Phoenix Functions


To be a work means to set up a world. By the opening up of a world, all things gain their lingering and hastening, their remoteness and nearness, their scope and limits. A work makes space for that spaciousness.The world is the self-disclosing openness of the broad paths of the simple and essential decisions in the destiny of an historical people. The nature of truth is the unconcealedness of beings. In the midst of beings as a whole an open place occurs. There is a clearing, a lighting. This clearing is in a greater degree than are beings. This open center is not surrounded by what is; rather, the lighting center itself encircles all that is, like the Nothing which we scarcely know. Martin Heidegger, 1937 "Origins of the Work of Art" in "Poetry, Language, Thought" trans 1971 Hofstadter


Three mutually engaged elements are vital to realizing the potential of the human being or what we might call, being human:
    1. While it may occur to us that we are our beliefs, the awareness that we ARE more than our beliefs, and that our beliefs are motile, allows us the possibility to believe differently, to become free of harmful actions and replete with beneficial contributions;
    2. Gaining mastery / leadership of our self is an important part of being a functional, healthy, and, ultimately, wise human being; and
    3. Engaging the creative self is intrinsic to a long healthy life.


It is important to distinguish between belief, being, emotion, and rational thought.

We distinguish everything about our selves, others, and the world, by language:

    1 Emotion is our first and immediate language. It is ever present, persistent and embodied. It provides our earliest beliefs about the world.
    2 Structural language is our second language. It is our physical relationship with the world. It sets up some of our core beliefs for moving in the world e.g. ground is stable, water is not, things move around, things disappear, things appear.
    3 Speech is our third language. It provides our rational cognitive relationship with the world. It can strengthen or reduce the intensity of core belief.
Language Loop

Rational thought (thinking) is immediately accessible to most human beings through spoken language. Although it invariably occurs with imagery, thinking can be thought of as ‘speaking with the rules of our own speaking’. Rational thought can be further thought of as having two aspects: information (knowledge); and pattern recognition and building. Pattern building forms logical rules that, at its most sophisticated, derives philosophical discussion; scientific research, philosophy and methodologies; tool making (includes all human artifices); and the arts. In this sense, rational thought is a function of myriad neural networks across the whole brain.

Memory stands at the heart of the possibility for rational thought. Pattern building requires memory. However memory is enhanced by emotional arousal and pain. Some researchers have come to see this as the most important function of emotional arousal. Emotional arousal can be understood as a spike of an emotion that stands out from a constant low ebb of emotions associated with sensory stimulations including the feedback from our own responses.

The primary states of emotion are innate and related to immediate survival or in provision of the survival of the species. These states become reinforced, layered, mixed, and biased, from early childhood, by the success or failures of our emotional gesture experiments in social and environmental interactions.

The body and the mind are a seamless experience, moving in a looping flux with the external environment (natural, built, and abstracted). In a very real sense there is no actual separation between the boundaries we create as our sense of self and everything and everyone else.

The complete way that our sensorium, emotions, thought, and responsiveness, works, have created a philosophy of embodiment and the science of embodied cognition. The embodied cognition view of how we ARE as humans, suggests that rational thinking is an access to making a meaning and, even constructing through meaning, personal and social behavior, in the aftermath of our behavior being provoked faster than linguistic and imagery pattern recognition is able to provoke a linguistic (thinking) response.

Belief, therefore, might be thought of as a set of core messages that exists like a template that sculptures the way it all occurs to us, and what we should do in the case that the world turns up with a certain appearance to us. Beliefs form through building non-linguistic patterns of ‘knowing’ from our earliest ages. The ‘knowing’ is related to the embodied state of successful and failed responses to circumstances of our upbringing, our family and cultural conversations including the way our family and the community near us move and behave, the stories they tell, and the responses they have to our behaviours. When a belief is provoked, action immediately arises as a provocation, inhibition or resistance without application of any rational thought, whatsoever. Probably through the association of sensorium, emotions and memory, beliefs are particularly influenced by the strong emotional responses to crisis and how we dealt successfully with those stresses at the time. Through our embodied and rational thought responses to early life crisis, a close association is derived between the way we occur to ourselves, others, and the way the world works; and the development of our identity.

The phenomenon of the human being becomes, then, our conscious and subconscious stories. We develop our identities through our story and the choices we made around those stories.

Our rational thought, often trailing our choices, seems to be mostly involved in establishing a logical excuse for those choices. Researchers like Carol Tavris note that we do not like the dissonance set up by the condition of our choices (belief driven) being at odds with our values (rational driven). She cautions not to be too quick to resolve the dissonance inviting people to “have sleepless nights” so that we can fully determine how to go forward in honesty and authenticity.

Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, has notes that we have two thinking systems: fast and slow. Our fast thinking system, based in belief and founded in our family and cultural messages and our habits. It is very good at supporting our survival and habits. Our slower, rational, thought system can bring a stronger logic to play around complex problems. We often become impatient with the much longer time it takes use our slow thinking system and default to our faster thinking systems. Kahneman reckons that this is at the heart of the many inadequate choices we make in life from financial, relationships, and politics. The persistent use of the slow, rational, thinking system creates a transfer, through habit, to the fast thinking system, perhaps giving our intuitions a better success rate, and may contribute to that experienced state we call wisdom.

Phoenix Functions recommends for reference:

  • Alter, Adam, 2013, Drunk Tank Pink: The Subconscious forces that shape how We Think, Feel, and Behave, OneWorld Book
  • oal, Augusto, 1995, The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy, Routledge.
  • Doidge, Norman, 2008, The Brain that Changes Itself, Scribe Publications
  • Doidge, Norman, 2015, The Brain’s Way of Healing, Scribe Publications
  • Heidegger, Martin, 1937, The Origin of the Work of Art.
  • Kahneman, Daniel, 2011 Thinking, Fast and Slow, Penguin
  • Hofstadter Douglas R., 2007, I am a Strange Loop, Basic Books NY.
  • Linden, David J, 2015, Touch: The Science of the Hand, Heart, and Mind, Penguin Random House UK
  • Lobel, Thalma, 2014, Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence, Scribe Publications
  • McGilchrist, Ian, 2009,The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press.
  • Tavris, Carol & Aronson, Elliot, 2007, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Harcourt
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As a philosophy of human social relationships, empowerment is a function of human development. Specifically, empowerment is the development of accountability. To be empowered as (a way of being) is to be accountable for (a way of being). Ways of being are a function of the age of every person.


As a function of accountability (responsibility) empowerment and leadership relates to Rights by the means of accountability

RESPONSIBILITY applies to humans over the age of 15 years, in an accruing attitude until full maturity at 21 years of age.

RIGHTS might be ideally seen as only applying to three categories: Children to age 15; The environment; and animals.

In this framework, any view that RIGHTS have been infringed is an indication of where RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY among the adult population, has failed. This is not to imply that everyone is equal in this responsibility, nor to excuse the level of responsibility that lies at the feet of political and corporate leaders. However, apart from the downtrodden, it does imply that mere complaint about the failure of leaders is a failure of the complainant to be accountable for their own responsibility in contribution to the world. In otherwords, if complaint, then action.

CHILDREN All children have a RIGHT to be fully supported and nurtured in the community. Key to their development is the incremental training into contribution, accountability and responsibility.

YOUTH The transitional period from childhood to maturity, from the ages 11years to 15years, demands mentoring into teamwork for community contribution. The minimal benchmark for all 15 year olds is competency in teamwork. For some, leadership will show up as an excellence.

The transitional period from maturity to adulthood, from ages 15 years to 21 years, demands further mentoring and coaching in empowerment and leadership. The benchmark for an adult is a fully independent being, materially, spiritually, socially, rationally, and in action.

ADULT.The adult is a fully fledged learner and contributor in society. During the energised years of their life, say from 21-50 years, the adult takes on increasing comittments to others and themselves, as development of their own contribution to their community and the world.

WISDOM The getting of wisdom can occur early in life, however this may be a less common condition. The great opening that is possible for many people in the latter half of life (50-100 years) is a place of significant creativity, contribution and leadership.

Other specific philisophical questions that are considered include: