Friday, 27 March 2015

On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 2

2. The individual and the collective

The bottom up thinker focuses on the basic unit of all human societies; the individual. He knows that each human being is unique, and different from every other. He knows that every human being, including himself, is an individual. So he views, and seeks to deal with, others as individuals too.

Thus, he is happy to tolerate those whose characteristics – like skin colour, social class and country of origin – are different from his own, as long as they treat him similarly. He is also tolerant of those whose preferences – like religion, sexual orientation and lifestyle – are not the same as his, as long as they will do the same for him.

Furthermore, he looks to judge people by, and only by, their actions. He tries to avoid pre-judging people on the basis of things outside their control, like race, gender, social class or what religion they were brought up in.

His view of human society sees individuals freely interacting with and associating with others for mutual benefit. And he sees that any viable society must be, over the long term, a benefit to every individual in it.

In contrast, the top down thinker looks as if through the wrong end of a telescope. To him, the human individual appears small and unimportant. And he sees human beings as little more than herd animals. Society, the collective or the group is everything; the individual is nothing.

And the top down thinker often prefers to judge people by characteristics rather than by their actions. Many top down thinkers harbour unjustified resentment, or even hatred, against people of particular races, or skin colours, or social classes, or religions. Or against immigrants. Or against men because they are men, or women because they are women. Or against people who are individualistic. Or against people who are naturally talented at something, or are in some other way different from the norm.

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