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Friday, April 07, 2006

Where Changing My Thinking Came From

Dialogue encourages the identification and even emulation of alternate ways of thinking and making new interpretations of meaning and raw experience.

I found the Sapir-Whorf theory when I was in college, and decided to base an independent study communication class on it. The reason I created the class is that I had a devil of a time understanding Benjamin Lee Whorf's book, "Language, Thought & Reality," where he tried to articulate the cultural conceptual differences between a number of North American indigenous languages in quick succession. I could read the words which were easy enough to understand, but I just did not compute what he was talking about. This fascinated me. I studied and studied, but I realized that I had to go elsewhere to find a new way to make sense of what Whorf was saying. I figured my inability to understand his writing was because of my pretty much complete cultural bias - although I was fluent in Spanish at the time.

So I went out on a sort of "quest" to learn how to get beyond my mono-cultural orientation. I realized that part of changing had to do with uncovering assumptions. So I sought out that activity - even demanded it. I stumbled onto Edward De Bono. I figured sooner or later I'd reach a critical mass where my own capacity to understand alternate ways of thinking would become more flexible. I made a point of learning to emulate other people's ways of thinking that were unique to their circumstances - even to the point of befriending "crackpots" that nobody else would put up with.

Meanwhile, I also studied with John Lilly, inter-species communicator, and got to attend a workshop by him and even got to hang out in his isolation tank for a few hours. I eventually stumbled onto "Don't Shoot the Dog," which is a book on the art of communicating non-verbally by the use of reinforcement in training, [animals] by Pryor. With enough practice at stretching my mind around ways of thinking that were unfamiliar and didn't involve the language I knew, I could finally abstract and explain to others the concepts in Whorf's book.

Instead of a term paper, I created this enormous time-line of all the ideas in a sort of an associative graph of the process I followed to document how I spent my time during this class.

What I learned from all that? I'll write more about that later...

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