28th March 2007 | Draft
to enable a cycle of transformation between epistemological modes
-- / --
Part A of Psychosocial Energy from Polarization within a Cyclic Pattern of Enantiodromia
(Annex 3 of Emergence
of a Union of Imaginable Associations)
Part A: Interrelating Metaphors -- to enable a cycle of transformation between epistemological modes
-- Implications of the cybernetics of cybernetics: complex adaptive
-- Psychosocial energy through a metaphorical technology
-- Schematic Denkmodel (Table 1)
-- Epistemological domains
-- Global vs Local (in Table 1)
-- Positive vs Negative (in Table 1)
-- Relationships (within Table 1)
Part B: Psychosocial Work Cycle: Beyond the plane of Möbius
--Beyond the plane of Möbius: form and medium in terms of the calculus of indications
-- Visualization: quadrant systems / Möbius strips / Klein bottles
-- "Sphering the Circle" (from 2D to 3D): a Klein-bottle relationship "belt
-- Enantiodromia: cycling through the "cognitive twist"
-- Psychosocial work cycle / heat engine
-- Psychosocial power and its generation
Conclusion: implication for sustainable development and governance
This is an exploration of the possibility of designing (or recognizing) new types of psychosocial
energy system dependent on the skillful interweaving of "positive" and "negative" energy.
This would reflect the pattern of development of energy systems exploited by the industrial
revolution -- offering the possibility of "generating" psychosocial energy. The exploration is based on interrelating metaphorically the patterns associated
with the Van
der Graaf generator, the Möbius
strip, the thermodynamic
work cycle, the process of enantiodromia, and the dynamics implicit in the BaGua symbol.
The design process here involves the juxtaposition or superposition of patterns
variously indicated through metaphor -- thereby used as design elements to
explicate the whole.
The exploration is part of a study of the distinction between the century-old
Union of International Associations (UIA1), an implicit Union of
Intelligible Associations (UIA2) and an emergent Union of Imaginable
Associations (UIA3) to which references are variously made..
Implications of the cybernetics of cybernetics: complex
The focus of UIA1 has always been the documentation of the universe
of international bodies and was so recognized by a UN ECOSOC resolution of
20 July 1950. By including the relationships between bodies and to countries,
this can be understood as documenting the international system of organizations.
It has been valued for this reason by scholars.
Knowledge organization is typically concerned with hierarchical relationships
between entities. In the case of the entities unique to the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential,
and characteristic of UIA2 from its inception in 1972, a major
innovation was the introduction of "functional" or systemic relationships
(eg Problem A aggravates Problem B, etc). This opened the way to the analysis
of "vicious" and "serendipitous" loops linking problems
and/or remedial strategies in extensive networks [more].
The detailed discussion of the different cybermetics perspectives and their
relevance (previously included here in earlier versions), has now been transferred
into a separate document (Consciously
Self-reflexive Global Initiatives: Renaissance zones, complex adaptive systems,
and third order organizations, 2007). This considers, more generally,
the different ways in which the mode or form of "description" of an organizational
system is itself progressively brought into question from increasingly recursive
or self-referential perspectives. The cognitive assumptions associated with
the "perspective" metaphor may also be called into question with greater self-reflexivity,
notably in the light of the arguments of enactivism. The implicit question
throughout is how to distinguish and comprehend the forms of genuinely self-reflexive
global initiatives appropriate to the challenges of the times -- and how to
give organized form to such understanding.
According to Magoroh Maruyama: '...it is possible to have both positive
and negative mutual causal loops counterbalancing one another in any given
This understanding of the function of both positive and negative feedback
loops is clearly of relevance to the hundreds of thousands of such loops documented
by UIA2 -- available, as hyperlinks, to exploration (and visualization)
online (cf Feedback
Loop Analysis in the Encyclopedia Project, 2000)
The very large networks of looping functional relationships documented
and visualized by UIA2, bring the user literally face-to-face
with the cognitive limitations to significant knowledge management in
relation to strategic challenges. Such representations, notably
of value networks or of subtle human development concepts (and modes of
awareness) from many disciplines, raise issues which highlight the relevance of
second order cybernetics.
Might it be the case that all the "problems" faced by humanity
are subunderstood design elements of an inherently sustainable "engine" --
whose operational integrity is of a higher degree of virtualization than
currently considered credible? Being subunderstood, the design elements
are mismanaged and therefore malfunction. This is notably a view highlighted
by Douglas Flemons (Completing Distinctions, 1991)
Psychosocial energy through a metaphorical technology
A key process determining social dynamics is that associated with polarization
-- especially the stereotyping of "positive" and "negative" (Being
Positive and Avoiding Negativity: Management challenge of positive vs negative.
2005). This is
despite the insights of cybernetics and arguments such as those of Maruyama
(above). This process might also be seen as fundamental to social transformation
-- with the old being stereotyped as "negative" and the new as "positive" in
order to decouple the new from the old. Such thinking, however effective,
could be considered dangerously simplistic and shortsighted -- as evidenced
by the violence it engenders (cf Douglas Flemons, Completing Distinctions,
Various authors refer to technology seen as metaphor (Robert Romanyshyn, Technology
as Symptom and Dream, Routledge, 1989; David Weinberger, Technology
as Metaphor, 2000; Jason Ohler, Seeing
Technology Through Metaphor, 2005; Tamo Chattopadhay, Technology
as a Metaphor: mechanics of power in the global development marketplace,
2005; Jason Balck, at al, The
Metaphors of Emerging Technologies, 2006). There is also a case
for seeing metaphor as a form of technology (cf Digital Humanities, Metaphor
as Technology: critical thinking through understanding metaphor).
The significance of the use of metaphor in this context is well stated by
Maurice Yolles (Knowledge
Cybernetics: a new metaphor for social collectives, 2005):
Having defined the metaphorical nature of knowledge cybernetics, there is
a question of whether any of the metaphorical models provided have any practical
value. Whether they do depends on how one sees the nature of metaphors. They
are not simple comparitors, and for Brown (2003) they provide a very important
way of creating a basis for new knowledge. We do not say that the models give
here are true, indeed we cannot say this because of their constructivist nature.
They are simply representations that will have to be evaluated and believed
if there is evidence that they are practically useful to explain and perhaps
to diagnose and intervene in situations that we see.
Briefly caricatured, the concern here is with the "metaphorical
sustaining a transformative relationship by continuously converting "us
and them" into "them is us" and back again. Rather
than McLuhan's "the medium is the message", here it might be argued
method is the message". This
is seen as a key to comprehending the sustaining energy of an initiative
like UIA3. Beyond the explanatory function, the question here is whether
such metaphor has an enabling function -- potentially as dramatic as the discoveries
of the industrial revolution.
The necessary concern about appropriate rigour is the subject of an excellent
study by Dedre Gentner and Michael Jeziorski (The
shift from metaphor to analogy in Western science, 1993) who use as
one case study the scientist Sadi
Carnot (1796-1832) with respect to what became
known as the Carnot cycle relating heat and work. This is further explored
below -- as a metaphor that is potentially as rigorous as an analogy.
Table 3 (of Three-stage Emergence of a Union of Imaginable Associations ***) also helps to clarify the potential role associated with each mode of understanding
(as appropriately understood) of UIA1, UIA2 and UIA3 within
a cyclically evolving system.
Specifically this includes the recognition, from a UIA3 mindset, of
the function of a UIA1 modality and its responsibility in that respect.
The following model (Table 1) has a four-fold structure. This can be described as a minimal structure appropriate to the immediate purpose. "Minimal" because understanding is necessarily constrained by a cognitive need to organize in order to be able to "re-member". It might be understood as a minimum number to discuss a system composed of two distinct "positives" ("us's") and two distinct "negatives" ("them's"). However choice of this four-fold structure should not be understood to imply that other structures of greater complexity might not be of value. These issues have been discussed elsewhere (Representation, Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, International Classification, 1978; Distinguishing Levels of Declarations of Principles, 1980; Patterns of Conceptual Integration, 1984).
To facilitate the discussion (below), necessarily
in the form of linear text, the following schematic (Table
1) is used to hold
some of the elements in place. It notably distinguishes and interrelates:
- the Stage 1 to Stage 3 transformation over time -- discussed
in relation to UIA1 via UIA2 to UIA3 ( in Three-stage
Emergence of a Union of Imaginable Associations ***)
- the global and local/individual contexts
- the positive/negative distinction
- four epistemological domains reflecting combinations of the two previous distinctions -- potentially related (with
reservations) to various 4-fold systems distinguishing such modes
(notably those of Ken Wilber, Magoroh Maruyama, and many mandalas)
- the cognitive patterns of the Van der Graaf generator, the Mobius
strip, and the Klein bottle
- eight directional systemic relationships between the four domains
- four systemic feedback loops (or bands typical
of power transmission -- Mobius twisted flat belt drives), forming the eight relationships
- movement of the belt drives understood as being clockwise around those domains
(thereby charged positively) or anti-clockwise others (thereby charged "negatively")
- constitution of a thermodynamic work cycle or heat engine consequent upon such movement
- a zone
of apparent ambiguity, discontinuity or transition, implied by the twist in each Mobius strip, understood as typical of the relation
between global and individual -- an inherently confusing transformation of epistemological mode
- indicative labels (awaiting improvement) as tentatively associated with the eight directional relationships
- a process of enantiodromia, as a dynamic system, linking each of the four domains -- an "us and
them" relationship to two others (one of the global/local type, one of
the past/future type) which are transformed into "us is them" through the
twists in the Mobius feedback loops between them
- implications for internal combustion as modelled by the combustion engine and the schematic BaGua symbol (of Chinese culture)
|Table 1: Three-stage transformation between "global" and "local"
||Stage 0/1 (UIA1)
||Stage 2 (UIA2)
||Stage 3/0 (UIA3)
The suggestion here is that the
four domains correspond to distinct modes of thought or ways of knowing.
As a pattern they may be compared (as approximations) to various epistemological
models (see also Dimensions
of Comprehension Diversity
of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases
- AQAL 4-quadrant system (of Ken Wilber. An
Integral Theory of Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness
Studies, 4 (1), February 1997, pp. 71-92): The comparison
with this much-cited system is however only possible by inverting
the AQAL system as follows.
|Table 2: Diagonally inverted representation of the AQAL system
of Ken Wilber
to demonstrate correspondence to organization of Table 1
(which emphasizes the cultural
development over time from left to right)
||Exterior-Collective Social ("Its")
AQAL Lower-Right Quadrant (LR)
Interior-Collective Cultural ("We")
AQAL Lower-Left Quadrant (LL)
Exterior-Individual Behavioral ("It")
AQAL Upper-Right Quadrant (UR)
|Interior-Individual Intentional ("I")
AQAL Upper-Left Quadrant (UL)
AQAL stands for all-quadrants, all-levels, all-intelligences,
- Quadrants are
the dimensions of subjective, intersubjective, objective, and
interobjective that emerge as a lens upon any context; every
context is considered perceptible via these
- Intelligences are the capacities/potentials
available to humans, including: Logical/Mathematical,
Spatial, Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Musical,
- Levels (or
waves, or stages) refers notably to progressive steps of development
in human intelligences -- the practical diagnostic scale
of 'preconventional to conventional to postconventional'
- States are the short-term but potent
conditions of the mind either natural, altered, or induced.
- Types refers
to gender dispositions (commonly, masculine and feminine),
available equally to men and women alike
Considerable research has gone into the development of this system. It
is now the focus of the Integral
Institute and the Integral
Of particular interest is the claim of this system (in its more detailed
form) to have comprehensively integrated all human modes of awareness.
It might therefore be said that whereas Paul Otlet's ambition was to
"classify the world" of phenomena through the Universal
Decimal Classification (UDC) system, that of Ken Wilber (A Theory of Everything: an integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality, 2000) has been to "classify
the world" of awareness
through the AQAL system. Both might be caricatured as "pigeon-holing systems" for "putting
things in their place".
But, just as Otlet's ambitions were frustrated
(as indicated by the demise of FID as promoter of UDC), the AQAL system
raises the question as to its sustainability over time. Just as the UDC
was effectively overtaken by the Dewey
Decimal Classification system, how does AQAL
respond to (and foresee) the perspectives of critics
such as Stan Rowe (Transcending
this Poor Earth - á la Ken Wilber, Trumpeter,
17, 1, 2001)?
Given its hierarchical nature -- promoting
the progression through levels and stages of awareness -- AQAL makes
no provision for the fundamental circularity associated with the
humility of the biblical insight that "The
first shall be last and the last shall be first" (Matthew 20:1-16)
or that of T S Eliot "Will be to arrive where we started
/ And know it for the first time" (Little Gidding, 1942). The latter are both consonant with
the serpentine Uroboros symbol favoured by Francisco Varela in his calculus
for self-reference (Terry Marks-Tarlow,
Robin Robertson, and Allan
and the Uroboros: the psychological significance of reentry).
In a number of respects both systems correspond to a hierarchical
approach to knowledge -- characteristic of one of the quadrants (as stressed
by Maruyama below). Such systems are essentially static, even asystemic
in the sense that cybernetic systems are primarily characterized by the
dynamics of the feedback loops between their parts -- as significantly
highlighted in the global modelling stimulated by the Limits
to Growth exercise
of the Club of Rome (Donella H. Meadows, John Richardson and Gerhart Bruckmann, Groping in the Dark: The First Decade of Global Modelling, 1982) . No such feedback loops appear to be envisaged between
the elements of the AQAL system per
se -- between co-existing modes of awareness, as opposed to the developmental pathways beyond any given mode. Chris
System Dynamics: a handout for integral sustainability,
2006), in a presentation to the Integral Sustainability Workshop,
notes that conventional systems dynamics is one of the more
powerful tools for working on the exterior perspective and indicates
possibilities of improving it to include more of the AQAL model as
a first step to developing a theory of Integral System Dynamics.
- Mandalas: Curiously the design
of circular mandalas, notably as developed by Tibetan Buddhists, suggests
a powerful insight into the configuration of distinct psychosocial elements
through which a more integrative (alternative) relation to "reality" is
sustained. Typically their outer circumference is marked by a frieze
of fiery symbols that could interpreted as an understanding of the kind
of charge otherwise associated with an electrostatic generator -- separating each such cognitive universe from other "parallel universes". Relationships
between the parts of any mandala are typically indicated by aesthetic and symbolic associations.
The relation of Wilber's AQAL to mandala structures is specifically acknowledged.
- Epistemological mindscapes of Magoroh Maruyama (Mindscapes,
social patterns and future development of scientific theory types.
Cybernetica, 1980, 23, 1, pp. 5-25) distinguished as:
Within a particular mindscape, that which is consistent
may be inconsistent across mindscapes.
- Hierarchical: H-mindscape (homogenistic,
hierarchical, classificational): Parts are subordinated
to the whole, with subcategories neatly grouped into supercategories.
The strongest, or the majority, dominate at the expense
of the weak (whether values, policies, problems, priorities,
etc). Logic is deductive and axiomatic demanding sequential
reasoning. Cause-effect relations may be deterministic
or probabilistic. (Dominant Western style, corresponding
to Weberian bureaucracy) [upper
left quadrant of Table 1?]
- Individualist: I-mindscape (heterogenistic,
individualistic, random): Only individuals are real, even when aggregated
into society. Emphasis on self-sufficiency, independence and individual
values. Design favours the random, the capricious and the unexpected.
Scheduling and planning are to be avoided. Non-random events are
improbable. Each question has its own answer; there are no universal
principles. (Corresponding to Nietzchean or entrepreneurial view) [lower left quadrant of Table
- Stability: S-mindscape (heterogenistic,
interactive, homeostatic): Society consists of heterogeneous
individuals who interact non-hierarchically to mutual advantages.
Mutual dependency. Differences are desirable and contribute
to the harmony of the whole. Maintenance of the natural
equilibrium. Values are interrelated and cannot be rank-ordered.
Avoidance of repetition. Causal loops. Categories not mutually
exclusive. Objectivity is less useful than "cross-subjectivity" or
multiple viewpoints. Meaning is context dependent. (Characteristic
of Chinese, Hopi, and Balinese cultures; stability in
social relationships, eg Confucian) [upper
right quadrant of Table 1?]
- Generative: G-mindscape (heterogenistic,
interactive, morphogenetic): Heterogeneous individuals
interact non-hierarchically for mutual benefit, generating
new patterns and harmony. Nature in continually changing
requiring allowance for change. Values interact to generate
new values and meanings. Values of deliberate (anticipatory)
incompleteness. Causal loops. Multiple evolving meanings.
(Evident in some African and Asian nations; pluralist, 'generating
new patterns by interaction') [lower
right quadrant of Table 1?]
A specific feature of Maruyama's culturally sensitive approach is the
challenge it brings to the classificatory approach giving rise to ordered
models -- as implied by the elaboration of any hierarchical quadrant system
and the sense of its adequacy to the variety of cultures and mindsets.
A predilection for such ordering is understood to be a characteristic of
only one of the mindscapes he identifies (the H-mindscape).
This suggests that the manner of ordering of each mindscape, in the light
of the self-reflexivity required, invokes a Klein bottle pattern, each reframing the other in a manner consistent with third order dynamics (see above)
Although no comparison appears to have been made between the quadrant
system of Wilber and that of Maruyama, it is important to stress that
Table 1 is not to be understood as a variant of either system. This is
the reason why the circles are dotted to preclude any implication of closure, premature or otherwise.
The challenge of self-reference and self-reflexivity in relation to any
ordering of knowledge is that any particular quadrant system is best
understood as an approximation to a generic system in which the concerns
of higher order cybernetics are significant. It is in this sense only,
as alternative approximations, that such systems are comparable. Aspects
of this challenge are explored elsewhere (Representation,
Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, International
Classification, 1978; Distinguishing
Levels of Declarations of Principles,
1980) and are echoed in the following approach to visualization
Global vs Local
With reference to Table 1
Of major significance to the current world
situation is the polarization between an increasingly (and variously) glorified or vilified "global",
and a fragmented (and variously) exploited or glorified "local" -- with which
individuals are most connected. The preoccupation of UIA1 has traditionally
been with entities active in a global system -- having members from local systems
excluded from the coverage of UIA1. This focus has been privileged
in the entities tracked by UIA2 -- despite the inclusion of "human
potential" from its inception in 1972.
The challenge of relating global and local has been explored elsewhere (Configuring globally and contending locally; shaping the global network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral issues, 1992) notably in the light of the spherical tensegrity structures of R
Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics: explorations
in the geometry of thinking. 1975-79, 2 vols).
Positive vs Negative
With reference to Table 1
Distinctions and difference: It could be said that the energy
and motive power that drive social action and transformation are intimately
related to a sense of difference. This may of course relate to the more material
levels of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy
of needs. More generally
it may be due to valuing a principle and contrasting it with situations where
it is not upheld. Efforts were made through UIA2 to
document "constructive" and "destructive" human
values -- relating the latter to world problems and the
former to remedial strategies.
Typically constructive values are labelled "positive" (or "good")
whereas destructive values are labelled "negative" (or "bad").
Within UIA2, clarifying this challenge was the focus of the Human
Values Project whereby specific values were linked to specific "problems"
or "strategies". Curiously
the subtle (virtual) nature of values suggests the merit of treating them like
attractors" of dynamical systems (Human
Values as Strange Attractors: coevolution of classes of governance principles,
Disagreement: Considerable difficulties arise when there is disagreement over what is "constructive" ("positive")
and "destructive ("negative"). This leads to a situation in
which those disagreeing with the view of "us" (necessarily "positive")
must necessarily be labelled "negative" -- possibly to the point
of demonisation (Being
Positive and Avoiding Negativity: Management challenge of positive vs negative.
2005). This labelling is typically reciprocated. There is considerable
energy tied up in the dynamics associated with such processes -- people may
even "get a charge out of it". It is extremely evident during processes
of social transformation in which innovators (labelling themselves "positive")
stigmatise conservative resistance as "negative", whereas conservatives stigmatise
the innovators as disruptively "negative". The perspective of second and third
order cybernetics is clearly relevant.
Alternation: Such psychosocial processes are inherent in the democratic process of parties competing,
using positive and negative campaign stereotypes, for the right to govern
-- until the "negative" consequences of the "positive" later become
apparent. As a healthy process, the possibility of such alternation may be
seen as a key to development (Policy
Alternation for Development, 1984). Alternation of the positive
and negative charges in Table 1 is more appropriately represented by configuring
the domains in 3D as a tetrahedron. This is the fundamental system in the
analysis of R
Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics: explorations
in the geometry of thinking. 1975-79, 2 vols). As noted below, some
tetrahedral visualizations for AQAL have been developed by Michael Ax (Four
Quadrants). Alternation of this kind is characteristic of more
stable molecular structures known in chemistry as resonance
Managing difference: Most effort at managing difference is designed to eliminate it through the
achievement of consensus (being "positive") -- often by any means
and at whatever cost (to those stereotyped as negative) -- whatever lipservice is paid to "consultation" (Being
Positive and Avoiding Negativity: Management challenge of positive vs negative.
2005). Democracy, as rule
by the majority, classically highlights the lack of significance attached
to minority viewpoints. This approach, as noted above, contrasts completely
with that associated with the multitude of technical innovations arising
since the industrial revolution. These depend for the power which they generate,
or for the devices driven by that power, on the appropriate management of
difference. Examples include:
- electricity: distinguishing "positive" and "negative" electrical currents
- hydrodynamics: distinguishing "positive" and "negative" pressure
- thermodynamics: distinguishing "positive" and "negative" temperature (notably from combustion of organic material)
- chemistry: electropositive and electronegative ions basic to reactions
: The interplay of positive and negative can be used to hold several common
- positive-positive: understood as "moving" in the "same
sense", as interpreted by a representative of either in the
classic phrase to be "able to do business with" the other, "sharing
the same values", "singing from the same hymn sheet" or being "on the same
path" (of the "righthand"); represented mechanically,
a belt drive transmission between them would require no twist --
they are of the "same orientation"
- negative-negative: as for positive-positive (mutatis mutandis);
however it would be perceived by the latter in terms of phrases such
as "honour among
thieves", "companions of the left-hand"
- positive-negative: experienced
as inherently attractive, whether as a fascination with
difference and otherness or a need to
condemn and exclude it from one's environment:
- without twist: would be experienced as highly
problematic -- the challenge of "the other" (xenophobia, etc)
and of people "who do not share the same values" (as
are from Mars, Women are from Venus, 1992)
- with twist: characteristic of enduring relationships (partnerships)
between dissimilar people, whether of different sex, race, religion,
lifestyle, belief system, etc; typically challenging for others
to understand the nature of the bond (through the "twist")
The attribution of "positive" and "negative" is a matter of convention (cf Xavier Sallantin. L'épistemologie de l'arithmetique. Communication aux Seminaires internationaux d'epistemologie de l'Abbaye de Senanque, Sept. 1976).
Typically those within each domain ("us") would perceive it as "positive" --
with other domains ("them") being perceived as "negative". A representation
such as Table 1 may therefore be presented in an alternative format with
the signs reversed. One example is the presentation of two complementary
representations of the I Ching (Relationship between Hexagrams of the Chinese I Ching, 1983). Such a more complex understanding
allows for the alternation between the two perspectives. This is the
case in many relationships where each party may perceive itself to be
positive and the other negative, so that understanding the system requires
alternating between the two conventions.
Elsewhere (Cardioid Attractor Fundamental to Sustainability: 8 transactional games forming the heart of sustainable relationship, 2005) the possibility of interrelating "positive" and "negative" in hybrid forms was explored in the light of the work of Edward Haskell (Generalization of the structure of Mendeleev's periodic table, 1972) and its development by Timothy Wilken (The Relationship Continuum, 2002). This was related to the Taoist perspective of the BaGua diagram (discussed further below).
Charge: To what extent is a "global" perspective "charged" by processes that could be modelled by devices
such as the Van der Graaf generator? Certainly the spherical feature
of its design is suggestive of such a pattern of understanding. What then of the implications
of the more powerful developments by Nikola Tesla -- and the devices developed
with his insights?
The significance of the charge
associated with domains in Table 1 can be understood as gaining or losing at expense of others, or perhaps to be framed as:
- negative: as receptor of negative feedback, this may be understood
as ensuring a condition of homeostasis within the domain (Maruyama's
- positive: as source of positive feedback, this may be understood
as ensuring a deviation-amplifying condition (Maruyama's
With reference to Table 1
Table 1 offers a particular pattern characterized by four-fold and eight-fold relationships. Other patterns of course merit investigation, as noted above and elsewhere (Representation, Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, International Classification, 1978; Distinguishing Levels of Declarations of Principles, 1980; Patterns of Conceptual Integration, 1984).
The eight relationships
in Table 1 are here considered as four continuous feedback loops "driving" (or "driven by") the four epistemological
domains. The circles could be visualized as cross-sections of cylinders
over which each loop runs as a band or belt. This raises distinct issues:
- Möbius strip: The question is whether there are
insights from technical innovation that can usefully integrate the four
disparate domains in a manner of relevance
to sustainability. Of particular interest in this respect is the power
transmission achieved by belt
drives -- specially designed belts and pulleys introduced with
the industrial revolution and common to many factories. In practice
flat belts over wheels were often given a half-twist before joining
the ends -- thus taking the intriguing mathematical form of a Möbius
strip [more]. This twist ensures that the belt has only a single side,
a single boundary and of being non-orientable [more].
Clifford Pickover (The
Mobius Strip: Dr. August Möbius's marvelous band in mathematics,
games, literature, art, technology, and cosmology, 2006) describes
the Möbius strip as the ultimate metaphor for something simple,
yet profound -- a metaphor for magic and mystery,
and "a perpetual icon stimulating the search for depths even in
seemingly shallow waters".
It exemplifies the transformation of an appearance of "us and them" into
recognition of an underlying reality of "them is us".
Möbius strips have been used in "twist belt conveyors" (lasting
longer because the entire surface area of the belt gets the same amount
of wear), as continuous-loop recording tapes (to double the playing time),
and in other manufacturing applications. Mobius-wrap coils are also common
in electrical transformers. The artist M. C. Escher, with his strong interest in topology, was skilled at depicting Möbius strips (cf his woodcuts Möbius Strip I and Möbius Strip II, 1963).
An experiment with any such
belt (a strip of paper) further suggests that, at least with a mechanical
system, the cylindrical surfaces over which it runs are best oriented so
that their axes of rotation are at right angles to one another. This enhances
the difference they are called upon to carry as distinct epistemological
In Table 1 the twist ensures that one side of the belt is associated with
a positive charge and the other with a negative charge -- each side appropriately
in contact with the circular domain (as clarified below in the discussion
of the Van der Graaf generator as a metaphor).
- Wilber's "conveyor belt":
Ironically Ken Wilber
Spirituality: a startling new role for religion in the modern and postmodern
world, Shambhala, 2006) has
a widely referenced key chapter on "The Conveyor Belt". It focuses on
the role of the traditional religions as a sacred "conveyor belt" to
move people through all the stages of psychospiritual development --
a developmental conveyor belt. Wilber sees it as "quite
possibly, the single greatest problem facing the world... fixing this problem, if there is a fix, would
provide a startling new role for religion in the modern and postmodern
(12 June 2006).
There is however no mention of the "twist" that
has been so vital to industrial conveyor belts. In fact there is seemingly
no recognition that a conveyor belt has to move in both directions if
it is to sustain its ability to "convey" in one direction --
with the return (unconscious?) movement typically invisible from the "active" (conscious?)
side. A "one-sided" developmental conveyor belt? Those on a people
conveyor may well be unaware of the necessarily hidden reverse motion.
Such "unconsciousness" is the subject of a study by John Ralston
Unconscious Civilization, 1997). This suggests that the use of
the metaphor typically exemplifies such unconsciousness, as illustrated
by other issues:
- in the drug trade the focus
is on the problematic movement of the drugs but not on whether the
demand for them is problematic (Kevin Nelson, 'It's
Like a Conveyor Belt', AlterNet.
11 August 2003).
- the expression "global conveyor belt" has been applied
to the movement of qualified health personnel from developing countries
- the expression "conveyor belt artists" has been applied where too
many graduates want to be famous artists without first learning their
- Cognitive "twist": The twist in the feedback
loop between epistemological domains in Table 1 highlights their
fundamental distinction through an apparent discontinuity.
The challenge of any such a twist is discussed elsewhere (Engaging
with Questions of Higher Order: cognitive vigilance required for higher
degrees of twistedness, 2004; Twistedness
in Psycho-social Systems: challenge to logic, morality, leadership and
personal development, 2004).
The operation of such a twist, and the challenge to comprehension, has
been remarkably well depicted in the work of the artist M C Escher, specifically
with respect to the Möbius strip, but more generally as discussed below (in relation to enantiodromia).
The problem of interpretation/translation between
languages is well-recognized. Curiously, it is readily assumed that such translation
is not required between the conceptual "languages" that characterize different domains -- and that that challenge is insignificant to communication
(rather than potentially of much greater difficulty). There is notably
no recognized profession for interpretation/translation between conceptual
languages. For example, the EU annually spends some €1.1 billion on translation and interpretation, namely 1 percent of the EU budget (for 3,000 staff to interpret some 11,000 meetings and to translate over 1.3 million pages of text). EU meetings are not known for their use of "facilitators".
The unaddressed challenge is evident in many efforts at interdisciplinary
communication and might be considered fundamental in the case of any "clash of civilizations" (witness the minimum number of Arabic interpreters/translators in the initial period of the "war on terrorism"). In a supposedly democratic world, who interprets between the "languages" of "right" and "left", "north" and "south", "east" and "west" -- and between any "clashing civilizations"? (cf
Review of Frameworks for the Representation of Alternative Conceptual Orderings as Determined by Cultural and Linguistic Contexts, 1986)
- Labelling of relationships: The "movement" of
belt "around" any pair of epistemological domains requires
that one domain move in a "clockwise direction" and the other in an "anti-clockwise"
direction. The former may be understood as being charged positively by
this process (thereby gaining energy), whether or not it is in effect "driven" by
that which is consequently charged negatively (thereby loosing energy).
The "charging" is discussed below with respect to the Van der
Graaf generator. This process may be understood to make apparent two distinct
parts of the continuous belt:
Two indicative labels have been tentatively attached
to each such portion of the continuous loop:
- one moving from the domain charged positively to the domain charged
- one moving from the domain charged negatively to the domain charged
It should be understood that each such label could
carry other more positive or more negative connotations through alternative
terms. The pattern of indicative labels, as currently in Table
1, could indeed be usefully understood as poorly "tuned".
The labels constitute
an array that calls for "conceptual
tuning" -- with all the challenges which the musical metaphor implies
with regard to choice of tuning
- that close to the arrow indicative of the kind of effect it is
bringing into the domain
- that distant from the arrow indicative of the understanding of
the domain engendering it
Eight-fold relationships: It is appropriate to note that the thousands
of bidirectional systemic relationships linking entities in databases
developed by UIA2 for the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential, were only given generic names (such as aggravates, aggravated by, alleviates, alleviated by, etc). These could
have been more specifically described.
- Value memes of Spiral
Dynamics: mastering values, leadership, and change (by Don
Beck and Christopher Cowan, 1996): This system is frequently cited as
complementary to use of the AQAL quadrant system. It distinguishes
a spiral sequence of eight progressively more complex (colour coded)
conceptual models of the world through which humans (and cultures) adapt
to handle new problems. Potentially reflecting higher order cybernetics,
each new model includes and transcends all previous models understood
to be organized around core values or collective intelligences (termed
vMemes). These are:
- Beige: Instinctual
- Purple: Magical-animistic, tribal
- Red: Egocentric, power, feudalistic
- Blue: Mythic-membership, conformist, fundamentalist,
- Orange: Excellence, achievement, progress, modern
- Green: Postmodern, multicultural, sensitive, pluralistic
- Yellow: Systemic, flexible, flowing
- Turquoise: Cosmic unity, integrative,
nested hierarchies of interrelationships, holism
- BaGua and I Ching "houses": The traditional I Ching (The Book of Changes) offers a quite different way of encoding and portraying the eight-fold (paired) relationships of Table
1. It offers the additional advantage of allowing the complexity to be scalable. The 64 hexagram-encoded conditions are traditionally clustered into 8 houses. No explicit relationship to the colour coding of spiral dynamics appears to have been made, but an interesting step in that direction is that of Jeff Mishlove ( The Rainbow YinYang, 2006) -- a rainbow coloured representation of the Tao symbol.
Within the Chinese culture, an 8-fold pattern of relationship is a fundamental
philosophical concept known as the BaGua (or Pa
Qua). It is an octagonal diagram, widely reproduced as a symbol,
with one trigram on each side. Its implications are associated not only
with Taoist thought and the I Ching, but also other domains
of Chinese culture (such as fengshui, martial arts, navigation, etc). Numerous
images are available on the web -- oriented and coloured in a variety
of ways. Of interest is the manner in which the eight conditions are
generated from "positive" and "negative" -- generically
understood as yang and yin respectively. Of particular
interest is the fact that the dynamic relationships between the 8 conditions
are typically not explicit in any representation. They
are implicit -- although an indication of their explicit nature is offered
The further significance of the Ba Gua is discussed more extensively below in relationship to the cycle of the combustion engine.
- Transactional games: Elsewhere (Cardioid Attractor Fundamental to Sustainability: 8 transactional games forming the heart of sustainable relationship, 2005) an eightfold pattern of relationships was described in terms of a generalized understanding of transactional games understood as constituting a cycle. The "relationship games", in the light of the work of Edward Haskell (Generalization of the structure of Mendeleev's periodic table, 1972) and its development by Timothy Wilken (The Relationship Continuum, 2002), are there defined in terms of a "control component" and a "work component" as follows:
| Table 3: Possible 8-fold Positive-Negative
||X = "Work component"
Conclusion: implication for sustainable development and governance
This argument has pointed to the possibility of designing (or recognizing) new types of psychosocial
energy system dependent on the skillful interweaving of "positive" and "negative" energy. It would reflect the pattern of development of energy systems exploited by the industrial
revolution -- offering the possibility of "generating" psychosocial energy.
For detailed conclusions, see complete version of Annex 3
See complete version of Annex 3