Anankelogy 101

08  Knowing


How do we know for sure? 


Which do you think is more likely?

You can be assured our collective knowledge and scientific discipline keeps us all in check for knowing what is helpful and real.




By collectively generalizing for relief from our many unresolved needs, we continually hide from truth in ways keeping us in constant yet managed pain and lower functioning.


What you know about other things pales in value to honestly knowing yourself and each other. The more you know who you are through honest feedback from others, and can together fully resolve needs, the more other things to know tend to naturally take care of themselves.

You primarily know what your needs require you to know. Everything you know, or think you know, pours through the filter of how well your needs resolve. The less they resolve, and result in more pain, the more that pain tends to distort what you know.


You learn what you need to know to ease the strain. The more in pain, the less you can focus on little else. You must believe what will relieve. You believe what you need to believe.


If your situation requires a smaller role of government, then you believe in smaller government. The more painfully you feel you need it, the more you generalize that government should have less of a role in everyone’s life. You can hardly relate to disconfirming exceptions for larger government.


If you vulnerably rely on government support systems, then you believe in maintaining or expanding the size of government. The more painfully you feel you need it, the more you generalize how government should provide for us all. You cannot find meaning in smaller government.


Your pressing needs filter what you know. The more your needs resolve, the freer your cognition to consider other things. The fewer your needs resolve, the more your cognition contracts to focus on relief. The more you generalize for relief. While stuck alone in your pain, you slide further away from any peakfunctionality.


The more in pain, the more inclined to seek comforting information. What offers or provides comfort rarely generalizes as well as what results in resolving needs toward full functioning. The more intense that pain, the more you can intellectually rationalize almost anything for its relief.


Intellect is easily overrated where love is underperformed. You either cling defensively to what you believe for relief, or dynamically interact with what there is to know using what anankelogy calls relational knowing.


Relational knowing

Trust your perceptions better by linking them to how well needs resolve. By testable correlations even you can measure.

Relational knowing follows a simple format:


The less—or more—of this, then the more of that.


As one thing goes up or down, you experience something else going up or down. You frame what is knowable as a testable hypothesis.


You relate to the rise and fall of something shaping your needs. You see associations governing your life. You relate more boldly, more honestly, and more dynamically. As things quickly change, you ensure you keep pace.


For example, the less you rely on generalizing for relief, the more relevant nuance you engage. The more nuance you work through, the more your needs can resolve. The more your needs resolve, the less pain you suffer. The less pain distracting your focus, the less you feel a need to generalize for relief.


With relational knowing, you tend to

  • be more open to dialogue with others

  • rely less on oversimplified binaries like “right/wrong”

  • be more open to nuance

  • invite inclusive understanding

  • be more open to evidence

  • be more open to disconfirmation, invalidation

  • see more between implicit and explicit theories

  • be less likely to provoke other’s defensiveness

  • be respectful of vulnerabilities

  • steer clear of premature certainty

  • be more open to ambiguities

  • be more open to all

  • be more democratic

  • understand more needs

  • encourage more resolving of needs

  • suffer fewer distortions of unresolved needs

  • be able to focus on more things

  • to function better, and more.


Without relational knowing, you are expected by experts to slip easily into error. You risk swinging between extreme versions of a priori rationalism and a posteriori empiricism. Academic experts see a vast chasm between your “implicit theories” of untested assumptions and the their “explicit theories” of scientifically vetted associations.


With relational knowing, you can be the contrarian armchair scientist who dares frame better questions to ask and test. You can help humanity realize overlooked truths, if you can accept its uncertainty. You need not rush to generalize any relationship you observe in yourself.


You add your understanding as a useful tool in the disciplined philosopher’s toolbox. Your epistemological scalpels do not become sledgehammers. You simply relate what you know as you know it, inviting others to know along with you. You finetune it with fresh data.


While acknowledging pitfalls when doing your own research, you’re free from knowing only through “experts” and pundits. In the current populist atmosphere, you can trust more of your senses. You retain autonomy of your own understanding, while trusting others to support your best understanding.


You know more for yourself and though available others. You do not have to get everything exactly right the first time, especially if not acting on your first conclusions. You can be your own armchair scientists, in control of your own life. As long as you discern different quality levels of science.


    Weak science

reinforces our worst biases, leaving us stuck in symfunctionality or worse.

    Good science

provides reliable answers, while open to invalidating data.

    Great science

inspires better questions to ask and test toward fully resolving more needs.



Bias, according to anankelogy, is prioritizing need. The less a need resolves, the more it biases you for its relief. The more your needs resolve, the less bias.


You first know what your needs require you to know. The less your needs fully resolve, the more your knowledge prioritizes whatever it takes to relieve the pain of your unresolved needs.


Needs under your own control are typically more resolved than needs not under your direct control. The more publicly affected the need, the more difficult to fully resolve, especially in larger societies.

The larger the society, the more generalizing to fit publicly affected needs to fit public resources. 


The more public generalizing is trusted, the less specific needs can resolve.


The less needs resolve, the more relief-generalizing.


The less needs resolve, the more generalizing who is to provide the most for such needs—the government with top down authority or nongovernment with bottom up flexibility.

The more public policy honors a bottom up nongovernment approach to address publicly affected needs, the fewer needs resolve who are dependent on the government’s top down provision of resources.


The more public policy honors a top down government approach to address publicly affected needs, the fewer needs resolve who are dependent on the nongovernment’s bottom up provision of resources.


Those dependent on a bottom up approach experience their self-needs less resolved compared to their social-need. They generalize more for relief of their publicly affected self-needs: initiative, self-efficacy, personal responsibility, and the like. They guard their more resolved social-needs: social cohesion at the family and even community level, interpersonal supports, relatability, and the like.


Those dependent on a top down approach experience their social-needs less resolved compared to their social-need. They generalize more for relief of their publicly affected social-needs: social inclusion, nondiscrimination, social acceptance, and the like. They guard their more resolved publicly affected self-needs: authentic personhood, independence from dominate norms, self-expression, and the like.


In a democracy where each side competes for public resources through the biannual or quadrennial ballot box, history shifts between a focus this deep-oriented bottom-up approach and wide-oriented top-down approach.


Needs come first. Emotions next, to convey them. Beliefs later, to process them.


Shared beliefs in the form of politics exist to express this clashing priority of needs. Standard politics normalizes symfunctionality.

With support from others you know and trust, you let go of beliefs that no longer ring true. You trust them to graciously point out errors. You relate more honestly with one another. You know more, as you are known more.


Knowing through being known

Key to relational knowing is knowing more through each other. What you know can never be as important than how much you know of yourself and can reveal to others. That’s the point in knowing. Your best knowing results in resolving more needs.


Wellness is psychosocial. The more you know yourself through others, the more needs resolve. The more you support resolving each other’s needs. A great tool for this is the Johari window.

Pronunciation guide

anankelogy [n.] (ä'-nä-kĕ'-lŏ-jē): the study of need, specifically here the human experience of need.

anankelogical [adj.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭ'-kâl): of, relating to, or characteristic of anankelogy; referring to the role of need in another subject.

anankelogist [n.] (ä'-nä-kĕ'-lŏ-jĭst): one who studies the role of need in observable phenomenon.

anankelogically [adv.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭ-kâ-lē'): referring to the role of need on some action. E.g., Political views tend to be less rationally deduced and more anankelogically produced. 

anakelogic [adj.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭk): same as anankelogical.


Intellect is easily overrated where love is underpeformed.

The Johari window was created by two social scientists decades ago. Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham devised the grid to help people better understand themselves and their relationship to others.


I find it useful to present it as a circle, with overlapping perspectives. I also replace “façade” with concealment—not only for the alphabetical convenience but to get to the point of maintaining a façade. And I used “dark area” over “unknown” since that was the first way I saw it illustrated years ago.

A - Arena: You see it in me; I see it in me.

There is plenty of stuff in my life I am open about. You know it’s true about me, and I am honest that it’s true. Fully transparent stuff.


It’s typically safe stuff. Unless we are personally close, I reveal only so much about my honest self to you in the arena of mutual awareness. Usually, it’s stuff I can’t hide from your from myself.


For example, we both know I smoke. (Not actually, just for illustration.)

B - Blind spot: You see it in me; I don't see it in me.

You are aware of things about me that I am less aware. I may not have a clue it’s true.


It could be awkward stuff, that you would be too embarrassed to point out. Or you assume I realize it but prefer not to admit it. At least not to you.


For example, you know my clothes and breath reeks of cigarette smoke while I don’t smell a thing.

C - Concealment: You don't see it in me; I see it in me.

I know stuff about me I never dare expose to you. Fear of rejection spurs me to keep this stuff well hidden. Not only from you, but perhaps from everyone.


If we draw closer and build up more interpersonal trust, then I might drop my guard to let you in on some of my secrets. More likely, I will test the waters by sharing small bits at a time, to see how you react. Or I just keep it all in, and suffer.


For example, I know but you don’t know that I smoke out of fear of quickly gaining weight.

D - Dark area: You don't see it in me; I don't see it in me.

There are some unknown things about me. They are true. But neither you nor I recognize it. At least not yet—if ever.


Perhaps if you pointed out more of my blind spots, or if I concealed less stuff, some of these unknowns could be drawn out. Love can do some amazing work. Otherwise there will be stuff true about me left in the dark of mutual unawareness.


For example, neither you nor I know that the cells in my lungs are already splitting three ways.


Closing a door to your life

Now let’s apply this Johari window to defunction. If you do not unfold your life to someone you can trust to support your growth, you likely suffer decreased functioning. If you do not or cannot provide such support growth to another to unfold their fuller being to you, you have yet to reach your life’s full potential.


You could hope such defunction remained rare. Unfortunately, this defunction is tragically common, and painfully pervasive. The rise of political polarization likely correlates significantly with this decrease in knowing specifics on one’s own life, and decrease in connecting with specifics in the lives of others.


Each quadrant mirrors a defunction of missing our full individual and shared potential. Do you see yourself in any of these?

A - reduction complacency

I want to know only this much about me;

I want you to know only this much about me.

The more you receive rejection when dropping your guard, you understandably retreat from the social arena with those rejecting you. Whether wounded from repeated rejection or you never entrusted yourself with another, you can easily slip into the false comfort of reduction complacency.


You don’t put as much of yourself out there anymore. You dare not cry in public. You carefully manage other’s impression of you. You pretend, pretend, pretend. The offense cycle recognizes this as “pretend normal.” You’ll find it can get painfully lonely.


B - illumination avoidance:

I don’t want to know this about me;

even though you to know this about me.

When your online comment provokes another to react with “You’re being stupid and irrational!” you’re less likely to admit any lack of intellect or rationality. When pushed, you naturally push back. Maybe your comment wasn’t the smartest. But you avoid illumination. Why expose yourself further if already rejected?


Anger towards you likely provokes your anger back at them. The standard applied sets the standard replied. So you deny any shortcomings pointed out without grace, mercy or love.


C - vulnerability avoidance:

I only want to know this much about me;

I don’t want you to know this about me.

You are less weak when vulnerable than when you hide all your vulnerabilities. Your weaknesses could remain in place if untested by other’s grace and love. To avoid vulnerability is to avoid the rich depths of life.


The more you mask your weaknesses, the more those weaknesses can wreak havoc. In the end, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. Except perhaps the throng also avoiding honest truths about themselves. Who often escape into the guarded generalizing of political discourse.


D - intimacy avoidance:

I don’t want to know this about me;

I don’t want you to know this about me.

You are not built to keep all your secrets locked up inside. No one is the rugged individual of popgen philosophy. No one is an island. Constant intimacy avoidance imposes a high price.


You need to encounter more of yourself through others, and find meaning in others encountering themselves through you. Otherwise your social-needs will seek the cheap substitute of political generalizing.

Politics make better windows than doors.

Window to your world

Honestly, how many of us have someone in our life we can drop our guard? Who do you personally trust with your deepest secrets? Who can you call when deep in an emotional crisis?


Too many of us go through life with a shallow arena, ignorant of our blind spots, defensively concealing our guarded secrets, while blindly unaware of how much of our life is stuck in the dark. We slide into symfunctional lives of quiet desperation. Our individual and shared functioning goes down.

We rely increasingly on political generalizations to offer relief. We don't personally know each other, but share an affinity of suffered unmet needs. We coalesce around a priority of needs in opposition to others with the opposing priority of needs. We become tribal.

If your self-needs resolve less than your social-needs, especially if your social-needs feel threatened by others, you join the tribe called conservatism. You join others trying to conserve your traditions of resolved social-needs, like family cohesion and community moral standards.

If your social-needs resolve less than your self-needs, especially if your self-needs feel threatened by others, you join the tribe called liberalism. You join others trying to liberate your lives of shared oppression, like freedom to be your authentic selves without fear of discrimination or systemic exclusion.

The more you cling to these political generalizations, the more you easily overlook specifics. Only by getting to specific needs can we resolve the needs creating so much of our individual and collective pain. 


Politics make better windows than doors. You can peer in to get a general view. But you must switch to specifics to enter honestly. Otherwise, we get caught in a vicious cycle of vacillating between prioritizing self-needs followed by prioritizing social-needs.


Psychosocial vacillation


Within your family or local community, you can feasibly sustain psychosocial equilibrium. You can address your self-needs on par with your social-needs.


On the much larger scale of mass society—such as a nation—psychosocial balance tends to be more elusive. At the national level, we swing back and forth between focusing more on neglected self-needs, followed by a focus on overlooked social-needs.


Economic policy serves as a useful example. Capitalism favors self-needs like initiative, independence, self-sufficiency, personal freedom, self-purpose, and the like. Socialism favors social-needs like inclusion, fairness, equality, cooperation, support, and the like.


The typical conservative supports the eight-hour workday, now that this is integrated into their lives of social cohesion. It can be easy to overlook how the free market did not create the eight-hour workday, or workplace safety, or food safety, or an end to child labor, and a number of other profit-squashing regulations. These all came from early socialism.


The typical progressive purchases their smartphone and other helpful devices from the market. It can be easy to overlook how the quality of the device stems in large part from individuals free to create what the market prefers, instead of what the government may prefer. Their purchased devices get produced from capitalism.



Political vacillation


There will be those who champion socialism while denouncing the evils of capitalism. They react to capitalism’s harmful impacts on their social-needs for fairness, justice, and the like. No political argument can change their experience of these persisting needs. So they tend to vote Democrat to push back against the excesses of capitalism.


There will be those who champion capitalism while denouncing the evils of socialism. They react to socialism’s harmful impacts on their self-needs for initiative, productive purpose, and the like. No political debate can alter their experience of their impacted needs. So they tend to vote Republican to push back against the excesses of socialism.


Between these camps are those less dogmatic about public policies. They tend to enjoy more psychosocial balance. They are far less beholden to ideologies or partisanship. While the ideologically inclined help get candidates on the general election ballot, these independent voters determine who gets voted into office.


About every twenty years or so, enough independent voters support one or the other side. As independent voters start to experience a drastic shift in their psychosocial balance, enough of them reach a tipping point to shift the political winds in a different direction.


Significant events, like war, can shift the tide sooner. After years of a collective war effort, like rationing and family separations, the end of war often turns into a "postwar harvest." All those years focusing on social-needs for the war effort often shifts abruptly to looking inward—to attend to underserved self-needs. 


Otherwise, about every forty years or so, the nation goes full cycle between Democrat-led liberalism policies and Republican-led conservative policies. Beneath this visible political cycle lies a less visible and more vulnerable psychosocial cycle on a national or even global scale.



Click to view each slide in a popup window. Then scroll through at your own pace.

Historical vacillation

About every 160 years or so, after four of these cycles run their course, mass society goes from improving its response to overlooked needs to overlooking a different set of missed needs. Now that old needs are more resolved, it tends to evoke other needs long left dormant.


Indigenous societies tend to have a higher standard of psychosocial balance. You are expected to follow nature’s course to continually balance your self-needs and social-needs. Modern mass societies generally tolerate a lower standard, of ongoing psychosocial vacillation.


One historical era champions self-needs overlooked in the previous era. This effectively overlooks impacted social-needs. The next era emerges to correct this oversight, addressing such social-needs in a new way. Until it neglects impacted self-needs. A new model emerges to address these overlooked self-needs in some novel way.


Each time, the widely accepted model eventually cracks after repeatedly watered down by decreasingly unworkable generalizations. As the popgen version offers relief-generalizing for the masses, it often raises the ire of those most negatively impacted. They gather the social capital and political will to address their negatively impacted psychosocial needs.


Needs once nonfocal becomes more focal. A new competing more-responsive model emerges to complement or replace the old paradigm.

All ideas are created equal. From the same biology of human brains, the same sense of needs not fully served, and from the common preference to avoid lives of constant pain.


No idea is ever expressed equally, or can address all needs or solve problems satisfactorily by all. This spurs us into a grand “epistemological” four-part cycle of newer ways of thinking and knowing about our experience of needs.

Dynamic start of a new way of thinking


As a new paradigm sinks in, it often challenges the old lens that most others still use. As the new kid on the block, it rarely can simply barge in. It must warm up a new audience, ease familiar problems, attract new friends, and find fresh followers.


At this stage, it typically remains open to integrating into a new whole. It seeks to add itself to what others already know. It feels fresh and welcoming.


It complements what seems lacking in the old paradigm. When applied dynamically, it replaces psychosocial vacillation with psychosocial oscillation. More unresolved needs find resolution, enabling better functioning while removing its pain.


Perhaps a few adherents wish it will fully replace the old lens. To catch on, it usually integrates some of the old familiar paradigm. It must, or it risks never catching on.


Dogmatic slide when generalized for all


As it emerges into a new way to think about things, it starts to lose some of its critical edge. Not everyone has time to sort out its finer details. Not everyone has the education to think more critically. Or as nuanced as its originators.


With enlarged support, there is less social pressure to integrate this new paradigm into older paradigms. Radical elements often emerge, who use this new way of thinking to denounce the older ways of thinking.


Those least served tend to generalize the most. Their daily pain affords less cognitive bandwidth to think as critically as its erudite originators. They simplify the philosophy, to make it palpable for the masses. They use this watered-down version to draw attention to their own needs, with little if any regard for how they impact the needs of others.


They easily replace the original ambiguities of exploration with generalized certainty. They seek absolutes to ease their pain, as they grow intolerant toward dissenters. They see primarily through the distorting lens of their own painfully unmet needs.


Disillusion of the underserved


As this certainty congeals into dogmatic norms, it negatively impacts the needs of others. Overlooked specifics become championed by thought leaders, often with a different priority of needs.


If the dominating philosophy addresses self-needs more than social-needs, then thought leaders find alternatives to address these neglected social-needs. Or find alternatives to address neglected self-needs, if the dominate cultural model favors social-needs over self-needs.


The void fills with emerging alternatives. A new way of looking at life and reality offers hope to those left behind by the popularized dominating paradigm. Tensions build between the old and new. Differing priority of needs fuels further psychosocial vacillation on this grand scale.


Distinction of a newer way of thinking


The new model distinguishes itself by showing itself more responsive to painful social problems. Thought leaders emerge to give expression to this new response to unmet needs. They gain a following.


As more experience their needs eased with this new model, it attracts more adherents. At this point, the alternative remains a minority view. The established paradigm is no hurry to make room for this upstart. Indeed, it usually pushes back against the new.


In its minority status, the new model is simply a new tool for critiquing life and reality. There is no assurance it will remain. Its fragility may actually be its attraction to its new devotees. Together, they sit on the precipice of a dynamic start to a new epistemology. The cycle repeats.


Open to integrating into a new whole

Less integration into a new whole

Void filled by emerging alternative(s)

Differentiation from prior epistemology

start to integrate primacy of personal faith

grows into popgen personal faith

underserved counters belief with reason

rational science as new tool for critiquing

start to integrate rational philosophy

underserved differentiates with reasserting role of emotions

romanticism as new tool for critiquing

start to integrate romanticism philosophies

underserved differentiates with social improvements

progressivism as a new tool for critiquing

start to integrate progressive philosophies

underserved differentiates with existential choice

existentialism as new tool for critiquing

start to integrate existential choice philosophy

underserved differentiates with deconstructing meanings

postmodernism as new tool for critiquing

start to integrate postmodernism philosophy

underserved differentiates with metamodernism, post-postmodernism, integral theory?

new way for critiquing

 Protestant Revolution to Enlightenment 


Our shared history of psychosocial vacillation stretches back to prehistoric times. The rise of larger societies compounded the tendency to vacillate wildly between widespread emphasis on self-needs followed by widespread emphasis on underserved social-needs.


Let’s start with the Protestant Reformation. In many ways, Protestantism appealed to those whose self-needs were underserved by the medieval Catholic Church’s institutional focus on social-needs.


Protestantism replicated Western society’s shifting focus between self-needs and social-needs. You can see this vacillating in almost any large society in the world’s history.

Dynamic start of a new epistemology

The Medici-led Catholic Church failed to recognize its paternalistic impact on the self-needs of its European realm. First Jan Hus, then Martin Luther countered with a visionary break from the Church’s repressive past.


The idea of each Christian enjoying a direct line with God spread like wildfire. No longer did they have to mediate through priests. This newfound freedom launched a self-need primacy of personal faith.

Dogmatic slide when applied for all

Many joined Luther’s revolt out of political desperation. They spared less room for Luther’s carefully crafted theological treatises. Luther denounced the angry mob of the Peasants Revolt of 1524-25. Others were more dogmatic in their resistance of religious authority imposed upon their need for autonomy, personal religious freedom, and self-incentivized faith.

When overgeneralized, personalized faith can suggest each person is their own island before their Maker. They answer mostly or only to God—however subjective and arbitrary that can be. They do what they find necessary to generalize for relief of their painfully affected self-needs.


Disillusion of the underserved

This popularized and watered-down version of personal faith—at least its more extreme Anabaptist layperson kind—left many with less served social-needs. If religious dominated governance cannot be trusted, what kind of social-need serving civil institutions should take its place?


By the time Roger Williams founded Providence Plantation with the conviction that no religious authority is beyond corruption when leading civil affairs, a growing throng of Enlightenment philosophers and leaders began addressing social-needs with a system based more on reason.


Distinction of a new epistemology

As science gradually replaced religious dogma as a guiding schema, the Enlightenment introduced a more rational basis for civil governance. Human rights displaced seemingly arbitrary religious and royal authority.


Thanks to King George III’s stubbornness, the American Revolution upended the status quo of arbitrary divine authority. A groundswell emerged to finally address underserved social-needs apart from imposing religion. A fragile republic was born. Without hindsight, its future seemed gravely uncertain.

 Enlightenment to Romantic Era 


The Enlightenment liberated the West to address their social-needs independent of dogmatic religion. The French Revolution gave this expression in its motto: “liberty, equality, fraternity.”


The sterile rationality of the Age of Reason tended to disparage personal feelings. Social pressures emerged to conform to rational thinking and rational behavior. Or at least appear rational.


As Hume declared, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.” Beneath this challenge to rationalism are underserved self-needs. Social conformity to appearing rational gave way to the need for more honest individual emotional expressions.

Dynamic start of a new epistemology

Reason emerged as the new standard in the West. Equal treatment became more plausible. Unity grounded in reason could engender more collective trust. Cooperation served each other’s needs instead of serving religious or royal authorities.


Room existed to assert self-needs, like self-determination and autonomy. But these tended to take a back seat to social pressures to be and act more reasoned than religious. At least publicly. Solidifying service to social-needs over self-needs left many out in the cold.


Dogmatic slide when applied for all

A popularized water downed version congealed into popgen rationalism. It generalizes all emotional pain as bad. It presumes all passions eventually provoke irrational behavior. It insists all decisions must be based on pure logic or remain suspect.


To avoid social embarrassment, feelings must be suppressed. Self-expression and authenticity yielded to social pressures to appear smart, to appear reasoned, to appear intellectual—to never appear emotional, subjective, or shamefully irrational.


Disillusion of the underserved

The more popgen rationalism adherents passionately insisted on being impassionate, their emotions betrayed them. Detractors asserted the natural role of personal emotions. The self-need for authentic emotional expression rose in prominence.


Increasing numbers hungered for freedom from the social pressure to repress their emotions. Their more resolved-social needs evoked their romantic sentiments to address their underserved self-needs.


Distinction of a new epistemology

Thought leaders emerged to give a reasoned argument for integrating more of our passions. It challenged the popgen notion of rejecting all emotions as bad. It pulled back this generalization to consider the specifics of emotional content.


Their writings gained a following from those who longed for more psychosocial balance. They joined in putting the role of rationalism in its place. Empiricism took a stronger role. Independence of though now included romantic sentiments, more passionate self-expression, and more individual liberties.

 Romantic Era to Progressive Era 


The Romantic Era expanded the fruits of the Enlightenment to the common man. Bonaparte in Europe and Jackson in America inspired many common man aspirations across the West.


This common man, freshly franchised to vote as he pleases, tended to pursue his own selfish ends. He had little use for the social conformist pressures of Enlightenment dogma.


The shift awakened moral questions that would erupt into Civil War. And inspire some wives to be their own person, beyond the property of their husbands.

Dynamic start of a new epistemology

As the ink dried on the Bill of Rights, its First Amendment sanctioned personal expression like never before in the West. Including expression of personal faith removed from any particular denomination. The Second Great Awakening emphasized the portability of faith, now finally independent of geography. Jacksonian democracy checked the power of aristocracy.


Personal aspirations spilled over into nationalism as a break from larger “rational” empires. Expansion of the vote beyond property-holding men awakened long repressed passions. Calls for democracy rang out across the West. The power to individually have a say served self-needs like never before.


Dogmatic slide when applied for all

A popularized easily digestible version crystallized into popgen romanticism. A myth of rugged individualism took hold. Short-lived egalitarian social experiments emerged, like the one in New Harmony. The era preferred championing self-needs, to the neglect of many social-needs.


The disappearance of Freemason-critic Morgan Williams at the hands of Freemasons proved a turning point. Aristocratic Freemasons espousing Enlightenment dogma were scattered to the wind, or forced to publicly denounce the secret society. This set in motion the political convention system we now take for granted.


Disillusion of the underserved

This inward look exposed the moral quandary of many social problems. Romanticism would be slow to address issues like slavery, women’s suffrage, and widespread alcoholism. Critics of the Second Industrial Revolution later exposed the plight of abject poverty among the most exploited.


American drew thousands as a land of promise. Recent immigrants were frowned upon as hyphenated Americans—whose loyalty was doubted based solely on prejudice. Black Codes gave way to Jim Crow laws. Indian wars gave way to imposed reservation life, and then to the boarding school fiasco. By mid-century, northern Mexicans found themselves within the U.S. border without the benefits of citizenship. Neglected social-needs screamed from all corners of American public life, and never louder than the Civil War.


Distinction of a new epistemology

Out of this quagmire emerged a movement for social progress. The poor received newfound attention in the press. Monopolies and trusts were broken up. Political bosses checked. Scandals exposed by muckraking journalists.


Industrialists were denounced as Robber barons. Some attempted to redeem themselves through large acts of charity. Government took a more activist role. Increasing numbers of wealthy Americans admitted if America is to continue as a land of promise, it must provide opportunities to all.

 Progressive Era to Modernity 


The Progressive Era countered popgen individualism with corrective attention to neglected social-ills. Middle and upper-class women coopted early socialism demands to fit into a capitalist economy.


Government increasingly reigned in the excess of the free market. Social-needs were addressed with regulations guaranteeing a safer workplace, the 8-hour day, ending child labor, and safer food for consumers.


The collapse of the global economy, sandwiched by two horrifically violent global wars, raised questions about top down arrogance. Americans initially turned inward, isolationist, returning to individualism.

Dynamic start of a new epistemology

The closing of the frontier signaled an end to simple individualistic opportunities. From now, the ambitious forged opportunities from what already existed. Competition grew fierce, or forestalled by the powerful—with their trusts and monopolies.


Pioneering socialists sounded the alarm. Progressives mitigated these calls for revolution with pragmatic programs that did not overthrow the capitalist established order. Initial greater attention to social-needs could theoretically balance with America’s longstanding value of individualism.


Dogmatic slide when applied for all

A widely palpable version crystallized into popgen progressivism. Possibilities for top down planning ran amok. Acclaimed experts for Eugenics and Prohibition provoked many critics.


Social progress at the price of individual rights proved a cost too high. Generalizing what should be done about social ills cannot endure, when overlooking specifically impacted self-needs.

Disillusion of the underserved

Fascism, with its mix of nationalism and top down industry, went down with a bloody nose. Prohibition was openly defied, sparking widespread corruption. Personal needs—like self-worth despite supposed genetic inferiority, and the autonomy to drink spirits—could not be held down.


Western culture was ripe for something to fill the void of overlooked self-needs. Existentialism emerged as one promising threat in the modern era.


Distinction of a new epistemology

Instead of acquiescing to deterministic top down solutions, existentialism emphasized free will. Each chooses their fate with the hand they are dealt. Each is free to react to their situation, no matter how dismal.


If Viktor Frankl could meaningfully survive the Holocaust by choosing to live personally free amidst the harshest of conditions, why can’t we all find this inner freedom? Generalizing to serve social-needs swings back to generalizing to serve underserved self-needs.

 Modernity to Postmodernity 


Modernity featured psychosocial reduction on a global stage. As the tension of the Cold War heated up, the Soviet’s systemic answer to social-needs clashed with the United State’s sacred emphasis on self-needs. Perpetuating painful psychosocial imbalance with national policy was backed up with a growing nuclear arsenal.


Each dragged the other further away from psychosocial equilibrium. Each provoked the other to dig in their heals, to safeguard their opposing psychosocial overgeneralizations. Each dared the other in a terrorizing game of nuclear brinkmanship.

Dynamic start of a new epistemology

Among modernity’s potent ideas, existentialism provided a good fit for American individualism. It champions free will despite limited choices. Some of this is reactionary. The New Deal sparked suspicion of an ever-expanding bureaucracy, spilling over into a ginned up red scare.


Beset with the existential threat of nuclear holocaust, the American spirit counts more on its own individual self-sufficiency, personal or family resilience, self-determination, and independent initiative. Other affirmations of self-needs that guard traditional ways to serve social-needs gave rise to a conservative mood after WWII.


Dogmatic slide when applied for all

A simplified version calcified into popgen existentialism. Stripped of its nuance, it assumes anyone in this land of opportunity can simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The generalizing overlooks the scarcity of bootstraps.


When overgeneralized, existentialism (or its cousin game theory) tends to exaggerate personal human agency. It generalizes we all have the same choices, the relatively same opportunities, and basically the same options to reach the American Dream. Those it overlooks are, well, overlooked.


Disillusion of the underserved

Clearly, not all bootstraps are equal. A rising tide may lift all boats, but some boats keep sinking. Popular forms of competition and meritocracy do not suit all. Their excess attention to self-needs enables dominance hierarchies to exclude opportunities to those who are culturally different.


Underserved social-needs finds understanding in how favored culture displaces lives in less favored cultures. Where hierarchies are arbitrarily stacked against them, or atop of them, those systemically left out find ways to question the very meaning of their systemic exclusion by the dominate culture.


Distinction of a new epistemology

Postmodernism offers tools to deconstruct culturally imputed meaning. It raises hope to address the overlooked social-needs of those left out of socially constructed hierarchies.


Equal treatment seems in reach. Less discrimination. Broader inclusion of marginalized groups. Affirmation for being outside established norms. The American promise finally fulfilled, or its aspirations reached apart from its socially constructed past promise.

 Postmodernity to whatever comes next 


The further politically left, the more the appeal to postmodernism. It speaks to their social-needs far better than available philosophical alternatives.


By questioning the very idea of anything being greater than anything else, postmodernism as an ideology against ideologies lays the seeds of its own undoing. True to its message, it cannot be better than available alternatives.


For one, postmodernism questions the idea of progress without filling the yearning for progress. This and other weaknesses spark newer ideas, like metamodernism, post-postmodernism, and integral theory.

Dynamic start of a new epistemology

Just about every marginalized group seemed to come out of the woodwork during the 1960s and 70s. More and more Americans protested and demanded more civil and other overdue rights. A growing coalition called for cashing the promissory note of America’s promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Postmodernism seemed to offer the best account for this unpaid debt. Those who leaned politically right took much for granted. While believing they earned their way, critics could “deconstruct” their many arbitrary advantages. Then seek to correct these social injustices.


Dogmatic slide when applied for all

A simpler digestible version hardened into popgen postmodernism. It blamed oppressive social structures without distinguishing what exactly could be changed for the better.


The most vocal adherents tend to carry the most historical trauma. This pain can bias them toward relief-generalizing and similar defunctions. Their pain easily blinds them from seeing how they can, and do, impact the needs of others.


Disillusion of the underserved

Critics of postmodernism decry its tendency to obscure reality with intelligent sounding verbiage, without actually saying anything of testable value. They also complain of its excess relativism. Perhaps the most vocal complaint is its extreme forms of self-reflection, which entertain apologies for being white, male, straight, or cisgender.


By deconstructing social progress as mere hierarchy, postmodernism neglects the need for growth. While conservatives typically lambast postmodernism in full, many liberals question the point of postmodernism thinking—or at least its current popular form.


Distinction of a new epistemology

Alternatives are emerging to integrate the advantages of postmodernism while addressing its weaknesses. Metamodernism and similar ideas attempt to find the best in both modernism and postmodernism, while leaving out the weak points of both.


This is currently ongoing. The more self-needs are emphasized by any emerging alternative, you can predict the next era will focus more on social-needs. And vice versa. You believe what you need to believe.


Your current condition of psychosocial needs governs how much you agree or disagree with any of these popular philosophies. The most developed among us, with sustained psychosocial balance, tend not to be as drawn to all this drama.

Critiquing this critique of critique tools


Those more adept in Western history and philosophy can add to this. Nature-based anankelogy at its infancy offers its early observational tools.


According to anankelogy, history unfolds as a record of humans pursuing their individual and shared needs. Including our psychosocial needs. The larger the society, the more prone toward symfunctionality and psychosocial imbalance. More prone toward generalizing.


It invites you to see the pattern of history around psychosocial vacillation. As a cycle, it can shed light on our current state of social and political affairs.


If this indigenous lens holds true for all humanity, then it could be applied to Asian philosophies, to Arab approaches to life, to the Global South experience, and so forth.


Let this be an open text. Let us learn from each other. Let us respect each other’s needs, to raise and sustain the full potential of our individual, shared and collective functioning. Did I miss anything?


You may object to some of this for good reason.  “No, 160 years is wrong,” you may retort. Instead of a 40-year cycle, you may observe a 30-year cycle in history. The late historian Stephen Ambrose did. Perhaps he is right, in ways that do not necessarily negate the 40-year cycles I found.


You may find something here that sounds awfully similar to something else, and wonder if I coopted it. While drafting this, I came across such stuff myself.

For example, you may note how contra-opposition sounds a lot like the paradoxical unity of opposites or enantiodromia, "the emergence of the unconscious opposite." I recently discovered this term, decades after I coined "contra-opposition" to cover close to the same concept. 

I deliberately steered clear of time-consuming research. I deliberately began with a nature-based lens, to filter out what later came to light as complementary. And sometimes not. The text here reflects a genuine wisdom to ground a new social science around better understanding the experience of human needs.


The point here is not to be right, but to relate. Let the plumb line of peakfunctionality provide the standard. Or offer something better.


If I am saying too much, the let me rollback to make room for correction, for a helpful dialogue. Let’s unwind anything wound too tight.

The unwinding


By unwinding, I mean

  • peeling back the assumptions already laid down,

  • to open possibility for other viable views;

  • including being open to both complementary and opposing views,

  • while integrating nuance of both of these competing and complementary views.


In short, dynamic relating applied to anankelogy itself.



Intuitively, I avoided getting bogged down in the sea of available information. I could easily have stumbled into complementary ideas. Indeed, at times I may have accidently repeated other’s observations and theories. I am not operating from a Western mindset of making sure individual credit goes to every source. I simply do not have the time or focus.


Intuitively, I felt a need to preserve nature-sourced wisdom without disruption, or corruption from Western anti-nature biases. I utilized what I found fit from the degrees I learned in theology, anthropology, sociology, public administration and counseling. I went through each of those degrees knowing I would eventually write this material to challenge much of its assumptions. And welcome challenges to my own assumptions, in good faith and scientific discipline.


To be honest, I am less confident about the duration cycle for emotions. These came to me before I read somewhere that emotions include direction, intensity, duration and object. These seem to naturally fit the cycles that I had already learned from observing nature. But I wonder if I have forced the found peg of these observable cycles into the square hole of these categories.


But I hesitate to doubt the wisdom that came to me years ago when this understanding came to me. I have been sitting on this information for many years, and think it best to put it out there without worrying too much about my deviations from Western norms.


I do not abscond responsibility. Far from it, I embrace it in ways not easily appreciated from the Western modern mindset. I laid out tools for engaging each other’s impactful ideas, and raised the bar for engaging each other. I welcome engagement in good faith. I welcome expanding anankelogy into something far better than I could ever individually create.

To remain intellectually honest, I stayed with familiarity of my own Midwest experiences, reflective of my indigenous roots. I grant if I was more traveled, the texture of the text could reflect more cultural diversity.


Despite my grounding in this corner of the globe, I somehow became the recipient of this vast array and depth of wisdom. This wisdom informs me some items are more certain than others. For example, how needs come first, prior to culturally relative beliefs about them. I stand by the many contributions this offers to our understanding of human needs.



Did you see something overlooked here? Something your wisdom could add? Something that could raise the functioning of us all, perhaps for all life.

Did you find something best removed? I set the plumb line at peakfunctionality, but I wonder if anyone dares move it. Can you think of a better standard that could garner wide support.

You could conventionally critique this. By that, I mean you could argue your points from the comfort your normative alienation with me. You could add to this from the familiarity of academic debate.


Or you could apply need-affirming principles like dynamic relating. You could keep your own vulnerability avoidance in check. You could exemplify your understanding of needs by resolving more of them.

Instead of declarative statements, you could introduce a challenging idea in the form of an inviting question. I tried this approach when asking which do you think is more likely? I see it inviting more dialogue, more awareness, more learning.

Instead of provoking defensiveness, over who is right or wrong, we could continue a dynamic dialogue. Exactly how has yet to be determined. You want to help create that interaction?


Now the ball is in your court. What can you do with it?


Back to nothingness

Start from scratch, if you like.


Let’s unwind back to the beginning.


Before the beginning.


Assume nothing.




In the tradition of my Haudenosaunee ancestors, I do not “sell” this inspired creation of anankelogy as individually owned intellectual property but offer it free to all. Once I put it all out there, according to indigenous principles, it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to us all.


I do accept donations. I do not require a lot of cash; my bill collectors do. This is how a latter-day Native like myself can balance both worlds. Thank you.


with this $1 gift. Thank you."

If you are ready, willing and able to contribute more, then who am I to stop you? 

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