To become or not to become. LO24239

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 03/23/00

Replying to LO24219 --

Dear Organlearners,

Winfried Dressler <> writes:

>Thus knowledge is intensive and information extensive.

Greetings Winfried,

Thanks for the help. Alas, I have tried that angle too, but I have shot so
many holes in it that I stopped pursueing it any further.

The problem for me is that one has to determine with one and the same
scaling that knowledge is intensive and information extensive.

It us very easy to show that information is extensive. Cut any Informative
Book (IB) or even a Hard Disk (HD) in two halves. Each halve of the IB or
the HD has half of the information.

But with knowledge it is different -- knowledge is not in an IB or a HD,
but becomes within a PERSON! This is the primary reason why I cannot make
peace with KM (Knowledge Management) when it is based on IT (Information
Technology) rather than persons with personalities.

When people (like most of us on the list) USE computer software, they get
the notion that computers (hardware and software) are almost intelligent.
But people who CREATE computer software, know that a computer is as dumb
as a kettle in the kitchen. Everything which you want it to do, you have
to tell it to do. If you want it to do what many programmers before you
wanted it to do and hence succeeded, then perhaps you are lucky. You can
use their successes (programs) from a "library" provided you can "find"
them. But if you want it to do what nobody else before even wanted it to
do, then you discover just how dumb a computer is. It is even very more
dumb than a fly.

When I try to determine that knowledge is intensive, I keep ramming into
the Wittgensteinian wall -- language! Its like in Quantum Mechanics. It is
not an infinitely high wall so that I am able to tunnel through it. (Dear
fellow learners, read about marvelous "tunnel effect" in QM.) In fact, by
making use of symbols rather than words, I have done it, for example, in
        [K(2) - K(1)] x /_\I > 0

But I take extreme care not to reduce life to formulae. Some people accuse
me for doing that because of using formulae in my contributions. A few go
even further and accuse me for reducing life to quantizations since every
formula in physics and chemistry is based on the outcomes of a vast number
of measurements. Life cannot be reduced to formulae, but neither can life
be reduced to something without formulae. Some formulae can tell us about
patterns pervading all levels of evolution. But which are those formulae?

There are few words in English with more synonyms than the
word knowledge. If I had the time, I would have typed some
50 words just to get your mind going. Despite all these synonyms
and the various meanings within the word knowledge itself, its
principal meaning is still clear: "all the products of knowing".
In my own mother tongue Afrikaans we have a word for exactly
this, namely
"kennis" = all the products of knowing
The corresponding word in German, your mother togue, is
"Kenntnis". However, this German word has a larger synonymy
than the Afrikaans word.

Rick defines knowledge as the "capacity for effective action".
In Afrikaans we have a word exactly for this, namely
        "kunde" = capacity for effective action
The corresponding word in German, your mother togue, is
"Kunde". Again this German word has a larger synonymy
than the Afrikaans word and thus a different meaning.

Let us look deeper into knowledge as
        "kennis" = all the products of knowing
Two essentialities are clearly manifested in it:-
WHOLENESS -- "all" as "the whole of"
LIVENESS -- "knowing" as "becoming" and "products" as "being"
So where is the other five essentialities?

Let us then look deeper into knowledge as
        "kunde" = capacity for effective action
Also here two essentialities are manifested in it:-
SPARENESS -- "capacity" as "limit"
FRUITFULNESS -- "effective action" as "begetting connection".
This leaves us with three essentialities not accounted for:-

The "kunde" of Afrikaans has not only the meaning
        "kunde" = capacity for effective action
but also the meaning
        "kunde" = well ordered part (subject) of "kennis".
(It is in English somewhat to doctrine, but for doctrine we will
rather use our "leer" (noun). Yet the equivalent for "leer" (verb)
in English is learning. Incredible, is it not!)
In this meaning two other essentialities are manifested:-
OTHERNESS -- "well" as "quality"
SURENESS -- "ordered part" as "identity in categoricity"
This leaves us only one essentiality not yet accounted for:-

Should we now define
        knowledge = "kennis" + "kunde"
which would indeed be the case in English with the definition
        knowledge = sum of its synonyms
then it leaves us with only one essentiality not accounted for:-

It is this lack in openness in the way which we think on
knowledge which gives me so much problems! Now think of
the $knowledge$ which will emerge when traditional
knowledge become as sensitive to openness as the other
six essentialities. Then it becomes very easy for me (but
perhaps not for fellow learners who still struggle with the
essentialties) to determine that $knowledge$ is intensive.
(It may help fellow learners to think of $knowledge" as
"deep knowledge".)

Each of the seven the essentialities is intensive. It is because
of this very intensivity of them that emergences become
possible. Deal with merely one essentiality as extensive and
all subsequent bifurcations will result into immergences!
Specifically, $knowledge$ will not emerge from knowledge.
Thus $knowledge$ is the intensive culmination of the intensivity
of the seven essentialities (a seven-fold equivalency).

There is now way in reasoning from $knowledge$ as extensive
to knowledge as extensive.

>Hm, I am wondering, whether it is knowledge, which is the
>capacity for effective action or not better differences in
>knowledge. This one is not straight forward, I am afraid.

Winfried, nothing is straight forward for me any more when it
concerns knowledge. Language makes it all so confusing. I do
not say as it as a kind of joke. I hope I have give some indication
of how Wittgenstein would have said it:-
"language forms an inpenetrable wall around us".

I also hope that I have made you fellow learners sensitive to
the relationship between language and openness.

In the system thinking of physics and chemistry, the boundary
of a system is characterised by Degrees Of Freedom (DOF).
This DOF has been introduced by, believe it or not, the genius
Josiah Willard Gibbs! When DOF = 0, the boundary is said to
be "isolated". This is the lower limit. When DOF > 0 like in
DOF = 1, the boundary is "closed". When DOF = M where M
is the upper limit (maximum number of DOF), only then is the
boundary said to be "open". In other words, when DOF = M - 1
(one less than the maximum M for DOF), the boundary is not
"open" any more, but "closed".

(Here is a pun. In my mother tongue it is possible to refer to
a person being silly as the person is "dof" -- dull.)

I know that it seems irrational to you because it is irrational
to most students in physical chemistry. It is because they
apply LEM to "closed" <==> "open". If they only can leave
LEM aside. LEM works only for two-valued logic (true-false).
In the case of DOF for real systems we must stop thinking
only in terms of two-valued logic. Think of the pattern
"isolated" ==> "closed" ==> .... ==>"closed" ==> "open"

Now let us get back to knowledge, language and openness.
Let us think Wittgensteinian of langauge as something
having to do with the boundary of knowledge. If a person
knows no language, then DOF = 0 so that the person's
knowledge is "isolated". When a person knows only one
language, then DOF = 1 so that the person's knowledge
is "closed". When DOF = 2, the person's knowledge is still
"closed", although we may now think of "less closed". Only
when DOF = M, that person's knowledge can be said to be
"open". In other words, the more languages a person knows,
the more the possible evolution in that person's knowledge.

So what is the value for M? Here in South Africa with 40 million
inhabitants excluding immigrants, should we count only those
languages with a million or more speakers, M is approximately
15 (I have not the exact statistics in my mind.) Lower the
number of speakers to a hundred thousand and M jumps to
roughly 30. Go over our borders to include all of Southern Africa
and M jumps to roughly 1000. What a diversity!!!!

It seems as the very diversity in nature and culture is making
Southern Africa the poorest among the world. But is it the case?

Winfried, in Germany where you live, they speak mainly German.
In the Netherlands where Leo lives, they speak mainly Dutch.
In Portugal where Bruno lives, they speak mainly Portugese.
Each of you fellow learners can trace the "linguadiversity" of
your country with M as I have done for South Africa and
Southern Africa. Only the EU (European Union) as it evolutes
begins to exhibit some of the complexities in South Africa.

In a certain sense the "unilingual" situation in your countries
have served you very much. It is the official language in which
you can perform all your "kunde" (= capacity for effective action)
in science, industry, business, goverment, etc. But is also
your mothertongue and as us such it plays an essential role in
the emergence of tacit knowledge to formal knowledge. This
emergence is essential to "authentic learning", but not to "rote
learning". Why? A person's mothertongue is the principal
container for articulating his/her tacit knowledge so as to
increase in formal knowledge. In "rote learning" the learner
memorise information in a language fairly understandable,
but not necessarily a language comprehended in the deepest
corners of its soul.

Should you live in Switserland (3), Belgium (2) or Canada (2),
you may get some notion of the situation here in South Africa.
The figures in brackets give the number of official languages
in those countries. In those countries you can learn in your mother
tongue as one of the official languages AND conduct your
"kunde" in the same official langauge as your mother tongue
without having to know the soul of the other official language(s).

But here in South Africa the situation is actually still very
different. As a result of the peace treaty after the British-Boer-
War (1899-1902), two languages became the official langauges
of the Union of South Africa since 1910 -- English and Dutch.
But the people who could use Dutch, actually spoke Afrikaans.
Afrikaans was born somewhere between 1660 and 1690, but
because of Dutch as the colonial langauge it was oppressed
all the way until English as the colonial language could
take over this oppression since the early 1800s.

But as result of that very AB-war, people speaking Afrikaans
began to realise that not only was Afrikaans and Dutch different
but also that Afrikaans is at least as powerful in expression as
Dutch or English. Thus in one generation Afrikaans emerged
from a spoken language to a written langauge with an exploding
literature. Hence in 1926 Dutch was replaced with Afrikaans as
official language. Prime minister JBM Herzog was the visionary
person here. (Winfried, do you still remember our dialogue on

Thus Afrikaans speaking people, looking physically very much
like Dutch or English people, but now calling themselves
Afrikaners (NOT Africans) suddenly enjoyed the same priviledge
as people in bilingual and monolingual countries. Their mother
tongue and their official langauge became one and the same thing.
So now they could really conduct their
        "kunde" = capacity for effective action
and learn authentically among all the rote learning. In merely two
generations they became the major force in the science, industry
and civil service, but not business. The English people stayed as
the major force in business. They became so powerful that in 1948
through voting power they took over the government. This is how
they managed to bring the ideology and policy of apartheid over
our beloved country.

But this very unilingual power was also their downfall!!! Before
WWII, many "kundige" (with "kunde") Afrikaners could speak at
least six languages, three European and three African. But after
WWII their DOFdecreased quickly from these high levels to 2 or
even 1. In the case of 2 it was Afrikaans and English rather than
an African language. Furthermore, like in all these monolingual
countries, their students in universities began to specialise rather
than striving for a comprehensive education. Hence, not knowing
any more how their fellow citizins felt who spoke an African
language as mother tongue, they themselves triggered the terrble
immergences latent in apartheid. Thus in three generations they
have lost much of what they have gained the previous three
generations. The worst of their losses are their wisdom, dignity,
hope, faith and caring love.

Please, let the "rise and fall" of the Afrikaners be a lesson to
you fellow learners. They became ignorant to the role of DOF
(Degrees Of Freedom) of knowledge -- the number of languages
which the learner can use while learning.

Allow me a last note on DOF itself.

Winfried, for you with your advanced training in physics, Leo
Minningh with his advanced training in geology and the few
others with an advanced training in some of the physical
sciences, the term DOF is not unfamiliar. But here is another
surprise for you. As the DOF of a physical system increases,
the more we become aware how the Onsager matrix and its
"cross inductions" become the very heart of the irrversible
thermodynamics. Yes, the more the mind has to explode to
comprehend the complexity of the system. On the other hand,
the less the system's DOF becomes, the easier it becomes in
applying linear thinking to get information on the system.

Fortunately, fast amounts of information on/of any system is still
not the capacity to deal effectively with the system. Fear not
computers because they cannot think. Fear them because they
can control your thinking if you are not watchful.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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