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        insight and reciprocity

gary e. davis
May 2003 / March 2014

This discussion was initially part of “A Brief Sense Of
An American Pragmatism”
     
     
In the complex ontogeny of capabilities for understanding and interaction, both insight and reciprocity are necessary for individuation and for each other, of course. But that at least means that the basis of insight is as important.

Habermas’s concern has been decidedly the conditions of well-regulated interaction, almost rather than the conditions of insight. For example, according to Mead scholar Mitchell Aboulafia, The Cosmopolitan Self: G.H. Mead and Continental Philosophy, U.Illinois, 2001, Ch. 3: “Universality and Individuality: Habermas and Mead,” JH fundamentally misreads Mead as basically theorizing sociality. To the contrary, Mead is centrally interested in creative individuation: socialization through individuation prevailing over individuation through socialization. (The latter pertains to early development, where given potential for mature autonomy appropriates its granted sociality, on the way to actualizing that potential through individuated conceptions of sociality. On the way to highly individuated, creative sociality, the social construction of reality [beyond childhood] becomes an emergent feature of so many individuated constructions of social reality.)

Relative to an interest in problem-solving, innovation, and individuation, cognitive development is more important than socialization, and creative individuation cannot be explained in terms of socialization, while creative individuation is vital for social progress. This is why individuals are associated with major discoveries in the sciences and arts. Those wonderful stories of collaborative insight-formation (research groups, art groups) are derivative of the capacities for insight brought to the group from creative individuation. The creative mind is more a matter of initiative brought to opportunity (premised on prior creation of opportunity).

Any one party in collaboration / cooperation / coodination has the insight it finds acceptable because either (1) it comes to the table already with that insight; or (2) it gains that insight (2a) from another party’s given insight brought to the table (offering the appeal of a better view); or (2b) one gains that insight through interaction (the hybridity of changing views through interaction). In all cases, views about what is insightful to each precedes the occasion of acceptance at the table of what is best for all, even when the eventually-accepted insight is dependent on interaction at the table.

Competing claims to insight require special efforts of collaborative inquiry which are not basically matters of reciprocity and mutuality, rather matters of openness, appreciation, cognitive focus, and creative reframing. In philosophical disagreement, it’s not basically that taking the other’s perspective is needed; that’s given. The work of getting to that point is prior to any resolution of disagreement. There’s a disagreement of perspectives in light of understanding the other’s view. “It’s not that we misunderstand each other, we disagree. Working through the disagreement may call for depth analysis of background beliefs and values in the labyrinth of contexts nested in, and interrelated with, contexts, which presumes a capability for insight brought to the scene, which becomes derivatively about mutuality (i.e., communication reaching a balance between peers on an issue), no matter the necessary degree of mutuality for resolving disagreement. Whether insight is someone’s insight or it’s created together, capability for insight and learning is primordial to communicative progress.

 

 

   
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