[Paleopsych] influence

Paul J. Werbos, Dr. paul.werbos at verizon.net
Sun Mar 13 13:02:55 UTC 2005

At 12:47 AM 3/13/2005, G. Reinhart-Waller wrote:
>Paul writes:
> >>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. >>
>Interesting point you make about our influence on others being 
>irrational.  If that were so, then we'd do not better than to shut up!

Please forgive me for being less than clear.

I did NOT mean to say it is irrational for us to try to influence others in
some way.

It is irrational to try to influence while trying not to BE influenced.
The asymmetry of the idea should be a warning to people.

In fact, the word "influence" itself is very loaded -- and, if untempered, 
reflects a kind of dangerous
filtering in our perceptions of human interactions.

Perhaps I should have simpler, more Quakerly language.

It is natural that we should often speak so as to be heard, and listen so as
to learn and understand. Speaking and listening are equally essential
to effective systems of dialogue, either internal or external, mundane or 
Traditions which obstruct this aspect of nature are both perverted and
threats to the larger system.

>Gerry Reinhart-Waller
>Paul J. Werbos, Dr. wrote:
>>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 prefer.
>>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.
>>    Paul
>>paleopsych mailing list
>>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
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>paleopsych at paleopsych.org

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