An unusual exploration of how human beings solve problems
Advice and Planning
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Martin H. Krieger
"I believe that planning, policymaking, design, science, and advice-giving are more like than different from most of our other everyday human activities. I also believe that we might well borrow from the rich traditions of religion, literature, and history when we try to understand what we do in these activities."
Thus begins this most unusual exploration of how human beings solve problems. The essays in this book demonstrate philosophical and rhetorical approaches to thinking about what we do. At the same time, they describe how planners act, how we make "big" decisions , how we give adviceand how the ecstasy we sometimes feel when we are in the middle of figuring out what to do relates logically to the decision we are developing.
Beginning with a lengthy essay on advice, the author describes the relationship between the necessary intimacy of personal advice-giving and bureaucratic structures that support professional advice-giving (including science). In "Criticism, Confession, and Conversion," Professor Krieger analyzes what we do when we evaluate policies, make plans, and make decisionsin terms of literature and art, utopian designs and religious conversion, and transcendent experience.
"Planning in Time" examines the cultural strategies we use to create timethe central notion in planningso that we can give an account of what we do that will pass the test of rationality. "What Are We Up To" describes how we differ from each other in politics, and how that difference makes for what we call rhetoric. "What Planners Do" is a schematic description that sets planning among activities such as magic and soothsaying, yet allows it to be rational and scientific.
The point of these essays is to explore thinking about what we do in ways that challenge our idols and open up viable alternatives for times of intellectual need.
Martin H. Krieger is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. He has been a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and the National Humanities Center. His Ph.D. in physics is from Columbia.