What is Structure LO25609

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 11/09/00

Replying to LO25581 --

Dear Organlearners,

Fred Nickols <nickols@att.net> writes:

>At de Lange replied at length to my posting about
>structure. I'm going to respond to him on essentially
>a point-by-point basis (although I'll try to "chunk" my
>responses so as to not over-burden the reader).

Greetings Fred,

Thank you for your carefully prepared response.

>>>what I'm about to say is sufficiently different
>>>as to warrant going ahead.

>>Seldom have I seen such a subtile admission for
>>authentic learning ;-) You are a master.

>Thanks, At, but I'm not sure what you mean.

Authentic learning creates subtile diffferences and dare.

>It doesn't strike me as immediately obvious that a
>structure consisting of other structures is necessarily
>more complex than the structures comprising it.

Yes, they are also fewer in number and more unique. Thus at the top we
will have a unique entity, most complex in "structure" and least in
number. But dare we call it a "stucture"?

The answer to this question has profound inplications for me. For example,
when I think of monotheistic religions, their billions of followers call
this most unique entity God. Dare we call God "structure"? How will we
answer to all these billions of followers?

>On the other hand, it does strike me as eminently
>reasonable to conclude that complex structures
>might relate to one another in ways that yield a larger
>yet simpler structure.

Fred, I am not sure what you mean with "larger yet simpler".

On the hand, when the "relate" is loose and weak (like sand on a beach or
animals and plants in a zoo), I do understand what you mean. But on the
other hand, when the "relate" is definite and strong (like crystals in a
granite rock or animals and plants in a game park), I do not understand
what you mean. In that case I would have used "more complex and unique",
yet leaving the rest of your sentence just as it is.

[By the way, one of the means which I use to make sure whether a "greeny"
is authentic, is to examine how that person thinks of ecological
relationships -- loose and week or definite and strong. Far too many are
now jumping on the "green" band wagon too.]

>Saying that was certainly not my intent. I can see a
>structure in which the elements are systems (e.g., the IT
>architecture of almost any sizable corporation).

OK. Let me make sure -- for you "structure" is more complex and
encompassing than "system". For me it is the other way around.

>My use of quotes was meant simply to indicate that
>I was referring to the word at the root of the question
>posed earlier. So far as I am aware, it had and has no
>other significance.

I use quotes also in that sense of focus. But sometimes I also use them in
the sense of "give the name which you prefer to it". I think I will have
to come up with a unique way to indicate the latter. Any suggestion?

>>What implicit knowledge did you try to articulate
>>here? Does the word 'structure' which you use as
>>"structure" articulate sufficiently what you know implicitly?
>First off, I'm a little confused. In the paragraph immediately
>above, you ask me about "implicit knowledge" but, in the
>preceding paragraph, you spoke to my views about "tacit"
>knowledge. I don't view tacit and implicit knowledge as one
>and the same thing so I'm not quite sure how to respond.
> Again, that said, I'll try...

Were it not for our intense dialogue on tacit knowledge some time ago, I
would not have know that you take it to be different to implicit
knowledge. I think that they are the same. Nevertheless, I tried to write
in your terms of referance rather than mine.

Since our dialogue on tacit knowledge, I had been thinking a lot on "tacit
knowledge cannot be said" whereas "implicit knowledge has not yet been
said". I have been wondering whether "tacit knowledge cannot be said",
which is a property of tacit knowledge (now I am saying something of tacit
knowledge which you say cannot be said;-) and thus was used to give it
the name tacit knowledge (again I am aying something of tacit knowledge
which you say cannot be said ;-), is a problem of language rather that the
central property of tacit knowledge.

>I was thinking of "structure" as having much in common
>with architecture, that is, with design intent on fulfilling
>purpose. From that perspective, "structure" has a lot in
>common with art.

OK. This is also the main meaning which dictionaries ascribe to it.
Furthermore, its also the meaning used by chemists when thinking of the
shape of a molecule -- atoms="elements", bonds="connections",
bond-angle="relationship" (one of many). (I have stressed your terms with
quotations marks.)

>(I am well aware that concrete objects and relationships
>are being mixed up there with more abstract arrangements
>but so be it for now.)

Yes, the less concrete and more abstract the "arrangements" become,
the more the word "organisation" and the less the word "structure"
is used. I like your use of "arrangement" above, although I perhaps have
misused it to refer to both "organisation" and "structure". I prefer to use
the word "patterns" (plural) in the sense which you used "arrangement".

>It does occur to me, however, that I left out a couple
>of important aspects of the relationships issue; namely,
>the spatial and temporal aspects. Consider, for example,
>the structure of that lowly object, the hamburger. .....

Thanks for your example. It tells me how much you think along the patterns
of chemists. They first became aware of the spatial aspects of a molecule
early in the 20th century. But it took them almost a century to become
aware how crucial the temporal aspects also are -- structures are not
static, but dynamic, not a picture, but a movie.

>Space and time are key relationships.

This statement would have made the heart of Einstein leap with pleasure.

>>Is it not possible, according to your description and
>>subsequent example, that the relationships which
>>you write of are nothing but "structures" themselves,
>>although each a minor "structure" to the major "structure"
>>which you speak of?
>That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Yes, the same applies to words like "organisation", "pattern", "system"
and "arrangement". This means that all these words have a peculiar
property in common. What would the property be and what would its
ramifications be?

>You seem to be saying immediately above that many
>less complex structures can be embedded in a few
>more complex structures. I agree. I also am inclined
>to think that many complex structures might be embedded
>in a few simpler structures. Don't ask me how that can be
>because it's only a hunch or intuition on my part; no examples
>leap immediately to mind nor do any scientific principles
>come to mind (but then that's probably because I'm not a

Dear Fred, I almost wrote @#$%^&* to your last remark. Should you have
written "I also am inclined to think that many complex structures might be
$imaged$ in a few simpler structures", I would have felt almost at ease
with what you wrote. I had that hunch too and began to follow it up. It
took me some months to see that it all had to do with what I now call the
"ordinate cyber loop".

>Hmm. Well, for starters, the name isn't the thing just
>as the map isn't the territory.

Yes, but there are a natural order in things which I want to be reflected
in the order of the names. Likewise, orientation is as important to the
territory as to the map. What troubles me much, is the lack of order and
orientation when using words in a Learning Organisation with sufficient
complexity. The one way to try and solve this, is to make use of a
glossary or even dictionary. Another way is to make use of the LO-dialogue

>Way up at the beginning of this posting, you used atom,
>electron, molecule, cell, organelle, organ and organism.
>I think of all those as being structures and having structure.
>They are each composed of elements connected to one
>another and, through those connections, those elements
>display relationships to one another and, perhaps most
>important, through those relationships, they also present
>something that is more than the simple sum of the parts.

OK. Perhaps I have now a fair understanding of your concept of "structure".

Allow me to pull in another subject by the ears. Mathematicans now study
at the forefront of their subject what the call Category Theory (CT). I
will now again stress your terms with quotation marks. A mathematical
Category C consists of objects="elements", arrows="connections" and
diagrams="relationships". They say the objects commute with arrows TO FORM
diagrams. Diagrams can be connected to diagrams, using arrows, TO FORM
even more complex digarms, etc. The end result is called a
category="structure". The way in which they think and the way in which you
think have much similarities.

I think slightly different.

Firstly, I prefer to use the word "organisation" rather than "structure",
not to please human arrangements, but rather to align myself with nature
(where we use the word organism rather than "structurism" profoundly).

Secondly, I am trying to make sure what is the order of complexity, if any
order had emerged though usage so far, between words like "structure",
"pattern", "arrangement", "organisation" and "system".

Thirdly, the distinction between form and content is now crucially
important to me. In your terms of referance, you can think of both
"elements" and "connections" as $content$ and of "relationships" as
$form$. When you let "relationships", formerly $form$, become $content$
also, as a result "structure" will emerge as $form$. In other words, your
"relationships" are $minor form$ and "structures" are $major form$.

I use $form$ with $content$ because they are complentary duals. I could
have used $organisation$ for $form$, but then I will lose the $content$ as
complementary dual. It is actually difficult to establish in this sense
the complementary dual for $organisation$.

A question which I have asked long ago, (I hope I actually asked it and
not merely imagine that I asked it ;-), is "Why is a distinction between
content and form possible at all?" To use your terms of referance, I can
reformulate the question. "Why is a distinction between elements,
connections and relationships on the one hand (or the inside of a hand ;-)
and structure on the other hand (or outside of the hand) possible at

When, to use your terms of referance, I think of the structure of
structures, then think of the structure of structures which I had thought
of structures, etc. etc., at the end I will have to call it a day. The
latest structure which I thought of, encompassing all the rest as
$content$, I will call $form$. So my question could also have been
formulated as "Why is a disinction between past, present and future
possible at all?" You could then have replied with another question "Why
does time have structure"? I suspect that this question (although not its
answer) would be very natural to you.

>Consider the lowly hamburger once more.


>>With care and best wishes

>Same to you, At. Have a hamburger on me.

Thanks. I will have the patty. The bun will put me in a coma. In other
words, since my diabetes, I had to reorientate myself to the "structure"
of food, even of such a low down delicacy like a hamburger.

We here make a joke about hamburgers when the going is poverty. Two
slices of soft porridge outside as the halves of the bun with a slice of
stiff porridge inside as the patty ;-)

Thank you also Fred for your commitment to the LO-dialogue. I am now at
most about one fellow learner fairly sure how he (she) thinks about

I have one last question for you. I tried to ask it, but it did not ask
what I hoped it should have asked.

Do you have tacit knowledge on "structure" -- and if affirmative, how do
you know it?

Please note that I do not and cannot expect you to tell what this tacit
knowlegde amounts to. Its like a "black box" which one sees because one
sees nothing else. I think Leo was intuitively aware of this "black box"
thing when he brought in his lovely idea of holes.

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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