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Interacting Concepts of Human Development

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Note in response to the conceptualization of human development
within Group A of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University


1. Group A's evolving three-circle diagram is of great value in ordering many dimensions of the human-social development complex

2. Initial interpretation of Group A's output leads to the conclusion that all questions of development in consciousness are associated with "personal space", including possible notions of "spiritual" development however it may be conceived. Such latter processes, however, to the extent that they are admitted within the scheme, would appear to be implicit rather than explicit.

3. It would seem to be possible for the Group A scheme to be used by some in such a way as to ignore the more subtle aspects of human development - which many consider to be more fundamental. Others, if they choose to do so, may interpret such dimensions as having been included. This ambiguity in a GRID product is unfortunate and creates the impression of a political compromise which conceals a fundamental disagreement.

4.The ambiguity and caution with regard to subtler dimensions of human development reinforces the polarization between the academic/institutional concepts of human development and those to which large numbers of people are attached in many countries through their association with religions, human growth movements, and a variety of philosophical schemes with implications for inner change. (In fact the basic Group A scheme may be said to lack the dimension along which human development takes place)

5. The problem for Group A is that these dimensions are apparently not of significance to some members of the Group and they are reluctant to allow such "subjectivity" to be too explicitly. present,

This raises the question whether the real-world dynamic between the "objective" and the "subjective"perspectives should be presented in an "objective" scheme(which does not ref1ect the essential complementarity between concepts of human development which are logically incompatible)

6. .The question may be partially clarified by the attached diagram concerning the personal space component of the Group A scheme. (Note that it might be profitable to explore the use of this three-fold breakdown in elaborating analogous articulations of the societal space and the habital space).

7. The perspectives embodied in each circle are necessarily incompatible, although the individual may act through each, switching between each via a level of consciousness as yet largely unconscious.

The circles have socio-political implications as follows:

8. It is ironic that the Group A scheme should emerge through a project of an institution based in Japan when the essential reality of Japanese "human and social development" is only faintly reflected in the scheme, if it is not in fact totally absent. Can the scheme be used satisfactorily to map usefully the Japanese perception from the point of view of the Japanese.

Japan is probably one of the only developed countries which has avoided the schizophrenia characteristic of Western societies in which the so-called spiritual dimension has become a matter of public relations for politicians and a secret vice for some academics. In Japan this dimension, whilst probably not suffering from all the valid negative connotations of "spiritual", is of fundamental importance, It is the essential reality through which the apparent contradiction between the "hard" (e.g. martial arts) and the "soft" (e.g. aesthetics of the tea ceremony) are resolved - not only traditionally or as a ritual, but for the leadership of Japanese society today.

It is in Japanese culture that one may find vital insights into the relationship between risk/challenge, constraint/obligation, and inner strength/freedom. This emerges from the "bushido" perspective on human and social development. (Note that Dr Nagai in his talk to GRID stressed several times the importance of "inner . strength", a concept which as yet has no place in GRID thinking)

9, If there is some validity to this argument, then Group A could usefully seek inputs from Japanese sources to legitimate this perspective. The UNU is ideally suited to this because of the UNU programme operating in parallel to GPID: The Japanese Experience.

Unfortunately it appears that this programme has maneuvered itself into emphasizing the "centric" dimensions identified above -- perhaps as a means of "communicating" effectively with Western scholars. A request from Group A might serve to encourage complementary studies relevant to Group A concerns.

Personal space sub-component of Group A's integrative schema
Modern physics consciousness/assumptions Classical (Newtonian) physics assumptions
Boundaries are arbitrary imposed by observer's relationship to observed
Complementarity of incompatible explanations
"The sun does not necessarily rise or set"
Dynamics: breathing (as a metaphor)

Boundaries are mechanically defined
Observers relationship to observed implies not ambiguity
"The sun rises"
Dynamics: exercise

Personal space sub-component of an integrative group schema

Conscious experiential involvement of observer in environment dissolving the observer-observed dichotomy
Japanese concept of hara (zen) and inner strength (and some western concepts of "maturity" and "wisdom")
Dynamics: sartori, samadhi, etc.

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