Big Picture Thinking
Musician and writer Nick Currie has an interesting essay on the current financial meltdown happening on Wall street. It really boils down the essence of what’s happening without throwing around confusing terms. He points out that a greedy financial industry became too narrowly focused, only zooming in at the details of making more money, instead of using a more holistic “ethical and aesthetic intelligence” that could stand back and see the big picture.
Now, the current financial crisis is dauntingly technical — and far beyond my comprehension. But it also contains a moral dimension which we can all understand, and I think the quote above is a way to the nub of it. That complaint isn’t just about the failure of supposedly-intelligent brains to predict the current situation, it’s about the specialization of intelligence, the narrowing down of intelligence from a general critical sense, a view of the big picture (the kind of view artists might take), to a very narrow form of self-interested cunning that focuses on devising ever-newer, even-more-complicated forms of personal gain — ways to cheat the system and cheat other people, even out of their houses and food — and studiously ignores the bigger implications.