“THE PEOPLE” don’t exist

Do, “The People”, exist ?

For some years
I have avoided using the term “people”;
and use “persons” or “populations” instead.

What motivated me was the overly frequent misuse of the phrase, and its variations such as “The American People”, by politicians and media pundits. Unconsciously, they deceptively imply that the whole of a group or population supports what only a smaller subset of persons do support (or oppose).

In support of the term, “The People”, I remember stories of Native Americans referring to their whole tribe by terms that translated, in English, to “The People”.  Social systems with homogeneous cultures might be able to claim an almost universality to beliefs and assumptions within their populations. This cannot be valid beyond the tribe.

The cognitive diversity of “humankind” (term to label all humans and their cultural/social/societal systems) is far vaster than expected and the full range yet to be determined. Observable body differences is a small variation compared to our cognitive differences. Many cognitive differences are DNA inherited; many as propensities dependent on environments for their actualization. Cognitive diversity is so vast that it is improper to speak of an average or normal human, in terms of their cognitive functioning. In analog, we can’t identify the “average” dog, or bird, or house.

Use of “The People” masks this essential diversity. Even when “the people” refers to a well defined population (by only a few criteria) the variation within that population remains large. Remember, it is logically and scientifically valid to rank a population of entities only one characteristic at a time – and then the ranking refers only to that characteristic. The ranking of human persons as to “overall importance” should be outlawed, as invalid and deceptive; yet it is a common practice. This relates to the logical fallacy of identifying a person with a category. It causes conceptual trouble when we identifies a person as “a husband”, “a taxi driver”, “a Muslim”, “a Republican”, ” a criminal”, etc. We aren’t instantiations of categories, only members of them.

This and thousands of similar, small “errors” contribute to our current “Crisis-of-Crises”. My use of this term, Crisis-of-Crises, is to label but one (large) aspect of contemporary humankind. It should be noted that “Crisis” refers to both dangers and opportunities. “Crisis-of-Crises” also implies that the interaction of different “crises” may be as important as the “crises” themselves.

I borrowed the term, Crisis-of-Crises, from my old mentor  John Ryder Platt from his 24NOV1969 article in SCIENCE, “What We Must Do”.

Do, “PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS” exist – in the “real world”?

The Problem/Solution Paradigm is a successful strategy primarily in artificial or laboratory situations. There we sometimes can, by design, limit the number of variables “in the problem situation” so that an “action entailing only a few variable” will suffice, a “solution”.

Advancements in the material sciences (including biology) were many because the systems researched did submit to simplification into Problems with Solutions.

Systems with humans as primary components seldom meet this criteria: only a few independent variables. It is typical of humans to seek out a few “causes” and attempt to limit or control them – even when there are a great many contributory factors involved in how the system functions. All candidates in the 2016 elections made such claims, and it was to such limited thinking that motivated the voters.

Although The Club of Rome identified the limitations of the problem/solution paradigm more than five decades ago, and coined names for the real issues facing humankind (solutionateques for problemateques), there has been no significant advancement in creating processes for fully identifying problemateques and developing solutionateques.

The phenomenon I label “TRUMP”, both in the USA and globally, must shake us from our complacency about PEOPLE CREATING/SOLVING PROBLEMS as a grossly inadequate strategy for our survival/thrival. “WE” must begin to re-imagine humans and human systems confronting problemateques.

The “WE” must be “participatory democratic”, but only within those persons accepting this “reality” and challenge. WE should not attempt to promote “it” to the whole of humankind, until “WE” have a nu system/process working for “ourselves” What we might be doing will start being discussed in future posts.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.