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  leading mind as originality that is granted
demic efficacy

gary e. davis
August 18, 2017

What “leading” mind “is” is an endless question about the other, for one’s own learning that is to never end, since—even at death—one’s work may be efficacious for others’ “endless” learning—for those who lead themselves beyond works of the dead, thanks to that work—maybe.

“Maybe” is immortal.

Whatever one’s sense of leading mind, it’s always regionally relative. Even the classical gods were defined relative to focal importances. Bundling all the gods into facets of One was conceptually inevitable (first inspired by the singularity of our star: The Sun, in the 14th century BCE), which became a lovely legacy of folkore for Abrahamic religions (epochally as neo-Platonic theology, which is a Christian tropology), antedated by dreams of conceptual ultimacy in ever progressive modernities of academia.

Regional relativity seems best conceived as tropological, due to the range of relevant regionality: conceptual, domainal (re: inquiry, works, and discourse about works), educational (age-appropriately learned), cultural (audience relative), and political (demographic).

Any appropriately singular conception would be multi-regionally prospective. A multi-regional notion of leadership (or trans-regional notion) is certainly prospective (though there’s a vast literature on leadership, obviously, especially oriented to business and politics). Indeed, a general conception of leadership is probably specious. In any case, a general conception would have to appreciate resonance of differences (multiple regions) in singularity (trans-regionality). Any notion of trans/multi-regionality is certainly a prospective identity-in-difference, so to speak.

But prospecting is ever appealing. To be brief, I’ll sketch here six trans-/multi- foci: care, design, exemplarity, nobility (i.e., in a phrase: virtuous altruism), demophilia (more than love of The People), and appropriativity (or pragmatic efficacy).

care: Most simply, I think, an ethic of care endeavors to be (enable, advance, and promote) effective heartfulness. Michael Slote is exemplary. Sociologically, this ethic is implicit to Robert Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart, and, of course, Heidegger’s Being and Time, whose late-life What Is Called Thinking? focused ultimately on “heartfulness.”

design: Recalling the scale of humanity sketched in earlier sections—from organized flourishing to a nebulous sense of ecologically flourishing humanity—and regarding mindfulness as the scale of minding, than proffering a conception of mindfulness as ecological design would be a large-scale project indeed (surely beyond the history of philosophy). It’s at least about translating a high-scalar Conversation into high-scalar practicality. A challenge of the pretense might inspire all ventures to learn just how to do better with—so to speak—ecogenic thinking (which I’ve not yet focused on, as such—though the entire website is relevant).

exemplarity: When Howard Gardner worked beyond his luscious study of genius, Creating Minds, which was done relative to well-known exemplars, he moved to “an anatomy of leadership” in Leading Minds that was also a study of exemplars. In each venture, there’s an interest in practice-based conceptualization (prospecting a conceptual cohering of leading exemplarity) that is itself a leading exemplarity of qualitative research. Earlier, I indicated Robert J. Sternberg as exemplar seeking to array and synthesize exemplary perspectives on key modes of intelligence. Another example is Harold Bloom’s Genius: “a mosaic of one hundred exemplary creative minds.” Perhaps, every Oxford Handbook is a project of gathering leading minds relative to a focal topic (though not many topics would seem important outside of a specialty field).

nobility: Earlier, I sketched an approach to virtue that can be psychologically based. But virtue (or a complex exemplarity which is admirable) is not thereby altruistic, which is commonly associated with nobility, I think. The point is not to re-enshrine a notion of nobility, but to advocate a notion of virtuous altruism, and name that “nobility” (giving ‘nobility’ a contemporary importance). What matters is virtue and altruism. There are many notions of altruism. Manageably useful would be to simply dwell with an Unabdridged definition. But I’ll leave that for some other time and merely refer to K. R. Monroe’s book, The Heart of Altruism.

demophilia: I would like to extend a good conception of altruism into a notion of demophilia, which I would define as active fidelity or commitment to a highly humanistic orientation to a high scale of actual caring. Demophilia is life-oriental selfidentification with a high humanism that prevails for high scale practices of care about other persons.

appropriativity: Commonly, senses of perspectivity aren’t appreciated as developmentally relative. But one person doesn’t merely have a different perspective from another on the “same” issue. Developmental differences constrain how much one may be able to understand the other, not just that the other doesn’t yet have enough information or is not yet open-minded enough. A learning process is often involved, such that making oneself understood is an act of teaching (not instruction, not lecturing), which goes best as a mutuality of receptiveness and responsiveness.

Understanding has its own implicit ecology, so to speak; or call it the implicitly prevailing tropology for cohering whatever’s explicitly incongrous or generative. Appreciating another person’s “lifeworld” or “worldview” calls for ecological troping.

Understanding also implies (implicitly, ultimately) an era of individuation—or, from an observer perspective: a developmental era of the other’s individuation. Appreciating another person’s self understanding of that lifeworld or worldview is individuated to them, developmental about them, and individuated by oneself (i.e., understanding is relative to one’s own capabilities for enframing).

Understanding another person is developmental and ecological. For shorthand: Understanding is devecological. Differences of understanding are commonly devecological.

This does not imply that the challenge for a person of lesser understanding (twelve year old, let’s say) is simply to have them accomodate themselves to higher understanding (the adult). It’s not merely a challenge to learn what the older/higher understanding is; not for the teacher merely to grasp where the other is “at” (Lev Vykotsky’s famous “zone of proximal development”). Better understanding between persons is not the same as the higher understanding of one.

Rather, the challenge for the teacher is to learn from the perspective of a new generation how best to accomodate one’s own understanding to emerging interests, new possibilities, etc. that are integral for the generation that will, as they say, inherit the Earth—as their futurity to enown.

As a developmental/generational difference is stretched across life eras—between a wisdom of elderness and a mental efficiency of youg adulthood—this difference may be easily appreciated as a complementarity that is vital to historical advances. The most brilliant 20-something mathematician can’t compare her mathematical knowledge to, say, Edward Witten. But Witten would be the first to admit that he’s not going to devise a viable mathematics of Branes.

Mindal wisdom of elderness and mental efficiency of early adulthood need each other’s imaginability. Synergy here may evince a radiant gravity of origination that’s not merely “lateral” synergy of cohortal or collegial perspectives.

Youth deserves to aspire as if they can change The World, from individuating surprisingly to participating in progressivity of being, i.e., possibly having a leading place in humanity.

Events of appropriation may become great partnering of creative collaboration and exemplary humanity.


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