Functionalism+, The Solution for Social Cohesion and Change
This article is part of a series
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United Americanism is a developing movement whose mission focus is multifaceted and will develop in stages. The unifying mission of United Americanism is satisfaction with current government, and the only way to achieve this satisfaction is through a fundamental change in our sociopolitical relationships.
United Americanism is a movement focused on building a community, which must share a unified ideology, which is inclusive of spiritualism and naturalism both, which will promote change in our current sociopolitical environment through the empowerment, that is the revelation and enthusiasm, of the American people through our supportive cooperation towards change.
This is not a movement that focuses on attacking or defending this bill or that—at least not yet. The first initiative of the movement is to create a cohesive community, a cooperative community, large enough and enthused enough to stand against the extant minority rule in our democracy by 1% of our citizens.
The movement asserts that social cohesion is the key to progressive change in favor of the individual, and is not concerned with party politics or other polarizing systems. In this article, I will make clear the connection between social cohesion and change, and offer a solution for social cohesion which has not been possible until now.
Social Cohesion: What and Why
Social cohesion is cooperation; it is what will occur if the social community the United Americanism Movement is currently building up decides to stick together in a community that resists separation. An inseparable community is a powerful community. And a powerful community can affect lasting progressive change for ourselves and our fellow citizens.
Social cohesion is the key to successful, lasting progressive change in the interests of the individual citizen because it engenders cooperation and support across our nation’s multifaceted culture, free from stigma and discrimination, and validates a set of common truths that spiritualists and naturalists can equally embrace.
According to Bertrand Russell in a History of Western Philosophy, social cohesion is made improbable due to two factors:
“Every community is exposed to two opposite dangers, ossification through too much discipline and reverence for tradition, on the one hand; on the other hand, dissolution, or subjection to foreign conquest, through the growth of an individualism and personal independence that makes co-operation impossible.
“In general, important civilizations start with a rigid and superstitious system, gradually relaxed, and leading, at a certain stage, to a period of brilliant genius, while the good of the old tradition remains and the evil inherent in its dissolution has not yet developed.
“But as the evil unfolds, it leads to anarchy, thence, inevitably, to a new tyranny, producing a new synthesis secured by a new system of dogma.
“The doctrine of liberalism is an attempt to escape from this endless oscillation. The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma, and insuring stability without involving more restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community.
“Whether this attempt can succeed only the future can determine.” —Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy.
Liberalism in Russell’s usage means, “A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.” —American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 4th ed.
We believe United Americanism shall be that successful attempt at breaking this endless oscillation through providing an inclusive ideology that allows for social cohesion—the key factor opposing progressive change—engendering individual revelation, enthusiasm, and resilience in the hearts and souls of each American citizen.
Stephen P. Hinshaw, Professor of Psychology; Vice-Chair for Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco has this to say about why understanding the human mind is imperative to sociopolitical change:
“The mind and its study is clearly linked with broad social issues. Understanding the mind better should help us to deal with such issues as climate change, the gross disparities in income across the nation and indeed the world.
“These are issues traditionally linked to political science, environmental science and other fields; but if we can understand not only how our minds evolve, but how they currently configure risk, understand social problems in the state of world, social and political policies may have a far better chance of actually working.
“Its going to take a large mass of efforts, spanning computer science, ethics, politics, history, neuroscience, human development, anthropology and many more fields to be able to integrate the sense of our mind’s purely cognitive, computational abilities with our sense of compassion, social justice, and planning for the earth’s future.” —Professor Stephen P. Hinshaw, Origins of the Human Mind
Dualism? Monism? It Doesn’t Matter for Social Cohesion
Spiritualism must coexist with Science to achieve social cohesion. But so far in our history the call for social cohesion has always been answered with one of two polarizing extreme views of our universe:
1. Either we must be spiritualists, emphasizing the spiritual aspect of being, overly concerned with, or affecting the soul and denying the truths of inductive science. Because the complex nature of reality and the mind should not be reducible to simple mechanical processes, without the soul guiding it, and therefore a higher, intelligent power exists that we must attend. Our conscious states are spiritual.
2. Or, we must be naturalists, holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. Inductive science is the modern standard for acquiring truth, but inductive reasoning deals only with the observable world, and will not allow itself to reduce the majesty of our species to anything other than our natural development. Our conscious states are physical.
There is a third way of looking at our universe that seems reasonable, but won’t catch on. Humanism concerns itself with justice, moral conduct, and social cohesion. But Humanism has failed to unite the two opinions of the matter of the mind in an agreeable solution because of its explicit exclusion of Spiritualism.
But what about the doctrine of Functionalism? After all, it is the dominant theory in the science of mind and philosophy of mind today, and this new theory allows for spiritual and scientific coexistence. It is for this reason Functionalism is key to our shared ideology; it is the theory the movement should embrace to create a cohesive community, which is required to achieve change in our nation.
Getting on the Same Page
Here are the the 4 terms I treat in this article and my usages. All definitions provided by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 4th ed. I gave reason for choosing the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as the dictionary of choice for the movement in my previous article.
1. Naturalism = “The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.”
2. Spiritualism = “A philosophy, doctrine, or religion emphasizing the spiritual aspect of being.”
3. Humanism = “A system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.”
4. Functionalism = “The doctrine in the philosophy of mind according to which mental states are defined by their causes and effects.”
Functionalism is the key to social cohesion.
The Doctrine of Functionalism
Functionalism is THE ANSWER TO SOCIAL COHESION, and why it has been impossible in the past; the way we thought about the question was distorted and confused in language. Functionalism shifts the focus of the conscious states from the stuff that makes it up, to the ends the conscious states—the means—achieve.
It doesn’t matter what were made of, dualism, monism are both acceptable, it matters what we do. Functionalism is inclusive to Spiritualism and Naturalism, to dualism and monism. It is not concerned with what the stuff of function is, only what the functions are.
This is why we must adopt the modern theory of Functionalism, but must also add to it to, maintaining our Spiritualism, or Naturalism, as long as we accept a few common Truths, we can become a cohesive community in order to cooperate supportively.
What are the common truths between Spiritualism and Naturalism?:
1. We have something we call mind which is private and not observable, and we have something we call our body which is public and observable.
2. Normally and hopefully, mind and body work together to create conscious states—also known as mental states, emotional modes, or functional states.
3. Since the mind and body must work together, we know our mind communicates with our body and our body communicates with our mind.
4. Since the mind and body communicate—that is, the mind is said to be affected by the body, and the body affected by the mind— the sociopolitical environment our body interacts with, affects our mind.
5. Our bodies affect our sociopolitical environment.
6. Our individual body’s conduct in its sociopolitical environment affects the mind of others in its environment.
7. Whether conscious states are the product of the physical stuff, or non-physical stuff, is irrelevant, only that they produce these conscious states, which drive us to interact with our sociopolitical environment, that directly affects the interactions with our environment by other individuals directly related to our environment.
Functionalism Requires the Individual
Functionalism requires Spiritualism or Humanism to provide a complete picture of our world.
Functionalism does not encompass what makes us each individual, therefore we MUST add either Spiritualism or Naturalism. If we made a perfect duplicate of ourselves—including our experiences and memory—and stood next to them, we would still be two people, not a single person. Why? Because who we are is not the makeup of our function alone, but also of our stuff.
So we MUST unite Functionalism with either Naturalism or Spiritualism. Which should we choose? It’s your choice; it doesn’t matter for our practical purposes.
Practically, it makes no difference whether you believe our conscious states are non-physical stuff, or physical stuff, as long as we both agree that it is OUR stuff, in combination with our environment, carrying out the functions. As long as we agree on this, the sociopolitical benefits of this game-changer will succeed. Here’s why.
Functionalism asserts that negative, or extreme, conscious states (mental states, emotional modes, functional states), are the product of both the stuff that makes them up, and the stimuli of our sociopolitical environment. Neither our stuff alone, nor environment alone produces functional states, but both must work in tandem.
What then does it matter if we say our stuff is physical, non-physical, or both? It does not.
Functionalism asserts that the whole organism functioning together is the individual, and is not reducible to body OR mind, either way asserting that supportive participatory relationships between our bodies with our sociopolitical environment, and our minds with our bodies, directly affect each other.
This is the most important realization our culture can achieve at this time. Functionalism plus either Spiritualism, or Humanism, what I will refer to as Functionalism+, is required for social cohesion.
What Does Functionalism+ Mean for the United Americanism Movement?
What Functionalism+ means is that you and I can and do affect constant change in our sociopolitical environment and the people around us through our conduct. What this means, is that each of us—each individual—is a powerful minister of change. What this means is if we think and act right, that is supportive and compassionate according to Functionalism, then we directly and actively affect the conduct of others, whether you or I wish it or no.
This is a key understanding that concerns the United Americanism movement. We must integrate the sense of our mind’s purely cognitive, computational abilities with our sense of compassion, social justice, and planning for the earth’s future.
Our individual conduct can and does directly affect our sociopolitical environment, and our environment directly affects our individual conduct. A change in our individual conduct IS the answer to a change in our sociopolitical environment, and the way to satisfactory government.