About Virtue and Wisdom

When you lend somebody something you assume he (or she) will give the item back in due time. To lend you have to Trust somebody. There are many ways to create a trusted relation. When a long term trusted relationship grows out of a long chain of interactions the Iterated Prisoners Dilemma is at stake. The Chinese are the Masters of Playing this Game.

In some situations it is very clear that a try-out is not necessary. If we look at the cultures of the Earth we can see that the concept of Family or Tribe more or less guaranties a trustful relationship. In a Family it is not needed to create very complicated arrangements like contracts, procedures, laws and judges. The Family uses it own rules.

The consequence of the Concept of the Family and the Tribe is a formalization of relationships based on a Place in a Hierarchy. Everybody has to know its place.

A King has to play the role of the King and a Father has to play the role of the Father. In a Family or an Extended Family (Tribe) you are trained to play the roles you have to play in your life.

Confucius (551-479 BC) saw the universe and all living things in it as a manifestation of a unifying force called the Doe (translated as the Truth, Unity, or the Way). Doe constitutes the very essence, basis, and unit of life that perpetuates order, goodness, and righteousness.

It manifests itself in the harmonious opposition of yin (“feminine, gentle“) and yang (“masculine, strong“), and in humans through duk (“virtue“). Virtue is a gift received from Heaven.

It is through Virtue that a person is able to know the Heavenly Truth and it is the “locus where Heaven and I meet“. Virtue can be realized through self-cultivation. It provides the fundamental source of insight and strength to rule peacefully and harmoniously within oneself, one’s family, one’s nation, and the world.

There are two inter-related aspects of virtue: in (“Human-hearted-ness“) and ui (“Rightness“).

The basis of individual and humanity is the Human-heartedness. Human-heartedness is essentially relational and it involves loving, sacrificing and taking care of others. Individuals are born with Human-heartedness and experience Human-heartedness through the sacrifice and devotion of their parents.

The second concept, ui (“rightness“), notes that an individual is born into a particular family with a particular status. Rightness articulates that individuals must perform and fulfil their duties as defined by their particular status and role.

Confucius considered family and society to be hierarchically ordered, necessitating that everyone fulfil their duties. Fulfilling one’s given role as a father, mother, child, elder, teacher, or politician is considered a moral imperative and not a matter of personal choice.

Confucius considered society to be socially ordered and that each person has beun (“portion or place“) in life. Each beun had attached roles and duties, and each person must fulfil these roles and duties. Duties and obligations of each beun are prescribed by yea (“propriety“).

Propriety articulates expectations, duties, and behavior of each individual according to his or her status and role. For example, chemyon (“social face“) need to be maintained by a person of social stature defined by his or status, regardless of his or her personal preference.

Social order and harmony are preserved when people observe their place in society and fulfil their required obligations and duties.

The fourth concept is ji (“knowledge“). Knowledge allows us to understand the virtues of Human-heartedness and Rightness and to follow these virtues through Propriety. It is the basis of the development of Wisdom.

By the applying the principles of Confucius Chinese Society became a Well Oiled Machine. Every action that was taken was pre-programmed by all levels of education. Every part in the machine knew its role. Life was highly predictable and everybody accepted its place in Society. There was Harmony and Peace in the world.

If there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character,

If there be beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home.

If there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.

If there be order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

The big changes of Chinese Society came Out of the West. The English Empire destroyed the Heavenly Order by selling large quantities of Opium. The huge underclass of China was a beautiful target for the people who followed the theories of Lenin.

The Upperclass was destroyed and a new Upperclass, The Communist Party, took over. The culture of China has not changed. People still know their place and the Doe (The Way It Is) is now proclaimed by the Party. The new upperclass knows it has to keep the underclass in harmony.

The Party decided to create a higher standard of living by importing capitalistic principles from the West. It is now moving in high speed to the level of the Consumer Society. The West is paying for this move by buying Chinese products for a very low price.

In this way China has accumulated an enormous amount of money (mostly dollars). They are able to buy what they want. With the enormouss stock of dollars they are able to manipulate US Government. China is able to destroy the US Financial System in one fast move. They certainly will not do that.

The Chinese people are experts in strategy. They know how to acquire power without fighting. They keep a social face and play the game others want them to play. They are experts in applying the Iterated Prisoners Dilemma. They know Confucius and his predecessors were Wise man. They knew how to move with The Cycle, the Tao.

Western Society has lost its cultural foundation. The principles of Confucius don’t sound very strange to us. They are easily translated into Christianity.

When the West lost the basic principle of Christianity, Human-hearted-ness (in) one of the two pillars of Trust was lost. The West rationalized Empathy (Compassion, Emotion). I Think, therefore I Am (Descartes) became the basis of the Self.

When people started to do the “wrong thing” the second pillar of Trust, Integrity (ui, Rightness) dropped. Politicians were not Playing the Role of the Politician and Managers were not Playing the Role of Manager. They lost their Virtue.

Finally the Doe (Unity) of Western Society was gone. Families broke up. Everybody was Left on its Own and started to act on a Short-Term Perspective.

The Interated Prisoners Dilemma changed into a chain of disconnected attempts to leave the Prison. The best way to win such a Game is to defect. You always win but your victory is never a Win-Win. On the long term Everybody changes into a potential Enemy.

The West entered the State of Individualism and even Egoism. In this state it is almost impossible to act out of Unity. Everybody is going its Own Way or is Competing with the Other. This makes it even easier for the Chinese Masters to create a new Machine to support their Extended Family.

How to Create Cooperative Networks by Playing Complementary Roles

People have to cooperate to survive. Children need their parents to nurture and teach them. Parents need the help of their children when they are old. The basic principle behind cooperation is long-term reciprocity. People give something voluntary and sometimes for free to others or help the other trusting they get something of the same value back in the future.

To survive people have to have a long-term perspective. They have to sustain their environment and the supporting infrastructures to make sure that there are enough people and tools to help them when they are old.

The need to survive created the basic level concept of cooperation (the tribe). The tribe transformed into higher and more complex levels of cooperation (town, guild, state, corporation) when human society evolved.

To coordinate the complex structures the mental concept of the many leveled hierarchy was formed. This concept fails when the environment of the organizational structure becomes turbulent.

Hierarchies adapt too slowly to their environment. At this moment, hierarchies are falling apart in cooperating self-sustaining specialized network. The networks are gaining control over many activities that are now taking place at the level of the big corporation and the state.

A specialized network produces activities and products that are consumed by other specialized networks. To realize the output people have to play complementary roles.

When we can distinguish six basic roles:

  • Craftsmen (Senses, Patterns)

A craftsman has acquired experience by practicing. Craftsmen do not like too much change. Change requires new practicing and keeps him from producing.  A craftsman loves to make what he sees. He learns by copying. Examples are carpenters, painters, musicians, technicians and programmers. The craftsmen are the producers in the network. In many cases, programmable machines can replace their activities. Craftsmen use specialized tools. If their processes are standardized a process-model can be used to coordinated their activities.

  • Entrepreneur (Senses, Emotions)

An entrepreneur feels what preferences people have. Examples are retailers and brokers. Entrepreneurs sell the products the network is producing and buy products the network needs. They also are the people that negotiate contracts and make connections to other specialized networks. Entrepreneurs use technologies like relationship-management-tools and procurement-systems.

  • Politicians (Emotions, Patterns)

A politician structures collective emotions by creating consensus. He feels the opinions of the collective, has the gift to influence opinions, and gets people into collaborative action.   A politician looks after the social cohesion in the network. He uses opinion polls and media.

  • Creators (Imagination, Patterns)

A creator visualizes the whole of a structure. A creator can balance variety (his imagination) and predictability (the patterns). Examples are composers, architects and designers. A creator designs the machines and the products the network is producing.

  • Motivator (Emotions, Imagination)

A motivator visualizes what makes people move forward. Motivators develop concepts.  Many of them operate in the media (actors, writers, poets and movie-directors). Motivators cannot live without variety. Other examples are coaches and psychiatrist. A motivator looks after the long-term perspective of the network by creating and implementing a shared vision.

  • Inventors (Senses, Imagination)

An inventor makes sense of his imagination. Inventors generate ideas and create prototypes (R&D). They use brainstorming tools and analyze trends.

The roles are not evenly distributed in the network. The majority of the people play the role of the producer, the craftsman.

In the current situation, the basic roles are concentrated in specialized corporations (e.g. media, retail, production-plants) or   staff-department of big corporations. Many high talented people are already leaving the big corporations and take part of specialized networks. The amount of one-person-companies is increasing.

People can cooperate with persons that share with them one of their basic cognitive components. An entrepreneur can convince a craftsman what products people he has to sell. They are both practical people (the senses). A creator (e.g. an architect) can show a craftsman what to make. They share a focus on structure (patterns).

When complementary roles are working in a cooperative environment, they join their forces in an open dialogue. This dialogue has many stages ranging from brainstorming (inventors take the lead) to realizing material structures (craftsman work together with creators).

Politicians, entrepreneurs and motivators can only perform if they are able to observe and express emotions (visual expressions, gestures). To ensure a successful cooperation they have to meet. New technologies like video-conferencing make it possible to cooperate anytime, any-place and anywhere. 

To collaborate people have to communicate face to face. In a competition patents (legal actions) and secrecy (rules and walls) shield ideas to prevent the competitor to take the lead.  In cooperation, ideas are shared to sustain the network.

The most used model in communication is the sender/receiver-model.  People send and receive content (e.g. email, documents, pictures, plans, designs) Specialized networks need advanced content-management systems to support this model of communication.

The sender/receiver-model supposes that the brain converts ideas directly into words and that another person can easily draw out the meaning of the ideas from the words. It assumes little effort to understand or interpret what is being conveyed.

The sender/receiver-model only works if there is a high level of common conceptual understanding (a shared model) between all the people involved in the communication process.

In reality, this is mostly not the case especially when experts (inventors, craftsman and creators) are communicating with laymen (entrepreneurs, motivators and politicians).

The dialogue between an expert and a layman is often a monologue. The expert confuses the layman with all his knowledge and the layman is not capable of asking the right questions. In the end, the layman stops asking questions and accepts the situation. 

The sender/receiver-model reduces a specialized network to a production-process. The model lowers the social cohesion (politicians), reduces the external cooperation (entrepreneurs) and removes the long-term perspective of the network (motivators).

People have to invest time to understand (ask unsophisticated questions) and explain their ideas (inventions) in many ways. It also takes time to generate trust. Ideas of others have to be tried out (in the imagination or in the real world) to understand them.

People have to have the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes. Sometimes they generate personal inventions that can be given back to the others to create reciprocity.

Eventually ideas create new personal patterns that can be shown and praised by others.  Collaboration does not take place instantly but evolves in a cycle where the pleasure of finding things out is the motivator.

When people are pessimistic and afraid the other becomes the enemy. They shield themselves from the outside world by creating fixed boundaries (walls).

To make sure that they get something in return they use a threat (e.g. physical force, the legal system). Before they start, they have to spend time to prevent a possible conflict (making contracts, detailed specifications). When people trust each other, they cannot wait to start.

The fear of losing something (possessions, status, existence) changes a collaborative relationship into a battle.

In a competition, the focus is on winning and selfishness. Fear has a negative impact on the senses (tunnel view), the emotions (stress) and the imagination (creativity block).

In a competition, priority is given to stay in front and to prohibited possible actions of the enemies. To win one has to predict and control by defining strict rules and make sure that people obey the rules. Internal and external competition finally kills a cooperative relationship.

To prevent the move from cooperation to competition people have to sustain a free and open communicate-process.