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Global Strategies Project (Explanations)

Comprehension: Internalizing discontinuity

Global Strategies Project

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1. Patterns of interlocking

It appears from Buckminster Fuller's work that cycles interlock with greatest facility (i.e. minimum energy condition) in such a way as to form [configurations of modes in relatively simple geometrical patterns] e.g. spherical tetrahedron, octahedron, etc) according to the number of cycles (1975, 1979). The modes correspond to answer domains effectively stabilized into sets by standing wave interference effects. The portions of cycles linking such modes are then the transformation pathways between them which favour information transfer and learning. The pattern as a whole can also be considered as a transformation of the two-dimensional matrix representation of answer domains into a "wrap-around" three-dimensional "container". The observer, in terms of the "third perspective", is effectively given a location at the spherical centre in contrast to his undefined status in relation to the matrix (A J N Judge, 1984).

2. Challenge of sterile frameworks

Fortunately as portrayed this representation is essentially sterile. Even though it encompasses incompatibles it does so within a framework which is a typical example of left-hemisphere thinking. Only by re-introducing right-hemisphere thinking is it possible to open the way to anything of transformative significance. In effect the rational objectivity of a presentation must be challenged (and, in Attali's terms, "seduced") by irrational discontinuity and subjectivity. Strangely it would seem that the scholastic preoccupation with avoiding "non sequiturs" is precisely what renders academic conclusions non-transformative, at least in any revolutionary sense. They do not internalize discontinuity but effectively project it onto their non-relationship with other answer domains.

3. Internalizing non-sequiturs

The challenge of internalizing non-sequiturs is one of the exciting aspects of the frontiers of fundamental physics (Edgar Morin, 1981, P A Heelan 1974, C A Hooker, 1974). Many observers have remarked the relationship to Eastern concepts of consciousness, especially Zen. Others note that the challenge of the times calls for a change of consciousness, but are unable to design any framework to focus the approach to this. As a response to this dilemma, an earlier paper (A J N Judge, 1982) experimented with presenting the steps of an argument in terms of left-and right-hemisphere modes alternately. This procedure was based on the assumption that a transformative argument cannot be wholly based on one mode or the other, but each must provide clues (negative and positive feedback) for the next step of the other (as implied by the "walking" metaphor).

4. Dialectic between form and process

Bateson has argued strongly for a somewhat related approach: "...it is necessary to expand on the relationship between form and process, treating the notion of form as an analogue of what I have been calling tautology and process as the analogue of the aggregate of phenomena to be explained. As form is to process, so tautology is to description...What is important...is to note that my procedures of inquiry were punctuated by an alternation between classification and the description of process...I shall argue that this paradigm...recurs again and again wherever mental process...predominates in the organization of phenomena. In other words, when we take the notion of logical typing out of the field of abstract logic and start to map real biological events onto the hierarchies of this paradigm, we shall immediately encounter the fact that in the world of mental and biological systems, the hierarchy is not only a list of classes, classes of classes, and classes of classes of classes, but has also become a zigzag ladder of dialectic between form and process" (1979, p.190,193,194).

An earlier paper (A J N Judge, 1984) alternated between presentations of right-hemisphere (RH) arguments considered academically acceptable to Jungian psychologists and left-hemisphere (LH) arguments concerning structure. The RH material forms part of the symbolic heritage of many cultures. The concern of Jungians is to clarify its contemporary significance and thuscounteract "cerebral imperialism" and "dominance" of the LH over the RH and the projections onto society to which that gives rise. They see this dominance pattern as the subjective origin of the present social crisis. The therapeutic objective is the achievement of a greater integration between the LH and the RH through a transcendent "union of opposites", namely a transcendent function (or the "meta-answer" seen in a new light): "One tendency seems to be the regulating principle of the other; both are bound together in a compensatory relationship...aesthetic formulation needs understanding of the meaning, and understanding needs aesthetic formulation. The two supplement each other to form the transcendent function".

6. Metaphors of containment

In the LH approach, the structural problems of containing and transforming attention were explored using as a metaphor the current research on the containment of plasma (whose fluidity corresponds closely to that of attention) in fusion research. This requires a special configuration, yet to be fully developed, before energy can be generated at a sustainable yield. It would seem that the patterns of thought and structure required for this fusion breakthrough offer insight for a corresponding breakthrough in human and social development (and are a technological prefiguration of it, in Attali's terms (1977)).

7. Undefinability of any meta-answer

Whilst the approach outlined is worth exploring, once again it is necessary to challenge the essential inadequacy of the previous step. It is not sufficient at this time to elaborate "descriptions" and "theories". Whatever their RH component, they are essentially LH in nature, confronting the observer in a manner which deactivates and neutralizes. If there is to be effective "seduction" in Attali's terms, something more stimulating and participative is required.

The basic weakness of the above approach is that it fails to clarify or internalize the obvious differences in peoples ability to comprehend and derive significance from a meta-answer. In this sense a meta-answer is not definable and subject to enclosure, but is elusive in that it is understood and defined to different degrees by different people. To the extent that there is no foreseeable limit on future increases and refinements in understanding, the definition is in fact open-ended in terms of time.


From Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential


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