Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The question of impugning ulterior motives.

I think one of the great lessons of chess is in teaching us of the dangers of wrong assumptions. Many things look like, sound like but is not.

So let us examine motives today. It seems to me when I read the comments of many chess players, the underlying assumption is that the other party always has ulterior motives and so we read many hidden agendas into anything others say or do whether it is there or not. Ref: Here.

It appears to me that this conclusion can be easily assumed from the game of chess which is adversarial in nature. However if we reach this conclusion in every situation then this becomes a thinking trap.

Lets look at a normal discourse first to highlight this danger. In law, in business there is a concept called "in good faith". That basically means that the underlying assumption here is that there are no hidden agendas and everything is above board. Now this is a very important concept. Let us see why.

Actually that is the only way a partnering deal can be made. Do note this. The moment an hidden agenda is detected then good faith is lost and the situation quickly becomes confrontational (or defensive which is an inverse form of confrontation and with the same net effect).

And so to impugn ulterior motives is to destroy any possible chances of a genuine partnership. Can you now see this as another reason why chess can be a double edged sword?

Before we can impugn hidden motives, the situation must be taken through many tests. For the moment this assumption is made, the open discourse has come to an end.

To see this clearly we must see beyond the superficiality of the nature of chess and get to essence of the game ie make no assumptions till you have fully tested the situation.

As another exercise, try imagining how this "understanding" can affect your friendships, your relationships in the course of normal life. What happens to you and your mind if you think everyone you meet has ulterior motives before the fact?

Note: Chess is a great tool in learning how to compete especially if the other party has conclusively demonstrated their intent. But when that is not the case, then you would be better off learning from another tool. The ability to make that distinction is important as it can affect your entire life.

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