[Paleopsych] influence

Paul J. Werbos, Dr. paul.werbos at verizon.net
Sat Mar 12 14:14:25 UTC 2005

This touches on one of the most central themes in the politics of our world --
and in how it is being screwed up, both on the mundane level and on the 
spiritual level.

At 09:04 PM 3/11/2005, G. Reinhart-Waller wrote:
>Michael writes:
>>--That's a good point. We often fail to see how much
>>influence we have, to the point of making life
>>impossible for others who don't adapt to our agenda.
>>And yet, we do not want to be influenced ourselves. It
>>is hard to break out of a bubble, easier to insist
>>that everyone live in it with you.
>--How wrong is it for your own nation to assume a leading role in bringing 
>about reasonable peace throughout the world?  Any person who has assumed a 
>leadership role, be it doctor, lawyer or teacher, knows what leadership 
>means.  It means that there will be supporters as well as those who 
>counter your role....that's to be expected.  Didn't someone say not too 
>long ago:  "You are either with us or against us"? Maybe it was our 
>president when we rallied to invade Iraq.  Only difficulty with this 
>stance is that it just might create another Civil War.

Some people basically propose, as an ethical principle, that we should all 
just shut up.
That we should try hard to avoid influencing anyone else's decision or fate.
But in the end, I would argue that this is profoundly unnatural and even 
and to some degree physically impossible for some of us. The VERY IDEA
of such an ethical principle is one of the problems in our world. (To be 
fancy, you
cold label it as an aspect of "original sin." I personally would prefer to
be more complete and more accurate in discussing those aspects... but...
you wouldn't like such details here and now.)

Some people rebel, by taking a diametrically opposite position, and "do 
their best"
with whatever they have, trying to influence the world in whatever way they 
That ends up being equally bad, and the excesses it leads to have been the 
theme of struggles and pain
on this world for as long as history goes back.

In the second view -- we try to influence others, while not being 
influenced ourselves.

That is a common view... but if we look at it objectively, we can see that 
it is
profoundly irrational.

Yes, if we are omniscient and infallible, both in knowledge and in values, 
it is natural
for us to "do our best" in this autistic style.

But -- recognition of our own uncertainty, of probability distributions 
concerning our knowledge,
of areas we know almost nothing about -- should lead any rational person
to be open to certain kinds of "influence."

In extremis -- some of us even go to Quaker meetings, in a very active 
effort to
develop our abilities in "listening." (Some of us, having been bulls in a 
China shop,
may appreciate we have a special need to work hard on that aspect of our 
One may even cultivated "being influenced."


Sometimes, when I think of the wild destruction of fundamentalists both 
and "Moslem," I remember the guy who once said:
"You don't use God. God uses you."

That's an oversimplification.. but it would be very healthy for them to pay 
more attention to.



More information about the paleopsych mailing list