Sunday, March 27, 2016

Planning as the Art of Collective Anticipation - © Gerald A. Gutenschwager, PhD

Noam Chomsky on art:
It is quite possible – overwhelmingly probable, one might guess – that we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology. The science-forming capacity is only one facet of our mental endowment. We use it where we can but are not restricted to it, fortunately.
Chomsky (1988), Language and the Problem of Knowledge, p. 159 (Quoted in John Horgan (1996), The End of Science; Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age, p. 154)
Sigmund Freud on Poetry
Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.
George Bernard Shaw on entanglement:    
What you are about to see is not an idle tale of people who never existed and things that could never have happened. It is a PARABLE . . . some of the people in it are real people whom I have met and talked to.  One of the others may be YOU. There will be a bit of you in all of them. We are all members one of another.
Introduction to the film, Major Barbara (1941)

Anticipation is a new science, but the problems
 that it confronts are as old as humankind. 
As a science it must confront the fuzzy reality that defies the usual mechanistic search 
for linear causal relationships that would allow an anticipated future
 to be manipulated and controlled. 
Anticipation as art could, on the other hand, incorporate 
those dimensions of social reality that have been so difficult to comprehend, 
both in the scientific framework defined by Aristotle
 and developed by Newton and his followers, as well as in the religious framework 
that preceded it. 
As individual anticipation evolves into collective anticipation 
and then planning, art can offer many insights into the social processes 
within which this occurs. 
Art is at home with ambiguity and uncertainty; in fact it thrives on them. 
It can bring to light the emotional and moral context of the communication processes 
within which intersubjectivity and collective anticipation develop. 
Furthermore, it should help to anticipate and give birth
 to a new philosophical framework within
 which all human planning problems could be confronted.
This framework will have to be closer to the Epicurean framework 
than the Aristotelian-Newtonian framework that has governed our thoughts
 for the past two millennia or more, 
thus helping us to live more comfortably
 within the uncertainty of the quantum world.


Traditionally, scientists have been expected to present
 their work in the passive voice.
 It was believed that the scientist was a mere observer (and analyzer) 
of phenomena that s/he would faithfully and objectively report on.
 The back-story, the narrative of how 
and why the scientist arrived at the moment of presentation is, 
according to tradition, left out
 (Mair, et al 2015). 
This includes especially the effects of the ‘academic marketplace’
 (Caplow & McGee 2001 [1958]),
 the decisions about funding, as well as the special interests of the funders,
 possible hidden intentions about the use of the research, 
to say nothing of the petty and not so petty squabbles 
among the scientists themselves, etc., etc.
 In fact, anyone 
who has spent time in an academic setting will probably admit 
that it often feels like something
 between a Shakespearean comedy and a Greek tragedy.
The rather alienating tradition of the passive voice
 combined with academic aloofness 
came under severe criticism during the 1960s, 
not only because of the continuing insistence by many,
 if not most scientists, to remain detached from the social struggles 
that were taking place 
on a world-wide scale, irrespective of the political-economic system 
in which they were found, but also because of the number of books
 about science and about the ivory tower academic world 
that were being published at that time. 
The idea of science as a linear, cumulative process was undermined
 by Kuhn’s (1970 [1962]) book on scientific revolutions. 
The idea of science as an objective endeavor
 was criticized in Roszak’s (1969) book on the countercultural movement, 
especially his chapter on the ‘myth of objectivity’
 and later by Wallerstein (2001). 
The political-philosophical role of science was addressed 
in Easlea’s (1973) book
 on the liberating potential of science. And so forth.
In addition, positivism in the social sciences was losing its hold,
 as the influence of phenomenology and hermeneutics was being felt. 
Examples of books include Berger and Luckmann’s 
(1966), The Social Construction of Reality, Natanson’s (1963), 
Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Bernstein’s (1978), 
The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory
the writings of Alfred Schutz (1962, 1964, 1966, 1970), as well as the (re)discovery
 of the many books 
 Kenneth Burke (1961 [1937], 1965 [1935] 1968 [1931], 1969a [1949], 1969b [1950]), 
and Hugh Duncan (1962, 1968, 1969), 
that outlined a sociodramatic rather than a mechanistic view of social reality.
The current movement for a Science of Anticipation is a direct descendant 
of these earlier writings and research, though there is a danger
 that it might be a movement still more
 under the influence of the traditional mechanistic
rather than the humanistic or artistic side of this concept. 
The word ‘anticipation’ carries a strong emotional 
and moral connotation, something
 not well suited to the mathematical and deterministic tendencies of science. 
Human orientation to the future, as seen in the planning of behavior,
 includes a sense of seeking something better, with all of the emotional 
and moral implications of this term. 
Without these connotations we are simply talking 
about forecasting or predicting, not about anticipating. 
This would seem to imply that we should be talking
 as much about art as about science.

The Many Meanings of City and Regional Planning

Within forty years in the United States, from 1930 to 1970 the meaning
 of planning changed several times before settling into its current more
 or less bureaucratic ‘oblivion’.
 Prior to the 1930s city planning was more or less synonymous
 with large scale architectural design,
 a tradition carried on with great success into the 1970s, 
but with much more profound understanding of the many factors
 involved in such an undertaking  by Constantinos Doxiadis
 from his headquarters 
in Athens, Greece. 
Meanwhile, during the profound economic crisis of the 1930s 
Keynesian economics became the accepted (by many) framework 
for understanding and overcoming 
the endemic contradictions οf the ‘free market system’. 
Roosevelt’s New Deal program followed Keynes’ logic 
of the need for government involvement in the economy. 
This intervention was deemed necessary to re-equilibrate
 the gap between production and consumption resulting
 from the ever greater concentration of wealth
 in fewer hands as the logical outcome of a system
 based upon competition, anti-trust laws notwithstanding.
The war effort also legitimized greater government involvement
 in the economy, giving public planning even more legitimacy
 in the minds of academics concerned with such problems.
Two veteran economists of this effort decided to create
 a new methodology for city and regional planning
 based upon a scientific approach to urban problems.
 There were to be scientific studies of housing,
 land use, transportation and other needs in the cities. 
Mathematical models were employed to estimate future needs.
 Rather than leave such questions to the design intuition 
of the architect they were to be formalized 
in a social engineering approach. 
This program lasted a decade or so at the University of Chicago
 from the end of the war until the mid fifties. 
Needless to say, however, no university could house 
both a free market enthusiast such as Milton Freedman and a program
 dedicated to public planning under the same roof. 
Nevertheless, a generation of planners with
 this new approach set forth to found a whole series 
of similar programs at universities throughout the U.S., 
and the nature of city planning in the United States, 
at least, had been changed forever. Certain ‘anomalies’ in this approach,
 however, were bound to arise.
 It was somewhat idealistic in the sense
 that it would sooner or later be seen to interfere with the ‘free market’ system
 as it applied to the circulation of capital in urban space (Harvey 2009). 
Thus, the work of the new city planners was frequently
 more ornamental than functional and employment 
was often temporary, though there 
were still many employment opportunities 
during that period as the U.S. benefited generally from the post war boom. 
This is not to say that important research 
was not carried out and that very useful recommendations
 were not made within the spirit of the new approach to planning.
 It is simply that there were, and still are, 
serious contradictions between public planning 
and private profit-making in the capitalist world, 
as we can see
 in the current widespread financial crisis
 gripping the western world today.
Meanwhile, a new force would arrive
 on the urban scene in the U.S. in the 1960s;
 it was the civil rights and anti-war movements,
 something which would threaten 
the very stability of the social system at that time. 
The 1940s saw a massive recruitment of poor Black people
 in the South to work in the war industries in the northern cities.
 At the end of the war these people were simply 
dumped onto the streets without employment, 
as the white soldiers returned to their former employment. 
Huge projects were built to house these poor, 
unemployed populations in the northeastern industrial cities.
 These projects were conceived
 as high density dumping grounds and had minimum 
facilities for the overcrowded families. 
Inevitably they became a center of turmoil and crime.
 They also brought the attention of the young people
 working for civil rights, and efforts were made to improve their circumstances.
One result of these efforts was a vast federal welfare program
 to help these populations. 
Money was directed straight to local areas, bypassing State
 and municipal government bureaucracies. 
Many city planners became involved in these programs, sometimes
 as freelance planners working directly with local disadvantaged populations.
 These planners soon discovered that they were not
 at all well equipped to deal with the problems
 they confronted at the local level. 
They were often seen as agents of the ‘official’ bureaucracy 
with whom the local communities 
had had unpleasant interactions in the past. 
Social engineering was not to their taste.
Thus was born the idea of ‘participatory planning’: 
workshops sprung up in academic venues,
 often in schools of architecture 
or schools of social work and even in planning programs themselves.

Collective Anticipation

In any case, anticipation appears to focus upon the individual process
 of decision making and acting, with orientation to the future 
as well as the past, of course. 
Not very well explored is the question of how individual anticipation 
leads to collective anticipation and action. 
This is not a separate issue, of course, because individual 
and collective anticipation are linked in a dialectical relationship, 
in the same way as the cognitive, moral and emotional aspects 
of anticipation are part of a holistic process
 that should not be reduced and compartmentalized
 for the sake of (mathematical) convenience. 
What human anticipation confronts is a fuzzy world (Kosko 1994) 
composed of what Epicurus referred to as the necessary structures 
of nature, the social structures created to survive in that physical world, 
‘l’enfer des autres’!,
 (the hell of the others) as Jean Paul Sartre described it, 
and, finally, pure chance. 
This is a quantum world with multiple causes and many random, 
even contradictory, outcomes (Stamatiadou 2013). 
It is a world of intersubjectivity as defined by phenomenology, 
or entanglement as defined by the quantum world view.
We each enter this world with our own anticipations along with ‘others’
 and their anticipations, and somehow a structured, 
though constantly changing social world emerges.
 This is not a mechanistic world; there are no linear causal relations. 
There are mutual, reciprocal causations over time; the individual 
is ‘causing’ the social and the social the individual in this world. 
The natural structures are ‘causing’ the social structures and vice versa. 
It is very difficult for the individual to anticipate
 the future under such circumstances, which is why both religion 
and science, to say nothing about politicians, market researchers
 and even some parents, share a common interest in certainty: 
a desire to believe that the future can somehow be planned and controlled.
This is also why the literature on the ‘art of anticipation’
 is so concerned with the question of ‘leadership’, or how to control
 others for one’s own purpose, 
often for economic gain (de Jong 2015, Hines 2007, Maher 2014).
 In any case, in examining the relationship between individual 
and collective anticipation and planning 
we must emphasize the importance of communication: 
how the process of communication organizes individual behavior 
into collective behavior and vice versa. 
Communication depends upon the specific capability of humans 
to use symbols, especially language, to organize themselves collectively.
 It is here that we must seek to understand how 
the art of individual anticipation leads to collective anticipation. 
Other species also use communication to organize their social behavior,
 but human communication is much more evolved than 
the forms of communication used by other species, 
which involve primarily the transfer of instinctive information.
Every act of human communication is also an act of persuasion: 
we seek to persuade others that our understanding of reality
 is the appropriate one. 
Persuasion is, however, not just a cognitive process; 
it also involves emotion and morality. 
We seek to persuade others of our view by appealing to their emotions as much,
 if not more than to their cognition. 
All politicians, teachers, advertisers, artists, religious leaders, etc. 
know this very well. 
And since each of us believes that our own view of reality
 is the appropriate one, for whatever rational or non rational
 (not to be confused with irrational) reason, 
we are also persuading morally: ours is a good reality, 
or for those who do not agree with us for whatever reason, 
a better view of reality than theirs. 
Thus, we must seek to understand the dialectical transition from individual
to collective anticipation and back again 
as a process of communication, and more specially, persuasion, 
including all the means 
of persuasion available, from reasoning to courtship to the use of force.

Anticipation as a Dialectic Process

I designed the original diagram on the ‘Dialectic of Change’ 
below in the late 1960s 
as a result of exposure to the many new ideas about social science
 and social reality that were presented in the books listed above. 
The diagram was attached to an article (Gutenschwager 1970), 
on social change,
 but was not reproduced, apparently
 for technical reasons, in the journal at that time. 
Thus, it had to await the subsequent publication of my book
 on planning and social science (Gutenschwager 2004),
 before it could see the light of day. 
As I attempt to demonstrate in the diagram 
and as the science of anticipation also seems to imply, 
the social construction of reality is a dialectic, 
not a deterministic or even a probabilistic process. 
This idea has also been present in the writings of scholars from the past, 
ranging as far back as Heraclitus, for whom everything moved 
and changed (Τά πάντα ρει), 
up to Hegel, Marx, Husserl, and their descendants in the 20th century.
Positivist social science attends primarily to the objective reality, 
or the environmental aspect presented in the diagram. 
It seeks correlations among documented variables
 in order to infer causation at this level only. 
No humans nor their anticipations are necessary to their explanations. 
These efforts have, of course, resulted in many insights, 
especially with regard to the unanticipated and often unintended consequences
 of human action, 
and they have been useful both for understanding social processes 
at the larger scale, 
as well as for policy makers who must make decisions about programs 
and plans at this scale.
However, the tendency to determinism present 
in positive science often limits understanding of any given social situation 
because the existing social structure is simply taken for granted, 
much as the structure of nature is taken for granted in the natural sciences. 
That is, the thoughts and intentions of the human actors 
who have, throughout the past, created the present structure 
are no more taken into account, at least at the formal level, 
than will the thoughts and actions of those same actors be taken
 into account in the policy and planning recommendations 
of the scientist-engineers
 who propose solutions to current problems. 
The complex socio-psychological theater
 in which the social world is created 
simply cannot be captured in a mechanistic framework,
 a fact that often frustrates the planning and   implementation 
of otherwise valuable social science findings in the real world.
This somewhat rigid, reductionist and mechanistic framework of science
 is now being modified by movements such as that of the science of anticipation, 
and, indeed, by a more general search 
for new paradigms to better understand social processes. 
Alexander Wendt (2015), for example, 
seeks to introduce the framework of quantum physics into the social sciences,
 using the idea of particles and waves as exemplifying the differences 
between the positivist and the interpretive schools: 
positivists deal with objective reality, 
or particles, while the ‘interpretivists’ or hermeneutics deal with consciousness 
and meanings or wave actions. 
Without a conscious awareness of the quantum framework at the time, 
I tried to express these ideas in the diagram as a dialectic process 
that is a continuous and never ending flow. 
The contents of the sectors of the diagram represent cuts
 or snap shots of this wave process, interrupting it 
by creating the particles that result from attempts to observe it. 
Cultural, scientific, religious and other forms of consciousness 
and meanings are ‘entangled’ with each other in the subjective 
and intentional or anticipatory portions of the diagram, 
just as structures are ‘entangled’ in the objective reality. 
Attempts to understand this never ending process 
always involve a disturbance of the dialectic between particles 
and waves, leading to the well known problem of ‘uncertainty’ 
that characterizes the search for knowledge. 
If we add to this the spiritual or invisible realm of the quantum universe 
and the problem of the collective subconscious
 with the entanglement of meanings at this level, 
we can begin to appreciate the full complexities involved 
in an understanding of the problem of anticipation.
At the same time this can also be seen in other sciences, 
such as biology (Lipton 2008), 
Lovelock & Sahtouris (2000), 
or in physics (Capra 1982), 
McTaggert 2008 [2001], 2007)), 
Sheldrake (2011 [1988]), and many, many others. 
Thus, it would appear 
that we are witnessing a real turning point in the philosophy of science. 
Consciousness is the new starting point for all of these new approaches. 
Consciousness and intention (or anticipation) 
are the keys to this new form of knowledge. 
Here we are talking about subjective (and intersubjective) reality,
 or the ‘meaningful aspect’, as well 
as the ‘intentional aspect’ in the diagram. 
The accumulated wisdom of psychology and anthropology would seem 
to be invaluable to understanding reality at this level. Yet, it is more than that.
 The current study of psychology without economics should be unthinkable, 
and even more critically, economics without psychology and anthropology 
should be unthinkable. 
There is a critical need for a new holistic social science embedded in philosophy,
 a social science that would include simultaneously 
all the aspects of human existence in a non-fragmented way, 
which, unfortunately, has not been the case until now.
Mark Gungor (You Tube) addresses this issue in a very humorous way 
when comparing the male and the female minds. 
The male mind, he claims, is divided into separate boxes, one for each subject: 
one for the car, one for the house, one for work, etc. 
These boxes may be opened one at a time but never simultaneously.
 If a different subject is introduced, the original box is carefully returned 
to its place without touching any of the other boxes. 
Then the new box is opened to discuss the new subject, and then returned 
when another subject is raised, and so forth. 
In some ways this reminds one of the male dominated university system, 
where the separate disciplines, while housed on the same campus,
 rarely know about or communicate with each other, 
or the male dominated medical profession with a high degree of specialization 
on the various organs and systems in the body!
The female mind, according to Gungor, is totally different.
 It is a mass of lines all communicating with each other all the time.
 It is emotionally charged and with a very good memory
 for all the things stored there.
 It is well adapted to multitasking, usually without confusing
 the various tasks with one another. 
It reminds somehow of what the quantum universe is described to be.
 What we are looking for here is a combination of both minds,
 a ‘golden mean’, as it were.
 In a world filled with machines, keeping the boxes
 in some kind of order is absolutely necessary, 
but, then, seeing the connections among the boxes is also quite necessary.
Riane Eisler (1995) addresses this issue in more academic way in her book, 
The Chalice & the Blade. 
As more female archeologists become involved it interpreting 
the prehistoric past, 
the understanding of that past is changing quite dramatically. 
Where earlier male archeologists found mainly symbols
 of warriors seeking to dominate everything in their paths, i.e., 
the blade, female archeologists (as well as some male archeologists)
 are now finding symbols of cooperation, i.e.,
 the chalice, at least in those cultures before the invasions of herders 
from the Steppes and from the arid deserts in North Africa
 made their way into the Middle East and Crete. 
New archeological discoveries with more balanced interpretations tend to
“. . . reveal a long period of peace and prosperity 
when our social, technological, 
and cultural evolution moved upward: 
many thousands of years 
when all the basic technologies 
on which civilization is built were developed in societies
 that were not male dominant, violent, and hierarchic” (Eisler 1995, p.   ).
A recent article in the periodical, Economic Thought (2014), 
when speaking about the problem of popularization of economic science declares, 
There is, however, a danger. The danger is a descent into oversimplification and caricature
 What could be a better description of economics, itself,
 a ‘boxed in’ science that reduces complex social
 and psychological processes, including especially
 human consciousness and intention, to mechanistic terms, 
describing this reality with a complex mathematical system
 and believing that this caricature is somehow an adequate,
 if not the best possible representation of social reality!
Indeed, but when this formulation is imposed upon society
 through various laws and programs (Polanyi 2002),
 to say nothing of the many years of propaganda
 about its ‘naturalness’ (Sahlins 2008), we can begin 
to see how our beliefs about reality actually 
participate in causing reality to be what it is. 
This is to be seen not in any mechanistic sense, but in the Heisenberg 
sense that we cause reality to be what it is by observing 
and acting on it within an often reified 
and mystifying framework that we, ourselves, 
have created (Gutenschwager, 2015). 
This is not at all unlike the placebo effect, 
where people are cured by a sugar pill 
that they believe to be a new ‘miracle’ drug, an experimental fact
 that is confirmed for something like a third of the participants in drug trials.
 When the 10% of nocebo effects, people receiving
 the actual drug but with no therapeutic effects, is added, 
one must begin to take seriously the importance of mind-body connections, 
in medicine, as well as in society -  that is, in social anticipation.

Planning and the Art of Collective Anticipation
In collective anticipation we are talking as much about art as about science. 
When we are convinced that something is true and then act as if it were true,
 it tends to become true, hence the emphasis on ‘leadership’, or propaganda, 
or marketing and advertising.
 But this is not a deterministic process. 
Thus, our beliefs do not always
 ‘cause’ reality to be what we think it is, especially when we don’t (yet?)
 have the means to alter something, 
say like a rainy day, 
or when other individuals and groups believe reality to be something different.
 In other words, collective or intersubjective beliefs 
and their reality are not necessarily the same thing
 as individual beliefs and their reality.
 Thus, moving from an understanding of individual consciousness
 and anticipation to collective understandings 
and anticipations with all of their entanglements is not a simple additive process.  
To understand collective consciousness 
and beliefs requires an understanding of how they are created, socially, 
psychologically and anthropologically. 
We must engage with processes of socialization 
and of education or persuasion in the broadest sense, both of children and adults.
For example, the current economic system in the West 
now dominated by financial capitalism, that is, 
of making money out of money and not out of the production
 and exchange of goods and services, 
is the product of over 200 years of socialization and education designed 
to make it appear natural and good. We anticipate, 
based on the subjective (moral) belief, reinforced 
by the idea of the ‘unseen hand’, 
that profit making is essentially good 
and will lead to the best social circumstances possible. 
We have been educated to believe that this is true.
 Of course, this is especially true of economists, 
who have received the most intensive socialization into this belief. 
Meanwhile, their status and rewards in society 
also reinforce this belief system, 
while the entire structure of data collection 
and processing appears to further reinforce this on the social scale. 
The actual definitions  of ‘goodness’, i.e., 
the indices of growth and development, further reinforce this belief. 
All of these definitions are reified human constructs 
that have been invented since the end of the 18th century
 to legitimize the rise of the new ruling class of merchants and industrialists, 
and more recently, bankers and financiers.
 They have been designed to reinforce the definition
 of reality created by Adam Smith and his followers.
 The economic indices are in many respects
 the placebos of the current social theater.
This is not a claim that there is some evil plot at work here, 
or that the indices are not measures of the reality that has been created.
 These are natural human and social process deriving 
from the fact that humans are conscious beings, 
existing also, at least as some claim, in a conscious universe.
 As conscious beings we are now slowly becoming aware 
that the social reality we inhabit is not a mechanistic
 or deterministic system, though there may 
well be deterministic phases that result from our inability or unwillingness
 to be aware of or to reflect upon the implications of our beliefs and actions, 
and/or to accept the responsibilities that accompany them. Art,
 especially narrative art and theater, 
has always been able to put aside the common beliefs of an epoch 
and to confront them, 
either by exaggerating them and showing their often unintended consequences, 
or by proposing an alternative reality that would appear (for a time, at least)
 to overcome these unintended and often unwanted consequences.

Creating Collective Anticipation

There are many levels in the process whereby collective
 (and, hence individual) consciousness and anticipation are created. 
The first stage is, of course, early socialization. 
Berger and Luckmann (1966)
 have described in some detail the processes of socialization 
and typification that explain how humans create and pass on their socially
 constructed reality to subsequent generations. 
These realities are structured to the extent that they create typifications 
that allow people to anticipate the thoughts and behaviors 
of those who share the same cultural reality, 
and thus to interact with them with a large degree of certainty. 
Each of us has passed through this stage,
 though the realities into which we are indoctrinated are not all the same.
 Indeed, there are multiple collective realities, 
which are more or less strongly adhered to by people around the globe.
For well over a hundred years anthropologists have been describing 
and explaining these alternative (cultural) realities
 that are a product of early socialization processes. 
They, more than anyone else have helped us 
to understand the relativity of cultural reality and the dangers of assuming 
that everyone is like us (at least for those who are willing to listen to them).
 Meanwhile, most cultures today continue this socialization process 
within more or less elaborated educational institutions. 
Here scientific, historical and philosophical knowledge may expand 
the understandings that have accumulated over the ages. 
This helps both to reinforce understanding of one’s own culture 
and often to expand understanding of other cultures as well. 
In this sense education can be very instrumental in developing 
a broader sense of reality that would allow anticipation
to operate at an even larger scale.
Social science at higher levels of education contributes to this process
 by examining universal generalizations 
about human nature and human behavior that are not, 
theoretically at least, bound by local cultural presuppositions. 
In some respects these generalizations are part of a trans-cultural culture, 
governed by certain ontological and epistemological presuppositions
 that structure the quest for knowledge.
 In this sense, science is also socially constructed 
and is subject to its own paradigmatic revolutions from time to time, 
as Kuhn 
has so tellingly described. It is also within
 this context that the science of anticipation
 is operating, influenced by the history of science up to this point in time.

Symbolic Anticipation

Meanwhile, Kenneth Burke and others, including, especially, 
Hugh Duncan, have proposed a different paradigm, 
more within the realm of art, for understanding 
and anticipating human consciousness and behavior. 
This paradigm incorporates a set of ontological 
and epistemological presuppositions quite different
 from conventional social science.
 Burke defines humans as symbol-using beings,
 language being the most important of these symbol systems. 
Thus humans live in a symbolic universe, 
always in danger of being alienated from the actual reality 
which the symbols, themselves, represent, as Marx also claimed 
in his statements about ‘false consciousness’. 
Thus, Burke studied the manner in which symbols are used, 
both to describe and create different realities. 
The symbols and their use then give clues
 as how best to anticipate the future in any given community of humans. 
This is particularly true for those
 in leadership roles, including especially scientists who, today, 
command the most authoritative symbols in most realms of society.
The ability of symbols to truly represent the reality 
to which they refer is, of course, of critical importance here. 
Science, for the most part, uses mathematical symbols based 
largely on the binary logic of Aristotle: 
things are or are not, without any grey area in between. 
Quantum physics and fuzzy logic are questioning
 this logic as they seek to incorporate the grey areas 
between 0 and 1 (Kosko 1993, Cicourel 1964). 
These symbols, especially in the case of economic science 
as Keynes has observed, may sometimes have only slight relationship
 to the reality they seek to describe, in which case
 they may be used in a more sociodramatic
 than a scientific sense 
as a form of mystification, as we shall see below. 
Burke proposes key sociodramatic processes that are used
 in ‘adult’ education. He emphasizes two ritualistic processes in particular. 
These are ‘mystification’ and ‘victimage’. 
Mystification is a ritual that reinforces separation 
(into hierarchical classes or levels of a society). 
In mystification rituals, incomprehensible language is often used,
 along with special behaviors, vestments and accouterments, 
to separate the experts, now especially scientists, but also teachers, 
leaders or rulers, from the those below them in the social hierarchy. 
Rites of passage are used to mark the passage 
from a lower to a higher ranking in the social hierarchy.
For example, the change in hair and dress codes, 
along with the general erosion of moral values
 in the mass media and beyond during the past 100 years
 is an expression of the demystification of the social hierarchy
 and its utilitarian and materialistic moral values
 that have held society together since
 the decline of religion and the rise of science several hundred years ago, 
at least up until the two world wars. 
These wars, along with the realization of the failure of science 
and economics, especially in their imperialist phase,
 to provide much of anything beneficial within the spiritual 
and psychological realms of human existence,
 have brought a general disillusionment to the West, 
a disillusionment also marked by the rise in nearly 
all the indices of sociopathology over that period. 

Examples of Symbolic Communication

Further evidence for the belief that social reality 
is as much theater as machine can be seen in many examples
 from recent history. 
Symbols help to define (and redefine) reality. 
Think of the corset that had imprisoned women,
 both literally and figuratively, 
for so many years up until it was abandoned at the time of WWI. 
The liberation that women must have felt was symbolized 
by the flappers who danced the free-wheeling 
Charleston and changed into looser-fitting clothing, 
while also revolutionizing their hair styles.
Their previous severely restricted status, symbolized by the corset, 
was being demystified. Meanwhile women’s demand
 for voting rights was further expressing their desire
 for a new social status, with significant implications
 for the future of politics. 
These symbolic actions were forms of communication-persuasion, 
calling out to women in general, and indirectly to men as well, 
that they should anticipate a better definition of reality, 
a new social world, defined by a greater freedom 
and equality for women. 1960s slogans and songs calling 
on everyone to ‘give peace a chance’ or ‘make love not war’, 
were also attempts to persuade a larger public 
to see reality in a different way and to act accordingly.
Hair has always been of great importance
 as a symbol of power and sexuality. 
This was as much true during the biblical times of Samson 
as it was during the times of Veronica Lake (for those who remember).
 It was important for the rebellious youth 
in the 1960s, as even today it is important for orthodox religious clerics, 
as well as for artists and musicians. 
In other words, hair is a potent symbol; it communicates 
and seeks to persuade to a particular position 
with respect to the social order, 
either one’s place within it or one’s stance regarding it, i.e., 
for or against it, during any particular period. 
Blue jeans as a form of clothing have also had great symbolic importance.
 They were a ‘sensible’ and economic form 
of dress for the working class up to the 1960s, 
when, for rebellious middle class youth,
 they suddenly became a symbol of identification 
with and support for that same working class. 
All this before jeans 
were taken over 
and very cleverly demystified
 of their rebellious intent by the fashion industry. 
They have now been turned into a new mystifying symbol of ‘chic’ 
to the extent that everyone in the socialist countries had believed, 
up until 1989 at least, that their life would not be complete unless 
they could have a pair of jeans. 
Why couldn’t the socialist leaders have figured this out?
 Perhaps because they couldn’t imagine the importance of such things 
as they grappled with the economistic categories 
of development in their planning efforts (Lebowitz 2012). 
Currently, jeans must be pre-bleached and ragged,
 in order to meet the standards of their now conformist symbolism. 
One can appreciate both the political and economic importance 
of this symbolism as it helps to create and anticipate a certain kind of reality.
The New Roman Catholic Pope, Francis, 
has made a significant change
 in his appearance and behavior, 
a sociodramatic move that has been very successful
 in attracting renewed support for the Catholic Church. 
He has adopted a much more simple
 and unpretentious life style, with less mystifying behavior and dress.
The new populist government in Greece 
has challenged the dress code that had helped 
mystify the social hierarchy up to the time 
of their election victory. 
They  sought to redefine that social hierarchy 
with greater importance given to the human side 
of the political economy, something missing in the economistic cognitive
 framework that has governed western thought 
since before the time of Adam Smith and his followers. 
The proximate purpose of the new Greek government 
was to lessen the predatory influence of an economic system
 dominated by casino capitalism that has prevailed 
over the past 30-40 years and to reinstate some of the elements
 of Keynesian theory in order better 
to manage the current economic crisis - 
or at least so it was meant to appear before they were re-elected to office!
 They wished to communicate 
and persuade the people
 of Europe that theirs was a better approach to the crisis, 
and their dress code was an artistic or sociodramatic supplement 
to the cognitive rhetoric chosen to implement this process of communication. 
Whether their symbolism and their true intent 
were and are the same is something that only time will tell.
We can also trace the evolution of painting and architecture
 over the past several hundred years,
 as it has sought to communicate something about the prevailing social order. 
In contrast to those who believe in ‘Ars gratia artis’, that the arts 
and their history refer only to themselves and have little
 or no relation to the social reality in which they are found,
 I would suggest that relationships can be found 
and that art does indeed communicate something about social reality. 
This is not to say that art simply reflects social reality;
 rather it is in a dialectic relationship with that reality: 
sometimes it supports it, sometimes it opposes it,
 and sometimes it is merely ambivalent. Painting 
and architecture in the West during and before the Renaissance, 
for example, was almost exclusively related to religion. 
Then they turned to portraits of the newly rising bourgeoisie. 
This cannot be unrelated to the rise of industrial capitalism 
and the wealth that was accumulated in this rising class 
of merchants and industrialists. Subsequently,
 Impressionism withdrew, both stylistically and in the choice of subject matter, 
from contact with the unpleasant reality that this new social order 
presented to the world. 
Many scenes were either painful reminders 
of the grey living conditions suffered by the new urban dwellers 
or were bucolic park and pastoral scenes from a recently lost past.
It wasn’t until Social Realism cast a critical eye 
on modern economic reality, especially during the depression years 
of the 1930s, that measures were taken to restrict its exposure 
(Shapiro and Shapiro 1977). 
Support was directed to abstract impressionism, whose critical social messages,
 if any, could not be discerned in the blur of abstract colors
 that were portrayed on the canvas. 
The alternative was, of course, the nonsensical portrayal 
of mundane objects in pop art à la Andy Warhol. 
Art was to be exiled from the real world and artists who took
 this non-critical stance were richly rewarded for their ‘troubles’.
The history of architecture has had a similar though
 different relationship to social reality.
 From its close relationship to religion it entered a brief neoclassical period, 
as it sought to bring a rebirth to the ancient Greek and Roman style. 
From there it evolved into the modernist style, which sought to reinforce
 the values of the new industrial world, devoid 
of any embellishment or ornamentation. 
The need for this stylistic change
 has been explained by Jacques Ellul (1964) 
in his book on ‘the technological society’. 
Modern architecture is austere, its form follows its mechanistic function.
 The engineering apparatus is exposed, its concrete bare.
 It follows the demands of industrial production, something 
which can only be profitable when it is stripped of all embellishment 
and ornamentation, when it is devoid of all art, except for symmetry, 
of course, necessary even to engineering,
 until postmodernism began to question even that.
Postmodern and deconstructionist architecture have sought 
to ridicule this iconography, the first in a comic and the second 
in a tragic style (Gutenschwager 1996). 
They are part of a more general expression of discontent 
and disenchantment with modernism, 
insofar as it has been related to an obsession
 with unlimited economic growth, 
along with the mechanistic mentality that has characterized the late 20th
 and early 21st centuries.
 They seek to help us anticipate a new paradigm 
and a new social world free from the contradictions 
with which we have been living over the past 200 years or more.

Victimage as Symbolic Communication

Victimage, as mentioned above, was Burke’s other key sociodramatic ritual, 
one that communicates a different purpose.
 It is to unify a social group by allowing it to participate
 in a cathartic experience where a victim or victims
 are publically sacrificed so that others in the group
 can be both intimidated as well as cleansed of any rebellious
 thoughts that they might have had, thus hopefully re-solidifying the group.
 There is also the fortunate and purposeful effect
 that every individual is then relieved of the guilt 
that they might
have had as a result of their own possible anticipated thoughts
 and actions in opposition to the structure, especially
the hierarchical structure of the group.
 There are obvious and celebrated examples 
of victimage, though it need not take such extreme forms,
 of course, since any form of public 
rebuff or defamation, from the wearing of a dunce cap, 
to a damning word from a parent, a teacher, 
a priest or mentor, etc., may all serve the same purpose.
The list of tragic public victims is long 
and somewhat depressing. 
They have all been sacrificed for their unconventional ideas,
 many of which became standard understanding 
sooner or later after they were victimized. 
We might begin with Prometheus, who stole fire 
from the gods, followed by Socrates 
with his ‘demonic’ ideas corrupting the youth; 
Jesus Christ with his belief in love, 
something inspiring to many, though certainly 
not all Christians over the years; 
Julius Caesar in a power struggle
 with his senate; Hypatia, 
who believed that philosophy should inspire our lives;
 the poor souls caught in the Spanish Inquisition; or Hester Prynne, forced
 to wear a scarlet letter round her neck to broadcast 
her shame, and even Adam and Eve 
who dared taste the forbidden fruit, perhaps
 emblematic of all victims who dared to taste 
the fruit of unacceptable knowledge. 
The list continues on up to more modern times 
and includes several American presidents,
 including Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield 
and John F. Kennedy, movement leaders such as Martin Luther King 
and even entertainers such as John Lennon.
Victimage usually results in a tragedy,
 often resulting from a tragic act or criticism against the current social reality.
 However, because of the high cost of victimage, 
to say nothing of its ultimate ineffectiveness in avoiding 
the long term changes supported by the victims, 
Burke does not support tragedy as a form of symbolic criticism. 
It places too much emphasis on sin and eternal damnation.
 He rather supports the idea of the ‘comic corrective’ 
in the belief that, rather than sins, what is involved are mistakes
something we are all prone to.
 Perhaps this is what Christ meant on the cross when he said, 
Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”.
 Maybe this also might suggest a slogan
 for the current world of uncertainty, 
something we should all profess prior to any thoughts or actions:
 “Forgive us, Father, for we may not know what we do”.


Endless other examples from history 
could be offered to illustrate the manner in which art
 has played an important role in symbolizing support 
for or criticism of the existing social order. 
 Working within the entangled or intersubjective consciousness,
 it has often had the freedom to cast light 
on the moral implications of that order,
 and to offer an alternative order if that seemed appropriate. 
As a result, ruling classes have always sought 
to control art to the degree possible, 
so as to insure their own position in the social hierarchy. 
This could also extend
 to allowing an escape valve for the uncertain
 or critical members of the society, something which the court jester 
symbolized in the days of kings and queens, 
and something which is carried on today with comedians
 in the mass media. Dissatisfied citizens can, thus, 
be given a sense of anticipation that something
 is or would likely be changing. 
As with all anticipations, however, 
they might at any time turn into a consciousness of reality 
that could no longer be laughed off. 
These are the moments when widespread movements 
for change arise and when there is likely 
to be an increasing use of force to control behavior,
 as well as consciousness. 
Not that theatrical performances are missing during these times, 
usually appealing on a predominantly emotional level
 to issues of race, culture, nationality, etc.
 The efforts of religion to dogmatize morality and of science
 to ‘sweep it under the rug’, have both proven inadequate
 to confront the philosophical problems facing every society at every point in history.
 It is time that we open our hearts and our minds
 to the sort of inquiry that philosophy alone can encompass.


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[*] Paper presented at The First International Conference on Anticipation, Trento, Italy, November 5-7, 2015

[†]Emeritus Prof., Sch. of Architecture, Washington University in St. Louis                    

Scientific Fellow, Department of City and Regional Planning and  Development, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece.
 Emeritus Member of the World Academy of Art and Science

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