“A Conflict of Visions” by Thomas Sowell

May 22, 2009

I’m reading it now.  It’s another great book from Thomas Sowell.    Sowell lifts the hood on the fundamental differences in visions that cause two normal looking people that grew up in the same city, same household with the same parents to diverge so widely in their political views.

Sowell identifies two visions.  The unconstrained vision, which lines up with today’s political liberals, and the constrained vision, which lines up with conservatives.

The differences in these two visions cause two otherwise similar people to talk past one another with exchanges similar to:  “The sky is blue.”  “No, grass is green.”  Sowell sums up the differences in visions well in this paragraph (p. 57):

The writings of those with the constrained vision abound with examples of counterproductive consequences of well-intentioned policies.  But to those with the unconstrained vision, this is simply seizing upon isolated mistakes that are correctable, in order to resist tendencies that are socially beneficial on whole.  However, to those with the constrained vision these mistakes are not happenstances, but symptoms of what to expect when the inherent limitations of individuals are ignored and systemic processes for coping with these limitations are deranged by specific tinkering.

Strange side note:  This book may help LOST fans.   Sowell quotes from philosophers and thinkers who share names with characters of the show and  the show itself may be an exploration of these two underlying visions.  I fear Jacob may represent the unconstrained vision, while the mystery man introduced in this season’s finale represents the constrained vision.  We’ll see.

I highly recommend this book.

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