Concept Factors in Concept Scheme Integration
GPID as a case study
- / -
Prepared for the Integrative Workshop Meeting (Alfaz del Pi, 1980) of the Goals,
Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University.
The concepts governing the GPID project itself (see Annex 0) are used as the basis
for a case study in an exercise exploring the possibilities of a more systematic
approach to concept integration in complex projects. [searchable PDF version
This paper is a necessarily tentative exercise in applying the approach,
in a previous paper (1 ), to a specific case.
The case is the concept scheme
of the UN University's Goals, Processes and Indications of Development (GPID)
Project of its Human and Social
Development Programme. By the very
of the approach, it calls for a special form of presentation. For this reason
the paper is split into several parts.
Background material collected in
support of this paper, and intended as annexes to it, has been produced as
annexes to a separate paper (2 ) which briefly discusses their significance.
The annex therein (Annex 0) concerning the GPID concept scheme will be
referred to here as though it was an annex to this paper.
In the body of this paper an argument is developed which is based on
A formalized presentation arising from the argument is presented here in
Annex 1. As will be seen, the argument
here is influenced to varying degrees
by the nature and ordering of concept schemes developed for other schemes
embedded in psycho-cultural frameworks and philosophies. It is these which
are presented in the annexes to the separate paper (2 ). It must be
as is clarified in the earlier paper (11), that this material has been
assembled as an indication of the ways in which the human mind has tended to
distinguish concepts in relatively large or abstract sets.
As will become evident, the argument in the main part cannot be
presented in a linear fashion. For this
reason transfer paints are indi-
cated where relevant at the end of
certain sections [namely the next point
to which readers could move on first
reading), or at the beginning of
sections [namely points from which
they have been referred elsewhere in the
Since the paper is about the problem of the necessary progression in
standing and comprehension when faced with unfamiliar and elusive concept
sets, there is a sense in which the paper has to
be read several times so
that the patterns of meaning interlinking non-linearly the different portions
of text can be used to reduce the ambiguity of any particular concepts at
different pointsin the pattern. There
is therefore an iterative approach to
understanding GPID concepts through the approach of this paper, although (it
is to be hoped) the argument of the latter should not create such difficulties.
The form of presentation is the main "message" here. It is hoped that through
this form readers will be challenged by their own ability to comprehend
what GPID attempts to encompass.
Completeness of the GPID sets
The argument which follows assumes that the various concept sets in the
GPID scheme are complete. By this is meant that the sets are not
as open to inclusion of additional concepts.
Thus the set:"goals, processes,
indicators, tools" is not considered to have a vacant "slot"
into which a
fifth concept can be inserted. This may
not later prove to be true of all the
sets, but unless the situtation is left explicitly open-ended it will be
assumed that any such development is from one complete set to another complete
set. An example of "ambiguity" is
to be found in the addition of "study
groups" to the set of 24 "sub-projects". This will be discussed further.
Associated with the notion of completeness is that of symmetry. It is also
assumed that GPID sets are symmetrical, namely that a set of 8 does not
have, for example, 5 closely related elements with the 3 extra elements only
related to the fifth. Whilst sets with
such "trailing" concepts may well
have an important role in some
instances, they are assumed to be beyond the
immediate concerns of GPID.
The necessity for having complete sets does not arise from a concern for
conceptual elegance or tidiness. Completeness is vital to the objective of
GPID. A concept set concerning some aspect of the "development of people"
can only be left set deliberately incomplete if the omitted concepts are adequately
dealt with in some non-GPID project, and the GPID set is conceived as a conceptual
comple- ment. If this is implicit, rather than explicit, the GRID set runs
the risk of being perceived as incomplete, thus exposing GRID to the charge
of in- adequacy and irresponsibility. On the other hand, if the GRID sets
are deli- berately incomplete [and asymmetric), in order to concentrate resources
on particular foci for strategic or tactical reasons in the intellectual arena,
care must also be taken - particularly if circumstances may change so as to
de-emphasize the importance of the selected foci.
As was discussed in the previous paper (1), completeness results from a usually
protracted struggle for a good conceptual "fit". As the project
evolves, an existing set [A] may be revised because a more compactly inter-
related set [B] has been elaborated. Part of the purpose of this paper is
to clarify how A was comprehended as complete.before the possibility of B
was comprehended. For however successful GPID is, some people in comprehending
wherever it gets to will have to progress in a succession of learning stages
through comprehension of sets such as A.
Key to GPID integration
A conventional approach to integration is to juxtapose the parts and then
to consider how they may be interrelated. This bears some resemblance to
an effort to fit "Humpty Dumpty together again". For even if all
the parts can be appropriately positioned and "glued", there is
a major step between correct assembly and viable function - unless it is assumed
that GPID is dealing with a mechanical system (which can be "turned on"),
rather than en organic one. A more interesting point of departure is to assume,
as is stated on the back of the Last [Updated) Whole Earth Catalog (1974)
that: "We can't put it together; it is together". We could then
usefully focus attention on our difficulty in comprehending and communcating
the nature of the developmental whole within which we are already all embedded.
One possible approach is then to look at the way we have tended conceptually
to take it apart (for whatever purposes we share). How we have done so is
fairly well signposted by the concept sets that have been elaborated in the
course of the development of GRID itself - although that development process
should of course not be assumed to be linear. It is the conceptual wholes
(sets), within which different elements have in their turn been treated
as wholes (sub-sets), which provide a key to the integration of GRID. This
is how the sub-projects arose, and how the concept sets within the sub-projects
arose and how more detailed sets will arise as work progresses. Can this
non- linear development be retraced from its origin?
Argument (Part I)
1. The first task is to determine the one category which determines the pre-
occupations exemplified in the many sub-categores of the ocncept system in
question. From Annex 0, this may be taken to be "development".
However several reasons prevent this term form being defined unambiguously
at this point:
a rigid definition would be of limited value in a project designed to
clarify such a definition.
- a rigid definition, even at the termination of the project, would necessarily
oppose any subsequent defintion refinement and would compete with any definition
formulated in parallel.
the terms used in any such definition have themselves to be defined.
- irrespective of whether the terms used have been defined or not, there
remains a problem of comprehending them. There are three aspects of this
- the problem of the specialist familiar with previous initiatives and
needing to transfer between "jargons" (with their possible ideological
- the problem of the non-specialist attemting to penetrate the the special
significance of such terminology.
- the problem of the person from another language/cultural framework
within which such terms cannot be provided with meaningful equivalents.
- it is questionable whether those participating in any such exercise can
define rationally the category which binds them across their rational differences
and beyond any superficial agreements of the moment. (Could fish agree on
the presence or nature of water?)
The category will therefore be labelled here in the form [development]1.
By this is meant that a domain or mind-set has been envisaged prior to any
qualifications or distinctions. This is indicated by the brackets. The cade
within the bracket is there as a necessarily vague indication of the meaning
to be associated with the bracketed domeain. The word is merely a convenient
reminder which may be more or less successfully associated with the bracketed
domain by different persons [during a learning process). It may be argued
that the use of brackets adds nothing to the everyday manner in which "development"
is discussed. However here they are a specific reminder of the confusion
concealed by the apparent ease of such discussion. In fact the intent of
this approach could as well be illustrated by avoiding any use of the word
and representing the concept domain as : [...]1
Namely the first (and only) category in a concept set of one element. At
this level no distinction can be made between kinds or factors of development
2.1 The second task is to examine what subsequently emerges from a first
distinction made between two types of development (the minimum case). From
Annex 0, the terms used are (positive?) "development" and "mal-development".
These can be expressed as
[development]2 and [mal-development]2
Note that [development]2 is necessarily different from [development]1
wherein Kinds of development are not distinguished.
[development]1 encompasses [mal-development]2, whereas
[development]2 excludes it.
But the bracketed terms should not distract from the possibility that other
verbal first distinctions might have been made:
balanced development vs imbalanced development
evolutivedevelopment vs involutivedevelopment
progressivedevelopment vs regressivedevelopment
indulgent, unconstrained development vs restrained, conditioned development
It is the synthesis of this set of meanings which is denoted by [development]2
vs [maldevelopment]2. It is this basic two-fold distinction which
engenders the energizing or driving force of the GRID project.
2.2 It is appropriate to consider the implications of Annex 1 (2 ) at this
point with regard to the notion of a two-fold operator. Young argues that
this may be associated with directionality in "time". This relates
more to the distinction between progressive vs retrogressive development,
or evolutive vs involutive. His argument -- that rather than oppose "negative"
time to "positive", it is more fruitful to use "inverse time"
-- is extremely valuable. For the weakness with [development]2
vs [maldevelopment]2 is firstly that it is too closely associated
with "good development" vs "bad development" before the
concept scheme has even been elaborated to the point at which such evaluative
distinctions can be clearly drawn. And, secondly, there is the risk of an
immature connotation whereby "development" is believed to be un-
fettered and that any constraint is viewed as a hindrance to be associated
with "maldevelopment" of some kind.
This is a simplistic "eternal summer time" concept of development.
Constraints are required to ensure appropriate development of an individual
as well as of any species in an ecosystem. For such reason [development]2
should also include the "blind spot" of its own unconstrained excess,
whilst [maldevelopment]2 should include the neglected constraining
factors important to development as a balancing process between the two extremes.
The tendency to view constraints as "bad" or "problematic"
is however to be expected, just as is the drive to overcome them -- a drive
which is essential to the development process, as reflection on the static
nature of a problem-free society will show. For these reasons, [maldevelopment]
is replaced by [restrained development] here, particularly in Annex 1.
3. The nature of the basic three-fold distinction made in relation to the
project may now be examined. From Annex 0, this gives rise to:
[goals]3 [processes]3 [indicators]3
4.1 The nature of the basic four-fold distinction made in relation to the
project emerges from Annex 0 with:
[goals]4 [processes]4 [indicators]4
4.2 The question must obviously be asked whether there is any distinction
between the three-fold concept set and this four-fold set, other than "the
addition" of [tools]4. If the three-fold distinction was
well-made, such that each element balanced and complemented each other element,
then there is no way that another element could be added without distorting
that set. If however this "addition" results effectively in a balanced
four-fold cut, as would be necessary if the four-fold set is to be considered
well-made, then the three concepts bearing the same word labels in the three-fold
distinction as in the four-fold are not the same. There has been a
shift in emphasis in moving to a four-fold cut and this effects all elements
irrespective of verbal labels -- or else one or both sets have been mal-formed
or at least are asymmetrical in some way.
4.3 It is to be expected that the symmetry of the two-fold division of the
conceptual domain will find its reflection in the four-fold division. This
suggests that the four combinations of the two-fold categories should be equivalent
to the four-fold, possibly in the form:
[development]2 a [development]2≡
[maldevelopment]2 a [maldevelopment]2 ≡ [processes]4
[development]2 a [maldevelopment]2 ≡
[maldevelopment]2 a [development]2≡ [tools]4
The equivalences are only indicated tentatively because the nature
of the operator a is not clear. But if some "unconstrained"
aspect of [development]2is considered primordial, then the combination
[development]2 a [development]2does suggest the
essentially unconstrained notion of [goals]. The converse is true in the
case of [processes]. The situation is more uncertain in the case of [indicators]
and [tools] especially because the operator functions such that ab ≠ ba.
4.4 The argument of the previous point needs further justification. If in
a concept scheme a basic two-fold distinction has been developed -- in this
case [development]2 and [maldevelopment]2 -- what then
is its relationship likely to be to any four-fold distinciton?
In an "unintegrated" scheme no relationship need be postulated.
Any number of unrelated sets is then admissable. But in an integrated scheme,
the basic 4-fold distinction must necessarily be an articulation of the 2-fold.
If this is not the case then another conceptual point of departure has been
introduced -- which would raise the important question for integration of
how the second is to be related to the first. The answer would of course
be significant for the relationship between other sets based on each of these
points of departure. The situation would of course be less clear when there
are several 4-fold sets, of which some have been developed as articulations
of other sets (e.g. as an articulation of the 6th concept in a 6-fold set).
Examples such as this are evident from the Annexes (2 ).
5.1 The basic five-fold distinction made in defining the project emerges
from Annex 0 with:
[needs]5 [conditions]5 [dialogues]5 [network]5
5.2 It is probable that further insight into the GPID five-fold distinction
may be obtained by considering the sub-sets of the 30-fold distinction, if
this is accepted.
6.1 In the absence of any explicit six-fold division from Annex 0, the nature
of that division can be elaborated using the argument that it is probable
that the symmetries of the two-fold and three-fold divisions will be reflected
in it. The combination of the categories should therefore indi- cate the
[development]2 a [goals]3
[development]2 a [processes]3
[development]2 a [indicators]3
[maldevelopment]2 a [goals]3
[maldevelopment]2 a [processes]3
[maldevelopment]2 a [indicators]3
6.2 It is probable that further insight into the six-fold distinction can
be obtained from considering the sub-sets of the 24-fold and 30-fold distinctions
7.1 No seven-fold articulation of GPID preoccupations appears to have emerged
yet. As a prime number, the possibility is excluded of gaining some understanding
of its possible nature through combining factors of smaller divisions (as
with the six-fold division). As with the five-fold division, seven would
represent a new pattern of conceptual relationships -- an "irrational"
breakthrough, or progression in understanding.
8.1 A tentative eightfold division has been made in the form of a list of
GPID "dimensions" (see Annex 0)
[space]8 [intellectual style]8
[time]8 [social success style]8
[social space]8 [GPID style]8
8.2 Using the symmetry argument as before, combinations of the two-fold and
four-fold divisions should also indicate the nature of the eight-fold division:
8.3 The nature of the eight-fold distinction should also be evident as sub-
sets of the 24-fold set.
|Analysis of GPID concept factors
1 -Element set:
(Go)3 (Pr)3 (In)3
4-Element set : 1:
(Go)4 (Pr)4 (In)4 (To)4
4-Element set : 2:
6-Element set: 1:
(De)2a(Go)3 (De)2a(Go)3 (De)2a(In)3
(Md)2a(Go)3 (Md)2a(Pr)3 (Md)2a(In)3
6-Element set: 2:
((In)3)7 ((Go)4)7 ((Pr4)7
(De)2a(In)4 (De)2a(To)4 (Md)2a(Go)4
The previous section partially clarifies the advocated approach. Before
considering further GPID sets, it may however be useful to summarize what
is being attempted. This includes:
Registration of existing GPID sets of a given N-foldness (as in Annex
- Bracketing set element descriptors to render explicit the challenge to
comprehension which they may represent.
- Exploration of "conceptfactors" based on the degree of N-foldness
of the set - namely how concepts of more "fundamental" (i.e. lower
N- foldnessJ sets may modify each other in combination and thus engender elements
in sets of higher N-foldness. (What might be referred to as a form of "conceptual
- Comparison of set elements generated as in (c] with elements already accepted
within GPID. On the one hand, there is a question of determining equivalents
and thus gaining an understanding of the operator " a ". On the
other, it is hoped that from exploring such equivalence a clearer understanding
of the significance of the verbal descriptors used by GPID may be obtained.
- From the previous point (d), should also emerge a better understanding
-how a given N-fold set of elements "fits together", namely how
its parts are interrelated.
-how different N-fold sets are related, in terms of the "concept factors"
they share, if that is the case; this is the general question of GPID conceptual
-how the non-relatedness of sets of a certain N-foldness (e.g. 3-fold and
8-fold) can only be "absorbed" or "resolved" in sets of
an N-foldness which is a multiple (e.g. 24-fold in the 3/8 case; or 30-fold
in the case of 3-fold and 5-fold).
- By exploring the use of concept factors to generate missing sets not (yet)
explicit in the GPID scheme, this may suggest complementary ordering schemes
and may help to "bring out" (and give context to) concepts which
could be useful to the development of GPID. For example, what is the nature
of the GPID 6-fold set and what function could it serve? Of course, whilst
this may focus attention on some useful missing sets, the trap of generating
sets for their own sake must be avoided. But what is the appropriate constraint?
- Given the broad scope of GPID with 24 sub-projects, whilst these may be
integrated by concepts of lower N-foldness, each sub-project will tend
to initiate its own concept scheme. Thus the first distinction in each such
sub-project already gives 48-foldness. And it must be expected that each
sub-project will be working with distinctions up to 8-fold at least. It may
therefore be necessary for the project as a whole to be considering distinctions
of the order 6 x 24-fold, namely 192-fold, or more. Whatever the figure,
this is the number of explicit concepts associated with the GPID scheme.
In a sense, the higher the figure the more specifically concrete the
project is rendered, namely the more operationally relevant would be the concepts
and the project as a whole - provided that transitions between the sets can
be accomplished along explicit pathways.
The material in the annexes ( 2), should also help to clarify the nature
of sets of a given N-foldness, and their relation to other sets.
By using brackets to take the conventional emphasis offthe "definitional"
process and put it onto the "comprehension" process an important
step is taken. For the act of defining (for others) is an act which
confines (those others) and deprives them of the right to define in response
to their own circumstances - it is an act of "conceptual imperialism".
It would thus seem to follow that a characteristic of an appropriate form
of presentation for GPID would be one which does not deprive the person or
group of an analogue of the rights which the GPID approach is designed to
protect and enhance,
In this light, any suspicion that the approach advocated here moves towards
an "ideal" scheme must be rejected. No concept is imposed, since
it is what the individual comprehends which is the key. A distinction may
even be use- fully made between:
freedom to choose between a plurality of competing
concept schemes each with overdefined concepts, namely the conventional
approach. Here the individual, once the choice of scheme has been made,
has no further freedom, because the concepts within the scheme must be accepted
as they are defined.
- freedom to choose how to understand within a single
concept scheme composed of underdefined concepts whose significance
may be partially associated to those of other schemes seen as non-competing.
Here the individual is constantly challenged with the freedom to understand
particular concepts in some more significant manner in the light of the concept
set within which it is embedded.
1. Anthony Judge. Representation, comprehension and communication of sets:
the role of number. International Classification 5, 1978, 3; 6, 1979,
1; 6, 1979, 2. (GPID Working Paper). [text]
2. Anthony Judge. Patterns of N-foldness; comparison of integrated multi-set
concept schemes as forms of presentation [Paper for GPID Forms of Presentation
Meeting, June 1980). [text]