2nd September 2008 | Draft

Psychodynamics of Collective Engagement with Polyhedral Value Configurations

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Eliciting engagement through value "frames of reference"
-- Triangulation | Polyhedral configuration of triangulated frames of reference
-- Triadic systems
Cognitive fusion: "light" of comprehension -- of values?
Value embodiment: participatory engagement with environmental reality
-- Value authenticity | Dysfunctional disengagement from abundance
-- Eliciting participatory engagement
Value-engendering psychoactive environmental dynamic
-- Mythical and magical relationships to the environment
-- Drug-induced psychoactive relationships to the environment
-- Non-drug psychoactive processes
-- Requirement for strategically significant psychoactive environments
Engendering psychoactive resonance through the mnemonic qualities of complex topologies
-- Eliciting meaning through topology | Counter-intuitive challenges of disagreement
-- Complementary modes of engagement
Variety of relationships between topos and topology
Re-enchantment of environmental engagement through polyhedral animations
-- Configuring value sets of various size | Dynamic configurations | Enabling strategic reconfiguration
Wisdom -- to be elicited dynamically through metaphor?
-- "New thinking" | Role of metaphor | "Unsaying" and "Unknowing" | Dialogue
-- Information overload vs Wisdom | Dynamics of wisdom?


Following clarification of these issues, the question explored is how people and groups can comprehend and engage with configurations of values. The issue of "topology" is highlighted to contrast this approach with the universal tendency to present sets of values as a checklist, organized simplistically and asystemically. There is little consideration for the mnemonic factors that reinforce and sustain engagement with them -- and appropriate use of them as a strategic vehicle appropriate to a global knowledge society faced with the continuing challenge of engendering the "political will to change" (International Organizations and the Generation of the Will to Change, 1970).

Fundamentally the concern here is with the challenge of "reading" linear descriptions of any set of values, as posed by this text itself, and then engaging with them. For this reason this linear argument may perhaps best be considered as optional commentary to the animations presented here to accompany the text.

The context for the argument developed here is provided separately (Topology of Valuing: dynamics of collective engagement with polyhedral value configurations, 2008; In Quest of Engaging Values: context of the Human Values and Wisdom Project, 2008; Coherent Value Frameworks: pillar-ization, polarization and polyhedral frames of reference, 2008). This document contains the References for all three. However the argument of all three is summarized in a final paper (Embodying Values Dynamically through Alternation: integrating sets of polarized static values through indicative metaphor, 2008). The argument has also been presented in poster form In Quest of a Strategic Pattern Language: a new architecture of values [also available in PDF].

This exploration is associated with related studies of the relevance of "polyhedral" structures to governance (Towards Polyhedral Global Governance: complexifying oversimplistic strategic metaphors, 2008; Polyhedral Pattern Language: software facilitation of emergence, representation and transformation of psycho-social organization, 2008; Configuring Global Governance Groups: experimental visualization of possible integrative relationships, 2008).

Eliciting engagement through value "frames of reference"

A set of values is typically considered significant as a "frame of reference". Hence the effort to elicit such frames for organizational coherence. But what is such a frame of reference and how is to be understood? How does it work?

A single "pillar" can be used as a kind of pole of reference and is so used for surveying purposes, where orientation to the pole and distance from it are the key. Two poles can be similarly used, although they too cannot be described as a "frame". But the latter case makes clear the essential role of triangulation in the operation of any frame of reference within which action takes place.

Triangulation: A frame of reference, presumably in the case of values, is established and sustained through triangulation between a minimum of three nodes that are "other" in relation to each other. This is a feature of the methodology proposed (above) with respect to "pillars" by Inayatullah -- however such nodes may then usefully be understood as attractors or repulsors to avoid the misplaced concreteness of reification.

Any such triangular frame engenders or elicits:

  • a dynamic (vector), pulling awareness through it ("motor" mode), rather than simply framing a focal central point.
  • awareness by the experiencer of being pulled through the frame of reference -- through a configuration of otherness ("dynamo" mode)
  • significance and meaning are then to be associated with this dynamic in relation to values

The value of a triangular frame of reference may be contrasted with a bipolar frame of reference -- only too commonly characteristic of unfruitful polarization and strategic dilemmas. In fact the whole exploration of the above-mentioned exercise (Configuring Globally and Contending Locally: shaping the global network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral issues, 1992) was the configuration of strategic dilemmas through the triangulation fundamental to the integrity of tensegrity structures.

Polyhedral configuration of triangulated frames of reference: The above-mentioned criticism of "pillar-ization" of strategic governance pointed to the need for less simplistic metaphors -- hence the exploration of polyhedral global governance as a means of configuring triangulated frames of reference. But the cognitive challenge may call for other considerations as highlighted by the following:

  • implications of the work of Albert Einstein in relation to frames of reference moving relative to one another -- surely to be recognized as a process characteristic of value frames in dynamic psycho-social systems (as implied above by Chris Mowles)
  • implications of the unsuspected formative influences regarding the development of the frame of reference of Ludwig Wittgenstein as explored by Susan G. Sterrett (Wittgenstein Flies a Kite: a story of models of wings and models of the world, 2005)
  • implications, following from the argument relating to Wittgenstein, with regard to the frames of reference explored by Einstein as effectively defining claims to cognitive property, justifying defence of "our values" (Einstein's Implicit Theory of Relativity -- of Cognitive Property? Unexamined influence of patenting procedures, 2007)
  • implications regarding consensus and incommunicability emerging from the exploration of philosophical frameworks by Nicholas Rescher (The Strife of Systems: an essay on the grounds and implications of philosophical diversity, 1985) who concludes:
    For centuries, most philosophers who have reflected on the matter have been intimidated by the strife of systems. But the time has come to put this behind us -- not the strife, that is, which is ineliminable, but the felt need to somehow end it rather than simply accept it and take it in stride. To reemphasize the salient point: it would be bizarre to think that philosophy is not of value because philosophical positions are bound to reflect the particular values we hold.

Triadic systems: There are several suggestive examples of extensively articulated triadic systems:

  • the triadic paradigm for general system building developed by Paris Arnopoulos (Sociophysics: a general theory of natural and cultural systems, 1992; Sociophysics: cosmos and chaos in nature and culture, 2005)
  • the social process triangles developed through a collective process within the context of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (Jon and Maureen Jenkins, Social Process Triangles, 2001).
  • the classical Chinese BaGua system of trigrams (mentioned above)
  • the archetypal nuclear family system of mother, father and child, notably illustrating the pressures to "make" another values to bring life into the family (and the related challenges of the "eternal triangle"):

*** Lockwood -- ioiu -- knowledge compaction like soil, top soil
*** presumption of comprehension precluding doubt, dialogue and development
*** LER process ???

Cognitive fusion: "light" of comprehension -- of values?

Light is one of the most frequently used metaphors through which any transition to comprehension is described -- whether for simple creativity or mystical insight. It is presumably just as appropriate to the comprehension of the significance of a value or a set of values -- and their relevance in practice.

In this sense light and learning have long been associated. In some way what is described in terms of light is associated with the transition from a configuration of disparate elements (or one whose order is not especially meaningful) to engagement with the configuration and recognition of its wider implications. In academic discourse and method, aside from use of "brilliant", it would seem to be closely related to the experience of "clarification".

The process is of course important in different ways in the many traditions of meditation -- each variously concerned with focused attention as facilitated by some kind of frame of reference. Hence the interest of psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the long tradition of framing offered by mandalas and yantras -- typically polygonal in structure.

Curiously an aspect of this process is central to facilitation of "cognitive fusion" -- for jetfighter pilots (travelling faster than the speed of sound) whose lives depend on the ability to focus much disparate information and arrive at a tactical decision in the shortest time. A less urgent form is important in "situation rooms" and "war rooms". The question for the future is whether this process can be further, and more creatively, enhanced in relation to wider value-based strategic issues by learning from research on nuclear fusion, as explored elsewhere (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006).

As the design of antenna indicates, issues of focus to achieve and enhance some form of cognitive synthesis and fusion may be usefully explored by appropriately configuring an array of frames of reference -- in this case triangulated frames of values differently oriented to each other. It is these differences in orientation that interrelate requisite variety -- effectively patterns of enriching "otherness".

Value embodiment: participatory engagement with environmental reality

Value authenticity: In the curious value context of the 21st century, the values upheld verbally and widely celebrated have an increasingly hollow "ring" to those who assume a degree of engagement in principled action, rather than the token variety. Most problematic is the action taken "in the name of" some value, which increasingly fails to reflect the meaning that it is desired to associate with that value. All these are features of "value warfare" (as discussed in Value-based crisis: values as instruments of memetic warfare, 2008). .

Value authenticity might now be said to take two forms:

  • as embodied by exemplars recognized to be acting beyond self-interest, traditionally evident as courage on some field of battle under conditions of great risk. Clearly this has ceased to be evident in military action using disproportionate firepower, employed indiscriminately from a distance (even by criminals conscripted for the purpose), irrespective of collateral damage or risk to the user of such tactics. As noted above, it may however be evident in action, "standing up for a principle", taken at great risk to reputation and livelihood -- if not to life. One such exemplar is the anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.
  • as embodied in personal reframing, unrecognized by others, of cognitive and behavioral engagement with the environment. This has perhaps been best articulated by David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, 1997).

Dysfunctional disengagement from abundance: Methodologically there is a fundamental challenge to how the problems of the 21st century are to be framed to elicit appropriate engagement. This has been articulated in various ways by various authors, perhaps most succinctly summarized by Jennifer Gidley (The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: an integration of integral views. Integral Review, 5, 2007) to the effect that:

However, the growing awareness of a potential planetary crisis has highlighted the significance of finding new ways of thinking, if humankind is to move through our current complex challenges. This critical imperative appears to be mobilizing researchers from a wide range of disciplines to broaden the notion of evolution of consciousness beyond its biological bounds.

Gidley points to a range of authors that highlight the need for "new thinking" and the inadequacy of old methodologies. Another relevant critique is that provided by Steven M. Rosen (Topologies of the Flesh: a multidimensional exploration of the lifeworld, 2006). Especially in an earlier work (Dimensions of Apeiron: a topological phenomenology of space, time, and individuation, Value Inquiry Book Series, 2004) he highlights the manner in which the richness of psychosocial engagement with the world has been completely undermined by formal discourse -- an "eclipse of the lifeworld" in his terms. Ironically, in a period of sensitivity to the challenges of "resources" and "energy", this view is echoed by other authors with respect to a lost sense of "abundance". Others concerned with this topic include:

  • Paul Feyerabend (Conquest of Abundance: a tale of abstraction versus the richness of being. 1999)
  • Sallie McFague (Life Abundant: rethinking theology and economy for a planet in peril, 2000)
  • David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, 1997) who observes that the concealment of the sensuous realm in pre-Renaissance experience was less lucidly focused than the mode of awareness that succeeded it. The decisive separation of subject and object served the interest of creating sharper understanding, a greater capacity for reflection and intellectual achievement; in that way it helped to fulfill humankind's potential

Eliciting participatory engagement: Other authors have focused on the desirable potential of a participatory encounter with reality (Morris Berman, Re-enchantment of the World, 1981; Henryk Skolimowski, The Participatory Mind: a new theory of knowledge and of the universe, 1995; Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth; an exploration of ecopsychology, 1993). It has been the focus of a recent gathering of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion (2007). It might be argued that any experience of "values" implies just such a degree of participation in whatever is understood as the "environment". For example, Gordon Graham (The Re-enchantment of the World: art versus religion, 2008) takes as his starting point Max Weber's contention that contemporary Western culture is marked by a "disenchantment of the world", specifically the loss of spiritual value in the wake of religion's decline and the triumph of the physical and biological sciences.

For Rosen:

  • the splitting from nature has progressed to the point where it not only has reduced the quality of our lives but threatens the very life of our planet
  • the more detached we have become from nature, the more insensitive to it we have grown. And the more insensitive, the more we have tended to regard it as nothing but dead matter, there at our disposal, held in reserve for our indiscriminate use
  • the Baconian enterprise of subduing Mother Nature, imposing unity upon Her from afar, needs to be supplanted by an endeavor in which we seek to understand Nature from within, by participating freely in Her flowing diversity.

Rosen offers as example the cytogenetic work of Nobel Laureate Barbara McClintock who can risk the suspension of boundaries between subject and object without jeopardy to science precisely because, to her, science is not premised on that division. With such a methodology, in a world of difference, division is relinquished without generating chaos. Self and other, mind and nature survive not in mutual alienation, or in symbiotic fusion, but in structural integrity.

A key question is the degree to which this psychological split (as explored by Isabel Clarke, Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God, 2008) inhibits and undermines a healthy approach to "sustainability" (Psychology of Sustainability: embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002). Two speculative explorations indicate emergent possibilities (Authentic Grokking: emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003; Self-reflective Embodiment of Transdisciplinary Integration (SETI): the universal criterion of species maturity?, 2008)

With respect to the current exploration, such reframing raises fundamental issues regarding the nature and operation of "values" in a postformal mode of discourse.

Value-engendering psychoactive environmental dynamic

Mythical and magical relationships to the environment: Points made above highlight the degree to which current society is both value deadend with respect to many values brandished as tokens and, in some cases, hypersensitive to the implications of particular interpretations of selected values. The first condition is characteristic of alienation for which compensation is typically sought, notably through the use of psychoactive substances. Beyond alcohol and nicotine, of widespread concern is the use of psychoactive drugs.

As an academic interpreter of religious experience, Mircea Eliade held that early peoples considered that the reality and value of any phenomena was associated with its first appearance, especially in the case of the sacred as described in myth regarding that sacred time. No value was therefore attached to subsequent historical events. Modern man, in denying the sacred is therefore obliged to invent values and meaning to define purpose an overcome spiritual aridity. Myths have thus been held by some to be a saving gnosis that offers avenues of eternal return to simpler primordial ages when the values that rule the world were forged.

It is intriguing to contrast the focus on psychoactive drug use with what is understood of environmental awareness in the so-called pre-modern period of humanity. As documented by Jean Gebser followed by Ken Wilber, and summarized by Jean Houston (Life Force: the psycho-historical recovery of the self, 1993), and more extensively by Jennifer Gidley (The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: an integration of integral views, Integral Review, 5, 2007) who endeavours to integrate the integral theoretic narratives of Rudolf Steiner, Jean Gebser, and Ken Wilber, who each point to the emergence of new ways of thinking that could address the complex, critical challenges of our planetary moment.

From these perspectives, the current mental stage was preceded by periods of individual and social consciousness characterized by:

  • an archaic (uroboric) stage: pre-individual, ego-less and identified with the environment and embedded therein, namely the sub-conscious ground out of which humanity emerged
  • a magical (or typhonic) stage: group- or clan-identified consciousness involving a participation mystique with no clear demarcation between inner and outer realities, the orchestration of the one being undifferentiated from the other -- achieving a magical rapport between the experiential body and the external reality being a preoccupation
  • a mystical stage: in which an imaginal relationship was established and sustained through symbols and myths enabling the development of skills and processes to engage with those imagined spiritual forces

The currently exhausted "mental stage" has notably been characterized by the value and ethical challenges of materialism which Gebser saw as leading to a value and ethical dead end for which there was no remedy through the metaphysical presumptions of the values as conceived. The emergent stage of consciousness (championed by Ken Wilber through other language) he termed the integral stage, characterized by the radical immersion of humanity in the world.

The pre-rational engagement with the environment is well characterized by the Renaissance initiatives of such as Marsilio Ficino and his preoccupation with "natural magic" and the appropriate configuration of its supporting aesthetics. This influence is still to be found in the symbolist understanding of "correspondences" paralleling those of a scientific nature that have sought to displace them (Theories of Correspondences -- and potential equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007).

It is appropriate to see the status of values in the final throes of the mental stage as bearing a remarkable resemblance to what that stage frames as the "superstition" characterized by earlier stages and their continuing traces. For, whereas "super-stition" involves the superimposition of invisible and scientifically unproven levels of significance on phenomena (omens, etc), values might also be seen as attributing a form of significance to phenomena which is meaningless within a scientific worldview. Values might then be understood as the essence of "superstition". Use of psychoactive drugs may be understood as a "technical" effort to recover (or reactivate) other forms of relationship to the environment.

There is a curious irony in the degree to which misapplication of the scientific method has "deadened" the cognitive relationship to the environment such that psychoactive drugs offer greater meaning and "science" is much challenged to attract the young into its ranks by evoking their "curiosity". It is also curious that, despite the implied "double standards", there are pressures in society to magically evoke (without such drugs) what "science" must necessarily consider meaningless and non-existent -- namely values.

Drug-induced psychoactive relationships to the environment: Although "psychoactive" is most generally defined in terms of affecting mental processes, almost all the literature focuses exclusively on psychoactive substances, whether understood as drugs or medication (for example James Neill (A Rationale for Psychoactive Gardening: rebuilding our indigenous relationship with plants, 2004; the University of Hawai. The Psychoactive Biotechnology Project: Local Knowledge in a Global Context).

These have been a focus of considerable controversy and their use has been variously made illegal, despite recognition of their value as entheogens facilitative of spiritual practice down the centuries (Thomas B. Roberts, et. al. Psychoactive Sacramentals: essays on entheogens and religion, Council on Spiritual Practices, 2001). Such usage points to the manner in which psychoactive drugs may induce value-enhancing experiences.

The marginalization of use of psychoactive drugs is especially ironic given the increasing interest of the military in enhancing the cognitive capacity of combattants using drugs. Publicity has been widely given to their current use by military pilots on missions (Mark Thompson, America's Medicated Army, Time Magazine, 5 June 2008; Ian Sample, Wired Awake, The Guardian, 29 July 2004; Bruce Falconer, Defense research agency seeks to create supersoldiers, National Journal, 10 November 2003). Little is said of their use by those who command them from "war rooms".

Of major relevance to any relationship with values in the future are current explorations by the US Defense Intelligence Agency of ways of transforming perceptions of the battlefield environment -- including use of "pharmacological landmines" (Jon Swaine, Future wars 'to be fought with mind drugs', Telegraph, 14 August 2008; Ian Sample, Understanding of the brain could transform battlefield of the future, The Guardian, 14 August 2008). This is clearly relevant to understanding of "value warfare" and any future "battles for hearts and minds" -- including such use by "others" with questionable values, as explored by bioethicist Jonathan D. Moreno (Mind Wars: brain research and national defense, 2006).

"Biological warfare" could take on a totally unsuspected dimension as an instrument of "psychological warfare" in "crusades" and "jihads" of the future, purportedly for the furtherance of "universal values" -- potentially even in the anticipated Armageddon (Spontaneous Initiation of Armageddon: a heartfelt response to systemic negligence, 2004). Fundamental values may well be induced and manipulated by such means, if only to inhibit social unrest and discontent -- as is the practice in institutionalized health care.

Non-drug psychoactive processes: The drug focus tends readily to lead to the assumption that the term "psychoactive" is of relevance in no other contexts. This obscures the extent to which aesthetic experience, induced or not, may have a psychoactive dimension as was recognized by Ficino through "natural magic". There is literature on psychoactive music which corresponds to preoccupations with the role of sacred music -- presumably psychoactive -- and antipathy to some forms of dissonant music (eg diabolus in musica). Symbols and text may notably be psychoactive, as discussed elsewhere (Moving Symbols, 2008; Psychoactive Text Warning. 2007). Pornography of course constitutes an extreme case.

Of greater interest, however, and of relevance to values, are the following exploratory uses of "psychoactive".

Requirement for strategically significant psychoactive environments: Curiously it could be argued that those most committed to manipulating and enhancing psychoactive relationships are advertisers, image managers and those marketing initiatives on behalf of clients under the heading "public relations". These skills at total concept management and spin may require careful attention to the interface with their audience -- wrapping them in a managed news environment. Such efforts are to be contrasted with the public information programmes of intergovernmental initiatives, such as those of the United Nations, where the focus is on panel and poster portrayals -- effectively confronting people with billboards. This is to be contrasted with the many arguments, recognized in museums and exhibitions, for interactive environments to facilitate learning and engagement.

Of particular interest is the insight of Gamakumara Upali (Psychoactive environment (pSE) is a 'must' for service industry, 2005) of the Sri Lankan Institute of Quality Science Consultants, who argues:

I have coined this word "Psychoactive-Environment" (pSE) to describe the cyclical nature of the phenomenon that individual's behaviour influences the society creating a Psychoactive Environment and the Psychoactive Environment "in-turn" affects individual's behaviour and its effects on productivity....Until the pSE becomes either positive or negative, it remains neutral and in such situations 'productivity', moves into stagnation followed by depression - a slow dying state... A distinct feature of pSE is that it takes precedence over all the other elements of productivity because pSE is a result of individual's behaviour and attitudes. Activity levels of pSE vary from culture to culture and time to time.

Of related interest is a form of therapy associated with Neuro-linguistic Programming as articulated by James Lawley (When Where Matters: how psychoactive space is created and utilised. The Model Magazine, January 2006) regarding the creation of psychoactive space and its use in symbolic modelling:

Once a space becomes psychoactive for a person they are effectively "living in their metaphor". Then, when something changes in that perceptual space (often spontaneously), more of their mind-body is involved. This usually produces a more embodied and systemic change than just "talking about" changing. The experience is not necessarily accompanied by a large display of emotion or catharsis -- affect does not equal effect -- but the client knows something has changed, even if they are unable to articulate it at the time.

As noted in earlier documents (Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, Clean Space: modeling human perception through emergence, 2003; Metaphors in Mind: transformation through symbolic modelling, 2002) the creation of such psychoactive space combines the work of David Grove with the latest developments in self-organizing systems theory and cognitive linguistics. The authors regard "clean space" as an extension of symbolic modelling because, it facilitates the client to self-model; it requires "clean" interventions; and it works directly with the metaphoric realm. Would such preoccupations be unfamiliar to any shaman?

Engendering psychoactive resonance through the mnemonic qualities of complex topologies

Eliciting meaning through topology: In a commentary (2005), Martin L.W. Hall frames the challenge as follows:

However, we hear about values: family values, organizational values, societal values, religious, moral values, etc. But many times they are hard to understand because the context is not understood. Values are personal and but they also need to be accessible. They need to be meaningful. The challenge is create meaning for the individual while also providing meaning for others to understand and interact.

In a discussion of Heidegger's analysis of the challenge of abstraction in degrading the relationship to the abundance of the lifeworld, Steven Rosen (Topologies of the Flesh: a multidimensional exploration of the lifeworld, 2006) suggests that, despite the paradox, there is but one sort of boundary that will permit us to pass effectively beyond abstraction: the "interior boundary". This is the boundary or limit of limitative thinking itself. As he argues: What we realize instead is an internal harmony of abstraction and concrescence in which the prior meaning of each term changes profoundly.

Rosen introduces a topological method of exploring the lifeworld by using a different understanding of the process of engaging with it in the light of phenomenology, notably the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty -- consistent with ecophenomenology (David Abram, Merleau-Ponty and the Voice of the Earth, Environmental Ethics, 1988). Merleau-Ponty's key ontological concept of the "flesh" of the world is topologically embodied via a phenomenological reading of the Klein bottle (the three-dimensional counterpart of the Moebius strip):

But a further step is required in making the fleshly lifeworld a concrete reality. However suggestive the topological narrative may be, it is evidently not enough to write about the realm of "wild Being" and so assume the customary posture of authorial detachment and anonymity. If Being's actual presence is to be secured in the ontological text, rather than merely predicating Being, signifying it in such a way that it is implicitly projected as exterior to the author's semiotic act,the author must signify Being topologically by signifying himself.

Counter-intuitive challenges of disagreement: The implications of the Klein bottle, of relevance to disagreement between value-based perspectives, has been explored by Melanie Purcell (Imperatives for unbiased holistic education: the Klein bottle, a universal structure: an archetypal image, 1999; What are The Relationships Between Infinity and Zero?: the diagonally woven single joined thread Klein bottle, and the implications of a cyclic universe, 1998; Looking at the Universe through the belly of a Klein bottle, 1999). She argues:

Truth is relative to the perspective of the observer, and the nature of the perception of reality will determine the nature of the truth expressed. In this presentation I want to explore the relationships between opposed world views and how these oppositional perspectives will determine the nature of truths held. Most models used to describe relationships create an exclusive domain that exteriorises that which is outside or marginalised by the structure.

The Klein bottle is one structure that creates no exclusive domain as it is a modality that, through a structural twist, unifies the inside and outside surfaces into a continuous surface. Through the use of such a structure, seemingly opposed perspectives can be illustrated as aspects of the whole where seemingly paradoxical environments necessitate a decisive shift from an 'either / or' critique to a pluralistic 'and / both' scenario. This structure allows for the relativity of truths to be realised as expressions that are inextricably linked to relative world views, and therefore creates a focus for a holistic approach to information generation.

Complementary modes of engagement: Rosen considers the related question of the self-signification of text, arguing in particular that:

the written text will need to be accompanied by texts of "greater density" i.e., texts mediated not by written words but by palpable images, sounds, and root intuitions.

This is consistent with preoccupation with the "flesh" of the world as architecture, as articulated by Patrick Lynch (Topography, Topology, Type and Architect: on the history, philosophy and praxis of architecture, 2007):

Nature and artifice are cultivated to suggest ambiguous relationships between human imagination and the divine realm of ideas that situate them. Reciprocity is suggested between memory, imagination, reason and sensation.

Such considerations suggest complementary ways of relating to the environment:

  • as an ecosytem that is the focus of the sciences with their conventional abstractions
  • as a configuration of (sacred) places with which value and identity are intimately associated
  • as a configuration of topos to which memory is especially bound through imagination

Variety of relationships between topos and topology

The subtle relationships between topos, in its different senses, and topology merit careful exploration in the light of:

  • Memory: the classical importance attached to topos as mnemonic aids (known as the method of loci) as extensively explored by Frances Yates (The Art of Memory, 1966) regarding the classical Ars Memorativa. This used techniques such as the association of emotionally striking memory images within visualized locations (topos), the chaining or association of groups of images, the association of images with schematic graphics or notae, and the association of text with images. For Yates:
    There can be no doubt that these topoi used by persons with a trained memory must be mnemonic loci, and it is indeed probable that the very word 'topics' as used in dialectics arose through the places of mnemonics. Topics are the 'things' or subject matter of dialectic which came to be known as topoi through the places in which they were stored.
  • Learning: there are a number of interfaces between topology and learning, including applications of pattern recognition to artificial intelligence, notably using neural networks. Of particular relevance is the way in which a set of concepts can be represented formally as a topology, notably as a mind map of relationships between topoi. Learning can then be related to the capacity to internalize that network progressively. Communication of content to be learnt can be described in terms of the completeness of the topology successively enunciated, heard, comprehended and remembered. The challenge to learning and comprehension have been analyzed by Ron Atkin in terms of simplicial complexes, namely topological spaces of a particular kind (Combinatorial Connectivities in Social Systems; an application of simplicial complex structures to the study of large organizations, 1977) as summarized elsewhere (Social organization determined by incommunicability of insights).

  • Design: the design considerations of aesthetic environments intended to support more integrative insights, whether to create "an effect", as appropriate to a "sacred space" and/or for mnemonic purposes as in memory theatres, palaces and cathedrals (Jack Dann, The Memory Cathedral: A Secret History of Leonardo da Vinci, 1995). Such appropriately designed configurations have of course been of significance to "magical" settings, with their modern echoes in ritual and placement at negotiating tables.

  • Poiesis: this term, the etymological root of "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world. Plato described how mortals strive for immortality in relation through poiesis a form of making/creating, a movement beyond the temporal cycle of birth and decay. It was described by Heidegger as a "bringing forth". The structure of poetry and music has been analyzed with the perspective of topology to understand how the relationships amongst their parts and themes (appropriately understood as topoi) engender aesthetic effects -- central to engagement and an integrated sense of the whole.

    As described by Daniel Belgrad (The Culture of Spontaneity, 1999), the poet Charles Olson adopted topology as an artistic principle. He used topos, in its Greek sense of a place of emotional significance, to encompass topology in both its geographical sense and in its mathematical sense. Topology is then understood as a model for the way a self or a society changes over time as articulated in his Maximus Poems (1983). Of relevance here is the sense in which poetry communicates a larger sense, through the pattern of associations (modelled by topology) between the valued topoi.

    It is of course significant that poiesis is now the root of autopoiesis, namely the self-organization of the complexity sciences (Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living, 1973/1980). Poiesis is specifically related elsewhere to the articulation and engagement with strategy (Poetry-making and Policy-making: arranging a marriage between Beauty and the Beast, 1993; Ensuring Strategic Resilience through Haiku Patterns: reframing the scope of the "martial arts" in response to strategic threats, 2006).

  • Paradox: the role accorded to topology by Rosen (through such structures as the Mobius strip and the Klein bottle) to order understanding of the paradoxical complexity of cognitive relationship to the environment. This has also been explored from a different perspective (Psychosocial Work Cycle: beyond the plane of Möbius, 2007). Rosen's focus should also be seen within the context of the fundamental significance of topology as a branch of mathematics and the associated concern with topos and the topos theory of sets of categories in a topological space.

  • Self-reflexivity: the implication for articulation of more appropriate understanding through "writing" text on more complex topological surfaces as admirably articulated by Michael Schiltz (Form and Medium: a mathematical reconstruction, Image [&] Narrative, 6, 2003) in relation to the calculus of indications of George Spencer-Brown (Laws of Form, 1969/1994). Schiltz notes that form/medium is "the image for systemic connectivity and concatenation", as described by Humberto Maturana and Francesco Varela. Schiltz notes, that the notion of "space" is the key to reflexivity appropriate to any discussion of form and medium, citing Spencer-Brown as follows:

    In all mathematics it becomes apparent, at some stage, that we have for some time been following a rule without being aware of it. This might be described as the use of a covert convention....[Its] use can be considered as the presence of an arrangement in the absence of an agreement. For example, in the statement and theorem.... it is arranged (although not agreed) that we shall write on a plane surface. If we write on the surface of a torus the theorem is not true....The fact that men have for centuries used a plane surface for writing means that, at this point in the text, both author and reader are ready to be conned into the assumption of a plane writing surface without question. But, like any other assumption, it is not unquestionable, and the fact that we can question it here means that we can question it elsewhere.

    This role of the torus has been further discussed elsewhere (Comprehension of Requisite Variety for Sustainable Psychosocial Dynamics: transforming a matrix classification onto intertwined tori, 2006). It raises the question as to whether checklists of values could be more appropriately and engagingly presented on such surfaces.

  • Biological ecosystems: With respect to the living environment, Rainer E. Zimmermann (Topological Aspects of Biosemiotics, tripleC, 2007) argues that:

    According to recent work, there is a close relationship between the conceptualization of biological life and mathematical conceptualization such that both of them co-depend on each other when discussing preliminary conditions for properties of biosystems. More precisely, such properties can be realized only, if the space of orbits of members of some topological space X by the set of functions governing the interactions of these members is compact and complete. This result has important consequences for the maximization of complementarity in habitat occupation as well as for the reciprocal contributions of sub(eco)systems with respect to their structural mutualism.

    Zimmerman shows what this more technical result means in philosophical terms with a view to the biosemiotic consequences. He shows that topology as formal nucleus of spatial modeling is more than relevant for the understanding of representing and co-creating the world as it is cognitively perceived and communicated in its design.

Aside from reframing the human relationship to the environment, these considerations point to other ways of framing the significance variously associated by the different Abrahamic religions with the central symbolic importance of Jerusalem as the epitome of one form of psychoactive environment --- where every wall may "speak" and engage memory in a challenge to "re-member". As such, Jerusalem is a memory-charged topological configuration -- with all the challenges that clearly implies.

Re-enchantment of environmental engagement through polyhedral animations

Configuring value sets of various size: Whether as "values" or as emotionally-charged "places", the topoi as cognitive themes call for appropriate configuration -- if only to be ably to re-member, deploy, and use them appropriately.

One approach is to explore them as sets of increasing size, where sets of principles typically appear at plus or minus 7 elements:

  • a single value, such as "agreement", "love", etc. But this is obviously challenged, especially to comprehension, unless special account can be taken of parasoxical self-reflexive processes, as notably explored by Steven Rosen (2004, 2006).
  • a polarized or binary value, such as "agreement-disagreement", "male-female", "us-them", "positive-negative", "industry-environment", etc. It is these, notably as strategic dilemmas, by which society is apparently most tortured, despite the emergence of "attraction-repulsion"
  • a triadic system, epitomized by the "eternal triangle" of relationships for which no sustainable solution is immediately accessible, as with the "3-body problem"
  • a quaternary system, typical of many psychological systems offering a degree of both variety and stability (Jungian types, the four ways of Matthew Fox: positiva, negativa, creativa and transformativa).

This approach has been explored experimentally up to a set of 20 (Distinguishing Levels of Declarations of Principles, 1980).

Dynamic configurations: Such articulations do not address the challenge of a "user-friendly" dynamic configuration of them for anyone -- or any group -- seeking to navigate cognitive space. It is here that the BaGua system offers important pointers, especially given its significance for relating to any "other" through its adaptation to the "martial arts". In this respect it is important to recall the degree to which such frameworks have been consciously adapted to military strategy (eg Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings) and to business strategy (****).

Taken in its purest form as a binary coding system (of which SETI enthusiasts might be proud), the question is how it can encode and indicate the significance of members of a set of values of increasing size.

  • the challenge of a single-membered set is avoided through the ambiguities considered necessary in reference to what is symbolized by the Tao, as is appropriate in apophatic discourse
  • a two-member set is represented by broken and unbroken lines (yin and yang, respectively), as a focus for all the relevant metaphors; however these may be combined together as pairs to indicate a four-member set
  • the distinct members of an eight-member set (the BaGua) are represented by the various combinations of three broken and unbroken lines constituting a trigram

This approach may be taken in order to encode and distinguish a larger range of elements (Discovering Richer Patterns of Comprehension to Reframe Polarization, 1998). It becomes especially interesting when the polarization is understood to be especially focused on "we vs them", "me vs the environment", "agreement vs disagreement", or "norms vs extremists".. As such it offers a powerful means of encoding disagreement with both appropriate clarity and appropriate ambiguity, avoiding closure and exclusion of greater variety. It might be considered the embryonic basis for a periodic table of values (see discussion in Tuning a Periodic Table of Religions, Epistemologies and Spirituality including the sciences and other belief systems, 2007). Perhaps more significant it offers a means of indicating the range of degrees of engagement with any "other", including the environment, epitomized by the classic work of Martin Buber (I and Thou, 1923).

But, as any periodic table metaphor indicates, it is less important to privilege any particular degree of engagement and more significant to switch between them as appropriate to circumstances. Hence the value of the martial arts insight into the BaGua. The "warrior" in that metaphor has to be vigilant with regard to vulnerability of attack from any sector and hence the need to be able to deploy resources appropriately in defence -- and to be able nimbly to redeploy them appropriately for attack.

Enabling strategic reconfiguration: Polyhedral animations of sets of different sizes, and transformations between sets of different sizes, support understanding of the cognitive templates required in response to different circumstances. They may also be adapted, changing metaphor, to an understanding of how to focus effort and vision -- deploying the topoi as refractive or reflective facets in an optical or antenna array. This responds to the widespread use of the "vision" metaphor in strategy development.

Success in focusing is closely related to appropriate symmetry -- a property mentioned earlier in connection with the desirable robustness of any value set. It might be understood as intrinsic to understanding of value empowerment. As mentioned earlier, the coherence and integrity of any set of values is intimately related to its mnemonic qualities -- the "poetic echoes" associating the topoi by which engagement is elicited. There is a curious relationship between the capacity to "re-member" in this way and the capacity to "de-cide" thereafter.

Wisdom -- to be elicited dynamically through metaphor?

As a psychologist, Isabel Clarke (Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God, 2008) asks a fundamental question, previously framed by Arthur Koestler:

How come human beings are so clever, and at the same time, so stupid? This question is vital to the joint survival of ourselves and our planet as we know it. The question is intimately bound up with the way we relate to our environment as well as to ourselves....What our world urgently needs at this critical juncture is not only analysis of what is wrong, but direction on how to go forward in a more healthy relationship, both with ourselves and with our environment. (Four Ways to Meet the Ecological Challenge (after Matthew Fox) a psychologist's perspective, Network Review, August 2008)

A concluding comment on the Human Values Project (whose title had been extended to Human Values and Wisdom Project) cited the conclusion of a Club of Rome study for UNESCO (Bertrand Schneider, In Search of a Wisdom for the World: the role of ethical values in education, 1987) to the effect that:

Successful development is very closely bound up with society's capacity to learn.... The role of communication and the revolution it is bringing about in the transmission of ideas may radically transform the problem of ethical values -- but the whole question needs careful thought and the will to succeed....
Nor is the objective equally obvious to everyone. With the modern world as it is, the search for wisdom will not necessarily strike people as a priority issue and many will be sceptical and ironical. Nevertheless, all are invited to lay the foundations for a new humanism that will enable the peoples of tomorrow to live together harmoniously.

The project commentary offered an extensive checklist (Wisdom and requisite variety) of possible sources of "wisdom" together with the reservations that might be associated with each. However in the 220 pages of the UNESCO World Report Towards Knowledge Societies: UNESCO World Report (2005) only a single reference is made to wisdom, despite its apparent significance for the future:

Young people are bound to play a major role because they are often among the first to use new technologies and to help establish them as familiar features of everyday life. But older people also have an important part to play. They possess the experience required to offset the relative superficiality of 'real-time' communication and remind us that knowledge is but a road to wisdom.

"New thinking": The need for a new cognitive mode has been frequently expressed in terms of the need for "new thinking". At the time of writing this is evident in the following examples:

  • the Russia-Georgia crisis and the perception on behalf of the EU by French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner that: We have to invent a new language with regard to Russia. That is what the European Union is trying to do. (18 August 2008)
  • what might be recognized as a similar need for the EU to invent a "new language" to respond to the Irish "No" vote on the Lisbon Reform Treaty, and by extension to respond to those peoples in Europe that are less than enchanted by the EU and its bulldozer democracy as epitomized by avoidance of democratic consultation
  • the certitudes with which technical "solutions" to the challenge of climate change (whether warming or cooling) are being proposed

For such as Edward de Bono new thinking implies a different logical mode (I Am Right, You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance: From Rock Logic to Water Logic, 1990). He has instigated the creation of a World Council for New Thinking. For Magoroh Maruyama it is a question of "polyocular vision" (Polyocular Vision or Subunderstanding, Organization Studies, 2004). For Jennifer Gidley (The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: an integration of integral views. Integral Review, 5, 2007), as noted above:

However, the growing awareness of a potential planetary crisis has highlighted the significance of finding new ways of thinking, if humankind is to move through our current complex challenges.

The challenge of values is how understanding of them is to be fruitfully related to whatever is to be understood by wisdom appropriate to strategic governance in the 21st century -- at all levels of society.

Role of metaphor: The argument above suggests that values are best understood through metaphor rather than verbal articulations -- then falsely held to constitute a meaningful description. This is best exemplified in the extreme case of values which science claims to recognize and measure quantitatively, such as "speed", "solidity", "time". For in such cases they are typically valued as participatory experiences. In the case of the set of fundamental "values" indicated by the Chinese BaGua, for example, their elusive nature is carefully alluded to through non-exhaustive metaphor rather than claiming closure of a necessarily premature nature. It might then be argued that the more fundamental the value experience, the more multi-facetted the metaphor that can be usefully called upon.

The following insight of Kenneth Boulding (Ecodynamics; a new theory of societal evolution. 1978) with regard to the integrity of an individual might then be seen as equally relevant, if not more so, to the wisdom providing the ethical integrity of a set of values in practice:

Our consciousness of the unity of the self in the middle of a vast complexity of images or material structures is at least a suitable metaphor for the unity of a group, organization, department, discipline, or science. If personification is only a metaphor, let us not despise metaphors -- we might be one ourselves. (p. 345)

Sets of values configured to offer a context for wisdom may then be fruitfully understood metaphorically as the "spokes" in the quote above from Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching):

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub. It is the centre hole that makes it useful...
Therefore profit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there. 

"Unsaying" and "Unknowing" : The challenge of any new language, supportive of a greater degree of wisdom, may then be better understood as the challenge of "unsaying" characteristic of apophatic discourse, rather than the declarative mode so characteristic of science -- except at its most fundamental (Being What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic identity?, 2008). Configurations of values, centred on "unknowing", might then offer an appropriately fruitful context for better questions and governance based on negative capability in the sense to which the poet John Keats alluded:

.., it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously -- I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.

From such a perspective, the "solutions" to terrorism deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan are indicative of the problematic consequences of excessive confidence in "knowing" what might be appropriate -- ignoring the lessons of history, in this case. It would be unfortunate if similar technical confidence was confidently deployed in response to climate change, for example -- ignoring other lessons. Certain combinations of overconfidence and the silence of the "unsaid" can clearly imply strategic disaster (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid": from myth-making towards a "wisdom society", 2003).

Dialogue: Given the expected complexities and turbulence of the 21st century, it is arguably far too late to seek simplistic consensus. or expect to impose agreement through conventions, with respect to morals, ethics and values. Greater subtlety is called for to which aesthetics offers many pointers, if only in the Japanese understanding of the value of "perfection" as being the "harmony of imperfections". The insights of Kinhide Mushakoji into the need to hold the 4-fold logical relationship (A, not-A, A-and-not-A, neither-A-nor-not-A) are of relevance to the recognition and assertion of values (Global Issues and Interparadigmatic Dialogue, 1988).

The challenge, as in the case of the World Academy of Art and Science, for example, is the incapacity to dialogue over highly problematic issues on which opinions are deeply divided. Rising to the occasion is then achieved by rising above it and framing it as unworthy of collective attention. In this way those from whom others expect wisdom imply that they have no collective wisdom to contribute of relevance to any ongoing crisis.

But this also points to the challenge of what such bodies do perceive as meriting their attention  and to which they believe they can fruitfully contribute -- and of the nature of the dialogue that might  then prove fruitful. The challenge seems to be that worthy people do not engage in dialogue on matters on which they are likely to disagree. This may be appropriate but it then implies that disagreement can only be handled (by others) through rather primitive processes of dialogue.

Such circumstances merit the insight of a World Academy of Art and Science (of Disagreement) ! It would seem that worthy people are called upon to improve the modalities of disagreement with which others are frequently obliged to struggle.

Information overload vs Wisdom: The emerging knowledge society is already characterized by a massive degree of information overload, whether for policy-makers, specialists, or those engaged in any learning process. Values may indeed be considered as fundamental to filtering and prioritizing such information.

The challenge lies in how to configure insight more appropriately -- minimizing dependence on lengthy texts that are merely symptomatic of the problem of how to configure it more meaningfully and more engagingly (Coherent Policy-making Beyond the Information Barrier: circumventing dependence on access, classification, penetration, dissemination, property, surveillance, interpretation, disinformation, and credibility, 1999).

The main argument for animated polyhedral configurations is that they facilitate intuitive understanding of complexity -- enhanced by the aesthetic connectivity between topoi with which people are engaged in value terms. The challenge from a policy science perspective has long been recognized (Computer-aided Visualization of Psycho-social Structures Peace as an evolving balance of conceptual and organizational relationships, 1971).

"Why do we put so much emphasis on audio-visual means of portraying goal, trend, condition, projection, and alternative? Partly because so many valuable participants in decision-making have dramatizing imaginations. They are not enamoured of numbers or of analytic abstractions. They are at their best in deliberations that encourage contextuality by a varied repertory of means and where an immediate sense of time, space and figure is retained".
(Harold D Lasswell. The transition toward more sophisticated procedures. In: Davis B Bobrow and J L Scwartz (Eds). Computers and the Policy-making Community; applications to international relations. Prentice-Hall, 1968, pp. 307-314)

Dynamics of wisdom? If wisdom is to be fruitfully characterized in terms of a capacity to respond dynamically to value dilemmas reflected in strategic dilemmas, this frames the challenge as corresponding to that of inappropriate association of values with their static verbal articulation, especially when taken in isolation. In this sense wisdom is not for "grasping" as a thing of some kind to be possessed. It is more appropriately expressed in movement -- possibly to be recognized as elegant as well as skilled -- through turbulent conditions in which reconfiguration of cognitive resources is the key. It might then be framed as "dancing" with reality -- as speculatively explored with respect to a Union of the Whys.

The flexibility necessary for such movement through reconfiguration depends on a form of central cognitive emptiness open to surprise and avoiding premature closure. The challenge for dialogue, as a form of movement and dance, is however to achieve a degree of convergence and closure when appropriate, such as to engage resources effectively in strategic initiatives. In a knowledge society this is exemplified by the title of a study by Orrin Klapp (Opening and Closing; strategies of information adaptation in society, 1978).

These characteristics are consonant with the transformation of polyhedral configurations of topoi that elicit, individually and together, a degree of cognitive engagement and focus beyond that associated with static conventional verbal articulations.

What is out there:
word, thing, rose is
only prose.
To become life
it must flow as poetry
from the dark pain of the soul
(Antonio de Nicolas, Do Not Tell Me Words)


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