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REVIEW OF MESSAGES ABOUT QUANTIFICATION ON THE PANETICS GLOBAL FORUM

Contents of messages about quantification which were on the Panetics Global Forum between March 22nd and April 28th of 2000 are given, but two editorial changes have been made, to the best of the editor's (Robert Daoust) knowledge : most lines that do not concern quantification directly have been removed and replaced with three suspension points between parenthesis, and passages that appear more essential for a summary have been highlighted in red. A short "Recapitulative Synthesis" is first offered, and then messages follow. The present document is a part of an ongoing work that is presented on the webpage entitled "Quantification Research about Suffering at the ISP".


RECAPITULATIVE SYNTHESIS

The quantification debate at the International Society for Panetics (ISP) seems to revolve around two or three questions : whether (is it possible? if yes, for what uses?) and how to quantify (Warfield 2000/03/26, Widner 2000/04/24).

Is it possible to quantify?

For what uses?

How to quantify?

In conclusion, quantification seems to arouse people's interest. That's good for panetics. "Paneticists" who are not sympathizers of quantification should acknowledge as a fact of life that much work is going on and should yet be done in quantification research. At the same time, everyone should be able to see that measurement is just a small part of the whole panetic field. Anyhow, researchers interested in quantification have now in front of them a more difficult task than merely justifying the need for quantification, or proposing ways to do it : they have to invest their workforce in the production of a practical tool. It remains to be seen what strategic importance will be given to this task in panetics.


MESSAGES

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 15:43:49
Author: T. Koisumi
Subject: Quantification and Panetics
Body: My response to your call for a new discipline of panetics is, "Why not?" Indeed, panetics and economics must be treated as the two sides of the same discipline which investigates "the nature and causes of the wealth of nations." While economics deals with the "pleasure" of economic life and the "standard of living," panetics deals with the "pain" of social life and the "quality of life" in nations of the world. Just as we need to look into both the "ego" and "id" to get a compete picture of the human psyche, we need to combine the insights of both economics and panetics to get a complete picture of the state of a nation. How else could we, with good conscience, counter the politicians' preoccupation with economic growth and international competitiveness with a sober warning that our society is decaying into a Third World nation socially with the erosion of civility and decency from our homes, schools, streets, and workplaces? It is about time!

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 15:47:25
Author: Arno Gruen (psychoanalyst, Switzerland)
Subject: Quantification
Body: I think you are absolutely right: Quantifying suffering might be a necessary deterrent to the irresponsibility of politicians. I feel increasingly, that people settle for a pose about behavior, not the
actual things affecting us. And I think the issue is the denial of pain. People who cannot experience their own pain because their own pain was denied them in their childhood, seek it by inflicting pain on others.
Insisting on the actuality of pain via dukkha might well reduce its denial. With that we would be on the right road.

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 15:50:36
Author: Robert Hoppe (Fairfax, VA)
Subject: Yes, Suffering, but...
Body: Of course it is desirable to reduce suffering, but there are other factors that have to be considered. For example, suppose that in a few centuries we develop computers and robots that are capable of running our economy, infrastructure, and essential services in a logical and efficient way, and we tell the main computer to make an effort to reduce human suffering. The computer might reason that unhappiness and suffering is almost unavoidable when human beings are around, because of their conflicting desires. Often two men would want the same woman to be their spouse, or two women want the same man to be their spouse, and do not want to share the spouse. Or one person may want two mutually exclusive things, such as to be successful at work and to spend more time at home with the family. So the computer might conclude that the most feasible way of ending human suffering and unhappiness is simply to painlessly kill all the human beings at the same time. Then there will be no suffering and unhappiness. The computer would be overlooking something--that killing everyone would also eliminate joy and happiness. If the computer is told to take that into consideration, it would probably ask whether the ratio of happiness to
unhappiness should be maximized, or whether some other formulation should be used
. For example, would it be better to have one million people who have a very high happiness to suffering, or ten million people with a slightly lower ratio, but more total happiness?
Also, to what extent the happiness of some should count against the unhappiness of others. Should it make everyone equally happy or unhappy, assuming that could be done, or is it 0. K. that some people are very happy and some are very unhappy, if the unhappy ones are unhappy because they have behaved badly, such as by criminal behavior?

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 15:52:0
Author: William R. Ewald (development consultant, Los Angeles)
Subject: Graphics
Body: I feel that Panetic narratives would profit by graphics to help integrate information. I believe that as essential. Too many words from too many differences are involved in panetics not to.

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 15:57:13
Author: Harold H. Watts (emeritus professor of English, Purdue University)
Subject: Real Doubts About Measuring Suffering
Body: I find the Committee Dialogue by Reed Whittemore, of interest, and my "instinctive" reactions put me at the side of the nameless man in the dialogue who is known as the "Cynic". I do not make his dismissive attitude my own, but it is an attitude that I understand and, under my own power, reproduce in my own particular way. I have, let me make clear, the deepest of sympathies with many of the intents that lie behind Ralph Siu's work on panetics.
I, too, would like to take a firm, precise hold on the shifting aspects of human experience, reduce them from their usual present formlessness to the condition of being precisely calculated and controlled. But, as I have
intimated in the past,
none of the techniques of calculation satisfy me. Intensity of pain I feel, but am unable to arrange several moments of suffering side by side in some kind of ascending or descending order. That
is, I can arrange them, but I cannot with any confidence indicate their relative intensity in numerical terms
.
Take, for example the several instances of suffering that made up a news story I recall: the effort to take a Michigan two-year old from her adoptive parents and return her to her "real" parents.
The various pieces
of human suffering are, in a precise sense, incomparable
... I could go on, but won't since I am, in a quite respectful way, calling to our attention what I think is an irreducible fact: that a flat numbering of these agonies overlooks the generic difficulties and contrasts that I have hinted at. That is, how far is our progress toward a firm grasp of the various matters does an assignment of a plus four or a minus six take us? That is, the blankness that overwhelms the adoptive parents belongs to a different category of human suffering from the enigmatic confusion that will, in large part, make up the continuing life of the two-year old child. This important truth is concealed from us--we avoid it rather than face it and describe it--if we rest our analysis on number and number alone. Perhaps this "reading" is not quite just to the panetics project. But just for the record; this is what goes through my mind.
I enjoyed reading Jim Davis’ work on Waco very much. He gets down to cases and show us what a panetics analysis can come to. I read the analysis with respect: a serious attempt to measure up to the goals which Ralph Siu had in mind.
It reminds us that, whatever our reservations, we do have a habit
of trying to measure and to quantify experiences that we find shattering and hard to take hold of
. I am reminded, as I read Jim Davis’ work, of the many analyses of the troubles that appear in all the papers and magazines these days. This is work that must be done, for practical and budgetary purposes if for no other reasons. I think Jim has a firm and orderly grip on the materials he cites, and show fellow workers what obligations and troubles they will run into. Or so I imagine.

 Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 16:0:0
Author: Jim Davis
Subject: Come Now, Harold
Body: Harold-
It seems that you take a specific position. Your conclusions and your reservations about a "precise" sense of measuring or relating the various pieces of human suffering, really tell me that after a life of rhetorical
thinking and writing,
you don't believe--and may not really approve of ANY quantification--of such a hallowed, historical thing as human suffering. Rhetoricians have prevailed for a thousand years as the custodians--the presiding chroniclers--of travail and suffering among humans.
Look for a moment at the growth of a different movement than Panetics. Fifty years ago, you may be sure that there were real skeptics about the new movement to protect natural environmental conditions and reduce man's depredations on the environment.
It was widely held that environmental conditions couldn't be measured in any meaningful way and, if so, the results would have no use. Today hundreds of millions are spent in an effort just to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and restore the populations of rockfish and blue crabs, etc. In addition some marginal cases have been successfully defended such as preserving the environment needed by the snail darter fish and the spotted owl. Estuarine marshes and lowlands are
successfully protected from real estate developers. Practically no major institutional decision is made at local, state, or federal level without the impact on the environment being considered.
Could be that rhetoricians might be disturbed that their realm, the formlessness of the human condition, the shifting aspects of human experience as you call it, would be challenged by anyone wishing to quantify the historical mishmash of human activity on which they feed, over which they preside as literati, as philosophers, as the religious.
Any quantification might threaten these priests.
On the other hand, elected leaders, rulers, politicians are making decisions which impose very great suffering on people. People cause other people to suffer. This fact of life need not be a complete given. Suffering can be ameliorated; it can possibly be avoided in part, since oftentimes the suffering is not a goal, but accompanies an effort to achieve a different, probably well-meaning goal.
It is this prospect, the forging of a panetic tool to offer to decision makers, that should attract our attention. Any outpouring of poetry, rhetoric, fiction, fables, for or against panetics does little harm, keeps people thinking, but also does precious little to help fashion the needed tools.

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 9:1:16
Author: John N. Warfield(University professor, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA)
Subject: Quantifying Suffering: It is Possible?
Body: Since the Panetics Society began, there has been a relatively clear partition of members based on their differing beliefs as to whether suffering is quantifiable and, if it is, whether the term "dukkha" is
appropriate as a unit
.
I could bring an argument that nothing in the social world is adequately quantifiable. Take just a brief argument. If you go to the web site http://www.gold-eagle.com and look at their Forum, you will find a lot of
evidence that the Computer Price Index, used by Alan Greenspan to justify the thought that there is no inflation, is being used by the Clinton administration to mask the truth about inflation. Some of the arguments are: that by leaving out certain factors that affect almost everybody, the index is falsified; or that because the national debt is now larger than it was when the second Clinton administration started it is clear that the one indicator alone shows that there is inflation; or that by not including the Dow Jones Industrial average as a measure of inflation (the so-called "wealth effect") that still another way to maks inflation is present.
Even the gravitational "constant" from physics is known to be variable all around the world, and variations in this "constant" are helpful in geological explorations.
I personally think the argument about whether suffering is measurable could be replaced with other kinds of statements. It is generally well-known in science that
statements like "x is impossible" are almost invariably
indeterminate
, because there is no opportunity to verify all possible cases where the statement might be tested. On the other hand, the following format could be very interesting:
HYPOTHESIS: Suffering is measurable.
TEST: We tested it for the following situation, in the following location in the following way.
RESULTS: We found that numbers could be placed on the following variables, and in some instances could even be used to predict an increase in suffering; although we feel that there is a likely error of plus or minus 25% in the numbers obtained.
CONClUSION: Under certain restricted conditions, namely those described, the hypothesis seems reasonable; but we cannot assume that it would be correct or even reasonable under other conditions.

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 9:31:51
Author: Ralph Widner (ISP president)
Subject: Measuring Suffering
Body: John Warfield--To apply your excellent proposal, could we not take one of the existing Panetics case studies and oreganize the analysis in the way you suggest? Admittedly, none of the case studies are thoroughly grounded in data because of lack of resoiurces and time, but certainly enough is there that we could test your suggestions. For example, we could take the data on corruption in Georguia and supplement it with some new data from IMG and do a "dry run" on youyr suggested structuring.

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 09:45:55 EST
Author: Jnwarfield
Subject: Re: Measuring Suffering
Body: Ralph Widner--I don't know the answer to your question. What is evoked in my mind by your email is a question about quality of information. I think Panetics would benefit a lot if the experiment were well-designed, and if the data are credible; but less-than-credible experiments would seem to me to be of negative value for Panetics. Since I don't know enough to answer your question, I can only say that the question you raised is very reasonable
As you know, my work largely involves qualitative structuring of problematic situations. The products of my work are "structural hypotheses". The latter provide intuitive guidance for understanding a problematic situation, but do not provide quantitative data of the type that Ralph envisaged when proposing measurement of suffering. So I consider myself a novice when it comes to typical social science research. I was just told recently that "statistics" is the "science of the state", and took its name from "the state". On the other hand, Peter Caws (a chaired professor in philosophy at George Washington University) has published a book titled: "Structuralism: A Philosophy for the Human Sciences". While his theme seems right to me, his argument is based quite a bit on the 20th century French pseudo-school of structuralism, and the outstanding Thought Leaders in structural studies, such as De Morgan (1847), Peirce (late 1800s and early 1990s) and Harary (1965) are not even mentioned. So I have to conclude that my expertise lies
in the pre-quantitative domain, and that domain is not recognized even by today's philosophers and social scientists.

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 10:19:59
Author: Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Measuring Suffering
Body: Since Peter Caws is a paneticist, maybe we should bring him into this discussion.

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 10:50:31 EST
Author: Jnwarfield
Subject: Re: Measuring Suffering
Body: Ralph Widner--That should be valuable, especially since I have read his book that I cited, and several months ago I sent him an unsolicited copy of my present manuscript titled A STRUCTURE-BASED SCIENCE OF COMPLEXITY: TRANSFORMING COMPLEXITY INTO UNDERSTANDING, but got no response.
However it might detract from the idea in your proposal, which had to do with establishing whether suffering could be measured in one or more cases, under one or more problematic situations.


Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 13:34:17
Author: Cynthia Lee Overweg
Subject: Rambling Thoughts
Body: I'd like to share some rambling thoughts...To preserve Ralph Siu's vision, I wonder if it would help to explore the way in which "quantification" of suffering (i.e. the dukkha) is presented. It never fails to be a stumbling block when I've tried to explain Ralph's approach to this. (Of course, it could be my own lack in this regard.) I had a brief discussion with Ralph once about the dukkha "measurement table" and how it almost always produces an intellectual or emotional argument. He understood the problem. (…)

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 13:44:2
Author: Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Rambling Thoughts
Body: Cynthia--As you will note on the Panetics website, you are not alone in your concerns about the way in which Ralph Siu proposed we quantify suffering. It is a major issue with which the Society will wrestle in its research and development efforts. (…)

 Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 07:23:34 EST

Author: Jnwarfield
Subject: Re: Rambling Thoughts
Body: Cynthia Overweg's ideas sound good to me. The more "rambling thoughts" the better.

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 15:13:42
Author: "Robert Daoust
Subject: Algometry
Body: A question:
intensity of suffering should not be calculated as a continuum from the first degree to the ninth, because then nine superficial scratch on the skin (intensity 1) are equal to one third-degree burn (intensity 9), all
other factors being equal, right? A public policy that causes one million dukkhas of light pain cannot be
equal to a policy that causes one million dukkhas of extreme pain, can it
?

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 8:19:24
Author: "Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Algometry
Body: Robert, the issue you raise about whether a lot of people suffering a little is equivalent to a few people suffering intensely is a conundrum some of us brought up for debate with Ralph Siu early in the history of Panetics. See several of the papers under "Panetic issues" as examples. As you can tell, the whole of issue of whether and how to quantify is still very much a matter of intense debate. Our challenge is to develop practical tools. Maybe you can help.

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 10:18:28 EDT
Author: Jnwarfield
Subject: Re: Algometry
Body: In considering the development of a new field, let's say perhaps a new science, it is conceivable that the most obvious questions that are raised are not the ones that should be addressed first. One clue as to whether that is true for panetics would be whether a question keeps persisting indefinitely and doesn't seem to have any clear response; or perhaps is a matter of continuing debate. There is no rule that I know of which says "If a question can be readily posed, it follows that the answer should be forthcoming." If that is the case for measuring suffering, perhaps there is a better way for members to begin the quest; hoping that the persistent questions can be dealt with later on.
I remember my calculus teacher showing us a problem which occupied about 1/10th of a line of email. He said that it has been proved that there is NO answer to this problem. Mathematicians turned to "existence proofs" to prove that there is a solution, even when they don't know how to find.
Another thing that can be done with measurements is to suppose that
satisfactory measurements of suffering will be what are called "vectors". If that should be true, then we would have quantifiable "components" of suffering. I believe that we have already seen some quantifiable components of suffering. For example, the number of deaths brought about in a year by actions of a particular government. While we may not know this number exactly, we may be able to get a good approximation of it. I believe that
most people would see that as a measure of suffering, even though the dead may not suffer--their relatives may well suffer.

Here, then, is a question, forgetting the dukkha for the time being:
Are there components of suffering that have already been identified? Are they measurable?
If there are at least 2 components, then it may be that in the end the dukkha will have to be computed from a knowledge of the components, using some as-yet undiscovered weighting system.

Let's remember that
mankind existed for over 2,000 years before we could even measure gravity; even though it would have been very helpful to know something about it earlier.

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 14:34:28
Author: "Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Algometry
Body: Touche.Let's see if we can focus on what we know about suffering measures for sure and build from there. We need to lay down a step-by-step research and development strategy.

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 2:4:10
Author: "Robert Daoust
Subject: Re: Algometry
Body: I concur. Measurement is fundamental for panetics and most other theoretical or applied disciplines concerned with suffering. There is three sources of information about algometry that can be mentioned
readily.
1- Siu and the ISP.
2- Bentham and the works following his lead until today.
3- Algologic medical questionnaires of many kinds for appraising pain in patients.
There are also apparatus like scanners or other equipment that could be useful. A thorough documentary or review research could be done in order to identify the state of knowledge in algometry.

I suppose Ralph speaks of "research and development strategy" in the field of measurement of suffering. But is there an R&D strategy in panetics as a whole, where this R&D strategy in algometry could take place?

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 8:11:11
Author: "Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Algometry
Body: We are now developing a research and development strategy for panetics and all suggestions are welcome. Step 1 in the strategy was to create this website in order that persons interested in panetic issues from all over the globe could participate in both designing the strategy and participate in its execution. Now that the website is in place, we will turn our hands and headfs toward development of the strategy. In a few weeks we will put some proposals on the website for debate and comment.

Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 22:45:4
Author: "Robert Daoust
Subject: Re: algometry
Body: There are some interesting ideas about measurement at the following link:
http://users.aol.com/geinster/NU.html

 Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 17:49:22
Author: "Robert Daoust
Subject: Proposal for research and development
Body: (…) LIST OF PROPOSALS
1. Summarizing a topic that is recurring on the Forum. It would be useful if the core contribution of each message or series of messages concerning a specific topic was integrated in a synthetic summary. This responsibility could be assumed by a volunteer, if there is any, for each recurring topic. For instance,
I volunteer to summarize the thread "Measurement of suffering". I presume that the process for accepting the present proposal is informal; therefore, as soon as I will judge that there is a sufficient interest, I will start to offer on my website the "Summary of talks about algometry on the Panetics Global Forum".
2.
Doing a literature review on the measurement of suffering. This is conditional upon the importance given to measurement in the R&D strategy… (…)

Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 9:24:12
Author: "Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Proposal for research and development
Body: Robert-- (…)
(2) Your willingness to track the threads on the quantification is wonderful and the offer is accepted. However, you should go beyond the forum to other parts of the website. For example, you will find much of the quantification debate in the "Panetic Issues" section of the website--and there is undoubtedly much more to come. (…)

Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 6:8:59
Author: "Robert Daoust
Subject: Re: Proposal for research and development
Body: Ralph's interest in my offer to track the threads on quantification is sufficient for me to begin the task. In the coming days, I will post here a notice giving the address of the Summary. I am aware that quantification is debated elsewhere on the ISP website, but my offer at this time is limited to the Forum. Of course, I'd like to develop a full-fledged account of panetic algometry, and to review the literature, and to keep track of advances in the field, but I am not sure yet if this is the work that I should assign to myself at this time, strategically speaking...

Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 23:43:10
Author: "Robert Daoust
Subject: Re: Proposal for research and development
Body: (…) as far as the aspect of infliction is concerned, panetics is interested in everything that touches suffering : the reduction of suffering, the measurement of suffering, the biology of suffering, etc. But then, it is clear also that panetics IS NOT "the" discipline concerned with the reduction, or the measurement, or the biology of suffering, etc. (…)

My bold proposal here is that panetics should grow at least in two parts, undergoing a kind of cell division process!
1- For one part, panetics should remain the discipline dealing with the infliction of suffering, but then it would have to define its mission and its notions exclusively in relation to this specific object. For instance,
the dukkha could be a unit of inflicted suffering instead of a unit of suffering, or, alternatively, if the dukkha is a unit of suffering, then "dukkhalogy" should be a part of algometry, not of panetics (there could be a specific mitosis for creating dukkhalogy out of panetics...).
2- For another part, panetics should become the discipline whose specific object is suffering, but then it would have to develop a new conceptual and terminological framework. This would be of great use for the whole field of activities concerned with suffering, wouldn't it? (…)

 Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 15:23:17
Author: ""Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Proposal for research and development
Body: (…) The question of whether quantification is feasible or necessary is a matter of considerable debate as you already know from the materials on this website. Some (including the late Ralph Siu) believe it is essential if panetics is to hold its own in the policy arena with economics. Others
believe that the studies should be "value-driven."

We have asked Bob Graetz to moderate this and other panetic debates. I believe Bob will find it very useful for you to track the thread of the debate on this website. If for your own purposes, you wish to define this
study as "algonomics" there is no reason that you should not do so. However, it would not be productive to urge all paneticists to change the terminology to which they have become accustomed in recent years. We shall simply class the debate as the "algonomic" debate and you can track it and place your findings here on the website and on your own. I have had difficulty raising your website, but shall keep trying.
(…)

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 15:14:12
Author: ""Robert Daoust
Subject: Re: Proposal for research and development
Body: (…) I agree with the "limited focus" that the ISP has adopted. I think I realize only now what is this focus : suffering caused to people by individuals acting through organizations (in short). I am inspired to say what is the quantification unit that should be used in panetics. It is a kind of unit used for example in epidemiological studies : the "case". For panetics, one dukkha would be one case of dysfunctional high intensity suffering caused by one or more individuals through an organizational activity. One may rephrase it to make it more suitable, but I suppose I'm understood. I say "high intensity" because cases of low or medium intensity suffering are MUCH too numerous, and they do not really have to be taken in consideration for all practical purposes at this time.
(…)

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 12:0:19
Author: ""Robert Daoust
Subject: Re: Proposal for research and development
Body: I will conclude my response to Ralph's response.
First, here is a note that should have been included in my previous message. I said
"one dukkha would be one case of dysfunctional high intensity suffering" and I did not explained the meaning of "dysfunctional". Many sufferings, even extreme ones, may be acceptable or not considered as too problematic, for example as a normal part of medical treatments, of athletic activities or of some performance, achievement, endeavor, dedication, etc. Dysfunctionality would be a notion used to distinguish between those sufferings and the sufferings that are addressed in panetics. Dysfunction and high intensity have admittedly a subjective aspect, as most matters in the real world, but their estimation do not have to be much discussed in practice : if a case is doubtful, it should simply be put aside until it wins enough agreement. Non doubtful cases should be quite sufficient in numbers to keep us busy, shouldn't they?
I want to be clear about my use of neologisms. Algonomics could be a name for the disciplinary field concerned with the whole subject of suffering. Algometrics could be a name for the disciplinary field concerned with quantification and suffering. I have no objections to other names or periphrasis, but I will insist on the adequate recognition of the realities behind these words.
I am pleased to learn that Mr. Graetz and Dr. Geelhoed can act as moderators. I am pleased also to see that people like Prof. Lundstedt are working with us. "Mon entiere collaboration leur est acquise".
My website at
www.algo.ca.tc (…) should now be raised easily by everybody, since the compatibility problem between Internet Explorer and Netscape is fixed.
(…)

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 13:21:17
Author: ""Ralph Widner
Subject: Re: Link to a summary concerning the quantification debate
Body: Robert--Congratulations and many thanks for your great contribution capturing the thread of the quantification debate. In the near future we will come to grips with that debate and propose a research strategy for discussion.

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 7:3:35
Author: ""benking
Subject: Re: Help, and i-Delphi
Body: (…)
I had shared with RALPH SIU over the years 94-99 how
my conceptual superstructure or scaffolding might help to position units like DOLLAR or DUKKHA in the same framework, in one coherent and consistent grid or matrix. MAYBE soem of you out there will be able or interested to follow and I can share more of the excahnges I had with RALPH and how my proposal from 1994 to Ralph could become more real - as a research project or so. See for that my HOUSE OF EYES or HOUSE WITHOUT WALLS:
http://www.ceptualinstitute.com/uiu_plus/isss98/house-of-eyes.htm
(…)

Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 8:41:20
Author: ""Ralph Widner
Subject: Panetics Video
Body: Earlier in this Forum, Cynthia Lee Overweg proposed that a video be produced about panetics. She suggested, in particular, that the video try to put across in simple terms understandable to a lay audience why it would be useful to QUANTIFY degrees of human suffering in order to reduce its infliction.
It is not clear what the purpose or audience for such a video might be at the moment, but soon the ISP Executive Committee will meet to consider it. In the meantime the views of everyone on the question are more than welcome.
If you think a video would be useful, what do you think its content should be? How should it be used? Should it be streamed on this website? Etc.

Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 11:08:44 EDT
Author: CLeeOver
Subject: Re: Panetics Video
Body: I will be very curious to see how the membership responds to including the quantification of suffering in the video. If we do go that route, I think it must be approached only in general terms, unless there truly is a way to precisely define and clearly explain, without too much detail, the nature of the "how" of quantification and the "why" of it. If it provokes an internal debate in the viewer, we risk losing our audience before achieving, what I think is an important objective: attracting attention to the importance of a disciplined study of the infliction of suffering.
A video of this type can give the viewer the broad picture and address the compelling need for Panetics. It cannot give the viewer a detailed elaboration of the arguments. That is something better served in public forums. It must be made clear, in my opinion, that
the measurement of suffering is not about comparing one type of suffering to another and then making a value judgment about which suffering is "worse." As I understand Ralph Siu's purpose, the aim of quantification is to address the impact of inflicted human suffering, not only on the victims, but on the larger human community as well, i.e., the economic and social consequences of the inflictions. I hope we can reign in our tendency to wander down long corridors of intellectual argument that may be interesting, but end-up nowhere. Quantification is merely a tool for helping us see the actual consequences of infliction, which then provides the motivation to mitigate.
I think Siu long ago realized that the only way to bring us closer to the suffering of others, who seem far removed from us, is to show a cause and effect relationship between "them" and "us." In order for Panetics to be the viable discipline he envisioned, we must convey how Panetics links the suffering of one group to the larger context of which I am a part. When there is a link, I become interested in how the infliction of suffering somewhere else affects my own well-being, even if the link is indirect.
For me, part of the genius of Ralph was that he came up with a system that could address our own self-interest in the study and mitigation of suffering. And that is the key to making Panetics a mainstream discipline one day. We are not an evolved enough species that we are capable of reducing suffering simply because it is the right thing to do. Self-interest is the unifying thread that makes governments and policy leaders and individuals pay attention. Whether it's the infliction of toxic waste by a chemical corporation on a community, or the horror of ethnic cleansing, the consequences affect more than the victims.
Quantification draws the picture, not on moral principle, but on the quantifiable results of the inflictions. This is the important point.


© Robert Daoust, Montreal 2005 (except texts published by the ISP)

Last modification : 2006/10/30

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