Dialogue, language, learning LO25913

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 01/17/01

Replying to LO25893 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <l.d.minnigh@library.tudelft.nl> writes:

>Why this intro? Because it is one of my main
>answers to the question of our host Rick: what
>drives the emergence of this list as a cyber learning
>org. My spontaneous answer is this: WHOLENESS
> - the broad environment that encompasses a LO
>could be and is under permanent exploration by its
>population; the learning whealth is thus enormous.

Greetings Leo,

Thank you for this contribution. It is "sel". (I will explain this word later.)

Wholeness, for example, means that should we leave anything willfully out,
then we will destroy wholeness as the one -- its "monadicity" pattern. It
also means that whatever we connect to will allow us to connect even
further to something else -- its "associativity" pattern. It seems that
wholeness has a commnd in it -- DO NOT STOP. Jan Smuts actually took this
command in it to write his "Holism and Evolution" (1926), setting forth
the thesis that holism (wholeness as increasing wholes) is the driving
force of all evolution, physical (like living organisms) and spiritual
(like learning persons).

Leo, you end with:

>My web of words becomes too large. I am very sorry
>for this. Language is too complex and therefore
>too intriguing.

Your sensitivity to wholeness is profound. Even though wholeness commands
DO NOT STOP, you do stop and apologise for not stopping sooner. Why?
Because you have fellow learners in mind who have to catch up so as to
remain with our whole, i.e Learning Organisation on this list. Yet at
least one learner also has to explore our whole within the context of the
greatest whole. You need not to apologise to any such a learner.

In between you write the following:

>Maybe the nicest one is "gezelschap" (in German
>Gesellschaft). In English it is something like
>company/society/club. However, no good English
>translation is available. Maybe it is because the
>'gezel', the apprentice/fellow of the medieval guilds
>are not known in the Anglo/saxon world. The word
>'gezel' is very typical. Not only because the perfect
>tanslation (I mean the translation with the perfect 'feeling')
>of Learning Organization is "Lerend gezelschap".
>Gezelschap has a very, very deep meaning not in the
>least because of the creative/-ing ending.

I am one with you so much that I cannot stop at what you have written ;-)
Since the German word "Gestalt" is now often used as an English word too,
why cannot the same be done with the Dutch "gezelschap". It can be made
even more English-like, for example, "ge-sel-ship". However, it will only
become used if their is a need for it which cannot be satisfied by another

What does the stem "sel" mean? Before I try to answer it, allow me a
painting on the evolution of English, Dutch and German.

English is for me like an animal body because it has bony and fleshy
parts. The bony part (skeleton) is derived from Old English (to which the
Angles and Saxons contributed). The fleshy part (muscles and organs) is
derived from Latin and Greek. Thus the bony part is Germanic in nature and
the fleshy part is Romanic in nature. This body began to put on flesh even
before the Enlightenment because of the French occupation several
centuries earlier.

Languages like Dutch, German, Danish and even my own mother tongue
Afrikaans are also like animal bodies because they have a Germanic bony
part and a Romanic fleshy part. However, they put on flesh only after the
Renaissance during the Enlightenment. Afrikaans is some exception because
it emerged only after the Enlightenment and not even in Europe, but in
Africa. Africa seems to be the craddle from which humans (Homo sapiens)
emerged as well as cultured humankind who worked through progressive
emergences with tools, spoken language and eventually written language
(San paintings and later Egyptian hieroglyphs). Perhaps, because of
emerging in this craddle, Afrikaans is not only most modern, but also
shows some of the ancient Germanic roots most clearly.

English does have a word directly related to this stem "sel", namely sell.
It evolved from its ancient Germanic roots where it sounded somehat like
"selan". This "selan" meant "to give sel". These ancients used "selan"
rather than "gifan"=give when the "gif"=gift was this very rare and
precious "sel" and for free. In Afrikaans we still have the word "selde"
which means 'very rare'. So what was this "sel"? It refered to things such
as happiness, passion and empathy. They are the adjoints or "sel" of
spiritual emergences. In other words, when Senge writes of the metanoia
which a LO will have, some of these metanoia will be this "sel". Thus
authentic learning must have an emergent component so as to render this
"sel" when giving birth to concepts novel to the learner.

The contrast between the 'sell' of now and the "selan" of old is shocking.
Somewhere along the path of evolution a tragic destructive immergence
happened to the meaning of "selan". It was made as banal as banal can
become. I think that it was when these ancients began to ask payment for
any "selan", i.e. any "sel" given freely. Since this "sel" is rare and
precious, why not ask payment for it because very high prices (like for
gold and diamonds) would be paid for it. Thus this "sel" which was once
"gifan" freely and irreversibly, became bonded to conditions and frauded
into reversible exchanges.

Should we not take a lesson from this? Should we sell this vision of
becoming a LO to businesses so that they can make even more money? Should
we sell the vision of becoming a LO to organisations in general so that
they can save more money because of increasing productivity? I think that
any attempt to do so will abort the emergence of the LO after the deal has
been clenched. I think that any LO itself who begin to "sell" itself
figuratively so as to gain in status or fame will lose its "self" for the
same reason.

Yes Leo, even the word 'self' seems to have come from the same ancient
root "sel". It was used when an ancient Germanic person reflected on
his/her own consciousness in terms of exactly this "sel" when it
accompanied spiritual emergences. It means that the "self" refered to
consciousness in its most highest manifestation. In other word, the "self"
was the most precious way to speak of oneself.

Leo, you also write:

>End [and?] another famous word with 'gezel' as root
>is: 'gezellig' , litterary meaning gezel-like. But now (and
>maybe centuries ago too) it means an atmosphere and
>ambiance that is sociable, causy, convivial.

Your Dutch "gezel" meant the companion of a person for whom that person
cared so deeply that as a result of this care that companion experienced
"sel", almost as if the person bestowed "sel" on the companion. But only
loving care can be stowed because the very "sel" cannot ever be transfered
from any person to another. (This is why "sel" can never be sold --
whoever does so is a trickster.) The "sel" can only emerge from within the
companion as the adjoint of any spiritual emergence. This is what every
other learner to each learner in a LO should be -- a "gezel". The
communists loved to use the word "comrade". Why cannot we in a LO address
each other as "gezel", meaning "You are my friend for whose sel I deeply

We have also in Afrikaans this word as "gesel". We seldom use it. But
there is another fantastic word related to it which we often use, namely
"gesels". This word is just as rich as the word "lekker" on which I wrote
many moons ago. We also have other more specific words like "praat"=talk,
"preek"=preach, "gesprek"=discuss and "dialoog"=dialogue which we can use
rather than the general word "gesels". When we say that we "gesels
lekker", it means that our communication can happen along the entire range
of human conversation. But in addition to its sweeping meaning, it also
has a specific and unique meaning as "spiritual commuting with bliss".
Look carefully at people talking to each other in this unique sense of
"gesels lekker" and you will see the "sel" radiating from every part of
the body of every talker.

You write:

>Gezelschap has a very, very deep meaning not in the least
>because of the creative/-ing ending.

We could create it for English as "ge-sel-ship". This very suffix "-ship"
means that creativity is most important to whatever the "ship" has been
added to. In this case it means that the "gesel" cannot be sustained
without creativity and that in order to enjoy "sel", we will have to be as
creative as possible.

>And now we are very close to what At has written
>about the 'feelings' and soul of words. Maybe also
>the meanings of words, although that is of another
>level. No, the 'deeper' side of language and particularly
>the web of relationships with other words, that was my
>main perception of At's message. In fact this web looks
>like a dynamic organisation in dynamic equilibrium:
>remove one word, replace one word, change the meaning
>of one word, and an avalanche of changes in the web will
>happen (think of the sandgrain on the slope of a dune).

Leo, you have read my meaning right. While studying the books of Polanyi,
I became aware once again how careful a thinker he is. He wrote that all
the laws of physics and chemistry apply to matter in its inanimate form.
(It is because their validity has been proven only upon inanimate matter.)
He also wrote that the ideal of Laplace of using these laws to render
physical and even spiritual life is fraught because of the grand
emergences involved when going form the petrological to the biological and
then the spiritual realms of reality. These laws cannot tell us anything
about emergences, what to speak of these grand emergences. This Laplacian
ideal is reductionism it its clearest sense.

But no person should ever underestimate the creativity of any human
because it has to be potentially so powerful that it even has to sustain
the divine within the human. Yes these laws of physics and chemistry have
indeed been validated only for the petrological realm. But for many
decades now biologists have been using many of them, often with great
success, in the biological realm too as if validated for that realm too.
Successful use in the biological realm does not entail empirical
validation in that realm. This is a fraudulent inference. Each of these
laws has to be validated in also biological realm the by the scientific
method with its three major phases -- superior observation, creative
speculation and sceptic falsification. This method has to be used in an
ongoing loop so that we can become categorically sure which laws are
indeed empirically valid for the biological realm. We have proceeded
little with putting them to test in the biological realm. There is much
hype, but little facts. We have an arduous journey before us. Exploring
this journey will make unprecedented demands on human creativity.

Scientists from the petrological realm have no hope to validate even one
of their laws of physics and chemistry for the spiritual realm. It is a
problem so immense that not even their tacit knowledge helps them to
percieve this as the hottest problem of our time. That is why they rather
believe in the Laplacian ideal, if not fragmenting science into even more
point-like disciplines.

But, once again, let us not underestimate creativity and learning based
upon it. Thousands of biologists are now applying many of the laws of
physics and chemistry in the biological realm as if these laws also have
been empirically validated for this realm. Sometimes they achieve
spectaular results as in the ongoing rush for biotechnology. But I want to
warn sternly that it is not only a fraudelent application of these laws,
but also extremely hazardous. This is due to LEP, something which even few
scientists in the petrological realm are aware of -- LEP can either make
or break.

However, this warning also applies to me in the first instance. Why? Just
as they are doing with many of these laws for the biological realm, I am
doing it self with only two of them in the spiritual realm -- LEC (Law of
Energy Conservation) and LEP (Law of Entropy Production).

I have been applying LEC and LEP to the spiritual realm before the very
eyes of thousands of fellow learners for a very definite reason. In order
to become aware of the hot problems of our times, we need tacit knowledge.
That tacit knowledge can only emerge by self-experience. I try to involve
all you fellow learners in experiencing self the thinking in terms of a
complex, universal law. I do it strictly in the sense of $$supposing$$
that both LEC and LEP are empirically valid for all three (petrological,
biological and spiritual) realms of reality. Perhaps we should see it as
if we are in stage two (creative speculation) of a hyper-complex
scientific experiment.

In the contribution "Work and Free Energy -- The Dance of LEP on LEC" I
have showed that "entropy production" can stop with two kinds of
equilibria, stable and labile. In a stable equilbrium the free energy of
the system has reached its lowest value so that it has become stone dead.
But in a labile equilibrium its free energy gets stuck at any higher level
than this stone dead level. It can happen by means of a homeostasis which
is deliberately avoiding or zeroing a crucial entropic force. It can also
happen by means of a rheostasis which is deliberately avoiding or zeroing
a crucial entropic flux.

What I have been doing above, is painting a picture with language on
languages while exploring this dance of LEP on LEC. Yes, the "sel" of
ancient times has been placed through the ages under such severe
rheostasis that although we are not stone dead, our spiritual free energy
gradually got stucked and we in a spiritual coma. Many are now becoming
tacitly aware of it. Thus we find all over the world programs set into
action to rejuvenate the spirituality of organisations, societies and
communities following these programs.

What worries me extremely is that the vast majority of producers of these
programs claim extraordinary success so that they can sell even more
applications of their programs. This kind of selling will surely abort or
kill whatever we may now call that "sel" just as it happened in ancient
times. However, we must never lose sight of complexity. Those who create
such programs must live too. In a complex enconomy like ours (because most
things now have to be bought rather then produced self ) these producers
of spirituality programs have to buy things to live in the petrological
and biological realms. But what about the spiritual realm? How much bying
and selling in it is necessary for us and how much are good for us? I can
only speak for myself. As soon as I become aware that the "sel" of the
'self' is in danger, I keep as far away from whatever banal thing which
endangers the "sel".

>Possibly the San people in Namaqualand are
>still much more symbolic and not so materialistic
>as we and our languages became

Dear Leo, they have not been corrupted so much. But their creativity has
been down scaled so much that they live in extreme poverty with almost no
progressive thinking any more. It is only when you "gesels" with them on
their past life in the deserts that the true living spirit of the human
emerge once again with its unmistakeable flickers in the eyes. Living in
the past is living with the dead. If we live only in the past, we are like
the dead too. Living in the future is living with creatures and creations
still to come. We thus have to live not only in the past and perhaps in
the present as many still do, but especially aslo in the future so as to
evolve in our spiritual life. How?

I have replied to Andrew on the beautiful quote of Heidegger which he has
given to us. I have shown how the word "world" reminded me of the ancient
word "weoreld". The word 'work' which we now use, came from "weorcan". Do
you now what it means literally today? "weor"=man and "can"=can. Yes,
"work" means "man can". It is pregnant with the future because whatever we
humans can do point by a great majority to whatever we still have to do.

In my mothertongue Afrikaans we have the word "werklik" just as your
language Dutch has it too. When this word is translated to English, it is
"werklik"=real. Incredible, is it not? We as humans 'can' and when we as
humans do our 'can' we will explore all complexity of reality with our

We each "can" make every fellow learner our "gesel". We cannot do it by
buying or forcing this fellow learner. There is no trick which will make
it possible. We can do it only by caring for that fellow learner in such a
manner that this learner will self have emergences within and thus
experience he "sel" adjointed to these emergences. Let us begin with what
we as "weors" each "can" do, namely "weorcan"=work. Let us work in such a
manner that we do not make this "sel" banal again.

In Afrikaans we still have a most curious remnant of this "sel" in the
very suffix "-sel". It can can be used for both constructive emergences
and destructive immergences. Should you think of this contribution of me
as one very potent brew (noun), then we will call it in Arikaans with
brew="brou" (verb) a "brousel"=concoction. Because the "-sel" can be
applied positively or negatively, each of you fellow learners have to make
up your own mind on this "brousel" of mine. Positively, then it is
medicine. Negatively, then it is poison.

This is how wholeness works -- we cannot stop exploring simply because we
suspect poison rather than medicine. Why? Suspicion is poison to
spirituality. Suspicion makes any brewsel a poison rather than medicine.

I have just created a new English word with this "brewsel" by using it
without any quotes. I hope you have followed my explanation how I have
done it. Please let we hear about your own learnsels or even fightsels.
Any other writesels or even a makesel such as a paintsel are also most
welcome. This is how many Afrikaners in the deserts create their language
with rules which are mere tacit knowledge to them and oblivious to most
linguists. They create Afrikaans so fast that any lexicographer would
throw hands up in the air -- "I give up". I wonder what will happen in the
English speaking world when the same will happen. Selsels? (In Afrikaans
we can also call a system="sisteem" a "stelsel" where the verb "stel"=set
-- hence in this novel English we may also use setsel for system. Yes,
even fatsel can become a new word for fatware ;-) When considered as a
picture and not a movie, my contribution is indeed a fatsel.

With care and best caresels,


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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