Flipping Empowerment LO26297

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 03/07/01

Replying to LO26281 --

Dear Organlearners,

Andrew Campbell < ACampnona@aol.com > writes:

>It's very strange that I should come upon that article this
>weekend and beside the copy of New Scientist sits this
>from Koestler who notes with what i detect a certain sarcasm
>the work of Skinner at Harvard in whom he detects that common
>inability to distinguish between the skills of the truly creative
>artist and the more mechanical 'performance as expertise' in
>the accomplishments of the virtuoso. For Prof. Skinner it was
>sufficient to point to his work with pigeons to explain the mental
>development of mankind. (Koestler, Thinking Aside)

Greetings dear Andrew,

I have made a short trip to the university to empty my email box. Like an
alcholic I could not help studying the LO-mails of the past week. I am
addicted to all the honest efforts of fellow learners to learn
authentically. Thank you all for keeping me in a state of addiction to
learning ;-)

Arthur Koestler has a special place for me. His research into creativity
was not playing another academical ball, but to understand as much as
possible human creativity. Thus he left no stone untouched in his quest.
Eventually he discovered what is essential to all creative acts and what
he called "bijection" -- to make the effective connection between things
so as to create something new from them -- something which I much later
realised through my own research to be one of the seven essentialities of
creativity, namely fruitfulness. It is because of this discovery of
"bijection" that creativity is now usually defined as "connecting
seemingly unrelated things in a novel manner."

>What is a creative collapse on the battle field, in the desert,
>upon the cross, in Belsen or the office or factory other than
>the apprehension and enactment of the 360 degrees to the
>power of 360 degrees. At de Lange, I need you power of mathematics.
>What would be a rich picture to bring 360 to the power of 360
>My guesstimate is,- the same as the number of sub-atomic particles
>in the cosmos plus One.

Andrew, the picture which you seek reminds me of classical approach to
understand entropy in terms of an ensemble of particles behaving
mechanically. A formula which became famous along this line of thinking is
the equation of Boltzmann linking the entropy S of a system of particles
to the number of possible ways P by which that system could attain a
particular configuration among its particles. (The most creative Russian
physicist L Landau prefered to call P the number of "complexions" by which
the system could evolve.)

This equation is usually given as
. S = k x ln P
But it can also be written as
. P = e^(S/k) (the base being natural number e=2.6... to the power S/k)

The constant k is known as Boltzmann's constant which has the extremely
small value of 1.38x10^-23. By dividing the entropy S of the system with
this, the quotient S/k becomes extremely large. Thus using this as the
power of the natural number e, the final outcome of e^S/k makes P so
immense that only few people can even imagine how large P is. Should we
compare it to all the bytes of all memory chips in all computers up to the
present, it would be like looking at one drop of sea water rather than the
entire ocean!

Koestler had deep dialogues with many creative thinkers, not excluding
physicists. Time and again he urged them to explain to him what he still
did not understand self. I think that during the course of his research,
he also encountered this formula. When he realised that Skinner selected
but one of the many ways (yes, e^S/k many ways, far more than all the
drops of sea water in the ocean) to explain with confidence the behaviour
of humans, I can very well imagine his indignation.

Rote learning forces billions of people to learn one and the same way --
viewing the ocean through one and the same drop of sea water. But
authentic learning opens up billions of ways to learn more of one and the
same universe -- each learning experimenting with his/her own drops of sea
water. So what is authentic learning? My first ever understanding of it
some thirty years ago led to a simple expression, using only five words:
TO LEARN IS TO CREATE. Its like using the three basic colours to create a
painting. How many artictic paintings have been created among humankind
since (as dear Ray Harrel puts it) Cromagnon humans appeared on the scene?

What always strikes me is the immense difference between the joy derived
while creating a work of art and the later triumph of someone else owning
it as some kind of investment. Its like having the entire ocean to explore
compared to posessing but one drop of sea water. I am afraid that although
mathematics can formalise this difference, it cannot also give sense to
it. It is our task to make sense of it and in this task mathematics is but
one drop in the entire ocean.

I have to stop because I am not fit enough to work hours without end. But
I want to say this, I am deeply impressed with your comparison of Koestler
with Skinner in trying to make sense out of the richness of creativity.
Its like comparing an elephant with a flea. The question is -- which one
will sway the bridge when crossing it. The flea taking a ride on the
elephant will always say: "See how we sway the bridge." ;-) Koestler has
been an elephant on which too many fleas had taken a ride, thinking that
they are swaying the world.

In a LO we are all the fleas taking a ride on the LO as the elephant!

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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