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Block thinking - decide or choose?

Both privately as well as in public life, we again and again have only two possibilities to choose from and we should decide.  

In private life it is often a matter of only two different groups being available, women and men, young and elderly people, foreigners and locals, and this happens both in working conditions, in family disputes, or in relationships with more or less loved ones, where only two persons could be involved at all.

In public life, there are often in similar way only two alternatives, for example Democrats and Republicans, or preferably just the German Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Union, or workers and employers. This is largely independent of the local situation. Then democratic vote is expected to bring the solution. Both the American presidential elections and the vote on the Brexit have resulted in quite narrow, not even completely secure majorities, so that, in particularly critical cases, individual voices could decide the fate of many, many people. These few decisive voices may be derived from people being little informed or even hardly able to vote, for example, for reasons of age or because of a disease which may cause the need to bring them to election sites and thereby offering a possibility to influence them.

Such a situation should for sure be avoided, but it will not. Does this have practical reasons or is there a mistake in the conception? If we ask this question, we again propose two possibilities for a decision that can end with a stalemate. What to do?

The procedure for decision has therefore basic, seemingly insoluble defects and should be replaced by a completely different one. We need a procedure. So the problem is in the decision. It's about a not limited selection. How much choices we can make, is often and even with intention forgotten. But if we have more than two possibilities, it is no longer a decision, but a choice. Decision and choice are two fundamentally different terms, which obviously also have dual character and span a dimension.

Decision is a logical term and arises from a question about yes or no, for example about good or bad, about right or wrong, about genuine or fake. The two possibilities, to which it is reduced, are named positive or negative, which points to traditional mathematics, and thus to the logic which is closely related to it.

Choosing is, on the other hand, a complex term and leaves many choices. Are these often too many possibilities, so that a procedure based on it can not "work"?

Functioning has to do with functions, and functions are a child of classical mathematics, closely related to logic. They require a closed system. But the more we cover the wider world, the less we can talk about a closed system. This diminishes the degree of logic, and all the more, decisions must be replaced by "real" choices, ie, offering several possibilities. Therefore elections can be said to have a higher level than decisions.

At this point, take a look at nature. Does she know this problem, and if so, how does she solve it? The answer lies in many forms of group behavior, be it flocks of grazing animals or swarms of birds or whatever. These groups decide an initial direction at a first used time, but then small corrections are made by taking into account the close-by area. The individual animals of a flock depend on their neighbors, follow the successful ones and avoid dangers. Thus a slightly changed behavior of the whole flock is continuously being developed.

However, nature is not free from catastrophes, and even with these the animals have to come along Then the reference to the neighbors is not the highest priority, but speed in every respect. This means that not many possibilities can be taken into account, but their number is reduced and de facto simple decisions are made between only two offers. This is the basis or explanation for each so-called block-thinking. It is useful in exceptional situations, but must then again give way to further kinds of selection, which basically represent a higher development stage.

In practice, this means that in public life there is an increased importance of small political parties or organizations, while in private life there can be a larger number of partners. Both are not readily accepted or even fought by the initial blocs, but here, too, the general natural principle of group-dynamics is likely to prevail until a new catastrophe occurs which requires a reduction of the possibilities of choice in favor of greater rapidity.

Today we know that in this way the fast birds have emerged from the powerful dinosaurs, and from the fast monkeys the more powerful humankind.  

© Hans J. Unsoeld, Berlin 2017. All rights reserved.

Updated August 08, 2017  

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