Link to Birdie Calendar Gordon Fellman's <i>Rambo and the Dalai Lama</i>

Dear Habermas Logo A Jeanne Site

Gordon Fellman'sAppel's Kandinsky Figurine and Link to Home

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: July 13, 2000
E-Mail Curran or Takata.

Rambo and the Dalai Lama
Ambivalence, Confusion, and "Knowing" Compulsiveness

Review and Essay by Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Part of Peacemaking Identity Series
Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata, June 2000. "Fair Use" encouraged.

This essay is based on the discussion of ambivalence in Gordon Fellman's Rambo and the Dalai Lama, State University of New York Press, 1998, at pp. 51 and ff.

On p. 51, Fellman addresses the issue we have discussed in Jonathan Lear's work: that of open-mindedness. In particular, in speaking of "ambivalence, Fellman reminds us that humans are complex and ambivalent. As we have often discussed, who I am and what I think are not necessarily who I will be and what I will think, even a few minutes from now. That may be because I change my mind, or it may be, as in the case of Montaigne, because I am addressing a different audience, with a different persuasion technique in mind.

Some of us are quite comfortable contradicting ourselves.

  • Because we are so sure we're right we don't notice the contradiction. The "I can say no wrong" syndrome.
  • Because the social context has changed as in Montaigne's letters.
  • Because we have new information.
  • Because someone has effectively persuaded us.
  • Because she who persuaded us is no longer present and the effect of the persuasion wears off.
  • Because of learning interference from earlier learning experiencesor ones that have come more recently.
  • Because our mouth is running ahead of our mind, or we just don't care enough to think about what we're saying.
  • And on and on and on . . .

Some of us have greater tolerance for the cognitive dissonance such "contradictions" create, or don't even notice it. Some of us are terribly disturbed by the "contradictions" and/or deny them obsessively.

What I think Fellman is saying here is that the contradictions are natural. Hmm, maybe cognitive dissonance theory needs to look to the adversary compulsions that underlie its unstated assumptions. I think maybe we need to look to our obsessive need for consensus, too, in which we reject all conflict and ambiguity of ideas. Again, look to Jonathan Lear's Open-Minded.

Will add some links to all this. Then I want to point out that what we do if we are disturbed by the ambiguity is "circles of certainty" (Freire) and/or "codes of silence" (Hockenberry). Here I want to bring in Hockenberry and A. O. Hirschman's Rhetoric of Reality. But I gotta stop to eat. More later . . . July 13, 2000. jeanne