A Conflict of Visions

In the meantime, perhaps we shouldn’t vilify the person that we “know” is wrong, even terribly wrong, about matters which are of upmost importance to us.

Series: Visions, Worldviews and Divisions

Last Post: Meaningful discussion between people who disagree on the social and political issues of our day is often difficult. I posit that the primary reason that is true is because people approach those issues from radically different underlying presuppositions, especially those that comprise our worldview.

Topic #2: A Conflict of Visions

Over the last two years I’ve become far more familiar with the writing and ideas of Thomas Sowell. I wish I had started reading his book length works long ago because he has been enormously helpful to me.

One of his books that is especially insightful as we consider the deep divisions in our country is “A Conflict of Visions.”

Sowell suggests that there are two opposing visions which influence our positions on controversial social issues; 1) the unconstrained vision, and 2) the constrained vision.

Those who lean left tend to have an unconstrained vision, while those who lean right tend to have a constrained vision.

Now, one reason I like this approach to our analysis is that it assumes positive intent for both sides. Needless to say, to the degree that we vilify those with whom we disagree, the less likely it will be that we can reasonably discuss our differences. And without meaningful discussion, the chasm increases with nothing but negative consequences.

Of course, there are shallow, menacing, wrongly motivated people on both sides of the divide, but his discussion of visions allow us to assume the best about those with whom we most disagree.

The Unconstrained Vision

For Sowell, the unconstrained vision is a view of outcomes which anticipates finding perfect solutions to our societal problems. The key word is solution. Every problem has s solution, and that solution, rightly understood, altogether solves the problem.

As the name, unconstrained vision, suggests, there are no constraints to solving the problem. Perhaps there are obstacles, but they are never insurmountable; they do not have to lower our sights to the outcome we desire. If we apply ourselves and our resources we can achieve the outcomes we believe are correct in absolute terms.

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