Understanding Empathetic Development as Key to Managing Complexity

Hi Kate – introductions. I’m a collective intelligence researcher that looks at how communities generate knowledge. You seem to be interested in the big questions, like “Why wouldn’t MIT students not think in terms of non-equilibrium system dynamics?” I think my work is assistive to yours – in order to get people to care about, and act on the issues you want, you have to create the scales inside their brain that a.) they care, and b.) they feel responsible to act. The Deep OS inside the brain can be assisted by some of the things you mention – such as various games. But it won’t last unless that explicit understanding is transformed over into personal development. And while scientists can develop the sophistication inside various models, linear and nonlinear, they will remain unaware of what they don’t know if they are not developed and integrated in larger social networks.

Empathy is key – and not just empathy as in ‘feel someone’s pain’ or ‘give someone a hug.’ Empathy is actually the information coherence function for social networks and functions in all three of the brain’s primary areas, in different ways, starting with mirroring at the lowest level, moving through emotional/state response, and ending up with data-driven thinking. You’ve observed much of this, and discuss it (I’m not completely done with the book.) My work gives you the Guiding Principles on how it actually works, blending social neuroscience, nonlinear dynamics, system theory, and psychology.

I’m writing you not just as a professor, but as a lifetime environmental activist in hopes you’ll check this out. We desperately need to speed up people’s fundamental receptivity to your ideas. You’ve done an awesome job of simplification of core concepts that make them communicable. What my work can do is show you how to make those concepts map to values in the social system that can create communities who can understand not just the concepts, but also create the sense of responsibility to drive change. I hope you’ll take a look on my website, http://empathy.guru and reach back. None of this work is trivial, but it has to do with how we structure our social communities so that their brains can be receptive to the systems ideas you’re presenting. Why did Isaac Newton settle on an atomistic, particle-driven view? He was part of an atomistic, status-driven hierarchy. And here’s the rub – it wouldn’t have mattered if he had spent time in the garden – because the level of empathy in society wasn’t evolved enough to carry the complex system day you seek. But we swim in different waters now. It’s time to dive into The Matrix – how humans actually create meaning. Because we are running out of time. Best, Chuck


Where is the connection to economics

Simple. Homo Economicus comes out of a low-empathy perspective, or more correctly, value meme. Higher perspectives connect one to systems larger than oneself, and show Homo Economicus to be the fraud that it is. But the path to that understanding rests on developing your own ability to connect. Homo Economicus is NOT an arbitrary concept. It emerges out of the values of the social system - and those values emerge from the empathetic development of the society they’re couched in. Finally, you can’t have one without the other – as we relate, so we think. If we want people to exhibit the connected thinking that Kate advocates in our book, we have to grow our empathy, which then grows our brain to accept that connected thinking.

Or as Henry George wrote in 1879 “Man seeks to satisfy his need with the least exersion: Man’s needs are unlimited” These two opposing axiomatic properties of ourselves explain how the Homo Economicus came into being. its our basic nature and from it can be built a who structure of our place in society. See my SSRN 2865571 “Einstein’s Criterion Applied to Logical Macroeconomics Modeling”.

Its not empathy that is lacking but sufficient common sense to appreciate of what our social system really consists and how it works. Actually this kind of thinking is not all that common, but until it does become better shared we will for ever be making vague and rash statements like those of how our social system is related to a torus, instead of to a network or structure of connected entities each of which has an independent and practical purpose or agenda. This is the model that I prefer and to which I have referred above. Although our money circulates, it needs more that a single (torus) circle to cover all of the Big Picture.