Wisdom and Humanity's Transformational Dilemma
Some comments by Copthorne Macdonald on Anthony Judge's essay: "Imagining the Real Challenge"
In his essay "Imagining the Real Challenge" he uses words and unique graphics to present an exceptionally clear view of humanity's transformational dilemma. In my comments below I attempt to relate wisdom and its development to his insightful view of the situation.
reading my comments, I suggest that you read at least to "Afterthoughts"
in Judge's essay:
Several times in my intellectual life I have seen the explanatory power of two-dimensional, x-y displays. One I recall had Political Left and Political Right on the horizontal axis and human caring on the vertical axis, ranging from Uncaring at the bottom to highly Caring at the top. The Quakers were given a dot in the upper right corner, the Nazis one in the lower right. Stalin had a dot in the lower left corner, and I forget who they put in the upper left — perhaps Ghandi — but you get the idea. Another example. In one of my wisdom books I talk about trying to get across Joseph Campbell's concept of Bliss — as in "follow your bliss" — to a class of graduating high school seniors. My x-y chart had Clarity on the left of the x-axis and Confusion on the right. It had Enthusiasm at the top of the y-axis and Terror at the bottom. I put "The bliss place" in the upper left corner, and asked the students where they saw themselves on the chart as they faced life after graduation.
All that pales in explanatory power when compared with Figure 1 in Anthony Judge's "Imagining the Real Challenge." Adding the concepts of attractor and repulsor is akin to adding another dimension. In all, the figure, coupled with Judge's "Explanation," strikes me as a very powerful tool for conceptualizing the transformational dilemma that humanity faces.
I was immediately struck by how wisdom (and its absence) fits with his schema. Let us start with the Problematique, Resolutique, and the axis of explicit imaginary. In discussing the Problematique he points out the difficulty of "clarifying the extent and complexity of the problematique," and the power of "the pattern of habitual behaviours" to "resist change to another condition." He points out similar problems with the Resolutique: "Any proposed changes to conditions claimed to be more desirable are readily contested and framed as illusory and misleading." I see the role of wisdom in relation to this axis as helping to clarify the nature, extent, and complexity of both Problematique and Resolutique. A passage from Matters of Consequence:
Can ordinary folks develop the ability to do what Maslow's self-actualizers were doing? I believe they can. In Matters of Consequence I refer to this variety of wisdom as Deep Understanding:
On pages 300-303 of the book, and in Chapter 10 — Developing Deep Understanding, I present my thoughts on how one can engage in this development process in the context of understanding the human situation and becoming an effective change agent.
Let us assume that we managed to attain clarity about the nature, extent, and complexity of both Problematique and Resolutique. We still have those troublesome attractants on the other axis that are threatening to deflect humanity's progressive movement from Problematique to Resolutique. Wisdom again to the rescue. Let's return to Maslow; this time to his hierarchy-of-needs theory. The intensity of both the game-playing strategic drama and the self-esteem, megalomania, and neediness aspects of the psychodrama are related to one's developmental level in his hierarchy. If one has managed, psychologically, to move largely beyond Maslow's "deficiency needs," including the esteem needs, and into that realm of highly-developed humanness, or self-actualization, or wisdom — whatever we want to call it — then the strategic drama and psychodrama, the desire to play shady, bureaucratic, or self-esteem-connected games, have lost attractiveness to the individual, and thus their power to deflect.
The more complex chart, Figure 2, is also interesting. Here the primary axes of Figure 1 have been shifted 45 degrees counterclockwise so that the Explicit imaginary axis is now the y-axis. Interestingly, Judge has extended the y-axis beyond Resolutique and Problematique, and this makes sense.. Let's say we do manage to solve the world's problems (and our own personal ones). What is beyond that? What sort of personal lives and culture could we and should we anticipate? Much to imagine about. The same is true of the area below Problematique. The Problematique is the current problem matrix. But it is not the worst of all imaginable problem matrices. Some imagining devoted to possible types of worsening, and possible paths likely to lead to worsening, might be very worthwhile. He has also made changes to the x-axis, the Implicit real axis. At the right he has introduced Imaginatique, a personal reflective space that contains both positive and negative potentials.
Judge relates all this to two new axes, one labeled Reality-based governance, and the other Faith-based governance. We are all too familiar with the negative potentials (and realities) of faith-based governance, but it is interesting to think about the potential for a genuinely positive form of it. As yet we have no concrete examples of it, but Judge has mentioned the mythical archetype of the philosopher king, and the possibility of leadership by highly respected religious leaders perhaps from the mystical branches of present world religions. In any event, he feels that we should not exclude the possibility.