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Ego and the Denial of Complexity
This began as a comment to an article by
Flemming Funch on
Denial of complexity, but it grew too large for that format.
The comments that he made strongly resonate with my own ideas so I feel
inspired to share some of those resonances in the hope that it may add something
to this discussion. I'll extemporise on his comments and quote them extensively,
weaving my own ideas around them...
" "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
What a great quote! "
It is a great quote. I've included that quote right at the start of my latest
e-book on the subject - thanks for bringing it to my attention. It sums up the
essence of the issue in 9 words but to explain the implications of those 9 words
takes a few more words.
It revolves around "the basic idea of being able to study and describe
different periods as a whole" because the system that we are a part of
functions as a 'whole' even though the "simple mind" only perceives it as
separate parts. That is why I apply system theory to conceive of the functioning
of the whole and some very startling ramifications come from such an analysis -
which he also hints at in his article.
"Life is complex, biologically, socially, culturally. The most awesome
stuff that exists is complex. The universe, evolution, eco-systems, art,
adventure, human culture in general, and the human mind."
People too often neglect this most important fact and our traditional
discourses simply cannot comprehend that complexity. They create a simplistic
context that gives rise to simplistic agendas and simplistic rationalisations.
They speak of left-wing, right-wing, politics, economy, human rights, society
and so on. These simplistic discourses lead us to believe that these are simple
phenomena that are fully defined by the simplistic ideas associated with those
words and that the reality can be comprehended and engineered by merely
manipulating those simplistic ideas. We too often don't recognise that these
ideas are just symbols that refer to cultural interpretations of minute aspects
of a much deeper and more complex 'whole'. When we think only through the narrow
channels of traditional discourses and we act from that narrow thinking. We may
seem rational in the narrow context of those discourses but those discourses
cannot comprehend the reality so in reality we are in fact being dangerously
irrational and our actions are destructively out of alignment with reality.
The "human mind is at a crucial point in its evolution. We can consciously
think abstractly. But not very well. The part of our mind we're conscious of,
and that we usually identify with as "me", typically has an extremely inflated
idea of its own worth and its own independent existence. That despite that it
can only solve extremely simple problems, and it doesn't even know how. It
over-simplifies everything, and it tends to think it is in charge."
This is the ego and it has been known by the wise to be the root cause of all
suffering and dysfunction in the world for exactly the reasons that Flemming
mentions, i.e. it has "an extremely inflated idea of its own worth and its
own independent existence... it can only solve extremely simple problems, and it
doesn't even know how. It over-simplifies everything, and it tends to think it
is in charge." This means that when the ego reigns supreme our understanding
is distorted, our agendas are out of alignment with reality and our actions
create disturbance in the wider holistic context.
The most interesting bits are yet to come... More >