(original title: From Einstein's Relativity to Family's Dialectics - by Antonio Rossin - September 2004. - Upd. Oct. 2005)


Dialectic Education know-how

From Family bottom - up to collective consciousness



    The necessity of developing the tools of dialogue among different societies and cultures to improve tolerance, acceptance and valuation of differences, calls attention to the main tool of human communication, language, and the development of the individual’s thinking that precedes and produces it.

    A rational understanding of the mind framework, whose expression is predominantly language, can clarify the logical variants that best develop mature self-consciousness with respect for reciprocal diversities, exposing a constructive comparison with the precious and irreplaceable bases of different cultures.

    The original study by Antonio Rossin (http://www.flexible-learning.org) threw light on the dialectic structure of human thought and language paradigms within human communication.  This puts at any one’s disposal the know-how to control awarely and flexibly one’s own active and responsible sharing in the dialogue between members of different societies and cultures, towards co-operation and peaceful co-existence.
    In line with this study, the  Einstein Project foresees the delivery of the pertinent know-how, by way of educational institutions, to parents as those primarily responsible for psychological development in children.

Dialectic Education know-how

At the ominous beginning of  this Third Millennium there are lots and lots of occasions that call attention to the necessity to expose and develop the features of human communication focusing on dialogue, specially among young people, aiming to set up a common identity that may favour feelings of peace and fraternal co-operation between peoples. This goal has vital relevance in facing current problems. One instance widely evident is the urgency of educative messages with aims of primary prevention of drugs addiction. As Einstein wrote: 'A new manner of thinking is essential if  humankind is to survive.' This humanity-integrating goal focuses on communication, among single individuals and among different collective realities.

This article seeks to identify the structure of the inter-individual dialogue and the individual thinking behind it, in order to obtain a model to develop the values of constructive comparison and peaceful, co-operative co-existence within a global context of communication. These values ought to go together with the necessity of developing the dialogue between members of different societies and cultures.

I analyze here the general field in which any manner of communicable thinking, Einstein's included, operates. We can conveniently call this field "the Human Universe of Discourse" and, more specifically, "thinking communicable especially in language". This approach seeks to interpret the thinking of humans as it is expressed through Communication for the subsequent impact it can have on one's community and culture – especially through the development of a flexible  mind-network in people. Indeed, we may conveniently assume that the network we are looking for is characterized by one's capacity for developing a New Manner of Thinking (NMT), thus an alternative to the rigid mind-frame that, we may conveniently assume, is the quite expectable outcome, as Einstein's might have described it, of a Previous Manner of Thinking (PMT).  Obviously, in speaking of such polarities, 'rigid' and 'flexible', I am only making an outline for purposes of exposition. I am not suggesting that they must be found in a 'pure' form in any individual or situation. Rather, these represent the two end poles of a continuous spectrum, where any person's manner of thinking – and of behaving consistently – can only tend towards one or the other.  The purpose is to make people’s current manner of thinking tend preferably towards the flexible polarity of thinking and behaving.

In a previous paper of mine (1) I proposed the overall formula of UH, encompassing any Communication set from Family patterning , as [(A±B)->C] where these terms refer to those of Hegel's Dialectics (in its original meaning of a logical process, made with Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis.)

Accordingly we will have, in our model of Dialectic Communication (Education) context:

-- (A) stands for 'Thesis', the 'core' of the discourse. In daily communication relationships including family language patterning, (A) is the person who speaks first, or a statement that has been put first. We can conveniently assume this first speaker's speech to be 'positive', (+), by definition: thus, from now on, (+A).

-- (B)  stands for 'Antithesis'. It is the person who speaks 'second' to (+A). Naturally, the presence of (B) is optional. If present, (B) can be either 'positive' (+) in agreement with (+A), thus (+B), or 'negative' (-) in opposition to or criticism, amendment or qualification of (+A), thus (-B).

-- The aggregate  (+A±B) stands for the dialectical discussion set. In the simplest case of the Family set, it stands for the two parents (+A) and (±B) speaking together in front of, and for the sake of, the child (C).

-- The arrow -> indicates the dialectical process, from (A) and (B) speaking towards (C) who is the final user of the discourse 

-- (C) stands for 'synthesis', 'network'.  Just pragmatically, the mind network structure of the Child, who is the target -final user- of the 'Discourse' at issue.

From this basis, the formula of any communication practice set admits three theoretic variants of Dialectical Relationship, or Aggregate:

1. (+A noB).  Here the Thesis only is present and no Antithesis is admitted as an essential part of the discussion set.  This way, the communication outcome is (+A)'s Thesis only with no dialectical input from (±B);

2. (+A+B), or positive/positive.  Here, a further speaker (B) is admitted if only he or she consents, submitting to a hierarchical communication pattern from (+A) Thesis.  Thus it will be also positive, (+B).

3. (+A-B), or positive/negative.  Here, the (relatively) negative language of the Antithesis differs from the positive Thesis (+A), thus it will be negative, (-B), giving rise to the (+A-B) Aggregate dialectic interaction, leading finally to add awareness to (C)'s mind Network.

Let's remark in passing that the traditional school Dialectics does not consider the (+A noB) and the (+A+B) above variants, but the (+A-B) thesis-antithesis relationship only. The same should happen with NWT, assuming the (A,B) relationship to be a 'positive-negative' Aggregate, thus including the 'negative language' of the (-B) Antithesis as a concept indispensable for reciprocal respect and understanding (2).  Specifically, the adoption of  the (+B) variant in the (+A±B) Aggregate should be viewed as producing a false or deficient dialectical synthesis, for its exclusive function of adding the power or authority of consent to the fundamental authority of  the (+A) Thesis makes it become dogma and leads to the conflictual repression and isolation of the discussion partner when the latter wants to express her/his own diversity.  The subsequent manner of Thinking-Behaving tends to repeat and reinforce itself in time as all 'memes' (cultural/ habitual elements, thinking formulae or paradigms) do.  Obviously, the resulting Human Universe of Discourse and the correspondent believing and behaving procedures will suffer heavily from the pervasive adoption of the Manner of Thinking above symbolized as (+A noB), also known as 'the Bandwagon effect', as the covert source of too many, alas overt, behaving procedures. At a collective level, examples might include the absence (noB) of any Antithesis, or dialectical criticism, in the 'Discourse' of some German people leading the horrors of World War II, or in the 'Discourse' of some Islamic fundamentalist people leading to to some of the horrors of terrorism.  At an individual level, suffice it to think of the daily countless dramatic conflicts due to the absence of the 'flexible', i.e. able-to-reflect, mental structure here designated as [(+A-B)->C].

Now that our Network has been theoretically established, let's see what happens in any real situation of communication practice, made with statements-speakers and the public. For such a situation to exist, there must be unavoidably a speaker and a statement-thesis coming first – that we can conveniently call 'positive', (+A) and there may be a second speaker, or more, coming eventually into dialectic debate as Antithesis, and all of this in front of the audience (C).  Thus, (B) can speak:

- - either to accept or increase the affirmation of (+A). In this case the speech of (B) will be also 'positive' (in C's view); we can formulate this Aggregate as (+A+B).  In reinforcing and empowering each  other, (+A) and (+B) speakers form a majority. The audience (C), having no recourse, will be compelled to join this majority or feel rejected from  the communication set and collectivity;

- or to discuss the statements of (+A).  In this case the speech of (B)  will be 'negative' with reference to (+A) taken as 'positive'; we can  formulate this Aggregate as (+A-B) dialectical relationship.

Notice that the (+A-B) aggregate will form no forecast majority for the audience to eventually share in. Vice versa, the presence of (-B)'s 'negative language' in the same context of communication together with the 'positive' one of (+A) provides the public (C) with a choosing chance, thus fostering the latter's self-consciousness, self-realization and responsible autonomy. This is the situation we may identify as the more suitable for NMT.

Incidentally, the Human Universe of Discourse includes the present writing too. Therefore, it is very likely doomed to be falsified and thus misunderstood by the public (C), where the latter has adopted the (+A noB) 'false Aggregate' as a network thinking rule.  Clearly, this doesn't happen where (C) is equipped in advance with the [(+A -B)->C] mind network.  Accordingly, this may seem to be a minor analysis of the family feed-back model leading to the arrangement of a mature mind.

In accord with this analysis, the third variant (+A-B) of thesis-antithesis dialectical relationship, characterized by the presence and the valuation of (-B)’s “negative language, presents as the reference model towards a New Manner of Thinking open and flexible, focusing on respect and valuation of reciprocal diversities to build up a collective synthesis with peaceful and co-operative co-existence.  As its predictable outcome, the “network” or mind-frame of (C) should be identified as the final target of any communication relationship practice.  (C) is therefore the final user of NMT, meant to be (consciously and deliberately, or incidentally and ideally) the communication set being aimed at installing-improving the 'Flexible', suitable-to-perform-NMT, personality in the latter.  I assume here that 'ideally', or assuming goodwill on the part of the communicator(s), every communication has the incidental, inevitable, conscious or unconscious aim of improving the accuracy, understanding and consensus of the (+A±B) dialectical aggregate into the (C) 'Network'.  Thus, (C) can be identified as the individual's mind framework  that is expected, again following Einstein's concerns, to perform NMT as the starter and the essential basis of any effective, efficient and constructive communication practice.

From Family bottom - up to collective consciousness

It seems timely for us responsible adult people, for us ordinary parents, to look at how we may apply the same formula or communication model – in any of its variants – to the practice of the Family reality, as the original framework in which occurs the learning of verbal language together with the earliest patterns of inter-personal and social communication. The understanding of this model – of its repeatable formula -  can allow a better performance of the same NMT on a field of daily practice towards the development of the flexible mindframe, made with tolerance and reciprocal respect, starting from the earliest and more effective educative formation of the young individual: namely, (C).  

Accordingly, the terms in the formula will be:

-  (A), the "Thesis", is the parent who speaks first: usually, the Mother;
-  (B), the "Antithesis" (optional) is the other parent (or significant other) who speaks second to (A): usually, the Father.
-  (C), the Synthesis, is the Child who is forming her mind framework, upon which she will organize her own future behaving and believing procedures, under (+A±B) parental feedback.

In this real situation, any child has had experience, from birth on, after having been fed-back in one or more of three self-reinforcing thought patterns:

the (+A noB) 'one speaker only speaks, no confrontation is allowed', or
the (+A+B) 'speakers speak to build up bandwagon consent', or finally
the (+A-B) 'speakers speak in dialectical confrontation, giving (C) a responsible and aware sharing-in chance'.

Thence the child -future adult person- is expected to choose for her own social aggregation the same communication set she was fed-back with inside her family, and practice it as her individual sharing into the collective thinking and behaving procedures that form UHD (the Universe of Human discourse.

Let's now see how the different network variants can be self-fixed into the individual's mind-frame, whether [(+A noB)->C] or [(+A+B)->C], or [(+A-B)->C].
To know which of these variants will prevail in one's mind network, suffice it to look at the same variants as they form the feed-back in the real Family situation, at the time when the young individual is self-fixing her nervous connections network, so preparing a preferential path to either the [(+A noB)
->C], or the [(+A+B)->C], or, finally, the [(+A-B)->C] 'Manner of Thinking' and subsequent individual, collective behaving.

In this last regard, to be choosy, the original title of this paper should go vice versa: "From Family's Dialectics (education) to Einstein's Relativity (understanding NWT)": indeed, just from Family grassroots bottom-up.


To summarize, there are three culturally embedded network/feedback communication patterns of thought and behavior. These models can replicate themselves through subsequent generations by family feedback mechanism, like cultural “memetic” inheritance, to imprint the individual “network” first, and the collective network later on. These three variants are:

1. The [(+A noB)->C]: one only ineludible message is given to the audience C. This model seems to prevail in the western countries' civilization;

2. The [(+A+B)->C]: two messages are transmitted: the second message, (+B), confirms the first, (+A), which is the one given by the powerholder, so reinforcing it;   This model seems to be typical of fundamentalist regimes, with religious or other ideology claiming to be infallible, invincible and immaculate;

3. The [(+A-B)->C]: two different, authentic messages are transmitted, neither in compulsory agreement nor in compulsory antithesis of each other.  This is perhaps the [formula of ] NMT Einstein was looking for. Here (-B) may be any stimulus from any source other than (+A).
Indeed, without B's input in the (A,B) communication relationship there is no intuitive creativity or understanding. Nor other practical form of aware, active and responsible social participation which we call Democracy.  
When (B) merely submits to (+A) by speaking the same positive (+) language, the hierarchical (+A+B) outcome becomes an unquestionable dogma. A consistent manner of thinking outcome tends to be ingrained and further repeated, forming a 'meme'. The over-docile model child tends to becomes the rigid, fundamentalist hierarchical bandwagoner, brainwashed holy warrior or orthodox cannon fodder. As the expectable result -Einstein foresaw it- the so-called 'Human Universe of Discourse' seems to have come to a deep crisis today, that can reasonably stem from the pervasive exclusion of the (-B) Referential from any thinking-speaking-behaving situation in what is known as 'consent building' or 'bandwagon', by either making the (+A) Thesis coincide paradoxically with the Aggregate, or making it become dogma by means of the obliged consent of the communication partner, and leading in both cases to a debased Network in (C)'s awareness.

Taking therefore away any [(+A+B)->C] fundamentalist-religious Old Manner of  Thinking, overcoming the paradox of any [(+A noB)->C] Bandwagon consent-building, and committing conundrums such as 'Fuzzy Logics' to Occam, greater attention should be paid to a New Manner of Thinking, and subsequent behaving, according to the [(+A-B)->C] formula as explained above.  That is, let's look for a new Universe 'Human of Discourse' next to prevail, characterized and fed-back by more and more (+A-B) flexible thinking in an open and large network, by less and less (+A+B) fundamentalist conservative thinking and subsequent behaving.

Parents and Educators need a new discipline to teach each other about this most critical meme, nurtured as patiently and sensitively as other memes - good manners, ethical standards, physical and mental hygiene practices, up to political sharing-in. I am convinced that the vulnerable infant development of confident, efficient, mature thinking and relationships is ever harder to establish the longer we delay involving and patiently encouraging the infant in exploring and applying the flexible NMT alongside her/his acquisition of language.  We recognize that literacy and good grammar need coaching - we don't absorb them from our surroundings by a sort of social osmosis like speaking. We need to recognize similarly that functioning efficiently in other social interaction-communication is crying out for a similar basic commitment by guardians and guidance by pedagogues. Let's conclude that in this difficult context, Dialectic Education to flexibility – which this “Einstein Project” is about – seems to offer a contribution.

To get Parents and Educators properly informed, a simple questionnaire could help, to be distributed through educational institutions and the media, asking whether they know about the special formative relevance of dialectical family feed-back, here discussed and exposed as the [(+A–B)->C] communication formula.

Once fairly well acquainted with the parenting feed-back options available to them, they can decide which of its variants to choose, in accord with a more aware and mature responsibility. Children will follow their example.

Finally, let me thank my children Pietro and Raffaella who helped me build materially this Project, and all my friends who gave me a valuable support: one for all, Doug Everingham for his kind suggestions and the English text editing.

(Antonio Rossin)

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(1) The word and the health
(2) Truth, belief, and Negative Language

Antonio Rossin
Neurologist - Family Doctor
45010, Ca' Vendramin (RO)

Last update: 07/11/05