What got me going was an exchange between a man and a woman, fortunately they weren’t married to each other, about typically hot topics all having to do with control: sex, choice, population, babies, birth.
Here’s the rough framework: Basically, out of underlying assumptions we develop values, which are in turn directly tied to more specific concepts and beliefs. Beliefs shape our methods and methods, ideally, are focused on achieving particular goals which would themselves be in sync with our basic assumptions.
SPECIFIC CONCEPTS & BELIEFS
You can approach this paradigm from either end. In some ways it makes most sense to me to explain it from the ground up. It’s the way one builds a house and the concreteness of that image makes it memorable for many.
So that’s how I will explain it from the bottom up.
However, I’m typing at a word processor and we read top to bottom and one could as easily make the argument that before you lay the foundation to build a house you first need a vision and a plan. As soon as you ask what the structure is for, you are at the top of the chart with goal and purpose. Both goals and primal assumptions have operative and transforming power directly over each other.
How you wring any value out of the line up might depend on your own style of learning, but in as much as I have conceded that the approach is arbitrary, perhaps you’ll suspend whatever your preferences might be and look at the bottom of the list above.
?? Is it a created universe, is there a creator or is it just a material world? How we answer primal questions about reality, time and space and what we think of human nature, it is out of such basic or underlying assumptions, even if our assumptions are sometimes fuzzy or obscure, that values develop.Of course we have assumptions about smaller questions in life as well. I was taught about this way of exploring things in the early eighties in a university class focused on designing effective lesson plans. Bernice Goldmark emphasized offering students alternative ways to learn. She hypothesized two teachers where one assumed that all people can learn the same way and the other who assumed that there are variations in how people learn. It is relatively easy to anticipate the different values, core concepts, and teaching methods likely to emerge from such different basic assumptions, even if both teachers’ goals were ostensibly the same.
I don’t remember if Professor Goldmark attributed the basic assumptions paradigm to anyone in particular, but as I wrote this post I found online the work of MIT professor Edgar H. Schein whose work on cultural awareness and organizational behavior explores these concepts at depth. Not that these ideas belong to anyone in particular, they are laced throughout the lives and writings of many. Studying the life of President Lincoln to elucidate executive strategies for current times, Donald T. Phillips, in his book, Lincoln on Leadership, encounters these same concepts. Phillips wrote that Lincoln's understanding of decision making was backed by solid visions, " not simply a string of individual orders. Rather...a continuous, uninterrupted process that is similar to the beating of a heart that sends blood throughout a body."( p 97)
In the concluding chapter of his book, Phillips writes of Lincoln, "He lifted people out of their everyday selves and into higher level of performance, achievement and awareness." (p 173)
I suppose one reason I think the paradigm I am sharing is helpful in making one more conscious in thinking and relating in our complex world, is that of the many things over the years I have studied, I remembered it and found myself, in various settings, putting it to use.
As with many houses, the foundation of why we say and do the things we do isn’t always visible but a foundation determines the footprint and bearing capacity of the structure built upon it.
Values often reflect what we think should happen, how we think things ought to be. Whether or not we articulate them, what we have learned and chosen to value under girds and shapes our more specific concepts and beliefs in life.
I know I'm not always fully tuned into what I actually value. For example, I can say I value fitness, and that I believe that it would be good for me to walk as much as possible everyday, but I didn’t walk today. In reality, in my free time, I valued the other things I wanted to do more and now it is way too dark and cold and … well you get the point. While my espoused value was fitness, my behavior valued comfort or productivity in another realm. I didn’t value fitness in a way that was expressed in a solid actionable concept such as “I will walk whether I am inclined to or not.” Maybe I really believe that I can get away without taking care of myself? That belief could certainly shape my daily choices, my daily method. Actual values and specific concepts and beliefs can become visible in scrutinizing one’s methods or way of life.
Generally speaking I find myself thinking in terms of this paradigm, and as with all tools, it has proper uses and limits, to help myself read carefully. When people argue and I am trying to make heads or tails of what is going on, it helps me to pull back and try to find a path into what either person’s priorities might be, and ask myself if I can begin to understand how life looks for them and out of what assumptions they might be operating.
Well…it’s all up to you in the comment section now…
What say you? Let me know if this gestates any new ideas…or awareness about your wiring or helps you decode an encounter, a book or even if you got to the finish line here!