Monday, November 16, 2009

The Dialectician

The Dialectician

By John Taylor; 2009 Nov 16, Qudrat 13, 166 BE

Hillside construction projects are communally owned cooperatives that apply mixed-use zoning and standard, high-density design. The layout of hillside housing projects allows residents to live close to their place of work, while being ready at any time to travel and fit their modular living unit into another hillside housing project anywhere else on earth. Each neighbourhood has a variety of shops, workshops and other institutions and facilities close to residences. This minimizes the need for mechanized transit in daily commutes and improves health by forcing residents to walk and bicycle for errands and recreation.

As we have seen, the heart of hillside housing is the Room of One's Own (ROO), a mobile, modular living unit that can be fitted into any hillside dwelling slot anywhere on earth. If a citizen attains to wealth, his or her "black box" unit may fit into a standard slot that is required to be built into each mansion. If poverty is his or her lot, the ROO may be a stand-alone unit, like a trailer in what we now call a mobile home park. In any case, there is no homelessness. The shell of each living module is mass manufactured according to environmentally friendly "open standard" rules. The ROO remains with each person through all stages of life and is adapted and redesigned as needs change.

The ROO living module is the size of a standard shipping container. It includes a bedroom, reception area and bathroom, but has no kitchen (food preparation and serving is offloaded to the household, a compound of several living units). It also has a small study, which is mostly standard to the dweller's trade or profession. Additionally, it has a small space for a hobby or avocation. The ROO module can be split into three parts, a bedroom, a hobby space and an office. As needed, these can be detached and combined again later on. The bedroom unit may be placed in any of a variety of households or apartments in the neighbourhood, as plans, needs and tastes require. The ROO office or workshop is devoted to one's vocation and is usually but not always moved into one's place of employment. The avocation section is placed in a garage, studio or workshop in or near one's household or neighbourhood.

A ROO's additions and options are decided upon by the resident in consultation with a profession called the dialectician. Its design and placement is taken extremely seriously in this UCS society. It is the central concern of an entire profession, the dialectician. Just as a library is run by librarians, the ROO's of a neighbourhood are overseen by dialecticians. As Plato envisaged, the science of dialectics (learning peripatetically through regular, informal conversations) is the highest kind of knowledge. Learning how to apply cosmopolitan dialectics is an essential element of every world citizen's education.

Everyone will feel comfortable working out their own search for truth with one or more dialecticians. The profession is technically the applied or clinical branch of philosophy. The minimum entry qualification of a local dialectician is a degree in philosophy. The goal of the profession is to avoid today's interventions by the "nanny state", which are clumsy, intrusive, arbitrary, patronizing, or, especially in the case of insurance companies, self-serving.

Like most neighbourhood professions, dialecticians may be public officials, free agents or private consultants and entrepreneurs, but their remuneration is always geared to capitation. That is, income and other rewards increase as the ROO's in the entire region or neighbourhood under their purview improve, as compared with similar communities elsewhere.

Many dialectician's interventions are subtle or even automatic. For example, if it is observed that a resident is gaining weight, the bedroom may automatically move to a higher location so that he or she will work off the extra pounds by walking further and climbing more stairs. Or, if a person expresses boredom, his or her bedroom unit may be moved to a busier household, the hobby unit may be moved or re-designed, or the study module or career dashboard may be tweaked.

Other interventions by dialecticians are more direct, but they are rarely arbitrary or confrontational. This is because the responsibility of ROO dialectics is, on the local level, nobody's exclusive, permanent domain. The workload is shared among several types of personal advisors with a variety of professional backgrounds. As an individual's needs, status and circumstances change, the job may shift around among several friends, confidants and advisors. This will seem more natural than we imagine today, since residents will have been in intimate contact with dialecticians since early childhood.

The most extreme intervention by dialecticians occurs when a resident is convicted of a crime. Criminal acts are born of hatred, and hate can only be eliminated by behaviour untainted by hatred. This principle was identified by Machiavelli, who wrote that, " prince is ever benefited by making himself hated." (Discourses, Book III, Chapter XIX) There are therefore no prisons in a UCS. These institutions only institutionalize hatred and the loss of freedom. They are known to increase recidivism by reinforcing the criminal identity, and train criminals in the techniques of criminality. Worse, the sadistic, animalistic conditions of prison life corrupt not only guards and prisoners but society in general. Nor are there criminal records, which stigmatize offenders and reduce the chances of rehabilitation.

Instead, a large part of a violent or serious offender's punishment is for his or her freedom and privilege levels to bottom out, in other words, to revert to the minority of a child. In that case only are the rulings of a dialectician obligatory, arbitrary and unmitigated. The job of the dialectician then is to show the offender the way back to full autonomy again. We will discuss these sanctions in more detail in the coming section of People Without Borders on protection.

Suffice to say here that there are three types of dialectic philosopher, each a specialist in the three basic phases of Comenian governance, education (science), faith (wisdom) and politics (peace). Each is concerned mostly with one of the three possible kinds of relationships, relations with oneself (knowledge and science), relations with God (faith and wisdom) and relationships with others (peace and politics). A person who offends others (nobody is labelled a criminal, since labels become self-fulfilling prophesies) would have a philosopher of peace on their case until their escutcheon -- the record of a person's lifetime achievement -- beautifies and balances out again.

I have mentioned how the dialectician would intervene in a negative occasion. Most of the work that dialecticians do, however, is positive, aiding residents of the ROO in maintaining an "initiative credit rating," in planning and in maintaining a moral center. This activity we will broach next time.


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