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Professional Coaching, Plato’s Cave and the Sociology of Knowledge

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Static Objectivism

When an ontological analysis is applied in the sociology of knowledge, there are two different perspectives regarding the nature of being and, more basically, the nature of reality as defined by a specific society or sub-unit of a society. One of these perspectives might best be called objectivism. The advocates for this perspective assume that there is a reality out there that we can know and articulate. There are universal truths or at least universal principles that can be applied to the improvement of the human condition, resolution of human conflicts, restoration of human rights, or even construction of a global order and community.

We are now witnessing a parallel emergence of what we might call “bio-centrism.”This is an objectivist perspective defining human beings as an objective and stable reality. From this static and objectivist perspective, we begin with the assumption that our identity and our decisions are “wired in” to our neurological structures and basically pre-set at birth. The bio-centric, objectivist perspective has served us well for several centuries. It has enabled us to make great advances in medical and cultural science; however, this perspective has also created many problems with which we now live. From a bio-centric objectivist perspective, the human body, included the brain, was (and is) perceived as an advanced machine that can be altered and repaired.

This perspective can be retraced to the central principles of modernity: determinism and progress. While there is a tendency to coach from this perspective, this is a very limited (and limiting) approach to coaching—especially when the people we are coaching base their notion of “self” and “being” on this perspective. “Being” is  a given, that is determined at birth–though with some potential for improvement.  In many ways, our Executive Director is living with a long-term, historically-powerful notion of what good service for humanity should look like. There is a static objectivism that defines truth and virtue. There is nothing to improve or change!

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