3.2. Scientific-social polylog
Nicholas Govorov, Russia
Extensive knowledge has been accumulated in the course of civil society problem analysis.Just one thing is missing: how to proceed to practical implementation of these theoretical riches in the current politically polarized social environment. The present article summarizes our original methodology for practical solution of the above problem by means of a scientific-social polylog.
There is one and only problem that hinders civil society creation.Vladimir Jakovlev (2001), the St. Petersburg Governor, addressed this problem in the beginning of his speech at the grand opening of the Forum in 2000.He, in a rather detailed manner, explained the substance of the problem: "In practice we often face a situation where certain politicians or political writers drive home to the public conscience the idea that future civil society and the relics of bygone Soviet society in contemporary Russia are totally incompatible, antagonistic social forms. Obviously, such strategy has nothing to do with the real needs of contemporary civil society building." In accordance with the above he believes, as likewise do other forum participants, and not only them, that "a constructive dialog over civil society issues in contemporary Russia is possible on the basis of tolerance to different points of view, despite their difference from each other."
Governor Jakovlev, like many other sober-minded politicians, seeks to solve the problem by purely psychological methods, through a key moral imperative to be shared by all forum participants: "…in the heat of a dispute, in the most heated discussion, let the imperative of our time resound in everybody’s mind: ‘Do no harm!’" However, despite Jakovlev’s fair appeal to the forum participants, there were no hot disputes or animated discussions, and the public dialog, as a whole, generally went wrong.
Thus, in summarizing the 2000 forum results, Boris Sokolov (2001) almost fully dedicated his article "The Forum results. Building an interaction mechanism" to the above problem that he believes to be a major weakness of the Forum."Unfortunately, we did not always manage to keep a meaningful dialog.The Forum failed to accomplish its principal mission, that is… creation of, if not a real mechanism of interaction between different forces of the civil society, at least an open tribunal to voice the most burning problems of contemporary Russia.Figuratively speaking, we created a ‘society of the deaf’; we spoke without hearing each other.Russian society, also, lacks an open dialog among different parts of civil society: politicians, scientists and governmental agencies meet their own respective challenges.And the result of such ‘deafness’ gets more and more disappointing." In the author’s opinion, the problem can be solved through developing a proper forum scenario: "…developing a scenario for a meaningful dialog is a task already faced by next year's forum organizers, and the Steering Committee is perfectly capable of solving the problem based on the accumulated experience." Alas, it isn’t…
The problem of ‘deafness,’ or aggressiveness of the public dialog highlighted by Jakovlev, is a regular, negative result of the contemporary stage of the progressive social development processes that have led to complete obsolescence of the universal civil dialog methodology. Sokolov is quite right, in that the forum is able and must promote a public discussion on civil society building. However, it doesn't take just scenario modifications, but a detailed parallel investigation of all forum materials in a scientific-social polylog based on a new polylog methodology.
Fundamental Principles of Scientific-Social Polylog
The fundamental methodological principle of a polylog-based integration of sciences, to solve all polemic and social oppositions and social conflicts, is for protagonists to be able to provide evidence of the validity or invalidity of their position. Scientific-social polylog is not a methodology of conferences, congresses, or other forums, but a new and comprehensive, society-wide type of public production of a universal science, based on integration of science, education, social practice and thoroughgoing consensus in social relations. Under an optimistic scenario - when the polylog production technique is fully developed and socially mastered -integration will be achievable through unrestricted access by large and duly supported, organization- and management-wise, public participation.
Technically, the polylog coverage of an unlimited number of discussion participants will be based on computer processing of massive information flows that the modern IT technologies deliver. With the number of polylog participants unlimited, the number of polemical scenarios of problems under discussion is however limited, allowing all participants to make a comprehensive analysis of all polemical scenarios and submit for a further computer processing their informed and detailed pros and cons on each assertion.
A polylog discussion is not personalized, it is associated not with the authors of specific expositions and conclusions, but with summarized and systematized polemical options suggested by all polylog participants, where each exposition may refer to not just one, but to hundreds, thousands, even millions of authors.No depersonalization is involved here, however.Throughout a polylog discussion, a detailed registration is kept of all observations, expositions, and conclusions of each author. Contributions to the polylog by each participant, either negative or positive, are not left unnoticed.
Upon closure of a specific problem discussion, the personal input of each participant is processed.Discussion participants are identified who agreed to be ready to proceed to implementation of decisions taken in the polylog. Naturally, in the course of a polylog, certain stand-alone polemical opinions may appear, also.Currently, in the course of disputes, such stand-alone polemical opinions are largely ignored.This is due to the fact that such opinions are often expressed by castle-builders, or at times even mentally handicapped persons, stonewalling the discussion.However, at times such an outsider’s position proves to be the best solution, even though few of these unorthodox thinkers manage to carry their point.
Since all participants have equal opportunities, a polylog, on the one hand, pushes aside all obstacles, so that each participant can fully explain and prove his position, and on the other hand, allows the most painstaking, collective analysis of materials, subject to the polylog carrying out its primary function: to help all discussion participants, and then the society as a whole, to overcome cognitive delusions. In doing this, the information containing cognitive errors, though excluded from further polylog processing, is never deleted from the polylog information repository, but is used for future research.
The polylog methodology is based on a dialectic mechanism of practical assimilation in the human species. The history of social development has seen quite enough discoveries in the laws of logic, dialectics, praxis and psychology to understand and solve all conflicts of any (except criminal) opposing parties. In practice, however, throughout the history of social development, including the present day, most of these laws, especially where politics are concerned, remain unused, and many discussion participants, and even political leaders, are unaware of them.
To apply these laws in today’s discussions, as in the past, one needs knowledge and skills.But even this is not enough.For optimum use, it is required that the parties involved be mutually interested in solving their conflict. It is next to impossible to fully achieve both, although, to some extent, some of these laws are in use all the time.As a rule, partial use of a law results in compromise.A compromise is a decision to only partially solve a contradiction, in order to keep or re-establish peace.
There is even an opinion that political conflicts may be solved only through compromise. The polylog methodology provides for a thoroughgoing consensus-based resolution of such conflicts. The fundamental difference of the polylog method from all discussion procedures of the past and present is that it makes a spontaneous, uncontrolled dialog totally impossible. Discussion is turned into a productive process of a stage-by-stage, consistent production and accumulation of necessary preliminary materials, forming blocks and structures according to the laws of logic, dialectics, praxis and psychology. This process inevitably brings the discussion participants to a thoroughgoing consensus in settling their differences over the problem under discussion.
Thanks to this, all wisdom accumulated by humankind serves as a basis for the polylog procedure. Participants may have no idea of what praxis or psychology is, and be unaware of the laws of dialectics and elementary logic, but, as long as they do their polylog work in strict compliance with the proposed procedures (that are impossible to depart from in the given environment), they will find themselves following these laws, learning them, and transforming themselves as their work progresses.
A polylog, as any other intellectual effort, offers two results: external and internal. The polylog’s external result is a solved problem. The internal result is internal psychological transformation of all polylog participants.
We have considered just two, fundamental principles of a scientific-social polylog:
1.The Technological principle, of securing polylogic coverage of an unlimited number of discussion participants, with equal opportunities for unrestricted presentation and argument in favor of their position; and
2.The Methodological principle, which secures the possibility of polylogic application of the laws of wisdom accumulated by humankind, to ensure a thoroughgoing consensus in solving any problem.
The realization of the above principles will allow potential attribution of the production of six basic functions to the polylog . In the process of a polylog production these six functions are realized.
1. Scientific and research function
A polylog treatment of any problem represents a collective scientific and research activity.
Any specific integration of sciences is based on interrelating subjects identified by the scientists.
2. Diagnostic function
A polylog treatment of any problem starts with a diagnostic analysis and, throughout the polylog process, is accompanied by a diagnostic monitoring of:
·the problem itself;
·its place and role in the society;
·new joiners and current discussion participants:
·their competence in the areas under discussion,
·their initial education level and knowledge accumulated in the course of the polylog,
·their personal and creative qualities, the specifics of psychic and creative development of each polylog participant.
3. Didactical function
The educational principle of the polylog participants’ competence level, in accordance with each participant’s initial capability, the level and subject matter of education, actual skills and knowledge, and understanding of the polylog subject.
4. Preventive function
Overcoming, through conviction and demonstration, the cognitive delusions appearing in the course of polylog discussion, regardless of their underlying reasons and prevalence in the public conscience.
5. Educative function
Continuous participation in a polylog, and consistency in following all operational procedures, will promote and develop business culture and social norms.
6. Therapeutic function
This is the best developed function in the polylog procedure (twenty five years’ experimental experience based on the Bekhterev Research Institute). The polylog, itself, serves as social therapy for the society, which is essential in the current environment.
Active participation in a polylog - for all participants, without exception - means either psycho-prophylaxis or psychotherapy. Those polylog participants who, due to health problems or poor academic background, cannot follow the established procedures, are given an additional opportunity to receive either a social pedagogical training or a specialized polylog psychotherapeutic course.
The most difficult task, to merge sciences into a uniform science, and to merge this uniform science into education. The most laborious and time consuming, but extremely simple. And the most important for humankind, as it provides an opportunity for a giant breakthrough in applying science and education to resolve all social development conflicts, to ensure conceptual unity. This can be achieved through solving the most complicated opposition at the current stage of humankind's development, between actual scientific knowledge and the skyrocketing aggressive ignorance fraught with danger of a global social catastrophe and "civilized savagery." Such developments can only be prevented through an active involvement in polylog activities, of bona fide scientists capable of taking control of all social development processes, for which scientific-social polylog production is basically designed. Deployment of scientific-social polylog gives everyone an opportunity to take part in public discussion and decision-making, on all social issues, and is directly linked to the continuous universal education system, created on the basis of the former.The education process should start with educating the most active polylog participants, men and women of science, cultural workers and other professionals.
Historically, the idea of a continuous education appears throughout the entire history of science and education. A program, as such, took shape in mid 20th century, but did not become universal. So, what is continuous education all about?Any scientific research, especially a doctoral thesis or a master’s dissertation, starts with studying documentation on the subject, to get an idea of what has been done by predecessors.Thus, any scientist focused on a specific research gets involved in continuous education, i.e., by studying and mastering the specific experiences available.Regretfully, this remains an individual form of activity, and every person of science does it their own way. Scientific schools, discussions, conferences, congresses in the context of history of science are, too, a form of continuous education. However, it is very limited.It is limited by the participants’ structure, procedures and specific decisions on issues discussed at these forums.
With time limits removed, and procedural limits removed, the scientific-social polylog turns a discussion into a continuous process, with an unlimited numbers of participants, who will have to engage in continuous education to take part in the process.The very polylog procedure presupposes universality of education in the subject matter of discussion.Given the above, the continuous education problem appears to be not a stand-alone problem, but an integral part of the social and scientific polylog.A polylog participant who withdraws from the continuous education process naturally withdraws from the polylog - he finds himself unable to maintain the polylog.But a truly creative person always seeks to be involved in the process and to develop his creative potential. Therefore, continuous education and collective, universal solutions of social problems form one of the key prerequisites of social development.
The other part of the social and scientific polylog is as follows. The scientific-social polylog is a methodology designed to complete the ongoing science integration process. In fact, the process occurs throughout the history of science.People try to integrate scientific data compiling encyclopaedia, glossaries etc., but these forms of integration are not universal in nature, and are not designed to cover all scientific data, especially in these days, when science is developing at such an intensive pace, each day bringing substantial scientific discoveries that in the current scientific and educational environment have no chance to be integrated into the educational process, and are therefore not accepted by the society. A scientific-social polylog might, therefore, initially be developed in a political dimension, to help solve social development antagonisms.
The existing political technologies, starting from the electoral system - parliamentary or presidential elections - are based not on practical achievements of the candidates, but rather on their personalities.The electoral system does not allow a candidate to give a detailed presentation of his social development views, his specific program, therefore the electoral process, on a global scale, looks like a war of advertising and slogans, heuristic manipulations, and wire-pulling.This is supported by countless incidents - including in our city - of criminal activities of certain city hall representatives.
A serious social development factor is an emergence of a new trend in organized international criminal activities.Specifically, it was noted at the end of the ‘cold war’ period, by a European political party, that the completion of the cold war marked transformation of the political war into a criminal one. Presently the process has reached an international dimension.It is rooted in social antagonisms defined in the late 19th century by the French sociologist, Durkheim (1897), as "anomie" - an industrial society pathology, and in the late 20th century by Alvin Toffler (1997/1971) as "a wild cancer of history" spelling a world-wide disaster.
Unfortunately, the social therapy measures currently taken, including by Toffler, who put forward an idea of a polylog-based "social future assembly" lack a consistent methodology and technique to enable the society to resolve its problems in the future.As a result, his design remains unrealized, representing a kind of social Utopia.
Jakovlev, Vladimir. (2001). "Formation of a civil society in post-totalitarian Russia: Regional experience and problems." Civil Forum: St.Petersburg, vol. 1, p. 7 - 16
Sokolov, Boris G. (2001). "Results of a forum: Building an interaction mechanism." Civil Forum: St.Petersburg, vol.1, p. 123 - 126
Toffler, Alvin. (1997). Future shock. St.Petersburg , (London, 1971)
Durkheim, Emile. (1897/1951) Suicide. A Study in Sociology. Glencoe, IL: Free Press
Nicholas S. Govorov, Russian psychologist (1920 - 2002). Chairman of the centre "Adaptation and development of the human" in St.-Petersburg.Article published posthumously.