Sunday, November 1, 2020

Review of A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Intriguing Connections: 1) Why do people think differently?

Elaborate Description

A magnificent explanation of the undercurrent of political debates. Even if both sides agree that something must be done, all sides can have vastly different responses due to their underlying visions. A vision is the integral network of assumptions that each person has about how the world works. Few can fully articulate their vision, but all act upon them. This book explains why different visions are in a conflict with one another.

Sowell sets up a dichotomy between constraint and unconstraint visions to help explain the major reasons. Many visions are a mix of the two, but to help understand the conflict it really was easier to go into the extreme visions. The valuable knowledge in this book is immense, and helps explain why adversaries fight even though they want the same thing.

In terms of knowledge, the constraint vision see humans as being fundament limited, such that no one has supreme intellect over others. Even those that show more expertise in an area are vastly limited in what they know about the entire subject to make the necessary decisions. As for the unconstraint vision, humans have immense capabilities which means all it takes is to get those less intelligent and bring them up to the higher levels of intelligence.

Most of the argument between the two visions can be seen as a conflict between process and result. The unconstraint vision wants to achieve the result no matter the cost. While the constraint vision sees the result as being beyond capabilities and tries to make the necessary trade-offs to benefit the situation. The constraint vision takes into account the evolution of society and credits the past highly while giving new techniques great skepticism. The unconstraint vision seems the past as useless to the present and makes every adjustment to get the proper results needed.

Sowell is incredibly talented in explain the conflict of visions without much bias to either vision, although sometimes he does slip up and demonstrates how one vision is fits reality a bit better. Then again, sometimes emphasis the other vision more. The writing makes clear that each situation requires an understanding of each vision to see which will fit the situation better.


Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780465002054
Pages to read:  265
Publication:     2007
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability     5
Content           5
Overall           5