Development through Alternation

4.4 Epistemological mindscapes

Anthony Judge

In a remarkable series of articles, Magoroh Maruyama has studied patterns of cognition, perception, conceptualization, design, planning and decisions processes (51, 52, 53, 54). His central concern is the role of epistemological types, especially as they affect cross-disciplinary, cross-professional, cross-paradigm and cross-cultural communications (5). In contrasting his own work with that of previous research in this area, he distinguishes two traditional approaches: the psychological and psychoanalytical bases of individual differences in patterns of cognition, and the cultural and social differences as determined by sociologists and anthropologists.

Marauyama notes the various terms that have been used to describe such patterns, none of which has proved satisfactory: models, logics, paradigms, epistemologies. To these might be added Kenneth Bouldings "image" (55). In Maruyarna's latest work he favours "mindscapes". This is a more attractive term than "answer (domain)" as used here, although it lacks the active connotation of responding to a need. He provides a very valuable summary of these different exercises in "paradigmatology" and their relation to social organization (3).

Although he no longer favours the term, he defined paradigmatology as the "science of structures of reasoning" whether between disciplines, professions, cultures or individuals (53). He notes that the "problem of communication between different structures of reasoning had not been raised until recently", since scholars tended either to advocate their own approach or describe that of others. Contributing to this neglect is the fact that the choice between logics is based on factors which are beyond and independent of any logic.

Although he carefully emphasizes that there are many possible mindscapes or paradigms, Maruyama argues that "for practical purposes" it is useful to distinguish four main types (53, p.6). He stresses that these are not meant to be either mutually exclusive nor exhaustive and warns that any attempt at separating them into non-overlapping categories "is itself a victim of a paradigm which assumes that the universe consists of non-overlapping categories" (53, p. 142). What is intriguing is that over the years he has continued to struggle with the same attributes, grouping them first into three types (51), extended to four (52), then to five (53) and now seemingly stabilized at four again (54).

The four types are:

(a) H-mindscape (homogenistic, hierarchical, classificational): Parts are subordinated to the whole, with subcategories neatly grouped into supercategories. The strongest, or the majority, dominate at the expense of the weak or of any minorities. Belief in existence of the one truth applicable to all (e.g. whether values, policies, problems, priorities, etc.). Logic is deductive and axiomatic demanding sequential reasoning. Cause-effect relation may be deterministic or probabilistic.

(b) I-mindscape (heterogenistic, individualistic, random): Only individuals are real, even when aggregated into society. Emphasis on self-sufficiency, independence and individual values. Design favours the random, the capricious and the unexpected. Scheduling and planning are to be avoided. Non-random events are improbable. Each question has its own answer; there are no universal principles.

(c) S-mindscape (heterogenistic, interactive, homeostatic): Society consists of heterogeneous individuals who interact non-hierarchically to mutual advantage. Mutual dependency. Differences are desirable and contribute to the harmony of the whole. Maintenance of the natural equilibrium. Values are interrelated and cannot be rank-ordered. Avoidance of repetition. Causal loops. Categories not mutually exclusive. Objectivity is less useful than "cross-subjectivity" or multiple viewpoints. Meaning is context dependent.

(d) G-mindscape (heterogenistic, interactive, morphogenetic): Heterogeneous individuals interact non-hierarchically for mutual benefit, generating new patterns and harmony. Nature is continually changing requiring allowance for change. Values interact to generate new values and meanings. Value of deliberate (anticipatory) incompleteness. Causal loops. Multiple evolving meanings.

The above descriptions are brief summaries of extensive listings of characteristics in relation to overall social philosophy, ethics, decision-making, design, social activity, perception of environment, human values, choice of alternatives, religion, causality, logic, knowledge, and cosmology (52, 53, 54). Of special interest, in the light of Attali's "seductive" concern, are the implications for aesthetic principles favoured (54). Maruyama considers that the influence of such "pure" types predominates in certain cultures, although in practice the types are quite mixed. Thus the H-type predominates in European, Hindu and Islamic cultures. The I-type develops in certain individuals, such as those of existentialist philosophy. The S-type is characteristic of Chinese, Hopi, and Balinese cultures. The G-type predominates in the African Mandenka culture, for example. H, S. and G characteristics can be distinguished in different streams of Japanese cultures.

Maruyama has recently (54) compared his four types with an extensive survey of epistemological data grouped by O J Harvey into four "systems" (56).

System I: high absolutism, closedness of beliefs, high evaluativeness, high positive dependence on representatives of institutional authority, high identification with social roles and status position, high conventionality, high ethnocentrism.

System II: deep feelings of uncertainty, distrust of authority, rejection of socially approved guidelines to action accompanied by lack of alternative referents, psychological vacuum, rebellion against social prescriptions, avoidance of dependency on God and tradition.

System III: manipulation of people through dependency upon them, fairly high skills in effecting desired outcomes in his world through the techniques of having others do it for him, some autonomous internal standards especially in social sphere, some positive ties to the prevailing social norms.

System IV; high perceived self-worth despite momentary frustrations and deviation from the normative, highly differentiated and integrated cognitive structure, flexible, creative and relative in thought and action, internal standards that are independent of external criteria, in some cases coinciding with social definitions and in other cases not.

The two authors find that they agree on three types and differ on the nature of the fourth (which Jungian's would presumably consider as corresponding to a partially "repressed function" they have in common). It is much to be regretted that such surveys have not explored the epistemologies in "developing" countries to a greater degree, nor the extent towhich different epistemologies are co-present in the same culture, group, individual or life-cycle.

Maruyama uses his approach to clarify the essential weaknesses of the interdisciplinary, holistic programmes associated with generalists and their education.

"The concept "interdisciplinary" presupposes that there are first disciplines which have to be put together later....Such "interdisciplinary" programs, "holistic" views and production of "generalists" are all patchwork which perpetuates and aggravates the inadequacies of the classificational thinking. What we need, instead, is non-disciplinary programs, de-categorization of science and trans-specialization. Trans-specialization consists in maintaining a contextual view while focusing on specifics and details." (53, p.243)

But in analyzing such inadequacies of classificational thinking, Maruyama seemingly fails to recognize that they necessarily arise from over-reactions to inadequacies in non-classificational thinking (to which he does not accord any attention). Any pre-logical tabulation of this kind must however necessarily reveal the sympathies/antipathies of the formulator for particular types therein. Is it then useful to ask, for example, how "valid" is Maruyama's seeming over-reaction to the (excessive) dominance in world society which is engendered by the dominant (homogenistic) mode?

To clarify the need for "trans-specialization", Maruyama (53) distinguishes between:

(1) The study of paradigms engendered by different types of logic which are chosen in terms of extra-logical factors. Such work has been done in anthropology, history, psychology and psychiatry, physics and biology. (2) The study of cross-paradigmatic communication. Work on this has focused either on inter-cultural communication or on the problem of researching other cultures. More recently this has been related to communication in community development situations. (3) The study of the trans-paradigmatic process, namely of the process whereby new paradigms are created. Little work has been done on this.

Of this last process Maruyama says: "Perhaps there cannot be such a methodology: a methodology, once established, would limit the type of paradigms that it can generate." (53, p.278) This is the essential dilemma in this paper. His approach to this "methodology" is given in a subsequent paper on ways of increasing heterogeneity and symbiotization as a basis for epistemological restructuring (54). In contrast to causal (homogenistic) or random (heterogenistic) paradigms, he notes that no adequate mathematical formulation has been provided for mutual causal heterogeneity (54, p.l53) (#20) In a later paper he concludes that although "mindscapes are learned rather than innate", they are mostly formed in childhood and it seems extremely difficult to change them later in life (52, p.23).

Perhaps the widespread disaffection with existing models is evidence to the contrary, especially where it results in "alternatives" being adopted. And, as argued here, maybe it is not so much a question of "changing" existing modes as of being able to "alternate" into and out of them whenever appropriate. The problem is how to "formulate" the nature of alternation in order to make this trans-paradigmatic process credible in practice.

In arguing for a heterogeneity of expestemologies, Maruyama offers a beautiful metaphor in response to the (homogenistic) question "but which one is correct?" He suggests that in binocular vision it is irrelevant to raise the question as to which eye is correct and which wrong. "Binocular vision work, not because two eyes see different sides of the same object, but because the differential between the two images enables the brain to compute the invisible dimension" (52, p.84). The brain computes a third dimension which cannot be directly perceived. And if we live in a multidimensional space even more epistemological "eyes" are required (53, p.269-272). Reducing such vision to the parts in common provides much less than monocular vision. The difficulty with Maruyama's presentation however, is that he often appears to associate such "poly-ocular" vision with the heterogeneity characteristic of Japanese culture, although this may not be his intention. This would then preclude the use of a homogenistic epistemological "eye" in any such poly-ocular configuration. Each "eye" has its inherent limitations and strengths, and the homogenistic "eye" presumably has its own vital contribution to make to the process of encompassing (or responding to) the complexity of our collective condition. In terms of his metaphor, this paper is about the design of such poly-ocular configurations and how they may be comprehended through any given "eye". His work, with Harvey's, demonstrates that a minimum of four such "eyes" are required to describe the variety of perceptions of our collective reality.