Archetypes LO26482

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 04/03/01

Replying to LO26446 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <> writes

>....i'd like to suggest to you that archetype is
>Perhaps the word scaffold ("steiger" we call it
>in Dutch: a tool to rise or raise) could be used.

Greetings dear Jan,

I like your suggestion. Should we translate the Dutch word "steig"+"er"
(tool for raising) into English in both meaning and form, it would be
"raise"+"er" or "raiser".

Yet there is something hindering me in this suggestion. Once the building
is completed, the scaffold is dismantled. When I think for example of
wholeness functioning as a scaffold, it is not dismantled after a certain
level of complexity has been completed. However, should this "scaffold"
wholeness be temporally dismantled so as to use it once again in
constructing a second building in a holistic relationship to the first
building, the dismantling can be consider as a creative collapse.

Thus, what hinders me in your fine suggestion is not the functioning of
the caffold, but what we do with the scaffold itself. Should we keep on
constructing with it, your fine suggestion becomes a lovely metaphor. But
should we throw it away afterwards so as to pollute the mental environment
with other discarded construction tools, then our minds will suffer. I
think that this what Gavin Ritz had in mind by speaking out against the
proliferation of managerial junk.

>Every form, content, derives from another form.
>But these precursors of forms or processors of
>content have a different content, just like a scaffold
>is not the building, but it is a building for building.

I am not sure whether we think the same here. As I see it, think of any
level of complexity which has content and form. When going to the next
higher level, all the content&form of the first level becomes the content
of the second level which develops its own first Order Form (1st OF).
Likewise all the content&form of the second level becomes the content of
the third level which again develops its own second Order Form (2nd OF).
So what we have, is
. "PC"&"1st OF"&"2nd OF"&"3rd OF"....
where PC is the Primordial Content.

I think that Leibnitz with his notion of "monads" tried to tell us
something of this "primordial content"

I think that Jan Smut's idea of "holism", i.e. "increasing wholeness" so
that "the sum of the parts is less than the emerging whole" is in a
similar direction too. Here, in the pattern
. "PC"&"1st OF"&"2nd OF"&"3rd OF"....
we have
. "PC"&"1st OF" = "Innumerous 1st OWs"
. "PC"&"1st OF"&"2nd OF" = "many 2nd OWs"
. "PC"&"1st OF"&"2nd OF"&"3rd OF"= "fewer 3rs OWs
where OW stands for Ordered Whole.

Perhaps most compelling is that in the quantum mechanical construction of
the atom (nucleus in the centre and electrons surrounding it) we again get
this pattern that the less complex electronic configuration is encompassed
by the more complex electronic configuration in complexer atoms. The next
level of complexity is the electronic configuration of the molecule.

>Any archetype, in my view, is neither contentless
>nor formless.

I want agree with you, but let us move cautiously ahead by questions.
First of all, what you say using alternative denial is logically
equivalent to "any archetype has content and form". Do you understand it
like this? I do. Secondly, what you say applies to each level of
complexity of the material world from subatomic particles to galaxies. But
what about the abstract world?

For example, mathematicians have defined a point as being circular but
having no diameter and a line as tracing a form but having no thickness.
These "forms without content" (points, lines, surfaces) kept
mathematicians happy for three millennia until Brouwer began to ask his
famous topological questions. Today some mathematicians (called the
categorists) think of points, lines and surfaces as things each enclosed
in a "topos" (space) as content outside them.

The traditional mathematics of more than two millennia (but not postmodern
categorial mathematics) do not differ from other abstract subjects. The
general idea is that "form is like an empty container which has to be
filled up with content". We know that in the physical world this is
absurd, unless former content is displaced by latter content should they
not add together. This was discovered already by Archimedes more than two
millennia ago, making him to run naked through the street crying "Eureka"
(I have it).

To overcome this "form without content" restriction in thermodynamics,
Prigogine complexified /_\S(sy) -- the change /_\ in entropy S of the
system SY -- into two parts:
. /_\S(sy) = /_\(rev)S(sy) + /_\(irr)S(sy)
The part /_\(rev)S(sy) refer to a displacing (if not adding) of
content&form with with some other content&form. But the part /_\(irr)S(sy)
refer to the content of the system SY which stays the same while its form
changes irreversibly from form to form.

You write that the archetype

>It is a pre-shaped form and like any figure,
>it cannot exist without a ground.
>Figure and ground. Why? Because we cannot
>think, read or write without a pre-existing form.

I would rather say "pre-existing" content&form. This "pre-existing"
content&form is nothing else than which the Law of Requisite Complexity
applies to. For me it means that this "pre-existing" content&form IS
ALREADY COMPLEX and not simple. That is why we encounter topics such us
"becoming-being", "identity-context, "unity-associations" in dialogues on
this "pre-existing" content&form.

I would also add that "we cannot think, read or write without a
pre-existing content&form". It corresponds with what has been for me one
of the most powerful rules of creativity -- "nothing can be created in the
void". Or to put it in different ords, everything has to be created upon a
requisite content&form.

>So I was enlightened when Ad came with the
<suggestion of "grondvorm". It created with me
>the thought (theSotS (South of the Sahara)) of the
>archtypical landscape of the African
>Savanne. Wonder where that came from.

When the European settlers of Dutch, Lower German, German, French and
English origins had to settle them in South Africa with its immense
diversity and rapid changes, they had to adapt even their languages to
speak effectively of such a vastly different world. Afrikaans emerged as
the common language. Prior to the days of dictionaries, Afrikaners could
create new words in terms of their tacit knowledge on language. One way of
creating new words was by effectively connecting "noun" with "noun"
without any restrictions what-so-ever. The word "grond-vorm"
("ground"+form") is such a connection. It is the recognition of an archaic
pattern which involves both "form" (vorm) and "content" (ground).

I am not sure how old this word is, but I suspect it goes back a few
centuries. The people of South Africa (San - Bushmen -yellow, Khoi -
Hottentots - brown, Banthu - black people and European settlers - white
people) soon became aware that although they differ in most things, they
are similar in some things. These things in which they are similar were
called "grondvorme" (ground forms).

Sadly, the ideology and policy of apartheid undid many of this
intercultural understandings. Furthermore, the coming of dictionaries of
Afrikaans caused many speakers to lose their ability to create a new word
on the spur of the moment to articulate what they tacitly know.

Some Afrikaner educationalists used the word "grondvorme" in the sense of
the term "essences" of Husserl's phenomenology. This connects their
concept of "grondvorme" to the much older concept of "Uhrphaenomen" of

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

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