2. Vision (“Head”)

In preparation for a comprehensive approach to actions, it is crucial to understand the nature of the two most powerful tools we humans have invented: language and the scientific method. Just as evolutionary perception teaches us that it is WE who think, feel and act—versus looking up to so-called experts—so must we look to our own experiences to gain full access to that power.
.
.
As for language, in order to attend to ideas as general or abstract as “way of life,” it is essential to move from more concrete concepts—such as “ideas,” “feelings” and “actions”—to abstract concepts such as bureaucratic way of life and evolutionary way of life.
.
.
C. Wright Mills criticized “grand theorists” who never climbed far down that ladder of abstraction so as to address the actual situations confronting people in their everyday lives. Equally, he chastised “abstracted empiricists” for never climbing far up that ladder to understand the significance of the mundane behavior they investigated. Yet those critiques apply to the rest of us. How often do we actually follow Mills’s advice as to the importance of shuttling far up and down language’s ladder of abstraction? Our failures stand in the way both of understanding the concrete impact of our behavior as well as gaining insight into the broad significance of our actions.
.
.
“Dichotomous thought”—the sharp contrast between two ideas—is another basic linguistic tool. It is one that can help us develop a deep sense of problem. This is exemplified by the contrast between the bureaucratic and evolutionary ways of life. In this way we simplify a complex situation. By so doing, we move away from bland descriptions and achieve emotional strength.
.
If thinking in dichotomous ways can yield emotional power, then “gradational thought” brings forward intellectual understanding. For our knowledge of the complexities of the world as well as human behavior takes us away from oversimplified thinking. By combining these two ways of thinking, we make use of our emotional and intellectual capacities.
.
It is linguistic metaphor which can address the human being’s third fundamental capacity: action. Metaphors help us to understand the role of invisible phenomena by tying them to visible ones. When I engage in evolutionary perception by linking, metaphorically, my writing these words (visible) to my own personal evolution (invisible), I learn to move in an evolutionary direction. I can learn to use metaphor in the same way for every single one of my actions. At the same time, I’m moving up language’s ladder of abstraction from mundane activity to personal evolution.
.
These four aspects of language—dichotomy, gradation, metaphor and ladder of abstraction—are powerful because they invoke the basic strengths of the human being: thought, feelings, and action. We all presently use them separately without realizing that they can form the links of an incredibly powerful chain. Our present usage of these elements of language reflects the narrow specialization within our bureaucratic way of life. Our integrated usage points us in an evolutionary direction.
.
Just as we remain unaware of the potential power of our linguistic tools, we are equally unaware of the strength of the elements of the scientific method we employ without any awareness of the fact. Indeed, neither are we aware that we use that method throughout our everyday lives. Creating Life Before Death develops this idea:
.
The psychologist George A. Kelly helps us to understand just how this has been happening in his A Theory of Personality. He writes not just about professional scientists with all of their degrees, their publications, and their honors, but about all of us:
To a large degree…the blueprint of human progress has been given the label of “science.” Let us then . . . have a look at man-the-scientist . . . Might not the individual man…assume more of the stature of a scientist, ever seeking to predict and control the course of events with which he is involved? Would he not have his theories, test his hypotheses, and weight his experimental evidence? (1963: 4)
.
.
Paralleling our capacity to invoke the three basic elements of human behavior when using language, so can we employ our full powers when employing the scientific method. For example, our awareness of our present way of life as deeply problematic indicates “heart”; understanding how to make progress on this problem brings forward “head”; and acting to actually make such progress invokes “hand.”
.
It is the scientific method in the hands of professional scientists and technologists that has succeeded in shaping and re-shaping the world over the past several centuries. Can we possibly imagine the enormity of the human race’s incredible power to solve problems once more and more of us learn that this tool is already in our own hands?