In short: rational thinking is not enough because it too easily ends in egoistic constructivism. New hope (after Auschwitz) is possible using "hands, hearts and minds" (quote taken from SunirShah) or - more detailed but less smoothly running - "eyes, hands, hearts and minds". "hands" means to get in touch, to do actually work in a field, to get yourself dirty. "hearts" means to seek the feeling of wholeness on making decisions (ChristopherAlexander), not depending at this point on theories or experts. Individuals have hearts, institutions have not. "eyes" means that one must be able to observe not only "one-eyed" but from multiple perspectives to creates views that have depth, dimensions. "mind" means that all aspects of rational thinking, logic and SystemTheory must be used, but only in a balanced way, without dominating the overall process in an unsound way.
A few aspects for discussion:
I am thinking about something I don't know what to call; maybe 'negative social reflection'. Some people claim the following are paradoxes, but they all hold the same structure:
The idea is that these qualities are held as ideals for each person, except when they are abused by folding back on themselves to limit other people's access to or experience of those ideals.
I think this idea fits into the structure above, but I don't know how, probably because I don't have a name. The reason why I think it fits is that it accepts the fact that we live in a society, and that there are ideals for membership in that society--but those ideals are not logical totalities. They have the same limitations as reflective formal linguistic systems that Goedel pointed out so painfully a long time ago. They are Ouroborus, snake eating its own tail, and thus lead to destruction.
We can accept both sides without collapsing. One, there is some ideals, but those aren't unproblematic. -- SunirShah
It is not the paradoxical nature of those concepts that makes them troublesome, it's their tautological nature that makes them unhelpful for policymakers. Take "tolerance for everything but intolerance for others". We then test potential policy ideas against this guideline - say, a law that prohibits thievery, or wearing blue on Saturdays, or cohabitation outside of marriage, or anal sex. Whether we see in the potentially proscribed activity "intolerance for others" is entirely a matter of our own political, religious, and ethical beliefs.
Enormous numbers of right-wing persons in America will tell you, sincerely, with a straight face and with no irony, that a statute to protect homosexuals from workplace discrimination is intolerance against their religion. Such a statute would oppress them unfairly, they would say, and would believe. I think this position is malarkey. Were I testing such a policy against a guideline like "tolerance for everything but intolerance for others", it would easily pass muster. But my disagreement with (ahem) my mother-in-law on the subject is not clarified or enhanced by following this kind of guideline. Our disagreement is over the nature of homosexuality, religion, employment and the state, not over "tolerance". -- JasonCorley
Ideals are idols. They remind you of where you want to go, but it's hard to focus on a day-to-day level. A good ideal is simple, small, repeatable, and strikes at an emotional pain point so it is self-motivating. -- SunirShah
I understand this. I am a practical guy. When someone wishes to decide what ideals a society should have, I immediately look to what effect those ideals will have in practice, how they will be put into practice, and so on. Trying to imagine what a society will look like by looking at a list of tautological ideals is not very easy. TheEnlightenment? founders of America loved liberty and equality, but most of them owned slaves. -- JasonCorley
That's a good point. And there are many examples of ideals that make sense after years of study for their context being boiled down to slogans that are understood at a completely different and often violent way. I think, though, that the way this is resolved in our societies is through those who are appointed to judge whether actions match the ideals.
Ideally, these judges are expected to be experts of the deeper context of the ideals. Those we put onto the supreme courts are the best in our society at understanding the full meaning of those ideals and how that applies directly to life. In Canada, at least, we appoint and promote judges based on PeerReview of fellow jurists and lawyers from the legal society; but our constitution is very young (1982) and ideals are very fresh and we remain very British in our system.
I think many people who have looked at the situations in the United States and the Soviet Union and the several French Republics and other similar countries worry how fragile this process is when it is streamlined through the hands of one person for expedience. Ideals seem to live as CommunityLore, in the sense that understanding an ideal is understanding all TheIndividual cases.
It makes me wonder how this contrasts against the way ideals are enacted as CodeAndOtherLawsOfCyberspace in OnlineCommunities. -- SunirShah
It's the context, then that becomes important. I have no idea from reading many of these ideals (not just Sunir's addition, but the original NewRealism list too) whether they belong to a maniacal, rapacious tyranny or a pleasant, bland utopia or a vibrant, chaotic mess, and if someone came to me to convince me to follow one of these ideals, I would need to know about what they were talking about before I agreed with them or not. -- JasonCorley
...negative social reflections, paradoxes, ideals...
I feel similarly, although I dislike the rhetorical patterns, because they run too smoothly. From reading ChristopherAlexander I start to learn that prefabricated answers (judgements) in a way don't work. One cannot avoid to stand in a situation (process), look at all parts and try to really grok how they relate and make an individual decision.
Lion worked through the list above on CommunityWiki:NewRealismDiscussion and I have still trouble to get at my own fundamentals. I wrote in reaction to your insightful pages and influenced by current discussions at CoForum that dig into classical philosophy (direction: why do leftist people seek theories to improve society) and contributions at the OpenLeader network about ["joint reality"]. There is a need to open up (e. g. realism, science, religion) to create common ground without moving into a middle ground of arbitrariness.
By the way, Sunir, what was the context and how was the wording of your "eyes, heart and brain"? I remember it clearly but wasn't able to find it. I think it might form the core of the message. -- HelmutLeitner
The key is that he uses "mind" instead of "brain". With some searching I found these:
Ok, enough quotes. Have your pick, Helmut. :) -- AlexSchroeder
Alex, thanks a lot for that. It's work that I should have done. "Hands, hearts and minds" has a beautiful ring, although analytically I'd like to split the mind into perception (eyes) and computation (brain). -- HelmutLeitner
"HandsHeartAndMind" is my method (or rather the Network method) of convincing people to lend power to be a leader. That's all I have, or at least used to have when I was only the Editor and Cliff was in charge of the system. Since then I have also gained control of the server and various other mechanisms, making me a true GodKing, to my own disgust, and I'd like to get back to the work of toppling myself as soon as possible. -- SunirShah