I thought it would be fun to list out some of the contemporary intellectual thinkers who have fed the thinking of this blog, in roughly the order I discovered them and started using their approaches in this context:
- William Ury*, who with Roger Fisher, wrote the classical conflict book: ‘Getting to Yes’, that more or less invented interest-based, principled negotiation that underlies this blog’s approach
- Charles Hampden Turner*, whose work on the power of paradox introduced me to the idea that conflict could be creative, and to the idea of virtuous and vicious circles and a whole range of thinking on cross-cultural difference. His ‘Maps of the Mind’ had incalculable impact on me.
- Howard Raiffa, author of ‘Negotiation Analysis’ that built a great deal of the negotiation theory that I use in many of the detailed working through of conflict issues in my practice
- Richard Nisbett* who in ‘The Geography of Thought’ really started me thinking about the cognitive diversity of the different cultures of the world, and seems to have written on almost every aspect of social psychology relevant to conflict, including different violence rates US North/South, the individual and the situation, fundamental attribution error, and how people can’t give accurate accounts of their own mental processes.
- Simon Baron-Cohen*, whose ‘The Essential Difference’ introduced me to the problems of ‘theory of mind’ and autism, which I have extended into the concept of ‘conflict autism’ or lack of ‘theory of mind’ in conflict
- Keith Stanovich* whose book ‘The Robot’s Rebellion’ suggested ways to overcome our genetic and memetic determinism, and therefore handle conflict with fundamentalisms, and whose book ‘Dysrationality’ introduced me to the importance of the distinction between being ‘smart’ and being ‘wise’ (my words not his)
- Scott Page*, whose book ‘The Difference’ showed me that cognitive diversity is essential for solving complex problems, and with this cognitive diversity comes conflict over instrumental and fundamental preferences that needs a conflict model to handle
- Jonathan Haidt* whose book ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’ first introduced me to the concept of our self-righteous, unconscious pattern recognizing Elephant and our self justifying, not in control Rider; and whose recent ‘The Righteous Mind’ widened my grasp of the moral underpinnings of politics and religion and the evolutionary value of religious belief.
- Marco Iacaboni* whose book ‘Mirroring People’ helped me understand the implications of mirror neuron research for understanding the neural bases of empathy, so critical in conflict handling, and forms the basis of our proposed joint research of this area.
- Daniel Kahneman for his work on heuristics and biases, and his latest work ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow’ that helped crystallize my thinking on the problems of ‘getting real’ in conflict
Footnote: For the sake of full disclosure, I have talked directly with, met or worked with those on the list, who are marked with an asterisk.
Many of these books on this list were hand sold to me by my good friends Nancy, Kate and Evelyn at a local bookstore that is with is us no more, as is much of the patience and attention span needed to read actual books from beginning to end……