Dependent / Independent

Dependent             -                  Independent
Narrow                  -                   Wide
Rigid                     -                   Flexible
Consume               -                   Produce
Passive                  -                   Active
Receptive              -                  Assertive

The scale and resultant complexity of modern societies requires specialised knowledge in increasingly narrowed fields, which means a proliferation of experts. We're reliant on these experts - because there are too many specialisms to know anything about, let alone master - but our reliance frustrates our inherent need for autonomy. 

It is only when we free ourselves from determinisms and outside constraints that we become 'authentic' and achieve psychological autonomy and independence. Traditional forms - conventional movements and well-worn furrows - must be interrogated or transcended in the name of individual development.

MacIntyre: Divine Law collapses into personal law; the transcendent will is superseded by the individual will. When the body of tradition expires all that is left is a collection of individuals, each pursuing their own interests. These interests are masked by appeals to a fictitious collective good, placing a new importance on 'unmasking' in order to reveal the covert machinations of the individual will.  

In creative living you or I find that everything we do strengthens the feeling that we are alive, that we are ourselves.

One can look at a tree (not necessarily at a picture) and look creatively. If you have ever had a depression phase of the schizoid sort (and most have), you will know this in the negative. How often I have been told: 'There is a laburnum outside my window and the sun is out and I know intellectually that it must be a grand sight, for those who can see it. But for me this morning (Monday) there is no meaning in it. I cannot feel it. It makes me acutely aware of not being myself real.'

Although allied to creative living, the active creations of letter writers, poets, artists, sculptors, architects, musicians, are different. You will agree that if someone is engaged in artistic creation, we hope he or she can call on some special talent. But for creative living we need no special talent.

This is a universal need, and a universal experience, and even the bedridden, withdrawn schizophrenic may be living creatively in a secret mental activity, and therefore in a sense happy.

Creativity, then, is the retention throughout life of something that belongs properly to infant experience: the ability to create the world [...] the child that became you or me found itself equipped with some capacity to see everything in a fresh way, to be creative in every detail of living.

By creative living I mean not getting killed or annihilated all the time by compliance or by reacting to the world that impinges; I mean seeing everything afresh all the time.

Somewhere in the scheme of things there can be room for everyone to live creatively. This involves retaining something personal, perhaps secret, that is unmistakably yourself. If nothing else, try breathing, something no one can do for you.

I believe there is nothing that has to be done that cannot be done creatively, if the person is creative or has that capacity [...] I believe it is true, as I have already indicated, that however poor the individual's equipment, experience can be creative and can be felt to be exciting in the sense that there is always something new and unexpected in the air.

[...] experience of creative living is always more important for the individual than doing well.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From: Essays By A Psychoanalyst ('Living Creatively'), p.40-4, 51-3

I know that one way of cooking sausages is to look up the exact directions [...] and another way is to take some sausages and somehow to cook sausages for the first time ever. The result may be the same on any one occasion, but it is more pleasant to live with the creative cook, even if sometimes there is a disaster or the taste is funny and one suspects the worst.

The thing I am trying to say is that for the cook the two experiences are different: the slavish one who complies gets nothing from the experience except an increase in the feeling of dependence on authority, while the original one feels more real, and surprises herself (or himself) by what turns up in the mind in the course of the act of cooking.

When we are surprised at ourselves, we are being creative, and we find we can trust our own unexpected originality. We shall not mind if those who consume the sausages fail to notice the surprising thing that was in the cooking of them, or if they do not show gustatory appreciation.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From: Essays By A Psychoanalyst ('Living Creatively'), p.51

First principle thinkers” or “contrarians”: They hold nuanced positions that oppose the policy on the x-axis, but support the moral virtue on the y-axis.

“These are people who are thinking for themselves, and are not buying baked-cakes. They’re buying the ingredients and they’re saying, well, I want more of this ingredient, I don’t like that ingredient. So they’re attempting to avoid having any pre-baked idea put in front of them.”

[Shane Mottishaw]
'Eric Weinstein’s Four Quadrant Model'

[If you] don’t understand why it works […] that’s fine until the context shifts, or [you] want to scale it, or apply it somewhere else.

If you don’t understand why then you can’t adapt. What you’re effectively doing is using recipe books. 

There’s nothing wrong with recipe books, as long as you have the right kitchen and the right ingredients. But if any of those aren’t present the recipe book user is dead, and at that point you need a chef.

[Dave Snowden]
‘LAS Conference 2013 - Keynote Dave Snowden - Making Sense of Complexity’

Locus of control is a psychological concept articulated in the 1950s by Julian Rotter.

Those with an internal locus of control experience themselves as able to influence outcomes that affect them. Those with an external locus of control feel that most of what happens to them is beyond their ability to affect.

Though both external and internal loci of control confer advantages and disadvantages, research has shown that having an internal locus of control is associated with less stress and better health, whereas having an external locus of control is correlated with anxiety disorders. Importantly, an internal locus of control appears to be a decisive factor in determining whether one will be psychologically resilient.

As a society, therefore, it is in our interest to cultivate an internal locus of control, and indeed, the popular notions of grit and mindset are undergirded by locus of control theory. 

[Lisa Marchiano]
'Collision with Reality: What Depth Psychology Can Tell us About Victimhood Culture'

People move away from their favored conclusions much too little given contrary evidence. In fact, if led to believe an idea is their own, people are more intransigent about listening to alternative opinions, thinking their own ideas are true and that other people’s decisions require more scrutiny.

In a paradigmatic example, people might be asked to estimate the length of the Nile River. After doing so, they are given the estimate of another individual and asked if they want to revise their own estimate.

Time and again, researchers show that respondents would be far more accurate if they just averaged their original estimate with the estimate given by the other individual. People, however, largely refuse to do so. They frequently budge a little bit in their estimates, about 30% of the way, toward the advice the other person gives them, but that is all. In over a third of cases, they refuse to budge at all.

In real world circumstances of substantial consequence, a surprising number of people reject the advice of experts. In 2011, roughly half a million medical patients in the United States, around 1 to 2%, checked themselves out of hospitals against their doctor’s advice. About 20 percent of patients fail to fill first-time prescriptions. Fewer than 2 out of every 3 Americans over 50 carry through with recommendations to screen for colon cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of Medicare recipients, around 5 million people, fail to take their prescribed blood pressure medication.

The reasons people may refuse medical advice are complex and involve many different issues. One common issue, however, is that patients often think they know best.

[David Dunning]
'The best option illusion in self and social control', Self and Identity, p. 5-6

It is always suspicious when a person’s ideas line up exactly to a specified party – as when someone embraces all ideas wholesale, without any idiosyncratic modification.

A partisan or an ideologue is defined as someone whose assessment of a situation doesn’t depend on a situation. A partisan’s opinion has no analytical value; it is merely representative when it corresponds to a voting group. A Partisan’s opinion is analytically invalid on its own, without comparison with that of another partisan.

[...] a narrative is fallacious [...] if it leads to the statistical clustering of causes that should be random, or, to the least, uncorrelated. This heuristic can help us identify monocultures, usually artificially propped up by some lobby.

Example: there is a cluster for the advocacy of both GMOs and Glyphosate, when there is no particular logical link between the two positions. Well, there is a link: Monsanto sells both; and GMOs are actually an excuse to sell high doses of glyphosate.

Likewise, some nonrandom clustering of people who decry civilian casualties in Aleppo but forget about it in Mosul.

The rest of the public needs to know they are arguing with a shill: you can observe futile exercises of people engaging in argument with a Monsanto shill or an operative for Saudi Barbaria thinking they will convince him or her of their point.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
'Principia Politica'

NNT (that is, me): Assume that a coin is fair, i.e, has an equal probability of coming up heads or tails when flipped. I flip it ninety-nine times and get heads each time. What are the odds of my getting tails on my next throw?

Dr. John: Trivial question. One half, of course, since you are assuming 50 percent odds for each and independence between draws.

NNT: What do you say, Tony?

Fat Tony: I’d say no more than 1 percent, of course.

NNT: Why so? I gave you the initial assumption of a fair coin, meaning that it was 50 percent either way.

Fat Tony: You are either full of crap or a pure sucker to buy that “50 pehcent” business. The coin gotta be loaded. It can’t be a fair game. (Translation: It is far more likely that your assumptions about the fairness are wrong than the coin delivering ninety-nine heads in ninety-nine throws.)

NNT: But Dr. John said 50 percent.

Fat Tony (whispering in my ear): I know these guys with the nerd examples from the bank days. They think way too slow. Any they are too commoditised. You can take them for a ride.

Dr. John thinks entirely within the box, the box that was given to him; Fat Tony, almost entirely outside the box. 

To set the terminology straight, what I call “a nerd” here doesn’t have to look sloppy, unaesthetic, and sallow, and wear glasses and a portable computer on his belt as if it were an ostensible weapon. A nerd is simply someone who think exceedingly inside the box.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 124-5

In principle, everything which is immune to the intrusion of human freedom, like the movements of the stars, is predictable, and everything subject to this intrusion is unpredictable. Does that mean that all human actions are unpredictable? No, because most people, most of the time, make no use of their freedom and act purely mechanically. 

Experience shows that when we are dealing with large numbers of people many aspects of their behaviour are indeed predictable; for out of a large number, at any one time, only a tiny minority are using their power of freedom, and they often do not significantly affect the total outcome. Yet all really important innovations and changes normally start from tiny minorities of people who do use their creative freedom.

It is true that social phenomena acquire a certain steadiness and predictability from the non-use of freedom, which means that the great majority of people responds to a given situation in a way that does not alter greatly in time, unless there are really overpowering new causes.

We can therefore distinguish as follows:

(a) Full predictability (in principle) exists only in the absence of human freedom, i.e. in 'sub-human nature. The limitations of predictability are purely limitations of knowledge and technique.

(b) Relative predictability exists with regard to the behaviour pattern of very large numbers of people doing ‘normal things (routine).

(c) Relatively full predictability exists with regard to human actions controlled by a plan which eliminates freedom, e.g. railway timetable.

(d) Individual decisions by individuals are in principle unpredictable.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p.192-3

Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves. 

And what they do for themselves is done more and more along channels laid down by the system. Opportunities tend to be those that the system provides, the opportunities must be exploited in accord with rules and regulations, and techniques prescribed by experts must be followed if there is to be a chance of success.

Thus the power process is disrupted in our society through a deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in the pursuit of goals.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, 66-7

It may be argued that the majority of people don’t want to make their own decisions but want leaders to do their thinking for them. 

There is an element of truth in this. People like to make their own decisions in small matters, but making decisions on difficult, fundamental questions requires facing up to psychological conflict, and most people hate psychological conflict. Hence they tend to lean on others in making difficult decisions. But it does not follow that they like to have decisions imposed upon them without having any opportunity to influence those decisions. 

The majority of people are natural followers, not leaders, but they like to have direct personal access to their leaders, they want to be able to influence the leaders and participate to some extent in making even the difficult decisions. At least to that degree they need autonomy.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, Note 5

Without self-awareness […] man acts, speaks, studies, reacts mechanically, like a machine: on the basis of 'programmes' acquired accidentally, unintentionally, mechanically.

He is not aware that he is acting in accordance with programmes, it is therefore not difficult to re-programme him - to make him think and do quite different things from those he had thought and done before - provided only that the new programme does not wake him up.

When he is awake, no one can programme him: he programmes himself.

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.89

The front porch, often sited within easy chatting distance of the sidewalk, was an architectural reflection of an era with a high expectation of sociability among neighbors […] providing "intermediate spaces," a kind of civil space, between the private world of the house and the public spaces of the sidewalk and street.

The back patio gained in popularity around the same time as the increased use of the automobile and the rise of the suburb - all of which created a built environment conducive to privacy, apartness, insularity, and a declining commitment to social and civic spaces and practices.

These technologies reflected the commitments of modern republican liberty, but they did not - as is too often thought - make us "lonely."

[…] Facebook, and / technologies like it, have facilitated or even enabled a preexisting predilection - the long-standing American desire to be independent and free. Facebook is thus a tool that elicits loneliness from a deeper set of philosophical, political, and even theological commitments.

As [Stephen] Marche points out, “Loneliness is one of the first things that Americans spend their money achieving ... We are lonely because we want to be lonely. We have made ourselves lonely.” Technologies like Facebook, he writes, "are the by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence.”

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.104-5

“If we directly abolish poverty by guaranteeing an income,” [Martin Luther King] declared in 1967, “we will have dealt with our primary problem.” He did not explain how a guaranteed income would restore self-respect or the pride of workmanship, on which he had once placed so much emphasis.

King’s growing commitment to social democracy tended to make poverty, not slavery, the central issue, as G.D.H. Cole would have put it. It made distribution rather than participation the test of democracy.

But the real importance of the civil rights movement, as King should have been the first to remember, lay not in its admittedly conventional goals but in its ability to overcome black people's "corroding sense of inferiority," in his own words.

The act of standing up for their rights was far more important than any of the tangible gains his people had won—not that these were insignificant either.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.404-5

In the name of authenticity or genuineness, the semblance of beauty, the ritual gesture, is today discarded as something purely external. But this genuineness is, in truth, crudeness and barbarity.

The narcissistic cult of authenticity is partly responsible for the increasing brutalization of society. We live in a culture of the affect. Where ritual gestures and manners decay, affect and emotion gain the hand.

The culture of authenticity goes hand in hand with the distrust of ritualized forms of interaction. Only spontaneous emotion, that is, a subjective state, is authentic. Behaviour that has been formed in some way is denigrated as inauthentic or superficial.

In the society of authenticity, actions are guided internally, motivated psychologically, whereas in ritual societies actions are determined by externalized forms of interaction. Rituals make the world objective; they mediate our relation to the world. The compulsion of authenticity, by contrast, makes everything subjective, thereby intensifying narcissistic tendencies.

Today, narcissistic disorders are on the rise because we are increasingly losing the ability to conduct social interactions outside the boundaries of the self. The narcissistic homo psychologicus is captivated by itself, caught in an intricate inwardness. What results is a poverty in world, with the self simply circling around itself. Thus, homo psychologicus falls into a depression.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.21, 23

[...] the price paid for liberation from what appeared to be the external authority of traditional morality was the loss of any authoritative content from the would-be moral utterances of the newly autonomous agent.

Each moral agent now spoke unconstrained by the externalities of divine law, natural teleology or hierarchical authority; but why should anyone else now listen to him?

It was and is to this question that both utilitarianism and analytical moral philosophy must be understood as attempting to give cogent answers; and if my argument is correct, it is precisely this question which both fail to answer cogently. Nonetheless almost everyone, philosopher and non-philosopher alike, continues to speak and write as if one of these projects had succeeded.

Contemporary moral experience as a consequence has a paradoxical character. For each of us is taught to see himself or herself as an autonomous moral agent; but each of us also becomes engaged by modes of practice, aesthetic or bureaucratic, which involve us in manipulative relationships with others.

Seeking to protect the autonomy that we have learned to prize, we aspire ourselves not to be manipulated by others; seeking to incarnate our own principles and stand-point in the world of practice, we find no way open to us to do so except by directing towards others those very manipulative modes of relationship which each of us aspires to resist in our own case.

The incoherence of our attitudes and our experience arises from the incoherent conceptual scheme which we have inherited.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.82

We need to remain to some degree opaque and unpredictable, particularly when threatened by the predictive practices of others. The satisfaction of this need to at least some degree supplies another necessary condition for human life being meaningful in the ways that it is and can be.

It is necessary, if life is to be meaningful, for us to be able to engage in long-term projects, and this requires predictability; it is necessary, if life is to be meaningful, for us to be in possession of ourselves and not merely to be the creations of other people's projects, intentions and desires, and this requires unpredictability.

We are thus involved in a world in which we are simultaneously trying to render the rest of society predictable and ourselves unpredictable, to devise generalizations which will capture the behavior of others and to cast our own behavior into forms which will elude the generalizations which others frame.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.121

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