Re: Metcalf: "Images and Implements: The Making of Social Systems"
Posted by: newstinker
Date: June 22, 2004 05:01PM
With regards to human behavior, the difference between "animal" and "human", and the final suggestion of "trust" as a starting point, my initial thoughts on the paper, Implements and Images, are as follows:
Human behavior is governed by beliefs. Belief is firmly rooted in language. Those who are firm in their beliefs are easier to plan with because, even though you may disagree with them they are, at least, predictable. They can be trusted (to do right or wrong) and this is very important when one is engaged in planning. When you can trust that someone’s beliefs are in the “right place” you will believe that their actions will follow suit and therefore not see the need to make decisions for him or her.
A study of colonialism is a good example of the process of changing an already structured belief system. For example, many of the early colonialists did not share the same belief system with the native people. Many were there for a purpose beyond “soul-saving”. In order to implement economic and political changes, they knew that before they could change behavior, they had to change the native belief system. Once the “proper” beliefs (and language) were in place, the local people could then be trusted to perform certain behaviors and therefore, less managerial oversight would be needed.
So does management govern behaviour or belief govern behaviour? How about when beliefs are not yet determined or are in a state of constant flux? How do you design “a rational basis for planning and responsible decision making” under such conditions? Who will play the guiding role of Morpheus (See Matrix, the movie) and how will they go about doing so?
We have seen the outcome of what happens when thorough planning follows belief, especially when someone else has passed down a belief? Modern humans are given a belief from birth and then told to plan their lives. Children are hardly given the option to forge their own belief system. This is probably where humans have failed each other the most. How can we overcome the fear (increase trust) of different belief systems? I believe that humans, collectively, have yet to surpass their animal “relatives” on this issue. Yet again, we are at war!
We can first begin by agreeing that constructive argument (debate) is perfectly fine and even healthy for human development. In the animal world dissagreement usually leads to death. For humans, argument need not lead to physical violence, and if it does, it should be because it was the last option after several other failed attempts to come to resolution. The separation of the disciplines, races, sexes, and economic classes are probably an effort to reduce argument (i.e. maintain control). Argument can be appropriate if change is needed faster. Constructive argument is not in the best interest of anyone who wishes to maintain absolute control.
Planning while trying to avoid argument isn’t working for many in the information age. A major university in New York City, once known for having a bad reputation with its “neighbors” for neglecting their opposing viewpoints when it came to expansion, has taken on a new stance. It is now critical to listen to the opposing views of the neighbors otherwise no growth plan can be implemented successfully.
To reduce fear, thereby increasing trust, we cannot embrace constructive argument without encouraging interaction. It is natural to fear the unknown. We can limit fear (and increase trust) by encouraging interaction with the “other” or that which is feared. Animals don’t do this. Humans have a great potential to do so.