4.9 Shallow and deep understanding

{Section under construction}

Authoritarians and libertarians have different modes of dealing with the world that one might term shallow and deep cognition or alternatively intelligence with and without understanding.

Authoritarians live, conform Table Child rearing qualities, in a world of which they understand many aspects only minimally and definitely shallowly: they might know the rules, protocols, and norms of normal behavior, they might adhere to ideologies and religions, they know examples of how to respond to particular situations, and might know what to say and who to obey, but they have no pervasive understanding of why and how things happen and how the world is interconnected. In addition they are definitely unable to think and decide for themselves, follow their own conscience, and accept the responsibility for their own actions. Authoritarians obey their authorities and these are therefore responsible for their actions. This also entails that authoritarians cannot oversee the long- (or even mid-)term consequences of their own and other’s behavior and they either offload the responsibility for that to authorities or simply fail to accept that their behavior has predictable (and adverse) consequence. Which is often impossible to understand by libertarians who have a deeper and more pervasive understanding of the world.

Shallow understanding

This is cognition based on norms, rules, procedures, examples, instances, habits, and stereotypes. Typically these are derived from some sort of external authority or society as a whole. This form of cognition is only reliable in environments where the rules, procedures, etc, are actually effective. And even while they are effective, they allows for many inconsistencies and as such to potentially suboptimal behavior with adverse long term consequences. Authoritarian self-confidence is therefore a function of whether or not the shallow cognitive capabilities match environmental demands, which explains why authoritarians go to such great lengths to help authorities to maintain the conditions in which they feel adequate and confident. [9]

This refers back to the [coping mode of thought] in which success is measured in terms of the restoration or protection of feelings of agentic adequacy. The Associated strategy is to remove all sources of uncontrolled and not understood diversity that frustrate the maintenance or restoration of agentic adequacy.

Deep understanding

A diversity of interactions with the world lead, via the process of induction, to evermore generally applicable regularities that replace large sets of instances, procedures, and examples, etc. by more parsimonious and gradually more pervasive and reality-based and reality-tested understanding. Difficult to formulate intuitions (i.e., the left hemisphere trying to formulate right hemispheric insights) are generally the starting point and motivator of this process of discovery. The resulting deeper and pervasive understanding becomes apparent as the ability to oversee the consequences of behavior and the selection of courses of action with minimal negative long term consequences. Associated with this is a wider applicability of skills and a much lower associated probability of adverse long term consequences. This results in increased reality-based self-confidence.

Deep understanding refers to the pervasive optimization mode of thought which lead to the optimization of the whole living environment The associated strategy is to [co-create] - to work with the inherent dynamics of the world.

Deep cognition is always based on an initial phase of shallow cognition such as intuition. This entails that deep cognition is always a subset of the total cognitive competences of an individual. In Authoritarians this subset is small. An adult authoritarian is in that sense an example of arrested intellectual development.


  1. Which directly entails that the authorities can take this confidence away by moving society out of the comfort zone of the authoritarians that subject themselves to their control.  ↩