Does anyone reading and/or writing on this list feel willing and able to
enlighten me on the particular and/or general applicability of Plato's
'The Laws' to contemporary 'systems thinking' and Learning Organisations?
Why do I ask for particular fellowship in that learning?
There may be some chromatography in it for me.
Two ways both inducing FEAR in LEARNING.
Plato: If you control the way children play, and the same children always
play the same games under the same rules and in the same conditions, and
get pleasure from the same toys, you'll find the conventions of adult life
too are left in peace without alteration -- change, we shall find, except
in something evil, is extremely dangerous. [979 Laws].
John Henry Newsman: In a higher world it is otherwise; but here below to
live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.
Athenian: Didn't we say that a really skilled craftsman or guardian must
be able not merely to see the many individual instances of a thing, but
also win through to a knowledge of the single central concept, and when
he's understood that, put the various details in their proper place in the
Cleinias: We did, and rightly.
Athenian: So what better tool can there be for a penetrating investigation
of a concept than the ability to look beyond the many dissimilar instances
to the single notion?
Cleinias: Probably none.
Athenian: The first thing we have to settle and decide among ourselves is
whether the attempt should be made at all.
Cleinias: Indeed it should, if possible.
Athenian: Well then, do we take the same line about goodness and beauty?
Should the guardians know no more than that both these terms are a
plurality, or should they understand the senses in which they are unities?
Cleinias: It looks as if they are more or less obliged to comprehend that
too - how they are unities.
Athenian: But what if they understood the point, but couldn't find the
words to demonstrate it?
Cleinias: How absurd! That's the condition of a slave.
Athenian: Well then, isn't our doctrine going to be the same about all
serious questions? If our guardians are going to be genuine guardians of
the laws they must have genuine knowledge of their real nature; they must
be articulate enough to explain the real difference between good and bad
actions, and capable of sticking to the distinctions in practice.
Later, but not so much later :-) there is a very mysterious sentence the
meaning of which the translator is far from certain --
Athenian: One is the point we made about the soul, when we argued that it
is far older and far more divine than all those things whose movements
have sprung up and provided the impulse which has plunged it into a
perpetual stream of existence. Another argument was based on the
systematic motion of heavenly bodies and the other objects under the
control of reason, which is responsible for the order of the universe.
Well fellow learners, there are six hundred more pages to plough through
and so I discern to close with this intriguing fragment --
Athenian: Then there is the question of what they have to learn. It is
difficult to find this out for oneself, and it is not easy either to
discover somebody else who has already done so and learn from him. Quite
apart from that, it will be a waste of time to produce written regulations
about the order in which the various subjects should be tackled and how
long should be spent on each, because even the students, until they have
thoroughly absorbed the subject won't realise why it comes at just that
point in the curriculum. So although it would be a mistake to treat all
these details as inviolable secrets, it would be fair to say that they
ought not to be divulged beforehand, because advance disclosure throws no
light at all on the questions we're discussing.
Cleinias: Well then, sir, if that's the case, what are we to do?
Athenian: My friends, we must 'chance our arm', as the saying is. If we
are prepared to stake the whole constitution (body) on a throw of three
sixes or three ones then that's what we'll have to do, and I'll shoulder
part of the risk by giving a full explanation of my views on training and
education,- However, the risk is enormous and unique. - And if my good
companions, if this wonderful council (LO?) of ours can be formed then the
state must be entrusted to it-. We thought our combined metaphor of head
and intellect, which we mentioned a moment ago, as idealistic dreaming,
but it will all come true...
Please, -- show me then the measure of the distance between the 'dream'
and the 'reality', the 'theory' and the 'practice'Learning-org.
Can anyone do that?
And why would you want to?
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