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Requisite Variety to Encompass Multidimensional Identity


Annex A of Facism as Superficial Intercultural Extremism: burkha, toplessness, sunglasses, beards, and flu masks (2009)


Introduction
Axes of bias
Comment

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Introduction

The arguments in the main paper (Facism as Superficial Intercultural Extremism: burkha, toplessness, sunglasses, beards, and flu masks, 2009) question capacity to associate identity meaningfully with the visibility or invisibi8lity of the face -- effectively assuming the validity of its projection onto an essentially flat surface, as with any photograph. They also call attention to the dimensional complexity within which identity might fruitfully be assumed to dwell, the biases through which engaging with it might then be understood, and the dangers of oversimplification in collapsing such complexity to preclude continuing dialogue about the challenge it represents. These arguments alone justify reference to facism as "superficial intercultural extremism" -- or as "cognitive fascism".

There are a number of schemas for distinguishing biases and preferences, whether cultural or individual. Some might be usefully explored to distinguish preferences for the expression of identity (Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). An example, widely used in distinguishing biases characteristic of the cultures of different countries, is that of Geert Hofstede (Culture's Consequences: international differences in work-related values, 1984). How should the debate regarding the burkha be understood with respect to such dimensions?

Another example is the identification of a set of "axes of biases" by the philosopher W. T. Jones (The Romantic Syndrome: toward a new method in cultural anthropology and the history of ideas, 1961) who was concerned with elaborating a new methodology to deal with strongly held differences in any debate. His interest was provoked by the unending debate on the definition of the "romantic period" -- hence the title of the book, and presumably a suggestion as to its relevance to debate about the burkha. The result, which he extended to both the sciences and the arts, is one way of understanding the different emphases which people and cultures may bring to any debate -- prior to any "rational" discussion on substance. The biases are not mutually exclusive.

As with Hofstede's scheme, this initiative could be related to that on the underlying preferences governing engagement in any debate on facial significance in the expression of identity.

nces governing engagement in any debate on facial significance in the expression of identity.


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