In the realm of the audiophile, one is looking for high fidelity sound. In the visual realm, one is looking for high resolution imaging. Visual clarity, detail, and sharpness are best expressed through hi-rez imaging. The fidelity, clarity, detail, and sharpness of hi-def are also abundantly helpful as we approach the meanings we invest in words and language.
Definition of terms and shared understandings can be difficult to attain, and differing value systems only adds difficulty. The political left and right see/value problems from dramatically different perspectives, e.g., social justice (community) vs. personal responsibility (individuality), respectively.
“Here we go”
That time in a conversation/discussion/argument when calls for definition of terms begin to fly—usually a sign that what may have seemed like a friendly exchange is actually contentious and the entire dialog is now threatened with running aground on jagged rocks. And yet, without a shared sense of facts, some agreed-to-meaning, and a common structure to process the issues we face together, society is fated to devolve into something likely to be far more brutish. In an important way, meaningful discourse requires a strong and stable Blue [DQ] component. Why? Simply because it is through Blue values that we begin to create/understand meaning—e.g., it is prototypical Blue to create community through meaning.
What does removing all nuclear threat from the Korean peninsula mean? How is ‘denuclearization’ defined? In the conversation between President Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, apparently that really depends on who one asks. Trump thinks it means that Kim Jung Un must scrap North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and destroy any extant nuclear weapons. While all the tactical United States nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea in 1991, Kim thinks denuclearization means the U.S.A. must agree to remove its nuclear armament umbrella that protects South Korea and Japan. In this instance, different definitions of denuclearization may indeed mean that both parties may be using a unilateral frame and expecting the other to remove all of their potential threat without consideration of one’s own potential threat. President Trump hopes to use what he perceives as the latent capitalist potential/opportunity in the North Korean nation [he thinks it’s located well for doing business in the region] as the incentive in the negotiations. This, with what is seen by most as the most stridently communist nation on earth. Perhaps misguided?
So, obviously, meaningful discussion requires shared definitions. And yet, this blog has been about reckoning with the seeming fact that decency gets variously defined in different contexts. Adding to the complexity of meaning is the Gravesian reality that our constellation of vMEMEs, and their attending values, shapes how we interpret facts and define how words apply in a given consideration.
Is the meaning in the form, and its conventional definition itself, or in the reaction of the hearer to the form—and its conventional definition—within a particular context? In art we’re talking, here, about the distinction between form and reader response criticism. While both would exclude the other, reality resides somewhere in a conversation among the two.
Agency and Communion
In Graves research he found that movement along the spiral traces a pendulum between warm and cool color vMEMEs. Warm color vMEMEs reflect an express-self orientation, or agency. Cool color vMEMEs reflect a sacrifice-self orientation, or communion. Warm Beige [AN], Red [CP], and Orange [ER] are individualistic, express-self, agency oriented vMEMEs. Cool Purple [BO], Blue [DQ], and Green [FS] are communal, sacrifice-self, communion oriented vMEMEs.
The Behaviorist takes an atomistic (warm color vMEMEs, agency) approach while the Gestalt psychologist sees in terms of holism (cool color vMEMEs, communion). Arthur Koestler has very helpfully visualized a way to think about and unlock this relationship. In his book, The Ghost in the Machine, he writes:
“A ‘part’, as we generally use the word, means something fragmentary and incomplete, which by itself would have no legitimate existence. On the other hand, a ‘whole’ is considered as something complete in itself which needs no further explanation. But ‘wholes’ and ‘parts’ in this absolute sense just do not exist anywhere, either in the domain of living organisms or of social organizations.”
Under the above, Koestler coins a new term to free the terms whole and part from their absolute, excluded-middle way of being in relation.
“The term I would propose is ‘holon’, from the Greek holos = whole, with the suffix on which, as in proton or neutron, suggests a particle or part.” [pg. 48]
In a brilliant move—through the notion of: holon—Koestler synergistically brings the dualistic, e.g., the part and the whole, into dynamic union.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Note: This blog has outlined Spiral Dynamics, a complex developmental anthropology. I used a serial-approach, introduction (June 30), first in series (July 1).