a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
This “[UMC] …” series of 3-minute readouts regarding the United Methodist Church [UMC] (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (‘reset’ here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (last week) is meant to be generative, not definitive. “Compatibilism” is key to “The 95% solution.”
“Certainty” …. it’s ironic…paradoxical, even
A strong appeal of traditional thinking [TT] [as in GG3, i.e., Greek gang of three, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle] is its proven precision. (Landing humans on the moon springs to mind.) We like TT because it is actually able to afford us a sizable measure of “relative certainty”…that is, if TT stays in its lane. Problems arise when TT pretends to be certain regarding perceptions, theory and/or the unknowable. “Absolute certainty” is always an overreach and it’s never available to us.
By now, it should be clear that TT is dominant in most any circumstance and is even quite reliable within it’s native realm — its own ‘lane,’ i.e., the external world of discrete objects and their relationships. However, TT is far from dependable when it tries to objectivize humans and their internal worlds.
The dominance of TT is the chief reason that we have made tremendous technical progress and yet so little advance in terms of human affairs. Many argue that we’re actually regressing in terms of human affairs — climate collapse, destruction of earth’s environment, biodiversity loss, totalitarian/authoritarian nationalism, xenophobia, increased militarism and so forth.
In his book, I Am Right You Are Wrong, Edward de Bono writes:
If this book seems to be attacking much of the basis of our traditional thinking culture (identity, contradiction, dichotomies, logic, language, argument, data analysis, history, etc.), it is because that is what it set out to do. [pgs. 29-30]
As I’ve written previously, to de Bono, TT is not ‘wrong;’ rather, it is limited, necessary but insufficient.
In several places de Bono makes it plain that:
Traditional logic is static, based on the solid foundation of ‘is’ and identity. In contrast to this traditional ‘rock logic’, de Bono proposes ‘water logic,’ which is based on ‘to’ and the flow of the mind. ‘What does this lead to?’ as opposed to ‘What is …?’
In the foreword of his book, Water Logic, de Bono offers a story to illustrate a key difference between “rock logic” [GG3] and “water logic” [i.e., the latter is based in human perception]:
Johnny was a young boy who lived in Australia. One day his friends offered him a choice between a one dollar coin and a two dollar coin. In Australia the one dollar coin is considerably larger than the two dollar coin. Johnny took the one dollar coin. His friends giggled and laughed and reckoned Johnny very stupid because he did not yet know that the smaller coin was worth twice as much as the bigger one. Whenever they wanted to demonstrate Johnny’s stupidity they would repeat the exercise. Johnny never seemed to learn.
One day a bystander felt sorry for Johnny and beckoning him over, the bystander explained that the smaller coin was actually worth twice as much as the larger coin.
Johnny listened politely, then he said: ‘Yes, I do know that. But how many times would they have offered me the coins if I had taken the two dollar coin the first time?’
A computer which has been programmed to select value would have had to choose the two dollar coin the first time around. It was Johnny’s human ‘perception’ that allowed him to take a different and longer-term view: the possibility of repeat business, the possibility of several more one dollar coins. [pg. ix]
If you laughed when Johnny explained his reasoning, then you are beginning to appreciate the nature of lateral thinking, i.e., it’s the same paradigm-shifting dynamic that animates humor. It’s a function of the way our brain operates, i.e., as a self-organizing information system that functions through pattern-recognition (cf. Edward de Bono, The Mechanism of Mind).
More next time regarding how patterns function in our thinking, how patterns serve to fashion beliefs (circular patterns), and how “po” and lateral thinking can disrupt rigid patterns embedded through the nature of our TT.
Once again, Alan Watts echoes de Bono, albeit with a somewhat different way of describing our problematic TT: