Monday, January 23, 2006

Transcend and include!

I am deeply convinced that open business and the economics of the
information age are very much influenced by the psychology of
participating individuals as individuals gain access to functions previously regarded as not within their sphere of influence. The debate about the European Constitution in France has been a manifestation of the impact of individuals on larger groups (tremendous participation of simple citizens to the process in my view regardless of the result for which I felt sorry), pretty much like social bookmarking or the current debate about peer-to-peer aand copyright. Another example would be the contribution of the EFF (which I support) to the hearings of the US Congress after the decision of the Supreme Court in the MGM vs Grokster case. Are we moving towards more participation of citizens instead of less participation as some analysts claim when looking at the figures of polls on the image of traditional politicians? Interesting question. Perhaps the dynamics of politics are changing and the whole system becomes more chaotic in nature...

Perhaps the importance of psychology in economic evolution is massively underestimated as we all tend to focus so much on technology. Open business is first and foremost about people and talent. In fact, traditional ways of doing business are also increasingly dependent on people (which is perhaps why there is such a massive endeavour of big corporations to built information systems that can fully take over from people). Human psychology is a key, yet often neglected,  parameter to consider in business and economics: for
example, I do not believe that financial markets are purely rational
like famous professors fo finance claim. Perfection of financial markets is, to a certain extent, a fiction that is
very dear to the western civilisation (the myth that rationality
should and indeed does govern every aspect of our lives). The is more than rationality in the way participants behave...

Carl Gustav Jung has some extremely interesting insights on the
eternal conflict between rationality and intuition, between
functionality and aesthetics, between thinking and feeling. I
recently read his
of the The
Secret of the Golden Flower
; I have tried to show his analysis graphically (please click on the picture to sse it in full size). In his comment Jung shares his understanding
of this old Chinese book of life. He shows how the
western civilization has developed a cult of rationality based on the
principle of causality, i.e. that a phenomenon can (always) results
from one or more other phenomena, whereas eastern civilization's
development has its roots in a more intuitive understanding of the
world based on the principle of synchronicity, i.e. that a set of
phenomena occurring in parallel without any apparent ties of
causality are nevertheless connected and happen simultaneously. In
his analysis, Jung shows how these two patterns of thinking although
apparently contradictory  necessarily coexist in our psyche as
individuals and in humanity as a whole, which is of course linked to
his concept of collective unconscious. Jung also asserts (and I subscribe to this view) that we westerners, sometimes disgusted with the extremism of the most rationalists in our midst, can be tempted to embrace the eastern philosophies and to reject our western tradition; in fact, such a behaviour would be quite improductive and even destructive because our patterns of thinking are indeed those of the West and repressing such an important dimension of the Self would lead to crippling inner conflict. true to his inclusive philosophy Jung shows the benefits of building an understanding of the East without shedding the strengths inherited from Ancient Greece, the Persian world and the Arab civilization. So much for the infamous "clash of civilizations"...

Transcend and include is the message and I think it makes a hell of a lot of sense as we see the effects of rejection, repression and violent submission of foreign lands to the rule of today's great and mighty. Now of course, if we are to follow Jung (which I am quite happy to do), then the way people like Dr Edward De Bono position their findings limits the value of these new tools: for example the "Six Thinking Hats" method (which I have been trained to use and find great in many respects) does not need to be positioned as an outright rejection of the achievements of Ancient Greek thinkers Aristotle, Socrates and Plato...

From the standpoint of economics "transcend and include" means that microeconomics
becomes more relevant than ever
. Indeed, thanks to new information technologies the dynamics of economic phenomena are increasingly emergent in nature: it is more and more bottom-up rather than top-down (a typical mecanism of the industrial era). Hence microeconomics, chaos theory, complex adaptive systems seem to be excellent tools to understand what is going on as it becomes more and more
difficult to capture behaviour and added value as aggregate
dimensions usually present in macroeconomic analyses. In short we are
indeed and at long last moving towards an economy in which
individuals can make a heck of a difference and away from the logic
of masses that prevailed during the industrial age (although to a certain extent industrial age standardization and logic of mass still applies and should therefore not be rejected out of hand). As a consequence,
there are currently important tensions and even wars between the
methods of the industrial age and the approaches of the information
age. From the way individuals contribute to projects and businesses,
to the advent of eco-entrepreneurship (socially and ecologically
responsible business initiatives), to the emergence of new consumer
behaviours, to the challenges the traditional media and entertainment
channels face, to new ways of engaging into political action, to
innovative ways of handling intellectual property like Creative
Commons (which I support)... Examples are countless in almost every
field of human activity. Again, after careful consideration and having myself fallen several times into the trap of blaming, repression and rejection, it seems to me that transcendence and inclusion is a good way to go, even though it requires some reform of the individual items that are to be transcended and included into a higher level of evolution as Ken Wilber argues.

These are exciting times and what is going on is absolutely

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