Monday, April 18, 2011

Why this blog?

This blog is called "Art of Objectivity" because I don't think objectivity has a formula or methodological foundation. When I first read the article (included in the sidebar) by Eugene Wigner, a physicist,  I was struck by his saying that it is not the application of some principle, template, formula or algorithm, but rather, "the skill and ingenuity" of an experimenter, which allows him or her to identify objects of study whose causes can be identified and reproduced.  I think this could be expanded (with some major caveats, to be introduced later) to say that human beings can learn to identify themes and recurring patterns, and with caution, use them to navigate their way in nature and in the world of politics, and they do so best, not by relying on some kind of "best practice" or pure unbiased methodology (whatever that would be) but by applying their care and concern, interest and curiosity, wisdom and intelligence to problem solving.  This is a dignified approach to learning.

With that in mind, I can explain why I'm writing this blog. I'm thinking aloud about the way we come to understand our relationship to nature. There have been countless stories about this over milennia and its countless civilizations.

The stories that we tell come to us from different dimensions of existence: myths and religions, the political sphere, the world of academics (both the sciences and humanities) and its tribal schisms, even today the world of image and advertising.

Anthropologists, psychoanalysts, analytical psychologists, philosophers, sociologists and historians all have commented on our ideas about ourselves in the world.  It seems to me, though, that we haven't really come to the right questions to ask, because we insulate ourselves in our anthropomorphic bubbles - those stories either scientific, religious or political, that continue to make some aspect of humanity the key to our eternal rightness and well-being in a world that we are supposed to transcend, one way or another. We believe we transcend nature because we're mostly rational beings (we're not, of course) or beings for whom nature itself was created (it wasn't) or beings who are enlightened, modern, no longer superstitious and "primitive" or primordial.

My take is that we're products of nature, we live in nature, we are hominids, mammals, vertebrates, etc., and we, like other animals, have instincts. To come to an understanding of our relationship to the world, we need to question and understand our deepest instincts about it.

I work from the hypothesis that human instincts unconsciously anchor the relationships between the available technology , the work we do gathering what we need from nature, our economic and social roles in the distribution of what we gather, and the power structures that emerge from that dynamic.  We have deeply embedded scripts around these relationships and these contribute to a profound sense of belonging. I would say these stories have a scent that connects and grounds us (well or ill.) Our instincts occur to us in ritual and symbology, ranging from the most solemn (e.g., rituals of birth, marriage, death) to the most power entrenching (i.e., attaining the throne) to the most rousing (e.g., sports), to the superficial (Tim Horton's vis a vis the Canadian national identity and other well-merchandised rituals of a consumer economy. )

So, in future entries, what I'm going to try to do is spell out our stories of our relation to nature and how they sustain our social and political roles. (This has implications for change management, as well.)

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