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About truth and power to decide

About truth and power to decide

If there is one error in thinking that is detrimental to democracy, it is the inability to understand what we are really deciding when we elect our executive or legislative representatives. Our representatives (as we should understand them, having delegated to them the right to decide in our stead) are elected to decide, not to know.

Inter-subjectivity of truth

Indeed, there is a major problem with “knowing” because ” knowing” implies “knowing the truth.” We tend to think that politicians should know the truth about the objectivity around them. But most of their objectivity is nothing but subjects like themselves. The “reality” that knowledge deals with in their case is nothing but the subjectivity of subjects, or better, the relations between subjects, their intersubjectivity. The objectivity of the truth they are trying to fathom is intersubjective. The truth about their knowledge of the “object” is by definition subjective, a self-reference. Therefore, we say that every agent of the society (i.e. every living particle of a society, including individuals, companies, organizations, …) has a different truth about each element of the society and that each truth has the same value.

A society in which every truth had the same value would be highly inefficient in practice. A life in which all agents are equal is a contradiction in terms. Differentiation and thus hierarchy is life. If in biology evolution in the form of the invisible hand takes care of differentiation (yes, Adam Smith and Charles Darwin explain the same mechanism), in centralized systems like public administration this role is taken over by a selected person. And his only role is to differentiate, to decide where in the hierarchy different actors stand, that is, to decide which already established truth is more important than another. We elect our representatives not because they would know better (because no one knows better or worse), but because they can or should decide on different truths. We empower them to decide.

Knowledge from the top down

Contrary to what we explained above, every day we find that representatives begin to think of themselves as having some mysterious power of knowledge, with the tragic consequence that they avoid doing their main job: to decide. This leads to the collective fallacy of understanding their rare decisions as decisions about truth rather than hierarchy. As if they could distinguish between truth and lies. As if they are able to distinguish Fake News from real news. Since they seem to know (the truth), sooner or later they start to imagine that there is no need to deal with different truths/interests of the society that elected them. Why should they – they know the truth. Other interests/truths from society can only harm their absolute knowledge. They are afraid of lobbying, they are afraid of any social interaction – in fact, they behave like a God.

Decide from the bottom up

But what they should really do is not decide on the truth, but on what mix of values will structure society for a given period of time, since values are only a selection mechanism for differentiation. They should evaluate as many options as possible (since they know as little as any other individual or organization) and decide on three lights that should balance each decision: Wisdom, Power, and Beauty, and constantly confront these choices with the ever-changing intersubjective shaping of reality around them.

And this is one of the main differences between humanism and homonism. Humanists know (top down), homonists decide.

The AI downgrade

This is the fourth update of a post from 2012. Since I am bombarded with AI tools for writing and rewriting articles, I tried one for this particular case. The following result is perfectly written, as expected, but completely misses the point. This “nice try” has reinforced my belief that artificial intelligence is definitely of practical use, and I do use it, but not for researching innovations that are contrary to what is generally accepted, even in science. AI is a perfect tool for researchers to regurgitate and spit out in modified form what is already known. My wild guess is that 90% of research, at least in the social sciences, fits what AI could do better. Not that I do not want to take such a simple approach, but I can not. Why should I spend time regurgitating something that has already been worked out? No! One should always swim against the tide, otherwise why live?

About truth and power to decide

The Art of Balancing Top-Down Knowing and Bottom-Up Deciding

Striking a balance between top-down knowing and bottom-up deciding isn’t always easy. But, with the right knowledge and understanding, it can be achieved. Let’s delve deeper into both these concepts and how they can harmonize with each other. 

Understanding Top-Down Knowing 

Top-down knowing is all about having a broad, overarching understanding of a situation. It’s about seeing the big picture and making informed decisions based on that. This method often relies on pre-existing knowledge and experience. For example, a CEO setting the strategic direction for a company is using top-down knowing. 

Grasping Bottom-Up Deciding 

On the other hand, bottom-up deciding is about making decisions based on detailed, specific information at hand. It’s about understanding the nuances of a situation and making decisions accordingly. For instance, a team leader assigning tasks to team members based on their individual strengths and weaknesses is using bottom-up deciding. 

Striking the Balance 

Achieving a balance between top-down knowing and bottom-up deciding requires a certain art. It’s about knowing when to take a step back and look at the big picture, and when to zoom in and examine the details. Below are some tips to help you strike this balance: 

Be flexible: Understand that not all situations call for the same approach. Be prepared to switch between top-down and bottom-up deciding as needed.
Stay informed: Whether you’re making a top-down or bottom-up decision, information is key. Ensure you’re well-informed about the situation at hand.
Listen to others: Don’t be afraid to seek input from others. This can provide valuable insights and help you make more informed decisions.

In conclusion, it’s important to understand and balance top-down knowing and bottom-up deciding. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach – the key is to adapt and adjust according to the situation.

Navigating Power Dynamics in Decision Making

When it comes to the exercise of power in decision making, it’s essential to understand that it’s not a simple top-down process. Indeed, the dynamics are far more complex and nuanced. Let’s take a closer look. 

Power Dynamics in Top-Down Decision Making 

Top-down decision making is characterized by those in positions of authority or power making decisions that affect those below them. Picture it as a waterfall, where decisions flow from the top to the bottom. Sounds straightforward, right? However, top-down decision making is a double-edged sword. 

Pros: Decisions can be made quickly, without the need for extensive consultations or debates.
Cons: It risks ignoring the insights, perspectives, and potential resistance of those who are affected by the decisions.
“The truth is that power in decision making isn’t as simple as it flows from the top to the bottom—it ebbs and flows.”

Power Dynamics in Bottom-Up Decision Making 

On the other hand, bottom-up decision making is a process where decisions are made collectively, with inputs from members across all levels of an organization or group. It’s more of a grassroots approach, where power to decide is shared and broad-based. 

Pros: This approach is more democratic and inclusive, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment among all members.
Cons: It can be time-consuming and lead to decision paralysis if there isn’t effective leadership to guide the process.

The question then becomes, how do you navigate these power dynamics? It’s about balancing the top-down authority with the bottom-up input. Strive for a blend of both, ensuring that those with the power to decide also have the wisdom to listen and incorporate valuable insights from all levels. 

In summary, understanding and navigating power dynamics in decision making is about more than just knowing who has the power to decide. It’s also about acknowledging and leveraging the diverse truths, perspectives, and insights that exist within a group or an organization. Because in the end, the best decisions are those that are not only made with power but also with wisdom and inclusivity.

The Power to Decide 

Nothing resonates more with democracy than the power to decide. It’s that innate ability we transfer to our representatives, trusting them to make decisions on our behalf. And this, friends, isn’t just about wielding power, but also understanding the responsibility that comes with it. 

Deciding, Not Just Knowing 

One could argue that knowledge is power. True, but let’s not forget that our representatives are elected to decide and not just to know. Their true challenge lies in making informed decisions that benefit everyone, not merely hoarding knowledge. 

“The power to decide goes beyond just knowing. It’s about leveraging diverse truths, perspectives, and insights.”

Wisdom and Inclusivity in Decision-Making 

In the grand scheme of things, the best decisions are made with wisdom and inclusivity. It’s about acknowledging the unique insights and perspectives within a group or an organization. When we marry power with wisdom and inclusivity, we create decisions that truly reflect the democratic spirit. 

Power Dynamics Knowledge Wisdom and Inclusivity
Deciding on behalf of others Understanding and acknowledging diverse truths Creating decisions that benefit everyone

So, let’s remember, when we vote for our representatives, we’re not just giving them the power to decide. We’re entrusting them with the responsibility to use that power wisely and inclusively.

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