An Emergent Cosmopolis
Unexamined thoughts have too much power. If one is to remain free, then one needs to break the automatic connection between thoughts, feelings, and actions—to submit one’s impulses to discernment, to make a choice of what inclinations will be expressed by outward deeds.
— Michael Casey
Teams works best when each member is aware of where they are in the state of the play. Such a situational awareness involves a number of factors:
Mentors actualize the potential of individual players; coaches train teams to work together toward a common goal; leaders set down the process of running in the field; but it is the player, the individual team member coordinating his or her efforts with other team members, who do the actual cosmopolis-L work.
Players are not, for the most part, interchangeable. If the team acts as one, then the components of the team are not monads but different aspects or specialized roles within the unity called a team. Some embody specialized areas of knowledge important to a cosmopolis-L project: historiography, world history, cultural dynamics, global geographic, and geopolitics. Some represent different modes of common sense experience: biological, aesthetic, dramatic, and intellectual. And while all are expected to achieve a basic competency in Lonergan’s transcendental method, there are those whose background, training, and interests predispose them to higher levels of intellectual, moral, and/or religious conversion.
There are other necessary roles that play a part in any such project such as hospitality, special listening skills, a quiet competency, an inner stillness, patience—or perhaps a naivety that allows others to objectify what it is they know and believe, much to their chagrin when what seemed simple is in fact not so.
The interesting thing is that these “roles” are not fixed but fluid, being expressed by one player or another as circumstances require. It is in the dynamic self-awareness of the players as a whole that the team truly exists;. The leader only directs the play; he or she does not cover all the bases. The trick for the player is to work out what is needed to keep the momentum set by the leader, listen to others (standing in their shoes), note challenges to one’s own orientation, and expressing their own position—not as individuals but in terms of the state of the “game.”
In a general sense, players are responsible for content, leaders for process, and both are responsible for maintaining this distinction. Each person is also responsible for their own behavior within the group as an expression of personal intellectual, moral, and religious conversion.
There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.
— Thomas Sowell
Handbook: Team Players
What is at stake is the ability to tell the truth. But we can't handle the truth.
— Richard Fernandez
Progress and Decline
Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J.
Insight into insight, then, will reveal what activity is intelligent, and insight into oversights will reveal what activity is unintelligent. But to be practical is to do the intelligent thing and to be unpractical is to keep blundering about. It follows that insight into both insight and oversight is the very key to practicality.
Thus, insight into insight brings to light the cumulative process of progress. For concrete situations give rise to insights which issue into policies and courses of action. Action transforms the existing situation to give rise to further insights, better policies, more effective courses of action. It follows that if insight occurs, it keeps recurring: and at each recurrence knowledge develops, action increases its scope, and situations improve.
Similarly, insight into oversight reveals the cumulative process of decline. For the flight from understanding blocks the insights that concrete situations demand. There follow unintelligent policies and inept courses of action. The situation deteriorates to demand still further insights and, as they are blocked, policies become more unintelligent and action more inept. What is worse, the deteriorating situation seems to provide the uncritical, biased mind with factual evidence in which the bias is claimed to be verified. So in ever increasing measure intelligence comes to be regarded as irrelevant to practical living. Human activity settles down to a decadent routine, and initiative becomes the privilege of violence.
Unfortunately, as insights and oversights commonly are mated, so also are progress and decline. We reinforce our love of truth with a practicality that is equivalent to an obscurantism. We correct old evils with a passion that mars the new good. We are not pure. We compromise. We hope to muddle through. But the very advance of knowledge brings a power over nature and over men too vast and terrifying to be entrusted to the good intentions of unconsciously biased minds. We have to learn to distinguish sharply between progress and decline, learn to encourage progress without putting a premium upon decline, learn to remove the tumour of the flight form understanding without destroying the organs of intelligence.
No problem is at once more delicate and more profound, more practical and perhaps more pressing. How, indeed, is a mind to become conscious of its own bias when that bias springs from a communal flight from understanding and is supported by the whole texture of a civilization? How can new strength and vigour be imparted to the detached and disinterested desire to understand without the reinforcement acting as an added bias? How can human intelligence
hope to deal with the unintelligible yet objective situations which the flight from understanding creates and expands and sustains? At least, we can make a beginning by asking what precisely it is to understand, what are the dynamics of the flow of consciousness that favours insight, what are the interferences that favour oversight, what, finally, do the answers of such questions imply for the guidance of human thought and action.
Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J.
Insight: A Study of Human Understanding
(London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1957)