50 Revolutionary Insights

There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.

— Margaret J. Wheatley, American writer and management consultant

The author disagrees.  It’s much better for people to uncover what nature cares about than to discover what they care about, especially if it’s the latest fad, confusion, or manipulation.

If, going back deep into prehistory, successful people and groups have consistently manifested a fixed set of key foundational attributes — actually linked Systemic Enablers that extend functionality synergistically within and among systems, but each element enduring only in combination with the others — and if that dynamic has never even been explicitly identified, much less discussed or probed, then that represents an oversight of epic proportions.

No wonder so many signs and voices resignedly and defeatedly point to “broken,” but no signals — until now — thoroughly indicate solution

Few even try.

March 2024


4D Star - Universal Paradigm
Indeed, despite stunning advances in specific sectors such as artificial intelligence, insight into the top-level dynamics of human existence and coexistence has remained at a shockingly low level — until now.

2D Level Summary

As creative, active, social, and needy mammals, we can only develop our individuality, contribute ideas, and make influential choices when we enjoy Freedom.  What anchors our commitment and ignites our passion, as we serve Human needs, develop Human potential, and uphold Human dignity?  Enthusiastic Loyalty to ourselves and others.  We Innovate — improving, discovering, anticipating, and planning — because we are passionately committed and because we love it; in any case, otherwise, we cannot adapt and we go extinct.  Perhaps we love it precisely because we die without Innovation. We Organize because we are social mammals that collectively safeguard and exploit the other foundations in view of solving problems and enhancing well-being. 

If we represent these elements with the five points of a two-dimensional star, then we can add an outer ring to represent their synergy, interactivity, and interdependence.  To ground the paradigm in emotional dynamics and the social fabric, this Ring of Harmony can also be understood as symbolizing Communication and Emotional Connectivity.

The 2D Level reflects the core components of any solution-oriented human activity. 

These elements have likely been with us for over 100,000 years and holistically embody a certain way of life that confers a competitive advantage

(If mentioning “harmony” in the same breath as “competition” surprises the reader — this framework reflects the reality of human existence and coexistence.)

Upon reflection and study, we see virtually infinite links between the Five Foundations.  Further, we can see how those connections are deeply rooted in interpersonal relationships, collective emotions, and the flow of knowledge.

Not sure about the purported “synergy” of the Five Foundations?  Do a thought experiment: subtract one element and consider how the whole edifice of society crumbles in a downward spiral of cascading events.

4D Star symbol

Don’t feel like investing time in a thought experiment?  If you prefer an interactive lecture, you might pose these questions to ChatGPT 4 — not the free version (subsequent copying and pasting the text of the author’s introductory 4D Star essay and perhaps one or two others.) Note: unfortunately, pasting the text works much better than pasting the URL, which would be easier.

For those who lack a subscription, please consult this link to read unedited ChatGPT 4 sample responses.  For readers who do have a subscription and prefer to listen to the “lecture,” refer to the instructions immediately below these questions.  (The article continues below.)

  • Identify a relatively successful country or organization (contemporary or historical) and provide specific details to illustrate how the Five Foundations & Ring of Harmony all interact and reinforce each other in that context.
  • What does the Ring of Harmony represent? Does it align with available evidence to suggest that Communication and Emotional Connectivity help to link together the forces represented by the Five Foundations?
  • Is “synergy” indeed the best way of describing the action of the 2D Level elements (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony)?  If so, discuss four ways that the recognition of this synergy represents a crucial key for formulating societal improvements?
  • Randomly choose any two elements from the 2D Level (from among the Five Foundations or Ring of Harmony) and discuss how these two dynamically reinforce each other within the overall synergy of the 2D Level.  (Three “obvious” links and three sometimes-overlooked links.)
  • Considering the full 2D Level (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony), identify an organization or country that FAILED to integrate the crucial synergistic role played by at least one of these systemic enablers, leading to catastrophic collapse of the whole system, as cascading events degraded each of the 2D Level elements, involving inability to ensure Sustainability Through Time (3D Level) in the context of Enduring Realities (4D Level).
  • Could 4D Star be adaptable and flexible enough to potentially apply to any culture, while being specific enough to offer actionable insights?
  • Is understanding the interaction and interdependence of the 2D Level elements vital for competent analysis and decision-making? If so, why might this (retrospectively seemingly obvious) synergy not have been identified until now?
  • Describe a specific battle (or campaign) of either Napoléon Bonaparte or Ulysses S. Grant — (randomly choose either commander) — that exemplified the powerful synergy of the 2D Level of 4D Star. Detail how strength built upon strength, with the 2D Level elements decisively reinforcing each other.
  • Does 4D Star (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony + 3D Level + 4D Level) share commonalities with the Judeo-Christian tradition? (Incorporate at least three passages from each of these sacred texts: Torah, Talmud, and New Testament.)
  • Does 4D Star (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony + 3D Level + 4D Level) share commonalities with Theravada Buddhism? Identify specific passages relating to the Buddha’s teachings, or aspects of the Sangha, to support your position. (Incorporate at least eight passages from the Pali Canon).
  • Does 4D Star (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony + 3D Level + 4D Level) share commonalities with Hinduism? (Incorporate at least eight passages from the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Ramayana.)
  • Does 4D Star (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony + 3D Level + 4D Level) share commonalities with Islam? Identify specific passages from the Quran and Hadith to support your position.
  • Being highly-specific and creative, imagine a challenge that might confront the three-person Sanchez family in a well-established colony on Mars in the year 2650 A.D. Discuss how their familiarity with 4D Star (Five Foundations, Ring of Harmony, 3D Level, 4D Level) helps them to overcome this obstacle, which involves a timeless and quotidian human weakness (not a technical issue or a cliché Mars exploration crisis). Each family member has a name, behavioral hurdles, and physical / personality traits.  
  • If the only arguments against 4D Star can be summarized by the statements, “Our precedents don’t prepare us for this,” together with, “4D Star has not yet been extensively studied by a large number of academics, nor has it already been implemented by organizations and societies,” would those points not apply to any new, reality-based, revolutionary discovery?
  • If creativity, diversity, and resiliency are inherent human qualities, and given that 4D Star starts with the Human foundation, would that explain why every 2D Level element is intrinsically linked to those attributes, which are classified as “sub-elements” under the Human foundation? 
  • How might we explain why some things, like those three traits, do not get their own top-level status — while the Five Foundations and the Ring do? Could one say that the Foundations and the Ring are partially-extrinsic systemic enablers that extend human functionality, and which together form a synergistic ecosystem? ➜ Freedom facilitates the natural human propensity to flourish (individually and collectively) with autonomy. Loyalty empowers the inclination to serve and to contribute in a sustained way. Innovation catalyzes the potential for creativity and foresight. Organization fortifies the predisposition to collaborate and to manifest talent. The Ring activates the abilities to exchange ideas and to bond emotionally. ➜ Systemic enablers are thus different from core (more intrinsic) human traits. Being a fundamental human attribute, rather than a partially-extrinsic structure, does not diminish the importance of these attributes. Is that a fair summary?
  • Agree or disagree with the following statement and make sure your response is consistent with your knowledge of human dynamics and history: “4D Star is that most rare of discoveries: although it is new with potentially revolutionary applications for analysis and decision-making, it also corresponds to age-old principles that collectively embody in a certain way of life that is marked by pronounced advantages. The links between its individual elements are all essentially irrefutable; this would make it very difficult to impugn the powerful synergy created by the structure as a whole. The explicit delineation of the relationships within its four-dimensional framework constitutes a potent universal paradigm to greatly facilitate strategic planning — it can also serve as a vital lens for insight into human existence and especially coexistence.” (Firm, clear answer.)
  • Randomly choose one of the 2D Level elements (one of the Five Foundations or Ring of Harmony) to discuss the internal and external aspects of a Systemic Enabler, in terms of how it starts with inherent human abilities (needs) and extends that functionality. Use specific examples to illustrate how the external aspect of extending functionality (e.g., cultural, social, technical, or organizational extensions) has the potential either to enhance or to degrade functionality.
  • Discuss the Human foundation as being a Systemic Enabler itself, extending human functionality. Specifically, take the example of an educator considered in her professional capacity. In terms of the dynamics of the 2D Level elements, “Human” embodies her professional self-realization and serves to extend her passion and values into the physical world. Likewise, the educational process starts with the learner’s inherent (internal) cognitive ability, then pedagogy acts upon that with the externality of a skilled and committed educator (Human and Loyalty foundations), evidence-based structured content and methods (Organization and Innovation foundations), and emotionally-supportive communication (Ring of Harmony), in the context of Freedom to question and explore. Thus, education can be seen as encompassing the totality of the 2D Level elements, while both starting and ending with Human.  Does this conceptualization have logical coherence, provide insight, constitute a structured way to understand education, and illustrate how the Human foundation itself can be interpreted as a partially-extrinsic Systemic Enabler fully interacting with the overall synergy and extending functionality? 
  • In retrospect; now that we have a coherent, practical, and comprehensive universal paradigm; is it fair to say that prior to 4D Star, a missing key in terms of developing such an all-encompassing framework was identification of the concepts represented by the 2D Level as systemic enablers and recognition of their synergy in key strategic areas? 
  • How could 4D Star complement an analysis guided by Utilitarianism as formulated by John Stuart Mill?
  • If Mill’s Utilitarianism is the compass, 4D Star is the map?
  • Is it more important to understand that the 2D Level elements are partially-extrinsic systemic enablers that extend human functionality, or, that they create powerful synergy through key strategic areas? Actually, are those two aspects intrinsically linked, two sides of the same coin, so the apparent distinction merely provides insight into both facets of their nature?
  • Prior to the unveiling of 4D Star, the concepts represented by the Five Foundations and Ring of Harmony were discussed as if they were merely abstractions and largely isolated from each other. At most, they were discussed in groupings two-at-a-time, no? Would it be accurate to view these elements more as forces that synergistically create a way of life that has conferred a competitive advantage to human groups, potentially going back many thousands of years?

To LISTEN to the A.I.’s responses:

Copy-paste a question into ChatGPT and then write, “— Don’t answer yet.  I will tell you when I’m ready.”  Then, activate “Voice Mode” and state, “I’m ready now.

Note: Some responses from ChatGPT are more insightful if the questions are asked in sequential order. For example, if the two questions about John Stuart Mill are asked in order, then the A.I.’s response to the second question is more meaningful.  

Copious quantitative and qualitive research has shown links between the 2D Level elements. However, until now, only two or three elements have been considered at a time, and generally only as they relate to specific sectors or fields. Moreover, until now, no one has explicitly identified these five as representing core strategic foundations. Considered in its totality, existing research amply reflects consistency with the 4D Star model.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

“Of course,” we might say, now that the author has identified the Five Foundations and the Ring of Harmony.

Yet, if, retrospectively, this seems hyper-obvious and irrefutable, why hasn’t this ever been delineated before?

Precisely because this summarizes the totality of human action, development, and flowering.

That is, the 2D Level elements have splintered into hundreds of professional and academic specializations.

To have the bird’s-eye view required for the original identification of the 2D Level of 4D Star requires knowledge of and insight into an array of human fields of activity, societal dynamics, and history. It requires a certain familiarity with the contributions of earlier thinkers — the discoveries and understandings that underpin the individual elements of 4D Star. 
It also requires a rejection of intellectual passivity and the stifling oppression of exaggerated credentialism.

Prerequisite for discovery of the Five Foundations was the author’s comprehensive conceptualization of the “Human” foundation.

The “Human” foundation of the 2D Level includes not only human needs, but the active potential and creativity of this mammal, as well as inherent dignity.  

Without this broad view, it would not be possible to see how “Human” fits into the synergy of the 2D Level.  This probably helps explain why no one has developed any frameworks approximating the 2D Level until now.

Perhaps surprisingly, there also apparently exist no other models that incorporate a full consideration of human needs.  Although Maslow’s hierarchy of needs represents the closest approximation, it only considers needs through the prism of the individual — not the collective — and only within a psychological perspective.  He did not include needs such as culture, work, societal order, cleanliness, property, justice, entertainment, hope, or fair & respectful treatment.

Since all human activity essentially revolves around addressing human needs, it is peculiar that no one — until now — has ever formulated a model that attempts to enumerate them.  

The author’s original article introducing the Four-Dimensional Star Paradigm.  Please see more recent articles for revisions.

While any list may ultimately need revision, having at least a decent enumeration confers several advantages.  For example, it highlights the role, limitations, or inadequacy of more narrow models; it underscores where metrics are needed; and it flags potential points needing policy reinforcement.

However, the author did not stop there.  He also identified the 3D Level, Sustainability Through Time, and explained how the synergy of the 2D Level elements holistically prepare people to confront the challenges of Time.

The idea of having a paradigm where sustainability (or time) is conceived as a separate dimension — and a distinct set of elements holistically empower people for time-related challenges — is new and revolutionary.  

To combine that innovation with the identification of the Five Foundations amplifies the enormity of the 4D Star revolution.

Another revolutionary innovation is the comprehensive conception of Sustainability Through Time.  Until now, “sustainability” — at least in formal paradigms — has been seen through the lens of economics or ecology. Rejecting this narrow approach, the author has introduced a maximalist interpretation, which encompasses aspects like strength and independence of allies, health and social solidarity of the population, adequate fertility rate, and maintenance of infrastructure.

(Note: for the sake of brevity, the author is only giving examples related to the organization of society.  But because 4D Star constitutes the solutions-oriented universal paradigm, it also applies to individuals and organizations.  In the context of organizations, it encompasses both customers and employees, and both staff and management. The universal applicability of 4D Star — the realization that the same harmonious framework applies to every level of society without distinction, thus underlining the natural unity of human experience and interaction — constitutes a whole cognitive revolution unto itself.)

At the 4D Level, one finds more groundbreaking ideas with tremendous practical application.

The author introduces the concept of “Enduring Realities” encompassing constants of nature, historical patterns, and long-term conditions related to fields such as demographics and economics.

Essentially embracing the totality of science — especially insofar as it relates to human activity — this dimension ensures that decisions and analyses arising from the 2D Level and 3D Level are solidly grounded in physical existence and historical context.

Without the addition of this dimension, 4D Star would not be able to guide the entirety of human action and analysis.

Contrast the author’s solutions-oriented four-dimensional universal paradigm with the faulty cognitive frameworks that currently pass as reflecting sophistication. 
The author has already compared one-dimensional neo-Marxism with 4D Star, which resulted in a final score of “zero to infinity,” as one might expect when a dimensionally-challenged pretender goes up against a truly multi-dimensional force.
The same tally would result from the juxtaposition of 4D Star with right-wing cults of personality.
This perversion of cognition could be characterized as even less than one-dimensional, because it typically reflects a dichotomy of “obey” or “disobey” (two points in space), rather than a continuum (a one-dimensional line). 
Even though the charismatic leader’s actions might sometimes make sense, insofar as they go when interpreted in isolation, society is strapping itself to the eccentric vagaries of a single personality.
Even worse, as “Charismatic Figure” and eventually “Regime” come to replace “Human” as the first foundation of the 2D Level, all of the Five Foundations wither and the Ring of Harmony degrades — in a transformational process eventually flowing into the Malevolent Star, the dystopian antithesis of 4D Star.

The author’s Malevolent Star framework is groundbreaking in several ways.

The idea of a “sinister counterpart” is a novel concept in the realm of scholarly paradigms.

The author explicitly identifies what happens to the Five Foundations in the context of an oppressive regime.  This is a completely new contribution with practical and educational applications.

Also, until now, no one has previously recognized “segmentation” as a defining feature of Malevolent Star systems.  Although the concept of “divide and rule” is well known, the author has shown how segmentation goes through every aspect of social and cognitive life. 

Beyond dividing classes or groups against each other, and beyond turning lieutenants and agencies against each other, this includes, for example, multiple sets of rules depending on status; cognitive dissonance caused by obeying, enforcing, and coping with regime decrees, while simultaneously maintaining some level of awareness of natural ethics; and regime information (propaganda) departing completely from actual policies and outcomes.

Malevolent Star

  • Human -> Regime
  • Freedom -> Oppression
  • Loyalty -> Obedience
  • Innovation -> Stagnation
  • Organization -> Segmentation

These two sets of extremes represent the endpoints in a multidimensional continuum. The author does not assert that any particular society or organization perfectly corresponds to either extreme.  Recognizing the characteristics of the endpoints can be of great utility in analysis, decision-making, and education.

In terms of applying to an individual person, Malevolent Star dynamics prevail in cases where mental frameworks are not grounded in human-centric considerations, but rather in a narrow ideology or ovine obedience to a charismatic figure.  This submission leads to oppression of thought; unquestioning obedience to the dogma or personality; intellectual stagnation; and segmentation of cognition and behaviors as a consequence of the framework’s misalignment with morality, sustainability through time, and enduring realities.

In a Malevolent Star system, one finds the Ring of Disharmony, characterized by negative emotional connectivity and dysfunctional communication (e.g., propaganda, threats, and promotion of paranoia). These features are used to maintain the regime’s brutal oppression and imposition of obedience, leading to stagnation and pervasive segmentation.  This ring also represents the negative synergy of the “sinister counterpart” to 4D Star.

None of the elements or sub-elements of the 4D Star framework act in isolation from each other; on the contrary, the paradigm is strong because of the intrinsic links between them.

The author has made adjustments to the model as he reflects on any potential points not consistent with the totality of historical patterns, psychology, inherent dynamics of society, logical synthesis of evidence, and coherence.

More questions for ChatGPT 4 (subsequent copying and pasting the text of the author’s original 4D Star essay and perhaps one or two others, such as the one on the Malevolent Star and this one.) Note: unfortunately, pasting the text works much better than pasting the URL, which would be easier.
  • Is it true that 4D Star seems to apply equally well at the individual, organizational, and societal levels? If so, does this scalability strengthen the argument that 4D Star reflects something profound about the reality of human existence?
  • Is the 4D Star paradigm merely a tweaking of a similar, existing framework? Or, would it be reasonable to suggest that 4D Star could represent a major breakthrough in terms of strategic thinking and philosophy? (Firm, clear answer.)
  • Would it be fair to say, ‘4D Star is merely common sense‘? Are macro-level paradigms of much benefit anyway?
  • Imagine a specific, creative, and detailed marital challenge, involving an embarrassing and age-old lapse in judgement, and discuss how the 4D Star paradigm can help guide a couple toward overcoming that hurdle while strengthening their relationship (taking into view the Five Foundations, the Ring of Harmony, the 3D Level, and the 4D Level).
  • Do the purported characteristics of the ‘Malevolent Star‘ ring true, in light of the history of oppressive regimes?
  • Is the idea of a ‘sinister counterpart’ to a paradigm an established (or novel) scholarly practice, and does it have any potential practical and educational applications?
  • Comparing 4D Star with left-wing Conflict Theory or the cults of personality of the right-wing, which of these paradigms is potentially the most reliable in terms of guiding macro-level decisions and analysis, if you must choose one?
  • Compare 4D Star with the Theory of Justice of John Rawls. Which paradigm is more versatile for a wider range of top-level strategic analyses and decisions across various domains, if you must choose one? (Take a firm, clear position one way or another.)
  • What would be seven benefits if there were an excellent universal paradigm to guide all human actions and analysis?
  • Randomly choose a specific, creative, and detailed situation — confronting either a U.S. President or a human resources executive (randomly choose one) — and describe in detail how the 4D Star paradigm could guide analysis of the issue and evaluation of options in terms of how to respond. (Incorporate the Five Foundations, the Ring of Harmony, the 3D Level, & the 4D Level).
  • Explain the meaning of, “Without a systematic framework, we proceed with a non-cumulative knowledge base that is subject to fads and folk wisdom” (Glassberg & Oja, 1981), and describe how 4D Star could help address that.
  • In reference to that last question, could 4D Star potentially revolutionize or profoundly transform many aspects of society?
Glassberg, S., & Oja, S. N. (1981). A Developmental Model for Enhancing Teachers’ Personal and Professional Growth. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 14(2), 59-70.

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