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Paul Grobstein's picture

emergence and stories, individual and group

Nice example of the interplay between story and emergence, as well as of another direction that the intentionality/story teller story opens up: the need to distinguish between individual and group stories.  The group story that most people acted on, whether consciously or not, was indeed that "individuals would exercise agency in their best interests and that those interests served the best interests and safety of the group."  To put it differently, the story was that individuals should use their own stories and leave collective well-being to emergence.   And yes, the group story ("metastory"?) proved wrong.   And yes, there were individuals with individual stories who anticipated that.  The interesting question is whether we can come up with a new group story that is "less wrong" and that will be accepted as part of enough individual stories to make it effective, ie can/will individuals become comfortable with stories of themselves as well as group stories that make them more responsible individually for collective well-being? 

More generally, how do we think about the relation and interplay between individual and group stories? I do think this indeed has to do with "looping," with the ongoing process of having stories, both individual and collective, and using them not as final words but rather as a basis for exploration and further evolution.  Since there is some tendency to inertia in collective stories (as well as in individual ones) it is often the case that we don't change them without something "crashing."  I wonder if we could get better at using our capacity to conceive counterfactuals to at least sometimes avoid potential crashes?  At the same time, if what we're talking about is a genuine evolutionary process with a significant degree of indeterminacy, then its not that we, individually and collectively,  have particular "blind spots," but rather that there will always be things we don't anticipate/can't account for in terms of our existing stories.  In this sense, we wil always have "blind spots" and can perhaps learn to appreciate discovering them. 

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