Excerpted from intro to JLH website homepage. JLH 6/29/12
I’ve written several short “what this site is about” essays, you’ll find in various places elsewhere. They all attempt to introduce a way to begin studying the eventful lives of the individually organized and behaving systems of nature, our many kinds of animated companions with which we share the environment . It’s naturally quite hard to understand what’s happening inside a visibly eventful social group, for example, though we may be intensely aware of its presence. That also applies to much of the eventfulness of history in general, that life is a place where “things happen” and often for relatively invisible and apparently local causes. Any natural system is defined by its own internal loops of relationships, is a way to state that as a problem, so for an observer, the working parts of any animated system start off being largely invisible.
One very powerful technique for probing the organization of eventful and self-organizing cultural or economic systems is one I’ve rarely mentioned. Maybe it’s the one I should lead with, though. It’s a way of using your two natural modes of thought, intuitive and rational, to “proof read” each other’s work. It allows your feelings to read and inform your reasoning and vis-a-vis.
The effect of learning how to do that is to create “theories with feelings”, and “feelings that make sense”, something that is some individuals achieve on their own, but is rarely if ever taught as a practical technique. It’s very valuable for connecting your naturally “reductionist” explanatory thinking with your “holistic” intuitive and experiential thinking.
It helps overcome the problem that explanations are powerful tools but completely lack the responsiveness to their environments that intuitive feelings about things bring out. Similarly, emotional realizations maybe responsive to vastly complex sets of relationships, but it’s rare that people can derive their more practically useful logical elements, what I sometimes call “cybernetic body parts” that I look for to use in explanatory models of self-organizing systems.
A business plan to use its profits to create ever more profitable businesses, the “universal” business plan in our economy, describes a logical model for an exceedingly complex interaction with an environment that is missing from the model. To use your intuitive “right brain” awareness of real world experience to better understand the “left brain” model, you might think of business investment as planting seeds for growing more seeds to plant.
That adds to the seemingly isolated abstract model, use money to make money, a door to your rich personal awareness of changing relationships and life experiences related to the planting of things to grow. It opens up the complex issues of both their success in and responses from the host culture in which they are planted.
Business investment is more than just planting seeds to then harvest a crop of seeds, generating a surplus, like farming. In creating businesses and the communities dependent on them, it’s more like giving birth to new long lived organisms, so perhaps more like parenting than like farming. In either case, the natural “stewardship” issues regarding the host ecology and the niche being used within it are simply missing from the financial business plan.
Both farming and parenting work in relation to their host somewhat like getting some fertile host pregnant, planting something to grow in it, to tap its fruitfulness. When considerded as either parenting or farming, ancient experience readily tells us that just getting the host ever more pregnant is not a workable plan.
That unworkable plan the logical model offers, though, represents itself as your quick route to ever expanding self-importance. Any teenager can tell you it’s as much a suicide mission for your future as anything else. Many times people just are not in a position to ask those kinds of questions, and will just never “put two and two together”, particularly when questioning the relatively blind choices they make that seem to be most fulfilling.
Maybe it’s one’s ability to trust oneself to at least be an honest broker for one’s self, that allows the two sides of your mind to prompt each other to ask the appropriate but sensitive personal questions the other is blind to. Letting your feelings poke at the blind spots in your reasoning or your reasoning poke at the blind spots in your feelings is a lot easier to take than from someone, anyone, else.
Other levels of compassion, empathy, observation and reasoning are needed too, to emotionally support yourself or others when discovering blind spots have led to grave errors and so grave disappointments, and the need to find some silver lining for relief. For the standard business plan, the dark side of that blind spot is realizing that what may a person’s very most fulfilling life experience has been, or is rapidly becoming, much more like a cancer of the generosity of their host than a celebration.
The silver lining for that one is easy to point to, and if taken to heart tends to be “the best is yet to come”, as a distinct reality. When we open up to our wider experience of life it’s that moment when we stop being self-involved and discover how to be responsive to the larger world around us that is essentially the beginning of life.
That’s readily observable in nature, for organisms, communities and cultures of all kinds which have long productive lives after their end of growth. It’s generlly clear in hindsight that those long fulfilling lives, creating and exercising their own discovered roles as participants in their host environment, are far more important than the brief explosive and formative beginning of life in their initial growth.
You don’t normally get those sorts of insights into your the wider relationships actually implied by the bare bones business model. Our whole world economy is organized around that elemental financial business model, without any apparent awareness of the complex wider relationships that come with it.
It seems you only get an awareness of what a logical plan really means in your life if you have some mental technique for putting the logical model into an emotionally meaningful context.