Re: Forming a Group LO2752

Jim Michmerhuizen (
Mon, 11 Sep 1995 22:10:56 +0059 (EDT)

Replying to LO2722 --

On Sun, 10 Sep 1995, Tobin Quereau wrote: Replying to LO2710 --

[ Bill Mitchell had written... ]
> > Question: In order to form an environment for dialogue to begin to take
> > place what is the minimum number of assumptions that need understanding
> > and enrollment. My early thoughts would point toward two:
> >
> > 1) We all want the project to provide the best result that we can
> > produce.
> >
> > 2) Everyone is acting rationally toward that goal.
> To this list I would add:
> 3) Everyone's contribution is worthy of attention.
> > Therefore when there is a difference of opinion we can trace it to one of
> > two causes:
> >
> > 1) People have different levels of knowledge about the topic and
> > so we need to educate each other so that we possess the same understanding
> > of the characteristics of the problem.
> >
> > 2) We have different assumptions about what is important and we
> > need to explore the assumptions so that we can all learn and grow
> > together.
> Here I would suggest that differences of opinion can very profitably come
> from
> 3) differing _perspectives_ of the "problem" and that this is not
> quite the same as assumptions and is probably as valuable to explore.
> This is linked perhaps to my earlier point about everyone's contribution
> being worthy of attention. If the core group is able to adequately capture
> and examine the various "perspectives" of the experts, themselves, and
> others, my sense is that the illumination of the core issues will be more
> thorough and more fruitful as well. Often what is needed most when
> confronted with a "problem" is a new perspective which turns it into an
> opportunity or a resource.

And I have to suggest: 4) naming discrepancies

Well, let's say right off the bat that these are _very_ closely related
to the perspectival differences you identify. So close that maybe this
is only a difference of perspectives
So the world looks different depending on where you stand in it; and since
no two people can stand in the same place at the same time, no two people
can see exactly the same things in the world. Over time, this has got to
give rise to name discrepancies. Particularly for general names, and
names of things which are themselves cultural, intellectual, or spiritual
artifacts. The set of actions which I would spontaneously and
unreflectively label "selfish", for example, will differ in some elements
from the set of actions you might so label. There may be little overlap,
in fact.

Differences in perspective can be overcome, or at least compensated for,
by an exercise of imagination. Naming discrepancies can be compensated
for, after an exploratory dialog to expose them, by a mutual intellectual
effort at straight translation: "I have to remember that when __ says
'selfish' he means about what I would mean by 'self-conscious'". Or

In practice, I find that incompatible "theories" of things often aren't
really theories at all, but simple naming discrepancies promoted to the
status of immutable principle. People of no theoretical interests at all
will nonetheless defend their naming-of-the-parts with all the passion of
Newton and Leibniz disputing over the invention of the infinitesimal

     Jim Michmerhuizen
     web residence at
. . . . . . . . . .   Actions speak louder than words   . . . . . . . . . .
 . . . . . . . . . .        but not as clearly         . . . . . . . . . .