Dante's Divine Comedy LO26688

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 05/17/01

Replying to LO26657 --

Dear Organlearners,

Alfred Rheeder <pvm@pixie.co.za> writes

>Dante considers the 7 deadly sins as offences against
>love and how they constrain one reaching Paradiso
>- Love Agape - Unconditional Love.

Greetings dear Alfred,

Thank you very much for your stunning connection between Dante's 7 sins
and the 7Es.

As a Christian I have to deal with sin as one of the crucial concepts of
the Bible (Old and New Testament). As for myself, I believe that for all
biblical revelation, even on sin, unfolds gradually through my own endless
questioning of the Bible. As a result of this, I do not accept traditional
dogmas and octrines of the various Christian denominations without also
questioning them as deeply as possible. You can imagine the frequent
objections of rote learners.

Nevertheless, I am a human like everybody else in all respects, even
though I profess the religion Christianity. My body has the same physical
organs and my soul has the same spiritual "organs" (levels) as other
humans. The fact that I became a Christian has not removed some of these
organs or added others to them. This means that my "anthropological
organisation" (can we have a better term here please) definitely stayed
the same. Yet I know that a vast change is happening to some "XYZ
organisation " within me since my Christian rebirth a long time ago.

Alfred, since it is not my "anthropological organisation" which changes,
what "XYZ organisation" is then changing? I would like to go deeply into
this question, but perhaps this is not the right time to do so. I think it
is enough to write that my personal evolution in the 7Es is central to
this "XYZ organisation" which changes so much. I would not be surprised
that it is the same with you and other fellow learners. This bring me then
back to Dante, his Divine Comedy and your stunning connection. Was Dante
experiencing this same deep change in "XYZ organisation" which he then
tried to articulate in such a great work of art as the Divine Comedy?

I sense a very, very difficult problem here. Dante was a Christian and he
lived in a time when almost all of the Italian culture was expressed in
Christian terminology. We may even call it "Christian Italian culture". We
Afrikaners here in South Africa spoke up to the end of apartheid of the
same thing among us as the "Christelike Afrikaanse kultuur". But by doing
it, most Afrikaners fooled themselves incredibly by not becoming aware of
the following:

(1) the % of Christians among Afrikaners became gradually less,
(2) too many doings, notably apartheid, were claimed to be Christian,
(3) the 7 deadly sins depicted by Dante flourished.

Why this problem illusion?

I personally believe that it is because of using Christian terminology
where we should have used any anthropological terminology. This very thing
also happens in a number of other religions too. It is one of the many
consequences what we may call religious fundamentalism. Religious
fundamentalism happens by

* firstly excluding in a culture those who profess a certain religion as
  superior from the others who do not as have that religion and then
* secondly enforce that religion and culture upon all the others of that culture
  which do not profess that religion.

Using merely the word "sin" to articulate something with which most humans
and not merely Christians struggle, illustrates for me this religious
fundamentalism. Even worse, again for me personally, is to translate the
word "sin" into another word "@#$"devoid of Christian context and then use
this "@#$" exactly in the Christian context as the word "sin". I think of
it as "stealth religious fundamentalism". The latter is something which I
am extremely aware of and which I may easily be doing without being aware
of it. I often catch myself doing it in writing and then have to correct
myself before proceeding again.

To avoid using "@#$" and rather find another term "$%&" which Christians
identify with "sin", we can make use of Polanyi's insight into tacit
knowledge -- we know more than what we can speak. One of the most
compelling endeavours of humankind for me is to express that very knowing
which was never expressed before. This is for me the very essence of all
fine arts, even that articulations which we do not yet recognise as a fine
art. For example, Einstein's paper on the Theory of Special Relativity
(considered as science) is for me just as beautiful work of art as
Beethoven's Choral Phantasy or Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. I prefer to call such
a "$%&" term an "autopoietic" (Maturana) term or a "morphogenic" (Goethe)
term. Since the latter is older, I will use it.

An example of a "morphogenic" term which Christians identify with "sin",
but which followed the path of sensation => experience => tacit knowledge
=> articulation is the term "constraint" of Goldratt. However, as for
myself, there is something in both the terms "sin" and "constraint" which
deeply troubles me personally. It is that they have a negative-destructive
connotation which then has to be transformed into something with a
positive-constructive meaning. In other words, they cannot be used anymore
to refer to the transformed result, except with the logical operation
"non-constraint" and "non-sin". By always beginning with something
negative-destructive rather than staying as much as possible on the path
of positive-construction, is for me a huge leap backwards on the path of

I am trying to say is that there is a gradual progression among humankind
to say tacit knowledge in a positive rather than a negative manner -- to
say YES with more understanding rather to say NO with comprehending less.
A YES with little understanding revitalises far more than a NO with much
understanding which rather kills. The 7Es (seven essentialities of
creativity -- liveness, sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness,
otherness and openness) have given me the capacity to do so. The very
reason is that the 7Es are not simple, but that we have to complexify
daily in them to keep on saying YES rather than NO. As Jan Smuts said of
one of them, holism is not wholeness, but increasing wholeness.

Dear Alfred, I have merely complexified above what you have written so
succinctly by

>I choose to explore them, [7 deadly sins] focusing more
>on the positive aspects. My focusing on the positive aspects
>is not an attempt the "erase" the negatives. Inevitably their
>will be differences in opinions but I will describe my experiences
>which caused me to choose this path. A path that might be the
>same for some and a path that will definitely be different for

Thank you also for describing you experiences on school which helped you
to follow this path of yours. It takes guts to do it, but the benefit is
that you will grow in openness.

Alfred, you also write something most compelling

>Dante's PRIDE is devastating on openness. What will
>happen to liveliness? Will the system become a SLOTH
>(physically and spiritually lazy) trapped by and through
>the search for an "eternal slave"?
>[Yes you are right At! The joker in the pack is indeed
>openness. You are right Leo - incredible connections and
>similarities exist!]

According to you I am right. But we also have to bear in mind to many
other fellow learners I may be dead wrong and they may eventually be right
rather than us! The joker in the pack is indeed openness because by
claiming that I am right rather than questioning whether pride is
devastating to openness leads to pride! Claiming closes while questioning
opens. Thus I have to question whether you and I are not wrong in
connecting pride with immerging openness. i.e increasing closure. This is
how I will do it.

Are we not practising "stealth religious fundamentalism" here? The Bible
identifies the reason why the Devil, once the chief of all angels, became
the devil and thus the instigator of all sin. It was pride. The Bible also
tells that sin causes a wall between us and God. So it is relatively easy
for us to connect pride with immerging openness. The question thus is: Can
a fellow learner who is not a Christian also understand how pride is
devastating to openness? In other words, can we as mere humans learn that
to avoid pride helps us to increase in openness?

You continue writing

>I am of the opinion that there is not one specific
>essentiality that "opens" the door for everyone or for
>every system for that matter, but I have become extremely
>aware how often the lack of openness devastates/paralyses
>the system - it is almost as if the system is yearning for the
>return to the previous "equilibrium state".

This is something which the professional chemist can argue convincingly
for any chemical system in terms of chemical thermodynamics. The more
closed a chemical system becomes, the less the modes available to
regenerate its free energy by interacting with its surroundings. For
example, shouldf the system become closed for chemical substances, the
system will soon end up in a chemical equilibrium at which its chemical
free energy (called the Gibbs free energy G) has reached a minimum value.
The products which your company manufacture scientifically and market
responsibly, are actually intended to curtail this chemical closure
brought about by bad eating habits.

But again I am deeply troubled here by something which I will not call
"stealth religious fundamentalism", but rather "stealth scientific
fundamentalism". It boils down to the fact that scientific thinking are
elevated above other modes of thinking and furthermore then enforced on
them so as to displace them. Is it not shocking that we can do with
science what we can do with religions?

>I believe that the rate of Entropy Production is extremely
>important. Does the rate of Entropy Production play a
>crucial role in LO's, paradigm shifts and cultural changes in
>organisations? [As if Entropy Production is not already complex
>enough!] Yip - how, why, where and to what extent?

We may be committing once again "stealth scientific fundamentalism" here,
but I do not think it is the case for you. The reason is that your
training in science, unlike mine, has been minute. What you know of
science you have learned authentically. You can tell fellow learners one
day about how science became part of your transdisciplinary thinking.

I do agree that the rate of entropy production is as important as entropy
production /_\(irr)S itself. The rate involves the expression
/_\/_\(irr)S, namely the change (the first "/_\") of the change (the
second "/_\") of the entropy (the "S") in an irreversible (the "(irr)")
manner. A couple of years ago I tried to focus on it a number of times in
our LO-dialogue, but soon discovered that we all know too little of
/_\(irr)S to go into /_\/_\(irr)S. Thus I had to lower the rate of entropy
production in authentic learning so that we all can catch up on /_\(irr)S

One of the devastating outcomes of ignorance (i.e, not even knowing
tacitly) of /_\/_\(irr)S is the mismatch and disharmony between various
subsystems in a complex system. But this is a topic for another day!

>Treating "quality" problems as precious jewels.

Great!! Using problem solving as an elementary sustainer for creativity I
would say in my own manner -- but that is besides the point. Thank you for
seeing the problem which Dante solved in his own unique manner, namely
that the 7 deadly sins prevent us from growing in Love and set us on the
path of destruction . Dante's problem was a profound one -- so little love
in the destructive world which he lived in. I am sure that it is still a
profound problem in our present world in which we live.

With rote learning we would say that Dante solved the problem so that it
need not be solved again. It only has to be memorised and regurgitated.
But with authentic learning it stays a problem until the end of times.
Dante solved it in his unique manner. I have solved it in my own manner
which is not acceptable to many others. In a sense I appreciate their
abhorrence because it will benefit them to solve the problem, each in
his/her own authentic manner. Some "strange" problems have to be solved by
each human in an own unique manner because they are problems within
authentic learning itself. The lack of Love is one of these "strange"

There is no one right way or many wrong ways to solve the problem of lack
of Love. The solutionS (note the plural) for me, you and each other fellow
learner will have been created when we grow in Love as a result of each of
our solutions. My little adding to love, your adding and the adding of
every fellow learner may seem to be insignificant as a tiny drops of
water. But when all these drops become a shower of rain drenching the soil
and filling the rivers and dams, the world will become a different place
to live in.

Lastly, allow me to show you once more how I think openness works. As
Christians we easily say "God is Love" because it is written in the Bible.
However, do we say "God is love" by rote learning involving /_\(rev)S(su)
or by authentic learning involving /_\(irr)S(sy)? And should we know that
"God is love" through authentic learning, are we not committing "stealth
religious fundamentalism" by actually saying it to a community consisting
of more than Christians since it? It surely sounds like a claim rather
than an involuntary expression of awe! To avoid this "stealth religious
fundamentalism", we have to open ourselves up to /_\(rev)S(su) and thus
explain any challenge to our seemingly claims. One way is to imagine self
such challenges in advance, again involving /_\(irr)S(sy), by way of
questioning ourselves. Here is such a question. We have questioned and
found that "God is Love", but have we questioned "Love is God"?

I must warn you that in a sense I have committed "stealth scientific
fundamentalism" here. Chemists know that for every irreversible, forward
reaction, there is also an irreversible backward reaction associated with
it involving the intermediate complex as the commutator. This is the
wholeness of the chemical reaction. Only when the opposing two reactions
have the same rates, the rate of entropy production will have become zero
so that they will be equilibrated. This "God is Love" is like a forward
reaction while the "Love is God" is like backward reaction.

Alfred, happy rates of entropy production to you in the Divine Comedy we

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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