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We approach issues in a manner which I would label as "reductionist".  The alternative is a holistic approach.  A holistic approach recognizes that compartmentalizing issues destroys something.  In complexity theory we believe that the whole is more than the mere sum of its parts.  If this is true then reducing things to their parts destroys something.  Reducing political discussion to an issue oriented mode definitely destroys something.  The interconnections between topics is the key to the way issues relate to world views.  In this diary I am going to focus on the way world views and issues are related and try to bring us to a better understanding of our current political dillema.

Let us go back to Lakoff.  He was critiqued here and much of that critique was very useful.  It was incomplete, however, and this incompleteness leaves us where we miss some crucial insights.  In review, Lakoff deals with a number of interrelated issues.  Let us list some for a basis of further discussion:

  1. Framing
  1. Direct cause vs systemic cause(I will call the later "complex      cause"since I am a complexity scientist)
  1. The Strong Father vs the Nuturing mother models
  1. The embodied mind
  1. The need for metaphor to introduce new ideas

These are useful, but incomplete ideas.  In the Kos critique, the "monkey morality" metaphor was used.  This again added something yet was, in a sense, a straw man.

Where I intend to go is to put Lakoff's ideas and the monkey metaphor into a broader context that weaves together religion, science, and politics into a broader world view.  The strategy is to examine people's public statements from the framework of what worlview they are representing.  The ability to do this automatically and irreversibly requires that we step out of our own precious world view and try to see where the other is coming from.  I maintain that this is the only way to grow personally.  It can be very boring to those who do not wish to grow personally.  

The central analytical tool here has do do with causality.  Aristotle gave us the best basis to date for dealing with causality and, unfortunately, the biggest weakness in Lakoff's use of causality is in missing the framework provided by Aristotle.

I also want to assure everyone that I come to this with very well developed predjudices.  However, I come to this not to convert anyone, but to continue my own personal growth.  Can the dialogue begin?

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 09:10 PM PST.

Poll

What best explains events in nature?

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| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey, Don (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk

    Big topic!
    Aristotle's analysis of causes attempted to answer the 'why' in the natural world.  Do you consider religion to be a part of the natural world, and I'm not referring to natural in that it is common to humans, but scientifically in that we could analyze it as obeying what we consider natural laws.  Or does it exist outside what is natural to us, 'supernatural' if you will.  If so, is a holistic view possible?
    Or are we stuck with dualism, or more?

    Do you think that some day we will use science to explain religion, or is religion an immeasurable neural construct similar to ghosts, and philosophy?

    Of course, I don't have the answers, but good on 'ya for thinking about the big stuff on these cold winter nights!

    P.S.  My answer to the poll, is I don't know.

    •  As a scientist I try to be a holist (0+ / 0-)

      My scientific work is what led me to try to come up with a holistic world view.  Their is an interesting philosophical point that we can not escape if we believe a central mantra of complexity science: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts".  Unless one is a strict reductionist, one has to admit the truth of this mantra.  (All off your atoms and molecules in a pile is no longer you).

      The implication of this is that there is "something"  that dissapears when we reduce a complex reality to its material parts.  I am not talking about the usual notion of spiritual here.  What is closest in a religious sense is the beliefs of Native Americans (God is Red by Vine Deloria).

      Robert Rosen gave this something a more formal, scientific name: "functional components".  These functional components are only defined in a specific context and are destroyed when the system is reduced to its molecular or atomic constituents.

      We have a machine metaphor for living organisms that came from DesCartes.  If you go through a causal analysis of a machine you find that machines are always impoverished causally.  That means they always need causal entailment from outside.  Rosen was able to show that living organisms are actually distinct from machines because they have a closed system of causality.

      The schocking result of this analysis is that reuctionist/mechanistic science REQUIRES a diety to supply the missing causation in thier world view.  Complex systems theory provides an alternative that eliminates that need!

      Here we have a world view where one has a clear picture of what one is doing when one chooses certain sets of assumptions about nature.  Holistic thinking should always result in bringing us to such a point.  You are free to pick and choose your beliefs, but you now know how they fit into the overall scheme of things.  I realize that this is an incomplete picture, but I am developing it more completely in my diary.

      An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 10:55:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is no such thing as a "spiritual event" (0+ / 0-)

    so anything you say about "spiritual events" is meaningless

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

    by tiponeill on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 11:45:22 PM PST

    •  Unless, of course (0+ / 0-)

      you've experienced one.

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 03:43:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  meaningless to some not to others (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      watercarrier4diogenes

      My whole point is that their are entire world views where the idea of a spiritual event is anything BUT meaningless.  Try reading Vine Deloria's "God is Red" for example.  It will get you out of the narrow frame of "spirituality" in which Western Christianity has put us.  We can not be politicical if we merely dismiss views outside our own world view.  To be politically successful we must try to walk a mile in the other's shoes.  Then we can begin to put together a political philosophy that unites rather than divides.  Understanding another world view does no require sacrificing your own.  It can only help you grow.

      An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 10:30:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why do you think that I don't understand (0+ / 0-)

        a superstition just because I realize that it IS superstition ?

        I understand perfectly how spople can believe that disease is caused by demon possession - I don't need to walk a mile in anyone's shoes before I tell them that what they need is penicillin

        Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

        by tiponeill on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 11:21:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  unless..... (0+ / 0-)

          unless you want to better understand them as a fellow human being.  Using "superstion" as you did was meant to be perjoritive was it not?  I can point to many scientific beliefs taht can be labeled the same way.  If you understand, as you claim to, then why do you act so superior?  What does it accomplish?

          In medicine we deal with things like the placebo effect and psychsomatic medicine, stress, etc.  etc.  We do not try to come in conflict with a patient's world view.  We try to convince them to broaden it.

          And you are correct, you never have to walk a mile in anyone else's shoes if that is how you prefer to deal with things.

          An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 12:15:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why do you maintain that I don't understand (0+ / 0-)

            them, or that one must give credence to a superstiton in order to "understand" someone who holds that superstition ?

            In medicine if you come across the local shaiman who tells mothers to rub dung on the umbilical cord at birth and you are confronted with a nursery full of newborns with tetanus what do you do ?

            Do you embrace the spirituality, or do you tell your patients that this is harmful superstition ?

            That would be acting superior, I know, but it is the morally correct thing to do.

            Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

            by tiponeill on Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 05:57:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  straw men fall easily (0+ / 0-)

              Your straw man arguments have nothing to do with the discussion or with what I have posted so far.  Just what is your point?

              I have tried to get you to realize that other people's world views differ from yours.  I asked you to consider their view even if you have another. I suggest that even if you totally reject the other's view for yourself, you might grow personally if you try to respect other's world views. You frame your straw men in ridiculous examples to avoid the real discussion.  What is the problem?

              An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 08:46:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If it is a straw man (0+ / 0-)

                then you haven't been very clear as to your point ?

                I have tried to get you to realize that other people's world views differ from yours.

                I realized that 50 years ago - what else is new ?

                I asked you to consider their view even if you have another

                I always "consider" the witch doctor's world view - again, tht is a given. What does "consideration" consist of other than realizing that it is there ?

                I suggest that even if you totally reject the other's view for yourself, you might grow personally if you try to respect other's world views.

                And I reply that it would not cause me to grow personally to respect this tragic spread of tetanus - and it would be fatal to it's victims.

                What is a "straw man" about what I have said, and why is it not "real discussion" ?

                It is a very real world example - if you think it is "ridiculous" then you are refusing to face the reality of the path you are recommending.

                Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

                by tiponeill on Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 12:18:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  do you know what a straw man argument is? (0+ / 0-)

                  No where did I discuss "witch doctor", "tetanus", or any other ideas you set up as straw men to take pot shots at.  It would be far more honest to discuss what I did post.

                  An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 06:28:19 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I know what a straw man argument is (0+ / 0-)

                    and that is not one.

                    It is a concrete example of dealing with people with other world views, and whether your recommendation makes any sense.

                    I'm simply pointing out to you that what you are saying only sounds good to you but is rather meaningless nonsense.

                    I can see that this upsets your world view and you aren't going to accept it, but I felt I should at least point it out

                    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

                    by tiponeill on Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 07:39:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Aristotelian Causality (0+ / 0-)

    Aristotle had this view of causality.  in complexity science we see the answer to the question "Why?" which was Aristotle's question, to be a missing component of information theory.  The mechanist/reductionist question is "How?" because if everything is a machine we need only to know how it works.

    Aristotle's question has multiple answers all related.  For Example: "Why a house?"

    1. Material cause:  the bricks, wood, etc.  that it is made of.
    1. Efficient cause.  A builder put the materials together.
    1. Formal cause: The builder followed a plan.
    1. Final cause: There is a need for a dwelling place.  There is a purpose for the house.

    Please note that final cause is very different from teleology.  Using this kind of causal analysis Robert Rosen was able to create a dichotomy between living organisms and machines.  He turned an ill posed question "What is Life?" into a well posed question "Why are orgaisms different from machines?"  and answered it.  Organisms are closed to efficient cause while machines are causually impoverished and need something to close an infinite regression of causal "whys?".  Usually a diety does this.
    organisms vs machines

    An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 11:14:42 AM PST

  •  poll result (0+ / 0-)

    A small sample.  Interestingly, the choice I would have picked got the most votes.  This is the basic belief of the camp complexity scientists with whom I identify.  Part of the excitement of this field is trying to work out new methods to deal with complex causality.  Lakoff used the distinction between direct causality and systemic causality to help him explain the differences betwen his progressive and conservative world models.  What he neglected was the fact that most of the science we know also relies almost totally on direct cause explanations.  This safely avoids any temptation for traditional science to explore claims like the existence of spiritual or supernatural realities except within the scope of the tightest of investigative methods.  However, it also prevents traditional science from dealing with issues that are clearly real in complex systems without recasting those issues in a mechanistic, direct causal frame.

    As soon as one admits that there is an ontological existence for things other than atoms and molecules the pandora's box is opened.  So either complex reality exists and the whole is more than the sum of its parts or we accept on faith that only direct causal explanations are valid, more or less conceeding the intellectual high ground to the conservative world view.

    An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at 02:52:01 PM PST

  •  TIP JAR (0+ / 0-)

    An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 10:56:21 AM PST

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