The individual and the society
as mirror images
as mirror images
It is a generally accepted and especially widely accepted by socially established persons knowledge that we can not change the circumstances of our life, but only ourselves.
When people have difficulty getting along with their environment, maybe developing mental health problems, and failing to succeed, it is recommended that they should be supervised to a large extent under the guidance of trusted people, e.g. by therapists to approach in small steps the situations in question and to learn to cope with them through own adaptation.
However, when many people realize that a situation is unacceptable to the majority and that political problems develop, they are advised to confront the situation together in small steps, led by a political leader as trusted person, to improve and overcome the problems through social change.
The two situations mirror each other. They show as well as many other circumstances in life, that obviously in a general tendency, the individual and the surrounding society are almost mirror images of each other. But these situations also make it evident that these conditions are not really static, but that their mutual interference is a dynamic interaction. A patient and a citizen can similarly be seen as mirror images as also a therapist and a political leader. For all of them, credibility and trustworthiness play a major role. These properties can probably only be unsderstood in such a dynamic context.
Both the therapist and the political leader are expected to have a clearly established stable position, often formulated in policy statements of some sort, for example, for therapists in statutes or a professional code, or for politicians in party programs or a constitution. Such a formulation implies that these are decided upon and thus fixed. Compliance with them is measured and assessed as credibility or trustworthiness.
Between therapy and politics, however, there are wide areas of daily life in which no such definition exists or can be presupposed. There, inevitably, those fixed values, that apply to leaders who claim leadership, do not necessarily have to apply.
At certain points, however, attempts are being made to nevertheless enforce these ideas in the lives of the population. This is especially true for institutions established there in between. The two most important ones of these are family and commerce. Both a spouse and a dealer should be believed or trusted. Basically, these are subordinate institutions within higher-level systems under the direction of influential individuals or socially relevant persons. These can usually obtain their position only by establishing themselves on fixed positions. But when we talk about "usually", it means tradition and thus a basically static system.
In modern times, however, there is a growing awareness that life can not be completely fixed and that there must be opportunities for change and adaptation. However, these tend to be relatively slow, as consensus by a majority is expected and needs time to be brought about or produced. However, changes in the lives of today's human beings are occurring more and more rapidly, in particular as a result of increasing technological progress in both material and communicative areas. The adjustments are thus lagging more and more and are interpreted, for example, as weaknesses of democracy.
But there is also a new understanding of the dimensions of any orientation of such fixed positions. While the influence of modern technology has just been mentioned, it is at this point primarily about new humanistic influences, which were mainly initiated by the modern natural sciences. These latter ones operate predominantly in the dimensions of space and time, which use three real dimensions for position coordinates and one imaginary dimension of time. Thus, both the atomic world and elementary particles as well as the astronomical world and galaxies can be described by them. The same applies to the human world lying between those extremes, which is also part of nature.
Humanities and humanitarian aspects, however, generally do not refer to the dimensions of space and time, but to other dimensions which, in principle, must be derived or be derivable by transformations.
The background of this is the previously often highly doubted knowledge that man has evolved from the animals, just the same way as the rest of evolution has happened, and that, as a result, new dimensions can not have been created by any magic in human development.
So also in human life four dimensions must be sufficient for description, whereby one of these can be interpreted as imaginary. That these concepts provoke angry protests from religious and, above all, creationist circles is well known, but lacks any pertinent basis, and should not concern us here any further.
Important are determinations of such humane dimensions and, particularly, of the respective imaginary part. To this end, realistic proposals have already been made in the context of the author's earlier own texts, which certainly can be further specified. Essentially here, too, there must generally be three real and one imaginary dimension.
The first suggestion is based on the human body, which can be assigned four dimensions to its four parts, namely, cognition and processing to the head, feelings and fitness to the upper body, sexuality and power to the abdomen, and finally activities and mobility to the extremities. It makes sense to attribute the imaginary dimension to the abdomen, which can also be explained by the evolution in which the development originated from it.
Already this thought suggests that there may be a general order and that from an imaginary dimension as a starting point then following, by means of kind of a splitting, three real dimensions must have arisen, e.g. that, in principle, space should have been created from time.
A second suggestion for humane dimensions results from the cultural evolution of four central areas in successive time periods, namely religion, art, the humanities and natural sciences. Confessional circles will probably be even more frightened if sexuality and power are taken as basic dimension of religions, which, however, can not be refuted objectively, but might be supported by unbiased arguments not to be further discussed here. Art is about the dimension of creativity and about dance, ie activity and movement, humanities are about evaluation and expression, ie feelings and abilities (fitness), and science about practical experiments and theoretical insight, that is, of cognition and processing.
A third proposal is based on political positions in society. During the development of democracy there were initially often two-party systems, such as between "red" power claims and "black" confessional traditionalists. More recently, two eco-positions have been added, namely "yellow" liberals, who support mainly economical understanding, and "green" ecologically based nature lovers. Once again, it is natural to understand the religious dimension as the imaginary starting point of cultural progress, which above all includes capacity for assertiveness, that is, sexuality and power. The social dimension, on the other hand, can be characterized by activities and spreading them (mobility), liberal areas by emphasis on rationality, and finally, green ones with empathy and vitality (feelings and fitness).
People in all these directions who are in charge of public institutions, and especially of political parties, are required to represent and act on clearly identifiable positions. They have to be as credible as possible and one should or even wants to be able to trust them.
Almost the same demands are placed on therapists in the personal area. The models for this have historically been largely adopted by religious representatives, such as priests, pastors or monks. Also of all such persons the submission under rules of initiation clearly defined by the society and of exams and admissions processes is demanded and thus credibility and trustworthiness generated.
However, the vast majority of a population will be virtually untouched by these measures at the onset. However, in both the private and public spheres, the above-mentioned leaders would like to extend their influence to wider circles, between pure privacy and the public domain, for which intermediary institutions not comprising all general public have been formed, especially the family and trade associations. These should get attributed clear statutes almost prescribed to them and thus generating credibility and trustworthiness. It means de facto the institutionalization of marriage with a strong credible loyalty commandment and the establishment of commercial principles for the achievement of trustworthy conditions.
In general, however, development tends to become more complex starting on the basis of simple conditions. This means de facto increasing flexibility or softening of static positions. Dynamics are increasingly superimposed on the initially predominant static, and indeed, according to all observations, even increasingly accelerating. First and foremost, this will be to capture the intermediary, rather secondary, institutions, ie the families and the trading sector. This seems to be the deeper cause of the observed increasing erosion of both family and trade structures. A higher proportion of dynamics manifests itself in less fixed positions, in other words in fuzzier or vaguer conditions. Inevitably, this must be accompanied by a decline in the importance or acceptance of credibility and trustworthiness. But that is what we are increasingly seeing in both family and commercial structures. The importance or acceptance of marriage is diminishing, and in commerce more and more kinds of behaviors, more commonly referred to verbally as predatory, are emerging. These can be understood as a clear consequence of inevitably increasing complexity.
Both a society and individuals are confronted with how they respond to this trend. The author does not see himself as a guru and can not make predictions about social behavior. However, it may be clear that the general tendency is a softening of firm positions and that as a result people with a leadership claim will act more meaningful if they do not simply continue to firmly hold established positions, but raise awareness of the increasingly flexible situation and thus foster more agility in the population. But it will be very important to make clear at the same time the difference between close and far range. Adjustments in the close range serve the development "here and now", in this context better said "there and then". Influences in the far range are, however, much more critical to see and can cause in ractice unstable conditions, theoretically referred to as singularities. For this purpose, the image of drops in a river is often used, which allow the most effective flow of the entire river through dynamic interaction in the close vicinity. However, when a dam is built through it, it has a long-range impact and "influences" not only large areas of the river but also its surroundings.
Individuals can respond differently to such confrontation with increasingly complex relationships and lesser credibility and trustworthiness. Instead of taking this situation as destabilizing and dangerous, it is possible to conceive of it as an opportunity for more self-realization and mobility not only in the physical sense and to take advantage of it without harming other people. But again it is important to learn to decide between close-by and far and to pay attention to the completely different effects. The close range includes observation and communication in the neighborhood, empathy and fitness training, sexuality, work and local mobility. The long-range concerns media, national aspirations, gender and racism, foreign activities and long-distance travel.
The reader may have noticed that in mentioning both the public and personal areas, the above-mentioned first association of areas to the four major human body parts was followed. According to the second and third proposals mentioned above, it will be obvious that classifications by cultural or even political dimensions could be made almost in the same way.
This may lead to a new kind of awareness of the four-dimensional world, with a clear distinction between near and far. That would similarly apply to very different areas of the world, both nature and culture, as well as life in a fairly general sense, for example, humans, animals and plants, and even animated natural phenomena such as molecular, self-reliant regulating reactions to enzymes or regenerative development of astronomical star systems.
Complex feedback in cycle processes seems to be an important consideration.
At the first glance these ideas may seem irrelevant to the "average person", but that does not appear to be the case. The most important practical consequence should be clear indications that it can be advantageous not to position oneself as an individual as well as in society one-dimensionally, ie one-sidedly and thus as a specialist. This clearly contradicts the prevailing social model that a well-functioning society sees itself as a "well-lubricated" network of collaborating specialists. But in own view, it is about more than just a system of functions, which by their very nature should provide generally tangible values. Substantial non-rationally determined components come into play, which at first may also lead to fuzzy and vague statements in microspaces which in tendency are not scientifically recorded, but which may also have a significant effect on such macro-areas which include them. In addition, non-rational physical influences and similarly comparable interdisciplinary interactions are underestited. Mostly at this point there is asked for evidence. But that means just a restriction to purely rational action, which just appears increasingly questionable. Asking this question you can probably set yourself a trap.
On the other hand, consideration and acceptance of these ideas could allow for new creativity and greater flexibility, which already seems to be becoming more evident in new disciplines such as "Creative Design", but without claiming exactitude. It therefore remains to be stated that obviously not the best possible exact, but at first vague and thus questionable approach promises better success in the enforcement, but in addition also higher quality of life and other opportunities both for own and for social realization. On the other hand, beware of disqualifying this concept only as a new kind of belief.
® Copyright and all rights by Hans J. Unsoeld, Berlin 2019