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March 9, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Why reductivism destorys knowledge, multi-diciplinary solution, and society

Excellent question. Thanks for asking. I haven’t fully broken it down–but here are some first guesses that come to mind to get the ball rolling:

1) Experience
2) Wisdom/Axioms/Heuristics
3) Subjectivity
4) Intuition (various ranges of hunch or strong hunch).
5) Ethnography
6) Perhaps historical geneaology
7) Eyewitness testimony
8) Syllogism & logic (ie math-sorta)

I don’t know if each of them can withstand a test….I haven’t fully thought it through.
Each of these also has a continuum of credibility.

I’ll also point out that each is probably enhanced when it has affirmation in the context of
1) other forms of proof (i.e. multi-dimensional proof)
2) social forms of itself (i.e. multiple people’s subjectivity)
In other words when groups agree about something of the above (particularly subjective knowledge)–that is a reason to potentially favor them. Its not perfect–but thats kind of the principle of democracy. It certainly serves as a small check on randomness and weirdness that totaly subjectivity might allow.

There are also heuristics for acting in the absence of full and complete certainty—given that we’re never going to have that kind of certainty–we always have to have risks in all parts of our lives. The notion that we have the luxury of delaying until we have absolute truth are totally fallacious–we would have absolute and total paralysis.

If people applied reductionism and lack of subjectivity and experience to their daily lives–our species would grind to a halt–because families wouldn’t exist. People wouldn’t get in family relationships because the types of proof available to make those decisions wouldn’t be available.

Or for instance, choosing a book label or a university to work at–never going to have:
1) data beforehand that specifies your conditions given you are by definition a new product–you can only speculate based on assumptions from old products that are somewhat similarly situated (but don’t assume current market conditions and culture & don’t assume you as the author & perhaps don’t assume the evolution of methods and processes that are available to address the problem (I’m assuming an innovative field–for instance that might rely on mobile tech or social media marketing–thats updating very quickly)

The way the exclusion works just doesn’t look at context. For instance, scientific proof or not in the process isn’t the question–its what you do with the proof once you have the data.

One other problem is that all decisions–almost inevitably require too parts–at least in decsion-making and alternatives (which is the core of making a quality decision):
1) Gather options
2) Narrowing the field

The gathering the options part is speculative. For instance, brainstorming is enlarging the pot of available options.

Those types of decisions inevitably require abductive logic. This isn’t me thats talking this is an expert in innovation and design thinking at Rodman MBA program (Roger Martin–he has a digram in one of his books, I’ll try to link to it–I think its either Opposable Mind or his pinkish one after–I also have to credit him with him talking about abductive reason–but just in the design process). Also, IDEO functionally agress with this notion….as probably would most innovation & creative design firms.

The nature of data primarily applied to the norm–and doesn’t cover or excludes outliers. Also, the type of data concerned can be limited.

I’ve previously written about how at every point in the process the scientist, inventor, discoverer relies on other fields & other forms of knowledge (I can try to chase that down if you like)

I think the diagram is basically an explanation of divergent and perhaps convergent thinking…..or you can think of it like divergent thinking and critical thinking.

Overall, though, a reductionistic paradigm is literally acid to thought and thinking–thats used when used conditionally as a tool (lets imagine this contructe) but unhelpful when it says….lets ONLY used this tool. Its like early man saying that one of the 6 simple machines was the “best” and then only using one of those simple machines to solve problems. Its retrograde. And actually calling people, lovers, and scientists and others in fields across the spectrum to not use these other forms of knowledge or rely on them for decision-making would positively turn the clock back.

I can’t imagine if you took a presidential or inspiring speech (Steve Jobs, Obama, Reagan, or MLK’s dream speech)….you wouldn’t have anything less over after the reductionists got done. Moreover, all speeches as just specs upon the page–their just atoms–they are all the same. In the same way all art & all literature is just the same–under the reductionist paradigm when its taken to its logical conclusion. But it would positively turn back the clock to zero progress. Nothing would get done.

For further research:
Abductive reasoning (identified by the pragmatist Charles Sanders Pierce)

I’ve included this link and will look for the diagram on sunday: Integrative thinking

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