Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Power of Intelligent Naiveté

Experience, education and an understanding of history bring wisdom, but an amount of intelligent naiveté is essential to critical reasoning. As I struggled to find a word that I could use to characterise the ability to question fundamental blocks of knowledge and revaluate ones understanding continuously, I choose the expression "intelligent naiveté". As I typed this into Google I saw a paper that referenced intelligent naiveté. I did not download the article since the site allowed down loads at a fee. I decided to go with my definition of this term.

I have for long time regarded capitalism as a preferred system, and until recently with some reservation considered the free market variety as the best kind. Ha-Joon Chang articulates with great impact in his book "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism" the reasons that many of us have some discomfort and reservations about free market implementation. People like Noam Chomsky and Chang have done a great job in questioning and challenging popular concepts and thoughts that the masses get indoctrinated with. This indoctrination happens at all levels of society, politics, and education and even in companies.

Many companies indoctrinate their employees in "their way". This helps drives people towards a common cause of increasing revenue, profits, adoption of their product, services, etc… But the indoctrination can become counterproductive when organizational attitude and philosophies take precedence over customer needs. It requires the naïve employee to ask the difficult questions, and to point out that the "emperor has no clothes" to ensure that the market needs and expectations are being met.

There are many areas where there is not enough naiveté and the indoctrination seems to have dulled questions. Just to name a few, the collapse of the banking sector, and the bail outs, the functioning of democracy etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's good that you did not download the paper: otherwise you would have lost your intelligent naivete' about intelligent naivete... :)