Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
University of Earth

1982

Functional Classification in an
Integrative Matrix of Human Preoccupations (Part 2)

Part One

- / -


Commentary on an experimental subject configuration (see matrix) for the exploration of interdisciplinary relationships between organizations, problems, strategies, values and human development from Yearbook of International Organizations.

First presented in outline form to the 5th Network Meeting of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development project of the United Nations University (Montreal 1980). Presented in amplified form to a sub-group of that project (Athens, 1982). First published in International classification 11 (1984), 2, pp. 69-76 and 11 (1984), 3. Subsequently published in successive editions of the Yearbook of International Organizations, with amendments.


Go to contents of Part One

Contents of Part Two

Pattern interpretation possibilities
Envisaged developments
Comments

  1. Classification as a political act
  2. Flexible open-ended approach
  3. Distinguishing functions
  4. Function pattern
  5. Recovering functional emphasis
  6. Dynamic relationship between functions
  7. Non-linear and oscillatory functional relationships
  8. Implication of modes of comprehension
  9. Need for a development "container"
  10. Intrinsic uncertainty and paradox
  11. Individual and social development as mutual models

Conclusion
References


Pattern interpretation possibilities

Part of the original intention was to experiment, with patterns which highlight and clarify functional relationships. Ideally the matrix should help to show how different functional concerns are related to, or distant from, one another. In its present form it offers a healthier approach to the insidious problems created by the "pecking order" in the sciences. This is reflected in university departments and the perceptions of intergovernmental agencies (or their divisions) of the relative "relevance" of certain functions. Clearly it is easier to focus on functions at lower "tangible" levels, even though any action may be taken (at least in public statements) in the name of values associated with cells at higher "intangible" levels.

As a form of map, it is useful to recognize how agencies can get "locked into" the functions associated with a particular cell (eg information), without recognizing how dependent that cell is on neighbouring cells if its activities are to be usefully integrated into the pattern of functions. On the other hand some agencies may engage in a form of functional empire building by focusing on a "zone" of neighbouring cells (eg 27, 28, 37, 38), only accepting the significance of other cells under considerable pressure. Development may also be narrowly conceived by agencies as only in terms of cells at higher levels in the same column as that of their initial preoccupation. In this way an agency becomes "locked into" a column of functions. On the other hand some agencies may simply reject as irrelevant functions at some other levels, for example those corresponding to "theory", "praxis", or "values".

In terms of an organizational or management perspective, there is a need for the diversity of functions corresponding to the differentcolumns in order for any programme or community to be viable. In this sense the matrix offers an interesting series of reminders for organizational design and development. On the one hand it is a representation of management functions (styles or skills), as suggested by the work of Jantsch. And on the other, it can be considered an indication of the order in which complementary functions tend to become explicit in the development of any community. Recalling briefly the periodic table model in which the cells at higher levels correspond to elements of higher atomic weight, it may be asked how the analogy permits such intangible elements as value-related experiences to be placed at the higher levels in the matrix. Although possibly pushing the analogy too far, it is however precisely such values that are conceived as constituting the "weightier" issues in contemporary society. Certain values such as "freedom", carry "great weight" in social interaction. They are quite capable of "displacing" material concerns of seemingly greater import.

As noted earlier, a periodic classification scheme necessarily has a predictive element built into it. In the case of chemical elements, these were each "discovered" at a particular time, although the existence of many has been predicted since the periodic table was produced. In the international community issues are "recognized" from time to time (eg energy, environment, employment). It would be of great value to predict the discovery of new ones in order to explore their policy implications. As the matrix stands, it would appear that there are few new functional elements to be discovered. The difficulty is that although it is possible to associate words denoting certain functional properties with certain cells, it is as yet entirely unclear whether this exhausts the functional significance which could in future come to be associated with the corresponding cell, as was pointed out earlier in the discussion of cells and their relative "emptiness". Using the periodic table again, it is possible that whilst a functional element may have been discovered many of its "isotopes" may yet remain to be discovered. This in turn raises the question of the relative stability of the "weightier" elements and the recognition of what are known as "islands of stability" in the sequence of such elements which man is attempting to create. It is the periodic table which has given credibility to the search for isotopes with half-lives ranging from a millionth of a second to over a million years. It is possible that a functional classification could give credibility to creative "flashes of insight", not to mention mystical experience, temporarily altered states of consciousness, or the states of awareness described in much Eastern literature in which the interaction of positive and negative forces is appropriately balanced. It is not too far-fetched to accept that such a framework could well be relevant to understanding the possibility for bringing about a stable peace in society. In generating the framework for Section X by combining the cell names from the matrix used for Section W, space is effectively created for a large range of functional compounds. Clearly from nearly 100 cells in the matrix, nearly 10,000 categories are created in Section X. Only a few of these are used at this stage as can be seen from the statistics at the end of this volume. The remainder are filtered out by computer. One of the miracles of modern science has been the development of the ability to design and make new chemical molecules, of which over 5 million are now known. Seen in this light the functional classification can usefully raise questions as to whether certain functional compounds already exist (possibly ineffectively named or confused with others), should exist (because of their desirable properties in social processes), or could exist (even though their properties could be highly undesirable), and under what conditions.

An interesting problem which emerges in the attempt to allocate a single code to a word is the tendency for words appropriately associated with one cell to be used as metaphors with connotations for another cell, usually at a higher level. It is even possible to question to what extent words can be assumed to be metaphor-free and incapable of signalling the existence of functions having a "harmonic" relationship to the most concrete use of the word. Whether more insightful metaphors can be said to be associated with higher cells in the same column remains to be investigated. This would be one way of improving the integration of the lowest levels (0 and 1), which are a rich source of metaphors, into the pattern as a whole. Metaphor merits much more attention in relation to the problem of representing classification schemes in a memorable manner (31). It needs to be seen as being of vital significance to information users and not just to number-oriented document cataloguers. Again there is much to be learnt from Eastern systems of classification in which metaphor and number patterning of classes and sub-classes are combined to constitute apowerful mnemonic aid to comprehension (32). It is for this reason that a section on metaphor appears in the 1986 and 1991 editions of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential.

An interesting related problem is the tendency for action-oriented organizations to denote their concrete preoccupations by using terms for intangible values (eg "security" in place of "defence". This situation can be considered the reverse of that described in the previous paragraph.

Another concern for any classification scheme which purports to be of multi-cultural significance is whether it avoids being locked into the purely Western approach to classification in the Cartesian tradition. This reflects a preoccupation voiced by a number of contemporary authors (12, 13, 33) including the Rector of the United Nations University (34). It is therefore useful to speculate on a "confrontation" between the matrix in its present form and that associated with a thoroughly Eastern perspective, such as the Chinese classic the I Ching or Book of Changes (35). Aside from being a deliberate attempt to classify processes and conditions of change (as opposed to "objects" and "subjects" of knowledge), this is organized into a 8 x 8 matrix of 64 cells. It is not to be excluded that a relationship could be found between these and the 8 levels and 8 columns of Figure 7 [Integrative Matrix]. This could offer new insight into the sub-patterns of functional relationship within the pattern as a whole. This possibility has been partly explored elsewhere (26). A related approach was used to classify "human values" in the 1986 and 1991 editions of the Encyclopedia of World Problem and Human Potential.

Envisaged development

As indicated above, it is highly probable that improvements will be made to the procedure for coding words, to the classification schemes used, and to the various computer programmes used in selecting organizations for allocation to one or more categories. It is also expected that greater use will be made of "manual" coding methods to handle the more subtly defined subjects as well as categories of organizations. This will permit better treatment of subjects denoted by compound words.

In restricting attention to keywords appearing in the names of organizations, however these are supplemented, this volume is far from touching on the activities of the commissions, departments and programmes of such bodies, not to mention their special-theme conferences. This problem is partly solved by the presence of Sections E and K organizations. It is also possible that some attempt will be made to relate this volume to the International Congress Calendar (36). The problem will be partially remedied in future editions by increasing use of the "hidden" keywords which appear in the organization descriptions (eg under "aims") in italics, and are extracted by computer. Obviously however a distinction has to be made between bodies specifically concerned with "peace", for example, and the many which choose to claim that their activities contribute towards peace.

Also envisaged is the possibility of providing written commentaries on the range of organizations associated with particular levels, columns or cells of the matrix. The intention would be to clarify how groups of these bodies relate to one another, what distinct functions they perform, and the nature of their limitations. Finally, it is hoped at some stage to include in this volume computer-generated maps of the networks of relationships between organizations and world problems. The set of these maps would then constitute a rather unique form of "atlas" from which valuable overviews could be obtained.

Comments

1. Classification as a political act

1. The construction of a thesaurus or classification scheme is not a neutral process but a political act, as was well demonstrated by the encyclopaedists in the 18th century. A thesaurus which treats "homelessness" as an aspect of "sociology", and "war" as an aspect of "political science" is taking a strong political position. This is also true of an encyclopedia which omits any entry on "torture" (37). A totally exploitative attitude towards the environment is suggested by an institutional information system concerned solely with "fisheries", "fishing" and "fish processing, production, storage and utilization",but not "fish" as having an important role in planetary ecosystems (5).

2. Classification schemes tend to denature and neutralize the functional significance of categories, by excising their nonconceptual component. This is clearly seen from the treatment of "homelessness" and "war" in the previous section. Such schemes are concerned with reflection and verbalization as opposed to action, which is thus rendered impotent.

3. The political dangers of classification are not discussed amongst the specialists concerned with the design of international information systems. Aside from their treatment of minorities and the disadvantaged, most of these systems are simply reflections of a western world-view. As such they can only do violence to non-western cultures in their present form.

4. Classification schemes tend to encourage "functional empire-building", as may be seen in the treatment of "economics" disciplines in relation to "other social sciences" in the ILO classification of occupations, for example (38). Many existing systems are allowed to "bulge" in favour of hyperactive functional development (technology, industry, etc) at the expense of functions which are politically insignificant (religion, ethics, art, etc) at the present time.

5. Positioning, or failing to position, a term in a thesaurus is a political act which contributes to some kind of "functional story". There is no concern for the stories being told in this way or for the political education to which they contribute.

6. The process of embodying a term in a classification scheme has a benumbing effect which tends to render passive the users of the scheme and to deactivate the information and the users by changing their relationship to the scheme.

7. Designers of a classification scheme necessarily engage in a process which may in part be justifiably labelled as "scheming". The scheme imposes a pattern of perception against which there is very little possibility of appeal. A new approach is required which gives users some power over the process. "Who classifies for me?" is an important political question.

8. The functional control of society (or its absence) is implicit in the emphasis and juxtaposition of categories in a classification scheme. This is especially true when the excesses of one function can only be corrected by another. If the latter is absent from the scheme, or unrelated to the former, then the "spastic" processes of arbitrary control are reinforced.

9. There is a need to "liberate" nodes of significance from the domination of particular ways of apprehending reality. A specific concern is the politics of term appropriation, for example in French "development" and "cooperation" are virtually unusable in the political arena, except in relation to the Third World.

10. The above considerations suggest the need for a politically "aggressive" approach to classification which does not simply accept the result of disciplined political activity, empire-building, or blinkered manipulation of other functional domains. A political stance is required with regard to the need to "see things whole".

2. Flexible open-ended approach

1. This initiative is funded largely because of the value of the resulting check-lists by function of "subject", not because of the significance of the pattern as a whole. This is a considerable advantage given the design of the computer programme. It means that at any time the word coding can be modified to produce an improved balance within the matrix. It will thus continue to be an essentially experimental system despite its ongoing use in processing current international organization data. In contrast to conventional classification schemes, the investment in this scheme does not "freeze" the coding pattern.

2. Clearly this approach also permits alternative patterns to be explored in parallel, possibly for different purposes. It may be applied as rigidly or as loosely as required.

3. Because of the experimental nature of this approach, it opens up the interesting possibility of exploring the potential of a classification scheme where a non-zero error rate is acceptable. This may well be much more fruitful than where the error rate is required to be zero (39).

4. This approach responds to the requirement that integration itself should not be closed and final - or else the integration scheme is itself an obstacle to change rather than flowing with it.

5. Given that the scheme is designed to "open up" cells for which there are as yet undetected or poorly defined functions, this predictive possibility should provide valuable feedback on functional integration.

3. Distinguishing functions

1. Given that much effort has been devoted in the past (14) to isolating clusters of "subjects" and that these clusters are still used in modern systems, it is appropriate to assume that they reflect some degree of functional clustering. This exercise therefore, as far as possible, respects such clusters. Doing so has the considerable advantage of making the result more readily acceptable. The main modifications therefore lie in the positioning of clusters relative to one another and in giving greater or lesser weight to some of them. This corresponds to the view discussed above that the difficulties and opportunities lie not within the clusters but in how they are understood to be related.

2. The process of distinguishing and interrelating functions within a framework is one of design. As such it necessarily involves both art and science, right hemisphere and left, and some measure of synthesis resulting in a decision. This process is guided by previous practice and is especially sensitive to constraints. In seeking to generate a fruitful set of overlaid patterns, materials obtained and processed in earlier papers (28, 27) were used as possible guidelines, as was the structure of the periodic table itself.

3. This paper is based on the assumption that an entirely rational approach would lead to a sterile result. The aim was therefore to interrelate patterns of agreement and disagreement as discussed in an earlier paper (28). The process may be likened to tuning a musical instrument in which the significance of a tone only emerges in its relationship to the other tones. This analogy highlights the significance of harmony and discord between tones. The difficulty is that, given the matrix form, the "strings" take the form of an array of columns and rows. The tuning must thus be achieved in two dimensions to distinguish a tone appropriately. The process may also be likened to stretching a rubber sheet (of "seamless significance") over a curved frame in such a way as to eliminate the creases whilst giving equal prominence to each node in the pattern. It is also worth reflecting on the generation of Chladni interference patterns in this context (40, 22).

4. A special effort is made to open up locations for "awkward" topics which tend to be forgotten or grouped in miscellaneous categories. Finding any position for them in conventional schemes is such a relief that there is no desire to open up any discussion about the justification of the pigeon-hole finally used. Why is it that a list of hard-to-classify topics does not seem to have been published? It is the process of fitting in the concept for which there is no natural place which should creatively redefine the significance of the whole pattern.

5. A cluster is not necessarily rejected because it is "fuzzy". The property of being well-defined may well be a characteristic of certain kinds of cluster but not of others (13).

6. Words located in the cells of the resulting matrix are merely approximations to the concepts or functions to which they refer. The cell as a whole cannot be adequately named. Much of its significance derives from its status within the functional pattern as a whole.

7. A distinction is made between complementary or competing functions at the same level (row) in the matrix. These are alternative modes relating to different content. A different distinction is made between functions of the same type (column) concerned with similar content. These two dimensions open up the possibility of two kinds of functional substitution and development.

8. Deliberate efforts were made to avoid the distractions of currently fashionable topics which cause current classification schemes to "bulge". These are considered a reflection of short term functional imbalance.

9. Deliberate efforts were made to avoid the anthropocentric emphasis in classification schemes, which reinforces a totally exploitative misunderstanding of the interacting forces in the planetary ecosystem in a form of "environmental apartheid". The aim is to ensure a "fair deal" for bugs, plants, and animals, as well as man. Fish are not only to be understood as "fishable" for man. It is regrettable that plants and animals are converted by classification schemes into pests, foodstuffs, or industrial products. Nutrition, health, habitat, and migration are not just a problem for man. In addition, such narrowness closes off any possibility of interspecies understanding, ignoring such questions as animal education and the intelligence of dolphins and whales, with all that could imply for their rights with man on the planet in a more enlightened culture.

4. Function pattern

1. "Subject" categories selected for classification schemes tend to conceal functions by using noun descriptors. It is appropriate to ask whether such static categories facilitate development processes.

2. As suggested by Bohm (11) and Thom (41), a more realistic approach is to use verb "descriptors", thus emphasizing the essentially dynamic processes of development.

3. Descriptors in current use can only adequately express a percentage of the functions with which they are associated. Categories are not completely bounded by available descriptors. Language is essentially incomplete and approximate - as is evident when descriptors from different languages are compared.

4. An integrated pattern of categories is essential if functional integration is in any way a reality. In many classification schemes categories are grouped arbitrarily with little, if any, concern for the relationship between functions.

5. Classification schemes tend to conceal the absence of categories which do not relate to the functional preoccupations of those elaborating the scheme. Such categories are signalled naturally in an integrated pattern.

6. An integrated pattern should lend itself to perception through different "cuts", according to depth of interest and level of complexity tolerated.

7. To contain complexity and range of differences, the pattern of integration should highlight differences as well as similarities.

5. Recovering functional emphasis

As has been stressed, conventional classification schemes focus on "subjects". This term covers many "objects" in the material world and the world of ideas. If these subjects are perceived as functions, as advocated here, it should be possible to give greater reality to the functions by clarifying how they are manifested through such special kinds of subjects as those noted below. In each case the cells of the matrix should reflect some corresponding element. To be specific, corresponding to many of these functions there should be:

1. Occupations or professions which together reflect the pattern of human resources in an integrated society.

2. Institutions, organizations and groups. Of special interest is the correspondence with government ministries and agencies, especially as the country develops.

3. Types of building (or parts of a town), as well as rooms (or parts) of a home.

4. Organizational or community roles.

5. Information systems or styles of information processing.

6. Characteristic human needs and satisfiers associated with many of the functions. Together these should reflect an integrated pattern of human needs.

7. Characteristic values and possibly characteristic mind-sets, ways of being or weltanschauungen.

8. Characteristic events, objects, and processes and their associ ated characteristic concepts of change.

9. Characteristic methods, tools, distinctions and problems.

10. Characteristic human activities. These should correspond to the elements in a time budget analysis.

11. Characteristic symbols or rites. For certain traditional cultures there would be divinities manifesting appropriate qualities. Together these are an important guide to viable functional integration.

12. Characteristic images of man.

13. Characteristic educational processes. Together these would make up an integrated educational programme, corresponding to the organization of curricula and sets of university faculties.

14. Characteristic decision criteria, constraints, blindspots, biases, strengths and weaknesses. In many cases there would also be things which are considered self-evident or inconceivable.

15. Characteristic social and other indicators.

16. Characteristic constituents of a system.

17. Characteristic associated verbs, possibly based on such action oriented suffixes as: "-ization", "-izing", "icizing" (cf Thom 41).

6. Dynamic relationship between functions

1. As has been repeatedly stressed here, for integrative purposes the functions should not be considered in isolation one from the others. Some functions clearly substitute for one another under some conditions, others complete with each other. It is important to arrive at some understanding of this dynamic pattern.

2. Several analogies may provide useful guidelines to explore these relationships:

3. The computer programme is designed in such a way that co-present terms signifying distinct functions result in the generation of a separate matrix of relationships between functions. From this it should be possible to develop a clearer idea of the frequency pattern of interaction as well as the possibility of relationships not explicitly activated within the international community.

7. Non-linear and oscillatory functional relationships

1. The point was made earlier that to be meaningful the pattern must provide for the presence of essentially incompatible functions, namely functions which cannot co-exist passively (eg "science" and "religion", "industry" and "environment"). The weakness of existing classification schemes is that they develop a framework which implies that such "subjects" are compatible, thus deactivating/neutralizing the dynamic nature of the relationships. This is one reason for the sterility of such schemes.

2. In order to be hospitable to discontinuity the scheme must somehow encompass the non-rational character of disagreement (28). This implies at least a distinctly non-linear relationship between such functions.

3. The most accessible indication of the possible nature of this relationship is that between right- and left-hemisphere modes (29), and the essential difficulty of integrating them. The functional consequence is an oscillation between the two modes according to the task to be performed.

4. On this basis, it is useful to consider the disposition of functions in the rows or columns of the matrix as involving alternatively a right or left-hemisphere type of mode. The result is that the matrix then takes the form of a "chequerboard" of functions. It is this chequerboard effect which could be one vital feature for adequate function integration. The point can be seen as remarkably obvious. Humanity does not function in terms of one mode alone, just as it is difficult to walk on one foot - although this may be what history will see as characteristic of this period.

8. Implication of modes of comprehension

1. A major defect of existing classification schemes is that there is no concern with how they are comprehended or whether this is of any significance. As has been demonstrated (42), people and groups with similar concerns tend to disagree violently because of temperamental, pre-logical biases. These have been related to the psychology of types. Functional integration can clearly not be envisaged until this essentially human-centred concern is taken into account. It could well be argued that taking it into account is vital to the credibility of any scheme which purports to facilitate human and social development. The question may even be asked whether the existing range of functions does not result from a special form of collective psychological projection patterned by the distinctly favoured modes of comprehension.

2. It could therefore be very fruitful to explore how psychological types are reflected in the classification scheme. The work of C G Jung and his school is very suggestive in this respect:

The material on these matters could suggest a much richer understanding of the relationships between functions and the challenge of comprehending them. One of Jung's major points is that a given individual does not have equal comprehension of each of the above modes. Some are repressed. The same could be true with collectivities (eg the "science" or "business" communities) with all that would imply for the dynamics of their relationships and the problems of the development and maturation of such collectivities.

3. It is interesting to note, in the light of the above comments, the basic division between those committed to social change. One group favours a scientific, structured, establishment-planned, rational approach and rejects sloppy, disorganized, spontaneous, personcentred approaches. The other favours such participative, person-oriented, organic, casually-planned approaches "from the heart" and abhors the manipulative impersonality of the "head" approach.

4. The extremes noted in the previous point have dramatic implications for who can work with whom. The challenge is to move beyond such simplistic extremes, as it is in the case of individual maturation. It is not one or the other, but how each can be used in an integrated dynamic pattern whenever appropriate. It is in this sense that there is a special relationship between the structure of the classification scheme required and the nature of individual human development, especially in its "subjective" psychological dimensions.

5. The present need is really for a more meaningful classification scheme with which people can more readily identify in ordering their world view. The interesting difficulty is that it is psychologically necessary to reduce the number of categories to approximately seven to maintain continuity of understanding of the whole (32) - whence the value of the single digit number of rows/columns and the coherence of Jung's set of types. But, when it is necessary to encode the "10,000 things" recognized in the environment, the number of categories must be increased considerably - which necessarily results in a fragmentation of integrated awareness. This states the basic dilemma of classification scheme design. It indicates the importance of interrelating patterns of small and large numbers through factors as discussed elsewhere (27). Single digit sets of types, such as advocated by Jung, are principally relevant as dimensions of multi-digit function coding schemes. They provide the necessary weft and warp which creates the comprehensible framework through which greater degrees of variety can become apparent within an integrated pattern. Examples of such patterns have been collected together in a earlier paper (27).

6. The alienating irrelevance of present classification schemes is apparent when set against the challenge of producing a scheme in which recognition of the attributed code gives the same sense of here-and-now significance as the following:

Like the immense popularity of astrological typing (however illusory), each of these opens the way for a functional response within a (perhaps momentarily) stabilized world view. They introduce the dimension of time in its most positive, liberating sense, whereas conventional "pigeon-hole" classification introduces time in its most negative and repressive sense.

9. Need for a development "container"

1. The final points above suggest some additional properties desirable in a classification scheme. These essentially qualitative properties are difficult to build into the simple structure of a matrix. The grid pattern can even be considered as a stereotype of alienating technocracy. The defect of the grid pattern is that it suggests no sense of direction or convergence towards a unique location with which the observer can identify as a kind of "homobase" or goal. As such it is a fundamentally anti-developmental form of representation, despite its obvious convenience and efficiency.

2. At best the matrix is meaningful in relation to one half of the functions, namely those associated with left-hemisphere comprehension. Essentially it "freezes" the "objective" world, whilst neglecting or denying the significance of "subjective" interaction with it, although it is the latter which is responsive to qualitative conditions. Even by ensuring the simultaneous presence of incompatible functional alternates, the stasis effect of the left-hemisphere framework still ensures only a limited value for the scheme.

3. Going to the other extreme, right-hemisphere thinking would advocate use of particular images to which people can relate (eg starving child or sunny beach posters), or possibly symbols (eg asfor each UN "year"), or a person (eg Mère Thérèse). Such forms, whilst valuable in themselves for "mobilizing" people in the short-term, are completely unable to convey any sense of structure or pattern within which the symbolized concerns are related to the other concerns of the international community. Nor are they able to provide any balanced ordering of the sub-concerns which together make up that which is represented by the image.

4. Once again there is a dilemma, namely the choice between the limitations of "flatland" (43) and the problems of focused fascination. Can the dilemma be seen in a fruitful light to provide a way beyond this sterile dichotomy which engenders such "spastic" international activity?

5. In both cases it would seem that it is a question of how attention is channelled, focused or manipulated. In the matrix case, attention is forced along well-defined pathways and easily becomes exhausted because it is not regenerated in any way. There is little possibility for creative interaction, and increasing orientation to proceduralism. In the image case, attention is excited and attracted, but is not offered any channels through which the enthusiasm can be discharged in an orderly, constructive manner. The initial enthusiasm therefore decays quickly into indifference, apathy or cynicism, or is transformed into dogma. Both extremes are therefore attention "traps", "prisons", or even "cemeteries", whatever their limited merits. It is possible to alleviate this imprisoning effect by seeking some form of synthesis between the two modes.

6. In the case of the left-hemisphere mode, curvature may be introduced into the matrix through a third dimension. The value of this has been argued in earlier papers (31,44). It ensures a sense of focus and introduces the observer into the scheme. This step may also be justified in terms of the implications of quantum logic for classification (11, 45, 46, 47) and the related essential problem of the inadequacy of particular conceptual languages (48) to "contain" the complexity of experience.

7. In the case of the right-hemisphere mode, complementary images may be grouped into sets, as has been done very successfully in many traditional cultures with divinities governing complementary qualities and powers (27). Note the advantage of personalizing these powers in order to permit an individual relationship to them. It is curious that UN symbol posters are never juxtaposed in this way to constitute a set of complementary images, rather than the current practice of emphasizing politically-timebound, fragmented concerns.

8. The seemingly obvious next step is to relate the curved left-hemisphere pattern of functions to the sets of right-hemisphere images in order to synthesize the two modes. If this could be successfully done it would be the ideal "container" for human and social development. Attention would be appropriately regenerated and focused to that end. As described here, however, this step constitutes a further trap and an even more effective prison. Examples of initiatives in this direction can be seen in efforts to build a "world city" or a "world centre" in which the architecture, imagery and organized information would reflect and reinforce a unified world view (49, 50). This in fact overemphasizes the left-hemisphere mode. The right-hemisphere mode is to be found over-emphasized in the proposed design of certain process-oriented (utopian) communities. None of these initiatives "liberates" attention sufficiently to constitute a "container" for effective human and social development, whatever their merits for some people in the short-term.

10. Intrinsic uncertainty and paradox

1. The synthesis outlined in the previous point is basically sterile. This is because the advocated juxtaposition of the two modes results in essentially mechanical, static "compromises". The "logical" nature of the step proposed is precisely what identifies it as a left-hemisphere linear extrapolation, even though it is supposedly encompassing incompatibles. It seems that once again it is necessary to find a way of introducing a non-logical dimension if the sterility is to be avoided.

2. It is not sufficient to call upon the excellent arguments of theoretical physicists such as Bohm (11) concerning wholeness and the implications of uncertainty. This remains a left-hemisphere approach, resulting in an explanation with which the observer is faced and by which he is neutralized. The arguments are important however as a way of shifting the discussion out of an expectancy of linear extrapolations and predictability, even in the psycho-social domain.

3. Switching to the basically right-hemisphere approach, there is much material on the integration of the two modes, but only in aform considered academically acceptable to psychoanalysts influenced by Jung. This material forms part of the heritage of many cultures. Its value lies in the fact that it encodes the experiential process of personal development and transformation, which should make it highly relevant to the further exploration of human development. Its weakness is that it has nothing to say about social development. Furthermore its incredible richness makes it a fascinating trap in its own right. Its experiential nature makes it especially suspect in the light of any left-hemisphere perception.

4. These two seemingly blocked avenues of approach clarify the basic dilemma. It would seem that both have vital strengths and dangerous weaknesses. As pointed out earlier, the only way to move further forward is to be highly suspicious of both and to alternate between them, counter-balancing one by the other, since one or the other must necessarily be used.

5. Of great interest in the right-hemisphere material are the guarded attempts to define the essentially paradoxical nature of the outwardly incomprehensible possibility of creatively transcending the limitations of the two basic modes. This is typified by Zen literature and the associated practices (51). These claim the merit of deliberately avoiding the traps of proliferating sets of symbols characteristic of other cultures. Such sets of symbols tend to create the impression that transcendence is possible through them rather than through identifying with the awareness from which they emanate as a set. The disadvantage of the Zen approach is that it is so individualistic and paradoxical as to be virtually inapplicable to social transformation.

6. Of great interest for the left-hemisphere approach is the implication of the current challenge of plasma physics in relation to fusion reactors for power generation. A plasma is an electrical conducting medium consisting of positive and negative charges forming a neutrally charged distribution of matter. A plasma is unique in the way it interacts with itself, with electric and magnetic fields, and with its environment (*). Its properties depend on the collective behaviour of the constituent particles, as distinct from the individual. If plasmas could be confined under certain conditions for a long enough period of time in a fusion reactor, mankind's energy problems would be resolved. The difficulty is that plasmas are unique in their instability and in their tendency to revert to ordinary combinations of matter and energy.

The problems that have to be solved to achieve successful magnetic confinement are both scientific and technological in nature. The scientific problem is to find those particular configurations of magnetic fields, and values of plasma parameters which, when scaled up to fusion reactor size, would ensure a viable net power yield from the reactor. Technologically, the problems are how to create the required high-intensity magnetic fields, how to heat the plasma towards fusion temperatures, at the same time protecting it from contamination by heavier atomic impurities (which would quench the reaction (52). If individual attention/consciousness or world opinion is considered as a "plasma", the problem of human and social development and integration are well-modelled by the fusion problem.

7. In the right-hemisphere approach, an interesting parallel to the fluid behaviour of plasma is to be found in the important taoist concept of "ch'i" (or ki), which as an essentially intangible form of "energy" defies all exercises in definition. It is by identification with ch'i that an individual develops a way of alternating appropriately between the two modes without the normal discontinuity of awareness. With a background in biochemistry and management, R G H Siu notes (**):

In the East, many of the martial arts are explicitly concerned with practices for controlling the movement of "ki", as in aikido for example. This is also the case with the pattern of widely practised exercise movements called t'ai chi'i. Siu continues

But although Siu has written a subsequent book on management, there is apparently little attention in the East to the significance of ch'i at the societal level.

8. Returning to the left-hemisphere approach and the point of departure, the problem is how to design a suitable "container" for development using the pattern of functions. Using the plasma model as a guide, the problem can then be defined as using the configuration of functions to contain individual or collective attention. From the plasma case it is clear that the functions should serve a variety of purposes in enhancing attention (the will-to-change?), in focusing it, but especially in counter-acting ever-present instabilities. These lead to "degeneration" of the attention if it is not effectively insulated from the surfaces of the "container". The model suggest that these surfaces are intimately related to the functions themselves. This confirms the difficulty of the problem. It is already well-recognized that no one function provides the desirable solution and each of them is dangerous to society or the individual if unchecked. But the current work on plasma confinement suggests that advances can be made by "bouncing" the plasma around within the configuration of a magnetic cavity. This would indicate that the problem is really one of allowing the attention to be constrained by all the functions simultaneously but without allowing attachment to any one of them. It is thus not just a simple problem of oscillation between two functional modes but between enough modes to constitute a container (at least in a three-dimensional configuration).

9. Switching to the right-hemisphere approach, in discussing ch'i Siu notes that: "The conventional theories of physics and chemistry have not been successful in clarifying the intrinsicalness of life and the specificity of biological responses." (53, p259) The same may be said of sociology and psychology and in relation to the specificity of response to significance. Architect Christopher Alexander attempts to clarify the nature of this here-and-now livingness as follows:

The question he confronts most admirably is how to enable individuals and groups to work with a "pattern language" (55) to build an effective container for the "quality without a name". (The patterns would seem to reflect life in the same way as magnetic mirrors reflect plasma.) It is regrettable that he is primarily concerned with social patterns related to buildings and not also with the less tangible psycho-social patterns in their own right.

10. In both the plasma example and Alexander's "quality without a name", it is significant that the configuration of definable patterns engenders a central space with special characteristics. Siu cites Lao Tzu with regard to this "empty" space: "Thirty spokes unite in one nave and on that which is nonexistent (the hole in the nave) depends the wheel's utility... Therefore, existence renders actual but nonexistence renders useful." (53, p 266)

But the wheel only works effectively when the compression in a particular spoke is appropriately distributed around the pattern of spokes as a whole. This is also true in both the plasma case and in Alexander's living environment. It is relating this empty central space to human and social development which is the current challenge. It is for this reason that R Aitkin's work on "q-holes" in organizations is of special interest (56,57).

11. The essential weakness of attempting to describe the needed container is that it places an illusory emphasis of a static configuration, when in fact any static characteristics it may have are probably only a significant as in the case of "standing wave" phenomena. It is the dynamics of how the container works that needs to be better understood. This is also the problem in the plasma case, Alexander's concern, and in Aitkin's q-holes.

11. Individual and social development as mutual models

1. The previous section has pursued a line of argument to a point at which, whatever its merit as explanation, the significance is in danger of being lost to many. As pointed out by Feyerabend (58),arguments need to be made accessible by avoiding abstractions and approaching the individual human scale to the extent possible. Centuring the argument in this way is possible, but only by using the human-centred imagery which is the material of psycho-analysis.

2. The last section attempted to maintain the revelance to social development. The argument can be taken further by accepting a bias in favour of human development. The whole problem of containing plasma and relating to ch'i is encompassed by the concern in the Chinese cultural tradition with the "circulation of the light" as reviewed by Jung (59). Thus a traditional text on meditation reads:

In this and related texts the parallel to the plasma is quite striking. Such a link between physical reality and meditative awareness has been noted by F. Capra (12).

3. The problem frustrating human development is the inadequacy of the response to opposing tendencies or contradictions some of which were reviewed in an earlier section. Methods similar to the "circulation of the light" in different cultures respond to this problem. The explanation of the response is necessarily unsatisfactory because the "intrinsicalness" of life, as mentioned by Siu, is essentially experiential. "Light" in this context is very closely related to chi's, life and time. Siu illustrates this by examples from music and photosynthesis:

4. This harmonious relation to opposites can be effectively represented in dance and movement as in the case of t'ai ch'i reported by psycho-analyst June Singer:

It is noteworthy that the interaction between this dancer and theoretical physicists resulted in a most remarkable description of the current frontiers of understanding of reality and how they are to be approached (61). But the weakness of dance as a mode is that, once again, it is essentially right-hemisphere and as such a trap, preventing further advance.

5. Some of the dimensions of the trap constituted by right-hemisphere, person-centred expression are avoided by the philosophy underlying the performance of the traditional Rig Veda hymns in India. The performance seeks ways to avoid being locked into any particular mode of expression, although the performance necessarily involves the spontaneous selection of one mode amongst several.Adopting that mode for a period of time is seen as a necessary sacrifice or limitation of options in order to make use of a particular comprehensible language which will be abandoned as soon as the task is completed. This affirms the essential inadequacy of any given mode. The performer then effectively withdraws to an empty centre from which another mode will be chosen through which to continue the performance. This process is seen as a model of an appropriate response to daily life, as well as of a succession of incarnations (48, 62).

6. The previous points suggest a way to communicate possibilities of human development, especially in a semi-literate society. In both cases left-hemisphere structural significance is effectively encoded on to right-hemisphere expression. Considered in these terms, much of the cultural material of psycho-analysis takes on a new significance for development. The problem with this approach is the continuing danger of responding to the material solely as a code (a left-hemisphere trap) or solely as an aesthetic experience (a right-hemisphere trap). There is a further danger, as illustrate by June Singer's work on androgyny as a goal of development (60), which provides a valuable overview of such material from many cultures. Care must be taken in giving content to the synthesis of these two modes for, once again, this synthesis is primarily significant in terms of its dynamics and not in terms of any mechanical juxtaposition of attributes (especially as in hermaphroditism of bisexuality). The synthesis of opposites as encoded by the androgyne is not sexless, and therefor sterile, but rather the essence of fecundity and creativity. Even if is primarily intra-psychic, it is very doubtful whether the androgynous condition is as accessible as June Singer claims, although the future may be able to distinguish usefully the degrees of androgyneity.

7. An essential characteristic of the androgynous synthesis is that it can only be expressed, discussed and comprehended through the ongoing interaction of opposites, as effectively encoded by the relationships between the two sexes. Expressing the dilemma of the opposites in terms of the male/female relationship certainly has the advantage of making its complexity "accessible". It also draws attention to how little has been accomplished in moving creatively beyond this polarity. Given present inadequacy in handling male/female relationships (as indicated by divorce rates, discrimination, etc), it is highly probable that this inadequacy reinforces the pattern of suboptimum responses in other domains, in which polarities must be handled. It is also significant that the major product of this relationship as presently conceived, namely children, is what ensures the major pressure on planetary resources through the population explosion. It is also significant that it is this very relationship which provides one of the major motivating forces for individuals on which much merchandising is directly based.

8. The relevance of the above argument is based on the assumption that the male/female relationship can be understood as encoding other polar relationships. This is a source of major difficulty because the dynamics of the male/female relationship are so "fascinating" to the participants that they do not encourage reflection or generalization. This suggests that they tend to be perceived through the right-hemisphere thus making the argument into a circular one precluding any transcendent synthesis. Nevertheless much cultural material of psycho-analytical significance is encoded onto the male/female relationship and its products, suggesting the possibility of such a development under certain conditions presumably triggered by traumas.

9. It would seem that there is a vital link to be established between the understanding of human and social development and the understanding of male/female relationships as exemplified by sexuality. The link between sexuality, population increase and war are fairly evident as a "negative" self-correcting cycle. It is the corresponding "positive" development cycle which is unclear and it is interesting how easily the validity of this area of concern is rejected as irrelevant. It is politically highly sensitive. In fact it is appropriate to note that any psycho-cultural phenomena involving alternation of oscillation is rejected, "frozen" into one of its modes, or characterized by traumatic discontinuity (as in the switch in power between political fractions following elections of revolution). A significant exception is the "good-guy/bad-guy" technique employed by teams of interrogaters.

10. The same inflexible attitude is characteristic of certain traditional religious practices in support of human development. In many religions the relationship between polarities by-passes the male/female relationship and is encoded into the individual, especially into a highly disciplined approach to the breathing cycle of inspiration/expiration. Within such a framework, obstacles toindividual development are seen as encoded into irregularities in the breathing cycle. This approach is claimed as of great value to human development (eg in yoga). The price of success is however the obligation to freeze the dynamics of the individual's male/female relationships in society. In this sense the monastic tradition, for example, is unable to encode any creative understanding of male/female relationships in society.

11. The previous point indicates that there is a high price to pay if polarities are to be usefully encoded onto the individual. Since few are tempted to pay that price, it is appropriate to look for ways of encoding polarities into a left-hemisphere presentation of the range of functions operating in society. Hence the interest in classification schemes. In parallel there is value in using the environment, as perceived in the right-hemisphere mode, as a way of encoding the polarities of human and social relationships (31).

Conclusion

It is too soon to assess the merit of this approach in terms of its more experimental aims. Hopefully their implications have however been related to the organization of the categories in such a way as not to affect its value as a practical tool. As such the result is an interesting compromise between theory and practice with the merit of emphasizing the dimensions of innovative change and the value-related experiences in the name of which it is advocated.

The effort made to incorporate these less tangible dimensions in positions similar to those usually only accorded to the more concrete manifestations of human activity calls for a careful evaluation. It does attempt to reflect the concerns underlying recent major international projects, such as that of the United Nations University on Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development. This questioned the traditional "value-free" approach to serious scientific activity (63, 64) and the efforts to avoid consideration of non-material human needs (30). As the first stages of what is hoped to be an ongoing experiment, it is natural that much may be modified for future editions. But whilst this experiment is definitively not value-free, it is hoped that is helps to clarify ways in which a variety of seemingly incompatible value biases can be usefully balanced.

The prevailing assumption that classification is an objective, neutral activity may be what in effect severely reduces the value of its products as a support by which international organizations can be empowered to act more effectively. It may thus reinforce the importance they experience in the face of the problems on which they are mandated to act (65). As pointed out above, the classification of each item of concern to the international community can usefully be seen as a political act. The treatment of "homelessness" as a sub-category of "sociology", a theoretical discipline, is indicative of the manner in which problems can be swept under convenient intellectual "carpets" in order to avoid acting upon them directly. Indeed each item classified in any international classification system needs to be assessed in the light of its implications for problem-solving. It can be argued, for example, that the choice of classes or subject fields reinforces and legitimizes their organizing influence in society such that each becomes a domain in which a different kind of significance is accumulated, usually at the expense of society as a whole (25).

Classification schemes are the basis for user access to international information systems. As pointed out on the occasion of a recent conference on intergovernmental documentation, such systems are not yet adequately designed to facilitate societal learning in order to counter the marked erosion of collective memory (66). A Club of Rome report (67) specifically identified the need for innovative (shock) approaches to societal learning to counter the weaknesses associated with the adaptive (maintenance) approach built into the organization of current information systems. These tend to be totally unprepared for future crises and developments. It is for such reasons that it is appropriate to take the kinds of risk inherent in an experiment of this nature. Although errors are to be regretted, they are a useful indicator that risks are being taken in an endeavour to find a basis for a more appropriate mode of response. As pointed out by Donald Michael:

The weaknesses of this volume as a practical tool are partly those of any computer-based retrieval system, namely the presence (or possibility) of a percentage of misplaced entries within any category. Weaknesses at this stage are also associated with the fact that, as an experimental procedure, problems can only be eliminated progressively in an iterative "semantic tuning" procedure. Hopefully however these first three editions already indicate the possibility of organizing information on international organizations in a manner which highlights functional relationships relevant to the emergence of a new world order. To the extent that this has been achieved in some measure, it may be considered a first step beyond the current subjects and discipline-oriented approaches. These are only distantly related to the dynamics of relationships between functional domains and the problems of comprehending them and communicating the nature of such interdependency in support of problem-oriented action.


(*) If the states of matter are defined in terms of relationship to the environment, plasma is the fifth state. The others are: solid, liquid, gas, and reacting elements (eg in fire). 99% of the matter in the universe is in the plasma state. [back to text]

(**) It is interesting that this book should be published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, normally associated with left-hemisphere approaches. [back to text]


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