Top Thirty Conflict Tips from the Great Thinkers

Over recent months we have posted some Top Ten Tips from great thinkers over conflict handling. We thought a consolidated list might be useful:

  1. Conflict is the essence of life and we have to get over our conflict allergy (Heraclitus)
  2. The start of this process is self reflection: knowing thyself and perhaps recognizing the conflict within us that we often project outside (Heraclitus)
  3. To see the truth and find reality, we often need to experience and stay with the creative tension between opposites. (Heraclitus)
  4. We need to continually challenge our presuppositions and our stand on various issues in conflict, using something approaching Socratic Dialogue to interrogate ourselves (Plato)
  5. The first step in acquiring new knowledge is to know what we don’t know (Plato)
  6. We need to greatly strengthen our tradition of argument, especially between those we radically different views of the world or policy prescriptions (Various)
  7. While our grip on reality may be distorted as if we were in a Plato’s cave, it is not clear that we can get to the surface, but perhaps all we can do is to visit many caves and figure out reality from there. (Plato)
  8. Thomas Hobbes built a philosophy with internal and external peace the primary goal and it was intended to overcome his ‘war of all against all’ (Hobbes)
  9. Wars of Religion may be followed by intense skepticism as to whether fighting over core beliefs is viable or consistent with species survival (Hobbes)
  10. Self preservation at the individual and collective level is a fundamental basis on which to build a society and we have sometimes lost sight of this in the interest of playing more complex games (Hobbes)
  11. In the absence of a willingness to give sovereign power to preserve us to an authoritarian sovereign, perhaps we have to look to conflict processes as something that we are willing to constrain our collective behavior in the interests of our survival (Hobbes and beyond)
  12. Any era’s conflicts will be shaped by its history which shapes how we perceive them (Hobbes, Hegel and Marx)
  13. It is difficult to be rational if the society in which we live is structured in a profoundly irrational way (Hegel and Marx)
  14. The master is as much a slave as the slave (Hegel)
  15. Although we have no reason to suppose that history in any sense follows this process, it is useful analytically to look at many situations as conflicts between some thesis and its anti-thesis to encourage us to seek creative synthesis to reach higher level solutions to conflict problems (Hegel and Marx)
  16. Material forces shape ideology (and vice versa) (Marx)
  17. A dialectical relationship between two positions, views, forces etc. means that the two mutually influence each other and this is a fruitful way to generate novelty and higher level solutions to conflict problems (Hegel and Marx)
  18. We should treat conflict theory as a necessary framework for learning from and improving our conflict skills, just as Von Clausewitz saw the theory of war. (Von Clausewitz)
  19. We should resort to war as a last resort, though being prepared to resort to it may be necessary (Von Clausewitz)
  20. In all forms of conflict we should bear in mind what we are trying to achieve and not let it take on its own momentum. (Von Clausewitz)
  21. When we do resort to war, we must be prepared for radical changes in the whole landscape and keep in mind that it is a way to achieve ends and not as an end in itself. (Von Clausewitz)
  22. Evolution works through the operation of mindless processes of replication, variation and differential survival to replicate; it has no foresight and so may not save us from extinction; we need to leverage our cognitive and behavioral flexibility to reach beyond evolution to survive. (Darwin and Stanovich)
  23. Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past’ (Marx)
  24. Our material self interest dictates how we see social reality: our rationality is strongly dependent on economic self and group interest, yet we may be prone to delusions about our self interest that Marx calls bad faith. (Marx)
  25. Conflict between individual and collective interest is inevitable and awareness of this tension is essential to good conflict resolution and higher level solutions. (Fisher and Ury)
  26. The amount of conflict in a society varies depending on how tension there is between existing productive relations and society: globalization and its discontents reflect this. (Various)
  27. We view the world through paradigms that systematize our knowledge and it is critical that we are willing to continually test these paradigms. (Kuhn and Popper)
  28. Conflict outcomes dramatically improve in potential efficiency when we focus on interests not positions. (Fisher and Ury)
  29. Good conflict discipline is essential but most humans resist it and prefer to wing it: we need to understand and overcome this resistance. (Various)
  30. Know thyself (Buddha, Heraclitus, Plato and beyond)


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Neuro-science of conflict, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Philosophy of Conflict, Top Ten Conflict Tips from Great Thinkers, Uncategorized, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Top Thirty Conflict Tips from the Great Thinkers

  1. Pingback: Village Earth… « creatingreciprocity

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