Sunday, August 11, 2013

One, Two, Many, All

The one versus a one.
The two versus a two.
The many versus a many.
The all versus an all.

"The one" versus "a one"...
This is a way of looking at the bias that results from my own perception. Given an event, I take my reaction (perspective of "the one") and compare it with my expectation of the reaction by another person (perspective of "a one").

For example:

Event: Someone I love tells me she does not love me.
The one: I feel hurt. I feel inadequate. I feel rejected. I feel exposed and vulnerable.
A one: He feels hurt. He feels inadequate. He feels rejected. He feels exposed and vulnerable.

"The couple" versus "a couple"...
Harder for me to understand, this is a way of looking at the bias that results from a couple's own perception. A couple might be two friends, two lovers, two people committed to each other, a married couple, etc. Given an event, we take our reaction (perspective of "the two") and compare it with our expectation of the reaction by another couple (perspective of "a two").

Event: I do not trust my partner with the truth about our relationship.
The couple: We don't talk about certain subjects. We feel less intimate because we are withholding thoughts. We avoid asking how we feel about topics that are withheld.
A couple: The don't talk about certain subjects. They feel less intimate because they are withholding thoughts. They avoid asking how they feel about topics that are withheld.

"The many" versus "a many"...
Somehow easier for me to understand, this is a way of looking at the bias that results from a collective's perception. The collective could be a family, a community, a culture, etc. Given an event, we take our collective's reaction (perspective of "the many") and compare it with our expectation of the reaction by another collective (perspective of "a many").

For example:

Event: Members from my collective are killed by members of another collective.
The many: We are outraged. We demand revenge. We band together out of fear. We feel the collective is threatened.
A many: They are angry. They are misunderstanding. They are threatened. They are motivated to extract revenge. They want acknowledgment. They want recompense.

"The all" versus "an all"...
At the limit, there is no difference between the perspective of "the all" (everyone) and "an all" (everyone). At this level of awareness, everybody perceives everything the same way. Conflicts may still occur comparing events between what is with what might be.

Event: We are changing our planet.
The all: We don't think this is a problem.
An all: Who speaks for the unborn?

Note: The expanding perspective from "the one" to "a one" to "the couple" to "a couple" to "the many" to "a many" to "the all" to "an all" illustrates the declining role of individual emotion and the increasing role of everyone's emotion. As the number of participants increases, emotion moves towards a blended emotion (some sort of average?).

This poses the question of what is so valuable about individual perspectives that we have evolved with strong biases based on individual emotional response? One explanation would be that the successful strategy of human diversity as a mechanism to protect us from extinction from unanticipated events has tended to encourage some level of different perception in individuals, couples, and collectives.

Is it possible that our emotional reaction to events is the mechanism that amplifies our unique perspective, exaggerating our individual perceptual bias, thereby perpetuating the successful strategy of diversity?

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