good thinking
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an American politics of virtue
  clarity of mind

gary e. davis
October 5, 2020
One’s clarity to oneSelf is different than for another, a difference best lived with you
(the s/p difference).

To wit: I wrote a month ago—note to self (many of such may happen in a day):
You can’t have democratic trending without people being clear about what they want (generally requiring enablative educational excellence, broadly conceived) and being realistic about getting satisfaction (knowledge-intensive programming).
• knowledge-intensive programming
• being realistic about getting satisfaction
• enablative educational excellence, broadly conceived
Quoting oneself can be an act of self-distantiation, which turns one’s view into a stance (framing the view, which quote marks or indentations perform), like reading an other.

Easily seeing oneself relative to another is integral to understanding the self/[inter]-personal difference, i.e., distinguishing “me” as I (Self) to myself and me being-with, relative to being heard, seen, or read. (The I/me difference was highlighted by William James.) Interpersonal relationship may have its own personality (e.g,, parent, teacher, marital, professional). Comfort with this (being-with) shows as good rapport of inter-action or easy interplay.

Such self-differentiation is integral to genuine teaching, which is done best with an actual other, but is common for any writer who wishes to make a case or clarify a point—appre-ciating sense of “audience,” they say.

Who are you? I don’t know.

So, whom as general other (and inferred cohering authorship) can we be here?

“Broadly conceived,” good teaching enables growing appreciation of self-differentiation that plays well with others as themselves (not as self-esteeming fiction).

Satisfaction in that must be accepting of what can be genuinely expected from “our” interplay. For example, it’s ungenuine to feel that another is to blame for not understand-ing, when you haven’t been in touch with how misunderstanding may have been your doing, by being too self possessed, out of rapport, or “insensitive” (the other feels).

Yet, “his” (my) note’s association above with education was itself a generality about “being clear about what they want.” That’s a generality that always only belongs to oneself: what “I” want.

Sustaining good appreciation of that difference—in relation to generalized other, re: understanding, want, etc.—is especially why the s/p difference is real, and pertains to receptiveness and responsiveness of action generally.

A hallmark of educational excellence is enabling individuation of articulability and individuation of oneself’s own understanding as one outgrows one era of “growing up”
to explore another (as one’s own new era, yet also with others—a difference which is especially elusive for teens).

But my note seems to have a misplaced abstraction in mind by associating to “knowledge-intensive programming.” That pertains to systems, such as educational systems, organi-zational public presence (e.g., governing agencies), re: “democratic trending” (the point of the note).

In particular, a notion of leadership as integrally educational implies broad attention to information ecology (I would venture—quite plausibly, given the unfathomable inter-netting of the global village).

Strategy 5 of the “Reinventing American Democracy” project is relevant here: “Build Civic Information Architecture that Supports Common Purpose.”

My point is an abstraction, relative to the rest of the note. But it’s generally pertinent.

So it goes, with improvisation.

Altogether, this discussion shows a sense of self reflection that can be integral to critical thinking (or reasoning as self analysis).

Last month, I commented at a Tom Friedman article (link upcoming) that thoughtfulness in voting matters, contrary to Tom’s focus on “just vote,” whatever one’s stance:
…we must choose to care for our citizen stances and thoughtfully stand for them as worth thoughtful defense. We must stand for caring highly that one's vote be thoughtful.

I know that may seem trite or didactic civics. It's a long road to the notion of “deliberative democracy” that some political theorists have advanced (Jürgen Habermas especially; see, for leading example, The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy, 2018 ). But that's the goal of the best thinking in democratic theory. [Aug. 18]
The notion of citizen stance is one distinct kind of s/p difference: being as citizen.
That can be a rich identity—though the social economy occupies so much time
that “civic mindedness” becomes an ephemeral occasion to vote (if at all) relative to
one’s own life’s direct interests. “Who has time to comprehend the Big Picture?”

Capitalism especially would have citizenship consumerized, where citizen opinion is a result of intensive marketing. And the work world demands so much time (such unfair rate of income) that time for being well informed may be a luxury.

Deliberative life is essential for democratic promise. Astute reasoning deserves to be valued. The better argument deserves to prevail in decisions. We deserve fair time to appreciate what deserves to be.

clarity of mind as lucidity of astute reasoning

‘Lucidity’ has interesting synonyms and related terms that indicate its receptive and responsive character, which is also integral for rapport and care—and teaching (and leadership as educational).

Explicitness (a responsive value) may call for simplicity (a receptiveness toward an-other’s or plural others’ apparent point of understanding so far or generally), maybe perspicuity (a complex responsiveness) is called for. In any case, clarity (which depends on attuned articulation) is key.

Relatedly, all of the above calls for openness, forthrightness, directness and intelligibility—maybe not incisiveness, but often that too.

Especially interesting is the kindredness of lucidity and readability. Literacy gives one appreciation of the metaphor of reading another in daily interaction. Even mental science attends to notions of “mindreading” as commonsense understanding of each other (but in neuroscientific terms). That tropes one’s interpersonal presence as text. A sense of high literacy toward reading each other can merge into why literary studies are so enlightening.

How lovely that a continuum of lucidity from the most ordinary caring together can lead to highly literary appreciation of another.

graciousness in all of one’s day.

Deferring to the other (something so natural for Japanese culture) shows appreciation
of their dignity and integrity.

Honoring the integrity and dignity of the other’s life—especially a disadvantaged life—instills trust and helps dissolve resentment about disadvantage.

Graciousness derives from the notion of grace—acting with grace—which Michelle Obama highlighted and I discussed briefly.

Teaching through example—through one’s exemplarity—that you (who are presumably advantaged—or perceived so) appreciate the other’s dignity and integrity of life may win openness by the suspicious other, which may build understanding and bonding, support learning, and initiate collaborative engagement in shared projects.

I earlier grounded the above (implicitly, not about graciousness) in an appreciative caring “profession”—professing in a sense prior to (yet including) any career.

By the way, showing graciousness of care can be indirectly important for the long term
of countering authoritarian appeal—countering, e.g., another’s projecting onto sup-posedly elite views condescension toward “ordinary” persons, which “justifies” a spirit
of revenge; countering another’s intimidation by complex views, which “justifies” sup-pression; and countering anti-intellectualism which “justifies” belittling expertise.

Perhaps graciousness is the best way to understand the kindredness of being polite (not as self-concealing), being politic (acting aptly), and being political (serving public life).


next—> authentic values



  Be fair. © 2020, g. e. davis