happens. I now have two websites. This new one, focuses on work and career. Here I wear the hat of executive coach.

But that still leaves me with some difficulties. There are certain life problems that do clearly overlap. For example, in which website do I include my blog postings on life transitions? It really belongs both in the counseling and in the executive coaching website.

Why not include it in both, you say? Well, I could, but Google does not like duplicate content. Indeed, they penalize you if you have the same content on two or more websites. So, I haven’t yet decided where problems life transitions will stay. I can have a link from one website to the other or I can have two postings on life transitions, each with somewhat different content. Alas, these are the kind of problems that drive men mad.

Idea Mitosis Can Happen to You and Probably Has

Merlot? Pinot noir?

When a person becomes knowledgeable in a particular discipline, distinctions begin to appear. Before law school, there was just the law, but after graduating, you become aware of all sorts of law, such as civil, criminal and constitutional. Similarly, if you open a restaurant that sells liquor, you soon become aware of the many varieties of red wine.

To master any discipline requires two things: becoming familiar with:

  1. Its fundamental questions
  2. Its many distinctions.

If, for example, you listen to the NPR radio show “Car Talk,” you will see an example of two experts who know what sort of questions to ask of the person calling in. By means of their questions, they are able to make certain critical distinctions. Thus they ask the caller to distinguish between different problem car sounds so as to determine which it is for. For that sound is a clue to what is ailing the person’s car.

The moral to the story is that if you want to become an expert in your line of work, your knowledge must undergo a profound mitosis. You must learn all the basic distinctions and you must know what questions to ask to arrive at those distinctions.

Welcome Folks

Ah, there was a reason for this initial blog post. It is to introduce to this website and to its blog. The purpose of a philosopher, or a teacher in general, is to cause other people to undergo cognitive mitosis. So it is here and in my other blog, that I hope to induce in you cognitive mitosis. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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