In a previous post I described three approaches to describing reality. Each of them represented a different paradigm, or way of looking at the same things. They do not contradict each other and might be equally true. In the same way, there is more than one way to look at classifying paradigms. Somebody else might instead have classified theories of everything into reductionist and wholist models. Since elements of reductionism and wholism exist in the matter-energy, space-time, and mind-spirit approaches, these two ways of looking at classification have nothing to do with each other and thus represent different paradigms of classification. The question of whether the matter-energy approach is more reductionist or wholist is meaningless.
When people disagree, they often disagree on more than the answers; they disagree on the questions, too. My experience in life has been that most people are only ever aware of one way of looking at things, whereas I enjoy learning the basics of every school of thought. When it comes to politics, sociology, economics, religion, and morality, this lack of understanding can lead to unnecessary strife. Take the three approaches to sociology for example:
Structural-Functional: This approach begins with asking what role an institution or individual plays in the community and what good is derived from it. For example, slavery and hierarchy provide a more efficient division of labor and coherence of leadership than if everybody did their own thing. It is assumed that all societal arrangements are good for the community as a whole, though some practices may be better than others.
Social-Conflict: This approach begins by asking who benefits at whose expense by having a particular institution in play. For example, respect for property rights benefits those with property at the expense of those without the means to join them. It is assumed that all societal arrangements hurt somebody.
Symbolic-Interactive: This approach begins by questioning how it happens that the members of society even agree on what is good and bad. While a social-conflict theorist would see the Amish as somehow oppressed and a structural-functional theorist would see their existence as important to defining cultural standards, a symbolic-interactive theorist recognizes that the Amish live the way they do because they want to and asks why we don’t all live the same way.
Another source of conflict is the way that liberals and conservatives understand government. “Liberal” and “conservative” are words with no agreed upon meaning, but to the extent that an agreement exists I have noticed a correlation in their approach to politics.
Perfect Government: Ask a conservative to describe his perfect government and he will likely begin by listing the different ways in which power will be divided and restricted in order to prevent corruption and dictatorship. No minimum guaranteed level of government provision will be mentioned because it will be assumed that the people through their representatives will pass laws and spending to take care of that. Ask a liberal to describe his perfect government and he will likely begin listing all the different projects and programs that he wants fully funded. No suggestion of where the funds and resources might come from will be mentioned because it will be assumed that anything that can be done through the government will be. The conservative sees government as just one of many competing societal interests while the liberal sees it as the all-encompassing expression of all people in society.
Nature Of Politics: Ask a conservative his political views and he will likely begin listing all ways he agrees and disagrees with current government policy. He may also have opinions on medicine, technology, education, religion, hiring practices, and how to raise a family, but none of these are considered political opinions or even proper things for a government to be involved in. Ask a liberal his political views and he will likely begin listing all the groups in society being oppressed by other groups. To them, the relative prestige, education, finances, and other forms of power between people is just as much politics as government policy. Workplace politics is still politics.
Do you have a different way of looking at things?
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.