Process - Structure LO26635

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/06/01

Replying to LO26607 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <> writes:

>Since last December I am reading slowly the Divina Commedia
>of Dante Aleghieri. This book was written in 1300. It is composed
>of three parts: Infeno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.


>After nearly finishing the whole book (recently published in
>a beautiful and new translation in Dutch) it again and again
>reminds me of the dialogues on this list. And again and again
>it strikes me how much the writings of Dante and of At de
>Lange coincide. For instance, it was for me a revelation to
>read the reasons to enter in the inferno. These reasons are
>nothing more than if one WITH PURPOSE impairs one of the
>7 E's of At!

Greetings dear Leo,

You are not the first one to perceive the 7Es in Dante's writings. But
then, the 7Es are not really so original, except for me discovering them
together in searching for a bridge between the physical and spiritual
worlds. Even the writing of Job, almost 4000 years ago, is rich in them!

>In this very Canto somewhat further(terzetto 28 and further) Dante
>says some very interesting things about philosophers and rote
>learners/reproducers. The latter catagory is the reason of so
>uch misunderstandings of the words in the Bible and the reason
>of so much corruption in religious matters.

Dear Leo, yes, rote learning is without "metanoia". Thoughts are taken
from without without searching for their deeper meaning.

>And here follows Canto XXIX:
>Paradiso: Canto XXIX
> At what time both the children of Latona,
>Surmounted by the Ram and by the Scales,
>Together make a zone of the horizon,

Leo, thank you for quoting to us some of the heavenly poetry of Dante.

I have done a little bit of research on the person of Dante. Durante
Alighieri (1265-1321) was born in Florence, descending from an ancient
Roman family. The time slot of his lifespan is interesting. I used to
think of Dante as one of the first great personalities of the Renaissance.
I was wrong since historians tend to take the fall of Constantinople 1453
as the beginning of the Renaissance. This makes Dante one of the last
great personalties of the Middle Ages.

Even more interesting, let us bear in mind the birth of the universities
like Paris-France (1147-1159?), Oxford-England (1133-1157?), Bologna-Italy
(1158-1200?) and Palencia-Spain(1214). It is difficult to establish exact
dates because most of these ancient universities emerged from "guilds for
leaning" rather than springing up by royal charter from nothing like many
universities a century later. These "guilds for leaning" functioned as
medieval "tacit learning organisations". I believe that their role in
preparing for the emergence of the ancient universities cannot be stressed

I tend to think of the last 200 years (1250-1450) of the Middle Ages as
the Period of Rediscovering Learning. It was this very period which
prepared the minds of Europeans for the Rennaissance. It afforded them the
requisite complexity for that unique emergence known as the Renaissance
through which the Modern Era began. The Renaissance itself ended with the
Reformation and so also the era of guilds ("tacit learning organisations")
in general.

It is in this Period of Rediscovering Learning (PRL) that we have to view
great personalties like Dante Alighieri and Roger Bacon. They set examples
of trying to break with the rote learning of the Middle Ages, causing them
to be exiled or put in dungeons. The PRL itself did not happen as out of
nothing. I think that it was a direct consequence of the Crusades to
Jerusalem. People all over Europe began to participate in crusade after
crusade. Their travelling during these crusades widened their perceptions
to a greater world (wholeness) having much more differences (otherness)
requiring new ways of thinking (openness). They began to realise how
restrictive (spareness) their own cultures were, and because having made
contact (fruitfulness) with other cultures (sureness), they became
(liveness) willing to change their old habits.

Since as a child, Dante was deeply under the impression of the power of
learning. He himself acknowledged with gratitude and affection the vital
role which his mentor, Brunetto Latini, played in opening up for him the
classical world of thinkers like Virgil, Horace and Ovid. Under the
guidance of Latini the young Dante began to master all to be known on the
Latin side of the Classical Era. Like a Leonardo da Vinci after him, he
did not specialise, but explored everything written. Should more of the
Greek side of the Classical Era have been available to him, how greater
would his influence not have been on the Renaissance?

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Dante was that he did not write
only in Latin like the scholastics of the Dark and Middle Ages, but
committed many of his works in a langauge though which it became known as
Italian. He did for Italian what a Sheakespear and a Milton did for
English and our own Eugene Marais did for Afrikaans. He lived in a country
torn apart by partisanship upon partisanship. The political and ecclestial
intrigues during his times and in which he was involved, dynamical as he
was, are hair raising. Among all these destructive immergences as well as
being exiled himself from Florence, he managed to emerge in his writings
to the highest level of spirituality. He set an example of cultural
autopoiesis for the Italians which perhaps only a Milton for the English
and a Goethe for the Germans could match.

In his writings he painted a world in which humans struggle to live in
harmony of God. Unlike the communism of the earlier Plato with his
"Republic" and the later More with his "Utopia", Dante tried to maintain
the complementarities between the individual and society, between men and
women and between humankind and God. As his poverty in material goods
increased almost incomprehensively, he created literature with increasing
spiritual wealth also difficult to comprehend. Thus Dante's noble and
heroic mind awakened, like a butterfly flapping its wings in complexity
theory, the storm in the minds of the peoples of Western Europe as Homer
did so long ago for Asia Minor.

It is difficult to single out any one of his works. The "Divine Comedy" is
perhaps his greatest. It is certainly a work which took exceptionally long
to complete, almost twenty years. The care with which he created this work
of art and thus also the time which it took, can be compared with perhaps
only Goethe's "Faust". It seems that he knew like Goethe how much this
work will become a guiding light to future generations, how much joy but
also pain the creativity of humankind can cause, how much the bifurcations
of the human spirit poses dangers as well as blessings.

Dante had to wander in poverty all over Italian soil, almost as if this
had to give him the experiences necessary to explore all walks within the
human spirit. In this he bears a striking resemblance to the ancient
master Confucious. Both have studied all books which they could lay their
hands upon, but their wanderings brought that much needed sonority and
clarity to express the tacit knowledge of others. One great legacy of
Dante is that his spiritual wanderings helped the Italians to regain the
unity of Italy. His wholeness of spirit set an example which only after
his death helped his country to become whole once again.

Even though inferior because of lack of time and facilities, my research
brought me deeply under the impression how Dante became the
personification of the Period of Redicovering Learning. In my country as
in the rest of Africa, there is a deep desire for what president Mbeki
articulated as the African Renaissance. I am also deeply under the
impression that the European Renaissance would not have happened without
the preparation by the Period of Rediscovering Learning. I am just as
deeply under the impression that the African Rennaissance will also need
such a Period of Redicovering Learning, not only of peoples born in
Africa, but of humankind. Africa had been fragmented seemingly beyond
repairs because of colonialism. Africa does not need more warlords and
despots. Africa does not need to be told that its wakening depnds on
economy, technology or politics. The immense debts which Africa owe the
rich of the world is nothing but "funny money", wealth acquired by the
latter exploiting Africa in the past.

Africa needs wise teachers and noble books to guide the children of all
its peoples to overcome the old destructive ways inherited by rote
learning. Africa needs to break loose from the confinements of exclusive
and secular thinking. Africa needs a personality to emerge as Homer of
Asia Minor initiating the Classical Age and Dante of Western Europe
initiating the Modern Age. That person has to be cultivated by education
in the spirituality of all humankind. Africa needs your spiritual help,
dear fellow learners, wherever in the world you may be. Do not entice or
force Africa to take sides because this is the road to destruction. Africa
rather needs your unconditional love to rediscover the power of Love as
the great Teacher of Nazareth set example unique to the history of

Africa has lost the harmony between structures and processes, i.e
liveness, Africa also have lost much in the other six of the 7Es, all as a
result of colonialism and its slavery. Thus so much of Africa is presently
on the road of inevitable destruction. Most of the rest of the world try
to avoid Africa because of this. Avoiding Africa will not help them to
learn the lesson that destruction is not causing itself. Destruction is
caused by too little comprehension on the 7Es., whether we can ariculate
them directly as I am trying to do or indirectly as Dante, Da Vinci,
Milton or Goethe did.

Leo, you have discovered a deeper meaning (metanoia) in the 7Es by
studying the work of Dante. This has been also my experience by studying
the works of the masters from time immemorial the past fifteen years.
There is nothing new under the sun as the sage (Solomon) of the Bible has
written. All is but a making with words again and again. It is if we
cannot really self-organise irreversibly to a new order of complexity. I
think it is because we do not increase sufficiently in the 7Es as Jan
Smuts noted with holism -- "increasing wholeness". The deeper meaning of
wholeness is to increase in it, to understand it not only as a structure,
but also as a process, like each of the other six of the 7Es. It is not
the 7Es which are imposrtant, but the /_\7Es to use again this incredible
symbol /_\.

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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