Sunday, July 8, 2007

Origin of L-minds and C-minds

[Figure added by Ira]

L-Minds and C-Minds

I see from a comment using the terms "Bush-Cheney", "cronies" and "corrupt incompetence" that we are beginning to get into dangerous waters. In part this is my fault because I failed to properly introduce the concept of L-minds and C-minds. These terms are specifically designed to avoid political wrangling. Such wrangling is in fact antithetical to their notion. Unfortunately, y'all have come in in the middle of a conversation between Stu and myself, thus missing important background. I think the best approach is to give little history from my side.

Some ten years, ago I started a conversation with myself. I'm a conservative and a university colleague of mine, for whom I have great respect, is a liberal. We differ on virtually every issue having to do with public policy and individual responsibility. Yet, we have respect for one another's intelligence in our fields of engineering science. How is it that two people of similar intelligence and cultural background come up with such different views, so different that the other seems irrational? I concluded that our impression of each other's defective reasoning had to be wrong and a product of something fundamentally different about our minds. I coined the terms L-minds and C-minds in order to avoid political implications. (Those of you who know our dear departed liberal friend, John Filley, might be interested to know that for a time we worked on the concept together.)

Politics and politicians should have nothing to do with this discussion. Politics is the art of the possible, according to one observer. As such, it involves compromises that are associated with getting re-elected that clutter the picture. I'm not interested in whether or not one politician or another is a "good guy" or a "bad guy." They are not distilled versions of L-minds and C-minds. Quite the opposite. Examining politicians and politics gets us nowhere in the analysis of the fundamental mental differences that cause the population in general, to split consistently into two camps in their judgment concerning public policy and personal responsibility.

I start with this assumption. If an L-mind thinks a C-mind is consistently irrational and a C-mind thinks an L-mind is consistently irrational then the odds are that their views of each other are defective. I'm interested in discovering the fundamental differences in their reasoning that are not due to error, but are due to a logical and rationally allowable choice of approach. The requirement that I impose on myself is that there be a certain degree of symmetry that favors neither side. Let me give an example.

L-minds and C-minds seem to differ in the location of their point-of-view. The L-mind chooses to step forward and view the situation from as close as possible. The C-mind chooses to step back and view from a great distance. Neither of these points of view can said to be the correct one. They are simply different. The first leads to empathy while the second leads to sympathy. In a recent debate I had with an L-mind on the subject of illegal immigration, he used the phrase "You wouldn't feel that way if you stood in their (the illegal immigrant's) shoes." He empathized with the undocumented alien, while I only sympathized with their plight. He felt the need save them from their fate, while I felt sorry for them and wanted to mitigate their damages, but considered them as necessary casualties viewed from a national or international perspective. He believed that I was cold and had no compassion, while I believed he had no common sense. Both of us were wrong about the other. We simply chose to stand in two different frames of reference when solving a problem.

I have identified other choices that separate L-minds and C-minds, which I will not go into in this introduction. I repeat that the differences need to be non-political, fundamental and symmetrical. (Ideally, they need to be something that could be programmed into a rule-based expert system.) One should strive to escape from the shadow of one's own bias. The reward for this is a better understanding of our neighbors and less animus toward those with differing opinions. With respect -Joel

1 comment:

Ira Glickstein said...


Thanks for posting this new Topic defining the origin of L-minds and C-minds. I hope this new thread fosters continuation of the discussion of the contrasts between them.

The historical and political points brought up in the posting by Howard Pattee in the previous L-mind/C-mind thread is also worthy of continuation. Please continue that part of the discussion over there.

NOTE: Since this "L-mind/C-mind" Topic is turning into a series of sorts, I have created a box in the lower part of the right hand column so participants can access all three parts even as some fall off the current month's Archive listing.

Ira Glickstein