Blog 11/2018 – Carlos A. Gebauer

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About our Blog 2018

More and more people are longing for simple explanations and solutions. An unmistakable sign that our living conditions are becoming increasingly complex. For this reason, we will publish 12 blog posts this year that deal with this timely issue.

It is important for us to consider very different perspectives in order to offer you the most stimulating possible offer. For this we have been able to win four well-known guest authors who, with no editorial filters, write about their personal thoughts on this very interesting topic. Look forward to philosophical insights from Dr. Ina Schmidt, humorous thoughts of our therapeutic clown Michael Trybek, astute thoughts by our language and legal expert Carlos A. Gebauer and constructive considerations of our health expert Christoph von Oldershausen.

We wish you a stimulating read.

Your Liechtenstein Academy team

«Measurement and control as dispute resolution
or: How to wisely stay out of trouble as a third party»


It is not only measurement and control engineers who think in terms of the categories of actual and target values. Economists and physicians also scale up sections of reality and consider whether they like the results. If the collected value contradicts expectations, the expert intervenes; if everything is «in order», so to speak, the expert can remain inactive.

What happens in all this is the comparison of facts with standards. The real, actual world is put into relation with the desirable. If reality does not fulfil the expectations of the observer, he adjusts the world accordingly. Behind the whole, there is thus at its core the duality of the subjective imagination and the objective outside world. The actor's wish should become reality in order to shape his image of the world.

In contrast to human medicine, in which a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius indisputably serves the individual, there are other disciplines of human research and action in which the «right» value is anything but undisputed. Can economists be happy with «black zero», meaning to break even? Is an inflation rate of 2% p.a. the measure of all things for economies? To what degree should a rented apartment be heated and how much pollution should an engine be allowed to emit? It is obvious that the possibility of a dispute regarding every single one of such values, especially with its indeterminacy, can grow into sheer boundlessness. The less one knows, the better one can quarrel.

Once we have recognized that quarrel among people is a manifestation of the conflict between subjective nominal and actual ideas, then this does not remain without consequences for our behavior in our own disputes. Even more than that, from this perspective debates among others – in which we are not involved at all – come to be viewed differently. Conflicts of opinion with others and confrontations among third parties can then suddenly be understood as a conflict between ideas of order.

If the actual state of the world assumed by my counterpart deviates from the state he imagines to be the desired state, then he sees – of course – the need for action. And this action, in its concrete form, is again only a derivation from the difference he sees between the actual and the nominal. Just like my counterpart, however, I am also in dispute myself. If I don't like the other person's plan of action, I would be well advised not to talk to him about these actions at all for the time being. Instead it becomes crucial to discuss what distinguishes the two actual diagnoses and the two target states of the participants from each other. Such a differentiation of the individual elements of the dispute dissolves some conflicts as if by magic into nothingness. It is not uncommon for people to argue more about their words than about the objects they thought they were describing with them. To put it another way – even if two people agree on the given and the desirable situation, they can still get into wild arguments with each other if they use different names.

But this insight does not mean the end of the technical examination of human discourse behaviour in terms of measurement and control. It gains further complexity in those cases in which we – at first – experience the debating of others as an uninvolved person. In the situation where two argue we feel the need to intervene peacefully. Who hasn't then experienced the other two suddenly becoming allies and abruptly rejecting the mediation attempt? In addition to the original two perspectives, with their two objectives and two options for action, a third variant, at least, is added. Because it wants to mediate it does not agree with any of the original elements. Instead of calming the situation, there is an additional complication. So what to do as a third party? The solution to the riddle here is that if talking is silver, silence is gold. At least until you know what the others think is true and what is desirable.

Written by: Carlos A. Gebauer