I thank Dr. V. Stone, of the Center for the Study of Standards in Society to have drawn my attention on an extraordinary article in the New York Times (see below)
It relates to the destructive effect of the lack of acceptance of diversity in societies, of “locker room talk”, hostile climate, the refusal to expose oneself to other perspectives and of advocating for moral compliance. The article describes these destructive effects in the “Society for Personality and Social Psychology” in the US.
Jonathan Haith, Professor in the Social Psychology area of the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia, who studies morality and emotion, and how they vary across cultures, spoke unconvenient truth. He told the audience nothing less than that their society was to be considered a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals”.
This is a rare event, since, as Prof. Haith explains in his speech, members who dare to question the moral values of such a “tribe”, are usually outcasted. He gave two prominent examples hereof.
Now why is that important and very significant?
Einstein said: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.
Present-day researchers arrive at similar conclusions, this time backed on serious scientific study. Two of them are Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. In their book, “Immunity to Change” they argue that “we are experiencing today a mismatch between the World’s complexity and our own” and they plead for more people to go to what they define as the stage 3 of adult Mental Development, which they call the “self-transforming mind”.
Very few people (less than 1%?), are today equipped with such mental capability. They describe it as the capacity allowing people “to step back from and reflect on the limits of their own ideology or personal authority, to see that any one system or self-organization is in some way partial or incomplete; to be friendlier towards contradictions and opposites; to seek to hold on to multiple systems rather than projecting all but one onto the other”…. The self of people attaining this plateau of mental development “coheres through its ability not to confuse internal consistency with wholeness or completeness, and through its alignment with the dialectic rather than either pole.”
Einstein also said : “It is the theory that describes what we can observe.”
In a time where the mainstream theories of social systems have missed on their capacity to convincingly describe, let alone to bring solutions to the intractable problems of our world, it is about time to abandon old paradigms and beliefs, and as Jonathan Haidt did, to bring some inconvenient truth out in the open.
That’s what another “outgroup” in the social sciences is trying to accopmlish, a group who has developed what it believes might turn out to be a nothing else than a “new basis for the social sciences” .
These scientists have furthered the ideas of Durkheim and Mary Douglas, and have developed “The Theory of Socio-Cultural Viability” (This theory sails under a number of other names : “Cultural Theory”, Theory of Multiple Rationalities, Grid-Group Theory, even Neo-Durkheimian Institutional Theory”)
It is here that I see links appearing between Jonathan Haidt, Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey and the tenants of the “Theory of Socio-Cultural Viability”.
Social systems are dynamic systems where opposing worldviews both oppose and need each other, no uncomfortable knowledge (and diversity) should be excluded from collective decision-making. In order to be effective much more human minds are required with a capacity to feel comfortable amidst these endlessly changing and complex social worlds consisting of ceaseless interactions between differing organizing, justifying and perceiving social relations, with a capacity also to uplift even more peole to the maximum of their possibilities. This might lead our world on new, sustainable paths.
The speech of Jonathat Haidt can be heard and his slides admired on his website. Please follow the link
More about Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahay can be found following the link
For more about the Theory of Socio-cultural viability see: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=275720 ; http://www.triarchypress.com/pages/book16.htm
Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”
It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.
Can social scientists open up to outsiders’ ideas? Dr. Haidt was optimistic enough to title his speech “The Bright Future of Post-Partisan Social Psychology,” urging his colleagues to focus on shared science rather than shared moral values. To overcome taboos, he advised them to subscribe to National Review and to read Thomas Sowell’s “A Conflict of Visions.”
For a tribal-moral community, the social psychologists in Dr. Haidt’s audience seemed refreshingly receptive to his argument. Some said he overstated how liberal the field is, but many agreed it should welcome more ideological diversity. A few even endorsed his call for a new affirmative-action goal: a membership that’s 10 percent conservative by 2020. The society’s executive committee didn’t endorse Dr. Haidt’s numerical goal, but it did vote to put a statement on the group’s home page welcoming psychologists with “diverse perspectives.” It also made a change on the “Diversity Initiatives” page — a two-letter correction of what it called a grammatical glitch, although others might see it as more of a Freudian slip.