Manipulation Versus Appreciation

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Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 01:07 pm
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I find it helpful to divide thought processes and their contents into two types
representing two different ways in which we relate to our experience:

Type 1 focuses on prediction, precision and manipulation of our environment.
Type 2 consists of valuing, appreciating and finding significance.

Type 1 is likely to have originated as the kinds of thinking and mental attitudes necessary for our survival, consisting of anticipating, coping with and manipulating environmental events. Later it would have developed into organising the environment in accordance with our own priorities. Agriculture would be an example. Eventually this mode of thought resulted in technology, science and industrialism

Type 2 thinking appears to be fundamental to our personal experience. While Type 1 is instrumental in nature, following a means-ends pattern, Type 2 regards its objects as ends in themselves. In this mental attitude, things are valued and appreciated for their own sakes. Examples are aesthetic perception and moral and ethical ideals.

It should be noted that, while these types of cognitive activity can be distinguished as separate entities at the conceptual level, in practice any particular thinking process is likely to contain elements of both. Different styles of thinking are, however, differentially weighted towards either type. Particular mental disciplines can thus be positioned along a continuum according to how much of each type they exhibit. The various technologies on which our economies depend, for example, are clearly Type 1. Science is also heavily weighted towards Type 1 but perhaps with some elements of an attitude of awe and wonder characteristic of Type 2. At the opposite extreme, aesthetic contemplation would seem to be purely Type 2, but any creative art is also a constructive activity involving significant elements of manipulation of materials and prediction of artistic effects. Thus while art is Type 2 in its original vision, its translation into an artwork requires the practical skills of Type 1. Similarly, any basic moral value (eg "Human happiness is a good thing.") is essentially Type 2 since it is pursued as an end in itself, while specifying the steps, policies and means to achieving this end draws heavily on Type 1 thinking.

Where should religion appear on this continuum? Religions are sets of myths which encode their societies' basic values (Type 2) but also make specific factual statements about the world (God exists, he was born of a virgin, etc.) (Type 1). While there are a few "progressive" adherents who are willing to accept that the miracle stories are poetic statements of values, the vast majority of religious believers insist on acceptance of revelation with varying degrees to literalness. Religion is misleading in subordinating the reality testing of its doctrines to the need to preserve the representation of its system of values.

Western society is distinguished by the growth of science, technology and industrialism. As a result, it appears to me, Type 1 thinking is exalted in our culture while Type 2 tends to be marginalized. Thus we find it relatively easy to specify means (especially technological means), but tend to be at a loss in formulating ultimate ends. It is noticeable, for example, that artistic and cultural events tend to be justified on a means-end basis, eg on the expectation of bringing economic or social benefits to host communities, rather than on the basis of intrinsic artistic value. We only get serious about means (things we can justify on the basis that they lead to something else). Money is an example of a means.

Karl Marx attributed the sense of alienation which he detected in capitalist societies to the separation of workers from the fruits of their labour. I am not sure how much truth there is in this charge. I rather think that the sense of aimlessness, disillusionment and emptiness which many find to be prevalent in modern society results from the marginalisation of certain of our cognitive abilities. These include the capacity to think in terms of valuing and appreciating things in themselves and of finding a sense of significance in the world about us and in the relationships we form.

Please do not take this as a diatribe against science, technology or industrialism. The scientific method, with its procedures of precise observation, formulation of hypotheses with sufficient exactness to permit verification or falsification by experiment, with its double-blind procedures and peer review, is unquestionably our most effective means of building up detailed knowledge of our world. Despite problems (eg with the environment) which do need to be acknowledged, technology and industry are fundamental to our wealth, health and well-being. (Of those who make a career of decrying science and industry, it is surprising how few actually live in caves without the benefits of electricity, medicine and manufactured goods.)

However I do think that a charge can be laid against our culture's emphasis on precision, prediction and means-ends thinking. In neglecting our ability to value and appreciate things on their own terms and to find a sense of significance in what we do, we are undermining our ability to construct basic positive values which will enable us to avoid the alienation and dissatisfaction that modern life is often seen as fostering.
 
Justin
 
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 01:32 pm
@Peter phil,
Excellent post Peter! I agree with your thinking here and your writing style is easily understood. Thank you!
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2008 06:22 pm
@Peter phil,
Peter wrote:

I find it helpful to divide thought processes and their contents into two types
representing two different ways in which we relate to our experience:

Type 1 focuses on prediction, precision and manipulation of our environment.
Type 2 consists of valuing, appreciating and finding significance.

...Type 2 thinking appears to be fundamental to our personal experience. While Type 1 is instrumental in nature, following a means-ends pattern, Type 2 regards its objects as ends in themselves. In this mental attitude, things are valued and appreciated for their own sakes. Examples are aesthetic perception and moral and ethical ideals.

...Science is also heavily weighted towards Type 1 but perhaps with some elements of an attitude of awe and wonder characteristic of Type 2. At the opposite extreme, aesthetic contemplation would seem to be purely Type 2, but any creative art is also a constructive activity involving significant elements of manipulation of materials and prediction of artistic effects.
...I rather think that the sense of aimlessness, disillusionment and emptiness which many find to be prevalent in modern society results from the marginalisation of certain of our cognitive abilities. These include the capacity to think in terms of valuing and appreciating things in themselves and of finding a sense of significance in the world about us and in the relationships we form.



In another thread [Becoming research versus Being research? Philosophical positions in science?], I apply just this line of thinking narrowly, solely to the experience of time as it might relate to science (I sent you a PM 2 + days ago about this).

I like a lot of what you're saying here. Where did you get the idea to divide thought processes and their contents into two types?

When I talk of Being research (your Type 2), it's research that simply APPRECIATES the present moment, like lets just watch very closely these 3 seconds of a mother-infant interaction, repeatedly if necessary, until we truly appreciate what is happening during those 3 seconds. It's not at all the norm in science.

billy
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2008 06:46 pm
@Peter phil,
to me the quote from peter suggests that the types of thoughts are subjective and objective not necessarily in that order
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2008 07:08 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva wrote:
to me the quote from peter suggests that the types of thoughts are subjective and objective not necessarily in that order


I could see that.

I could also see it as Type 1 is values extrinsically, and Type 2 is intrinsically valued: Type 1 focuses on prediction, precision and manipulation of our environment. Type 2 consists of valuing, appreciating and finding significance.
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2008 10:14 pm
@Billy phil,
Quote:

Type 1 focuses on prediction, precision and manipulation of our environment.
Type 2 consists of valuing, appreciating and finding significance.


The problem with polemic theories is that they are inevitably confused and mistaken. I know you appreciated the fact that both types could be used in conjunction with each other, at the same time, but you seem to fail to recognize that we must preconceive precisely any thought that comes into our heads from the bank of organized data in our minds or heavily active subconscious. So instead of navigating our minds with two tools used in conjunction (like a pencil and a rubber navigating a piece of paper) we use one tool apparent within and taking on the form of the other tool. We dont preconceive and the whittle down our preconception to a precise conception (using two tools) we preconceive in a precise fashion; an accurate idea is the basis of eloquent conversation, and ideas seem not to be made accurate after their conception, the would instead appear to form themselves as accurate ideas, not as ideas made accurate posthumously.

Perhaps your theory is correct in that the subconscious forms our ideas using two tools in conjunction, yet I cannot see our conscious mind doing that, although perhaps such processes occur too rapidly to perceive.

I think your theory excludes ideas which flow freely, although I can appreciate that the speed at which our minds work makes it practically impossible to observe any specific process.

I agree with your theory in that there tend to be two kinds of thinking process, yet I am not satisfied with your explanation of both types working together concurrently or in union or as one.
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de budding
 
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2008 09:19 am
@Doobah47,
I was trying visualise how both thought types could interact and came up with...

A primitive man who has suffered several grey wolf attacks on his cave after night. This is anything but desirable so, he sets himself a-thinking to come up with a solution. Clearly he is going to need type 1 here; predicting the wolves' arival, manipulating his environment to make a barricade etc. It was type 2 thought though that prompted him to start 'a-thinking' in the first place, it was his value and appreciation of his safety, environment, food store, family or whatever it is he keeps in his cave that triggered a defensive reaction.

So yes, I really like the idea but I'd like to add that if type 1 originated as the kind of thinking for our survival then type 2 blossomed out of this as a way of identifying where, when or why the application of type 1 thought is nesscery. I don't tend to think about things I don't value, appreciate or find significant.

TTFN,
Dan.
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2008 01:03 pm
@de budding,
Dan,

When you say: "It was type 2 thought though that prompted him to start 'a-thinking' in the first place, it was his value and appreciation of his safety, environment....", I'm not sure if this has sufficient value and appreciation to make it Type 2.

Any more than every professor who values his salary and tenure is motivated to write and publish in order to maintain it--it doesn't seem like sufficient appreciation to qualify as Type 2.

Billy
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2008 05:45 pm
@Peter phil,
because all thought takes place in the mind type one and type two commingle and lead into one another. As such it could be said that some manipulation is necessary to appreciate and some appreciation is necessary to manipulate. in example, in science one must appreciate the process to experiment on it, and in phillosophy one must manipulate a thought to appreciate it.
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 03:18 am
@vajrasattva,
Ah Alex, thanks for clearing things up for me . I just PM'd billy pondering if...

the recall of past subjective experience (happiness of family, security of shelter) as a Type 1-ish tool used as an initiative to act, to insure or condemn more of a certain subjective experience, is manipulation of our internal/mental environment.

But I can now see how they could be interdependent.

Dan.
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2008 08:10 am
@Peter phil,
but as you've noticed everything is interdependent with me
 
 

 
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