"By drawing both upon recent works and reconsidering earlier works, we can begin to appreciate that diverse institutional arrangements are available to human beings for creating their social realities."



Encountered--
Time: May 31, 2018
Place: Lopez Island, Pacific Northwest
Pointer from: Cited in Elinor Ostrom’s work. Lesser known husband.
Note type: Direct



Without a common technical language, a common theoretical apparatus, or a shared capability for translating from one to the other , it is difficult to relate work in these diverse fields of inquiry to the more general enterprise of institutional analysis and development.

We have some reason to be encouraged by the more recent efforts of scholars working at the intersections of different fields of inquiry to address problems of institutional analysis in new ways.

Some of these recent developments are providing conceptual tools that enable us to reread and rethink many important contributions to economic, political , and social analysis undertaken in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Work by Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Hume, Smith, Hamilton, Madison, Tocqueville, and many others, enables us to understand that different design principles can be used to create differently patterned institutions in human societies .

By drawing both upon recent works and reconsidering earlier works, we can begin to appreciate that diverse institutional arrangements are available to human beings for creating their social realities.

The critical problems are those associated with complexity. Modern "developed" societies are those that have capabilities both for autonomous development and self-governance in systems of orders that manifest increasing complexity.

The most fundamental modes of adaptation are those associated with : (1 ) genetic adaptation and its place in biological evolution, (2 ) learning and its place in the adaptations that creatures with central nervous systems can make to exigencies of life within the lifetime of individual members of a species, and (3) the articulation, communication, and accumulation of learning through the instrumentalities of language that yield cultural evolution in human societies .

All forms of adaptation involve openness to variety.

Processes of acquiring and transmitting new knowledge are accompanied by parallel processes for creating order in human relationships so that human beings can take advantage of one another's capabilities and come to know the meaning of diverse levels of reality.

The creation of order that is consistent with further learning, acquisition of knowledge, and the development of new possibilities means that human cultural evolution is characterized by increasing complexification. This complexification is manifest in the growth and differentiation of specialized fields of knowledge and in the growth and differentiation of professional and occupational skills that apply specialized fields of knowledge to human endeavors.

Whole infrastructures of educational facilities, laboratories, research facilities, associations, and enterprises contribute to the transmission and acquisition of knowledge, skills, and sensibilities to inform the productive activities that go on in a society.

When institutions are defined as systems of rule-ordered relationships, both the working of institutions and the analysis of institutions depends upon methods of analysis for assigning meaning to value terms.

In an essay on "A Fallibilist’s Approach to Norms and Criteria of Choice" (V. Ostrom, 1985c), I have indicated how Hobbes, Hume, and Smith have addressed this problem and provided an explanation for how human beings derive general criteria for distinguishing right from wrong, just from unjust, and the calculations that pertain to economic well-being.

In problems of institutional development, efforts to create patterns of organization of one type or another always depend upon a shared community of understanding on the part of those who are undertaking an effort to do something. People can draw upon ideas and design concepts developed by others ; but what they do in the development of institutional arrangements, that permit the pursuit of new opportunities in human societies , always depends upon their own knowledge and skills. People must always draw upon their own background of experience, skills , and knowledge in developing new possibilities . The best that can be done in such circumstances is t o help others acquire the knowledge and skills to help themselves.



**UPDATE** New Highlights, Aug 27, 2018

Learning accrues as a function of cognitive processes and motor facilities associated with the evolutionary development of animal life. Sensory mechanisms and cognitive processes of the central nervous system enable animals to make stable associations with regard to recurrent events in their environments, and then to induce variety by the way that they act with reference to those events. Learning organisms also have reference to internal indicators experienced as feelings which express preferences or aversions. Among human beings, feelings also establish the basis for empathy with others, and what it means “to be" at other levels of experience. Diverse ways of acting in recurrent circumstances yield different consequences. These are then subject to selection by their effect upon an organism's survival and well-being. Learning, thus, includes consideration of alternative courses of action and a selection or choice among those possibilities to yield better results. When such circumstances are recurrent, advantageous results are readily reproducible by memory of prior associations and are reinforced by repeated experience.

With the development of languages, human beings have radically amplified their capabilities for learning by being able to organize and express their learning as knowledge, communicate it from one individual to another, and accumulate knowledge over succeeding generations. The development of written and printed languages, as distinguished from spoken languages, has in its turn greatly amplified human capabilities f o r organizing, transmitting, accumulating, and using increasingly large aggregations of knowledge for shaping the conditions of human life.
Processes of acquiring and transmitting new knowledge are accompanied by parallel processes for creating order in human relationships so that human beings can take advantage of one another's capabilities and come to know the meaning of diverse levels of reality.
Whole infrastructures of educational facilities, laboratories, research facilities, associations, and enterprises contribute to the transmission and acquisition of knowledge, skills, and sensibilities to inform the productive activities that go on in a society.

The magnitude of problems associated with human cultural evolution and development becomes apparent when we reflect upon the way that deliberate strategies of inquiry were developed in what might be called the age of discovery and enlightenment that opened with Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Newton, and a multitude of others. Intellectual frontiers were advanced not by relying exclusively upon random innovations but by using search procedures aided by modern methods of inquiry. Discovery is facilitated by providing general explanatory accounts of causal relationships. The demands of the new methodology was to provide a public explanation that would enable anyone else following the same procedures to achieve comparable results. This method required explanations that would withstand critical scrutiny and be reproducible by experimental methods. The development of a method to facilitate learning implies that human beings learn how to learn.