Dialogue, language, learning LO25378

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/27/00

Replying to LO25366 --

Dear Organlearners,

Don Dwiggins <d.l.dwiggins@computer.org> writes:

>I'll make a bold claim: you can tell a learning organization
>(or the degree of organizational learning going on) by
>observing the processes by which new terms arise and
>are adopted (and eventually die out, but that's another story).
>Anyone want to take me on, or comment on "the corporate

Greetings Dwig,

What you have done in this claim for me, is to connect the "evolution of
languages" with the "learning organisation".

Let us think of "evolution of languages" with the "evolution of
organisations". A certain biologist once formulated a law (now called
Dollo's Law)
. Biological evolution does not proceed back along
. its own path nor repeat its routes.
Dollo's Law was formulated before such concepts such as 'irreversibility",
"complexity" and "singularity" were known. But should you carefully look
at his law, you will find these concepts tacit to it.

It is most interesting to me how many correspondences there are between
"lingual evolution" and "biological evolution". Should we now introduce a
third member to this comparative study, namely "organisational evolution",
it is sheer delight to seek for correspondences between all three of them.
The point which I want to make is, when thinking of all theories of
organisation, the one which comes closest to Dollo's law, is the "theory"
of Learning Organisations. In other words, the "learning organisation" is
the "evolution of organisation" in the comprehensive sense of the word
"evolution" because such a demostration will be an attempt to repeat the

This brings me to another issue. In terms of biological evolution, it is
at the top of the ladder of all species (millions of them from minute
bacteria to large mammals like whales). But since this evolution is
something of the past, by Dollo's law it is indeed something of the past.
Humankind need not and ought not to demonstrate that it is at the top of
the ladder.

What kind of evolution must the species "Homo sapiens" (the only species
in the genus) be involved with if it cannot repeat the physical route? I
think that the future evolution of "Homo sapiens" ought to be spiritual
rather than physical. If this is indeed the case, then what spiritual
activity should we focus upon as the key to spiritual evolution? In my
mind there is no uncertainty -- for me it has to be "learning".

A vitally important activity in "biological evolution" is the symbiosis of
biological species in an ecological niche. I often think metaphorically of
a Learning Organisation, consisting of Learning Individuals, as such an
"ecological niche with evolving species living symbiotically". In this
metaphor the LO-dialogue is nothing else than the articulation of that

Dwig, thinking of computer programming languages, how much symbiosis is
there between them? (If you do not want to answer this question, I
understand.) Furthermore, is it not strange how the vast majority of
computer users believe (through sales talk) that a "propriety Operating
System (like "macrohard" ;-) is a far safer bet that an "open Operating
System" (like "fractux" ;-). If Dollo's law should be made applicable to
the "evolution of computers", then I think that this belief is a "proceed
back on the path".

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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