Menu Search

Taming power: ‘generative historical consciousness’. (2016)

Is the capacity for corruption inherent in the nature of power? A mechanism for taming power could be ‘Generative historical consciousness.

David. G. Winter, University of Michigan
American Psychologist, Vol 71(3),  160-174.

Power … has a dual nature. When tamed, it gives inspiration, hope, and energy. On the other hand, untamed power can bring oppression, aggression, and ultimately despair

Is the capacity for corruption and evil inherent in the nature of power? The desire for power seems capable of expansion without limit: In the process, what starts out as “good” power often becomes corrupt and evil. Does having power cause people to use it for evil ends?

.. many methods and mechanisms for taming power have been suggested including …values, democratic political structures, and separation of powers… (but) each is vulnerable to being hijacked by power itself.

Winter introduces a concept he calls generative historical consciousness (GHC) as another possible mechanism for taming power. He discusses the role that GHC may have played in the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the behavior of Kennedy and Khrushchev at the time.

Access the full paper here: Taming power: generative historical consciousness.

Leave a comment

Back to the top
We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't accept comments that are unsubstantiated, unnecessarily abusive or may expose the Trust in any way. All contributions are moderated before being published.

Comments are closed.