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31 December 2015 | Draft

Identifying the Root Cause Focus of Radical Identity

Reframing the complex space of radicalisation dynamics

-- / --

Ordering multiple competing quests for radical causes
Metaphorical frame offered by the periodic table of chemical elements
Metaphorical frame offered by the relationship between hydrogen and helium as fundamental extremes
Metaphorical frame offered by an 8x8 configuration typical of board games
Metaphorical frame offered by 8x8 encoding patterns in Chinese tradition
Metaphorical frame offered by 8x8 patterns comprehensible as "logical"
Metaphorical frame offered by insight from an 8x8 magic square
Metaphorical frame offered by understandings of axes of bias
Beyond the tabular plan in a global context

Annex to Coming Out as a Radical -- or Coming In? Risks of cultivating negative capability in a caliphate of normality (2015)


Following the discussion of the failure in the analysis of root causes as presented in the main paper Coming Out as a Radical -- or Coming In? (2015), it is appropriate to explore other ways of understanding and exploring the challenge of the radical and the extreme. One particular speculative approach is presented separately (Radical Localization in a Global Systemic Context: distinguishing normality using playing card suits as a pattern language, 2015).

The focus here is the exploration of a variety of metaphorical frameworks through which "radical" might be understood otherwise, most notably in terms of a dynamic inspired by a post-Newtonian sense of nonlocality. The question raised is the nature of radical identity as a consequence of a radicalisation process understood more generally as a learning process typical of progressively enhanced creativity and self-reflexivity -- effectively of self-development. The argument follows from previous discussion of the Radicalisation of Existence and Identity, (2015) and the implications of uncritical demonisation (Radicalisation versus Demonisation? 2015).

Ordering multiple competing quests for radical causes

Part of the difficulty in the quest for root causes -- notably as a focus of radical identification -- is the multiplicity of approaches to doing so, and the questionable relationship between them. In a section on Towards a conceptual framework of futures, the challenge is usefully framed by Dennis List (Scenario Network Mapping: the development of a methodology for social inquiry University of South Australia, 2005). He focuses on the contrasting recognition of "layers" in the quest for root causes, thereby framing his own preference for a 3-layered model:

[Sohail] Inayatullah (1998), in his version of Causal Layered Analysis (CLA), distinguishes four layers. Slaughter (2002b) uses three layers, Hollinshead (2002) lists seven, and Japanese writers on quality management (Imai, 1986; Mizuno, 1988) use five in their Root Cause Analysis - but all the purposes and contexts are slightly different , and this hemispherical model is not quite the same as CLA. The precise number of layers, if they are viewed as holons, is arbitrary. In earlier versions (List, 2002 and List, 2003) this model had four layers, the last two of which were labelled values and worldviews, but after finding it not possible to separate these in the case studies... Occam's Razor was wielded. (p. 121)

Dennis List structures his 3-layered model in terms of a hemisphere, with Layer 1 as the outermost sphere:

To summarize the hemispherical model, Events (Layer 1) are driven by Motives (Layer 2) which in turn are driven by Values (Layer 3). It is important to note that the terms Events, Motives and Values are simply portmanteau labels for mixtures of concepts that have no single word in English. Thus Events includes situations and processes; motives include intentions (not necessarily explicit) and attitudes, and Values range from attitudes almost to instincts. The chief criterion for the latitudinal placement of a concept on the hemisphere is its temporal duration. The lengthening duration of drivers in the lower layers may be associated with some qualitative difference: in particular, with less cognitive content and more affective content. The principle is that it is more difficult for actors to change at the lower layers than at the upper layers. Because this is untestable empirically, the claim of this thesis is simply that the concept of a layered hemisphere is a useful construct in anticipating futures. (p. 127)

Given the remarkable failure to identify and address root causes effectively, most notably with respect to terrorism, the question raised is whether the very multiplicity of models is itself indicative of a failure of method -- since each model frames itself as unique and claims special insight into identification of root causes. This is of course partly a reflection of the academic mode and the extreme importance it attaches to originality. This necessarily requires a degree of marginalization, if not deprecation, of preceding and alternative approaches. This issue is not effectively addressed thereby potentially clarifying the current difficulty in the identification of root causes.

There is therefore a case for taking what is "on the table" in terms of a range of approaches (methods, cognitive "languages", etc) -- together with the distinctions of "layers" they variously offer -- as the basis for a framework through which to approach the nature of root causes, and the possibility of engaging effectively with them. Such a framework should necessarily provide for other cognitive "modes" and "models" which may be engendered in future quests for rott causes. The pattern might then take a form somewhat resembling the following. Of particular relevance is Layer 0 in which the two recognized modes are that of the norms and that of the radicals -- between which there are no viable or acceptable intervening conditions.

Competing quests for radical causes
  Mode 1 Mode 2 Mode 3 Mode 4 Mode 5 ... Mode N
Layer 0 "Normal" Cognitive "No man's land" "Radical"
Layer 1              
Layer 2              
Layer N              

The purpose of such a framework is not one of premature closure on the number or nature of the "modes", nor on the number of layers they distinguish. Rather the purpose is to incorporate any such premature closure as part of the challenge of the quest for root causes.

Metaphorical frame offered by the periodic table of chemical elements

Framed in this way there is a curiously fruitful resemblance to the structure of that periodic table as depicted below.

Periodic table of chemical elements
(Reproduced from Wikipedia)
Periodic table of chemical elements

As a source of insight into relating "normal" and "radical", it is appropriate to recall that the table does not exist in nature. It is a pattern articulated by the human mind to order understanding of the dynamic relationships between the totality of variously distinctive elements identified in nature -- elements which may react very strongly to each other, possibly to the point of not being able to coexist in their natural form.

A further indication in elaborating such a framework is the number of "Modes" or "Layers" that can be fruitfully distinguished -- given the capacity of the human mind for making such distinctions. A major pointer in this respect is the seminal paper of George Miller (The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: some limits on our capacity for processing information, Psychological Review 63, 1956, 2, pp. 81-97). This was a basis for a study of the size of sets distinguished in a wide variety of domains (Representation, Comprehension, and Communication of Sets: the role of number, 1979; Patterns of N-foldness: comparison of integrated multi-set concept schemes as forms of presentation, 1980).

The understanding and representation of the periodic table of elements is notably valuable precisely because it is a matter of continuing investigation 150 years after its first elaboration (D. H. Rouvray and R. Bruce King, The Mathematics of the Periodic Table, 2005; Guillermo Restrepo and Leonardo A. Pachón, Mathematical Aspects of the Periodic Law, 2006). Both the claimed certainities and the challenging uncertainities in that enterprise -- despite its preoccupation with physical reality -- offer indications of value with respect to exploring any fruitful framework relating "Normal" and "Radical" in the quest for root causes in the intangibles of "virtual reality". In its description, Wikipedia offers sections both on alternative structures and on open questions and controversies. The periodic table is thus a "work in progress" -- even with respect to tangible matters.

It was in the light of the guidance potentially offered by that complex framework that it was variously used in exploration of the classification of knowledge and experience (Functional Classification in an Integrative Matrix of Human Preoccupations, 1982; Tuning a Periodic Table of Religions, Epistemologies and Spirituality: including the sciences and other belief systems, 2007). As with those exercises, the particular complexities of the periodic table (lanthanides, actinides, and the position of hydrogen and helium) are set aide. In this sense "hydrogen" and "helium" as modalities (of Layer 0, above) are absorbed into Layer 1, as characteristic of the respective modalities of that layer (as understood in the case of the periodic table of elements).

The periodic table is especially valuable in explicitly recognizing the nesting of distinct "shells" with respect to those at the top of the table (hydrogen and helium). This suggests that the distinctive cognitive "layers" should be understood as spherical rather than as hemispherical (as proposed by List). The modalities then correspond to the progressive "filling" of those shells.

Metaphorical frame offered by the relationship between hydrogen and helium as fundamental extremes

The table notably isolates two extremes at the highest level, namely the elements hydrogen and helium, whose interaction is perhaps appropriately fundamental to the intense dynamics in the interior of the Sun. Some three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen; the rest is mostly helium; in its interior, nuclear fusion has modified the composition by converting hydrogen into helium, such that it is now roughly 60% helium.

Clearly the current relationship between Normal and Radical merits understanding in some such terms, especially to the extent that each seeks to eliminate the other -- a cycle which may well benefit from insight into the dynamics between such elements within the Sun. That said, the framework should necessarily leave open the extent to which it is either Normal or Radical which might be usefully associated with hydrogen or helium.

An understanding of "going solar", as an exercise in technomicry, is considered separately (Psychosocial Implication of Without Within: enjoying going solar for oneself, 2015). That argument followed from exploration of the extent to which much that is held to be "external" and "objective" can be fruitfully explored as a projection of an "internal", "subjective" form of comprehension. The significance of the terms used with regard to this possibility is itself necessarily questionable, with the process of "defining" in effect calling for "refining" -- "definition" for "refinition". Any discussion of the possibility is necessarily challenged by paradox, as discussed previously (¡¿ Defining the objective 8 Refining the subjective ?!: Explaining reality 8 Embodying realization, 2011).

Provocatively and succinctly framed, this possibility follows from the innovative Renaissance insights of Marsilio Ficino regarding the "planets within" (Composing the Present Moment: celebrating the insights of Marsilio Ficino interpreted by Thomas Moore, 2001). It is also potentially consistent with the work of Joseph Campbell (The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: metaphor as myth and as religion, 1986) and of ecophilosopher Henryk Skolimowski (The Participatory Mind: a new theory of knowledge and of the universe, 1994). The argument has many affinities with Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

The possibility has previously been explored otherwise (En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself: eliciting the potential of globalization through cognitive radicalization, 2011; World Introversion through Paracycling: global potential for living sustainably "outside-inside", 2013; Personal Globalization, 2001; Existential Embodiment of Externalities: radical cognitive engagement with environmental categories and disciplines, 2009; Degrees of Cognitive Engagement with Interrelated Global Categories, 2009). The latter document relates the approach to a range of specific issues in the global problematique: hunger, pollution, unemployment, etc.

Metaphorical frame offered by an 8x8 configuration typical of board games

Respectful of the constraints on human cognitive capacity in practice, especially within any collective, the focus can then be switched to the potential of an 8x8 configuration (for example) -- especially given the familiarity of patterns of this order of complexity (chess, snakes and ladders, draughts/checkers). It is noteworthy that these games embody the challenge between two parties ("us" and "them"), echoing that between "Normals" and "Radicals" -- as do many team sports. Chess in particular is recognized as one of a range of abstract strategy games (Game complexity; List of abstract strategy games)

As such game examples indicate, the "other" is readily to be framed as a deadly enemy seeking the vanquishment and destruction of "us" -- the norms -- of "our" very identity in the scheme of things. Of course both sides hold that view -- however unreasonable this obssevation may be held to be by either side. It is in this respect that some means of encoding the 8x8 pattern is appropriate, if it enables discussion about such paradoxical certainties -- clearly mutually incompatible in the most fundamntal sense.

Chess, as with a number of other such games, has long been valued as a guide to strategic thinking. It offersd a framing notably used in the much-translated study by Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives, 1998). Comparison of chess and go was central to argument of Scott Boorman (The Protracted Game: a wei ch'i approach to Mao's revolutionary strategy, 1971). Use of the metaphor can be considered more generally (Playing the Great Game with Intelligence: authority versus the people, 2013; James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: : a vision of life as play and possibility, 1986).

Metaphorical frame offered by 8x8 encoding patterns in Chinese tradition

Any simple enumeration of Modes or Layers in the pattern of the periodic table, is not particularly helpful in this respect. Potentially more interesting is the use of the binary-based encoding long a feature of Chinese culture, namely the pattern of 8 trigrams constituting the Ba Gua. Here the assumption would be that human civilization can only engender and sustain some 8 distinctive modalities, languages or cognitive styles -- namely 7 plus/minus 2. With respect to religion, the "reaonableness" of such a set of distinctions is evident from the work of Stephen Prothero (God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World -- and why their differences matter, 2010). The pattern within such constraints, can be explored more generally, as summarized with respect to a number of studies (Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993).

Using the Ba Gua encoding, this might then give rise to an 8x8 pattern such as the following -- necessarily recalling the various 8x8 presentations of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, presented separately (Strategic Patterns in terms of Knowing, Feeling and Action, 2008). That 8x8 patterning could be understood as a form of "periodic table" -- but with respect to intangible matters. Four such patterns are traditionally distinguished: Fu Xi; Jing Fang; King Wen; Mawangdui). These have been combined here as an animation.

Animation combining Fu Xi; Jing Fang; King Wen; Mawangdui
Animation combining Fu Xi; Jing Fang; King Wen; Mawangdui

In the above, one set of 8 trigrams is used as the upper trigram of a given hexagram (namely the colums of the 8x8 matrix), another as the lower trigram (the rows of the matrix). No effort has seemingly been made to reconcile these alternative patterns within a larger scheme, whatever the insights they may respectively encode

Of relevance here are the various ways in which the abstract encoding might be interpreted (irrespective of its Chinese origins):

Metaphorical frame offered by 8x8 patterns comprehensible as "logical"

The alternative interpretations above variously frame discussion of the elusive location of root cause. However, rather then immediately seeking inspiration from the traditional (Eastern) patterns above, a more "logical" approach (from a Western perspective) can be explored in terms of the following. The Eastern subtleties of order may imply challenges better postponed.

Metaphorical frame offered by 8x8 patterns comprehensible as "logical"
    Disagreement (potentially deadly) with any alternative perspective    
(external superficiality)
(internal superficiality)
Increasing "objective" conviction regarding the simplicity of reality as explained Metaphorical frame offered by 8x8 patterns comprehensible as 'logical' Increasing "subjective" conviction regarding the simplicity of internal reality as experienced
Increasing "objective" insight offering comprehensible explanation of complex reality of phenomena
-- employing a radical perfspective
Increasing "subjective" insight enabling embodiment of more subtle fundamental reality through radical belief
Radical objectivity
(fundamental insight
into tangible reality)
    Radical subjectivity
(fundamental insight
into intangible reality)
  Fundamental philosophical and existential disagreement
(potentially empowering righteous conflict)

In this case the 8 upper and 8 lower trigrams are positioned according to their decodification in binary terms, with unbroken line as 1 and broken line as 0. The set of trigrams then runs from 000 to 111 or from 111 to 000 (although the reverse might also be explored). In the example above, the lower trigrams are constant for each row and the upper trigrams are constant for each column, thus offering a more readily evident logic to the pattern.

The pattern above is immediately suggestive of the set of corresponding patterns of which it is part. This is evident through the presentation of only the corners of each (with Frame A corresponding to that above). The transpositions between each necessarily imply corresponding transpositions between the absent intermediary positions. Interpretation of each pattern can then be understood as indicative of a contrasting story regarding the relationship between "Normal" and "Radical". *** Jones ****

8 Framings interrelating contrasting understandings of "Normal" and "Radical"
  Frame A  
Explanatory coherence of observed phenomena alleviating uncertainity Apparent incoherence ordered by internal belief
Recognition by physics of fundamental uncertanity and paradox underlying externalities Coherence enabled by identification with fundamental belief transcending explanation
  Frame B  
Adaptation to explanatory incoherence and inconsistencies of observed phenomena Apparent incoherence ordered by internal belief
Recognition by physics of fundamental uncertanity and paradox underlying externalities Coherence inherent in identification with transcendental fundamental belief
  Frame C  
  Frame D  
  Frame E  
Explanatory coherence of observed phenomena alleviating uncertainity  
  Frame F  
  Coherence enabled by identification with fundamental belief transcending explanation
  Frame G  
  Apparent incoherence ordered by internal belief
Recognition by physics of fundamental uncertainity and paradox underlying externalities  
  Frame H  
Recognition by physics of fundamental uncertainity and paradox underlying externalities  

As is evident from the intensity of current framings of the conflict between normal and radical, the relationship transcends any conventional logic. Each may well frame the other as completely unreasonable, nonsensical, a traitor to human values, if not inherently inhuman -- an existential challenge to the sense of reality and identity evoking every form of defence. This is nuanced and reframed outside logic (at least to some degree) by the attraction of otherness in some situations -- romance, tourism, competitive sport -- provided these differences are not unduly disruptive ("radical"?), however that is framed as reasonable ("normal"?). The nuancing may well be associated with inherent assumptions of superiority -- of greater comprehension of what is "right" and appropriate.

As noted above, the relationship across the matrix resembles that across a chess board or between "sides" on a sports field (as with opposing teams defending goals or making points against each other). It is however of greater complexity in that there is also conflict on each side -- within each side. This conflict within may well be as threatening as the conflict across, although the nature of any "death" may be distinct.

At its simplest, there is the binary conflict between "normal" and "radical" offering no possibility of reconciliation -- as with matter and anti-matter. This is the primary fpocus of much current debate, between opposing parties in parliament, and as the "clash of civilizations": we are right, they are wrong. However any sense of complexity within either side, introduces a conflict between those claiming (the need for) greater comprehension of whatever is too readily framed as simple (obscuring any more fundamental insight):

This then frames the four extreme corners of any of the frames above. Further difficulties arise from assumptions "across the table" conflating differences, or from confusing degrees of comprehension amongst those on the other side of the table. Typical of this would be the aggravated conflict between the simplest tangible focus and that of the subtlest intangible focus -- or that between the most complex tangible focus and that of the simplest intangible focus. These could be represented by diagonals "across the table" in any of the frames above. It recalls the sense, in tennis for example, in which advantage over the other may be sought by "playing to the other hand".

Animation of 8 framings (above)
Animation of 8 framings
Animations indicative of dynamics of assumptions in animation above (tentative)
Pattern A Pattern B Pattern C
Animation indicative of dynamics of assumptions Animation indicative of dynamics of assumptions Animation indicative of dynamics of assumptions

Metaphorical frame offered by insight from an 8x8 magic square

There is the possibility of a higher order of significance through the manner in which it an 8x8 pattern recalls the extensive mathematical preoccupation with the organization of so-called magic squares, as discussed separately (Salvation Enabled by Systemic Comprehension -- via aesthetics of magic squares? 2015). The interest lies in patterns of different numbers in which the rows, columns and diagonals total to the same magic constant. As discussed there, this may have significance for the structure of comprehensible agreements and coherent forms of social order.

That argument was inspired by the interest of Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father of the USA central to the articulation of its Constitution. He is also known for his interest and innovations with regard to magic squares (William H. Richardson, Ben Franklin's 8x8 Magic Square, Wichita State University; Ben Franklin's Amazing Magic Square [including animation], Wichita State University).

In the light of the above argument, the approach taken here is to use the binary equivalent of the numbers conventionally presented in such squares (left hand image below). These numbers total to the magic constant of 260 whose binary equivalent is 100000100. The hexagram equivalent can then be elaborated from the binary number (right hand image below). Note that the binary equivalent of 64 (1000000) is interpreted as 000000 in elaborating the hexagram representation. Of some relevance, in this respect is the naming of hexagram 63 in the I Ching as "after completion", and that of hexagram 64 as "before completion".

Notable 8x8 magic square of Benjamin Franklin
rows and columns each total to 260, as do the "bent diagonals" in the animation below
Attribution of numbers with addition of binary equivalent Representation of binary numbers using Chinese encoding
Notable 8x8 magic square of Benjam Franklin: binary equivalent Notable 8x8 magic square of Benjam Franklin: Chinese encoding
Animations of movement of selected bent diagonals
Vertical movement Combined movement Horizontal movement
Animation of vertical movement of Franklin's bent diagonals Animation of combined movement of Franklin's bent diagonals Animation of horizontal movement of Franklin's bent diagonals

The question raised is whether magic square organization offers new insight into the challenging conflictual relationship between "Normal" and "Radical".

Metaphorical frame offered by understandings of axes of bias

A useful way of considering the extreme forms of bias implied by the above is the philosophical work of W. T. Jones (The Romantic Syndrome: toward a new method in cultural anthropology and the history of ideas, 1961). His focus on the identification of a set of "axes of biases" is concerned with elaborating a methodology to deal with strongly held differences in any debate. It could be understood as a form of decodification of variants of the normal-versus-radical debate. His interest was provoked by the unending academic debate on the definition of the "romantic period" -- hence the title of the book. As discussed separately, as extended to both the sciences and the arts, is one way of understanding the different pre-logical emphases which people and cultures may bring to any debate -- prior to any "rational" discussion on substance (Requisite Variety to Encompass Multidimensional Identity, 2009; Differences in Style of Artistic and Policy Endeavour, 1984).

The biases are not mutually exclusive.

Beyond the tabular plan in a global context

The dynamic complexity variously suggested by the metaphorical framings highlight the inadequacy of any presentation in tabular form -- however convenient for 2-dimensional communication. The issues have been explored further under the following headings:

These point to the need to shift to another geometrical framework -- consistent with "global" understanding, especially in its integrative sense. Intriguing in this respect, however counterintuitive, is the transformative relationship between sphere and torus as illustrated by the animation below.

The quest for the locus of radical causes might be more appropriately associated with a toroidal framework, as separately discussed (Comprehension of Requisite Variety for Sustainable Psychosocial Dynamics: transforming a matrix classification onto intertwined tori, 2006; Implication of Toroidal Transformation of the Crown of Thorns: design challenge to enable integrative comprehension of global dynamics, 2011).

Of potential relevance to the possibility of comprehension, the torus may be used as a representation of harmonic space. A piece of music moves around in this space [more]. The results of psychoacoustic experiments of the inter-key relations of all major and minor keys can be represented geometrically on a torus (C L Krumhansl and E J Kessler (Tracing the dynamic changes in perceived tonal organization in a spatial representation of musical keys, Psychological Review, 89, 1982, 4, pp. 334-368). This is shown in the image on the right below (Benjamin Blankertz, et al., Constant Q Profiles and Toroidal Models of Inter-Key Relations -- ToMIR, 1999).

Torus-Sphere transformation
(reproduced from Wikipedia entry)
Geometric representation of the inter-key relations
of all major and minor keys

(derived from psychoacoustic experiments by Krumhansl and Kessler)
Torus-Sphere transformation

Geometric representation of the inter-key relations of all major and minor keys in music

The argument may be taken further by considering the metaphorical implications of the design challenges of the ITER toroidal nuclear fusion reactor currently under construction, as presented separately (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006). The design issue could then be framed in terms of how contrasting metaphors (such as those above) could ensure that the "plasma" (from which power is derived) does not enter into contact with the toroidal container.

Much is made in the promotion of ITER that it will enable humanity to benefit directly from the "power of the Sun" (Fusion For Energy: bringing the power of the sun to earth). This is in reference to the complex energy-engendering relationship in the plasma between hydrogen and helium through their isotopes (deuterium and tritium). Given the reference to them above as indicative in metaphorical terms of the challenging relationship between "normal" and "radical", there is a case for recognizing the possibility that an appropriate design to contain them (as "plasma") would enable access to unforeseen levels of psychosocial energy, as indicated separately (Massive Elicitation of Psychosocial Energy: requisite technology for collective enlightenment, 2011).

Current efforts by normals to eliminate radicals, or by radicals to eliminate normals, are then to be understood as inadequately contained features of this process (Norms in the Global Struggle against Extremism "rooting for" normalization vs. "rooting out" extremism? 2005; Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014).

Radical identification and radical identity as a paradoxical challenge

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