Shared Vision or Shared Cliches? LO26995

From: Leo Minnigh (
Date: 07/13/01

Replying to LO26969 --

Particularly replying to LO26942 and LO26969

Dear Winfried and At,

The dialogue on the subject *character* becomes for me interesting but
maybe for some of the LO'ers too phylosophical. I will try to articulate
my thoughts and hope to connect these to our general theme of Learning
Organizations. But let me stress that this picture also illustrates the
learning of myself (wich is an organization in itself).

Maybe we have not a uniform understanding of the subject *character*. I
have the impression that my own understanding of this subject differs
somewhat in respect of At's and Winfried's.
My own picture of * character* is that I compare it with intensive
factors, whereas the form refers to extensive factors. So my understanding
of form refers to measures like size, shape, kilos and pounds, quantities,
etc. All these extensive properties could be studied seperately from the
content, although they form a unity and are related to each other.
Let me give 3 exemples to illustrate my picture of *character*.

1) An iron magnet does not differ in form (shape, mass) from a piece of
iron. The character of the magnet is that it could attract/reject. This
character lacks the (internally non-oriented) piece of iron. The character
makes the difference.

2) A human being. In my mind the sum of form elements could be called
*appearance*. Thus also the kilos and pounds of Winfried are form elements
(extensive factors). The character of a person is the personality. The
character could be brave, kind, wise, etc. All these words are
descriptions of intensive factors. To make it more clear, I have no idea
of the forms of At and Winfried. Whether they are tall and slim, blond or
grey, shaven or with beard, etc.I have unfortunately never met them (yet).
So I don't know how they look, but the picture of their character is
growing in my mind.
And in this way of understanding I proposed the exemple of falling in
love. Perhaps the first selection or filtering is based on the appearence
of a person, but in the long run the character, the personality is for me
more important for a strong relationship. The pimple on the nose does not
matter any more.

3) Business organizations. What describes the character of an organization
in the meaning I give to the description of *character*? It is not the
size, profit, turn-over, or appearance of its homepage on Internet.
However, the character of the organization deals with 'temperament',
flexibility, the way of acting. Let us look to our own discussion list.
One of the character-elements of this list is that learning in many
meanings is obvious. The character of an organization has much to do with
internal processes.

I hope that I was clear with these examples (the examples are not realy
perfect, but I hope the general picture is clear).
Let me stress that I know of the interrelationship of content and form
(two sides of the same coin; why is a coin not shaped as a spherical
marble? - then it will loose its sides :-). So the final sentence of
Winfrieds mail:
"The content serves the purpose to create increasingly complex form" is
very well formulated. Thank you, Winfried.

What surprises me of both contributions of At and Winfried was the direct
link between *character* and *quality*. In my original thoughts this
near-synonym didn't appear. After I have consulted some dictionaries I see
that this relationship is a common picture. Perhaps my thinking was too
simple, since I related the term *quality* only with judgement - good, or
bad; nice or ugly; much or less; etc.
And after a lot of thinking on this subject I still don't get the element
*quality* related to character in my mental model. I am afraid ;-) that
I have to think further.

Unfortunately, I cannot contribute to this thread of dialogue. To morrow
starts a 3-4 weeks holiday. A holiday in a non-digital world, no e-mail,
computers and Internet. But please, continue this dialogue, despite my
temporal absence.

One thing which I take with me in my thoughts is the question: is colour
an intensive or an extensive factor.


dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
        Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

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