Unlearning LO24272

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 03/30/00

Replying to LO24248 --

Dear Organlearners,

Morty Lefkoe <morty@decisionmaker.com> writes:

>To be quite honest, I had a difficult time following some of
>your biological analogies and metaphors, but I think I got
>the gist of it.

Greetings Morty,

I expected such difficulties. I experienced them myself. It has nothing to
do with you personally or with any other fellow learner as person. These
difficulties arise because of education's system dynamics which we have
been subjected to.

>Perhaps the statement that struck me the most was: "It is
>especially the learner's capacity for caring love which has to
>increase. This is what our world is desperately in need of."
>I agree totally. And then, At, I would reply to your statement
>by asking you: What is the possibility of someone increasing
>his capacity to love if he has learned: People are dangerous.
>They cannot be trusted. People are bad. I am worthless.
>Etc. Etc.

Dear Morty, the things which you have refered to, are propositions. They
are neither facts nor farces. The truthvalue (true/false) of each
proposition depends where in the learner's knowledge it gets connected. If
it gets upon connection the wrong truthvalue (true rather than false or
false rather than true), then it reduces strongly the learner's capacity
to love. Wrong connections shield the long range forces eminating from the
complex knowledge resulting through authentic learning. These long range
forces become most important in the highest order when caring love has to

Let me take an example.

The statement "people are dangerous" is far more dangerous than its
message intended. It stinks with simplicity. First of all, it does not
tell "people are AMONG OTHER PROPERTIES dangerous". Secondly, it does not
tell "SOME people are dangerous". Thirdly, it does not tell "people can
STOP BECOMING dangerous". In other words, ASSUMING that "people are
dangerous" rather than EXPLORING its meaning by painting it into a rich

>You said you disagreed with my statement: "Unlearning,
>I submit, is the most important activity one can engage in
>to facilitate innovation, change, and new learning." To clarify
>my intent, unlearning will not in itself produce new learning.
>It will not produce love, a better education system, or anything
>of value. But if one does not unlearn whatever is in the way of
>those goals, then nothing, including creativity however defined,
>will allow us to reach those goals.

Morty, I am very glad that you have said "unlearning will not in itself
produce new learning". I understand what you say with unlearning --in my
words, "remove the obstacle so that learning once more can happen". Now I
want to make a statement which is crucial to my viewpoint -- removing
obstacles to learning can happen ONLY through learning. In other words, I
will accept your "unlearning" only when you can show without doubt that it
is a unique way of learning. Even then I will not the name "unlearning"
because it suggests exactly the opposite.

Why will I not accept "unlearning" as a name? Do the names
"unexperiencing" to remove obstacles in experiencing or "unxpressing" to
remove obstacles in expressing experiences make any sense to you? It all
has to do with irreversible changes. An irreversible change cannot be
reversed by simply denying it so that it become a reversible change. An
irreversible change in any system can only be reversed by following it up
with another irreversible change to the opposite. It requires a complexity
of changes IN THE immediate environment of the system AND NOT in the
system itself. The last two statements to complete the picture are:-
Learning, believing and loving are irreversible changes. The immediate
environment of the human as system is culture.

One last very, very important point -- let us not invoke a higher order to
reverse the irreversible change in a lower order. An irreversible change
in a lower oder has to be overrided by an irreversible change in the SAME
order, often initiated by an irreversible change in some lower order.
Invoking a higher order to reverse the irreversible change in a lower is
for me something which I call "deep swearing". This "deep swearing" is one
of the main cause of the barriers of learning which you want to overcome
with "unlearning".

For example, to force in the level of knowledge a proposition into a true
statement by claiming that the proposition is an article of faith is
invoking the power of beliefs since they are in a higher order. Something
is not merely a belief, it has to become a belief by emergence from

>When we start off as a child, we are open to learning.

Only among other humans.

>There is nothing in the way.

Only when we are born as normal, healthy babies.

>We ask questions and often consider the answers we come
>up with.

Only when we are encouraged by mental midwifes (usually our parents) to do
so. I live in a continent so much exploited that even the midwifery in
learning has disappeared in some communities.

>At some point we learn something about ourselves, people,
>and life. That becomes "the truth" for us.

We experiences things. We connect these experiences to the "whole of our
past experiences". This "whole" by virtue of wholeness and the other six
essentialaities has also emerged from experiences to intuition,
articulation and wisdom, (not speaking of even higher orders such as faith
an love). The experience becomes upon connection "the truth", "the moral"
and "the estetic". Thus it gets values such as [true, false], [good, bad]
and [pretty, ugly] depending on which of the many, many posible sites in
the "whole of our past experiences" it has connected.

>We consider it to be a fact.

Or other people force us by many ways to accept the outcome of the
connection as true, good or pretty when our own spirit cries out that it
is false, bad or ugly. The worst kind of forcing is "deep swearing".

>Learning can be "rote" or complex or "authentic."

Authentic learning, for me, meanders between two assymptotes, digestive
learning and emergent learning. This meandering makes authentic learning
complex so that it relies heavily on distiction (form) and rhythm
(content). "rote learning" is but a carricature of digestive learning in
which the teacher rather than the learner gets the focus.

>Unconscious or carefully and logically considered.

Even logic and care have to emerge through learning.

>There clearly is a significant distinction between types of

Now you are speaking with this "distinction". I love it. But what about
the rhythm in learning?

>But once something is learned, regardless of how, it is

Now you are also speaking. The learning of learning is a tautology
depicting the irrversibility of learning. My main objection to "rote
learning" is that it is usually reversible -- remember now and forget
forever an hour later. Much money is made with presenting "rote learning".

>All of our attempts to innovate, change, and learn new things
>are colored, filtered, affected, hindered, and largely determined
>by what we had previously learned.

I sense in this sentence a compelling truth. I will articulate it somewhat
differently. The meaning of our present experiences is determined by the
"whole" of our past experiences. The "whole" of our past experiences is
the sum of our past experiences AND WHAT HAS BECOME of each of them.

>Unlearning what we had previously learned only removes the

Your "unlearning" here signifies for me the "healing" of the becoming of
past experiences which had been forced prematurely into fixed beings
through the work of other humans. Your "removing barrier" here signifies
for me undoing the fixation of becoming into being so that once again as a
becoming it can meander its full course into maturity.

>It does not in itelf produce any innovation, change or new
>learning. But the unlearning is a precondition to these three

I think of "deep personality" as that which determines the outcome of a
person's creativity or learning. The preconditions in this personality
which ensure that the creativity, learning or believing become
constructive, are what I call the seven essentialities. They (the 7) have
to evolve just as anything else in that person's personality. The
signifance of their evolution becomes evident in that person's capacity
for caring love.

>If my comments reflect an ignorance of something you tried
>to communicate, I'm sorry and I ask that you try again.

No, it is not the case at all. I sense in you a caring love for the
learning of fellow humans. I think that we are actually exploring the
meaning of a LO-dialogue using the topic "unlearning" as our focal point.

In my previous reply I tried to respond to you in terms of the biological
realm of reality. I knew that it will be difficult to understand. In this
reply I tried to respond in terms of my theory of "deep creativity" for
reality itself with all its realms. This will make this reply even more

So what can I do to make me reply easier? I will end with the following.
Your "unlearning" has much potential, except for its name. Yes, to use
your terminology, learners have to "unlearn". But what become of those
experiences which led to a "learning" which has to be "unlearned". It is
impossible to "unexperience" such experiences because experiencing is
experiencing, i.e. all experiences are irreversible. If these now loosened
experiences are not attended to, they will merely keep on polluting the
spirit and thus corrupting the personality since they have done so before.
To prevent this cancerous fixation, they require careful midwifery which
will ensure that they finally come to order (rest) where they will not be
any more a barrier to further learning.

I do not say the following as a pun or a denigration, but in attempt to
bridge the mental worlds between us -- perhaps you need some "unlearning"
in your "unlearning" so as to improve your spiritual midwifery even more.
I often judge my self, coming to the conclusion that my "authentic
learning" needs much more "authentic learning".

Thank you Morty for the gentle way in which you stress what is vitally
important for you. I wonder what is most important to you: unlearning or
unhindered learning. In the former you merely need a scissor, but in the
latter you will have to act as a very complex catalyst.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> 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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