The Move into Irrealism and How to Counter-Act It
By Otto Laske
The signs of a mutation of human consciousness since 2000 are becoming more and more clear: The real world disappears behind subjective screens propped up by objective social forces seeking profit. What the profit is meant to be used for is less than clear, and one can fear that it will serve psychological immaturity.
The fact that consciousness overlays “itself” with screens signals a shift in the relationship in which empirical, actual, and real world are seen. Ontology, almost forgotten, is clubbed over the head once more. The disdain for empirical data, long in coming, and visible in the denial of global warming as well as integral speculation, seems to gain a stronger and stronger foothold. In Twitter, the links to the network of screens become shorter, and what was already short, like attention, is further shortened.
What are the social consequences of this trend?
Piaget thought of adult development as an increasing move out of ego-centrism, that is, the focus on “my little personality”. This hypothesis, followed in empirical research into the evolving self, is still on target, but the people using it are no dialectical thinkers. They are only codifying the social status quo projecting a “potential” less and less realized.
The mature individual of Piaget, Erickson, Kegan, and even Commons had one essential dimension missing: a space for untrammeled thinking that, being untrammeled, was close to reality, including an understanding of the finitude of life. By “untrammeled thinking” I mean the ability to observe oneself thinking and be critical of the thought forms one finds oneself using.
Has untrammeled thinking simply vanished? Not quite. It is still alive in what is called dialectical thinking. Dialectical thinking is the attempt to transcend downloading and screen flipping by developing an awareness of how the human mind works in uncensored speech. How thinking works through speech can be captured by what at the Interdevelopmental Institute we call “cognitive interview” in which a dialectical thinker listens to a speaker in terms of the “dialectical thought form framework” (DTF).
The dialectical listener’s hypothesis is that it makes sense to “see the world” from four aspects called moments of dialectic each of which unfolds as a set of thought forms that transcend formal-logical thinking. It is thus a Piagetian hypothesis which assumes that mature thinking is critical systems thinking: systemic, holistically specific, capturing emerging change as transformational.
It is this hypothesis around which the Interdevelopmental Institute was built in 2000, when the shift to irrealism already begun. Our mission is still to move people away from irrealism, not only subjectivism, and make them see (not face, but see) the real world from inside out. People have a precious but fragile link to the real world, namely their dialectical thinking.
Our culture has a diminishing link to reality because the ability of dialectical thinking is not nurtured, whether in individuals or teams. Even referring to dialectic is thus strongly counter-cultural (downloading and setting up ideological screens being now the norm). We invite you to visit
If you are team leader you might to check out for an April workshop in Mechelen, Belgium, I lead together with Jan De Visch, a major thinker in the field of irrealism in business.