Dante's Divine Comedy LO26737

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 05/28/01

Replying to LO26711 --

Dear Organlearners,

Winfired Dressler <Winfried.Dressler@Voith.com> writes:

>Where does the negative-destructive connotation of the
>term "constraint" come from in your mind? You surprised
>me by putting "constraint" close to "sin".


>You surely remember my learning. It was only after this
>learning that I encountered the Theory of Constraints. And
>this was well after the originator of the TOC, Goldratt, has
>learnt his lessons on the devastating effects of broken
>constraints, effects like those I would expect from impaired
>spareness, or from flooding a system with external entropy
>in an immature state.
>No-sin may be closer to god, I don't know (I have no idea what
>this no-sin should be). But no-constraint is as hell as an atomic
>bomb or a super nova.

Greetings dear Winfried,

Thank you for questioning me.

I should have written
. "It is that FOR OTHERS they have a negative-destructive
. connotation which then has to be transformed into
. something with a positive-constructive meaning.
I try to avoid writing on "sin" because it became dogma -- something which
has to be accepted without questioning. I come from a time in South Africa
when it was proclaimed as a great sin to question apartheid at all.

As for the concept "constraint", long before Goldratt's use of it in his TOC
the general meaning of the word had two sides to it:
(1) to confine and enforce.
(2) to compel and urge
These dual meanings were inherited from importing the French word
"constraindre" into English. Although Goldratt use it in the positive sense
of (2), it can be interpreted in the negative sense of (1). The reason is that
constraints do have this dual function of "cutting off" and "letting through".
The same applies to the wall of any living cell -- to isolate and to open up.

I prefer to use the concept of the "Essentiality" (E) because there is a
certain assymetry here between the negative and the positive. Should
merely one of the 7Es be too much impaired (reduced, simplified) for the
complexity of the level of development, the development would immerge or
ablate destructively. But for a contructive emergence or digestion all 7Es
have to be taken into account since they do not act independently. For
example, liveness may have been seriously impaired. For me now to repair
only liveness (without bearing in mind that it also impaired all the other
six Es, but to a lesser extent) would be a tragic misconception.

I cannot introduce this assymetry (which is basic to irreversibility) into
the TOC of Goldratt without serious changing his TOC. Through the years I
have stressed that this "symmetry breaking of entropy production" is basic
to my conception of "deep creative systems". The far majority of
physicists think otherwise -- that nature has a basic symmetry which has
to be conserved. I cannot speak for Goldratt, but I also could not find
where he wrote on how this assymetry of irreversibility relates to his
TOC. Thus I decided that it is better for me to leave "constraints" alone
so that fellow learners can make up their own mind on their own.

Yes, I can indeed understand how Goldratt was shocked by the devastating
effects of a breaking constraints. It makes me think of Jan Smuts who was
endlessly thinking in terms of "holism"="increasing wholeness". When he
lost the election in 1948 as leader of the SAP (South Arican Party) to the
NP (National Party) with their ideology of "apartheid" = "broken
wholeness" he was devastated. I think he was one of the few mentally
capable of imagining how much South Africa would become destroyed the next
44 years.

To apply LEM (Law of Excluded Middle) to the meaning of any concept is a
most dangerous thing to do. It can be done to give a concept an exclusive
meaning, but then whoever does it, has to live with the danger of having
done so. I have learned my lesson dearly with respect to "entropy". The
thousands of hours which I had to spent making sure beyond any doubt that
it not only measures chaos, but also order, and not only structure, but
also process, I wish for nobody else.

>For me, understanding constraints is YES-understanding.
>It revitalizes (and here I talk of experience - my main
>concern was: where to get the free energy from, which I
>need) in a similar manner as the insight into spareness
>as an essentiality may revitalize.
>I can imagine negative connotations of the word constraint
>only the context of past destructive effects through rote
>learning in the net between oppression and breaking
>oppression. I don't subscribe to this game.

What I know of English words and there meaning, I picked up by reading
many books, but obviously not all of them ;-) So I have a skewed notion of
what English words mean. I realise this and thus often have to make sure
in a standard dictionary what a word means. But I have too little time to
do it for every word which I suspect to be contencious. I did not do it
for "constraint" as I should have done. I am now deeper under the
impression just how dubious the meanings of the word "constraint" are. I
ought to have consulted the dictionaries and made my position clearer. I
am sorry.

>But language and meaning of words is of couse not an individual issue.

How right you are.

I am furthermore deeply under the impression that our natural languages,
whether a gigantic international lingua franca like English or a tiny
language like my own mother tongue Afrikaans, are fast losing their
ability to express increasing creativity and complexity as its outcome. I
know from many discussions with local linguists that it is most dangerous
for me to even mention this impression because they immediately give to it
a NO-connotation. Because of this NO they think I am implying that natural
languages are on their way out.

I think of it in a YES context. In this sense I am implying that sooner or
later, perhaps far too soon for those not prepared for it, many of our
natural languages will approach the edge of chaos where the drama of
bifurcations will happen. Every day I struggle to formulate English
sentences in which the words appear in certain patterns. This is called
syntaxis. On the one hand I have to conform to the syntaxis of standard
English, despite the little I know of it. But on the other hand I have to
read a sentence several times to make sure that it tells what I know
tacitly. I often have vividly an imaginative insight how I could shorten
the syntaxis (patterns between words) into a morphology (pattern within
one word). This gives me the shivers because the imagination of the
present has the propensity to become the formal of the future, even though
it may fail.

Somebody wrote in another list that the equation E = M x C^2 has a simple
meaning mathematically. But in the context (syntaxis) of mechanics and
electromagnetism its meaning becomes rather complex. It requires
Einstein's Theory Of Relativity (TOR) to to understand its meaning. What
we should try to remember, is that Einstein had to make use of what he
called "thought experiments" to arrive at his TOR and an equation like E =
M x C^2. These "thought experiments" were nothing else than imaginative
experiments. Now, in the context (syntaxis) of imagination rather than
mechanics and electromagnetism, the meaning of the equation E = M x C^2
becomes extremely complex!

This is what I have in mind with what may happen to natural languages at
the edge of chaos. The mathematical form of E = M x C^2 is its morphology.
It is deceptively simple. But to understand its meaning in the context
(syntaxis) of Einstein's imagination and not merely the physics of
mechanics and electromaganetism, makes it extremely complex. Einstein's
immense sensitivity to increasing wholeness drove him trying to unify
mechanics and electromagnetism. One of the outcomes of this unification
was the derivation of the equation E = M x C^2. I can say the same for
Gibbs and his deceptively simple equation F = E - T x S. In his case he
tried to unify physics and chemistry with magnificent sucess. The context
(syntaxis) of this equation is a paper several hundred pages long!

People think of these two equations as extremely reductionistic. I think
of them differently. They are each like a hypopotamus. When this animal
swims in water, only its ears, eyes and nostrils are above the water. This
is less than 0.01% of its whole body. You Europeans think of an iceberg of
which only the tip is above the water. This is some 20% of its whole mass.
I have never seen an iceberg except in pictures. But I have seen many an
alive hypopotamus. Thinking of it as ears, eyes and nostrils is about the
greatest error one can make.

Winfried, how much of the syntaxis of wholeness does the morphology of the
equations E - M x C^2 and F = E - T x S tell you? Dante did a remarkable
thing. He formed Italian into script so as to compose the Divine Comedy
rather than using the formal Latin available in his day. In my mother
tongue Afrikaans Eugene Marais did the same -- he formed Afrikaans into
script rather than using formal Dutch available in his day. Both Dante and
Marais, like Einstein and Gibbs, were very sensitive to increasing

Jan Smuts believed that holism (increasing wholeness) is the driving force
of all evolution, material and spiritual. Despite the incredible
fragmentation of academy into independant subjects and subjects into
independant disciplines, I am deeply aware of some young people swimming
against this practice. They are deeply aware to "increasing wholeness" as
a driving force in their own lives. Only today, in addition to all my
other chores, I had to help two doctorate students how to follow this
"increasing wholeness" rather than to give in to fragmentarism which their
promotors want them to conform to.

Wholeness is for them a YES-constraint -- they want to increase in it. But
wholeness is for the system a NO-constraint -- their promoters want to
break it because of the "publish-or-perish" syndrome to which they self
conformed. My heart aches for these students because their mental anguish
is severe in their spiritual birth. But this is how it also goes with
every physical human birth -- there is pain to endure so as to emerge into
joy. During the years of apartheid a few Afrikaners had to suffer extreme
spiritual pain because of making apartheid a sure issue of "breaking

Winfried, your fighting against "breaking constraints" is noble and the
pain will eventually become joy. I hope that I caused you merely a
fleeting pang rather than an enduring pain.

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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