Philosophy unfolding

This website is mostly about my Theory of Relative Understanding. It’s a hypothesis about how the world works. It’s amateur philosophy.

Relative Understanding - Introduction

This is really fun for me, pretending to be a big thinker. I’m a big thinker wannabe. Here I am right now in a nice chair with a nice coffee and a nice view. Thinking big thoughts.

Although I’m not sure what I’m talking about. I have put my thoughts into this amateur website and I have used some fancy words that I think real philosophers and real scientists might use, but these are just ideas.

And if you look closely you will find inconsistencies among my ideas. You will find grammar and spelling errors. You will find thoughts not fully organized or complete. I have a demanding job and a full home life and this is the best I have been able to do with the time and resources available.

Oh. And the videos! These are really amateur. And I struggled with even to post them. They are short-cut attempts to convey my ideas in alternate ways and might be of interest to those who dare.

Even though this is a work in progress I have mustered the courage to “put it out there.” I welcome your encouragement. And support.

And I welcome your help with improving the ideas and making this website better.


Several times over the past four years I have stolen away from work and home to write my theory. I have taken several little vacations to think and write. And in the winter of 2015 while the cold and snow piled up outside, I focused inward and became more serious about turning my vacation thoughts into this website.

Four years ago I read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. In a really fun way he explains an enormous amount of science that caused wonder and amazement within me. It reminded me of the wonder and amazement I felt as a student at the University of Maine in the early eighties. Bryson’s book reminded me of theories I developed long ago when I was studying the philosophy of religion, astronomy, and Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.

I started college as a physics major and switched to philosophy. I wasn’t good enough at math to do physics but I liked the big ideas it contained. I have come to think of philosophy is “physics light.” It’s physics without the math, a lighter version of a heavy subject. And it’s also physics with light added: the way Quakers think of the light within, as enlightenment, as spirituality. Philosophy explores the nature of god.

Philosophy is a humanity not a science, so scientific proof is not required. In philosophy you can think and say whatever you want and it gets measured against the backdrop of what previous thinkers have said. In science you can only say what you can prove and it gets measured against the backdrop of the scientific method. Science is more rigid and rigorous.

Philosophy is more artful and creative. Philosophers “think” about how the universe might work sometimes even unfettered by science. Philosophers are allowed to throw in a good measure of intuition. Sometimes it seems that philosophers just make stuff up and then hope that no one disproves it. Yup, this is one of those times.

In my 49th year I had a bone-breaking, tendon-tearing crash on a very steep ski slope at a very high speed. Weeks later I went to a friend with my shoulder in a sling. She placed her hand gently on my arm, widened her eyes and said quietly, “You’re 49 aren’t you?”

We talked about Rudolph Steiner’s seven-year cycles of development and how 49 is seven times seven and how her husband broke bones at 49 and how many men apparently do around that age and how the breaking of bones makes way for growth and new enlightenment. Bryson’s book, or rather the whoosh of knowledge it represented, came rushing in. The accident provided a readiness for new learning. Recovery from the accident provided time for reading and thinking.

I tried to match the world’s greatest thoughts to my own. A little arrogant? Yes, for sure.

It was really fun to pull out and tinker with my own ideas about the universe: ideas that have been rattling around since college, ideas smoothed at the edges by the bump and grind of aging, yet ideas that have held sway.

It’s been fun to look at my own ideas against what I learned from Bryson’s book. It’s been fun to read other books. It’s been fun to take vacations and write my ideas.


Philosophy is a hobby for me. My real work is helping groups make good decisions. I have a little company called Good Group Decisions. I plan and facilitate high stakes meetings mostly in the public sector for nonprofit organizations and governments. I do professional speaking about group decision making. I have a blog called Good Group Tips. I have written a book called The Wisdom of Group Decisions.

Of course my amateur philosophy is connected to my professional work. A long-time watcher of how people interact and make decisions I have concluded that the surest way to minimize conflict and maximize creativity is shared understanding. When people understand each other and accept each other’s point of view they are less apt to fight and destroy and more apt to collaborate and create.

And I have seen many conflicts from a neutral perspective and have seen that there is no single truth but multiple truths of various degrees, depending on where you sit and how well you see. I have seen that people come to the conclusions they do because of where they have been and what they have experienced, not because one view is right and one is wrong, or one is better and one is worse. People have different perspectives and as a group facilitator, I help them appreciate their different perspectives.

My professional work has actually been based on my Theory of Relative Understanding for years.


When I started writing these ideas I didn’t know what would become of them. I still don’t. I am still writing.

The only difference today is that I am making my ideas public. I am showing others what I think.

It’s like the story of George Fox and William Penn and the sword. George Fox was a Quaker and a promoter of peace. William Penn was becoming a Quaker and carried a sword. One day Penn asked Fox about wearing the sword, something like: “Would it be okay to keep wearing it even if I become a Quaker?” Fox answered something like, “Wear it as long as you can.” The next time they met, Penn was without his sword.

There comes a time when one’s convictions become so strong that one is required to show them in public. It’s time.

One response

  1. This is fantastic, Craig! I thought at first it was about understanding my relatives, and of course it includes that, but as my mother said of Watership Down, it ‘s not about rabbits!

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