Friday, May 18, 2007

A Paper On the Chronological Development of Gap-DGBN Philosophy-Psychology-Politics

It is 6:00 am on this fine morning of May 7th, 2007, and the first time that I have gotten up this early to write in years. I woke up about 3:00am and watched a piece on 'The Greatest Canadian' -- which in this case was on Terry Fox. What can be more inspiring than watching a piece on Terry Fox? It is enough to make anybody want to get off the bed immediately and try to accomplish great things. Or even simply personally meaningful things, done with great conviction. NOW!

And so it is that I -- for the 100th or possibly the 1000th time -- will try to put together a meaningful introduction that will lay before you the type of philosophy that I am promoting to be in the best interests of man, both in particular and in general. How can any one philosophy -- and the philosopher behind it -- be so bold as to ascertain the possibility that any one philosophy can be good for all of mankind, both individually and collectively?

Well, the answer is this: the philosophy or model that I am presenting is big and flexible enough that it has room to incorporate the existence and partial meaningfulness of almost all other philosophies. I would say that there is no room in my particular philosophy for any extremist philosophy that advocates the onslaught of violence and death. But aside from that there is room for almost anything that may give added meaning to someone who wants to take this philosophy down a particular corridor to see where it takes them.

I have been doing that for quite some time. I started out by studying psychology between about 1972 and 1991. First, I was smitten by Psycho-Cybernetics (the psychology of perception and belief). Then I was smitten by General Semantics -- the language-meaning-philosophy of Alfred Korzybski, followed by the work of his student S.I. Hayakawa and others. I wrote my Honours Thesis in psychology on the potential connections between General Semantics and Cognitive Therapy. But the paper was a little more than this. Without really knowing it, it was my first attempt at writing a paper on 'epistemology' -- the study of knowledge -- under the influence not only of Korzybski and Hayakawa but also Nathaniel Branden and indirectly Ayn Rand -- the ultimate 'objectivist' epistemologist.

At the same time, I was also being influenced by the work of Erich Fromm -- a 'neo-Freudian', humanist, and Marxist-socialist. So I was getting a 'double polarity of influence' from Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand, both avid Capitalist idealists on the one hand, and Erich Fromm, the Marxist-Socialist idealist on the other hand. Here we were looking not at 'man the perceiver, the interpreter, and the epistemologist' but rather 'man the evaluator and valuist'. And here were two sets of eqally smart political-economic philosophers coming down on opposite sides of the political-economic fence. Where was truth -- or does the issue of 'truth' have any relevance to the study of 'values'? Does the study of truth pertain only to the study of epistemology and not to the study of values? Yes, I answered to myself -- the study of truth pertains only to the study of epistemology and thus and no relevance to the study of values. But then, how do we assess the inherent 'goodness' or 'badness' of a value? How do we establish an ethical basis or some other standard of evaluation for choosing say Capitalism over Socialism or Socialism over Capitalism or Liberalism over Conservatism or Conservatism over Liberalism? These are head-scratching questions and a lot of it -- as Nietzsche was quick to point out -- comes down to the 'subjective perception of personal benefit' which could be one way for you and another totally different way for me. If I am making money near the top end of society's payscale, then I am much more likely to be a Conservative and a Capitalist whereas if I am new to this country, and/or near the bottom of society's payscale, then I am much more like to be an NDP or a Liberal which tends to favor more socialist policies than the Conservative Party. This rule of thumb may not be totally carved in stone -- there are always exceptions -- but one can see how 'values' are tied to 'the perception of personal benefit'.

When I left university after graduating with an Honours degree in psychology, I started studying different 'schools' of psychology with more focus -- particularly Adlerian psychology as I became involved with the Adlerian Institute in Ontario, and Gestalt Therapy as I also became involved with The Gestalt Institute of Toronto. Again, I was struck by the 'polarity and the paradox of difference' between different schools of thought. One school -- The Gestalt Institute -- believed in the principle of polarity and conflict in the personality, and the essence of psychotherapy being the 'dialectical negotiation and integration of opposing polarities in the personality'. Wheras the other school -- the Adlerian Institute -- believed that conflict was essentially a 'side show or smoke and mirrors show' in the personality and once you looked past this conflict, you could usually see that the person's core personality or 'lifestyle' with its encompassing pattern of behavior was always aimed in one and only one particular direction.

Once again, I was faced with the 'philosophy of difference' and the question of how to resolve those philosophical differences. But this became my personal philosophical challenge, and in the process, like a snowball that started rolling down the hill and getting bigger, I was starting to develop a particular 'style and process for negotiating and integrating different philosophies and psychologies that was making the net result of my work a little different than the individual pieces that were influencing the evolution of my work from often opposite sides of the philosophical and psychological fence. In essence, I was 'philosophizing in the gaps' between others' philosophical work. This idea, combined with three of the main forces that were influenicing the content and the direction of my work at this time -- Gestalt Therapy, Adlerian Psychology, and Psychoanalysis -- led to my first name for my work -- GAP Psychology. This was at at a time -- in the 1980s -- when my main focus of study was still psychology. But that all started to change as I worked my way backwards through Perls, Freud, and Jung -- to the main philosophical influencer behind all of them: G.W. Hegel (1770-1831).

Hegel was my window and my bridge between the study of psychology and the study of philosophy.

Here was a man who had influenced most of the great psychologists, most notably, Freud, Jung, Perls, as well as a host of other 'dialectical unity' psychologists. What Hegel put together as a general historical theory of evolution in philosophy and mankind, psychologists like Freud, Jung, and Perls internalized into the human psyche as a general working style and process of the human psyche. Thus, man's psyche, man's philosophy, man's politics, man's law, man's science, man's religion, man's culture in general -- all showed signs of the same general philosophical and psychological process which might be called 'dialectical evolution' -- which Hegel described as a cyclical process of 'thesis', 'anti-thesis', and 'synthesis', then start the process all over again at a different level of cultural evolution and development.

If psychologists and psychotherapists could harness and utilize the process of dialectical evolution in a way that helped their clients to 'negotiate and integrate their dialectical splits and conflicts' in a way that brought fresh 'dialectical unity and harmony' to their personalities and lifestyles, then why couldn't the same process be harnessed and utilized between businessmen, politicians, lawyers, philosophers, scientists, artists, and so on. This was the essence of my movement from GAP Psychology to GAP Philosophy -- a full-scale expansion and implementation of the principle of 'GAP-DGB Multi-Dialectical Wholism, Unity, Homeostasis, and Evolution.

I will close this work with two Hegelian quotations, one that I don't like and one that I do like. The one that I don't like I have modified and mutated in a direction that I do like.

Hegel wrote: 'The real is the rational and the rational is the real.' I don't buy this because often in my opinion, the real is not rational and the rational is not real. Human narcissism and hedonism often subvert the rational unless you want to talk about 'narcissistic and/or hedonistic rationality', in which case, a case could be made to support the claim that the real is the rational and the rational is the real -- i.e., someone's narcissistic and/or hedonistic rationality who has the power to implement his or her own 'brand of rationality'.

However, from this quote from Hegel, I developed one of my own: 'The truth is the whole and the whole is the truth, and any small part of the whole is a part of the truth -- not cut off and divorced from the whole but only in the full integrative context of the whole. It is in the full integrative context of the whole that we find truth.'

Here is the other quote by Hegel that I like. 'Every theory (my extension: every characteristic, every paradigm, every philosophy, every school of psychology, every brand of politics) carries within it, the seeds of its own self-destruction.'

This to me, is a good, viable warning against the dangers of self-righteousness and the one-sided focuses of thought or philosophy that are invariably leaving out the potential value of the opposing line of thought or philosophy. An integrative balance of both is generally where GAP-DGB Philosophy will attempt to go.

db, May 7th, 2007.

If you would like to read more on the philosophy of the dialectic, then please turn to this link:

No comments: