- / -
|Diversity -- Unity
Agreement -- Disagreement
Organization -- Chaos
Configuration -- Relationships
Strategy -- Lifestyle
Static -- Dynamic
Conventional -- Radical
|Future -- Present
Global -- Personal
Information systems -- Communication
Comprehension -- Incomprehension
Facts -- Aesthetics
Balance -- Imbalance
Problems -- Potential
The following exercise in thinking about thinking is an effort to identify a higher degree of order in the set of papers produced by the author in the period from 1962-2004 (as discussed separately in Self-reflexive Learnings from Writing, 2004). The focus here is on the set of value polarities which they may implicitly address -- and how that set could be configured. The further implications are explored below, and separately (Configuring Conceptual Polarities in Questing: metaphoric pointers to self-reflexive coherence, 2004).
For each polarity tentatively identified polarity below, a selection of papers is given. These may be directly accessed, except where the year is followed by an asterisk (when only the bibliographic reference is accessible).
Diversity (variety) -- Unity (synthesis, integration, coherence)
|Diversity: Reflected in the author's
construction and maintenance of large data
sets on every field of human activity (whether international organizations,
world problems, human values, human development, etc) notably for the Yearbook
of International Organizations and the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential.
Also present are a number of papers concerned with the range of types of strategy (1995, 1998), dialogue (1998), organization (IGO, NGO, all), transdisciplinarity, values, roles (1997), etc.
|Unity: Reflected in many papers concerned with synthesis (1968, 1997, 2000) , integrative concepts, transdisciplinarity, dialogue (1996, 2000) , and ways of articulating unity (1991) and coherence (***). The institution where much of this work was done bears a title (Union of International Associations) which raises interesting questions about the nature of any "union" to be discovered between any form of "association", whether conceptual or otherwise (see Union of International Associations -- Virtual Organization, 2001). An early concern has been broadening understandings of unity (Liberation of Integration through pattern, oscillation, harmony and embodiment, 1980)|
Agreement (harmony, consensus) -- Disagreement (discord, difference, dissent, dilemmas, polarization)
|Disagreement: Corresponding to the
focus on diversity (above), has been a concern
with the strong identifications in society with elements of that variety,
resulting in radical disagreement in any form of dialogue or collective
action. The challenge of working with the reality of that disagreement,
rather than aspiring towards agreement, has been the focus of dialogue-related
papers (1981, 1992, 1998, 2001).
A particular interest has been patterning of disagreement (1986) and dilemmas (Configuring Strategic Dilemmas in Intersectoral Dialogue, 1992; Inter-personal Dilemmas of Participation in a Sustainable Inter-sectoral Meeting, 1994) and their mapping (1992).
|Agreement: Corresponding to the
focus on unity (above), has been a concern with
richer and subtler ways of articulating agreement and consensus (1991, 1995),
notably faced with tendencies towards polarized thinking.
A particular interest is the dynamics (see below) of the relation of agreement to the alternation between opposing perspectives, notably through cycles (Cycles of dissonance and resonance, 1995). Also of interest has been the possible emergence of higher orders of meaning and consensus (Sustaining Higher Orders of Policy Consensus through Metaphor: towards a new language of governance, 1992)
Organization (systems, order) -- Chaos (complexity, asystemic)
|Organization: Matching the concerns
with unity/synthesis and agreement, has been a concern with articulation
of frameworks through which action may be conceived or undertaken, whether
alternative (1974, 1979, 1994),
community-based (1998, 1998, 2003),
or conceptual (1983, 1994, 1996, 2001),
notably in non-western cultures (1984)
-- and the challenges of their design (1978).
The concern with variety has been matched by a corresponding interest in typology (**) classification (see Functional Classification in an Integrative Matrix of Human Preoccupations, 1982) and knowledge organization.(**). A particular interest has been the possibilities beyond networks (1973, 1977, 1979), and networking alternation (1983), of tensegrity ("tensional integrity") structures (1978, 1979, 1984).
|Chaos: The concern with diversity and disagreement (above) has been matched with a concern with complexity (1977*) , its comprehension (1991, 1994) and its navigation (see Envisaging the Art of Navigating Conceptual Complexity: in search of software combining artistic and conceptual insights, 1995). This has been seen as contrasting with the dangerous ease of thinking and acting in terms of more simplistic understandings of organization.|
Configuration (pattern) -- Relationships (networks)
|Configuration: Distinct from the
preoccupation with organization in isolation, or the relationships
between entities, has been a focus on how the relationships between
distinct entities may be configured (Implementing
Principles by Balancing Configurations of Functions: a tensegrity organization
approach, 1979; Groupware
Configurations of Challenge and Harmony: an alternative approach to
alternative organization, 1979; Development
beyond Science to Wisdom: Facilitating the emergence of configurative
understanding, 1979; Guiding
Metaphors and Configuring Choices, 1991; Using
Disagreements for Superordinate Frame Configuration, 1992; Configuring
Strategic Dilemmas in Intersectoral Dialogue, 1992; Spherical
Configuration of Categories to Reflect Systemic Patterns of Environmental
Checks and Balances, 1994). This concern with configuration
relates to the identification of pattern.
A long-term concern has been the catalyzation of new patterns of conceptual (Patterns of Conceptual Integration, 1984; 1981, 1980) or social interaction (1992), notably in conferences (1984, 1988), with values (1980), and change itself (Patterning Transformative Change: dialogue, vision, conference, policy, network, community and lifestyle, 1983).
More recently this has focused on comprehension of subtler and unforeseen forms of order (Spherical configuration of interlocking roundtables: Internet enhancement of global self-organization through patterns of dialogue, 1998; Discovering richer patterns of comprehension to reframe polarization, 1998; ; Knowledge Gardening through Music, 2000 (Hyperspace Clues to the Psychology of the Pattern that Connects, 2003; Patterning Archetypal Templates of Emergent Order, 2002; Complementary Patterns of Meaningful Truth and the Interface between Alternative Variants, 2003).
|Relationships: Initially this focused
on the relationships between international NGOs and the intergovernmental
of the Crises in Inter-Organizational Relationships at the International
Level, 1971; Next
Step in Inter-organizational Relationships: Specific proposals,
relationships: in search of a new style, 1973). This focus
was extended to concepts (Relationship
Between Elements of Knowledge: use of computer systems to facilitate
construction, comprehension and comparison of the concept thesauri
of different schools of thought, 1971 *) and then further extended
to a variety of conceptual entities (International
Agencies and Associations: interrelationships and links to world problems,
disciplines, occupations, treaties, 1976 *), including personal
This concerned changed to include the representation of relationships (The Territory Construed as the Map: in search of radical design innovations in the representation of human activities and their relationships, 1979; Atlas of International Relationship Networks, 1988), typologies (Towards a general typology of relationships (between people, concepts, etc), 1990), their articulation to form patterns, as in the case of the I Ching (1983), and their visualization (Visualizing Relationship Networks: International, Interdisciplinary, Intersectoral, 1992).
A particular concern has been with reframing understanding of relationships (Reframing Relationships as a Mathematical Challenge: Jerusalem as a Parody of Current Interfaith Dialogue, 1997; Reframing Personal Relationships between Innovators or Leaders, 1998; Interrelationships between 64 Complementary Approaches to Sustainable Development, 2002; Dancing on Terra -- with Terror: Disciplines reframing terrifying relationships, 2004).
As noted above, a particular interest has been the possibilities beyond inter-organizational and other networks (1973, 1977, 1979), of networking alternation (1983), and tensegrity ("tensional integrity") structures (1978, 1979, 1984).
Strategy (management, doing) -- Lifestyle (community, being)
|Strategy: The development of a database
of strategy profiles has been undertaken for two editions of the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential (1986, 1995).
An early and continuing concern has been the use, by networks of organizations, of information (Need for a World Management Information Network, 1969; 1969; 1999) in support of collective strategy and action plans (Strategic Correspondences: computer-aided insight scaffolding, 1995; Computer representation of strategy networks, 1995; Computer-assisted generation of strategies, 1995; Missiles, Missives, Missions and Memetic Warfare: Navigation of strategic interfaces in multidimensional knowledge space, 2001) -- as well as how to move beyond its constraints (Coherent Policy-making Beyond the Information Barrier, 1999), notably through recognizing the variety of decision-making styles (1994).
This focus included use of management games (1967) , the possibility of planetary management (Managing Planetary Management, 1973), indicative case studies (1969), network organization strategy (1976*, 1995), action against it (Anti-networking strategies, 1978) and the simulation of a "global brain" (2001). Strategic deficiencies have been a particular focus (International Organizations and the Generation of the Will to Change, 1970; Discrimination and Fragmentation in the 1970s: the UN's System's Ivory Tower Strategy, 1971).
The challenges to imagination (1994) focused attention on the role of metaphor (Innovative Global Management through Metaphor, 1989; Future Coping Strategies: Beyond the constraints of proprietary metaphors, 1992; Strategic metaphors for thriving, 1995), especially with respect to management in developing cultures (Knowledge Gardening through Music: patterns of coherence for future African management as an alternative to Project Logic, 2000) and transcending strategic dilemmas (Configuring Strategic Dilemmas in Intersectoral Dialogue, 1992) through emphasis on their configuration (2003) and complementarity (1995, 1998), the advantages of avoiding military metaphor (1998), as well as the role of "negative" strategies (1995).
The strategic role of denial (1995), non-decision-making (1997), "truth-handling" (2003), the "unsaid" (2003), and "terrorism" have been a recent focus (Promoting a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance, 2002; Backside to the Future: coherence and conflation of dominant strategic metaphors, 2003) as well as the limitations of civil alternatives (Global Civil Society: strategic comments on the path ahead, 2003). From a news management perspective, some of these strategic issues were highlighted in matching "briefings" for the Messiah (1999) and Satan (1999).
|Lifestyle: In contrast
to the "project logic" (2000)
of the strategic focus, there has also been a continuing concern with
their design (1978),
their comprehension (1997),
their support (Facilitating
Community through Information: suite of software-enabled participation
tools, 1996; Product
/ Service Substitution Database: Proposal in support of sustainable lifestyles,
1999) and their dynamics (Being
Other Wise: dynamics of a meaningfully sustainable lifestyle,
notably in relation to the future of work (Being
Employed by the Future: reframing the immediate challenge of sustainable
community, 1996; 1996)
and the challenge of change (Individual
Inability to Initiate Personal Lifestyle, 1977).
These concerns have been explored in relation to the challenge of alternative communities (1975, 1978, 1996, 1997), sustaining their emergence in networks (Transnational network of research and service communities: organizational hybrid, 1976), their need for requisite variety (Living Differences as a basis for Sustainable Community: Designing a difference engine, 1998; 1998; Boundaries of Sustainability in Community-Oriented Organizations, 1998), the need for dialogue to sustain community (1995), participant roles (1997), and the possible psychological dimensions of future communities (Gardening Sustainable Psycommunities: Recognizing the psycho-social integrities of the future, 1995).
These dimensions have highlighted the need to shift to a dynamic understanding of community (From Statics to Dynamics in Sustainable Community, 1998). The implications of several case studies have also been explored (Challenges to Learning from the Swadhyaya Movement, 1995; Collective strategy-making: designing a strategic array, 1995; Renaissance Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community, 2003), as well as the possibility of a learning exchange between them (1998).
Static -- Dynamic (alternation)
|Static: Given the nature of conventional
thinking and its application to conventional policy-making and social organization,
much of the work focus has been on static categories and static organizations
(as suggested by the "statutes" through which they are governed).
Many of the reference works produced (such as Yearbook
of International Organizations and the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential) correspond to the stereotype
of "state of the world".
Aside from the focus on organization (above), this also involved concern with the legal status of international non-governmental organizations (see Legal status of international NGOs: overview and options, 1996; 1988) and collection of their statutes (1988). A related focus has been Misapplication of International Legal Norms in Socially Abnormal Situations (1994).
|Dynamic: In a turbulent complex environment,
one focus has been on the challenge of shifting from a static perspective
(as in "nation states" and "state of the world") to
a more dynamic perspective (see Toward
an enantiomorphic policy, 1995; From
Statics to Dynamics in Sustainable Community, 1998), whether in
terms of system dynamics (1995),
Dynamics and Psychodynamics, 1971), partnerships for change (1993),
or meetings (1975).
A particular approach has been the challenge for lifestyles (see Being Other Wise: dynamics of a meaningfully sustainable lifestyle, 1998) and navigation (see Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, 2002). Also of concern has been the dynamics of the metaphors through which new forms of comprehension become viable (1993*), notably in conference dynamics (1988) and collective identity (1991, 1991, 1991) .
Alternation amongst complementary conditions has been seen as a means of ensuring the sustainability of alternatives ( Networking Alternation, 1983; Policy Alternation for Development, 1984; 1984; 1985; 1991; Alternation between complementary policy conditions, 1994; Warp and Weft: Governance through Alternation, 2002). Other approaches include various conceptual de-patterning devices (1974).
Conventional -- Radical (alternative, original)
of the papers have built on conventional "static" modes
of thinking, notably in relation to information and organization.
The challenge was seen as one of shifting from conventional to new
modes of thinking such that the merits of the first are fully acknowledged
in any new context (see for example Sustaining
a pattern of alternative community initiatives: based on their differences
from the conventional economic rationale, 1998).
International conventions in general (1971, 1976*), and their potential to facilitate the action of international NGOs, have also been a focus (1988, 1996), as has the misapplication of legal norms (1994). The articulation of legal conventions has also been used as a structure through which new perspectives can be comprehended and given credibility (Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization, 1971; Convention on the Rights of the Child Within, 1997; Interplanetary Security Council: Nibiru draft resolution on Earth, 2002; 2003). The possibility of alternative structuring of conventional declarations has also been considered (1993).
|Radical: A continuing concern has been
the possibility of quite different modes of thought, the perspectives to
whch they might give rise, and their relevance to contemporary challenges
of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). Alternative
approaches to design have been a focus (The
Territory Construed as the Map: in search of radical design innovations
in the representation of human activities and their relationships,
Cultural Rosaries and Meaning Malas to Sustain Associations within the
Pattern that Connects, 2000).
One approach was to look "beyond method" (Beyond Method: engaging opposition in psycho-social organization, 1981). A particular focus has been radical coherence (1994, 1995) and the enactive embodiment of the environment (En-minding the Extended Body: Enactive engagement in conceptual shapeshifting and deep ecology, 2003).
As noted above with respect to Nibiru resolutions (2002, 2003), another approach has been from the perspective of aliens (Communicating with Aliens: the Psychological Dimension of Dialogue, 2000), through appreciation of alternative communities with "alien" perspectives (Renaissance Zones, 2003), or through entry into inner-focused realities (Entering Alternative Realities -- Astronautics vs Noonautics, 2002). With an aging population, and the emergence of suicide bombing, radical re-empowerment of the elderly has also been considered (Terminal Empowerment: socio-political implications of radical mutual assistance amongst the terminally ill, 2003)
Future -- Present
|Future: Explorations have been particularly
influenced by the discipline of futures studies which has provided a context,
thanks to Mankind 2000, for the preparation of the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential, 1976, 1986, 1991, 1995).
The thematic opportunities of the conferences of the World
Futures Studies Federation, have provided a focus for a number of papers
Networks as perceived by international organization networks, 1976; Development:
beyond "science" to "wisdom", 1979; Metaphoric
revolution; in quest of a manifesto for governance through metaphor,
of governance...in the year 2491, 1990; Participative
Democracy vs. Participative Drama, 1991; Metaphor
as an Unexplored Catalytic Language for Global Governance, 1993; Future
generation through global conversation, 1997).
A particular concern has been the role of metaphor in articulating, and constraining, future opportunities (Metaphor and the Language of Futures, 1992, 1994; The Future of Leadership: reframing the unknown, 1994; Richer Metaphors for Our Future Survival, 1996). The metaphoric approach to futures is consistent with a radical perspective (noted earlier).
|Present: This contrast to the futures
perspective (above) has been the subject of explorations
of the integration of the future into the present (Presenting
the Future, 2001), whether in terms of composing and engendering
the present (2001),
present research (2001),
or thriving in the moment (2001).
Such investigations are associated with the possibility of radica approaches to understanding of time, whether by alternative communities (Embodying a Timeship vs. Empowering a Spaceship, 2003), from a mytho-poetic (2002) or purely speculative perspective (People as Stargates, 1996), or as constrained by metaphor (Metaphoric entrapment in time, 2000), or as a strategic opportunity for individuals (The Isdom of the Wisdom Society: Embodying time as the heartland of humanity, 2003). From a more mundane perspective, the challenge of time management in conferences has also been a concern (1994).
Global (collective, governance) -- Personal (individual, subjective, embodiment)
|Global: In contrast to the long-term
focus on "international" and "world" forms of organization,
the focus on "global" forms has suggested a degree of conceptual
integration and coherence obscured by the conventional preoccupation with
trade-related issues (see Global
modelling perspective, 1991; Globalization
of Knowledge and Insight, 1997; Future
Generation through Global Conversation, 1997; Global
Civil Society: strategic comments on the path ahead. 2003) as well
as the potential for its manipulation (see Discrimination
and Fragmentation in the 1970s: an organized response to global crisis,
Manipulation in Global Dialogue, 2000; Globalization
within a Global Potemkin Society, 2000; Promoting
a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance,
of Death: checklist. 2003; Global
Strategic Implications of the Unsaid: from myth-making to a wisdom society,
Associated with the question of complexity and emergent order has been the possibility of global self-organization (Configuring Globally and Contending Locally: shaping the global network of local bargains, 1992; Spherical configuration of interlocking roundtables: Internet enhancement of global self-organization through patterns of dialogue, 1998; 1998) and the design perspective required for innovative global management (1989).
A particular concern has been global governance (Metaphor as a Language for Global Governance, 1993; Four Complementary Languages Required for Global Governance, 1998) and the constraints on its development ((Tank-thoughts from Think-tanks: constraining metaphors on developing global governance, 2003; 12 Complementary Languages for Sustainable Governance, 2003).
Global community, its learning capacity (1980, 1981, 1982), and its sustainability through dialogue, has also been a preoccupation (1995) as has the role of global information systems (Need for a World Management Information System to Assist Initiation and Coordination of Global Development Programmes, 1969; Songlines of the Noosphere: global configuration of hypertext pathways, 1996; Simulating a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values, 2001)
|Personal: The development of a database
of approaches to human development, including modes of awareness, has been
a central theme of the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential (1976, 1986, 1991, 1995; commentaries),
as have their interaction (1979),
their phases (1991),
and their relevance (1991),
notably as an existential challenge (1991).
The variety of approaches, and the challenge of typologies of human relationships (1978), have also been a focus. Such development is seen as an objective of many strategies -- whose obstruction was perceived as a source of many world problems (see From Apartheid to Schizophrenia: the logic of depersonalized separate development, 1971) and the movement of meaning in governance (1994). Its preoccupations were prefigured in an experiment (Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization: an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1971), subsequently repeated (Convention on the Rights of the Child Within, 1997).
Constraints on that development have been explored (Limits to Human Potential, 1976), notably in relation to the challenge of internalizing discontinuity (1995), to personal globalization (2001) and to lifestyle change (1977) -- and to the creation of facilitative environments (1975*), especially for dialogue (1984). The challenge of the problematic relationship between leaders has also been considered (1998). A related concern has been technical approaches to augmenting human intellect (1994) and the quality of dialogue (2001) -- as well the role of metaphor in such enhancement (Enhancing the Quality of Knowing through Integration of East-West metaphors, 2000).
The human development theme is intimately related to that of human values as the focus of a complementary dataset in the Encylopedia, notably the function of values as "attractors" for such development (Human Values as Strange Attractors: Coevolution of classes of governance principles, 1993). Both themes converge in concerns relating to wisdom (Development beyond Science to Wisdom, 1979; The Isdom of the Wisdom Society: Embodying time as the heartland of humanity, 2003), authenticity (Evoking Authenticity: through polyhedral global configuration of local paradoxes, 2003) and future human development (Authentic Grokking: Emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003)
Information systems (high-tech, transparency, secrecy) -- Communication (dialogue, low tech, subtlety, tacit, unsaid)
|Information systems: A prime concern
has been the creation and development of information systems (1966 *; Need
for a World Management Information System to Assist Initiation and Coordination
of Global Development Programmes, 1969; 1970; 1971).
These have been seen as fundamental to global strategies, to sustain networks
of international organizations (Possible
Use of Computers and Data Processing Equipment by International Non-governmental
Organizations, 1968; Description
of a Proposed Information System to Facilitate Contact between Organizations,
1969; 1969; 1969; 1969 *; Reflections
on Associative Constraints and Possibilities in an Information society,
1987), schools of thought (1971; 1973),
or to the development of the databases managed by the Union of International
Associations (1971; 1981 *)
The possibility of designing information systems to bypass characteristic inter-organizational, inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary territoriality has also been a concern (Computer Conferencing as a Means of Enhancing Communication at a Large Conference / Festival, 1977; Computer-enhanced Communication Environment for an International Conference Centre, 1979) -- especially as a basis for knowledge management (Knowledge-Representation in a Computer-Supported Environment, 1977; Specification for Structural Outliner Computer Programme, 1992; Insight Storage and Retrieval in a Computer-supported Environment, 1993; Strategic Correspondences: computer-aided insight scaffolding, 1995; Coherent Policy-making Beyond the Information Barrier, 1999).
The future role of global information systems has also been considered (Songlines of the Noosphere: global configuration of hypertext pathways, 1996; Musings on Information of Higher Quality, 1996; Simulating a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values, 2001), notably with respect to governance (Computer-assisted generation of strategies, 1995)
|Communication: In contrast
with the information focus (whether or not facilitated by information
systems), there has been a long-term concern with the effectiveness and
quality of exchange (International
Cooperation, Communication and Sources of Information, 1965; Improvement
of Communication within the World System, 1969; Sustainable
Dialogue as a Necessary Template for Sustainable Global Community,
1995), in international meetings (Computer
Conferencing as a Means of Enhancing Communication at a Large Conference
/ Festival, 1977; Computer-enhanced
Communication Environment for an International Conference Centre,
1979; 1991 *)
and notably through dialogue (Towards
Transformative Conferencing and Dialogue, 1991), including computer-assisted
a web framework for synthesis in dialogue: insight capture from the flow
of conference interventions, 1996; Sustaining
the Coherence of Dialogue through Apartness: configuration of entities
through hypertext, 1997; 1998; 2001).
Of continuing concern has been alternative understandings of meaningful exchange (Varieties of Dialogue Arenas and Styles, 1992, 1997, 1998; Inter-Sectoral Dialogue and Sustainable Development, 1992; Learnings for the Future of Inter-Faith Dialogue, 1993), notably in non-western cultures.
A particular interest has been the communication of complex patterns of insight (Representation, Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, 1978; 1979; Needs Communication: viable need patterns and their identification, 1980; Patterns of N-foldness: Comparison of integrated multi-set concept schemes as forms of presentation, 1980; Representation of issue arenas on icosidodecahedral net, 1994; Transdisciplinarity through Structured Dialogue, 1994; Evaluating Synthesis Initiatives and their Sustaining Dialogues, 2000), notably through symbol (1994), metaphor (1993), mytho-poetic speculation (2002), and more generally in terms of appropriate forms of presentation (Representation of Concepts and Augmentation of Intellect, 1973; Knowledge-Representation in a Computer-Supported Environment, 1977; Forms of Presentation and the Future of Comprehension, 1984; Review of Frameworks for the Representation of alternative Conceptual Orderings as Determined by Linguistic and Cultural Contexts, 1986).
Use of low-tech approaches has also been explored (Participant Interaction Messaging: improving the conference process, 1980; 1991; Time-sharing System in Meetings: Centralized planning vs Free-market economy ?, 1994; Designing Cultural Rosaries and Meaning Malas to Sustain Associations within the Pattern that Connects, 2000).
Some of the challenges for dialogue were highlighted with respect to the possibility of communication with aliens (Communicating with Aliens: the Psychological Dimension of Dialogue, 2000). Implicit in many of these concerns is the communication of subtler and emergent forms of order (Presentation and Representatives: Presenting the Future, 2001) and the challenge of the unsaid (Varieties of the Unsaid in sustaining psycho-social community, 2003).
Comprehension (meaning, significance) -- Incomprehension (paradox, incommensurability, ignorance, questions)
|Comprehension: An early focus
has been the comprehension of relationships (Relationship
Between Elements of Knowledge: use of computer systems to facilitate construction,
comprehension and comparison of the concept thesauri of different schools
of thought, 1971 *; Preliminary
Notes on the Mathematical Analysis of Networks of Psychosocial Entities
in Order to Facilitate their Comprehension, 1975 *), notably in
Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, 1978; Distinguishing
Levels of Declarations of Principles, 1980).
The variety of forms of comprehension (Dimensions of Comprehension Diversity, 1986) and the nature of future comprehension have also been a concern (The Future of Comprehension: conceptual birdcages and functional basket-weaving, 1980; Minding the Future: a thought experiment on presenting new information, 1980; Comprehension of Appropriateness, 1986), especially beyond current constraints (Beyond Edge-bound Comprehension and Modal Impotence: combining q-holes through a pattern language, 1981; Threshold of Comprehensibility: a fourfold minimal system?, 1983; Development of Comprehension and Comprehension of Development, 1983; Forms of Presentation and the Future of Comprehension, 1984; Discovering richer patterns of comprehension to reframe polarization, 1998).
A particular concern has been its implication for viable organization (1983), integration (1991, 1995), social order (1994) -- also for policy-making (1994), values (1991), and problems (1999). Some of these issues have been explored from an aesthetic perspective (see below).
|Incomprehension: Given concerns regarding
lack of comprehension, one interest has been in the nature of ignorance
and incomprehension and how to work with its various manifestations, including
Networks of Incommensurable Concepts in Phased Cycles, 1988),
the indefinable (Ordering
the Undefinable: Identifying meaningful patterns of world problems,
1989), the art of disagreement (1986; Using
Disagreements for Superordinate Frame Configuration, 1992; and
as noted above), and the process of schism formation
Incomprehension was explored in a series of gatherings (The International School of Ignorance ?: an ongoing experiment in online dialogue meeting design, 1996). In that light, incomprehension has also been explored in terms of paradox (Antagonistic Dualities: Polarization and Paradox, 1983; Paradoxical merit of negative strategies, 1985; Aesthetic paradox of unitary comprehension, 1995; Dancing through Interfaces and Paradoxes: group alchemy, 1997; Evoking Authenticity: through polyhedral global configuration of local paradoxes, 2003).
A different approach that has been taken is through questions (Checklist of Nasty Questions: regarding development analyses and initiatives, 1981; 1993; Questions to which Many deserve Answers, 2000), notably in relation to the response to terrorism (911+ Questions in Seeking UnCommon Ground and protecting the Middle Way, 2001).
Facts (data, detail, evidence, technicity, linear) -- Aesthetics (mytho-poetic, contrafactual, visualization, non-linear, play)
|Facts: Matching the preoccupation with
information has been a concern with the kinds of data that could be usefully
collected and the appropriate level of (exhaustive) detail. The focus has
been on comprehensive data sets (see diversity above)
-- with an extensive investment in documenting networks, more recently
Associated with this focus has been a concern with the quality of that data, and the potential of more sophisticated levels of analysis (Preliminary Notes on the Mathematical Analysis of Networks of Psychosocial Entities in Order to Facilitate their Comprehension, 1975 *; 1976 *; Mathematical Challenge for Systems Science, 1995; Reframing Relationships as a Mathematical Challenge, 1997; Applying Mathematical Insights to Comprehension of World Problems, 1999; And When the Bombing Stops? Territorial conflict as a challenge to mathematicians, 2000), especially for networks (Feedback loop analysis in the Encyclopedia Project, 2000), and speculatively in terms of hyperspace (Hyperspace Clues to the Psychology of the Pattern that Connects in the light of 81 Tao Te Ching isights, 2003).
More recently this has led to a preoccupation with rules of evidence (Warping the Judgement of Dissenting Opinion: towards a general framework for comparing distortion in rules of evidence, 2002; Politicization of Evidence in the Plastic Turkey Era, 2003) and approaches to truth-handling in a media-dominated context of news management and spin (Complementary Truth-handling Strategies, 2003)
|Aesthetics: In contrast with the factual
approach, has been the recognition that comprehension is not facilitated
through exhaustive levels of detail, especially when data is constrained
to linear organization. One response to the challenge of succinctness has
been the exploration of visualization (Computer-aided
Visualization of Psycho-social Structures, 1971; Conceptual
Challenge of Visualization, 1992; Information
visualization and sonification: Displaying complexes of problems, strategies,
values and organizations, 2001) and mapping possibilities (Mapping
World Problems: illustrated by the case of IGOs and NGOs, 1972; Mapping
Possibilities in Response to Information Needs of Science Policy-making
for Development, 1978; The
Territory Construed as the Map, 1979; Network
Mapping: Clarification of Requirements, 1992; Mapping
the Network of Terror, 2002) -- notably emphasizing the aesthetic
to the art of disagreement, 1986; Aesthetics
of Governance in the Year 2490, 1990; Aesthetics
of Meaning, 1991; Aesthetic
paradox of unitary comprehension, 1995; Aesthetic
Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue as Exemplified by Meditation,
the Art of Navigating Conceptual Complexity: in search of software combining
artistic and conceptual insights, 1995; Aesthetics
and Informatics: Art of Information for Policy-making and Community-building,
Other approaches have included poetry (Poetry-making and Policy-making: arranging a marriage between Beauty and the Beast, 1993), notably the Tao Te Ching (Tao Te Ching Interpreted Succinctly: a 9-fold pattern of 81 insights presented as phrases, 2003), as well as music (Some Clues to Social Harmony from Music - a metaphor, 1993; Knowledge Gardening through Music, 2000; Structuring Mnemonic Encoding of Development Plans and Ethical Charters using Musical Leitmotivs, 2001; Musical Articulation of Pattern of Tao Te Ching Insights, 2003).
Another has been to experiment with contrafactual, "as if", approaches (including play) that enhance meaning -- even when this is not supported by facts (Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization: an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1971; (Gardening Sustainable Psycommunities: Recognizing the psycho-social integrities of the future, 1995; Convention on the Rights of the Child Within, 1997).
In addition, various exercises have been undertaken with mytho-poetic approaches -- using mythological and poetic associations to create a domain of coherence that sustains other forms of meaning and relationship. Provocative and satirical explorations have also been undertaken (Principles of the Conscientized International Expert: political correctness in international initiatives, 1979; Interplanetary Security Council: Nibiru-sponsored draft resolution on Earth, 2003; Arming Civil Society Worldwide, 2003)
Balance (justice, equality, balance, complementarity, legitimacy, democracy, rights, compassion)
-- Imbalance (injustice, inequality, imbalance)
|Balance: The focus of the editorial
research associated with the reference work of the Union of International
Associations is fundamentally dependent on recognition of the complementarity
of disparate human activities -- of how the solution favoured by one international
organization, in response to challenges of society, gives rise to a problem
which is the preoccupation of another. The challenge has been how to develop
understanding of balance and complementarity (International
Organization Networks: a complementary perspective, 1977; Tensed
Networks: Balancing and focusing network dynamics in response to networking
diseases, 1978; Implementing
Principles by Balancing Configurations of Functions: a tensegrity organization
approach, 1979; Alternating
between Complementary Conditions, 1983; Spherical
Configuration of Categories to Reflect Systemic Patterns of Environmental
Checks and Balances, 1994; Sustainable
Development: a system of 14 complementary concepts, 1994; Policy
Options for Civil Society through Complementary Contrasts, 1994; Typology
of 12 complementary strategies, 1998; Complementary
Patterns of Meaningful Truth and the Interface between Alternative Variants,
Complementary Languages for Sustainable Governance, 2003)
With respect to legal structure, this has taken the form of work on the legal status of international nongovernmental organizations (1988; 1996), the misapplication of legal norms (1994), and human rights (Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization: an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1971; 1997).
In relation to the challenges of governance, the problems and possibilities of democracy have been a focus (Participative Democracy vs. Participative Drama: lessons on social transformation for international organizations from Gorbachev, 1991; AWOL: American Way Of Life: Assumptions -- justifying worldwide imposition of democratic imperialism, 2003; Arming Civil Society Worldwide: Getting democracy to work in the emergent American Empire?, 2003; Practicalities of Participatory Democracy with International Institutions: Attitudinal, Quantitative and Qualitative Challenges, 2003).
The concern with justice has recently focused on terrorism (Justice and Terrorism, 2001; Warping the Judgement of Dissenting Opinion: towards a general framework for comparing distortion in rules of evidence, 2002).
|Imbalance: The focus from 1972 on profiling over 30,000 world problems (see below) has essentially been a focus on identifying inequity and imbalance in every field of human activity and concern.|
Problems (negatives, bias, criticism, denial) -- Potential (positives, appreciation)
|Problems: Associated with the interest
in disagreement (see above), there has been a long-term
commitment to work with problematic materials, initially in the form of
the documentation of "world problems" perceived by international
constituencies (see Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential, 1976, 1995). This extended
into work on the strategies deployed in response to such problems, notably
in the light of fundamental strategic dilemmas (1995)
and the possibility of configuring opposing strategic initiatives in fruitful
This critical perspective has also been deployed in response to uncritical perspectives (Limits to Human Potential, 1976; NGOs and Civil Society: Realities and Distortions, 1994; Transdisciplinarity through Structured Dialogue: Beyond sterile dualities in meetings to the challenge of participant impotence, 1994; Misappropriation of words of power, 1995; Interacting Fruitfully with Un-Civil Society: the dilemma for non-civil society organizations, 1996; Distorted Understandings of Synthesis: Reconfiguring the challenge of wholeness, 1997; Undermining Open Civil Society: Reinforcing unsustainable restrictive initiatives, 1999; Arming Civil Society Worldwide, 2003; Global Civil Society: strategic comments on the path ahead, 2003).
A particular concern has been conceptual manipulation and definitional game-playing (Language Games, 1995) and the constraints of bias (Anti-Developmental Biases in Thesaurus Design, 1981). As noted above, this perspective gave rise to sessions of an International School of Ignorance (1996) over a period of years (198-1998 *?), to concern with the "unsaid" and to a highly critical approach to the evidence associated with "terrorism" and how it is conceived.
|Potential: The Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential was deliberately designed
to offset the documentation of "problems" by information
on the variety of dimensions of human potential (1991),
to build a relationship between them (Phases
of human development through challenging problems, 1991), and
to demonstrate its relevance (1991).
A related concern has been with how external problems are embodied (Liberation of Integration through pattern, oscillation, harmony and embodiment, 1980; Embodiment in patterns of alternation, 1991; Personal Globalization, 2001; Embodying the Sphere of Change, 2001; Psychology of Sustainability: Embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002; My Reflecting Mirror World: making Joburg worthwhile, 2002).
A distinct approach has been a form of appreciative inquiry into the potential represented by various collective alternative initiatives (Challenges to Learning from the Swadhyaya Movement, 1995; Gardening Sustainable Psycommunities: Recognizing the psycho-social integrities of the future, 1995; Dancing through Interfaces and Paradoxes: group alchemy, 1997; Renaissance Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community, 2003) and the high-tech global extreme (Simulating a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values, 2001). The potential in the personal development of the individual (see personal above) has also been explored (see notably Authentic Grokking: Emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003)
- / -
Reflection on the themes repeatedly explored at different times in the collection of papers on this site suggests that they might be usefully clustered in terms of particular polarities (rather than in terms of the 35 themes on the website menu). This approach is somewhat consistent with that used by W T Jones (The Romantic Syndrome: Toward a New Method in Cultural Anthropology and History of Ideas. 1961) and discussed elsewhere. As mentioned in the papers, the emphasis on polarities has also been developed in relation to tensegrity (Transcending Duality through Tensional Integrity, 1978; Implementing Principles by Balancing Configurations of Functions, 1979), value polarities (1991), and strategic dilemmas (1992, 1995), including their mapping (1992). Each of the polar topics above effectively describes, a particular journey that interweaves with others. For that reason, some items may be listed under more than one polarity.
The approach is seen as suggesting a methodology that could be applied to other bodies of work. In a separate paper (Configuring Conceptual Polarities in Questing: metaphoric pointers to self-reflexive coherence, 2004) the set of polarities is then explored, as a challenge to comprehension, through a set of complementary metaphors that may usefully point to the nature of that higher order. The metaphors are then used to clarify the nature and intent of the writing process itself.
A previous attempt to configure the above papers explored use of concentric circles divided into sectors (In Search of Transformational Pathways: bibliography of studies conducted from 1962 to 1981 under the auspices of the UIA and Mankind 2000, 1981).
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