V i s i s m
Based on the results of science we have asserted in our publications since 1978 that
the human body is a result of natural evolution. Like every living organism, it
selfishly seeks a safe life, but as a human being it can also seek a justified life in all
aspects of its physical and spiritual existence.
The purpose of the theory presented here is to help us understand the world and to
orient it towards good living for all. To this end, we have integrated several
theories of existential value – philosophical, psychological, sociological and
economic – into a meta-theory: the visism.
Learning from Newton that the world is a system of forces, and from Hegel that all
forces are subject to reciprocal effects, it was Parsons who could order the world
according to the significance of every force in our life. Darwin discovered the self
interest as the intrinsic motive force of our behaviour, dialectically completing
Kant, who had proposed equal rights as the absolute moral law for all human
behaviour or action.
C O N T E N T S
Chapter I: Good life by behaviour or by actions
The world of human beings
Life within the systems of forces
Actions systems and behavioural systems
Chapter II: Justified Action
The principle of equal rights
The principle of assurance of existence
Justified action in the practice of living
Chapter III: The Life Structure
The world of life and its order
The functions of the life structure
Life structure and development
Chapter IV: The Life Concept
The development of life concepts
Chapter V: The Six Steps of Action
The basic structure: GACORE
Detailed structure: partial steps
The theoretically and the practically progress
Chapter VI: Self-Advice
Self advice as internal argumentation
The self-advice model
Chapter VII: Argumentative communication
Typecasting the receiver
Types of communication
Methods of argumentative communication
Chapter VIII: Production and Consumption
Production as a step of action
Basic economic concepts
The Social Market Economy
Chapter IX: Model of Life Technique
The invariable conditions imposed by nature
The variable agreements imposed by human societies
The general structure of life technique
Elucidation of the theory through ist application
Chapter I: Good life by behaviour or by actions
With the good life, humans have engaged in philosophising since time immemorial. However, the great philosophers give different answers.
NIETZSCHE (1844-1900) impressed when he described at twenty-two his life plan: The true philosopher lives "unwise, imprudent, and above all feels the burden and duty of a hundred attempts and temptations of life...He risks constantly, he plays the bad game" (1886, p. 137). At forty-five, after visiting brothels and drug use, he was picked up in on the street and brought to an asylum, terminally ill.
We should prefer those philosophers who tend to link their theoretical designs with good and long life. "Anyone who shows courage in daredevilry‘s will die. Anyone who shows courage, without being reckless, will remain alive,“ recognizes LAOTSE; two and a half millennium ago.
ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC.) proposes to seek „good life“ with „a clear plan to strive“. AVERROES (1126-1198) AC.) provides that good life needs science. „The true practice is to comply with the actions that have led to the happiness and in the avoidance of those which result in misery. The knowledge of these acts is the practical science.“
KANT (1724-1804) describes as "ignorant“ he who lives „by groping in the experiments and experiences, without collecting certain principles (what is called theory) and without thought a whole (which, if this process is methodical, is a system) about his business“ (1793, p. 358).
And finally, CLAUSEWITZ (1780-1831): „There is absolutely nothing so important in life, than to ascertain exactly the position from which things must be understood and assessed, because only from one point of view we can conceive the mass of phenomena as a unit, and only this unity can save us from contradictions“ (1832/34, p. 992). What he writes is insightful and convincing. We begin therefore with the definition of our position: Every human being has the right to a good life.
What are the conditions and characteristics of nature, society and of the individual himself to promote or hinder the good life? To understand the fundamentals of their world and to find her point of view, human beings should begin with the highly probable fact that they are the result of natural evolutionary processes (DARWIN 1859). Its organism serves, from the perspective of its genetic material, to safeguard itself and enable its continuance in new organisms (WICKLER & SEIBT 1977).
Thus, the assurance of existence is a basic goal of each organism. This also applies to the human organism, with the consequence: Since it is human nature to secure its own genetic material, selfishness is the rule. ADAM SMITH (1776) already recognized the self-interest as a driver of economic behaviour and action, but only because we know the theory and the fact of evolution we know why this needs to be. The selfishness of man is so vital for him, he is therefore in itself neither good nor bad. Only if he wants to prove himself at the expense of others, he becomes a moral problem (with which we will deal in later chapters).
Simple organisms are limited to sustain themselves and reproduce. But for the human being there are many more opportunities. How did they arise in the course of evolution? Due to the mutability of genetic material, new possibilities for new forms of behaviour have arisen. Finally, a trend-line runs over ape-like creatures to the human being. His unique intelligence and his features give him the possibility to live under nearly all conditions and to create even conditions that does not occur in nature, in particular cultural. (Altruism is one of them).
But it is also necessary to recognize the limits of the human being. An individual's ability to distinguish colour permits him to differentiate ripe fruits from under-ripe ones. His sense of smell helps him to recognize and avoid spoiled foods. A person's capacity to generalize enables him to deduce from a dangerous experience with a wild beast what would happen with similar animals and to protect himself accordingly.
But a person can only know, recognize and explain himself and his world in relation to his evolutionary developed existence on earth. As it has become more and more clear, his possibilities for perception and recognition have developed during the evolutionary process exclusively to such an extent that they respond to the need of his organism and his genetic material to survive.
Consequently, an individual cannot assume that he will be capable of knowing the world as such, independent of its perception. Just as the smallest particles of the world appear only as symbols, as signs on the screen of the apparatus of a scientist, so appears the world in its totality only by symbols in his conscience. Through his senses, he is only able to know the world as perceived by the body, by the corporality of human beings (Nils BOHR 1938). The man can only claim that he knows the world in a manner that allows him to live.
The typical result of existential perception and thinking is knowledge composed of information, which an individual receives, produces and transmits. When he communicates with others to influence their behaviour, he argues. An author argues with his readers, a teacher with the pupils.
The arguer assumes and believes that the receiver has access to his arguments, which he will accept or reject with his own arguments. The receiver is influenced by arguments and he therefore demonstrates his ability to act, since all behaviour guided by arguments can be called an action (SCHWEMMER 1979).
Under the perspective of the good life, it is desirable that human behaviour should be an action and therefore in this theory of life technique we have to focus ourselves on actions. But it must always be considered that all actions are behaviour, and a big part of human behaviour has not the quality of an action, because it is not guided by arguments.
Animals do not have access to arguments and are therefore incapable of action. They can only behave in accordance with a program developed during their evolution. Action is a behavioural characteristic of humans that includes the external action observable by other people, in other words, the processes occurring between individuals (especially communication) and the influence of an individual over nature (especially production).
Action also includes internal action, in other words, processes such as thinking and feeling, which compare, accompany and evaluate external action. This internal behaviour is accessible to the arguments of others and also of the self. He who thinks argues with himself.
Each behaviour and each action (behaviour based on arguments), is implemented for existential reasons and is influenced by self-interest (BALTES 1978, 1984). Consequently, not all actions are justified. Reason can be mistaken or subject only to the egoistical goals of a person's own corporality. But when is an action justified? Nature knows only one principle: the strong dominates the weak. Human morality has, then, the task of opposing this principle and creating a solution that not only assures life but enables every person to expand his existence to a good life.
A morality that takes into account the selfish nature of human beings and at the same time opposes nature - giving every person the right to aspire to a good life, is not easily explained. For this reason, in this first chapter, we will limit ourselves to describing behaviour and action. We will describe the behaviour and the actions of individuals without establishing moral values.
But in the second chapter, with the help by the moral system of KANT (1785), we develop a prescriptive model, a model of legitimate action. This model makes it possible to evaluate all behaviour and action in a justified manner.
The world of human beings
In a world of scarce resources, it is necessary to possess convincing arguments if good living is to be sought. Different sciences provide arguments; however, because they are specialized and differ from one another, they present only autonomous fragments and do not provide sufficient help in resolving the problem in its entirety:
Biology deals with genetic material and organisms; physics with the modification of matter in space; chemistry with the composition of matter; philosophy with the ordering of information; and communication with the dissemination of information.
Nevertheless, an agent is forced to combine the results of the different sciences because each problem, each success or failure, is directly or indirectly related to the knowledge resulting from all the sciences of existential value. Whether or not to share a piece of bread presents an ethical problem, besides a biological, physical, hygienic, mathematical or communication one.
Therefore, whoever can bring together the results of the different sciences, who combines the results to intelligently resolve a problem has the best arguments and more opportunities to achieve good living. To this end, HEGEL (1812/1813) established the scientific principles. His philosophy describes the world of human beings as a totality, that is, as an aggregate of substances having a reciprocal relationship with one another, because they are active and passive at the same time (see also KANT, 1784/1785).
PARSONS (1966) used these ideas as the basis of his theory. According to him, two or more units (substances) with reciprocal effects constitute a system that belongs, as a sub-system, to a larger one. Consequently, the world of human beings is a system composed of interconnected sub-systems. Biology, physics, mathematic, philosophy are sub-systems in the human system of knowledge, connected in serving the existence. Each sub-system produces a specific output through its characteristic properties and activities. Here are two examples:
From a human perspective, plants and animals form a sub-system in the totality (meta-system) of his world that provides the organism with the required food.
Parents and their children form a sub-system in the society and have a reciprocal relationship with it. As a family, they contribute to maintaining society, but they also expect it to provide them with educational, health, cultural and other means.
According to PARSONS (1980), the existential output of a system with respect to other systems is defined as its function. For human beings, the function of the world as a system consists of its output for human life. This is obvious if we analyse the human evolutionary process. We recognize three superimposed worlds (three sub-systems) that make up the world of human beings.
First world system: The world without life
Billions of years ago, the Earth was formed and hundreds of millions of years had to pass before life first arose. In the current world of human beings, this first world corresponds to the inorganic sub-system, to his inorganic environment (PARSONS 1966).
The reciprocal effects in this sub-system are apparently determined by causal relationships. For this reason the effects can be generalized and become laws, in laws of nature. For humans, inorganic substances and their reciprocal effects constitute conditions which, with the aid of chemical and physical laws, can be used or rejected, for example, in medicine or engineering.
Man must change its inorganic environment to survive, to live better. But he must not forget, that inorganic conditions participated in his evolutionary development. Every change, by some chemical processes, will therefore achieve unprecedented effects on him, positive or negative. It has therefore to be considered: changes yes, but with high caution.
Second world system: The world of plants and animals
From the perspective of a theory of systems, this second world is composed of two sub-systems. The first contains the chemical and physical effects of the first world while the second has new reciprocal effects originating from the desire of organisms to assure their existence.
With life, the world acquired its first meaning. Due to the need of the genetic material of plants and animals to conserve and extend life, the reciprocal effects acquired a positive or negative significance.
Because specific effects characterize the inorganic world, the relationships of human beings with the world of plants and animals are also quite specific. The behaviour of animals and plants can be explained, predicted and modified through quasi-laws.
A person who grows plants according to their laws will see them thrive, which does not mean that this is how plants show their gratitude, as some rose growers may claim, the plants have to prosper simply because its laws apply to them.
Animal behavioural psychology has shown that this principle can also be applied to the animal world, although in a weakened form, depending on the animal's intelligence: in dogs, its probability is higher than in monkeys (SKINNER 1969).
In the human world, this world with life but without human beings belongs to the organic medium sub-system, to the organic environment (PARSONS 1966).
Third world system: The world of human beings
In the second world system, instincts, intelligence and behavioural patterns had developed, but it was not until human beings evolved that reason appeared.
Humans not only want to assure their existence by adapting themselves to the natural world; they also want to modify the world to improve their existential conditions. They seek to expand their lives. Reason then appears as the thinking and communicating substance, as a cultural power (HABERMAS 1965).
Reason is the product of human development and at the same time participates in this process since, as a substance, it has reciprocal effects with other substances, that is, it produces reciprocal effects and develops through these effects.
Defined in functional terms, reason includes potentially conscious knowledge that enables both the assurance and expansion of life. From a biological and physical perspective, during the evolutionary process, the human brain increased in size, especially those parts responsible for thought, speech, personality and creativity (SCHAEFER & NOVAK 1972).
These parts and their functions have developed to the extent that, under favourable individual and social conditions, the capacity necessary to assure life is not exhausted, but rather remains as surplus or "free" energy that makes the cultural expansion of existence possible.
These areas of the brain and their output also inform us on the attributes we should order under the concept of expansion of existence. They are manifested, on the one hand, in all pleasurable activity without a specific purpose that does not have the exclusive function of assuring life, for example, artistic creation, recreation and leisure, and on the other hand, in the development of morally justified action.
This means - as we will see in the second chapter - projecting, devising and achieving personal good living, but also good living for all. These moral goals of reason need more than just intelligence geared towards the selfish ends of the assurance of one's own life. Intelligence that attempts to achieve what is morally justified, good living for all, will be called reason (see chapter 2).
In resume: Individuals perceive the reciprocal effects in the inorganic world in a predictable, determined way (natural law). With animals and plants, there are new reciprocal effects that cannot be predicted with absolute certainty -- the behaviour of organisms. The development of reason and of the expansion of existence gives way to a third system, the world of human beings, in which free will is also characteristic and in which individuals accept or reject arguments. Therefore, this third system is a world in which human beings can act.
The causes and results of human action are much less predictable than the typical intelligent behaviour observed in animals. Human intelligence adapts to the exterior world, but also reveals itself as a creative, ingenious substance that, on the one hand, rejects effects (influences) and, on the other, produces unexpected effects (results).
HEGEL (1812/1813) recognizes consequently that the human spirit is distinguished from animal intelligence because it does not permit an external effect to influence it without resistance, but instead attempts to reject or transform it. Who educates in the best way must not achieve the best effects in the child. Children are not plants.
From the perspective of the natural sciences, oriented toward a strict mathematical order, chaos arises from the effects of reason. Due to the growing liberty that the agent possesses, it becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend and predict his individuality with the formulas of traditional mathematics.
As a result, for the "exact" sciences, individuals and their communities become increasingly chaotic (DEVANEY 1989). Nevertheless, this lack of order has two existential sides: although risk grows with liberty, the possibilities for attaining good living by organizing life in individual ways also increase.
The human organism is influenced by a unique intelligence, its reason. But it must be considered too, that through the interaction between reason and human body the human feelings are also unique. No animal can be happy about justice among people, no animal can be sad about his future dead.
The human organism is different from the animal organism, therefore, we will refer to it as corporality. We thus view the individual as composed of two main forces: his corporality and his reason, although this is only a functional distinction. We mentally separate an entity to make good living for all more likely.
Corporality is mainly geared toward assurance of existence while reason focuses on the expansion of life. While assurance of existence corresponds to the concept of need, the expansion of existence is associated with the idea of liberty.
However, the border between both fundamental goals is not fixed. It is also variable on an individual basis. All agents give a special, individual meaning to their lives, create their own world system, place themselves in the centre and interpret substances and their effects from this vantage point.
For this reason, our theory also serves as the basis for a position that could be called "existential relativism." We renounce the intent to know and achieve absolute truth because, as explained earlier, human beings are the product of an evolutionary process and can only describe the world with their own means. A distant star, upon being discovered, becomes an object described by human categories, even in its scientific explanation.
This distancing from the absolute truth, this recognition of the relativity of what determines us (a recognition that corresponds largely to the twentieth century and takes exception to the ideas of KANT, HEGEL and MARX, oriented to the absolute) deprives us of certainty in life. Probabilities and approximations to the goals of life rather than certainties characterize our lives.
Nevertheless, with the help of existential relativism, individuals know how to free themselves from a state of natural captivity and open themselves to the possibility of free will and personal liberty in life.
The creative individual's possibilities increase and the theoretical basis for tolerance towards other forms and styles is developed.
The "truth" now has validity as something provisional and relative, which is manifested in dynamic good living. If a change in perception is experienced due to evolution, for example in the perception of colours, the existential truth would also change. In other words, truth is what constitutes a positive or negative meaning for life (see JAMES 1909). So we understand FEUERBACH (1830/31, p. 288): The purpose of life is none other than life itself.
However, it would be a contradiction to claim that this existential relativism is an absolute truth. Presumably, it is only the most justified position for good living. Its other limitations will be explained in Chapter II, which addresses the issue of a morality mandatory for everyone.
Life within the systems of forces
Anything that produces effects is called a force. Consequently, all substances, whether mental (judgements, ideas, notions), organic (physical bodies, behaviour, feelings) or inorganic (matter in space and in time) are forces, a term that permits us to relate all substances in our world of life and integrate them into a complete system.
Force as a notion is both sufficiently abstract to be used in theory and concrete enough to be used in practical life. It unites theory and practice, a key advantage as compared with other, more abstract metaphors that could be applied to all substances, for example, energy and information (see NEWTON 1687, LEWIN 1951, JOKISCH 1981, ULMER, HÄFELE & STEGMAIER 1987).
Because we have chosen the good living of humanity as a basic perspective, if we imagine life as a system of forces, we must ask ourselves: How should we structure and use the forces to make the possibility of good living more likely?
Nature and reason are the basic forces in the area of reciprocal effects because distinguishing between them helps us to understand how humans, through reason, can introduce new elements into nature -- among others, morality -- without which good living would not exist.
As we will see in the second chapter, the function of morality is to respect and consider others as joint forces. In a world in which organic and inorganic resources are limited, individuals must take into account not only their own desires and ideas, but also the needs of others.
Therefore, if we look at the functions necessary in the world of human beings, reason and nature are sub-divided into six forces: our own reason; others' reason; our own corporality; others' corporality; the organic medium (organic environment); and the inorganic medium (inorganic environment).
It is thus possible, for each action (and each human behavior), whether it is communication or production, to take place in the area of the reciprocal effects of these six forces. The action uses them and at the same time constitutes their output.
These six forces also produce reciprocal effects among themselves, however. Consequently, they cause more subtle forces which, gathered and ordered in the "Life structure" (Figure 1) represent the ramifications of living.
For the moment, we will stay with the basic structure composed of the six forces: others' reason; our own corporality; others' corporality; the organic medium; and the inorganic medium. For the agent, these forces determine the conditions and possibilities for assurance and expansion of existence; in other words, for good living, since they increase or limit his possibilities.
In these existential processes, each force carries out its specific tasks (functions). To make this possible, forces are differentiated by their properties and activities. To say: each force produces specific effects through specific properties and activities. Examples:
A force, whose function consists of assuring the existence of human corporality must possess adequate properties and activities. The organic medium, for example, is composed of plants and animals that are born, grow and die.
Reason, a force that is both captain and helmsman within the system of forces of an individual, must have elements corresponding to those functions. In other words, the reason of person must have the properties that enable to make judgments and perform activities to define and accomplish the goals.
Therefore, it is necessary to define all the basic forces, in terms of its specific properties and activities, and to distinguish them in this manner. This differentiation will be one of the basic ideas in our theoretical construction, although we must make clear that the definitions of forces are only approximations:
The task of our reason is to distinguish and define forces, but reason itself is the result of evolutionary processes in which both nature and the spirit (intelligence, reason) have participated. Intelligence and even reason were created through reciprocal effects, linked to nature through corporality. Thus, reason can only imperfectly (as approximation) be distinguished from itself and from the other forces, defined as follows:
REASON: own or others´ power (intelligence), which recognizes and creates the existential through characteristic properties (notions, ideas, judgments, concepts), and through activities (generalizing, concluding, inventing, examining, communicating).
CORPORALITY: own or others body as a force that perceives and realizes the existential through characteristic properties (physique, sensations, representations, needs, feelings) and activities (perceiving, memorizing, communicating, moving, growing, reproducing).
ORGANIC MEDIUM: animals and plants, which are forces of existential importance for humans because of their properties and activities.
Animals: forces with characteristic properties (physique, sensations, representations, needs, feelings) and activities (perceiving, momorizing, communicating, moving, growing, reproducing).
Plants: forces with characteristic properties (organic structure, programs for the assurance, extension of existence) and activities (feeding, growing, reproducing).
INORGANIC MEDIUM: inanimate forces with properties (mass, form, color, temperature, valence) that produce physical or chemical effects in time and space.
The importance of the system of forces lies in the fact that the goals of the individual, the assurance and expansion of his existence, create a series of problems throughout life.
To achieve their goals, individuals need resources they often cannot easily access. Additionally, these resources are needed by others to achieve their own goals. As a result, individuals must understand the world, order it according to their goals and modify it based on justified arguments.
For this, the system of forces orders the world and prepares the skills necessary to change the conditions of life:
(1.) informs on the properties and activities of forces, elaborated in the models Structure of life (Chapter III) and Concept of life (Chapter IV);
(2.) helps each person find the arguments to plan, defend and create his world by justified goals. The system of forces prepares the skills for planning and achieving goals, elaborated in the models Self-advise (Chapter IV), Argumentative communication (Chapter VII), Production and Consumption (Chapter VIII).
These processes contribute to know or change the conditions of life, they are tools of life. We have therefore to look closely on their features, contents and forms.
Contents and forms of forces
To understand the processes of knowledge and modification of forces, we turn to KANT (1784/1785) and Hegel ( 1812/13), who said that no force is purely passive before others because it also actively performs. Therefore, unilateral effects do not determine the relationships in systems of forces. Reciprocal effects characterize the human world. To analyze this, we must describe them as processes with content and form.
Forces and their properties form the contents of the process and respond to the question: Which substance acts? (A plant's organic material grows as a result of the force of humidity, mineral substances and light). Additionally, the activities of forces determine the formal aspects that can be observed in a process: What programs or rules does this process use? (The plant grows in the direction of the light).
When explaining the formal aspects of reciprocal effects, we should consider that forms do not exist by themselves. They can only be mentally separated from their contents (there is no mathematical circular form without a more or less circular object in reality). However, once separated mentally, the same form can be used with respect to different contents.
Mathematical formulas are equally important for all calculable problems: two "contents" of human action, the well in the desert and the bridge in a water-rich region, may be quite different, but the engineer who attempts to build a well in the desert uses the same maths as the one who builds a bridge in the tropics. Consequently, formal structures constitute an essential part of this book. Every individual has different contents (has different goals), but can use the same formal structures as the others to achieve them.
Goal, given situation, approximation
The basic goal of each organism is the assurance of existence, to which human beings add the expansion of existence. Therefore, behavior and action are continuously oriented to reaching goals. In other words, from a given situation, they attempt to approximate a desired objective. Thus, if an agent structures the steps of an action, that is, as a process, he must do so with the aid of procedural moments: goal, given situation and approximation.
We begin with goals. From all we have discussed until now, it can be deduced that the goals of individuals can be very different, but that they all share the desire to achieve good living. A principle of evolution, as we have seen, is exhibited in the function of each organism to conserve and expand its genetic material.
The newborn has the purpose of assuring its existence through behavior guided by reflexes (PIAGET 1964). For an adult, however, good living involves much more than what nature provides, since it adds a developed intelligence that seeks to expand existence through actions.
The notion of "given situation" means that at the beginning of an action (or a behavior), a system of forces is already in existence, which is qualitatively or quantitatively distinguished from the desired system of forces, in other words, from the goal. An individual is born with attributes that represent favorable or unfavorable conditions for his existence. He enters into a system of forces that provide him with greater or fewer possibilities for reaching his general goal, which is good living.
We call the movement towards a goal an "approximation," thereby highlighting both the process and the imperfection of the action. The existential goal, the conditions for its achievement and the given situation can only be known and influenced in an imperfect way (compare BACHELARD 1927). The agent can try to avoid unfavorable conditions to achieve his goal, but he will not be able to escape them completely (there will always be traffic accidents despite all efforts to prevent them).
Challenging the affirmation that pure mathematics achieves perfect results, we suggest that mathematics works in a formal way, in other words, it eliminates contents, as mentioned already above. Three plus three equals six, six divided by two equals three, exactly half. But in the reality, this is only an approximation. We observe that three apples plus another three apples appear to be six, but when we want to divide them into equal parts to give to three children, we recognize an approximation: each apple has a different shape and content and it is therefore impossible to make three identical parts.
Real action, through communication or production, only approximates the ideal. Therefore, we can affirm and accept that the human world, an individual's external world and the individual himself, are composed of approximations. This implies some consequences:
Just as there cannot be complete happiness, neither can there be total misfortune.
A person who categorically denies his guilt creates a residue of belief in other people's innocence.
There is no law without exceptions.
Envy and rivalry and the practice of criticizing or complaining always have their arguments, in the same way that optimism and praise do.
In consequence: Since every interpretation and existential concept has its arguments, we should prefer and choose those that contribute to good living for all. (This appearantly logical consequence is an approximation too).
Additive and dialectic effects
The significance of a force depends on the position it occupies with respect to our goals, whether favorable or unfavorable.
If the forces go against our goals, if they are obstacles or opposing arguments, we refer to these forces and their effects as "dialectic." Generally, dialectic forces make life more difficult, although they can often give way to a better, more expanded life. For example, the assurance of existence is the goal of the individual but he faces cold and humidity as dialectical forces. This in turn leads to the construction of houses and to the development of architecture, which today is a part of the cultural expansion of human existence.
Dialectic effects bring with them risks but at the same time possibilities for expanding existence. This is why HEGEL (1812/1813) calls them "the root of all movement and all development."
By fare, forces do not always produce dialectic effects that threaten existence or reduce possibilities. In the evolutionary process, the human body has adapted so well that it is supported by many of the forces surrounding it, like a fish in the water.
An individual considers these forces favorable for his existence, but also perceives them as natural, as "normal": several years pass before a child realizes that he breathes and the manner in which he does so. This knowledge is easy to assimilate and does not create any conflict (PIAGET 1976), because the child perceives, feels and judges breathing as a means for living.
From here on, we will refer to the effect of a force that supports the goal of another as "additive." This term will also be applied if the outcome of two effects is less or more than the sum of the two: a poison increases the effects of another poison in an "additive" way, but the joint effect cannot be determined simply by adding the two.
Furthermore, a concrete action is always composed of additive and dialectical effects. Only accentuating we can call the dispute as a dialectical or , in the case of being peaceful, a additive reasoning. Both forms are only approximations to the concepts of conflict and consent.
Determination and liberty
In systems, not only are there reciprocal effects between forces, but also within each force. Reason, for example, has the characteristic properties of notions, ideas and judgments and the activities of generalizing, concluding and examining. In other words, reason interacts with others using reciprocal effects from the information it receives or that it already possesses. But reason can be found more or less close to reality.
Therefore, KANT (1784/1785) recognizes two distinct functions and sub-systems of reason, "pure reason" and "practical reason", which are in additive and díalectical relations. He attributes absolute liberty to pure reason, whose function is to provide theoretical (speculative) knowledge of the world and the theoretical construction of an ideal world, because it can be separated from all experience.
From the perspective of our theory, we interpret pure reason as a part (a sub-system) of the system of forces that constitute reason and nature; therefore, it exists only as the goal and the desire of an individual to disregard, in his thoughts, the conditions of his own nature (corporality) and of his environment.
Pure reason exist only as approximation.But in effect, the fewer real conditions that the reason has to consider, the greater the number of theoretical possibilities the individual will have and the "freer'' his thought will be. Thus, pure reason is capable of inventing ideals and imagining circumstances that go beyond what exists in nature. Freedom, liberty is encountered in this way.
For functional purposes, practical reason (intelligence) also exists. This sub-system attempts to realize the ideals of pure reason without abandoning the relationship with real life, since it has the goal of the assurance and expansion of existence. To be able to survive, practical reason is forced to adapt itself to the conditions imposed by nature; consequently, practical reason is less free than pure reason and is closer to the needs of corporality and the outside world.
The reason lives in the corporality. The reciprocal effects within human corporality are explained only partially by the laws of behavior (which similarly serve for highly developed animals) since they depend not only on the determinism of chemical and physical processes (The spatial modification has physical techniques as methods, the material modification has chemical ones), but also are influenced by the unit that corporality and reason form. Closer to determinism are behavior and the manifestations of life in the organic medium (animals and plants). Therefore, we can speak of a continuum between determinism and liberty.
The qualities of the reciprocal effects within forces also influence the reciprocal effects between forces. Where reason participates, there is always some liberty; where nature intervenes, determinism exists to a greater or lesser degree. In an action, both forces always appear; consequently, they do not develop with the regularity and need of natural law. However, they can be conceptualized according to certain rules.
We will cite an example: conflicts between individuals originate due to the egoistical goals of their corporality, of their nature. In this case, their communication encounters obstacles and they do not reach justified solutions. Nevertheless, it is possible to invent rules that lead to a solution by proposing that all communicative acts take place in the form of arguments respecting the corporality of the other. One of these rules states: When arguing, avoid making the other feel defeated, since this stimulates the self-interest of his corporality as an dialectically force , with destructive effect (compare FISHER & URY 1991).
Another consequence of the greater or lesser participation of reason is creative liberty. Cultural and social attributes vary significantly in different human societies because they are largely based on the liberty of reason (or intelligence) while the conditions associated with nature are more fixed: the meaning of a foreign word has to be explained while the significance of a construction that serves as a roof is recognized without difficulty.
Mediate and immediate effects
When speaking of different forces, as reason and corporality, we use a metaphor appropriate for life, but we do not affirm that they exist actually as separate substances. By mentally separating them, good living is made more likely. The same thing occurs with the notions of "mediate" and "immediate." We use these terms because they facilitate the realization of good living. We differentiate them for functional reasons.
Reciprocal effects develop between an individual's reason and his corporality. We interpret these effects as immediate. For example, the effect of fatigue on corporality most likely produces the same effect on reason. Without the aid of other means, this can be the cause of the movements of the body itself. Chemical forces (medicines, for example) and physical forces appear to us to have an immediate effect on the organism.
But reason cannot act immediately on its exterior world; neither can the outside world immediately affect reason. Corporality exists between these forces. Due to the mediate effects of corporality, the opportunities for free will increase (thought is relatively free to accept or reject an argument), but so do the difficulties (the receiver, dominated by the self-interest of his corporality, rejects justified arguments).
Corporality has the task of serving as a medium for reason, but by being an active force, it also intervenes with its properties and activities. Its feelings, for example, promote or impede the transmission of arguments. (The individual with an attractive appearance persuades more easily). As a result, a communication model whose function consists of exchanging arguments has to take into account that both reason and corporality participate (See Chapter VII: Argumentative Communication).
Actions systems and behavioural systems
Everything that lives has a certain amount of intelligence. What distinguishes human beings from other ones is such a highly developed intelligence that it can be differentiated in pure and practical intelligence, and - under certain conditions - in pure and practical reason. In action systems, reason acts as a passive or an active force. In behavioral systems, the mere intelligence behave as a passive or an active force. And humans are not ever actions systems, example
As an active force, reason argues via its properties (notions, ideas, judgements) and activities (generalizing, concluding, inventing, examining). This can be an internal action or can be directed outward. In an internal action, reason recognizes and conceptualizes, in other words, it argues with itself. In an external action, reason directs itself to others' reason or intelligence and arguing means verbally transmitting arguments, that is, communicating via argument.
As a passive force, reason has access to arguments. It is capable of recognizing the existential meaning of additive and dialectic arguments communicated to it via others' reason or intelligence. It is also an active force, however, since it produces its own arguments to evaluate those of others.
Therefore, a system of forces can be called an action system when reason appears as a force that has access to additive arguments, and especially to dialectic ones (compare SCHWEMMER 1979). But if other forces dominate (corporality or organic and inorganic nature) we would typify the system simply as a behavioral system or one of natural law. This is the case of plants and animals, as well as newborns and infants (under the simple aspect of the life technique rather than morality), because their corporality dominates them to the extent that they react like behavioral systems. For this reason, education is so difficult, because education works typically with dialectic arguments. (And we have to hope, that in the case of the encounter with the so called aliens, improbable but possible, we will be in contact with actions systems.)
Action and behaviour in interaction systems
The evolution has had the effect that we live in communities. Individuals live in communities and their action is often directed towards other people. We call this action "inter-action." An interaction has the primary function of influencing the knowledge of individuals that try to comprehend, devise and transmit the existential meaning of a problem and its solution in oral or written form. In this case, it takes place as a "communication."
The second function is to influence the corporality of another person. Contact with newborns, sexual love or surgical techniques take place in this way. In these cases, the interaction is called "production." To resolve an organic problem, production modifies the corporality of an individual through physical or chemical activities.
In general, production is characterized by the modification of non-human forces; in other words, organic and inorganic forces. These forces cannot act; therefore, we are not dealing with interactions but rather with human "acts." An individual who produces, acts. By contrast, organic nature participates only through behavior and inorganic matter through its physical or chemical properties and activities.
Nevertheless, a communicative act also exists between a person and the animal world; the hungry dog barks when it wants food, the cat visually manifests its desire to enter the house. In other words, a communicative behavior requires a human communicative and productive act.
In summary, when people produce reciprocal effects between them, they are communicative or productive interactions. In the case of an action over nature, they are productive or communicative acts.
At least two people participate as forces in interactions. An interaction is therefore a system. It is divided into relatively large sub-systems, among which societies (states) are noteworthy since, with respect to their members, they include everyone and at the same time are independent, because every society brings together more conditions for independent existence and survival than each of its sub-systems (PARSONS 1966).
Society is above institutions and organizations because it creates, modifies or dissolves them and is not born or extinguished with its individual members. It also represents its members before the outside world, when it interacts with other societies through contracts or wars. But individuals and their interactions constitute the elements of each society and institution. Precisely for this reason, the society forms only a relative system. Its parts are what make it an entity and it only exists through them (HEGEL 1812/1813).
All interactions that take place are related to goals. The goals of a society, institutions and individuals are presented as parts of an entity, but are not always supportive, additive forces. Under circumstances that are not unexpected in a world of limited resources, the different goals are in competition, in other words, they are dialectic: the self-interest of the individual and the collective interest of the society can be in conflict.
What an individual believes is fair can be in disagreement with the norms of his society, if it favors the interests of the privileged classes, for example. Much social upheaval in the world is the result of dialectic effects such as these.
Given that every action system is guided by reason, each individual, institution or society can create arguments that control the other systems. This competence relativizes too the hierarchy of control which, according to PARSONS (1966), places a society above institutions and organizations and these bodies above the interactions of individuals.
An example: The development of collective knowledge requires corporality as a medium, oriented above all to the assurance of existence. Therefore, this knowledge is frequently static, not very creative and far from ideals (compare HABERMAS 1965). Often, technically or morally justified inventions are the product of internal action and the reflections of an individual and must impose themselves over opposing social forces. KANT's ideas (1793) and the difficulties of their acceptance in the societies constitute an outstanding example.
Finally, some remarks, how the selfinterest of people caused the main problems of the human world: If society wants to assure and expand existence, it must offer sub-systems to individuals so that they can concretely reach their goals (see BERELSON & STEINER 1972).
Among these sub-systems are institutions and organizations related to the family, the school and the workplace, which have a special significance because their conditions determine to what degree the individual will be capable of realizing the assurance and especially the expansion of his existence. They therefore constitute the main causes of existence of the social strata and of the differences beween the countries. The lower class is limited to the assurance of existence while the middle and upper classes, mainly due to their superior education, have greater opportunities for realizing good living (See MARX 1844).
What characterizes the internal situation of a society also produces existential differences between societies -- the level of instruction and education, which give rise to the different qualities of life among nations. Descríbing it in the most general term: The closer a society is to the conditions of its nature, the further from a modern culture, the more improbable is a good life for all members.
A solution is to make actions and interactions in all societies more probable, diminishing the pure selfishness of the behavior: Individuals, institutions, organizations, societies and humanity are entities, systems with reciprocal effects. If they develop as action systems through adequate instruction and education, the force of reason, and not of uncontrolled selfish behavior, guides the actions and interactions.
In this case, as HOBBES (1642) noted, humanity would be guided by the same principles. It would be guided in its arguments and decisions by the same values and norms when realizing its projects or evaluating the results, devising a good living for all. Some of the most important of these principles, which are created by pure reason, but which are nevertheless useable by practical reason, are the subject of the next chapter.
Chapter II: Justified Action
Ideal conditions cannot be expected in a world in which every organism is born with self-interest, which remains an active force throughout life. Therefore, a force that opposes self-interest must be developed. KANT (1785, 1788) demonstrates that human beings, with the aid of pure reason, are capable of developing this force.
To remember: In the evolutionary process, due to the scarcity of resources, only the organisms that used existential means for their self-interest survived. If they shared these means with others, it was only for the purpose of increasing the possibilities for life of their own genetic material. That is why every existence is accompanied by self-interest.
The descriptive model of behavior and action (Chapter I) presented the form in which individuals attempt to achieve the assurance and expansion of their existence. However, it did not determine whether they achieve it in a justified manner or through pure self-interest, without consideration for others, without morality. But living in societies, all action encompasses both: life technique and morality, or clearer: morality in life technique. In this chapter, we will discuss therefore the moral component of each action.
The individual who reflects on his life mainly thinks about his happiness, since this is the universal goal, and all other things serve as means to this end (AUGUSTINE, 414 AD). The measure of the desired quality for the assurance and expansion of existence is therefore a happy life, in other more modest words: good living.
But the existential means of good living, especially material resources, are limited. How many of these resources can an individual claim for his own living, for the purpose of assuring his own existence and the expansion of his life? This is the main moral question that a model of justified action should address.
The principle of equal rights
Nature does not give satisfactory answers to moral questions: the strong destroys the weak, the weak eliminates the weakest. But human beings are capable of overcoming that natural state through a force that went beyond the force of nature, this force is the reason. In pure internal action, reason can distance and free itself from nature and its conditions.
Philosophising was therefore necessary and led to different proposals: (1.) In the realms of religion: morality is the result of a supernatural force and its revelation or (2.) morality is based only on human forces: the reason alone has to found a solution.
Common to both proposals is, that her founding can not be observed - but their effects in the world - because they go beyond nature (compare LOCKE 1790). They are ethical solutions recognized and proposed only by the spirit. One decisive consequence: This discrepancy between nature (the self-interest of the corporality) and morality impedes to oblige a person to limit his self-interest, since morality is directed to the human spirit (intelligence or reason) and only indirectly to his corporality.
The freedom to propose and accept becomes an option. Anyone who does not eat will die, it is natural law. Those who do not follow a proposal to overcome self-interest can believe (and often experience) they are able to live better than those who adhere to a moral code.
Therefore, it is necessary to select from the different proposals the one that can at least enjoy wide acceptance (often only verbal) and, consequently, have the force to be a law in modern democracies. This is the proposal that all individuals have equal rights in their efforts to achieve good living.
Here is not the place to discuss the history of the development of this concept, but it is necessary to distinguish it from morality that uses "justice" as the measure, for the purpose of justifying a society's regulations and laws.
An important example: At around the same time as KANT was writing, HUME (1751) published "An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morality," in which he proposed justice as the basis of morality. He illustrates his ideas with an example on fidelity in marriage, demonstrating his ideological dependence on the norms of his time: "An infidelity is considerably more harmful to women than it is to men; therefore, the laws of punishment are more severe for females than they are for males."
KANT (1785, 1793) avoids this deceptive notion of justice and bases his ethics on equal rights, which are independent of individuals, time and place: Act only so, that your action could become an universal law. That is what his Categorical Imperative demands.
KANT presents the concept of equal rights as the outgrowth of pure reason. If during internal argumentation individuals do not take into account the characteristics of reality, especially of own practical reason and own corporality, only pure reason remains as a force; therefore, under this perspective, all individuals are equal.
But let us consider the consequences in the reality: KANT teaches that an action is justified if every human being can act in the same way. This guides to a conclusion which KANT did not publish: If the act of a person A disadvantages others, and they act in the same way, their acts then disadvantage person A. Who acts in disadvantage of others has to see the risk for his own assurance of life, for his own good living. So his reason or selfish intelligence will probably motivate him to act in a better, mutual acceptable way.
This looks at first disappointing, being the selfishness the base of the morality, but the decisive and fundamental value is that the others are accepted as equals in their search for good living. To free the individuals, in thought, from the conditions of their nature is the decisive step, but we must accept that in reality each person is an individual entity composed of intelligence (reason) and corporality, inclined to act in self-interest due to the experiences acquired during the evolutionary process. (Even the findings of KANT can only be approximations, albeit closer to absolute truth than anything that was devised before him on morality in scientific philosophy).
Consequently, equal rights and individual corporality have a dialectic relationship. It is therefore necessary to provide the third force of man, the practical reason, with a second tool to mesh the goal of pure reason with the goals of corporality, in other words, a moral criterion that takes into account the needs of an individual's corporality.
The principle of assurance of existence
In concrete situations, it can be decisive to consider the special conditions of the corporality of individuals. No general law can determine when we should feel happy or that we should fear death. Neither would it be justified to demand that traffic regulations, based on equal rights, always have the same weight in every situation. In the case of a truck without brakes, the principle of assurance of existence takes precedence over equal rights.
Another example: KOHLBERG (1981) asks whether or not it is acceptable to steal a medicine to save a person's life in an emergency. As we see: it is only possible to answer this questioned in a justified manner if we introduce as a second criterion the principle of assurance of existence, in other words, the requirement for life.
Another example: The principle of equal rights requires that all individuals tell the truth since everyone wants to be treated equally. In certain situations, however, this can jeopardize existence. A seriously ill individual who has been told of his condition may become desperate and lose his will to live.
Consequently, KANT's idea presents difficulties when the real problems of individuals are addressed. His moral rigor, based only on pure reason, cannot accept any concessions to or weakening of the pure principle of equal rights. He demands that the truth be told, even to the assassin who wants to know the whereabouts of his intended victim (KANT 1797).
We can conclude that a morality based solely on pure reason, although it recognizes and accepts equal rights, cannot satisfy the individual as a totality composed of reason and corporality. For this reason, modern mankind has decided - or should decide - that only is legitimate what considers both: equal rights and the assurance of existence. Thus, each person has to develop and evaluate an action based on the following two principles:
1. Does it respect equal rights?
2. Does it take into account assurance of existence?
When an action is confirmed through both principles, it can be accepted as legitimate. However, this is not as easy as it seems, since both assurance of existence and equal rights are values and norms created by humans. In other words, as to expect, they are approximations that must allow for exceptions. If three people are lost in the desert and only have a limited supply of water, the principles of assurance of existence and equal rights cannot conclusively help them to decide which individual should receive the water to at least assure his survival. Nevertheless, in the same way that we cannot use an exception to formulate a general rule, we cannot refute a general rule due to an exception. From the perspective of good living for all, it is preferable to strive to keep such cases as exceptions. In this way, we can justify defining and using the principles of assurance of existence and equal rights as basic moral rules of human life.
How to make justified actions more likely
Every society is a mixture of manifestations of justified and unjustified behaviors, that is, of actions and mere behaviours. Under this perspective the main function of our theory is to make justified actions more likely.
Since both behaviour and action are based on self-interest (the individual who acts consumes scarce resources to assure his own existence), justified action must make self-interest compatible with equal rights. Consequently, when individuals want to resolve a problem in any of the interaction systems, that is, between people, institutions or society, they have to apply the following moral and technical principles:
I act on self-interest, you and others act on self-interest.
We must find solutions X and Y to make good living for all more likely.
If X is the life technique, we include all experiences and inventions that enable the life: the intelligent interaction with individuals (effective communication) or with nature (the intelligent management of the reciprocal effects). If Y is morality, we recognize the principles of equal rights and assurance of existence.
Individuals resolve problems in this way, but these principles have to characterize the society in its entirety. Under this perspective of good living by X and Y, insufficient conditions predominate in a society which is close to the natural state and his laws: the strong dominates the week. The short life span of primitive peoples is no coincidence.
Therefore comes first the task of instruction and educating, to make every member stronger, technically to have the best knowledge to produce, morally to control the self-interest. When we compare the societies saying it in the simplest way: the self-interest of the individuals is equal in all parts of the world, but the knowledge and the moral control is qualitatively different.
Individuals desire a long, good life, for which reason an instruction that teaches life technique faces no fundamental opposition from individuals (compare ERIKSON 1959). Education, however, becomes more complicated because it has the goal of good living for all: it has an equal rights focus and is in a dialectic position with the demands of the individual's corporality to achieve its own good living. Education is therefore characterized by conflicts and by a certain degree of rejection.
Nevertheless, if we think in terms of a system of forces, some possibilities arise. The first consists of combining, with the aid of their reciprocal effects, the two basic human forces, reason and corporality, into one that strives for justified action. Equal rights should not only be established and explained verbally, but also should be exemplified (see chapter VII: model learning), praised and actively transmitted (for example via poignant stories).
Based on HEGEL (1797/98) and SCHOPENHAUER (1840), we can affirm that a force that participates in originating justified acting is charitable love. This is not erotic love produced by corporality, but rather love created and determined by reason, based on the learned and practiced principle of equal rights for all individuals. We can use the Categorical Imperative of KANT here in this way: Who acts in advantage of others has to see the advantage for his own assurance of life, for his own good living. So his reason or selfish intelligence will probably motivate him to act in a mutual way.
RAWLS (1975) also gives equal rights greater weight, joining it with the corporality and self-interest of individuals. The agent who ignores his current situation and characteristics, that is, who thinks in "pure" form with respect to his existential condition, wants to live in a society in which equal rights are taken seriously. Old age awaits the strong, illness the healthy. Every individual should be willing to help others so that they will in turn help him when he is in need.
Religion can also be a positive force (additive) due to the limited duration of human life. When developing this theory, no argument was found that contradicts the existence of God. From the results of mere intelligence, questions without responses have remained. What forces made the world, the genetic material and its demands, the spirit and its possibilities? "God" as a response to the inexplicable is an argument that cannot be refuted by reason.
Therefore, our theory of life technique of living does not oppose individuals' belief in God. To the contrary, even the apparently decisive argument of an atheist: "If everything has a creator, then who created God?" loses its absolute force since existential relativism shows us that human beings can only recognize the human world.
Nevertheless, there are many, very different religions which claim to know God better than other ones. Our theory cannot pass judgement in this regard, but it can help us determine whether or not the norms of a religion correspond to the principles of the assurance of existence and equal rights.
As we have mentioned briefly: The moral difference between justified action systems and behavioural systems applies not only to individuals, but to all interaction systems, that is, to society as well as to its institutions and organizations. The constitution and configuration of a community, of a society can only be morally justified when its norms attempt to approximate as much as possible the principles of assurance of existence and equal rights.
Society must create the conditions, especially through its institutions, that enable all members to develop as action systems and live as such, assuring and expanding their existence. Likewise, society should punish behaviour that is not justified (compare MERTON 1968). To be tolerant in the face of selfish behaviour that threatens good living for all is a mistake since self-interest would easily gain the upper hand.
Our world is fraught with offensive and defensive wars, for which reason it is necessary to promote and defend good living for all through strong, supranational institutions, in other words, global institutions. If the basic goal is the good of humanity, the different nations have to join forces to make good living for all more likely.
What if there are few individuals, institutions and states guided by both moral principles? This should not lead us to fatalistic resignation. The constitutions of modern nations permit justified action. All individuals can carry out justified actions in the systems of forces in their world of life. The more citizens there are who do so, the more their accumulated actions will approximate good living for all humanity.
Chapter III: The Life Structure
Following HUSSERL (1929), we refer to the system of forces that individuals form with their environment as the "world of life." If we order this life-world with the help of existential functions, we speak of the "life structure."
Why it is necessary to order the human world? The reciprocal effects of the six forces generate a seemingly infinite number of major and minor forces that act on our life with different properties and activities and that also have reciprocal effects on one another.
The evolutionary process caused us to behave with self-interest to assure our existence in the complex system of forces that acts for, against and through us. However, the technical and moral expansion of life, especially equal rights, also requires consciously structured action.
How do we go about ordering our world of life? In the descriptive section (Chapter I) we explained the forces mainly in formal terms, with the questions: HOW do forces act, in an additive or dialectic way, directly or indirectly, in a more or less predictable way? But the person who considers only the forms of the reciprocal effects will be unable to sufficiently analyse problems, much less resolve them in a justified manner.
For example, if corporality and reason have reciprocal effects, dialectic relations result. WHY? Because of the specific properties of both, in other words, because of their contents. Corporality is characterized by self-interest, which aspires only to one's own good living, even at the cost of others'.
Reason, however, is also oriented to good living for all. Reason wants to share but self-interest strives only to receive. Given these opposing goals (opposing contents), corporality and reason act dialectically when an individual attempts to resolve problems in a mutual way.
Therefore, if an agent wants to understand and improve his situation in the system of forces, he must order the forces both formally and according to their contents: WHAT acts and WHY properties and activities create or potentially resolve the problem?
The world of life and its order
We have already created a first structure of our world of life with the general system of six forces. This corresponds to the position and perspective of an individual, who, in order to act, distinguishes different outputs (functions), identified with different forces of his world of life:
An action must be planned and directed. Forces that we refer to as own and others' reason have this function;
An action also needs an organic base, in other words, the outputs (functions) of corporality;
An action needs material energy, in other words, the outputs (functions) of organic and inorganic nature.
But the individual perspective is insufficient for understanding the world of life in all its complexity. Because of the invariable conditions of human life, each individual is born with a need for interactive systems, that is, communities, to instruct and educate him.
Likewise, a society should have as a perspective and a desire that some of its members create what all members expect of it: knowledge and institutions, for example. Thus, in our world of life, not only does the individual perspective operate, but so does that of the community, especially of the society, with its own specific expectations and outputs (functions).
Example: Throughout history, each society has created, through its members, a knowledge system that far surpasses the behavioural program individuals learned during the evolutionary process. Since this knowledge is not inherited and transmitted to new generations, it becomes an important task of society.
But if we consider that society expects its members to facilitate the task of developing this knowledge and transmitting it to others, we are again faced with the perspective and actions of individuals. Thus we find in our world of life a system that causes the two perspectives to act reciprocally -- the wishes and tasks of the individual and the demands and tasks of society - and that integrates them into a single system: culture.
But society can and must carry out other functions as well. According to PARSONS (1966), who analysed societies from this perspective, each one (if it wants to guarantee its own and members' existence) must carry out the following special tasks (functions):
sustain common knowledge;
integrate members into the society;
create favourable conditions for the individual goals of its members
facilitate the adaptation of organic and inorganic nature.
Every modern society has concrete or ideological systems that have specialized in one of these functions. Added to these systems is nature, whose characteristics constitute the environment and resources of action, resulting in the following spheres:
CULTURE: whose characteristic function is to transmit knowledge.
COMMUNITY: its specific output consists of the integration of members via moral codes, regulations and laws.
PERSONALITY: society has the function of creating favourable conditions for its members to achieve their goals.
CORPORALITY: society promotes and supports those individual properties and activities that foster members' necessary adaptation to the organic and inorganic environment.
ENVIRONMENT: society needs and regulates the use of organic and inorganic resources.
These functional systems in our world of life contain sub-systems of differing sizes that give rise to its structure. We refer to these as "sub-systems," "spheres," and "elements." (See figure 1: The life structure). How do we make these distinctions? They are the results of the reciprocal effects among the necessary functions from the perspectives of society and of the individual.
We alluded to these effects in the example on culture. With the aid of this system and its structure, we will try to further clarify: The function (output, task) of society of integrating its members and that of the individual of respecting the rights of others generate morality as a knowledge system.
These functions define values. Therefore, there is a need for an education geared towards these values. Important elements in this sphere include an education that influences young people and the self-education that adults undertake as an ongoing duty.
The task of the individual of achieving the assurance and expansion of his existence through communication and production, linked to the societal task of providing individuals with the corresponding skills, create the spheres: language, work, science and art.
Figure N° 1: The life structure
Lastly, an individual's awareness that he is gradually approaching death demands community systems that help him base his actions on hope rather than desperation. He develops a concept of the world and his life that gives him confidence and that is basically oriented to the assurance of his existence: the spheres of ideology and religion.
Our scientific study in three rural communities confirmed the differentiation in functional systems of the life structure because all elements found in the world of life of these populations were ordered into one of their sub-systems. However, this could only be achieved as an approximation since all elements are the result of reciprocal effects among the six forces and their ordering into a single force is therefore always questionable.
In the life structure (Figure 1), sexuality is presented as an element of corporality, but it could be interpreted from the perspective of society and therefore ordered within the community. The life structure is the result of the attempt to acquire the most general perspective possible; consequently, it should be interpreted from this angle.
Additionally, we must take into account that every person has specific characteristics, goals, conditions and possibilities: each individual structure is qualitatively differentiated from others. It contains the cultural sphere with its elements, but these differ in their function and individual depth.
The differences in life technique and morality are not extinguished through this general life structure; rather, they are even more apparent as individual structures. The spheres and elements of life serve both for the despot and the subject, but the individual assessment of the elements, which are ordered and therefore comparable, facilitates the recognition of the differences among the various worlds of life.
The functions of the life structure
Nature and reason are the basic forces that create and determine the life structure. Reason has as essential attribute the liberty while determination and need are qualities of nature. Since each element of an action is the result of both forces, every element of the life structure is a system composed of liberty and determination.
However, in the figure of life structure, from top to bottom liberty grows as determination and need decrease (the culture is characterized more by liberty, the corporality less). We can therefore conclude that the more people who consciously try to resolve conflicts using cultural and social means rather than behavioural techniques or even physical-chemical means (those of war), the greater the probability that liberty and self-determination will be respected.
General knowledge and the specific case act reciprocally, but they belong to different planes (areas) of reality, either to the mental plane (theoretical) or the concrete plane (practical). The life structure, as a mental system, can be understood as a meta-theoretical life system, according to LOSEE (1977), because it contains all the elements corresponding to collective life and does not exclude any potentially justified theory. Additionally, it not only reflects real behaviours and actions but can also guide them via the reciprocal effects among the meta-theory, the theories and reality.
The life structure is therefore important for all agents. This is true not only for the sciences, but also for daily life, in the theoretical and practical planes. It can be used to link theory and practice to favour a better life for all. In this case, theory has the function of mentally recognizing and modifying practices while practice has the function of developing as a critical action supported by theory (DILTHEY 1890).
From the system of forces we can deduce that each element of the life structure is directly or indirectly associated with another element. Therefore, if one element of the life structure is a problem, the other elements become potential forces, in other words, they become conditions that impede (as dialectic forces) or favour (as additive forces) the solution to the problem.
Thus, the individual who recognizes the multiple possibilities for resolving a problem can more easily reach a solution, but he must also realize that in most cases, solutions affect the interests of others, either fostering or limiting them. The content of these relations among individuals has to be considered with the aid of the principles of morality (Chapter II) and, methodologically, with self-advice (Chapter VI) or argumentative communication or production and consumption (Chapters VII and VIII).
Life structure and development
The life structure is the ordered world of life, not only of the individual but also of mankind. Therefore, a community has as many life structures as it members has. To this we have to add, as sub-systems, the structures of life formed through interactions: between couples, parents and children, workers and collaborators. These individuals' structures have some segments that are linked to others'.
Everyone is born into an existing life structure, in its own as genetic influenced being, in a given environment: parents, family, institutions of the society. But the newborn begins to existentially influence his surroundings, which in turn try to influence him through forces as education. In other words, reciprocal effects characterize life from its beginnings.
Individuals do not begin from zero, since evolution has configured the properties and activities of their corporality. It is likely that individuals will never again behave as selfishly as they do at the beginning of life - directed by behavioural programs that have the goal of assuring existence - because they will develop during childhood as action systems that also consider more or less the interests and ideas of others.
Figure N° 2: From the behaviour system to the action system
PIAGET (1969) describes the characteristic steps of this process. Figure 2 is based on his theory, but associates the key phases of human development (newborn, child and young adult) with the three planes of action. In this way, it recognizes how the existential skills of the newborn are honed, developed through an increasingly broad, abstract knowledge: the child develops a personality that more and more knows how to think and feel in a justified manner and that shapes his life in an autonomous way.
From this perspective, the dominance of the life structure is the highest level, encompassing life in its entirety. It contains spheres, which, as concepts, address certain parts of this totality. Each sphere has concrete events that can be explained and directed with the aid of the corresponding concepts.
The grasping reflex, for example, characterizes a sphere of behaviour through which the newborn, assuring his own existence, attempts to dominate his environment. Parallel to the development of conscious reason, the grasping behaviour is later associated with representations that eventually become abstract notions and that characterize argumentation regarding the problem of private property, for example.
Because the life structure represents the totality of life itself, with all of its spheres and elements, it can be used as a scientific tool. In historiography it can help to describe the state of development of a community in terms of the basic goal of good living. If we also evaluate to what extent good living for all has become a reality, we often discover certain positions that contradict the romanticism and glorification of the past.
Ancient Greece, for example, admired for its high level of culture with respect to life technique, demonstrates the numerous difficulties with the principles of equal rights and assurance of life at the time. We would perhaps initially laugh at ARISTOTLE's (384-322 BC, Problems, p. 332) argument below, but would later become pensive:
"Why is it worse to kill a woman than a man, despite the fact that a man has more value due to his nature? Surely because she does not have as much strength and can therefore do less harm. Besides, it is not a heroic act to prove strength before a weaker person."
Aristotle's student, Alexander the Great, incarnated the type of heroism embodied in those thoughts and life concepts by waging war on nations large and small. Increasing one's own glory in this way has nothing to do with the only justified goal: good living for all.
Chapter IV: The Life Concept
The life structure orders the multiple elements of living, thereby enabling us to recognize the numerous and complex forces that favourably or unfavourably influence our lives. What forces can and should we use? Against which forces can and should we fight? This depends on the goals to which we aspire.
The criteria of justified action permit us to recognize which goals are justified. However, as tests, they can only judge an existing goal and cannot create individual goals. It is the agent who has to develop goals in keeping with his needs and ideas. He then uses the criteria to judge them.
The different goals of an animal form a system that corresponds, in its entirety, to the needs of its genetic material, that is, to the assurance of its existence. In the case of humans, goals should also constitute a system, but for both the assurance and expansion of existence.
The all-encompassing system is the life structure. If we interpret its elements with the aid of procedural moments - goals, given situation and approximation - we see that each can be a goal, a given condition or a means of approximation. If we concentrate only on goals, the life structure is at the same time a structure of goals, which we refer to as "life concept."
The fact that a person's goals constitute a system is more than just a theoretical conclusion. In reality, we observe that individuals want to act based on a concept: they aspire to several goals, but these are not isolated; rather, they form an ordered system without contradictions (FESTINGER 1976).
The life concept of a person is an entity, but this does not mean we should conclude that all goals are equally important. Based on his desires and problems, the individual determines which spheres and elements are the most important, and consequently selects the essential goals of his life that orient all the others.
Each person is at the centre of his world even though he is part of an interactive system due to existential reasons and thereby shares life concepts with others. The family is one of these systems in which members integrate their own life concepts through interactions to form a family life concept whose sub-systems are the life concepts of the different members (see BRONFENBRENNER 1979).
In modern societies, for example, many women face the problem of coordinating their profession (work system) with their family (private system). These essential goals influence other elements of the life structure, for example, the duration of studies and the selection of a profession, partner and place of residence. To determine the essential goals and form or coordinate the forces of the life structure accordingly are decisive skills for good living for all.
In the world of life, new forces appear in each new situation. They occur as relatively independent events that we accept or reject and that influence our goals as a result. We must understand and build a life concept as a dynamic system, open to all arguments or forces that have a justified life as a goal or an effect. With the aid of this flexible concept, all actions are developed and interpreted as elements of a conscious, progressive development.
Humans do not try to achieve a balance without tensions, which is apparently a goal of nature, the effect of existential expansion. Rather, human equilibrium is understood as a judgement and the feeling of having reached a state of good living thanks to ambitious goals and the risky solutions that the individual has achieved. If this is true, the general goal of the life concept could be defined as life as an adventure.
In this case, setting goals that are too modest is not recommended because rarely does good result from anything less than an extraordinary goal (compare CLAUSEWITZ, 1832/34) An individual may aspire to a life that accepts the assurance of existence only as the basic foundation. Curiosity about the unknown, the will to strive for the best and not to fear risks are justifiable characteristics.
But the agent must also adapt his goals to the conditions of his external world. The life concepts of different individuals compete because resources are scarce. For this reason too, it is advisable to choose a larger proposal, since if we choose a modest goal while others pursue more ambitious ones, our arguments can demand only modest resources.
The basic skills that help to create both individual and shared concepts are, first, self-advice (Chapter VI) and second, argumentative communication to reach a consensus (Chapter VII). Even the goals referring to organic and inorganic nature need to be examined using these skills. This is how a shared ecological concept is formed that takes into account the reciprocal effects of humans with regard to the geographic space, inorganic objects, animals and plants (BOESCH 1971).
While we must always consider equal rights when dealing with individuals, this is not the case in relation to the forces of the organic and inorganic world because they are fundamentally means and conditions of human existence. Life concepts must assign a specific value to animals, plants and even the inorganic world. The human race proposes and determines these values. In nature, the principle of protecting others' lives does not exist.
Specific characteristics of life concepts
Behavior and action achieve only approximations. They fulfil goals only in an imperfect way. Since life concepts are goal systems, they cannot be fully realized and consequently, there is no deadline for reaching them. Additionally, the basic goals - assurance and expansion of existence - are so dynamic that we must continually create new ones.
Life concepts are oriented toward a more or less specified future. We plan for a better life, have mid- or long-term goals, ask ourselves the existential question: Should I act now in a way in which in a few years I will probably have wanted to act? Condition and requirement are, that our acting is based on the optimism to achieve the goals, and this can be only a approximation too, a prudent, a sceptical optimism.
Differences between the goal and the quality of the realized occur, are normal, depending on whether hopes and plans refer to goals that are achieved through inorganic and organic forces or through spiritual forces. What is determined by natural inorganic law can be calculated, what is determined by the laws of behaviour can be forecast with relative certainty, but what depends on intelligence or reason is characterized by free will. Since, at the very least, the intelligence of different (selfish) individuals participates in interactive systems, success will be more likely and lasting if the goals are coordinated and achieved through a consensus based on reason (HABERMAS 1971).
Given that we can influence the future but never the past through our life concepts, being able to predict the future is more important from the perspective of good living than is understanding the past (compare STEGMÜLLER 1974). Thus, the basic goal of medical, psychological or pedagogical action is above all to enable more favourable predictions about the individuals future lives.
Corporality reacts only in an incomplete way to this existential relationship between the past and the future by forgetting and repressing (FREUD 1938). Therefore, the function of reason - in the case of being plagued by certain negative memories that interrupt activity - is to make us aware that for life concepts, the only important past events are those which as forces have a significant effect for the intended goals. Besides, in the approximation to a goal, the negative events of the past are only a condition of the beginning. In the process of approximation, they can gradually lose their effects.
Life concepts are the products of hope in an happy future. If we abstain from religious assumptions, a good life on Earth is at the centre. Consequently, we must have an existential strategy to prepare ourselves for death, for the "final reality" (PARSONS 1966), through an active life, full of plans, ideas and accomplishments. To undertake a project that will probably extend beyond one's own life is a force that individuals can use to counter death.
Life concepts produce tensions between reason and corporality. Needs require immediate satisfaction, yet mid- or long-term goals frequently call for renouncing instant gratification. Life concepts must strike a balance between those positions to develop compatible solutions. Current and future good living are two perspectives that form together the basis of all action because current good living was once the hoped-for future.
Life concepts also cause tensions between individuals because they demand resources in which others have or could have an interest. Generally, we should not expect justified reactions to our justified life concept. Envy and rivalry are normal outgrowths of self-interest (the experiences of each reader will support this assumption). The individual who communicates the goals of his life concept to others should be aware of this reality. He may decide to make public only a part of his justified concept and to communicate its entirety only to people he trusts completely.
The desired quality of a life concept can be compared with the structure and action of a society. In the same way that a country's laws attempt to establish the rules in all spheres of activity, the life concept covers all spheres of the life structure.
The agent must be trained to be his own deliberating Congress and at the same time his own acting Cabinet, in both his internal and external actions. Each agent evaluates and determines the goals which obligate and guide him. In this way, he establishes the conditions for action as if he were a minister of the interior, foreign affairs, economy, social affairs and the environment. He acts like a nation in a state alliance, as an independent system in the larger system that he forms with the community.
Perhaps or surely this high cultural and economic requirement cannot be the norm for every individual. Nevertheless, we can assert that it is justified to favour concepts that cover both theoretical and practical action, in other words, specialized theoretical knowledge as well as an adequate practical knowledge, both in reciprocal relation. For the individual this is the task of learning.
The individual is born as a behavioural system containing basic forces for the development of a life concept (Figure 2). Adults (action systems) must act on a child's behalf and support him through education and instruction. They influence a child's goals until he proves himself capable of recognizing, examining, changing and autonomously realizing his life concept. Criteria to measure progress in this area include the domination and legitimatisation of his life (EYSENK & EYSENK 1987, EISENBERG, MILLER et al. 1991).
As the child develops as an action-system, his self-responsibility grows and family support declines. Other institutions, especially the school, complement it. Because school traditionally is organized into independent subjects however, the school cannot sufficiently contribute to the development of a life concept that address the life structure in its entirety. Consequently, children must have learning opportunities outside of school. (Another possibility is to modify the school curriculum to undertake the task of supporting the development of students' life concepts).
Life concepts must be developed through actions, using communication (external action) and self-advice (internal action). They have the purpose of improving both the agent's ability to plan goals through internal action and his skills to realize them through external action. But what links internal action to external action? The following chapter presents the GACORE model, which demonstrates that all action, internal and external, has to be structured in the form of in six steps.
Chapter V: The six steps of an action
The objective of our theory is to contribute to good living for all. In the first chapter, we discussed how every individual, as a product of evolution, is at the centre of his own world and we concluded that each person must not only adapt himself to the world but also create it, ideally through intelligent behaviour.
In the second chapter, we examined how individuals must behave in accordance with the principles of equal rights and the assurance of existence, since they live in interactive systems composed of subjects with the same rights. To facilitate this task, we ordered, in the third chapter, the world of life of each individual with the aid of functions. The result was the life structure. In the fourth chapter, we defined and described the system of goals of every life structure as the life concept.
In this fifth chapter we examine how an action takes place. To this end, we have to develop the methodologic base of the fundamental skills all agents must possess in order to create and realize successfully their life concept: Self-advice, argumentative communication, argumentative production and consumption. We do not concentrate on the materials (contents) we need to reach solutions (These were discussed in the chapter on the life structure). We shift our focus to the formal steps to achieve a solution; in other words, we examine the formal process of an action.
The basic structure
Only he who knows his port can distinguish between favourable and unfavourable winds. Only the person who knows his goal is capable of taking advantage of auspicious conditions and avoiding or modifying adverse ones. From there, all actions, as approximations, must work toward a goal. Therefore, all actions of a person are part of his life concept, this system of goals.
Actions have three moments. Given situation, approximation, goal. But actions must consider two functions: thinking about the systems of forces in the life structure (internal actions) and - eventually - modify them (external actions). Both functions complement a real action.
All internal action covers three procedural moments: goal, given situation and approximation. All external action, in the case of being directed to the same goal, covers three procedural moments too: goal, given situation and approximation. Thus, each real action takes place with the aid of six steps. Her functions also produce the abbreviated forms of the steps, presented in the following examples:
The individual who wants to know the meaning of a foreign word sets a goal (first step: goal); thinks about the possibilities for achieving it (second step: analysis); and decides to consult a dictionary in order to achieve it (third step: conception). Once the agent has completed these steps of internal action, he begins the three steps of external action, of real modification: by opening the dictionary, he creates favourable conditions (forth step: organization), then reads and understands the meaning of the word (fifth step: realization), and finally, using it, he observe if the acquired knowledge has proven useful (sixth step: evaluation).
Each agent more or less consciously follows these six steps. In routine action, we only perceive them in abbreviated form, but we can classify what is perceived in terms of the total process: "Careful!" shouts a cyclist on the sidewalk. With this word, the cyclist manifests only what corresponds to the fifth step (realization) of an action. The other steps have developed so quickly that the individual is barely aware of them: the recognition of the goal, the analysis of the conditions, the conception that the analysis results in the decision to shout "careful!" and the preparation for the shout (its organization) using the voice. But pedestrians understand the complete context and try to react to assure their existence.
Only six steps are apparently not sufficient to solve complex problems. But every step can itself be divided using the six steps. For example, the analysis, when it is part of a complex problem, requires a clear definition of its goals (What is to be analysed?), requires to recognize his conditions (Analysis of the conditions to make the analysis) and requires to make a plan, to organize, to act, to evaluate.
In order to clarify how we have to proceed to solve a problem, is to remember the content of the problem. The life structure (figure 1) reflects the content, whether cultural, social, personal, physical or environmental. From the life structure, the Goals are to be derived (as part of the life concept), and the life structure contains also the respective favourable or unfavourable conditions, we have to recognize before planning (Analysis).
If we resume: any problem or subject, whether theoretical, scientific and practical, has two dimensions: formally the six steps and - as content - the five systems of the life structure. Therefore, the rational way to recognize or to solve a problem is to use both dimensions.
Chapter VI: Self-advice
The function, the task of self-advice is to devise and manage the life structure of the person and with it, his life concept. Self-advice should be an internal action, not mere behaviour, therefore his form follows the six steps of action.
Regarding the content, a person who advises himself has good living as a fundamental goal. This focus leads to the structuring of self-advice regarding the content. The agent orders all forces in an effort to reach a positive goal and interprets these forces as either additive (as means to approximate the goal) or as dialectic (as conditions that impede approximation).
The theory of Life Technique mentally separates internal and external actions and distinguishes them as two different moments of an action. Self-advice is an internal action, but generally directed to external action, it prepares it, accompanies it and has to evaluate it. Therefore we can say that the external action, the practical action is generally the purpose of internal action, of self-advice.
External actions are based on arguments, since in a world of limited resources we need good arguments to be able to realize our goals. We must convince others to accept the necessity of our resource consumption.
Self-advice as internal argumentation
For the end of developing the theoretical framework of internal argumentation, we return to the metaphor of "forces," by which we mean working systems composed of sub-systems. We consider the systems of forces from two viewpoints, as substances and as processes. If we focus on substances, we speak of the properties of a system of forces; if we look at processes, we refer to activities.
First let us consider the properties that appear in internal argumentation. Sensations, representations, needs and feelings are properties of corporality and are therefore in principle selfish behaviours. Therefore, if an individual must resolve problems through justified action, he must examine and clarify this information through reason.
Reason works with the aid of its specific activities, such as generalizing and concluding, thereby transforming the thoughts (sensations, representations, needs, feelings) into notions. Notions help us to more clearly understand and resolve a problem than do the properties of corporality alone.
But nevertheless, in an action the influence of corporality is always present, and depending on the existential situation, it can be strong or weak. If a person feels panicked, his existential fear can predominate and block reason. The individual who had previously been an action system will react as a behavioural system by blindly fleeing.
In critical situations, when our need for assurance of existence is apparently affected, merely in discussions, it is essential that we observe ourselves, that we mentally distance ourselves to determine whether or not we are still an action system or if we have become a behavioural system. Self-advice must be capable of conscious reconstruction (see BIRREN 1981, LAMP 1984).
Internal processes are only approximations since individuals can be conscious of their internal and external worlds only relative to their own existence (OESER & SEITELBERGER 1988). This limits the general validity of the results. But internal argumentation has the chance (or necessity) to be based on communication with others, because typically it uses its properties (notions) in the form of words.
Internal argumentation is linked to an internal language as its instrument. That is why humans learned to speak during the evolutionary process (see WITTGENSTEIN 1948, SOKOLOV 1972, MEICHENBAUM 1979). Initially, as the comparison with animals shows, language was motivated by the assurance of existence, that is, by the basic need of corporality, but later it was also motivated by the human goal of expansion of existence.
Consequently, human language has developed through the reciprocal effects between corporality and reason (SEARLE 1987). Language can be the mean of a behaviour or of an action, depending on whether corporality alone is active or whether reason and corporality form a unit. During a person's development, language gradually becomes a means of action.
A child's language still largely depends on what he actually sees, while an adult uses language based on notions and is capable of abstract thought without taking into account real events. As a mean for internal argumentation, language is a necessary tool for good living for all - and has to be promoted through instruction and education.
All self-advice begins with the perception of a problem. Individuals often respond spontaneously to a problem, proposing immediately a solution. They are called upon to react without consciously examining the situation and its possibilities. This spontaneous internal call is what KANT names a "maxim" (1795, see his formula for the Categorical Imperative). The "spontaneous maxim" can be the product of a behaviour acquired during evolution, but it can also result from individual experiences.
The spontaneous maxim does not always have the same quality for good living as an deliberated action. Since each situation has something new, it is distinguished to a greater or lesser degree from previous experiences. Sometimes it contains an element that is so different and important that the solution can and should be achieved only through a new, novel action. In this case, the spontaneous maxim has the quality of a dangerous behaviour; therefore, we must examine it and perhaps modify it through an internal argumentation to achieve an action based on justified arguments.
Reason must technically and morally examine the information in the maxim and modify it as needed. To this end, it compares, generalizes and reaches conclusions, which are all conscious activities with conscious results (compare HEGEL 1912/13). How is the role of pure reason and practical reason in this process?
Pure reason produces its own information for internal argumentation. It is capable of developing ideas that do not have their roots in the observation of reality, in the needs of corporality, it has the advantage to be creative, but it can be dangerous too. That‘s why pure reason does not always have better existential ideas than corporality. It can introduce in the internal arguments maxims that threaten existence. It is not possible, then, to maintain that it is always better to follow pure reason alone and ignore corporality. For this, it is the task of practical reason to mediate between the propositions of pure reason and the needs of corporality.
Furthermore, given that the realization of an existential goal always depends on outside forces, which are often dialectic and sometimes invincible, we are advised to develop, from the beginning, a similar alternative to the maxim, so that in the event the original maxim fails, we always have the possibility of reaching our goal. The original, the guiding maxim and the alternative maxim constitute the total maxim. From this perspective, self-advice is a form of examining the spontaneous maxim - with the aid of internal argumentation - to clarify, evaluate and differentiate it in accordance with real life conditions.
The self-advice model
The methodological bases of the model are the steps of internal argumentation, initiated by the perception of the problem and the spontaneous maxim. Self-advice uses the GACORE model, whose steps determine its course. But since self-advice is only an internal action, the outside steps of an action, namely, organization and realization, are included only indirectly. Self-advice has the task of creating and evaluating the steps organization and realization, but it only covers the four steps of internal argumentation: goal, analysis, conception and evaluation.
Step one: the goal
The function of this step is to examine the spontaneous maxim from the perspective of good living for all: comprehend the problem, its relevance for life and its goals; outline a solution; and prepare, with the aid of reason, a provisional guiding maxim. Provisional, because many forces in the external world cannot be predicted or completely dominated.
For this reason, it is advisable, as we have mentioned, to incorporate an alternative maxim from the beginning, which should depend more on justified action of the agent himself than on the behaviour of opposing forces. It should be as similar as possible to the guiding maxim. In consequence, the guiding and the alternative maxims form two sub-systems within a single system. They are two interwoven parts of a total maxim.
Step two: Analysis
The function of this step is to identify the favourable and unfavourable conditions of the world of life for the realization of the maxim. It is characterized by the recognition of relevant forces for the goals with the aid of the life structure (Figure 1). These forces belong to organic (animals, plants) or inorganic (materials, products) media or to the human world (individuals, communities).
Generally, individuals constitute the most important conditions, whether positive or negative. If they oppose the maxim (the solution to the problem) we must seek an explanation through an external action, in other words, generally through communication. However, we must accept the fact that individuals, due to their self-interest, do not fully reveal their goals. To investigate is, then, less helpful than accepting self-interest as natural and basic, without abandoning the own justified intentions.
To trust in self-interest is more constructive than to believe in an assumed desire for the collective good. It brings with it fewer risks, without excluding the possibility that the behaviour of others can be guided by the obligation to respect equal rights.
Step three: conception
Conception uses the knowledge obtained until now to create a justified maxim. The conditions of the solution found in the first step (goal) and in the second (analysis) become notions, which are elements of an examined maxim: a spontaneous maxim gives way to an examined guiding maxim, which - to remember - is called a total maxim when it also includes an alternative maxim.
Flexibility in the conception increases the chances that we will achieve our goals. Of course, it is reasonable to plan for success, but it is not always possible to orient the life concept to the most easy way of achieving it, because the bigger the goal, the greater the risk of opposition. The more ambitious our goal is, the more difficult the problems and the greater the probability of failure. The path travelled in the hope of achieving the desired future must therefore be a part of good living, so that possible failure can be accepted as - a nearly normal - result.
Steps four and five: Organization and realization
Organization (fourth step) prepares for the realization of the guiding maxim by establishing favourable conditions for its initiation, with the aid of communication or production. We attempt to carry out the guiding maxim through the fifth step (realization), that is, we try to approximate the goal, likewise with the aid of communication or production. Since organization and realization are external actions and do not directly belong to self-advice, we will discuss these steps (using communication and production) further in chapters VII and VIII.
Step six: Evaluation
After having completed the approximation toward the goal, by organization and realization, we must evaluate what has been achieved. We form a judgment, accompanied by feelings regarding the existential quality of the accomplishment. A new situation has arisen and we compare this situation with the initial conditions. We critically evaluate the process from beginning to end.
If we recognize what has been achieved as satisfactory, this is naturally not the end of actions: the assurance and expansion of existence will appear as new tasks. If we decide it is unsatisfactory, we must first, before abandoning the goals of the maxim, determine whether other materials or methods could have produced a better result. From a technical and existential perspective, justified goals are more important than their means. We establish new goals and develop another maxim only after we have determined that changes in the means of the guiding maxim and even of the alternative maxim have been useless.
Problems and their solutions generally are affecting the living of the agent, but generally of other individuals too. Each approximation forms part of an individual's life process. It is an element of his world of life in progress. There is no good living without problems, regardless of whether they are desired. But justified approximations, justified problem solutions lead to the positive feelings we need. For this too, they represent not only end products, but also the starting point for developing new goals and approximations.
Although success tends to strengthen the individual, failure is sometimes even more effective, because humiliation fortifies the corporal and spiritual disappointment. Therefore, a justified action should not focus on defeating the other, but rather should have the goal of reaching consensus. This generosity does not ignore own self-interest, since defeat often unleashes impetuosity, endangering the assurance of existence, and incites the other to defend his own goals with radical, dangerous behaviour, with aggression (see CLAUSEWITZ 1832/34).
We resolve problems through self-advice (internal action), and through communication or production, which corresponds to external action. The next chapter discusses first communication, its structure and methods. Ideally communication should be based on the arguments of self-advice because this transforms a mere communicative behaviour into an Action.
Chapter VII: Argumentative communication
How should communication take place to make good living for all more likely? Communication has the function of transmitting or receiving information. The results (contents) of internal action (or internal behaviour) are transmitted to a receiver, influencing his behaviour or action. Generally, communication serves to solve an additive or dialectical problem.
Self-advice creates its own maxim while successful communication produces a shared maxim. What is structural true for self-advice (regarding the origin, examination and evaluation of maxims, regarding the reciprocal processes between pure reason, practical reason, corporality) is also valid for argumentative communication. The peculiarities of the latter arise from the fact that it is not a single individual, but rather several people, who participate in the process and influence it through their individual forces, their individual conditions, intelligence (or reason) and corporality.
The structure of argumentative communication
To clear and introduce the structure of communication it is convenient to reduce it first to a reciprocal effect between two action systems, between two agents. Their internal arguments can be connected structurally, and both are therefore capable of communicating via arguments.
Figure 4 illustrates this process: Person A develops an argument and communicates it. Person B perceives the argument as an impulse for his internal argumentation, an impulse to act. As any action begins with a goal he interprets it as a goal proposal, as a stimulus. (Conditioning, a theory of behavioural psychology, refers to this process as stimulus and response).
Based on the goal proposal, Person B uses his own internal argumentation system to examine the argument (analysis) and form (conception) his own argument, equal to or different from that of the person A. Communicating this argument to Person A, this one interprets it for his part as a goal proposal and uses it as a stimulus to evaluate his previous argument. If the arguments have an additive relationship, there is agreement. If it is dialectic, the process has to be repeated until the final result, a shared maxim would be the ideal solution.
Figure 4 describes this model of argumentative communication, limited to communication between only two persons who are both agents. But reality is often different because there exists not only action systems but behaviour systems too. Therefore, we have to consider the following possibilities for communication:
an action system communicates with another action system;
an action system communicates with a behavioural system;
a behavioural system communicates with another behavioural system.
An action system must have the complex capacity of communicating not only with other action systems but also with behavioural systems. The key question here is what an action system must know methodically if it wants to consistently communicate in a justified way, based on justified arguments.
As previously discussed, behavioural systems are incapable of realizing internal behaviour as a justified argumentation. It's characteristic that they have no access to dialectic arguments, particularly that come from external sources. Corporality (and with it, self-interest) dominates through its properties and activities. Needs and feelings take over where only the unit with the goals and judgments of reason would be capable of responding in a justified manner (see Figure 2).
Consequently, an action system needs different skills and methods that have the power to reconstruct the receiver’s capacity for communicative action or to construct it in the short or long term. The discussion below is based therefore on the following perspective: Which methods should an action system use with respect to other action systems and which should it select with regard to behavioural systems as children or psychic unbalanced?
Typecasting the receiver and the communication
Because of their effects on the receiver, the contents of argumentative communication (arguments) determine which forms of communication (methods) are justified. The receiver is the methodological criterion, in that he either understands and accepts the content of the argument or he does not and reacts in a not justified way.
Small children do not understand arguments, some adults refuse to accept them and the mentally ill cannot do so. The individual who wants to communicate as agent with the receiver (to resolve a problem in a justified manner) must evaluate the other person in terms of his argumentative capacity or disposition and then choose an effective method of communication.
In order to do so, the individual must first be able to typecast the receiver in terms of his capacity to react in a justified manner to arguments (Is he in this moment an action system or a behavioural system?). Second, he must be familiar with the methods that can be used with different types of receivers.
Determining whether the receiver is an action or a behavioural system depends on the quality of the reciprocal effects between his reason and corporality. He is an action system if his reason can fulfil its functions; by contrast, he is a behavioural system if his corporality dominates. It should be noted: No one is always an action system, since people are systems of unstable forces that vary the life structure according to the circumstances. Sometimes reason has more weight and influence; at other times, corporality does.
In a given situation it is advisable, then, not to anticipate the receiver as an absolute action or absolute behavioural system but rather as a general one. A general action system expresses itself in certain situations as a mere behavioural system, just like a general behavioural system, if we do not include newborns, can more or less frequently express itself as an action system.
As a type, a "normal" person is a general action system and only in certain situations becomes a temporary behavioural system. This type appears as a "temporary behavioural system/general action system." An individual in this category can lead a (relatively) independent and justified life, willing to respect the moral principles of equal rights and assurance of existence.
But what about in situations in which he reacts as a temporary behavioural system? Above all, a force can cause corporality to dominate over reason when it provokes existential fear, for example, in the case of an individual who learns that he is suffering from an incurable disease. Other temporary behaviour arises due to problems and certain situations in which the individual does not react to dialectic arguments.
In education this is nearly normal, but as an other example, there are nicotine-dependent individuals who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence on the harmful effects of smoking. What is true for arguments is likewise true for the other forces: a fire or a dog attack can cause the temporary loss of reason. In conclusion: If we are dealing with arguments, people, animals or inorganic substances, we react as an action or a behavioural system.
Unlike general action systems, general behavioural systems are incapable of leading an autonomous life because they cannot sufficiently consider and respect technically and moral principles of life and put therefore themselves and others at risk. For this reason, small children need intensive support and control. They are behavioural systems that have to develop into action systems.
We also refer to the mentally ill as general behavioural systems. They can live "normally" in certain situations and spheres of life, they are temporary action systems. But the "temporary action system/general behavioural system" type includes very different people. But it will serve for our purpose to only clarify: In a problem situation, the receiver is either a system of action (an agent) or a behavioural system. This determines the type of communication which the acting transmitter has to use.
If in a specific situation the receiver understands the arguments and his corporality permits him to respond adequately to dialectic arguments, he can argue "symmetrically" as an action system. This is because the transmitter’s mental process is repeated, in content and structure, adequate to the receiver. Thus, the transmitter can expect the receiver to contribute to resolving the problem.
Arguing with oneself means that two equal systems of forces act in symmetry. Between two people, this type of argumentation would be ideal, but the differences between the reason of both and the individual needs of their corporality allow for only a limited form of symmetrical argumentation.
Person A knows more about a problem or Person B is more familiar with the necessary steps of an action. Despite these differences, we can assume that between action systems, symmetrical argumentation should be the guiding form of communication since it corresponds more than any other to the principle of equal rights. Among the methods of argumentative communication, which we will present later, "mutual argumentation" is the closest to symmetrical argumentation.
Reconstruction and therapy
We have to distinguish between temporary and general behavioural systems. A temporary behavioural system is often created by an intense dialectic argument in a specific situation (for example: an unsparing argument during a quarrel). But as soon as the dialectic argument looses his effect, the individual recovers his capacity to argue in a justified manner. The methods that facilitate the disappearance of the dialectic argument belong to a type of communication we refer to as "reconstruction". One of these methods is characterized by the suppression of all dialectic arguments until the receiver has recovered his capacity to argue as an action system. The technique consists of communicating only with additive arguments).
In attempting reconstruction, we have to consider too those behavioural systems conditioned by the seriousness of an ongoing difficulty, namely, by the disturbed individual’s mental state. These systems do not reconstruct in the same situation; rather, they require, being general behaviour systems, the aid of therapeutic methods.
We classify (small) children equally as general behavioural systems because they are incapable of argumentation. However, they begin to develop this ability and increasingly communicate through arguments. They start out as a behavioural system and develop into an action system (see Figure 2).
An individual who supports this development through education participates in the "construction" of children’s capacity for argumentation and consequently of their ability for action (compare BANDURA 1979, STAUB 1982, AEBLI 1983). In communicating with children, behavioural techniques must predominate, such as reward and punishment, but they should be accompanied by verbal arguments even though young children are still unable to understand the sense of these arguments. Initially, our verbal expressions only serve for this child as sounds to acquire language or to accompany a non-verbal method, but as the child's intellectual capacity grows, words begin to serve their function of thinking and contributing to problem solving by action.
Methods of argumentative communication
Typecasting the receiver results in typecasting the form of communication. The methods of argumentative communication depend on both perspectives. They are therefore not to separate only following the different classes of receiver, we will see, that in every communication, both with actions systems or behavioural systems, we use a selection, a cluster of the pool which form the elements of communication. We must remember that each method is composed of all existing forces, since in any given situation the system of forces acts as a whole. In a specific method, for example, in argumentation, elements of other methods also participate.
We begin with a review of what we have clarified until now. An agent always argues, at least in his internal action. In each situation, he uses the communication method best suited to the particular type of receiver. The receiver is either a behavioural or an action system. The agent must therefore choose between the verbal or non-verbal communication method that leads best to a collective justified solution to the problem.
Symmetrical argumentation should be upheld as an ideal and a norm because it is the one that best responds to moral principles. This means that the agent has to decide on the method closest to the ideal in the given situation. Thus, a hierarchy exists among the communication methods, which constitutes the basis for ordering them: "mutual argumentation" is the method that best meets the demands of symmetrical argumentation, while physical and chemical means are the least appropriate methods.
Symmetrical argumentation is directed to action systems, in other words, to people who are systems composed of reason and corporality. Therefore, it cannot and should not be oriented exclusively to the reason of the receiver, but should also address the properties that have effects on his corporality.
An argument appeals to the reason of the receiver, but it also has to respect the individual's feelings. This apparent complexity is not a disadvantage. To the contrary, the more forces that participate in the solution, the more likely it will be successful. For this reason, we can affirm that the most effective arguments are those employing the entire system of forces.
We will discuss now some of the main methods that an agent can use to respond to the three types of communication -- symmetrical argumentation, construction and reconstruction/therapy.
Definition: A method for communicating through verbal arguments, both additive and dialectic, in a free, open way. It is oriented exclusively to the problem and is determined only by reason, in other words, it does not take into account the demands of the receiver's corporality.
The individual who expresses his arguments without considering the receiver's feelings, especially those of the assurance of existence, generates in the receiver conflicts that can and often will impede him from reacting as an action system. Therefore, pure argumentation is not the best way of communicating in real life. It constitutes an ideal for pure reason, but not for real individuals as units composed of reason and corporality.
However, we should mention some positive effects of this method. Pure argumentation, if it is dialectic and has the intention of provoking, also stimulates the receiver's intellectual activity (compare HEGEL 1812/1913). To this end, the receiver must be a strong, stable action system susceptible to modifications. Pure argumentation is also used in psychiatry to provoke rage in a behavioural system (the patient) in order to create a therapeutic situation that can help the patient in his reconstruction (AMONN 1973).
This method communicates through verbal arguments, both additive and dialectic, in a free, open way, but using dialectic arguments in such a way and form that the receiver's corporality can support them without turning in a behavioural system. This argumentation is an mutual one.
The characteristic goal of corporality is to assure existence. For this reason, if the receiver is respected as an entity composed of reason and corporality, the basic condition of symmetrical communication is fulfilled. Dialectic arguments will be expressed, if they are unavoidable for resolving the problem, in a way that does not harm (or do the least harm possible) the receiver’s demands or feelings. The two principles of justified action (assurance of existence and equal rights) constitute the moral standard for mutual argumentation (see also ALEXY 1978, FISHER & URY 1981).
This verbal argumentation should be the standard method used among action systems. In the family, in school, in political life and in social life in general, it is the appropriate form (oral and written) of communicating to resolve collective problems. It does not place the agent over the receiver. It is oriented to self-interest, but also takes into account the interests of everyone directly or indirectly affected. There are two basic rules for this form of communication:
1. The individual who argues must consider that each person possesses his own life structure, his own life concept and his own values and interpretations.
2. If the task is to jointly resolve a problem, the total maxim (the guiding maxim and the alternative) must correspond to all concepts and structures.
In this type of argumentation, the agent expresses himself verbally but does not use dialectic arguments until the receiver has recovered his capacity for mutual argumentation.
Mutual argumentation also contains dialectic arguments, for which reason it can fail, even if the rules of stabilization have been taken into account. Additive argumentation can be used to replace it. Only arguments that do not produce any conflict in the receiver are used. In other words, they demonstrate confirmation, consent and a quantitative expansion of his knowledge.
When addressing a problem, the receiver will accept additive arguments because they seem to him to be positive conditions for his own goals. The person who agrees with the receiver, or who decides not to contradict him, can expect harmony instead of tension, can expect cooperation and, finally mutual argumentation.
Reconstruction through additive argumentation
In light of these negative effects produced by dialectic arguments, ROGERS (1951), to cite one example, developed a method that permits the agent to reconstruct a behavioural system, whether temporary or even general. This method is in essence none other than additive argumentation: the agent must strive to make the dialectic argument act only on the receiver's internal behaviour so that the individual will not interpret and reject it as an external pressure.
Additive argumentation does not always require such a passive attitude throughout the problem-solving process. If the receiver recovers his ability to communicate via additive or dialectic arguments, he should be respected as an action system, as an agent, at which point mutual argumentation should be used. The receiver is now the one who expects constructive proposals without rejecting dialectic ones. He feels like an agent and wants to be treated equally. He will feel manipulated if additive argumentation is furthered as method of communication.
Construction through additive argumentation
Construction supports the development of the necessary kills for good living. If we consider only the teaching for good life, by matters like math or biology, the receiver generally interprets the arguments as useful for assuring and expanding his existence, he views them as additive. But in education, when arguments have the basic goal of eliminating the domination of self-interest, we must use dialectic arguments that counter the strong demands of corporality.
Consequently, additive argumentation is insufficient for fully constructing justified action. Construction needs both additive and dialectic arguments. Leaving the recognition and realization of equal rights alone to the internal argumentation of children and young people, rather than teaching them these concepts, is unrealistic because the heritage of evolution - self-interest - is too strong. As we mentionad earlier, this is the cause that teaching (additive) has less difficulties than education (dialectic).
Learning through models
Definition: The agent does not communicate his arguments verbally; instead, he tries to get the receiver to learn through the observation of people, objects or situations.
It is not always possible to communicate through mutual or even additive argumentation. In the case of behavioural or action systems that do not fully comprehend the problem and its conditions, it may be necessary to move even further from the ideal of symmetrical argumentation, and to accentuate the properties of corporality: on the one hand, needs and feelings, and on the other, perceptions and representations.
Reconstruction through models
According to BANDURA (1979, 1986), people become fearful when faced with problems whose solution seems extremely difficult. If under these circumstances their corporality takes precedence over reason, they are incapable of reacting in a justified way to calming arguments (additive) and even less so to critical (dialectic) arguments.
But if they observe that other people resolve problems without negative consequences, it empowers them to overcome obstacles in similar situations. Their fear subsides, their self-confidence increases. The aid of models can lead to the reconstruction of the capacity for argumentation and action.
The receiver has certain internal processes that pave the way toward argumentation. These are processes of cognitive transformation of what has been observed. The individual is scarcely aware of these processes, for which reason we should not refer to them as internal argumentation.
In the case of a behavioural system that reconstructs itself through a model, the receiver does not consciously work to identify his goal, analyze conditions or develop a solution. Nevertheless, the processes of cognitive transformation are directed toward action, since the two basic categories of an action, recognition and modification (and with it, the six steps of an action) are included in learning through models. This method of reconstruction is therefore closer to internal argumentation than it is to conditioning, which we will discuss later.
Construction through models
Learning through models is a necessary method for both the reconstruction and the construction of the ability to argue symmetrically, because it increases the development of representations at the beginning of life and their subsequent transformation into general notions.
Children tend to acquire their knowledge from people who have an existential importance for them (parents, relatives, teachers) and who, therefore, are always models, although they often are unaware of the effect they have. Thus, educators should not only verbally advocate justified action but instead should demonstrate it through real actions.
All behaviour of models that contradicts his verbal arguments has the effect of weakening them and can cause behaviour that is neither justified nor desired. But an agent can consciously act as a model. The individual who educates or teaches can seek or create situations that serve this purpose (AEBLI 1983).
Learning through models begins with imitation. But there is a point at which the receiver, due to his developed cognitive skills, starts to critically evaluate the model. BANDURA (1979) says that as children grow older, they link the properties of different models to create a new, qualitatively different model.
Because it is more or less necessary to replace or support verbal arguments through models, it is appropriate to use models such as diagrams, illustrations and charts, even by adults to help them understand abstract or complex notions.
Definition: The agent does not verbally express his arguments, but rather influences the receiver’s knowledge and behaviour through conditions that have an existential importance for the receiver. The agent uses the demands of the receiver's corporality to provide him with information or to control his behaviour, especially through rewards or punishments.
Learning of models requires a higher intelligence than the conditioning. Characteristic of dogs who have learned independedly to open doors is the accidental learning, but chimpanzees learn this even by observation. Learning through models is carried out through processes, which, under favorable conditions, are capable of activating the receiver's internal argumentation.
But if he is conditioned, he usually learns only what the agent wants him to, since it is mainly his corporality, with its limited knowledge, which learns. The receiver's reason is influenced only in an indirect, incomplete way since receiving information expands its properties but does not develop its activities, such as examining. If we use symmetrical argumentation as the standard, conditioning is less morally justified than is learning through models.
The evolution of corporality and the learning linked to it through conditioning share the trait of trying to adapt to the outside world, made up of nature and human beings.
In classic conditioning, corporality expands its knowledge of objects that assure or enrich life. For example, the person who feeds a child every day is a positive force for the child and becomes a component of his existential knowledge. Expressed in abstract form: If a new object regularly appears with another, known object of existential value, corporality considers it as a necessary condition and consequently, memorizes the new object as positive (additive).
In operant conditioning, however, corporality learns which behaviors have value for the assurance or expansion of existence, depending on the circumstances (HOLLAND & SKINNER 1974). If a child who wants to play accidentally rings a bell, he will purposely repeat the behaviour in the future. In other words, a behaviour that produces a positive result will be chosen again in similar situations. However, if that same boy accidentally hits his head on the corner of a table, he will try to avoid it in the future since a behaviour producing existential harm will be repeated less frequently in similar situations.
Reconstruction through conditioning
A simple way to reconstruct a temporary behavioural system is to reward everything that belongs to the properties of symmetrical argumentation. An individual who becomes increasingly aggressive during a quarrel, to the point where he stands up to leave, but who then sits back down, can be rewarded for the latter behaviour in a non-verbal way (with a smile, for example) since it is an element of symmetrical argumentation. His corporality will interpret the smile as existentially positive, which can lead to the reconstruction of the ability to argue.
Two well-known methods are also related to conditioning, the "time-factor" and the "relocation-factor." An agent uses the time when he tries not to influence the receiver until he observes that the receiver has regained his capacity to respond to dialectic arguments. Likewise, he can take advantage of relocation by distancing the individual from the system of dialectic forces. He may propose, for example, to discuss the problem at another location (BOESCH 1971, THOMAE 1973).
Construction through conditioning
A human being is born as a behavioural system. Corporality dominates in the small child, who learns mainly through conditioning. For example, when he builds a sandcastle with other children (production), he expands his knowledge of existential objects (classic conditioning) and also learns which verbal expressions (communication) his peers (operant conditioning) understand. Thus, educators frequently use conditioning to promote the development of children’s communicative and productive skills.
Conditioning does have some risks. On the one hand, if it is excessive, it can create overly strong emotional dependencies. In cases in which the child does not receive a reward, he quickly loses interest, because the person motivates him more than the effort does. On the other hand, conditioning that serves as punishment runs the risk of unleashing aggression. For this reason, we have to agree with DREIKURS’s (1987) recommendation that the "natural consequences" of children’s behaviour is the preferable mean. If a child refuses to eat at the family mealtime, he will soon feel the effects of hunger and will modify his behaviour without becoming aggressive with his parents.
During the process of the child's intellectual development, conditioning becomes less important with respect to the other methods. Learning through models becomes more frequent and finally both methods will support only symmetrical argumentation.
Physical and chemical means
Definition: The agent does not verbally express arguments, but rather attempts to influence the receiver's behaviour indirectly through physical and chemical means. He uses the reciprocal effects between the properties of the receiver's corporality and organic or inorganic forces.
Even mutual argumentation uses the receiver's corporality, for example, his senses, as a means to activate internal argumentation. This also applies, although to a lesser degree, to learning through models and conditioning, because in both methods the receiver has more or less the possibility of consciously refusing to cooperate. But if the agent uses certain physical or chemical forces, he can obligate the receiver to follow his arguments and can destroy the receiver’s ability to influence or modify effects, in other words, to exercise his free will.
In view of the fact that the purpose of communication is to achieve symmetrical argumentation, we must reject most measures that form part of the productive sphere. Corporal punishment and torture, drugs and certain medications are examples of these physical or chemical means.
In the practice of life, physical or chemical forces are frequently used, whether to impose arguments or to reconstruct the capacity for argumentation. A rebellious child is spanked; a troubled individual is tranquilized with medications. These methods, which have the function of substituting communication, not only violate human dignity, but also involve unforeseen risks to the assurance of existence.
Additionally, we observe that they only have temporary effects on behaviour and do not influence reason on a long-term basis. Corporal punishment, for example, has often the ability to reconstruct only when the receiver feels pain or when the individual who carries out the punishment is present (REYNOLDS 1968).
We should also mention war, because during a war, physical and chemical forces replace argumentative communication. According to CLAUSEWITZ (1832/1834), war means to substitute political arguments with physical or chemical means. Using the moral criteria of equal rights and assurance of existence, there are no positive arguments except for a defensive war, because its function consists of responding, through physical or chemical forces, to the forces that threaten existence. Therefore, the purpose of a defensive war is to protect good living for all in order to return finally to peaceful argumentative communication.
Chapter VIII: Production and Consumption
Internal arguments and communication create and establish an exchange of knowledge. In the sphere of material production, nature's organic and inorganic forces are transformed and exchanged as systems of forces best suited to life: goods. (Throughout this chapter, recall that production uses resources, for which reason it is also consumption).
We have already mentioned production several times because each action contains elements of both production and consumption. The productive activities of corporality - physical and chemical - belong to the realm of internal argumentation. In communication, production and products support arguments.
Good living for all needs both communication and production. Individuals whose work is characterized by internal arguments and communication, namely, people who create or exchange knowledge, are neither superior nor inferior to people who produce or distribute organic or inorganic goods. Those who produce goods need the ideas of thinkers and communicators, who, in turn, require products. Both systems of forces are necessary sub-systems and have footing in the system of good living for all.
Production modifies a given organic or inorganic system of forces, orienting it toward a goal. If production is based on arguments, we refer to it as productive action, which is therefore characterized and structured by the six steps of the GACORE model (Figure 3): Internal action prepares production through the steps of goal, analysis and conception. External action creates favorable conditions (organization) and creates the product (realization). Internal action then evaluates the product and the production process (sixth step).
In a world of limited resources, this process generally occurs in interaction systems, either promoting or limiting others' action. Thus, both in production and consumption, we must technically and morally evaluate all products with the aid of the principles of the assurance of existence and equal rights.
Through collective production, all aspects of life structures are modified, not only those associated with material elements. In modern societies, not everyone participates equally in this ideal production process. The division of labor has been established in such a way that some people can conceive, plan and evaluate products while others implement plans in a mechanical way. The people in the first group develop their intellect while the second develop their corporality. Considering that reason characterizes humanity, we can say that conceiving and planning production are more human than is mere mechanical implementation.
Basic economic concepts
The conditions, means and effects of production influence every life structure. Its characteristics determine the existence of all members of society, for which reason the productive life technique must be accompanied by morality. This has to be a central point of a justified theory of production. For this reason we will not go into detail here about physical and chemical techniques but concentrate on the conditions under which producers work and consumers live.
The function of production is to assure good living for all. Fundamental is therefore the relation between the producer and the consumer. The place where producer and consumer come together is the market. In modern societies the money is the medium between both groups on the market. The definition of money as a mere medium is essential, because it demonstrates that the so called Capitalisme should not be the basic economic concept of societies.
Example: If the economic situation in a country is bad, the goverment can produce paper money as much as it wants in the hope to stimulate the economy. The Stock exchange, where the money is denominated capital, has in consecuence money in abundance, above all the banks as most important. The banks recieve the money, but they don´t have enough trustworthy clients to lend them it. In consecuence, they prefer to invest the money on the stock exchange, where the shares and bonds will climp and prosper, without sufficent contribution to the good life of the society in its totality.
For this reason, we have to focus on the economic concepts that use a market economy as basis, since this is a necessary outcome of our knowledge regarding the goals of man. The market is founded on the self-interest of producer (he wants the best price) and the self-interest of the consumer ( he wants the best product). Consequently, the market economy per se has not the sufficent effect of good living for all and we must evaluate the market economy using the moral criteria of justified action and develop proposals for its expansion and development.
The market economy is based on the idea of private property. The question is: Why do privately owned goods mean so much to the individual? Human nature (corporality) is a result of evolution in that surviving humans and other species used their organic and inorganic resources according to their self-interest (WICKLER & SEIBT 1977). Thus, human nature calls for the private possession of goods.
The universal desire of individuals to own private property is a permanent force in their nature that hinders equal rights. Nevertheless, it also provides a major advantage since it motivates the individual to produce goods. A person wants to consume goods or exchange them for others, driven by his own assurance or expansion of existence. This motivation is the basis of the market and its conception, the market economy (SCHMÖLDERS 1969, CLAUPEIN 1990).
Obviously, this is not the ideal. However, all attempts to overcome the human desire for private ownership, with the aid of reason, whether through early Christianity or the doctrine of Karl MARX (1844), have failed as social concepts (NELL-BREUNING 1969). A human being is an entity composed of nature and reason (or intelligence), for which reason the only practicable economic models are those that technically accept self-interest, but which are based in reason and morally associated with equal rights.
We choose as example the social market economy (MÜLLER-ARMACK 1946) as the basis for our study because it fulfills both conditions. As a market economy, it accepts self-interest; as a social system, it attempts to respect equal rights among individuals. But being - as all that human - an approximation, it needs to be critically analyzed. It can be critiqued by determining to what extent production and consumption can occur in ideal form and then compare.
An economy without self-interest?
A justified production and consumption system would be most likely in a society made up of members that are ideal action systems. In practice, however, these systems are non-existent. Like in the other spheres of our world of life, for example, in communication, the members of an economy are systems of behaviour and of action. The individual who always behave as an ideal action system exists only in theory. Nevertheless, this ideal economic individual performs a function that is existentially necessary, because he demonstrates the direction toward which each economy should develop.
We begin by defining the ideal producer and consumer (as beings composed of reason only) to later identify the limitations resulting from the properties and activities of their corporality. Ideal producers are absolute systems of action capable of technically and morally influencing all spheres of life. They have an equal relationship with consumers, for which reason they produce for others as they would produce for themselves. According to MARX (1844), the ideal producer has realized himself as an individual and as a social being in four areas:
(1) develops his own personality in his product;
(2) accepts the product consumer with absolute equality;
(3) enables the development of the consumer as an individual, as if it were he himself; and
(4) helps the consumer develop himself as a social being since through consumption of the product he relates himself with the consumer.
These aspects can also be applied to the ideal consumer: through consumption he develops as an individual and as a social being in that he consciously relates to the producer, at the same time enabling the producer to develop as an individual and a social being.
The ideal producer and consumer complement each other with absolute equality. This model - conceived by pure reason - is imaginable, but in real life corporality limits equality and symmetry among individuals.
The "ultimate truth" (PARSONS 1966) is that humans only live a certain amount of time, for which reason their ability to learn and act is limited. Thus, in modern societies, multiple existential needs can only be satisfied through specialized individuals, namely, through the division of labor followng more or less the general life structure (Figure 1).
Faced with needs and demands, each person is limited in his action and does not exhibit the same skills in all areas of production and consumption. Therefore, he must choose a sector of the life structure, especially with regard to the professional sphere. But in the society not all sectors are considered equally: a physician and a housepainter do not receive the same recognition or pay. Each has a distinct existential significance, which, from the perspective of the life technique, has a dialectic relationship with equality. Moreover, a human being can be limited in his production due to individual characteristics: as a child or a sick or elderly person. These people are incapable of producing or exchanging enough goods, they are not capable to participate sufficiently in a world of markets.
We should recall that, due to evolution, the principle of assurance of existence is linked to self-interest, which opposes this ideal. An organism that seeks the best for his own genetic material possesses the best existential possibilities, although this does not necessarily benefit others. Self-interest is the essential force of the individual, the driving force of behaviour, the source of enjoyment and happiness, the criterion for distinguishing between positive and negative forces. But from the point of view of humanity, it is both the basis of good living and an obstacle to good living for all.
We must therefore conclude that rigorously imposing the economic ideal of equal production and consumption could threaten collective existence and could bring about changes in society. Ideal production and consumption are limited by at least three human qualities: the limited life span; the individual's life process and characteristics; and the self-interest acquired during evolution.
In resumen: Ideal production can´t be the realistic concept of an economy. If one attempts to achieve the ideal at all costs (as demonstrated by historical experiences with the communism), he will face the hardest and intolerable restrictions of individual freedom, with decreased motivation for work, and even migration, because there would be no other way to satisfy needs.
An economy based only on self-interest?
Because the ideal of MARX excludes a basic force of production, namely self-interest as a driving force, the goals actually reached differ significantly from expected goals. Neither is the other extreme, the pure market economy, a justifiable concept. Accepting self-interest as the only criterion and excluding or ignoring the principle of equal rights, leads to the dominance of the strong (educated and capable of producing) over the weak.
If most producers were determined by the minority of highly trained individuals to be the only means of production (which is a normal consequence of a pure market economy) and were limited to assuring their existence, they would find themselves defined as general behavioural systems even though they are potential action systems. When producers perform only mechanically, their capacity for internal arguments, self-advice and argumentative communication is poorly developed. As producers and consumers, they are unfamiliar with the entity of interdependencies and do not give importance to the effects of their work, on the environment, for example.
Futhermore: Oriented only to self-interest, this market concept forget the needs of the helpless, of the individuals without the capacity to produce: elderly people, sick ones, children. No society can be based sufficiently on the concept of compassion of her members. The help to the helpness must be a elementary piece of his constitution, must be an obligation.
It has to be admitted, that from a perspective of societal development, the results of a pure market economy are attractive, when we do not consider the life of each individual but only the average quality of life. The quantitave success of a pure market economy is determined by the exclusive orientation of economic processes to consumer needs. The consumer's buying power is the result of his own production, compensated with money.
It is only because he has previously produced and sold his product - material or intellectual - that he can now acquire what he needs and desires. In this way, the market economy creates interest in all participating forces and integrates these forces into a production and consumption system which works as a market. To summarise, according to MÜLLER-ARMACK (1946), the market economy performs better than any full planned economy, better than any socialisme.
The market economy is based on the different life concepts of people and thereby promotes individualism, for which reason KEYNES (1936) believes it is "the best guarantee of personal liberty" and "the best guarantee for the expansion of life." Moreover, a very advanced technique needs creative training and promotes not only practical reason but also pure reason. Thus, in societies guided by the market economy, critical-moral potential increases, particularly in universities, as demonstrated by the student protests in developing countries.
KRASSIN (1989), who compares the market economy with the Soviet planned economy, highlights its effects on producers. It:
develops the capacity to adapt to technical changes in production;
increases business initiatives;
trains highly qualified workers who aspire to democratic freedoms and who are interested in developing their personalities to spiritually enrich their lives.
These judgments may seem overly positive because the idea was to propagate the Western economic system in the Soviet Union of the time, but KRASSIN is describing the situation in countries in which there is both a market economy and democracy. These are countries in which there is no real pure market economy, because citizens and their constitution are influenced by reason and not only by self-interest. An example of such a country is Germany, ruled economically and politically as "Social Market Economy".
The Social Market Economy
The social market economy was developed as a result of the criticisms of the communist economy and the alarming effects of the pure market economy. It was politically established in West Germany after the W.W.II, especially by Ludwig ERHARD, who relied on the concepts of his collaborator, MÜLLER-ARMACK (1946). We will summarize MÜLLER-ARMACK's basic arguments here to demonstrate how they coincide with a justified theory of life technique:
- We cannot choose a political-economic solution that contradicts the central values we advocate. Therefore, we must determine whether the market economy corresponds to the economic and social goals we consider basic to our democratic system. These new forms do not originate from individual ideas, but from intellectual collaboration. The goal is to achieve a synthesis of the economic and the social.
- It means that we accept the market economy as basic. However, it is not a liberal market economy but is rather consciously guided by social criteria. There are possibilities for social policy in the productive increase of the economy, in the relationship among individuals with private property, in the promotion of private homes and subdivisions, as well as in the assurance of existence of artisans and small business owners.
- In the long term, market and social policy provide together a better foundation for a justified social order than do the concepts of the pure or planned (communist) market economies.
The social market economy is oriented toward both self-interest and equal rights. While it has proven effective, we should still note that the MÜLLER-ARMACK-conception of a social market economy, and consequently, its realization, contains some deficiencies as compared to the demands of justified action. This is one reason, why it has not satisfactorily fulfilled its task. Consequently, we believe that it is necessary to enumerate the main deficiencies in order to stimulate solutions. The concepition of a social market economy is not a static one, it is dynamic, adapting the state of conditions and possibilities.
1. The social aspect is limited to the assurance of existence.
MÜLLER-ARMACK (1946) conceives the social aspect mainly in relation to the assurance of existence of those who do not have adequate conditions for the market, for example, children, the sick and the elderly. But if we recall that the goal of the members of society is not only to reach the assurance but also the (cultural) expansion of existence, this will not be enough to attain good living for all.
The properties and activities of production, in the public opinion more or less worthy in terms of their existential value, have not received sufficient attention. If in a society characterized by the division of labour, young people are trained for their future profession, whether it is theoretical or practical, we will find adults prepared for only one of the two options. Therefore, there are individuals who can set goals, critically analyse conditions and develop concepts; while there are others, the majority, who are limited to creating outputs. The majority needs the former as guides, but the former can and want (due to self-interest) not only to lead but to dominate.
2. A concept opposing the division between employees and entrepreneurs is necessary.
We should reduce the radical division between employees/workers and executives/owners. Both notions contain something offensive, because they imply a hierarchical relationship: some give work while others receive it.
Consequently, the social market economy would have to develop strategies so that all could participate in their businesses in financial and organizational terms. Among all the arguments of our theory, none contradicts the thesis that the ideal business is composed only of entrepreneurs, in other words, of individuals who understand the properties and activities of their production and know how to use this production, thereby developing themselves as human beings (MARX). Naturally, the inequalities in achieving a good life will then not disappear in totality. However, this is a goal toward which the community can orient its economic organization.
3. A program is needed to address the isolation of producers from consumers.
A concept must also be developed that attempts to eradicate the isolation of producers and consumers and that increases the possibilities for justified action. Until this becomes a goal, economic science can maintain as a basic perspective - in a society that seeks to increase the assurance of existence and equal rights - that the only reason for the market is for consumers to obtain the maximum benefit and producers the maximum earnings (SIEBERT 1989). In this case, both producers and consumers act guided only by self-interest rather than as individuals who are concerned with others' good living.
In general, we can say that the producer and the consumer have fulfilled the demands of justified action when both are satisfied with the exchange. If this is not accepted as a basic criterion in economic theory, then the model is not oriented to good living for all. Reciprocal exploitation, inherent in a pure market economy, is simply the logical consequence of this selfish goal of producers to obtain maximum earnings and that of consumers to buy under the selfish most favourable conditions.
4. The equal rights of future generations do not receive enough attention.
In the original conception of the social market economy by MÜLLER-ARMACK, the idea of equal rights is limited to present-day producers and consumers. But future generations have the same right to control current consumption of the limited resources. The Categorical Imperative of KANT is valid not only at every place but at every time. This does not mean we have to rename the social market economy as "ecological market economy", since the social aspect therefore includes the future. Because the social market economy is a dynamic conception, we can and have to include consciously the future-oriented perspective.
5. The social market economy is understood as a national concept.
National economies have the selfish goal of importing low-cost products and exporting their own products at high costs. These economies cannot successfully respond to the growing universal problems of migration to richer countries, deterioration of the environment, climatic changes as well as scarcity of water and food.
The national economy of an industrialized country, in which wages permit the assurance and expansion of existence, will take advantage of less developed economies, in which wages barely cover the needs to assure existence. A highly industrialized country takes advantage of the cheap manual labour of these countries to obtain the products it needs. Even a social market economy, if it considers only national borders and is exclusively oriented to the good living of its members, will justify the development and promotion of concepts that attempt to take advantage of the cheap manual labour of developing countries.
This economy would therefore accept the idea of depriving these people of increased training, so that they will continue to manufacture simple products destined for consumption in industrialized countries. The industrialized countries, for their part, prepare their citizens for internal action through intensive training, with the goal of assuring that their intellectual capacity results in the most advanced products.
These conditions are unjustifiable not only because it does not eliminate universal problems but also because it makes them worse and creates new problems due to this separation into independent national economies. A characteristic example: the owners of the surplus capital of industrialized countries can escape the necessary national taxes deposing it in countries without taxes. The majority of the citizens, especially blue-collar workers, have to compensate for this by paying increasingly high taxes.
There is one response to the globalisation of economic problems: National social economies must be transformed into a controlled global social market economy.
Chapter IX: Model of Life Technique.
Looking back and summarizing we conclude that we have built a theory of life technique, which means, that this theory is not an arbitrary one but a system of thoughts conscious of human life.
We are learning from KANT that the human spirit, as reason, not only is capable of analysing the realities of life, as DARWIN did, but beyond that to create the concepts of a better living. The man, guided by his reason, is able to find and realize a better life than animals or plants: a life formed in individuality but at the same time protected in the community, because in the human world it is not necessary that the strong dominates the week, but that equals rights are guiding the interactions.
If we consider the theory of life technique in its entirety, as a system of contents and forms, we ask: What are the most important elements? We identify them by recalling the conditions nature imposes on us, the agreements between the individuals as part of the community, by recalling the instruments created through these conditions and agreements. To say, first the models of content (life structure, life concept) and then the models of form (self-advice, argumentative communication and of production based on arguments).
A. The invariable conditions imposed by nature
A theory that has the goal of ordering and configuring reality and human possibilities must accept the invariable conditions of human life imposed by nature. From this perspective, the theory is based on the observation of a given reality.
An individual is the result of natural evolution. His life is limited. He lives in a world of scarce resources and behaves according to his self-interest. His conduct is therefore oriented to achieving goals. He aims to assure or expand his existence, taking into account that the conditions of the world of life act in either an additive or a dialectic fashion. The assurance of existence necessarily obeys the conditions of nature, while the expansion of existence is characterized in addition by spiritual liberty.
The individual and his environment form a system, the world of life, whose processes are characterized by their reciprocal effects. Existential functions structure each world of life. Through his intellectual capacity, an individual can modify his environment and own nature, but given that his knowledge is relative, he can only know the human world, not the world per se. Approximations characterize reality and theories of action.
An action has six steps, three of which have the function of recognizing (goal, analysis, conception) and three of modifying (organization, realization, evaluation). Internal action creates and uses existential knowledge in the form of arguments, processes in which both the properties and activities of corporality and reason intervene. An individual prepares, controls and evaluates external action, which in turn has repercussions on his internal action. External action encompasses communication, production and consumption. Communication creates and exchanges knowledge, production manufactures material goods and consumption uses them.
B. The variable agreements imposed by human society
Not all necessary knowledge is to be acquired through observation of nature and by complying with nature. Equal rights, as an ethical standard, is a case in point, opposed to the laws of nature. To impose such standards, we need agreements between the individuals, between the societies.
When discussing these agreements, which exist in the form of customs and laws, we will limit ourselves to the principles that could be the moral basis of good living for all in all places at all times: the principles of assurance of existence and equal rights determine what is morally justified.
If we comprehensively analyse the conditions imposed by nature and possible agreements between individuals, we acknowledge the following: We will never live in harmony with nature because in it, the strong dominate the weak, death awaits all living things. Nevertheless, we can aspire to the goal that no individual will live worse than necessary and die before his time. The methodological and content constructions, which we propose as models of action will have this function.
The general structure of life technique
Each problem is an alteration in the system of forces that the individual forms with his environment. Therefore, the agent must identify all the forces which, by being activated or eliminated, can resolve the problem, by content or by form.
To the content are dedicated the models life structure and life concept, to the form the models self-advice, argumentative communication and of production or consumption based on arguments.
The models of form are all oriented to the six steps of action. We begin by clarifying the goal (Recognition of the goal). We then classify the conditions as favourable or unfavourable (Analysis) and ultimately reach the concept of the solution in the form of a maxim (Conception). To achieve the maxim, we organize the conditions necessary (Organization), activate the forces that lead to the solution (Realization) and we appraise, maintain and expand the result (Evaluation).
The self-advice is a competence of the agent himself, is a competence of his internal argumentation. Therefore, it is characterized as a perfect symmetrical argumentation and the agent uses, with himself, the method called Pure argumentation. But if the communication is directed to other people, we have to distinguish between action systems and behavioural systems, to employ the corresponding types of communication and method.
If the goal is to produce goods, we subdivide the environment into the organic and inorganic nature, that is into the Organic system and Inorganic system. The corresponding types of production are the Spatial modification and the Material modification. The spatial modification has physical techniques as methods, the material modification has chemical ones.
Figure N° 5: Structure and elements of life technique
Important is the affirmation that an individual who argues (with himself or others) about the contents and methods of a sphere is stimulated to explain, or at least define, the other spheres of the problem and include them in his argumentation. An individual who realizes a concept through production is likewise obligated to conceive the product as a part of good living for all. In this way, certain gaps are identified in the common discussion of practical life: very often products or texts are qualified as positive or negative without considering or mentioning the technical and moral criteria's of this appraisal.
Our structure of just action not only demonstrates this force in practical life but also in the sciences. Scientific experiments and theories of existential value can be interpreted as systems of argumentation. With the aid of the six steps of an action, we can order and appraise theoretical knowledge, asking for example: Does this theory try to describe the reality of the world (analysis) without considering or mentioning the other spheres of the analysed problem and the moral basis of the description?
Our model covers our world of life in its entirety; consequently, it can contribute to achieving good living for all in every sphere of action (in interactions, institutions, organizations and society), among individuals and between individuals and nature. Thus the agent not only develops as an individual, but also has justified effects on other individuals, institutions and organizations, and even on society.
The model helps to uncover the existential, but relative, importance of all systems of forces and provides the criteria for each individual to choose, according to his own life concept, among the possibilities and restrictions of the systems. That decreases all superfluous and unjustified power. At the same time, it strengthens all individuals who have the intention and force of following their examined maxims and to act justified by content and form.
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Elucidation of the theory through its application
Our life, the world we live in, is understood most deeply by someone who grasps it as a pattern of forces (theory of visism). Forces cause or solve the problems of life. NEWTON already recognised how all forces form a coherent system, HEGEL recognised that in that system the naturally occurring forces act on each other. KANT proved that man can release himself from naturally occurring forces; he can invent new forces and bring them to fruition in the world he lives in. In that way he determined and fixed the equality of rights of all men in their claim to a good life.
So the common good life is the measure by which the theory of the technique of living recognises, orders, and evaluates all forces. The theory shows that among the many forces especially health, love, freedom and material strength – money – are those that make for a good life which determines both security of existence and what goes beyond that, that is to say, expansion of our existence. Only he who brings that forces to a positive impact for himself and others can be lastingly satisfied and happy – with the help of (self)education and (self)training.
Linking the theory of visism, the theory of forces, with what is a given of evolution for man, his existential relativism, protects us from getting lost in unprovable speculation (for example, the “ideas” of Plato, which he claimed are unchanging and independent of man). Rather it is true that what everyone can know by experience and reflection can be brought into a logically coherent system, hence in effect a philosophical one that serves the common good life.
The self-interest of all living beings is a given of evolution without which evolution would not at all be possible, and so it is the pre-condition and characteristic of human life. Whether and how self-interest is directed is therefore the basic question in every explanation of human conduct and action. Cui bono?, who benefits? was asked already by the Romans. It is therefore clear that the goal cannot be to abrogate things already known, already written, but to develop criteria of examination to be able to decide which knowledge is valuable for life techniques and hence for solving problems. (However, nothing is totally useless, it can always be regarded as expansion of human existence).
Summary of the theory
In the book there is an exposition and justification of the idea that in the world of man six basic forces are to be distinguished: one’s own intelligence/reason, one’s own corporeality, the others’ intelligence/reason, the others’ corporeality, and finally the organic and inorganic environments. That is illustrated by a hexagon in whose area the reciprocal effects take place. But every person has his individual force-field, his own life structure which is linked in community in a general life structure.
For the technique of life it is not essential whether reason and corporeality exist separated from each other, but it serves for the good life if we think of them as distinguishable. Each person experiences that he can direct his feelings, a force of his corporeality, with the help of reason, a force of his intelligence.
If we ask about the relative effects on life of those six basic forces, we can, with PARSONS, give this structure: one’s own and others’ intelligence/reason creates in particular culture and community in which each can develop as a personality; on the other hand corporeality effects via its characteristics, for example through feelings, activities, by movement; the organic environment conspicuously through animals and plants, the inorganic though objects, landscape, climate.
All forces constitute a unity (a system). In that unity through reciprocal effects of the six basic forces are constituted almost without limit many individual forces, of which, as written above, four characterise our life: health, love, freedom, and material force such as money.
Conduct or action
The effects of the forces on each other man perceives as desirable or undesirable tasks, that is as problems, which he himself creates or which come to him. As challenges they require conduct from him, in the best case consciously and in a planned way, that is, his action. Every action has its content and needs a method (a text is the content of action, a method is his reading). Contents and methods are to be applied in the six steps of each action.
First in internal action, that is, reflection: starting with finding a goal, analysis, planning; then in external action, in focus a performance: organisation, realisation, evaluation. With that structure, as justified in the book, basically all problems in the world of the life of man are to be handled. Another two features (forces) should be named since they operate in all the steps of an action: the fine structure from the point of view of method. Every step, for example analysis, has its own goal-finding, analysis, planning, organisation, realisation, evaluation, which means that each of the six steps can be divided into six steps. And so on, if necessary.
Applications ordered with the help of the general "structure of living"
Conduct we define as an action if it is based on arguments. Actions are possible only for man, animals and plants have conduct. If we were to make contact at some time with extraterrestrial living beings, they would have the same rights as human beings if they were open to arguments.
Religion and belief are inaccessible to reason and its argumentation. For example, natural sciences can neither prove not refute the existence of God. The various religions therefore each construct their system from incomprehensible things, from miracles that can be believed or not. Religions are to be understood as more or less distinguishable attempts to grasp a world-force; also in the hope of security of existence after death. As early as the Gilgamesh epic, written more than 3,000 years ago, the hero wants to achieve immortality in order to overcome his own death.
But we must understand: rats directed through a labyrinth do not understand that direction. The intellectual difference between rats and human beings is, however, almost infinitely smaller than that between human beings and that world-force named God. So what can man know of that force? Why there is matter, why genetic material strives for survival and expansion, why human beings came into existence in that way, why therefore self-interest is an inextinguishable characteristic; after all no man can answer those questions.
For enlightened religions that ignorance, which of its very nature is true for atheists too, means that focus is on moral education, that is, on the equality of all men, and on help to making a good life on earth so as to be a force against material and intellectual poverty. From that ignorance it also follows that religions that claim to be in sole possession of the absolute truth persecute or murder people of a different faith, and are invincibly opposed to a theory of life technique that has as its goal a good life for all. That is true, for example, of the persecution of Christians by Jews in the late Persian Empire and for the incomprehensible murder of Jews by Christians in the Second World War.
But since we have known that we are results of evolution, formed by the principle that what enables our survival and secures our existence is the truth, in all the sciences, including the natural sciences, our thinking has to be governed by the relativity of truth. A meteor that blows up on reaching earth, destroying everything in its proximity, does that silently if there are no organs that have developed in such a way that they can “hear” its force and effects. Another example: an apple seems to us to be “red”, ripe and tasty because that has shown itself to be favourable to our life, to our genetic material and its expansion. Whoever cannot perceive any colours is at an existential disadvantage. For the sciences, for example for philosophy, the consequence is that all knowledge that is not relative for human beings, claimed to be absolute and independent, can now only be a part of the history of science.
Human truth exists only relative to the human being. That must distinguish a philosophy today from SOCRATES, PLATO, ARISTOTLE up to KANT and HEGEL. The categorical imperative of KANT (act only in such a manner that it could be valid as a general law), which we have made easier to grasp through the principle of security of existence, makes that clear. It can in reality be an approximation to knowledge that serves man. For example, a white lie to save a person’s life is justified, in contrast to what KANT claims.
But what makes KANT’s ethics unique and superior is the basis, namely the conceived separation of practical and pure reason. Pure reason considers not what actually exists and happens in the world, but what would be if man existed as only reason, as an unchangeable force. Then no man would have an individual corporeality with its ephemeral feelings and varied talents. Then everyone would be only reason and hence everyone equal.
However, the categorical imperative till today is assessed by most of his critics as inefficient “formalism” because it names none of the individual problems of man as contents, while a free thinker recognises its essential contents: the categorical imperative deals in the first place only with reason, so only with human beings; in the second place it deals with all human beings without distinction. So the categorical imperative recognises a right the same for all, equality.
One more thing is not sufficiently recognised by traditional philosophy. Respecting equality is indeed a duty, and that is how – felt negatively – the categorical imperative is almost entirely interpreted. However, it opens up freedoms and chances. Act in such a way that is consonant with your needs and wishes, but avoid hurting yourself and others, help them when necessary. That is the general, more realistic law of equality.
Ancient writings show that that fundamental right was known about, but that it almost without exception contradicted the self-interest of the mighty. That is how it was expressed in 2000 BC in a Babylonian hymn: For seven days the slave woman was equal to her mistress, the slave walked with his master, in my city the mighty and the lowly slept side by side. Whether ancient Greece, where women and slaves were excluded from equality, can still be admired as the birthplace of democracy, should probably be reconsidered. Similar things can be said of the volks-thing of the Germanic peoples, in which only the free men were allowed to participate.
The revolutionary significance of the categorical imperative lies in that very point, the right to a good life on the basis of equality. That makes it a measure independent of time, valid in the past (the “great men” Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon are to be evaluated as power hungry, covetous, merciless mass murderers); in the present (the life of a person has the same value everywhere, whether on the Nile or the Thames); and in the future (unexplainable except as self-interest, that in future this will still be possible: a government, a few persons, decide on war, possibly against a despot ruling his helpless people, and then the war costs an unforeseeable number of lives among the innocent people).
Among the essential characteristics of evolution is that everything living must be self-interested in order to preserve itself and to be able to pass on its genetic material. That is valid for human beings too, though they are from birth dependent for those purposes on the community. Since both of those things are characteristic of man, self-interest has to be a basic problem given by nature within the community.
If self-interest is inherited as a core of the human being, it is different with equality. In today’s Iraq, over 4,000 years ago, the ruler was an early social reformer, Urukagina. He called himself the protector of widows and orphans; he forbade exploitation of the poor by the rich. Our finding: morality, as respect for equality in the claim to a good life, is not inherited; it has to be handed on to every newborn. Hence the task of education arises. Its procedure is arduous (through argumentation, being a model, praise and criticism), and yet the inborn unscrupulous self-interest again and again succeeds in dominating. Education, since its content is morality, is characterised by conflicts; training for a life in technology is not to the same extent.
Hence another insight is that the reality in a democracy can be only an approximation to the ideal. Not the idea of democracy is wrong, it is based on equality, but it becomes imperfect because of the citizens in their self-interest in every area. That argument can also be put forward by the models of communism, of socialism. But the essential difference consists of control through free elections. Whoever – in a democracy – is elected on the basis of unfulfillable promises, which is all the easier the less educated the voters are, risks being voted out by the disappointed. You can indeed win elections with half-truths and untruths, but not rule for long with them. But being voted out is contrary to the self-interest of the one elected. So in a democracy there is an added check by the voters through the self-interest of the rulers.
If a society is democratic, that form of state has the additional task of struggling against excessive controls. Just that distinguishes democracy from dictatorships. Excessive here means every control that does not contribute to the common good life. The basis for that is a reciprocal effect directed by reason, therefore dependent on education, between the life structures and the life concepts of the members and the overarching structure of society, right down to its legal foundation.
In that we see the general problem of many developing countries. For the transition from despotic or dictatorial systems to democratic ones there is usually a lack of education among the people. Self-interest is a given as a characteristic of every corporeality; recognition of equality on the other hand is a force that arises from reason. And reason is above all a result of education.
Democracy has to come from within, it cannot be forced from outside. From within, that is a very lengthy process lasting generations, because it depends on education, best achieved by small, careful steps from despotism via dictatorship to democracy. Whoever wants to impose democracy from outside by violence exposes himself to the arguments that he is either “simple-minded” or dependent on political-economic, or on religious grounds. Probably on a hodge-podge of things that contains something from all of them.
What is to be done if taking wars from outside into a country is ineffective or disastrous because the “liberated” people, uneducated in the short and long term, does not know what to do with the results? The government changes, but not the basic inability to use democracy. The number of refugees to the industrialised states grows even bigger, because the deceptive, probably short-lived freedom in the ensuing disorder can also be exploited in that way.
More valid would be: enduring development aid can be brought about by political and economic pressure on the ruling powers there. Such pressure should demand and promote a modern, democratic education; after all, it brings about – with sufficient probability – a basically better life for all in the more or less distant future. That is the continuation of war by other, more legitimate means. However it would be one-eyed to overlook that it must be difficult for the self-interest of the exporting industrialised countries and their citizens to actually help technologically in a lasting manner the increasingly competitive developing countries.
Of the four fundamental forces (health, love, freedom, material goods) the material, whether as product or money, is particularly important for security of existence, but also for expansion of existence in all areas. So every community needs an economic system. That works best, measured against the good life, when it is based on the market economy; on the market, whether a vegetable market or a complex financial one, the self-interest of the buyer runs up against the self-interest of the vendor, so the product and its price can be reciprocally negotiated.
Social market economy, capitalism in the market economy, or a planned economy?
What is necessary for life is the production and consumption of goods. Between them money functions as a general means of exchange. So money comprises only a part of economic processes.
But because of its universality money – especially paper money – can be conceived of as independent of production and consumption and accordingly be used independently – as capital. Its market, the capital market and its conception in capitalism, can therefore flourish almost detached from the state of the economy as a whole, independently of the quality of life of the population in its majority. That proves that capitalism cannot be the justified basic and economic form of a society. It is lacking the moral foundations needed to qualify as a general system according to the categorical imperative, that is, to serve the good life of all citizens.
A socially directed market, on the other hand, can basically do justice to the claims of people to a good life. It encompasses as a market economy production, consumption, and also the money economy and – committed to the common good life – the solution of social problems, especially security of existence of those individuals who cannot look after themselves, who are lacking marketability: children, the sick, the old, and those unable to work.
A social market economy is necessary for the ecology too, because it regards future persons as having equal rights, and so it pays attention to sustainability. So a social market economy is the best security against the risks of globalisation; it aims to provide every citizen with the basic ability to be able to take care of his own security of existence and expansion of life in a flexible way. Educated in that way, the citizen is most able to do justice to his striving for a good life, in a global future too, through exchange of his intellectual or material production and products.
We should not overlook that a social market economy is not a rigid model. Its concrete form and its possibilities are dependent on the conditions of a society. To the needy only that can be given only which is available as superfluities, as taxes. But only he can pay levies and taxes who has more than what is necessary for the security of his own existence. The more economically viable, the more wealthy persons there are, the better it is for the non-viable ones.
Hence the question must be asked why the development of a social market economy is even being hindered. Here too we see self-interest at work. It is obvious that capitalistically organised enterprises, which are therefore less burdened by social levies and socially oriented legislation, have better chances of gaining high profits for their owners. And certainly, as proved by history, to the basic disadvantage of the workers. It was not until the uniting in trade unions – almost two thousand years AD – that that could be changed. In addition: whoever has achieved big profits with low taxation prefers to be celebrated as a generous donor and benefactor rather than to have paid anonymously taxes aiming at welfare.
The “planned economy”, a counter-concept especially to the market economy, means the directing of the economy of a country in a centralised way and by functionaries on hierarchically descending levels. It is basically an ideal model with a social orientation, so to say of pure reason, which in reality has to fail because of corporeality, the individual self-interest of man. Who, when there are no free elections, controls the self-interest of the controllers? Socialists confuse cause and effect when they describe the first fenced-in private property as the beginning, the cause of social inequality. Castle and key, fence and city wall serve first of all as protection against aggressive self-interest of others.
In our world of scarcity of many resources and of self-interest of all persons it is basically difficult for each individual to attain a good life. So it will have negative consequences if we live from day to day without a plan. Whether it is a search for attractive jobs or an attractive partner, the advantage will be with him who fashions his present and future according to a thought-through “life concept”, a life concept by which he determines individually and flexibly what he himself must do, wants, and justifiably may do – and keeps aiming at that.
With our life concept each of us sets the individual meaning of our life, and to a great extent we ourselves determine that. Security of existence is a given of our nature, expansion of existence on the other hand we must ourselves create in its goals. Hence in our concept of life, in the system made up by the goals of a person, both necessity and relative freedom merge.
Being pleased with achieving our own individual goals and realising them is what makes for satisfaction, happiness. Major goals we basically reach step by step. Step by step, as on a staircase, we get closer to them. So we are conscious that momentary happiness has its best meaning only if it constitutes a mosaic stone in the picture we are striving for of a successful life, and momentary unhappiness is easier to bear if it does not smash that mosaic.
In a world of self-interest we should not be an independent satellite, but rather a “sun”. The point is not to make our good life dependent on other people alone. Each of us should live – nearly independent as a “sun” – our own life too. However, a partnership will probably be more stable if the life structures interpenetrate, if the partners have as many common elements as possible.
To become a “sun” is also a leading thought in education and training for the good life. Even at the pre-school level security of existence is indeed the basic thing, but expansion of existence must be achieved individually. Independence, the freedom to live by one’s own goals, is what constitutes the good life and should be prepared, promoted right from the beginning.
Learning is closer to self-interested security of existence than education which tries to reshape self-interest in a social direction. So education is more conflict-ridden, and hence as well as the fundamental methods of argumentation, learning of models, and conditioning, particular importance is placed on “management of conditions”. Then the conditions shape directly, but the educators not directly, which lessens the resistance of the adolescents.
Even being a “sun” was – and is – never a characteristic feature of the majority. Since the earliest times men have sought a leader, above all on the grounds of security of existence, but then he raised himself above them, made them his subjects – expanding his own existence as an “aristocrat” – exploited them, sent them to war and death. Napoleon is an almost incomprehensible example of that. After the hundreds of thousands of dead in the Russian campaign, whose purpose it was, as he himself said, to lift his own fame, he succeeded in a short time in winning the French people for himself again and making them enthusiastic for his wars.
So: an individual fighter, an outsider, or a member of a network, that is, a member in a union of forces? Outsiders are freer and more creative (as explained in the book, through the difference between pure reason, socially less dependent, and practical reason) but often endangered in their existential security (Mozart was an outsider, Haydn in the network). Members of a network support each other (security of existence) and promote each other (expansion of existence). But they also limit, because the common consent characteristically diminishes the chances of the particular, the unique (Bruckner’s friends worsened-improved his groundbreaking symphonies).
An argument against the basic self-interest of man is the readiness of a few to risk their life for others. Why does a fireman put his life at risk? In non-human nature that is unknown toward others. So it is basically linked with the unique intelligence of man. That enables him to feel the suffering of another living thing as his own and – empathy arises from reciprocal effect of corporeality and intelligence – to try to save someone. A necessary force in that is the concrete perception of the person addressed. That explains why among educated, morally trained people killing is rare, while in wartime, for example, men firing cannons and bomber pilots hardly show inhibitions. On the atom bomb directed at people in Japan was written: “With love and kisses”.
The good life has as its basis corporeality, so death is waiting for all life. That shows that our world of life is not marked by an “eternal cycle” (NIETZSCHE) but by a temporal beginning and a temporal end. Points of time in the past are to be defined as systems of forces that no longer exist. For a human being looking back, only approximations are possible. The worldwide life structures of man at any chosen point of time can be known and described only in a very abbreviated form. The limitation to what is still visibly influential today from the past, is the sort of approximation of the scholarship of history.
The future should be defined as a system of forces that do not yet exist. Here all the more only approximations are possible. It is a part of the essence of the future that it goes beyond human power of knowledge, because the future will consist of force systems that have arisen not only from necessities – their results are easier to predict – but also from a share of human freedom and other unpredictable contingencies.
Between the past and the future lies the present. Since the world as a system of forces is incomprehensible for the human intellect and as well quickly changes, even the present can be defined only subjectively and relatively. The present is for a person what he himself knows and feels individually.
Man has evolved from nature. The theory of evolution teaches us that most probably it was that living being (including man) which generated offspring if it best secured its existence by reacting best to the forces, the conditions of its environment. The human being of today therefore has a fundamental interest in not having those conditions altered in a dangerous way. Impacts on the environment are to be examined particularly critically and to be implemented only carefully. Only when they mean enduring security of existence or expansion of existence, judged by the measure of the common good life, are they justified.
Environmental problems that arise due to the complex reciprocal effects of man and nature are global dangers. Depletion of raw materials and enlargement of raw materials, deforesting or intensive farming, do not only bring advantages for the good life, they also mean risks for man and animal. Industrialisation brings with it existential problems if it involves pollution of the atmosphere. Chinese landing at a west-European airport in 2015 only hesitantly take off bit by bit their breathing protection, wondering at the unaccustomed positive quality of the air.
We are becoming more and more aware of the twofold relationship to animals, in particular to animals as food for human beings. Whoever lives in proximity to animals notices in them likenesses to humans. A cat lost its partner through death, and the dea one was buried quite deep under a stone slab, imperceptibly for the cat, apparently imperceptibly. Days later it showed the humans what it knew. It leapt onto the slab, marked it, and started a dance never seen before. For joy, for lamentation? It could not say – and there is the difference, in speech. However: in our world of approximations the following argument is not easy to rebut: if, according to KANT, equality is valid even for stupid humans, why should it not be valid for intelligent animals? Still now or forever man’s self-interest rates man before everything in the world.
Translation: Trevor Steeele
F I G U R E S
THE LIFE STRUCTURE
The life structure represents the human world of life as a system of forces ordered through functions that differentiate it in the systems of culture, community, personality, corporality and environment. Each system is divided into sub-systems, spheres and its elements.
STRUCTURE AND ELEMENTS OF LIFE TECHNIQUE
- Action steps: 1. Goal 2. Analysis 3. Conception 4. Organization 5. Realization 6. Evaluation
Problems and its solution by action it is about recognition and modification. Characteristic of recognition are the steps Goal, Analysis and Conception. Characteristic of modification are the steps Organization, Realization and Evaluation.
Every action serves of assurance or expansion of existence, so the good life. Since every person has the right to good life, every action is measured: equal rights and assurance of existence.
- Action types: Self-advice or communication or production/consumption
We distinguish between internal and external action. Internal action takes theformof arguing with itself, as self-advice. External actions are done in the form of communicating or producing.
(Figures 1 - 14 are published in: Peter Baltes, Critical Theory of Good Living. ISBN 3-631-54320-4: US-ISBN 0-8204-7768-0)