2015-06-02 06:08:55 UTC
As a college student at University of Virginia, I worked at a restaurant called the Tree House. All other employees were local black people, and I noticed one thing especially: They were all referring to each other by nickname. I asked why they did that, and the answers were such as "What do you mean, why?" and "That's just how it is, dawg." One woman with intelligent eyes said, "That's a good question."
And indeed it is a good question to ask, one that is not limited to the Tree House. The statements like "that's just how it is, dog" reveal a common problem that is had by people who have lived in a single society all their lives: Lack of objective insight into its workings. Clearly referring to everybody by nickname is not the case in Long Island or in Sudan or in China. "That's how it is, dawg"? Not exactly.
Similar is the case with referring to things as "normal" or referring to one or another clique as speaking for "everyone." What's normal in one place (calling people by nickname in the Tree House) is not what's normal in another (who does that in CIA?) And of course there is nobody who speaks for everyone (6 billion people), most of whom do not believe in anything similar to what is believed by the social set under consideration - and whose claims to speak for everyone is of course the heights of arrogance. The arrogance that it claims to be fighting but which it shows to a far more complete and far more overbearing extent, with frequently less to justify it and far more ugly results for the people inside of it.
The results being, that people can't leave the ghetto because they feel that would be selfish or arrogant; that people can't go into business or long-term work because they feel that would be collaborating with the white man; that people can't study science or engineering or teaching or literature because they feel that would be being posers; and what's left? Thuggery. Parasitism. Oppression.
I need hardly speak that dynamics similar to these, but in different forms, take place in different cultures besides the ghetto.
Alexis De Tocqueville, a Frenchman who lived in America, came up with a balanced and highly insightful work into the nature of the United States. He did that because, as both an outsider and an insider, he was able to combine the external and the internal and thus to understand to a far more complete extent than is afforded by either mode of perception alone. As both outsider and insider, he was less subject to the error that is functional of either: The error of insider of failing to see the nation in its external effects and its workings - and the error of outsider of failing to experience it from within and thus failing to understand it in its experience. He was able to combine the objective and the subjective - to combine the experience and the analysis - to combine mind and heart, the two functionalities in which people discern and experience human reality. And the result was analysis that was insightful, compassionate, thorough and intelligent all at once.
Both the subjective and the objective modes of understanding give part of the picture. But both are capable of error. The error inherent in first method is that of failure to either quantify external effects or see inner workings - with the result that the people practicing the merely subjective perspective (both cultures and individuals) are constantly, and rightfully, accused of lack of understanding of world outside of them or regard for it. The error inherent in the second method is that of failure to understand the experience - with the result that the people practicing the merely objective perspective are rightfully accused of cruelty, coldness, emotional violence and being out of touch. I am of the belief that complete understanding is that of understanding things in both in their external effects and their inner workings; a perspective possessing both objectivity and subjectivity - both intelligence and compassion - both mind and heart - both discerning from without and experiencing from within.
The error of merely objective is as follows: failure to experience a phenomenon, resulting in lack of emotional insight. When people say they want someone to understand them, what they mean is that they want someone to feel how they feel rather than simply analyzing it, and certainly not analyzing them in reference to an external value set or a normative function or a psychological theory. When cultural and social and political entities say that they don't want outsiders telling them what to do, what they mean is that they want to first be understood in their experience before any agenda can be found that would be workable for them. But to do that and merely that is not adequate; external effects have to be quantified likewise and directed toward their greatest possible outcome. In combining objective observation and subjective experience, and then in interpolating between them, is arrived a more complete - more integrative - picture of culture, religion, mindset or social locale, in which both the experience and the external effects are quantified.
Doing that, I refer to as integrative cognition.
REFERENTIAL AND INTRINSIC
There is the observation referential and there is the observation intrinsic. To know something from without, is to observe it referentially - referentially to a mode of experience, a mode of beliefs, a mode of cognition or a perceptual and conceptual base forming the perceptual base from which one operates. To know it intrinsically, is to experience it on one's own heart or one's own skin. The integrative perspective is a synthesis of the referential and the intrinsic, combining assaying of the essential from multiple frames of reference with going into it intrinsically. Arriving at an assaying of a culture, a religion, a civilization or a mode of experience combining awareness of its experience with awareness of its external effects.
This creates a more complete - integrative - representation of the phenomenon. One that is not limited by either failure to understand from within nor failure to understand from without, but rather creating a complete pictographical representation integrating the intrinsic and representative multiplicity of reference frames: One arriving at understanding of both how a phenomenon is experienced from within and how it appears from without.
I shy from the use of the word objective, because I do not see complete objectivity as being a given. Complete objectivity is a matter of being completely clear of all kinds of bias or agenda, and while that is a worthwhile pursuit I do not see it as being immediately available, and certainly not something I've seen employed to a credible level in either psychology or sociology. The "reality is what I can touch and feel" argument results in a perspective centered in self; which is not worthless but not complete, given the difference among selves. The "reality is what can be reproduced" argument results in perspective centered in canon; which is not worthless but not complete, given the change in lab conditions and explanations afforded by scientific progress. The "reality is what refuses to go away when you stop believing in it" argument fails to compute the extent to which people's beliefs shape their minds and thereafter their actions. This, once again, is not worthless but not complete.
All of these things are of course part of reality, which is an integrative function of multiple influences at any given time. And in assaying any part of reality, I recommend combining direct experience with observation in reference to multiplicity of perspectives, in order to involve the totality of that in man which can both feel from within and can see from without -
Thus arriving at an ever more complete understanding of both the process's inner workings and its effects on the outside world.
The method I speak of is one of approximation among reference frames, or multiplicity of cultural-social perspectives. Not the nihilistic-anarchistic one of "nothing-is-completely-objective-so-let's-burn-down-everything"; but one rather of interpolation and check-and-balance among frames of reference, arriving at clarity of observation - combined with intrinsic, experiential understanding arrived at through direct experience of the mindset, the culture or the civilization that is being studied.
A phenomenon can be assayed in reference to a method; it can be assayed in reference to an ideology; it can be assayed in reference to an interest; it can be assayed in reference to a mode of thought and in reference to one's own experience. Each perspective forms a reference frame, akin to the Galilean reference frames of Einsteinian relativity, all partly valid but not the whole of reality. Each is a function of devices that shape it; each therefore creates a convex mirror. Each convex mirror is valuable but not complete. Each, as such, is usable but not to the absoluteness. And enhancement of the external perspective is rendered through interpolation among these frames of reference discerned from without, while being checked also against the experiential reality discerned from within -
Resulting in an integrative perspective that sees the entirety of the phenomenon, both as felt by the participants and as seen by anyone else.
It is hard to remove the beam from one's own eye without the help of multiple mirrors. And given that any cultural mirror is bound to be convex - functional to the cultural interest and its incomplenesses - it is not credible to know that what one is removing is a beam rather than an essential part of the eye. But through reflections in multiplicity of mirrors - based on different sociocultural locales - it becomes possible to see more clearly both the object that is being studied and all the perspectives that are studying it. And in the process it becomes possible to see more clearly - both what is studied; as well as all the things that are studying it.
RELATIVITY AND EXISTENTIALISM
There are sayings such as "The only absolute is that there are no absolutes" and "all generalizations are false, including this one." This shows shortcomings in existentialism and relativism; however it does not render Einsteinian relativity worthless. The relative quality of reference frames - the incompleteness of all cultural, ideological, "common-sensical" or other - perspectives upon the world do not make them worthless; it renders them incomplete. Which incompleteness is reduced through introduction of other reference frames, all of which pose as check on one another's incompleteness. Through cross-referencing it becomes possible to see where each is right and where each is wrong.
At which point becomes possible greater objectivity. And then it becomes possible to go to the next step: Look at the reasons for the incompleteness of each reference frame, while seeing also the value in each. To see the basic interests and ideologies participating in shaping each reference frame, and based on seeing these interests and ideologies for their character to see the extent to which the reflections contained in the frame are a function of relativistic distortion - distortion based on interests and ideologies underlying the perspectives - and then likewise to see to what extent the perception within each frame is legitimate. Which interests and ideologies, being seen for what they are, are thus computed for the convexity that they produce; and the beams that make mirrors convex are gradually abraded until they become less prevalent, and greater objectivity is achieved.
I am of the belief that this way the relative frames become closer to the absolute, and by tapping into Einsteinian relativity while understanding the nature thereof comes ever-greater clarity. By seeing the sun reflecting in multiplicity of convex mirrors, develops a closer and closer approximation of what is the sun. Convexities become visible; are understood for their essence; and are reduced. And the result is a more complete picture of the sun, and improvement in the quality of the mirrors.
The existential theory of multiple truths - based on Einsteinian relativity - suggests this: That for greater reality it is important to experience and to assay all the truths in reference to each other, creating a greater understanding. And the theory of multiple Galilean reference forms, coming from physics, each frame a partial but incomplete incorporation of timespace, means that to know timespace to greater extent means to experience these forms and from reference point of these forms to draw connections and understanding of one another. If it is impossible to look at the sun for a prolonged period of time without going blind, then to see sun's reflections everywhere is a path toward greater understanding of the sun. And if the essential is invisible, then to see the reflections of it in the workings of cosmos as contained in everything from neutron stars to the plants to the oceans to human mind and human heart and inspired artwork is a path toward greater understanding and appreciation of thereof.
It stands to reason that a singular object will be reflected the same in the entirety of the mirrors. The difference in its representation can only be due to incompleteness of the perspective of mirrors themselves. The correct outcome will see object reflected the same in all the mirrors - same not in the minimalistic (and ultimately nihilistic, since all sentient beings die and many have different beliefs) perspective that wants to claim illusory all things that aren't seen everywhere and by everyone, but in the maximalistic perspective: One that sees the totality of the object, with each mirror providing a partial view. As these things are seen, a more complete and more thorough picture emerges; likewise the mirrors' own incompletenesses as well as virtues become apparent. And the result, is a more clearly and more completely glimpsed object - and enhancement in clarity of the mirrors.
The external side of the integrative perspective therefore consists of seeing what is being studied externally. As I have shown, this is most clearly done from multiplicity of perspectives. The logical implication of relativity is that the way to approximate objectivity is to interpolate between reference frames; and more significantly here, the logical implications of the fact that people's perspectives are invariably tinged with one or another social, cultural or political distortion, means that greatest clarity is accomplished by wielding and array of perspectives rather than just one or two. Thus, one does not observe American ghetto only from Northwest DC and the belief structure of Northwest DC; one does it also from Midwest, China, Russia, Africa and the Cherokee tribe. Arriving at a more complete understanding of the ghetto.
To greater elucidate what I'm talking about, let's conceptualize how a mindset of Northwest DC views and values. The mindset of Northwest DC, as a result of the ideologies in it contained, views and values according to standards of prosperity and human rights - the two great values preached by the American liberal mindset. The mindset of China, on the other hand, views and values according to standards of family cohesiveness and work - its values, preached once again by Chinese ideology. The mindset of Cherokees views and values according to the standard of freedom of movement and courage and prudence in dealing with the environment. So to assay the ghetto from the perspective of Midwest, Russia, China, Cherokees and Northwest DC, is to understand it more completely than it would be understood from either perspective (each value-set, belief-set, ideology-set, mindset shaping the convex mirror) acting alone. Thus is achieved a more complete representation of the American ghetto; one that, being more complete, thus becomes capable of more thorough understanding - and, pursuant this more thorough understanding, more complete and more valuable solutions for people in it living.
The process also creates flux among reference points themselves. The cultures reflect each other as much as they reflect what is being studied; leading to understanding of each other's virtues and flaws. The understanding of all reference frames becomes enriched and enhanced and more thorough. At which point the reference frames, having perspective they did not have previously, are in better shape to correct the errors within themselves - errors that they by themselves would not be able to see, but that through working with other reference frames and seeing their reflection in them become apparent.
To understand a culture - a mindset - an ideology, it is necessary to see it in both internal and external effects. It is necessary to understand the experience of those inside it and the way in which it affects the rest of the world and how other perspectives might see it. The other perspectives, in turn, must be seen for interests and values that are in them contained, in order that greater objectivity can be achieved. It is necessary to combine observation from multiple convex mirrors, with understanding of the nature of the convex mirrors, with subjective experience - and then weave. Interpolate. Integrate. Coming up with new patterns combining the mind and the heart, or analysis and experience.
It is my belief that through continuing shifts of perspective and cross-examination between one's own experiences and the condition of many cultures, an interplay takes place between self and the object of study that refines one's experiential self toward greater clarity as well as that of the cultures and perspectives involved. Thus not only is study served, but also clarity of the self. The optimal result is exchange of ideas and understanding that helps to improve and to enrich both. Dangers include those of losing one's good qualities along with the bad ones if they are not part of the value of the culture at hand. Which qualities can be regained in a still greater and more informed manner when more informed, integrative, conclusions are drawn.
Creating an integrative understanding of the culture, combining external observation and internal experience.
INTEGRITY AND PREMISES
What is the definition of integrity? It is that of acting as a single unit. A single unit premised on what? What premises are the correct ones, and will not something based on false premises come crashing down? The country I come from did. The static integrity of a rock can perhaps be defined as integrity, until one starts wondering what is under the rock and dislodges it, and then it crashes. I see integrity that is intellectually viable and far more interesting as one that is a dynamic synthesis; an ongoing whirling through chaos to create patterns to give to various interests; an integration and reconciliation leading toward meaningful outcomes and enhancement in people's experience of life.
A mind torn from its premises is a mind that is insane. A mind put on another set of premises is a mind that is reconstituted. A mind that is intermingling among the reference frames of premises is confused, passionate, ecstatic, throbbing with fire of life. According to Keats, "The way to intelligence is by making one's mind a thoroughfare for all thoughts" - in which experiential chaos patterns form and are crystallized and can be used for any area of human endeavor.
In what does one place one's faith? What are its premises?
Is premise reason? Then don't reason's own investigations into the higher mathematics, biology, astronomy and everything else show the existence of multiple forms of rationality in the universe - its fundamental nonlinearity, instead its intricacies and complexities - that lead to a more expanded understanding of rationality?
Is premise self-interest? Then does not the process of striving for self-interest put one in contact with all kinds of interests, which have to function a way to either destroy each other or coexist, which expands the understanding of the world to recognize the need for multiplicity of selves, multiplicity of interests and leads either to domination by some interests of other interests, or the need for diplomacy that takes into consideration the multiple interests and ultimately the interests of the world as a whole?
Is premise work? Then does not the process of work (and what it takes to maintain it) lead to all kinds of unanticipated consequences, which then require greater exploration, which then create a more enhanced understanding of what is work and what it is that is doing it, expanding both the definition of work and the definition of usable and worthwhile abilities?
Is premise morality? Then does not the process of striving for ethical living lead to all kinds of agonizing moral choices, which likewise expand undestanding of human existence, and which when carried out incomptently or incompletely raise all kinds of moral questions about the validity of the morality that oneself claims to practice? Which morality, in order to be maintained through methods consistent with principle, including honesty of examination, then lead to a greater understanding and greater empathy and greater insight into just what constitutes truly ethical choice?
Is premise responsibility? Does not acting in a responsible manner presuppose understanding the world enough that one knows the full range of consequences of one's actions and thus acts in a manner that anticipates and takes responsibility for the results? Does not then responsibility presuppose knowledge - does not knowledge require exploration beyond the place one exists in as well as experience of what one has not yet experienced - and does that not then create a greater awareness of what it means to act responsibly?
Is premise love? Then does not the process of living and loving and protecting the love that one has demand an expanded understanding of people and civilizations, which may require exploration in all kinds of directions and put one in contact with much that is not of love - demanding and creating a more complete picture of people, before it becomes possible to love them intelligently and with intended results?
Is premise the good of humanity? Then does not the process of being in service put one in contact with all forms of nastiness and office politics and back-stabbing and malice and competition, until one learns the evil of which people are capable well enough to know what is required to actually serve humanity in a way that leads to desired results?
And does not in all of these cases develop a more complete concept of the world, through interpolation of other perspectives, that it then becomes possible to wield with greater precision and greater intelligence - after integrating the conclusions afforded by introduction of other mirrors?
A convex mirror reflects the sun partially truly and partially not truly. And to remove the beam from one's eye without replacing it with a brick, is to see its reflections in pools - including ones that don't contain in them the sulphur and the chlorine of the interest-shaped, belief-shaped thought of the time - and thus to achieve greater clarity of perception.
I don't regard it right to do away with things simply because they aren't complete; I seek to expand upon them and find ways in which they can accomplish their work more intelligently and more wisely. The samsara is beautiful and worthy of being loved and cherished. You don't kill a cat for not being a dog; you appreciate her as a cat, and then she can be happy as a cat and you can be happy as a lark having the cat - for having done what is required of intelligence: To appreciate the cat; to clear mind's conceptions from dog-shaped ideas of what cat should be; and thus to be able to reap of the beauty the cat wants to impart and would to those who are willing to understand without rushing to judgment. And if one's view of nature is a result of propaganda done by the dogs, then the process of understanding and loving the cat requires suspension of disbelief - suspension of judgment from dog-shaped premises of thought - and going into the world of the cat and there learning the beauty of which cat is herself capable.
This, is the intrinsic side of the dialectic. Empathy. Going into the other person's world. Feeling the other person's experience of the world.
Or - as Alexis De Tocqueville showed - going to another culture and doing that with it.
That a mirror is convex does not make it worthless. It simply means that it, like just about anything else, is incomplete; and to approximate objectivity it becomes necessary to either clear it completely and to remove the curvature at the core, or to reduce the curvature by assaying it in reference to other mirrors. Complete objectivity may not be achievable at this level; but it is most certainly capable of being approximated. The closer to the infinity, the more precise the result.
Similarly different people's subjective experience of the cultures is going to differ according to what shapes their subjective worlds. The heart is a convex mirror just like the mind; that, like the mind, can be trained into greater clarity. The process of interpolation through external observation and subjective experience refines both the heart and the mind and reduces the quantity of beam contained in one's eye. Refinement of both organs becomes the result, and a path toward greater observational clarity.
The quantity of beam is diminished also in the society, philosophy, person or institution being studied. As it sees its reflections in multiple mirrors, it cannot escape the fact of wrong that exists in it as well as right. As convexity of each mirror is recognized and reduced, more clear picture evolves; and as pictures become clear, it is no longer possible to blame all things for convexity. More importantly, the object is seen from more sides, with all the good and the bad as reflected in reference frames being made visible. At which point external picture becomes more and more complete.
How does one see the object in all its external manifestations? By having it seen in multiplicity of convex mirrors arranged in a sphere pointing at the object. Given that the object is one, it will stand to reason that the reflections should match; and all the divergencies would be a function of the convexity of the mirrors. Since mirrors also reflect into each other, it can be assayed from each mirror what convexities the other mirrors hold. As divergence is being reduced, so is convexity, and the quantity of beam in each eye is diminished. Until the completeness of the object becomes visible in the totality of the mirrors, and the object is seen in its external manifestations with an ever-greater degree of completeness - while the mirrors become abraded through interpolation into ever-greater clarity.
The intrinsic side of the process is more difficult for some than it is for others, depending upon the person's capacity for empathy or understanding of how to wield it. It involves suspension of disbelief (more precisely, suspension of prejudice) and actually going into someone's world - or the culture, or the mindset, or the worldview, or the spiritual practice. It took Don Juan a fair deal of work of deconstruction of prejudice before Carlos Castaneda could actually go into his world and understand it from the inside, instead of simply assaying it from without as he was trained to do. The result, was a far more complete understanding on part of Carlos Castaneda than would have happened if he had assayed the shamanic practice only referentially to his canon and methodology.
Understanding something intrinsically does not mean abandoning scientific method. It means this: That some things (cultures; mindsets; spiritual paths; inner worlds) cannot be tested or understood completely except from the inside; and scientific analysis involves not only assaying such tings from without but also investigating them from within. And this requires something that some practicioners of scientific method would find heretical, but that is in fact required by the best of science: Suspension of judgment and prejudice - for a time being - and actually going into the world under consideration. After experiencing it - and feeling it on one's heart and one's skin - it then becomes possible to arrive at a more compassionate, more complete, more wise, understanding of the situation. And then one can be not only a scientist but also a writer, conveying an understanding that involves heart and mind both and that therefore is far more human.
For example, it is possible to investigate Buddhist practice or Zen meditation by actually participating in it. Not all claims are immediately testable; but many are. By actually performing the task at hand, it becomes possible to see to what extent the immediately testable claims are valid. At which point it becomes possible to go back to being a scientist - though now with intrinsic perspective to supplement the canonical - and convey a more thorough understanding of the dharma at hand instead of one that comes from investigating it merely referentially as a mere observer.
The same is true for understanding cultures; participation within them gives a more complete understanding than mere observation. Which means at times suspension of disbelief and of prejudice. One does not have to leave these things behind forever; they'll remain there like clothes on the beach while one is swimming. He could go back to them anytime - but in the meanwhile, once having swam, he will have experienced the culture on the inside, and will have far more to say about it (and to it) than he would from either perspective acting alone.
And the same is likewise true for understanding people at individual level. As someone who has decided uncompromisingly to understand certain people I cared about, I made it my project to build empathy for them deliberately by actually going into their worlds, or asking to be placed in situations where I would be experiencing similar things to what they've experienced, or trying to see things from their eyes. In so doing, in many cases I was what was needed: Someone who felt the situation, and having likewise my own perspective was capable of providing insight, or assistance, or confirmation, that was necessary and that was required -
While also, having felt their perspective, developed a richer and more complete understanding of the world.
I am of the belief that this can be of use in a variety of professions. While empathy training can be of use to anyone, period.
ERRORS OF MERE REFERENTIALITY
This is where R.D. Laing comes in handy: He believed in actually going into the person's inner world and seeing it from within. Indeed he showed several examples of how this could be done. For this, he is loved universally by the patients. The reason for that love? That he made an effort to understand them from within. Whereas, for example, Freud is universally hated - because he made no such effort. Instead, he partly observed, then he judged, then he stomped. Claiming himself a scientist, he performed grievous leaps of logic such as the following: Of leaping from analysis to judgment - of claiming that certain feelings, because they were supposedly (and in my belief wrongly) based in an earlier ego state, are therefore to be adjudicated infantile or irrational. It could be asked, Does the fact of something running by a different logic than one used to assay it make it irrational, or is it irrational instead to condemn what runs by a different logic than one used to study it, instead of understanding and making the most of the logic by which it itself runs? And does the possibility of something being based in an earlier ego state make it worthy of judgment, or is it perhaps more rational to see the energy, the verve, the passion, the beauty that is contained within it and make the most of it, for benefit of self and benefit of the world?
Is "taken as a whole the universe is absurd" story a rational one, or one that reflects a failure of investigation?
And finally, does the universe exist for the sake of one's methodology, and is it rational furthermore to project one's method upon the universe and judge it if it runs by a different method?
Is it rational to do the same to the human heart?
The merely objective - more correct term is referential - perspective is therefore necessarily cruel, precisely because it is merely referential. It is merely a result of observation in reference to existing beliefs. It sees that which is studied as an object - an object to be dissected and analyzed. And then it becomes the logic of dissection. And the question to be asked of all people engaging in such task (and those benefiting from it), according to their own devices, is: Of what is the logic a manifestation? What is the mechanism that runs the logic? How can it be linear when DNA, clouds, oceans, galaxies, stars, and the human body are anything but linear but full of curves and spirals and galaxies and multiplicitous interlocking ecosystemic forms? And is it rational to then claim that a single method is superior to all else in the universe when (A) it did not create the universe; (B) it did not create human brain that runs it; (C) any honest examination of such things fills one's heart with wonder at majesty and magnificence of the Universe and knowledge of the multiplicity of forms of logic present within it; and (D) knowing such things, to claim one form of cognition to be superior to all else in the Universe is not only irrational but indeed entirely not in keeping with reality?
The merely objective logic leads by the logic contained in its own devices indeed to the worst of narcissism and the worst of illogic. It leads to this: A dry, cruel, destructive maliciousness. Maliciousness that, having disconnected itself from the source of sensation, requires the intuitive and the emotional to prey upon - which it seeks out and, despising, goes on to destroy and discard. The illogic we see in abominations such as behaviorism, logical positivism, 1990s perversion of feminism and aggressive materialist fundamentalism falsely known as skepticism.
This is not accidental. This is not a stereotype. This is a necessary result of the mechanisms involved. And this is especially true in cross-cultural conflicts, where people judge other civilizations for distinctness of their methodologies from one's own, instead of figuring out the methodologies by which they run and see, as is the duty of rational sentient beings, if they possess any value.
The worst error of which merely objective method is capable is therefore that of rationalistic judgmentalism. It is one thing to assay things in a scientific manner; it is quite another to judge mental processes - or ultimately life - as irrational because it runs by a logic different from the one that the person uses to study it. Thus we get to such foolish conclusions as "Taken as a whole, the universe is absurd," "women are stupid" and "we are the only two sane people in the universe, and sometimes I wonder about you." What rationality? If it's a rational universe then there must be a rationale, so let's find it out! Absurd? Absurd in reference toward what standard of thought? And is it not wrong to say that the problem is with the universe rather than with the method that fails to grasp it wholly, or with its incompetent utilization?
Thus we get all kinds of hideousness coming to us through psychology. When one sees man's primary motivation as one of adequacy, one creates an ensnaring tribal consciousness that cannot bear what man has done through history: Enhance human condition. No man is an adequate match for a tiger; but he creates better technology to outsmart the tiger, and in so doing improve the lot of man. To keep alive the tribal consciousness based on the lie of adequacy it becomes necessary to weed out those who would find better technology. Logical result, inevitable according to the logic contained in this method? Handicapper General, intellectual fascism, Ellsworth Toohey and back to Appalachia for us all.
When one sees man's rational interest as being that of material acquisition, he fails to recognize all other forms of rational interest - including such fully rational interests as scientific knowledge, perpetuation of legacy, taking care of future generations, improving people's lives and doing good for one's fellow man. Quite simply, if evolution is true, then man has evolved both as self and as a species, which means that it will be his rational interest to benefit both self and species; and to name one form of interest rational while discounting all other forms of interest is in no way rational and is simply not in keeping with what man is. And the multiplicity of intelligences, which are functional to multiplicity of what is required for long-term human existence, means this: That there are multiple valid pursuits; multiple valid abilities; and multiple valid paths - and while none of them is the whole of humanity, it is a part of it.
When one sees man's primary motivation as one of adaptation within social reality, one essentially deifies whatever order exists at the time. The shared dogma gets passed down as objectivity, commonsense or reality - all the things that it is in no way, but that becomes more and more so the more people are led to believe it. Shoving down people's throats the same party line. Making sure nobody thinks for themselves. Frightening people with self-fulfilling menaces - menaces that become more and more manifest as poisoning of society goes on to a greater extent. Expropriating what can be expropriated; destroying what cannot. Destroying everything that is original; robbing people of their vitality; and turning the place into an emotional, intellectual and spiritual wasteland. Deadening, dumbening, frightening and degenerating the population, until they sacrifice liberty for an illusory protection from fabricated phantoms.Until the false god that is social consciousness deified by misuses of rational mind turns into totalitarianism and becomes a torturer and a killer, and the claims of the order serving man, or being democratic, or being rational, or being enlightened, or being ethical, or being righteous, become more and more tranparently and overbearingly false. If man is nothing but social animal, then all that makes man uniquely human stands to be demolished - and that means also the reason; the inspiration; the wisdom; the excellence and the liberty that are a function of what is uniquely human, and upon which premises the constitutional order resides.
It is at these times in history that is required a perspective of someone who has been both inside and outside and possesses an integrative perspective and can put a mirror to what is being done.
All of these errors are due to projecting a single mindset - a single interest - a single convex mirror - upon the totality of humanity, while squashing its own workings in the process. The result is broken people and huge wastes of potential, and indeed many more sinister things than that. And this is why it is entirely requisite, for any kind of objectivity, to see the situation in its entirety, rather than having it constituted in one or another mindset. That everyone in the ghetto will tell you the same thing, does not mean it is true; it means it is functional to the perspective of the ghetto. Of what is the perspective of ghetto a function? Let's find that out.
The more that is done, the greater the objectivity and the greater the insight.
The integrative cognition is of course beneficial especially for writers and journalists. To be able to feel an experience from within, as opposed to merely observe it from without, is to have a far more complete understanding of it than would be found in merely objective (i.e. referential) perspective acting alone. When the participants in an event I attended invited the media to partake in the festivities, that is precisely what they had in mind: To have the journalist feel - indeed "get" - the experience before writing about it in their papers. An event is described far more precisely when it is felt intrinsically, rather than simply assayed referentially to one or another convex mirror. And to be able to truly describe and to know a cat, it becomes necessary to remove the blinders imposed by the dog logic and feel the cat's world on one's heart and her fur on one's arms.
At which point the journalist or the writer has the ability to integrate; to interpolate; to weave a thread contained of heart and mind between the internal and the particular external perspective to which he is catering. He can explain the experience in terms of the values and attitudes and convictions of the people for whom he is writing, while also making it palatable through his emotional understanding to their hearts. Having experienced it himself, he can speak for the people about whom he is writing, to the people for whom he is writing. He can be both analytical and empathic; at which point he can both feel and understand - and convey his knowledge of - the experience, to a far greater extent than he could from either perspective acting alone.
There are people who want to believe that beauty is unrealistic. But it's part of reality, in trees and flowers and sunsets and cloudless night sky, so how can it be not realistic? Are we worse than birds and foxes? So how can beauty not be a part of human reality, when it is obviously and completely a part of reality of the real world?
The ideology of realism is an ideology that in fact perpetuates grimness. By destroying the reality of human psyche, and the beauty that it is capable of producing, it in effect destroys the mechanism by which real-life beauty can be attained. If reality is what does not go away when one stops believing in it, then you must contend with the reality of the cosmos. A question is to be posed to the supposed realists: Is your assayment of human mind and soul true to reality of what you are studying? And if so, then how can you explain the Yosemite Park or the Horsehead Nebula while denying to people the right to similar accomplishments?
Is it realistic indeed to overlook, not only a significant part of the reality of the universe, but also an even more fundamental reality: That man shapes the reality of his life and a large part of the reality of the world through actions according to his convictions? And if these convictions rightly involve love of splendor, then is not the reality that emerges then contain more and more of splendor of which man is capable and less and less of the vileness the kind of which we see in the kind of psychological abominations I've spoken of previously - the vileness that becomes self-perpetuating through becoming the substance of people's convictions and becomes reality when it is only part of reality by becoming the substance of people's beliefs?
At this point the supposed realist has a choice: Of either being honest and exploring further, or of retreating behind one or another decoy, thus giving away the fact that he's not actually a realist and not actually honest. And if he does explore, he starts finding such intricacies and beauty as to forever vanquish the hubris of linearity and to open the mind to more inclusive and more complete understanding of the universe and of man.
His understanding of the world expands; the preceding confidences become less apparent. The mirrors are seen for their convexity, and one's mind is taken into a more complete place. One looks into other mirrors, sees both self and them. Knowledge builds; so does inspiration and wisdom and the dynamic synthesis that is true integrity. Then mirrors and self are seen more clearly, and former masters become associates. This allows higher quality of inspiration and shapes the intuitive into producing more informed and more fully inspired artifacts. The process of integration and interpolation among multiple sets of premises creates more profound artwork and one with an ever-growing understanding of human reality. And human reality is by resulting art and ideas enriched and made more dignified and splendid.
I need not say to what extent this can be of use to psychologists. This is a matter likewise of being able to both understand the patient's experience of the world, and to also see the entirety of the situation. Thus is arrived a far more complete plan of treatment than one of either acting alone.
Once again, the results that work the most combine the intrinsic and the referential. The best of the intrinsic method has been shown by R. D. Laing. When a young woman in a mental hospital sat naked in the cell rocking and would not talk to anyone, he came in, took off his clothes and started rocking next to her, at which point she started talking to him as well. Upon leaving the cell he told other psychiatrists, "Did you not think to do that?"
While this example may be considered by some to be ripe with potential for abuse of power, I am of the belief that this is a useful technique. Essentially the therapist experiences the client's inner world and then understands it intrinsically. . A highly gifted psychiatric nurse, when confronted with a client who thought himself a camel, was pressed to find out how to administer to him medication. She thought, "Well, how would camel get his medication?" and she put it in a cup on the floor. The camel hobbled up and took the medicine. What she had done, was figure out the logic of the psychosis and act upon it. She went to where he had gone, and then found the way to lead him out of there. She used her heart to empathize with the camel and her mind to figure out what to do about it. This, is the optimal of psychiatry combining the mind and heart.
The other side is of course observation: An interpolation among convex mirrors. In some highly effective treatment programs there are people from multiple theoretical backgrounds, all assaying the client from their perspective and, through constant flux, diminishing the error that many closed systems fall into: The error of groupthink - the error of people prevailing upon each other to think the same way and thus letting errors perpetuate. Rather they form a multiplicity of mirrors, each true to its theory and each functional to its theory, and thus arrive at a more complete picture of the client and also a more complete picture of each other's belief structure. The method at that point becomes to interpolate among these perspectives to arrive at a greater cognizance - both of the client and of one another and ultimately themselves.
A question that the psychiatrist faces in front of him is, How does one defuse a nuclear bomb or a black hole? It's not enough to tinker with it on the outside as that would do nothing; it's not enough to go in it on the inside as one would get lost. The inner worlds can be beautiful or horrid or both at once; the question at this point becomes, How to reach into those inner worlds without breaking them, while leading the person out of the rabbit hole and into the sunlight? The error of many psychiatrists is that of completely destroying the people's worlds and leaving them dried, dead and broken. That's not psychiatry, that's oppression. It leaves the person worse off than he was before.
But through interpolation between the referential and the intrinsic it becomes possible to go into the mechanism, while holding on from without so that one understands where to go with it. The outside of the bomb is seen reflected in multiplicity of convex mirrors that are referential perspectives - ones that cannot, I repeat, cannot, be limited to a single interest or social locale, but rather have to combine multiplicity of perspectives from multiplicity of places and states of consciousness - in order that outside effects can be approximated most closely. The quantity of beam in the eye is reduced through interpolation among these perspectives. Thus nearness to objectivity and some awareness of subjective experience is achieved, and mind is seen - to an extent, the greater the better - both from within and from without. At which point it's possible to go into the mind and to lead it out, while making it possible for the inner world to exist.
Thus psychiatry that is worth anything depends upon the study of multiple perspectives, from multiple cultures and multiple theories. Integration through interpolation among these perspectives builds skill and wisdom in practice; which, due to the fluid nature of life, must be constantly refined. The quantity of beam in the eye is reduced through the process of integration and inter-analysis among Galilean reference frames: Of their assaying each other in reference to each other - of each viewing the other from its perspective and in so doing correcting each other's incompletenesses. The frames are themselves assayed based on the interest and the premise and the mentality of which they are a function, and quantity of distortion contained in them as functional of these things is quantified and assayed and computed. The curvature of the convex mirrors is quantified through analysis of such things, and correction is made in the resulting outcome. The beams in the eyes are reduced through this process, and greater clarity of reference frames is accomplished. And then it can be said that the matter is seen from the outside with a degree of objectivity.
The subjective perspective meanwhile is assayed through empathy; which process itself requires clarity of the heart. The goal of this process is to actually experience the world of the patient. This requires leaving behind one's conceptions - right ones or wrong ones - and taking the dive. While there, it is necessary to do the repair job; and then, like a skilled Houdini, it is necessary to go to the light, come out, and lead the patient out likewise.
Building upon the same theme, it is possible to use this method to enhance self-awareness. Using self as object (monkey in the middle) and convex mirrors of multitude of perspectives - and that means perspectives from multiplicity of cultures, professions and belief structures - it becomes possible to create a more complete vision of self. Which mirrors can be seen later for the curvature in them (the interest or ideology or character shaping them), and the wrong conclusions discarded while the right ones kept.
This of course can be done by self, but likewise with somebody else used as a sounding board. The problem with latter scenario is that of course the next person is most likely likewise a convex mirror, and his convexity may be harder to spot because it is closer and contains emotional tangles. In any way, this is a way toward enhanced knowledge of self; a worthwhile task as it leads one to make less errors and be less vulnerable to manipulation and abuse.
As knowledge of self increases, so does knowledge of reference frames and the causes of their one and sundry convexities. The knowledge of self and knowledge of others feed into each other to produce wisdom.
EDUCATION AND BUSINESS
The same methodology can be applied toward education. As Holt has pointed out convincingly, most of the problems of children in learning schoolwork is due to the teacher's failure to understand how the students think. As a tutor, I've made it my project to not only explain the material, but to do so in a way that the student understands - based on understanding of the student's thinking processes.
The job of the tutor is to weave a path between the material and the mind of the student. It is not only to explain the material objectively, but to make it available to the student according to how the student himself thinks. This requires intrinsic understanding of the student's mind as it in itself functions - and then making the material palatable to the student based on that.
The latter task means nothing less than this: Understanding the way the mind of the student works. The difference between the minds of the students means that different approaches will work for different students. It is therefore imperative, based on the analysis of the student's work, his statements, his interests, his background, opinions of people from different backgrounds and characteristics and ideologies, or - all of these things, in an integrative analysis - to create a more complete picture of the mind of the student; and then to present the material in such a way as to register in his mind, whose more complete picture has just been created.
In business the purpose is to understand the client, or the partner, or the employee, or the associate, well enough as to make the correct sales pitch while also knowing whether the product is right for them. This, once again, involves the same process. Through integrative analysis of the record, the statements of people working with him, the impressions of customers, the methodology of the business affiliate becomes apparent; at which point it becomes possible to have enough of a picture of him to understand who he is and how to work with him.
The 1970s Democrats practiced an inclusive ideology that included multiplicity of perspectives. Jimmy Carter was accused of trying to micromanage, which is to say that he did not trust his subordinates, because he felt that they did not have the same perspective or agenda as did he. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, felt comfortable delegating power to his subordinates, because he picked subordinates who believed exactly as he believed. This led to a well-run machinery; it also led to groupthink, coercion and similitude of all thought and attitude. Until it could be said, paraphrasing one of Reagan's subordinates, that "If you've seen one Reagan Republican, you've seen them all."
What are the dangers of groupthink? That of dogmatic thinking that fails to have clarity. That of prevailing on people into perpetuation of party line, thus blinding them to reality - reality that they claim to espouse and which they claim to be common sense. The party line effectively becomes commonsense, and any deviation from it is viciously prosecuted. Until anyone who has any capacity for original thinking is broken and desecrated and shoved into the gutter.
The party line blinds one to reality; this perpetuates errors. All is assayed in reference to the party line rather than either intrinsically or through a synthesis of referential planes. The gropthink becomes the ideology; it becomes forbidden to look or to voice opinions that disagree from the party line; and errors perpetuate, often grievous errors. Errors such as raising the federal debt sixfold under the last Republican presidents; failing to do anything about the ever-apparent environmental catastrophe; turning America into a giant strip mall; breaking down everyone who thinks differently; and as a final and justified outcome failing to see the evil in one's own ranks.
Once party line has become reality, the task stops being one of leading and becomes one of bludgeoning. The population becomes devitalized; broken; expropriated. And all the perceptions, ideas, art, business, and thought of the civilization become functional to the beam contained underneath the convex mirror of Reaganism.
Where does this lead? As in case of all ideologies that blind people to clarity, it led to consequences that were unanticipated (or sometimes perhaps anticipated) functional to the ideology. An ideology that believes that tax cuts are the solution to everything can, and always will, lead to huge federal debt. An ideology that believes that human activity cannot affect the environment can, and always will, lead to pollution and sickening of people here and elsewhere around the world. An ideology that believes that there is a single American way that is right for everyone can, and always will, lead to destruction of people's individuality and - far more ominously - people being prevented from contributing what they have to offer or making good on the Constitutional promise of life and liberty: the promise that it itself is claiming to protect.
These aren't coincidences or stereotypes. These are direct and inevitable results of these dogmas, and it is the Republicans therefore that need a reality check.
So what do I prescribe? At political level another set of beam-removal techniques and interpolation. Through reflection of same object among multiple cultural and social and political mirrors, abrasion of beam. Attainment of clarity through this process and clarity that leads to enhancement and life and liberty functional to the noumenal, which is discerned likewise from the inside.
And which therefore blossoms through the core and reference frames into manifestation as the most clear, the most informed, the most understanding, and most benign manifestation of which it is capable - and which is made more so through application of integrative cognition.