Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,

Why I do not make a case for my point of view

As usual a way of explaining something has come upon me unbidden, for the brain does most of its work out of view.

Simply put, I do not make a case for my ‘reasoning’ on matters such as whether the way in which Obama attracts people is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and probably on lots of other things as well. I have said that such persuasion is not a goal of mine; but sometimes I do give more details on my ‘thinking’. Why would I do that if I am not trying to make a case?

Suppose I went into a city council meeting and tried to make a case for the solution of <pick your favorite mathematical equation>. Am I going to get very far? No set of debating points will suffice. What I need is not debating points, but for the council members to have their brains trained, with great difficulty, in solving that sort of mathematical equation.

Now I say, why should it be different in the daily life of a human being in a highly technological society? How could it be that methods of debate would suffice for finding solutions to our complex life problems? ‘Making a case’ cannot succeed; success requires training in new habits. To ‘convince’ a person of my general outlook means, to me, re-training that person’s habits so they are capable of solving that problem.

To a degree, this can be done even if the person, whom I would like, ideally, to ‘convince’, rejects my way of looking at a problem. Thus I succeed even when, from the traditional ‘debating points’ perspective, I have ‘failed’. I do not ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’, but rather succeed in different degrees, and I do so gradually, and it can be done no other way.

I go into a bit of detail sometimes in part to reinforce my own habits, and in part because I want to make an imprint on people’s brains (‘Don’t think of an elephant’).

The above explains why I say it has taken me more than a decade to develop my current way of looking at matters. Cramming will never get you through a rigorous mathematics exam.

postscript: Putting stuff like ‘fail’ in quote marks is meant to indicate I am talking about the bipolar ‘fail’-‘succeed’ instead of degrees of success. The need to make this and other tough distinctions explains my frequent use of quote marks.

postpostscript: Psychotherapy, music therapy, etc, can work similarly, I imagine.

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