Systematics in Systems Thinking LO25481

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 10/17/00

Replying to LO25470 --

Dear Organlearners,

John Zavacki <> writes:

>At writes a long and learned treatise on systematics
>and systems. I look at it this way:

Greetings John,

Perhaps I should have explained why I went seemingly overboard with
systematics. I did give my reasons in other contributions, but I think I
will have to link them to this exploration into systematics.

There are three main reasons.

First reason. Since the age of seven I began to devour all kinds of books.
But I was no bookworm. I kept animals and plants and had many other
hobbies. I participated in several sports and loved to go exploring alone
the countryside on my bicycle. The books helped me to interpret my other
experiences and the these other experiences helped me to interpret the

Second reason. When I realised in 1970 that my mission is to be a midwife
for authentic learning, I said to myself that I will have to experience
once again what millions of pupils and students experience when learning
some of the many subjects of academy. So I began to expose myself
deliberately to as many subjects as possible. It is then when I beame
aware of an "evolution in subject material", something which I called
"systematics" as has been done in the biological sciences.

Third reason. When I became aware that "entropy production" also happens
in the world of mind, I had to make sure for myself what interpretation I
will have to give to entropy. So I beagn to study the "interpretation of
entropy" as a topic and ended up with a very complex picture. Eventually
it became clear to me that the most encompassing interpretation of all
interpretations is to consider entropy as a measure for organisation,
physical and spiritual. As Prigogine became aware that "dissipation" (I do
not like the word) is the driving force for physical evolution, I became
aware that "entropy production" (another valid name for "dissipation" used
by De Groot, Mazur, etc.) is perhaps the driving force for mental
evolution. Hence my former studies in "systematics" became very valuable
to me and I even threw myself deeper into it.

I am not trying to defend myself with these reasons. I am rather trying to
tell you what, how and why I become. Perhaps it will help you to explore

>Very often, the systematic approach tends towards
>understanding the objects in a system. Deming made
>the point that this is not the system. What is the system
>is the relationships among those objects.

I agree and it tried to express it with a three level thinking. I will try
to symbolise it as
. system
. => thinking on system (= systems thinking)
. => thinking on systems thinking (=systematics)
I used chemistry as an example of what systematics can do.
Another good example is the systematics which was begun
with Linneaus. Soon afterwards Goethe contemplated metamorphosis
and then Lamarck and eventually Darwin contemplated evolution.

>The simplest systematic tool is the flow chart. When
>raised to its next level of complexity, the deployment
>flow chart, it begins to answer questions of accountability,
>responsibility, consultation, and information. If well done,
>it can point towards recursion, entropy, and other behaviors
>of systems. The key is practice within dialogue.

I agree. I used to draw such flow charts (I prefer to call them
"becoming-being diagrams") on paper. But it takes a lot of time so that I
learned how to do them mentally. Lately with my diabetes condition I
discovered how dangerous such a mentality is. I do not have the physical
free energy to keep up such a mental chart for hours any more before
fading sets in.

One morning two weeks ago, while (after work at the university ;-)
physically constructing a building according to a mental plan, I woke up.
My first thought was "You fool, your counting is one beam short. Draw a
plan and count them again." So I draw the plan and counted the beams. I
was one beam short. I had to go through all the trouble of buying one
beam, machining it to specifications, taking it to be dip galvanised,
paying a huge penalty for such a minor order, etc. It was then that I
decided to initiate the LO-dialogue "How to create a theory."

What struck me most curious is how my mind, during sleep, corrected
itself, telling me immediately when I woke up that I have made an error
and need to theorise (make a plan, diagram, chart, map) to make sure of
that error.
You wrote "The key is practice within dialogue." By this sentence I
recognise deep wisdom within you. Allow me to paint a rich picture on it,
connecting several of my recent contributions.

We live indeed in most interesting times. This year a number of academics
came to visit me for a dialogue. They have become quite frustrated with
the "knowledge engineering" based management which they have to comply too
and the immense disruptive effects it has on their work. With the last
visit I decided to introduce the topic "Knowledge and Information" to our

As for myself, I believe that knowledge lives only within each person --
it is a sub-system of the personality. I am fully aware that most other
people believe otherwise. It is with this knowledge within me that I
create all things, even this very contribution. But, and I want to stress
my belief
. there is no knowledge what so ever in this contribution.

It contains information, but not even the smallest quantum of knowledge.
It is available for "information engineering", but not for "knowledge
engineering" since it has no knowledge.

How do the knowledge in me evolve? By new knowledge germs emerging within
me which then grows by small increments. The emergence of such a "germ"
and its subsequent growth by small increments is something which I call
"authentic learning". When such an "authentic learning" becomes
integrated to the rest, the whole is for me "knowledge". In mathematical
terms I would say that "authentic learning" is the differential of
knowledge, i.e. knowledge is the integral of authentic learning.

My knowledge evolves as a result of the commutation of my body through its
sensory organs with the world-outside-me. Each commutation, whatever part
of my body is involved, leads to an experience. My eyes also commute with
things and thus leads to optical experiences. I can systemise these
optical experiences into many kinds like a visual work of art, a natural
beauty or an informative document. Not one of these kinds have any
authority over all the other kinds. They all have the same authority in
terms of the optical experiences which they allow. Similarly none of the
many kinds of commutation of my other sense organs have the priviledge of
being THE authority.

This last pattern does not mean that there is no organisation between all
these experiences. In fact, the very organisation which emerge by them is
the spiritual side to my personality. A major subsystem of the emerging
organisation is obviously my knowledge. This knowledge has authority over
the individual experiences (with their own authority) which I will expose
myself to. Thus it is of higher authority than my experiences. But this
knowledge is not the highest authority of my personality. The highest
authority is love as agape, unconditional and always willing to commute
with more (one-to-many-mapping).

So far for myself and my own "systems thinking". How is it with other
people? There is almost an exponential increase in people who believe that
knowledge is within the document containing the information. How many
times have I not been told this year alone that internet has incredible
knowledge, more than any human who has ever lived or will live. Thus these
people have to struggle with the question of which document has knowledge
with the highest authority. Hence they search day and night to find that
highest authority in knowledge. They seek with arguments and other
destructive ways the superior authority which will prove to be fittest --
Darwinian evolution applied to their concept of knowledge.

But since they bestow so much authority on the informative document as
also a container of knowledge with authority, it seems that they are
struggling conceptually with the authority which their experiences have in
their own right. Furthermore, whenever the information in a document do
not commute with their own experiences, it seems that they have to deny
the authority of experiences in own right to that empty point where
experiences have no authority any more. When this happens, it seems that
they begin to cut practice (which I believe is one whole) into many
"apart-practices" with a suitable model for each "apart-practice". Sooner
than later they end up with such a huge collection of
"apart-practice-model" that anybody (and not merely their kind) who want
to manage such a collection have to begin classifying the collection so as
to manage it. Thus the systematics of systems thinking begin to emerge to
follow its own evolutionary path.

Dear John and fellow learners, I feel with all my heart (perhaps this is
after all where love with its authority resides) that something is going
to trigger the demise of capitalism. For many years I had the knowledge
that it may be the growing scarcity of fossil fuel (source of physical
free energy). But the last couple of years my knowledge deepened. The
trigger may very well be the scarcity of mental free energy. I observe
clearly how the more a person bestows the authority of knowledge on an
informative document, the less mental free energy that person has for
creative mental dances by exhibiting judgements which manifests the death
which a lack of free energy brings about.
I have stressed above that
. there is no knowledge what so ever in this contribution
Since there is no knowledge in it, I also have to stress
. there is no authority of knowledge in this contribution
It means that each of you fellow learners who considers learning
and knowledge dear to you, will have to make up your own mind
where the authority of knowledge lies. This is not an easy task.
Science has it that this authority resides with the peers in a
scientific discipline, the most authoritative among them the
scientists with the most impressive CV. Publishers have it that
this auhority resides with the writer who earns the most with
publishing books. Some people even think that I want to become
an authority in Internet with my long contributions ;-)

I am merely trying to help those in need of authentic learning as best as
I can. Thus I am very serious when I pose the following two questions.

Where does the authority of your learning and knowledge resides? What has
authority over the authority of your learning and knowledge?

As I understand the art of Learning Organisations, these authorities come
with Personal Mastery while the other four displines are most beneficial
to PM.

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

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.