Monday 18 July 2022

Top-down always makes worse, bottom-up can make better - but sideways is the usual direction of improvement

Continuing from yesterday's post about how large-scale, long-term strategic-planning-type thinking is always an evil; the implication would seem to be that bottom-up is the directionality of The Good. 

This is certainly true - I mean, that Good comes from individual and specific persons, and their effect; but bottom-up directionality implies that the bottom improves as if affects policies, laws, rules at the top. 

But if top-down is not capable of generating real Good, but only conformity and obedience; then how does any collection of people ever improve?

As well as downwards and upwards; the sideways directionality also needs to be considered! 

(That is, if I insist on using abstract geometrical metaphors to 'explain' humans! - a practice that I recurrently warn myself against...)

And it strikes me that this is the usual way in which good-stuff is spread: that is within families, between friends, and (in the past) between neighbours or work 'colleagues'; and in particular from the-admired (sel-chosen mentor) to the-one-who-admires (chosen mentee): i.e spread between those who are similarly motivated and share similar 'world-understandings' (metaphysics)

This similarity, plus a degree of sympathy (resonance, empathy, accord) between persons 'at the same level', are what probably allows for Goodness to spread. 

This seems to be the usual direction of genuine and strong Christian conversion - at any rate; whereas top-down imposition of a religion, or immersive socialization, of themselves, lead to a Christianity that is only culture-deep. 

Note added: Sideways does not imply 'equality' because (as William Wildblood has clarified) there is no equality except in chaos. Creation is differentiated. There is always distinction, and may be hierarchy, in what I mean by 'sideways' - my point is that it is a chosen-relationship. So 'sideways' encompasses some (the most ideal) examples of the Master-Apprentice and Master-Servant type of relationship - when these are innwardly-affirmed relationships.  


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Dr. Charlton, and for your previous valuable commentary. This topic is especially applicable today. As believers, recognizing our power (from On High, of course), influence and duty should motivate us to rise to the occasion.
No one is coming to direct our movements. There is no guru. Christ is King, His commands and guidance are given through Scripture, and we must take up the sword and head into the fight.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Anon - Thank you - But take note for the future that I very seldom publish "Anonymous" comments.

No Longer Reading said...

The sideways concept is interesting. I hadn't thought of it in that way before.

I would say that, even given your reservations about physics metaphors, spatial metaphors shouldn't be as much of an issue because they have less assumptions associated with them. Also, at least in this world, beings interact with each other in space.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NLR - wrt physics metaphors - It is partly laziness that I don't always think them through into more-accurate/ less-misleading personal metaphors/ symbols; and partly that to do so requires an extra degree of understanding that I probably don't have.