The Fractality of Character. LO27006

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 07/16/01

Dear Organlearners,

I will write in this contribution mostly in the first person singular. The
reason is that I cannot expect any of you fellow learners to agree with
the exploring of my own tacit knowing. The best I can hope for, is to
articulate some of your own understanding. I will not only write on the
character of a human, but also on the character of a human organisation.
Since many people believe that organisations cannot have human properties
like their members, my thoughts are not intended to displace such a

Coming to my office this morning, I opened a private E-mail from Chris
Klopper exploring something similar to this contribution. Thank you Chris
for unknowingly convincing me that I should mail this contribution.

It strikes me how people are increasingly victimised by the "contrary
binary" MM (Mental Model). The phrase "contrary binary" means that only
two opposite states are recognised: on-off, yes-no, win-lose, top-bottom,
true-false, good-bad, etc. Perhaps we become so easily judgemental because
of this MM.
I believe that this "contrary binary" MM makes it difficult to understand
a concept such as holism="increasing wholeness". It will make us think of
the whole versus the broken parts ("apartheid") rather than wholes added
to wholes to form greater wholes more than their sums in an endless

Wholeness is but one of the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity). I
have to increase endlessly by steps in each of the 7Es so as to follow the
LRC (Law of Requisite Complexity). Time and again I have experienced that
I cannot emerge into the next higher level of complexity without taking
the LRC into consideration. An impairment in merely one of the 7Es already
makes the LRC a closed door.

I myself recognise but one "contrary binary" phenomenon, namely my
creativity following either the constructive or the destructive paths. I
think here of dynamic paths rather than static states. I become aware that
my creativity follows the constructive path when I increase endlessly in
each of the 7Es. It is not a continuous increase, but rather a continual
increase, i.e. a fractal progress in small irregular steps. Its like
walking through a rough country side. The progress is not smooth and the
path is not linear. It takes many hours of walking before I realise that
the scenery as well as I have changed noticeably.

I think that the cause of this "contrary binary" MM may be one or more
recent developments like modern science, technology or dialecticism. I do
not consider it important to seek the culprits. It is for me far more
important to recognise that our languages which developed far earlier have
not fallen victim to this "contrary binary" MM. For example, consider
truth of which its study is called logic. Apart from the much used values
true&false, we also have true-truer-truest and false-falser-falsest. These
six different values for the same quality indicate an awareness to the
many values of it.

The kind of logic which is used excessively in science and technology is
binary (two valued) logic. However, three, four, ... and multi-valued
logical systems have also been investigated. Beyond them lies also "fuzzy
logic" in which there is a continuous spectrum of values between two
extremes called false and true. I am now thinking with "fractality" not
exactly of a continuous spectrum of values such as of "fuzzy" logic, but
rather of values staggered in small irregular steps.

Fractality in a quality is for me like the colours black and white as the
two extremes with every shade of grey deliberately painted in between.
Should we view it closer, we will see every individual shade painted. It
is also like looking from far at a mountain having a slope from the bottom
to the top. But when we come so close that we actually climb the mountain,
we find that the slope is made up by rocks of irregular sizes staggered
upon each other.

I am now actually pointing out a second Mental Model opposite to the
"contrary binary" one, namely that of a "continuous scanning". The latter
MM also makes it difficult to understand a concept such as
holism="increasing wholeness". It denies the diversity of quantum jumps
from lesser wholes to greater wholes by making all added wholes infinitely
small and thus equal. This MM does the same to the other six of the 7Es.
Since according to it each have to increase by infinitesimal amounts, the
LRC governs the next emergence by a mere infinitesimal increase in
complexity. In other words, the LRC becomes superficial.

The human character involves qualities (which are named by nouns) like
those described by adjectives such as brave, true, good, right, pretty,
care, responsive, ..... What I have done here, is to select one of many
values for each of these qualities to name them. I find it surprising that
we often do not have names for each of these qualities like in "truth"
(noun) for true (adjective) and "righteousness" for right. In other words,
in languages the focus is more on the evaluation of these qualities (used
as adjectives) than on the qualities (as nouns) themselves.

The danger, as Leo Minnigh pointed out, is that when we use a value's name
to refer to a quality itself may appear to be judgemental. Thus I will
myself have to a find a consistent manner to create names for any quality
of character out of a value for it. Why do I not just seek in the English
language for the names (nouns) of these qualities? I want to indicate with
each in a recognisable manner that only together they play a role in
letting the character emerge. So anyone annoyed by new words, please
accept my apologies.

In my own mother tongue Afrikaans we have the word "skoonheid" for which
"mooi"=beauty is a value of it. The pattern is even more striking with
"waarheid"=truth for "waar"=true. This suggests to me that I may add the
suffix "-heid"=-hood to the primary positive value of a quality to refer
to the quality itself. For example, truth will become "truehood" and
righteousness="righthood". This pattern is just barely visible in English
with a word like hardihood.

Should I want to progress in my character, I will have to advance in the
positive value "XXX" (an adjective) of its quality "XXX-hood" (a noun).
This progress follows a fractal course in each quality and hence exhibits
the fractality of each quality and thus character as the whole of them.
Consequently, rather than thinking of each quality of character in terms
of the MMs "contrary binary" and "continuous scanning", I have to think in
terms of their fractality.

The progress in each of the qualities of character maintains a fractality.
 For example, the "truehood"(=truth) of my character evolves by a string
of steps. Should I articulate consistently one statement more to all of
the past which are true rather false, truehood increases by merely one
small step in its value, thus maintaining its fractality. However, I can
also easily articulate a false claim so that the fractality of truehood
may become frozen or even get lost by persisting with false claims.

The fractality of a person's character depends very much on the society in
which that person lives. I have in my mind vivid images of various kinds
of wood. If the majority of people in that society also progress in
character, the fractality of that person's character is like the grain of
wood such as beech or mahogany coming from a lush forest. But if society
has extreme variations in character, the fractality of a person's
character is more like the grain of wood like teak or imbuia coming from a
arid bush, gnarled and rich in flames.

When I deal with an organisation as such rather than its individual
members of it, I am very sensitive to the creative path (constructive or
destructive) it is following. The reason is that I am deeply aware how
this path determines the character of the organisation as well as the
characters of its individual members. The organisation's character has
fractality when it follows the path of constructive creativity, overcoming
step by step every destructive obstacle in its path. This will happen when
the organisation provides an environment conducive to the authentic
learning of all its members. Such an organisation is then known as a
Learning Organisation (LO).

I think that it is impossible for an OO (Ordinary Organisation) to live as
a LO when it keeps on following the path of destructive creativity. The
character of such a OO has little fractality. The path of destructive
creativity is followed when its members respond to any negative value in
any quality of character with a negative value self. Evil is returned with
evil while strife is stirred around every corner. Ill winds blow which do
nobody well while slander is the main item in every discussion. People
begin to choose between the lesser of two evils while just trying to make
it the end of the day. Judgements rather than learning is daily the main

For such an OO to obtain the fractality of character typical of a LO, I
think that a "cell of members" in that OO have to commit themselves to
create constructively and thus manifest fractality in their own
characters. I do not think that any single person will succeed, even
should it be the CEO. Use the power of constructive organisation to set
example for the larger OO itself. Please bear in mind that it is deeds
following from the fractality of character which will speak much clearer
than which words will ever do. These deeds give rise to positive
experiences for those in need of it whereas words will seldom make an
inner connection.

Lastly, I want to stress that the fractality of character has to be sought
in the fractality of each of its qualities and not merely a few of them.
For example, it is futile to speak true, but not to do good. In other
words, try to follow all 7Es in seeking the fractality of character.

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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