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Beyond Method: engaging opposition in psycho-social organization (Part #9)

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1. By deliberately internalizing disagreement, the scheme moves beyond the stage of being a "cook book for potted wisdom" or a set of "bloodless categories". Each set can be tuned to constitute a set of challenging operations -- challenging because of the difficulty of maintaining them in equilibrium. The question is how effectively the sets can be tuned to take the scheme beyond the status of being simply an interesting exercise.

2. The scheme is valuable because of the way it interrelates incompatibilities at different levels '. It is significant also because of the way each set is embedded in a context of interdependent sets.

3. Given its relation to the source material of diverse cultural origin and specialization, the scheme is also valuable to the extent that interfaces can be provided to such specialized sets. It offers a way of interrelating and engaging groups working through apparently different concept schemes.

4. The awkwardness of the statements at present draws attention to the basic problem of how to condense qualitative complexes. The solution in traditional cultures of projecting them onto gods or demons (about whom stories could be told to bring out those qualities) was a good way of transforming the problem.

5. As designed the scheme is not "ideal" in the sense which is now so easily condemned. No set element is imposed, since as a hierarchy of paradoxes the problem of comprehension is central. A distinction may even be usefully made between:

  • Freedom to choose between a plurality of competing concept schemes each with overdefined concepts, namely the conventional approach. Here the individual, once the choice of scheme has been made, has no further freedom, because the concepts within the scheme must be accepted as they are defined.

  • Freedom to choose how to understand within a single concept scheme composed of underdefined, concepts whose significance may be partially associated to those of other schemes seen as non-competing. Here the individual is constantly challenged with the freedom to understand particular concepts in some more significant manner in the light of the concept set within which it is embedded.

6. The generation of these sets has been approached as a design problem in which constraints are necessary and must be creatively selected ( ). It is possible that the constraints could be refined as part of the tuning process.

7. It might be supposed that the use of any number pattern as a constraint on the ordering of social relations is quite arbitrary. There are however number-bound constraints as psychologists and psychoanalysts have shown. It would be interesting to explore their relation to the well-defined number-bound constraints on certain concrete mechanical operations (e.g. number of constraints to immobilize an object, or number of possible space relations)

8. The basic question raised, as to whether there was any pattern in the present to the ancillary processes to which a dialectical confrontation gives rise, is answered affirmatively. The sets show how the level of articulated disagreement can be increased to produce the level of differentiation capable of sustaining a non-homogenized society.

9. Any commentary and criticism of the gets could itself be usefully organized as an ordered breakdown using an analogous number pattern.

10. The pattern of sets opens the way to distinguishing very precisely various kinds of development. For example, one kind is associated with activating in a societies sets with a given factor (e.g. 7, 14, 21, etc). The decay of a culture (or an individual) may well correspond to the loss could well go undetected for some time. The loss of sets of exceptional operators, corresponding to the isolated prime numbers, be extremely difficult to detect, despite their importance for development. Such sets "stabilize" operators which are elusive in normal discourse.

11. This scheme suggests a much healthier approach to "positivity" as a slogan and "negativity" as an anathema in society today. The more responsible approach is well-illustrated by the following:

'What does it mean, to be whole? It means that we must be willing to conceive of, to contain within ourselves, whatever is "other than" any limited idea. It means knowing that when we emphasize a positive, we are at the same time creating a negative. When we choose an ideal of knowledge, then we must deal with the ignorance that is other than the knowledge. When we emphasize an ideal of holiness, then we must live with the sin that is its companion, and accept our responsibility for having created it. If we deny doing so, that is a contraction of awareness ... If we allow that ugliness is always within us, then we are free to create beauty. If we know that stupidity is always within us, then we are free to emphasize this intelligence' (24, pp. 24-25).

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