Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"... Peoples separated by a common language."

In my comment to Gagdad Bob regarding Nagarjuna "I did catch on towards the end of the "Free Will" comments - still though, I am a bit of a glutton", what I meant was that I suspected that in the end we would be talking past each other; but that is something that fascinates me to no end. How two people, using the same language, whose words allegedly have the same meaning, with no conscious intent on either party to deceive or trick the other, can nonetheless manage to effect almost to communication in their discussions.

Just fascinates the beejeebers out of me.

Thomas Sowell may have been on to something in his "A Conflict of Visions", with what he describes as the Constrained and the Unconstrained Visions. A brief summary of a very full book, would be that even when the two believe in the same goal, their respective Visions put them at absolute odds and generate deep misunderstandings not only through the way they use their words, but also how they believe things can and cannot work.

The Unconstrained Vision believes that people's character and abilities can be changed through educaiton, and that goals can be achieved only through collective engineering of the results, one milestone at a time, through mandates, policy & jiggering of the system, will result in people who make the (politically) correct decisions required to bring about the collective goal.

The Constrained Vision believe that people have relatively fixed characters and abilities, and such practices that are proposed by the Unconstrained Visionaries are not only too complex to be properly conceived, but that people can't be engineered from without, but must be the result of choices made by the numerous individuals, which through processes of individual choices made, will result in the goal beneficial to all.

Interesting to note that the Unconstrained Vision seems to tend towards some form of determinism and larger government to engineer their fine policies and make sure people make the correct choices, while the Constrained tends towards a reliance on Free Will and small government - though they tend to be very suspicious of how people might use that free will, Got to be kept a close eye on, ensure that that people believe they have Free Will... up to a certain proper point.

I tend towards the Constrained Vision. Tend. I think that there are still things to be learned in philosophy & how the mind & body function, which will ultimately reveal both visions to be but refractions of the same light source, caused by a mutually flawed lens. Looking for that flaw, and repairing that flaw (Narcissistic aspirations? Naw! I just want to fix the world through my blog, nothing grandiose about that) is the ultimate point of this blog.

And of course anything else that interests me along the way.


[By the way, I haven't figured how to turn on all the links & goodies in Blogger yet. I can write Software just fine - figure out how to use it? Forget about it!]


Steve said...

It fascinates me as well that people can "talk past" one another the way they do. A spiral dynamicist might explain it in terms of incompatible v-memes or something like that, which may be a little like Sowell's "conflict of visions."

However, I'm interested in whether it's possible to cultivate a kind of discussion or dialogue between people that overcomes these dispararities in perspective enough for them to at least understand one another a little better and respect each other a little more than they do initially, instead of doing like some people and dismissing people and their differing opinions outright.

You may find the idea of improved dialogue rather than mere, simple choice leading to greater mutual understanding and respect as some kind of misguided "deterministic" scheme doomed to fail, just as I may tend to regard your idea of choice in a causal vacuum as simplistic.

You're probably right that both "visions" in their extreme forms are distortions of the truth. If I were a betting man, I'd bet that the truth lies somewhere in between and that we are both "free" and "determined," or "free" when looked at one legitimate way, and "determined" when looked at another legitimate way, and that skillful means, methods, or "engineering" on the one hand and raw choice on the other to produce desired outcomes are both necessary much of the time.

Gagdad Bob said...

Van, this is MUCH better, much more inviting. Didn't want to say anything about the old site, but I think it was designed by a blind man--the same guy who designed Lancaster.

Please don't feel shy about pimping it any time you want at One Cosmos.

Van Harvey said...