Thursday, 21 December 2017

breaking functional fixedness

I’ve found myself mediating on the question of insight and the cultural blind-spots that prevent us from being keen-sighted enough to recognise (both writ large and writ small) our own mistakes, achievements, peril and opportunities in ourselves or in others with this rather brilliant, succinct essay by Umair Haque, introduced by Jason Kottke.
Posing the question, what do you call a world that can’t learn from itself, societies risk cultivating the inability to see beyond the horizon of their established norms and values. Perhaps the dichotomy of a more authentic Europe and an ersatz America is not wholly an accurate one (which does not matter) since I don’t believe that Europeans are beyond the enticements that have driven US quality of life down to new lows, but rather because insisting on perfect generalisations that can be compartmentalised in one way or another is exactly what wedges aspersion between groups and makes one less likely to appreciate how good or bad conditions are and re-enforces the refusal to learn from the success or failures of another. Insofar as both extremes are taken for granted, Americans are loath to experiment with foreign ways of doing things, despite evidence that they work better and might even translate well across the Atlantic, and those nations who’ve achieved are just as disinclined to see how their happy existence is in jeopardy by tolerating the regressive forces of exclusion and keeping others down and out that will undo the underpinnings. What do you think? Can we as individuals and as a society (no matter where we live) cultivate practising insight?