New lenses about "a priori's" and the power to transcend them

02/06/2021

In each word, a WORLD

The "Windows on the Words" series is about looking at words with new glasses. It is about your power and freedom to change the stories that shape your Life, so you can change the way you shape the world.

This is at the core of Shapership, the Art of Shaping the Future.

This article is about the word "A priori"

"It is not what you don't know that gets you into trouble.

It is what you know for sure that just ain't so". Mark Twain

A priori's are rigidified beliefs.

They proceed from theoretical, educational, cultural deductions, observations or experiences..as we interpret them. And very often, a priori's are simply "taken for granted" because we don't "think about them".

If we are humble and honest, we can agree with what Edward de Bono says,

"Very often, what we call Thinking is the rational justification of what we have decided before, without Thinking i.e., a priori".

Reputations of Nations, races, ethnic groups are built on a priori's: Dutch and Money, French and Intelligence, Germans and Order, Arabs and Terrorism, Jews and Business.

The problem is that we stick to those a priori's, sometimes for our entire life.

We tend to identify with them, believe they are the Truth and forget they should be nothing but temporary perceptions. What we call "Proto-truths".

We can either live with these unconscious mental pollutions or consciously revisit and regenerate them.

In our mental maps, we can decide to move

  • from the "A Priori" Wall that limits our mental space to what we have already decided a priori, i.e., without Thinking

  • to the "A Priori Reflection" Pool where Fluidity is added to what could otherwise be rigidified

Transcending an a priori means opening a Universe

That is especially true when our "a priori" are in fact at the "paradigm level". We may find ourselves locked into a worldview and a belief system that simply is ...obsolete.

Knowing that the goals we set for ourselves, for our companies, the decisions we make depend on those assumptions, it might be a major catastrophe.

Imagine for instance to be locked into

  • "Value capture" rather than "shared Value creation"

  • "competitive" rather than "collaborative advantage"

  • "Sustainability" (doing no harm) rather than "Regeneration" (doing good)

As colossal as it may sound, your paradigm is your blind spot.

The power to transcend paradigms

In an excellent article, "Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System", Donella Meadows, gives what could be the greatest keys to transcend paradigm: detachment and humour

There is yet one leverage point that is even higher than changing a paradigm. That is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to stay flexible, to realize that NO paradigm is "true," that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension. It is to "get" at a gut level the paradigm that there are paradigms, and to see that that itself is a paradigm, and to regard that whole realization as devastatingly funny.

This is what we call : the "Altitude Attitude"

The capacity to consciously shift our perspectives and to think about the way we think. It really helps to build our creative agency, i.e. our capacity to open new Futures, filled with new meaning and continuous purposeful Creativity, in tune with our aspirations and the imperatives of our times.

Enjoy. Feel free to comment and share.