Tag Archive for system thinking

Live life live

Lelie constellationChanging metaphors
In “Systems Thinking World” – think about that – there was opened a discussion on Changing metaphors. Here are some of my remarks, the mark made again.

The quote from Fritjof Capra: “life and cognition are inseparable”, Spencer Brown’s observation “… the world we know is constructed – I would have said “invented itself” – to see itself”, Dewey’s “there is no distinction between the knower and the know”, … and many sources more tell us again and again the same story: “system – I prefer “cosmos” – reflects itself in myself and through my self”. You are a part of system and apart of system are You. These paradoxes show themselves in tensions, energies, forces or power.

There are some – in my view interesting – consequences:
unum ergo pluribus
1. we (you and I) are already at one with nature, living in harmony. The only thing we have to learn yet, is that harmony is not unity (e pluribus unum) but diversity (unum ergo pluribus). All differences are “functional”. That is why, for instance, every religion splits itself in fractions (and always in heretics and schismatic), who, after some time, become mirror images of each other, fighting each other to become “whole”.

Its my own invention
2. systems thinking is both inconsistent and complete: there exists only one system, but in order to think about it, we have to distinguish between parts, a.k.a. systems. So, in my view, it is no miracle “the whole is more than its parts”. That has always been the case. We took it apart.

The apparent contradictions arise from the fact that we (You and i) think. System is complete, self, “Eigen”, neutral, no, impartial (= having no parts). Our thinking creates, or perhaps better, invents reality, creates distinctions and the need to “think” them back into wholes again. We cannot observe our own thinking! There is no way we can trace our thinking back to a cause or matter (use of matter, mother, intentionally). It is air.

Thinking is a new way to speed up the evolution, weaving the web of life and it is still inventing itself. It is now – take a few thousand years – in its adolescence. This is a critical period, which it will survive.

Meta means change
3. we (you or i) are our own metaphor, we are self-contained and in every thought present. Language consists of metaphors – it carries, contains our thoughts and feelings – and (here I differ from Watzlawick) is also its own meta-language. Words about words are about words (and not the words mentioned).

It is life, but not as we know it
4. Life lives on, “the dude abides”. Life is developing itself at exactly the right pace, the perfect velocity, as a fractal. System works – i like that word – according to the Law of the Least Action. That’s why we tend to repeat and repeat and repeat the same “changes” over and over again, until we realize “I am you and you am I” and the ways to realize this are plentiful and all different.

The division we perceive all around us, is “caused” by our inability to see how we split of “others” in order develop ourselves and to (later) accept those others as part of us. This is the story – if you want metaphor – of the prodigal son. In my view, it is also the Isis – Osiris story and the story of Christ. That’s why, the cross is our central metaphor. The only thing you need to understand, is that these stories are about you and i. (In times to come – will be called “how could they not see that”. When that happens, you’ll hear me say “told you so” ­čÖé )


Hier is een bijdrage over paradigma en paradox

The new paradigm is inconsistency in practice; I call it paradox. I’ve been working with Will’s approach (“Creating Paths of Change”) for over 15 years now and for me it still is the best approach: his “model” (i prefer the word “map”) is complete at the expense of inconsistency. His “model” doesn’t produce answers, it generates questions and very good questions at that.

The four reality perceptions are both excluding and connecting: they complement each other. They question each other. What seems “real” in one reality perception, may become “unreal” in another, must be “not real” in a third and can be “not unreal” in the fourth. The basis premises is that your way of perceiving and judging makes it so (Thomas Theorema). Theory is, at the most, a useful habit and should not to be confused with an attribute of reality. Theory is fiction, made up (as is, by the way, “fact”, facts are also made up).

Here is, in my view, the new paradigm: being inconsistent. All theories aim at consistency and fall into the trap set up by the Russell Paradigm: “can a theory both contain and explain itself?”. Yes and no. The trap is a truly existential one: it is there because I am. Or, to put in other words: “I am, therefore I think”. I am my own theory, or even better, I own my theory, I made it – as you do and did and will do.

Will showed me (I think he didn’t quite see it this way himself) that there is no location outside the map (my map, my reality) I’m in. My process of mapping produces my map, which contains my process of mapping, which contains …infinite regress and a true paradox. This high level “map” I perceive as my reality and I use my reality as a map. (In Dutch we have this wonderful word “werkelijkheid”, as in German: “Wirklichkeit”. “Wirklichkeit ist aber was wirkt” What works is “werkelijkheid”, reality”.) I assume that you do the same. These maps seem largely to be the same, because they are grounded in the same real reality (I know there is a world outside me, that’s why i needed the map in the first place), only, I am only on my map and you are only on yours. Where you stand depends on where you sit. Moving is an interesting option, but reality moves with you.

There seems to be “a whole hole” in the map, a kind of blind spot, parts I cannot perceive. It is me, myself and I. And, like the blind spot in our eye, it is covered up – by our brain – and the cover up is also covered up (it is called science). At the same time, we provide each other with complements of our maps – theories. These theories work, nothing as practical as a good theory. Up to a point, the point they cannot make. And the theories are also used to stuff the holes, to cover up the holes. They are used to say: “listen, my map is better than your map, so i must be a better person”. Or something like it. (I’m not very impressed, my map says.)

System Thinking, I’ve said it many times is not wrong, it is just incomplete. When we make it complete, for instance, I may add “synchronicity” (this, I have discovered, is another way of adding yourself to the map, without people noticing. synchronicity only works when there is somebody to perceive the perception), we introduce inconsistencies. If you do not want those, get out of my light, because that is making the shadow..

So, to quote Einstein: “in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is”. In paradigm, there is no difference between paradigm and paradox; in paradox there is.