Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Integrative Cognition and Dualities

Methods of Investigation

The natures of cultures, societies, religions, lifestyles, communities, families and individual people can only be fully assayed through combination of external examination and subjective experience. The first shows the entity's effects on the world; the second, the experience of the people who are a part of it. To do the first, is to know the nature of the entity in its external effects. To do the second, is to know its nature as felt and experienced by its participants.

The merely external examination fails to understand the exerience and is felt by the participants as being out of touch, cold, and lacking in understanding. The merely experiential fails to compute the entity's external effects and also fails to see and correct its wrongs and itse errors, allowing these errors and wrongs to continue unchecked. As these errors and wrongs continue unchecked, they continue to grow.

The scientific method being one of empirical analysis and observation, many of those who are drawn to it become hostile to anything that involves such things as empathy, feeling, or subjective experience. In understanding people at individual or collective level, this attitude is wrong. Understanding people means also understanding their experience and thus being able to relate to them. The journalist, the sociologist, the psychologist, need to be able to do this in order to have a complete enough knowledge to do their work with wisdom. The humanistic psychology not only recognizes the need for empathy; it demands it. And empathy training is an essential part of the training of anyone ivolved in psychology or social science.

But empathy itself is likewise not sufficient. As the purely empathic feels the experience of a person or a group of people, she gets lost in their world and forgets the rest of the world and their effects on it. She identifies with their experience and, as part of it, identifies also with their errors and their wrongs - frequently to her own grave wrong. Someone who empathizes with a Talibanist or a member of Christian Identity gets used for a wrongful agenda - at grave expense to herself, her children, and (if the people with whom she's empathized get their way) the rest of the world. Empathy, and caring, can easily be exploited for goals that are in no way caring or empathic, and the tragic experiences of those who have made such a choice is evidence of that fact.

Empathy must be balanced with discernment if one is to avoid such a fate. At the same time, the rational mind must be balanced with empathy in order to avoid greater errors of cruelty, coldness, and out-of-touch ineffectuality. The full examination of any human phenomenon demands to know both its effects on the world and its effects on participants. And this requires intelligence and empathy working together to create not only an integrative assessment of what is under examination, but also more integrated people themselves.

Approaching Dualities

The Western thinking and Eastern thinking is both dualistic; however the dualities are treated in West and East in completely different ways. Whereas the Western thinking posits valued dualities, in which one side is good and the other is bad, the Eastern thinking posits value-neutral dualities that interact with and interpenetrate one another. And whereas the thinking of Eastern philosophy concerns with achieving balance among the dualities - and the thinking of Taoism is concerned with seeing past the dualities to the nondual reality - a thinking more pertinent to the world would be concerned instead with maximizing the positive outcomes for each side of the duality and for their interaction, while minimizing the negative effects of both.

The value-neutral dualities - such as male and female, nature and civilization, business and labor, private sector and public sector, thinking and feeling, self-interest and altruism - are made value-neutral by the fact that they both exist, not by moral choice based on values, but simply as parts of reality. Not existing by moral choice, they have zero correlation with moral judgment. Zero correlation with moral judgment means: Tendency toward good; tendency toward bad; and tendency toward indifferent; will be found in each side of the duality. And the process of maximizing the positive outcomes and minimizing the negative outcomes will consist of - each side checking the other's harmful tendencies; leaving each other alone where the direction is positive; and collaborating with each other when such is beneficial.

The non-valued dualities can interact in these ways:

- One can impact the other positively;
- One can impact the other negatively;
- One can operate independently of the other toward either positive, negative or value-neutral outcomes;
- The two can collaborate in a constructive manner;
- The two can collaborate in a destructive manner.

A viable approach toward maximizing the beneficial outcomes and minimizing the negative outcomes will see all these potentials and work to enhance the positive ones and minimize the negative ones.

In addition to value-neutral dualities such as the preceding, there is also such a thing as valued dualities. Dualities such as health and disease, knowledge and ignorance, good and evil, are neither equal nor are they of equal value. In valued dualities, one is good and the other is bad; and the benefit comes from maximizing the good side and minimizing the bad side. One of the greatest errors one can commit is to confuse value-neutral dualities with valued dualities and to claim value-neutral duality like "man and woman" to be comparable to a valued duality such as "good and evil." There is no room for this error, as it results in horrible wrong - either that error be of claiming men good and women bad, or of claiming good and evil to be equal in value. In both cases a terrible wrong is done. The non-valued dualities are only similar to valued dualities in their dualism. Beyond that, similarity between them ends.

This error has been taken to variously disastrous ends by various forces in society. Whether misogynists claiming men to be good and women to be evil, socialists claiming workers to be good and business to be evil, Republicans claiming private sector to be good and public sector to be evil, rationalists claiming reason to be good and feelings to be evil, or representatives of some religions claiming civilization to be good and nature to be evil and spirit to be good and physicality to be evil, in all cases a horrible wrong has been done.

All of the above-mentioned forces are value-neutral. They are all capable of action good, bad and indifferent. Claiming one to be good and the other to be evil results in wrongs condoned and institutionalized on the part of the first side of the duality, and a brutal and hideous oppression against the second side. And while we see many movements on the part of the second side in either of these (and many other) dualities claiming their to be good and the first side to be evil, the truth of the matter is that neither side is either good or evil. Both are value-neutral; both are capable of right, wrong, and indifferent.

The valued-duality approach, when applied to value-neutral dualities, is therefore disastrous. This is the kind of thinking that leads to creation of ever-growing hostilities and ever-growing oppression. The correct approach to dealing with value-neutral dualities is to see their capacities - to destructive outcomes; to neutral outcomes; and to beneficial outcomes. And then to - reduce the first; leave free the second; and encourage the third where possible. All are there; all are legitimate; all are capable of both positive and negative effects. The goal in all cases is to maximize the value for each and of benefits of both while minimizing the negative effects.

The public sector and private sector are both there because they serve demand - the first at the poll booth, the second in the marketplace. Business and labor are two components of the production process. Nature and civilization are both parts of the world - the first of the world as not created by human being; the second of the world created by human beings. As for self-interest and humanity-interest, a being that exists both as individual self and as part of its species will have natural inclinations toward benefit of both, with different levels, in different people, and at different times in their lives. In all cases, we see value-neutral dualities that can either injure each other, leave each other alone, or work together. And in all cases, the interaction must be aimed at reducing the negative effects and maximizing the positive ones.

This is achievable in a three-tier model. At the bottom level, each side in the duality has right to protect itself from the negative effects of the other side. Civilization has right to protect itself from viruses and harmful bacteria; people concerned for well-being of the world and the future generations have right to protect rich and essential environments from destruction. Business has right to protect itself from Luddites and robbers; labor has right to protect itself from brutal and corrupt business practices. Private sector has right to protect itself from excessive regulation; public sector has right to protect itself from those who want it gone. Finally, individual interest has right to protect itself from oppression, tyranny, and similitude, as does humanity-interest from those whose self-interest demands planetary destruction and lasting damage to humanity.

In the middle level, each side in the duality should accomplish the most of itself while leaving the other alone to accomplish the most of itself. Civilization should blossom, and so should nature, as human intelligence makes it possible to fulfil the needs of humanity in a manner that less impinges upon the natural world. Business and labor should both leave each other to do their sides of the work. Private sector should leave the private sector to do its work of producing prosperity, and private sector should leave the public sector to do its work of defense, law enforcement, education, infrastructure, and reducing ills. Likewise, the humanity-interest should leave people to define who they are, become who they want to be, and express to fulfilment their life and liberty - just as individual interest should leave humanity-interest to do its work of protecting human rights and creating a livable future.

At the top level, the value-neutral dualities should engage in positive collaboration that makes possible what either cannot do alone. Greening the cities and suburbs, creating synthetic lifeforms to clean out landfills, producing nanotechnological devices to clean out arteries, and planting forests and farmland in places such as Sahara, Gobi, and deserts of Australia, Arabia and American Southwest, will see nature and civilization working together to create a better future for both. Business and labor work together to create the product. Private sector and public sector have worked together on projects such as the Interstate and the Internet and should work together now on putting in place sustainable and effective clean-energy and clean-water solutions for the world. As for self-interest and humanity-interest, the benefit is maximized when people are given the freedom to choose their lives and to contribute to humanity as they can. In this situation, both the self-directed aspect of human being and the humanity-directed aspect are served and work for mutual benefit, resulting in the complete solution - as opposed to either pure individualism or pure collectivism, both of which only see a half.

In the integrative solution, the negative effects of collective-minded beliefs (oppression, tyranny, and similitude) are checked by affirmation of individual life and freedom; the negative effects of individualist beliefs (isolation, cruelty, short-sighted destructive rapacity) are checked by affirmation of the needs of humanity; both individual interest and humanity interest are acknowledged and are served; and, at the top level, the two work together on matters of interest to both individual people and humanity itself - matters such as, for example, creating a livable and sustainable long-term future.

This approach to dualities recognizes, once again, their value-neutral nature and as such their capacity - for harming the other (which is checked by each protecting its prerogatives); for doing their own thing (which is made possible by leaving each other to do their part without negative interference); and for working together with one another (which is made possible by collaboration where such is beneficial). In this model, the negative effects are minimized, and the positive effects are maximized - both for each side of the duality and for what it requires them both to create. Checks and balances, freedom, and collaboration, all exist in this model - and are applied where they are applicable.

Further, care must be taken by entities external to each duality to reduce the negative-collaboration potential. If, say, public sector and private sector decide to join forces to create a fascist state such as Franco's Spain or Pinochet's Chile, to wage unjust wars for corporate interest, or to oppress and tyrannize people, the result is negative collaboration: The dualities working together toward a
negative outcome. The negative-collaboration potential cannot be corrected for from within the duality, but can be corrected for externally to the duality - by voice of those who come at the receiving end of the negative collaboration.

Whereas positive collaboration should be encouraged wherever possible. The public sector and private sector working together on projects such as the Interstate and the Internet have been the source of huge economic boom and prosperity for the country. When thinking and feeling work together, the result is insight and understanding attained faster and deeper than by either of the preceding acting alone, as well as intelligence informed by human experience that has the possibility of actually being beneficial toward human existence.

When the needs of both nature and civilization are taken into consideration in creation of economic benefit, the result is a sustainable development that fulfils the needs of the man-made world of civilization while leaving intact and wholesome the world of nature that man has not created and cannot at this time recreate. When women and men collaborate on creating and raising new life - when business and labor work together harmoniously to produce international economic prosperity - when both spirit and physicality are tended to and work together - the results are such that neither part would be able to accomplish alone. Similarly there is potential for collaboration between altruism and self-interest - to make better world for the people, and better people for the world.

Integrative Approach

Integrative approach to dualities makes it possible to make the best of both worlds. It makes possible coexistence with mutual understanding, allowing real peace. The man and the woman who make a real effort to understand and work with each other create far more wholesome, productive, and lastingly loving relaitonships than those who make no such effort. And if the interest of creating wholesome family life is to come to any kind of a real fruition, this must be the fact of the relationships and their norm.

Similarly, integrative approach can and should be applied to such entities as nature and civilization. The needs of humanity must be provided in such a way that does not destroy what man has not created and cannot rebuild. Human intellect and human effort must be put to work toward affectuating this outcome. Techonology that uses only the energy of the sun and the ocean water to deliver both water and energy, conveniently and economically, round-the-clock, while producing as outcome only fresh water to be recycled into the environment, stands to fulfil both energy and water requirements of
humanity indefinitely while greatly reducing the burden of the same on the planet.

The thinking that values, respects, and quantifies both aspects of the duality, selects for and incentivizes solutions that work for the benefit of both. In this is set forth the intellectual infrastructure for creating and putting into place such mutually beneficial solutions on the part of both sides of the dualities.

With business and labor, private sector and public sector, self-interest and humanity- interest, similar benefit can be achieved.

By application of objective and subjective methods of investigation working together, can be understood human phenomena quicker and to a fuller extent.

And by application of integrative approach, can be made the best of the inputs and the best of the outcome, while each part protects itself from the negative effects of the other, the negative interaction is checked, and the positive interaction is maximized for the benefit of each side, their outcome, and all that it stands to affect.