LO's and Metanoia - First Notes on Metanoia LO27238

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/20/01

Replying to LO27224 --

Dear Organlearners,

Artur Silva <artsilva@mail.eunet.pt> writes with regard to Piaget's theory
of learning:

>One of his most interesting clarification respects the two
>different ways children (people) learn. First, children can
>learn through "assimilation". This is obtained any time a
>new fact can be "assimilated" as an extension of a previous
>model. A different type of learning is needed when a new
>fact can't be assimilated to a previous model or explanation,
>as indeed it contraries the model.

Greetings dear Artur,

Thank once again you for another fine delivery.

As you have indicated with Piaget, and later with also Apostel and
Watzlawick, there are several psychologists as well as educators who have
distinguished between two kinds of learning.

Piaget's "assimilation learning" and Watzlawick's "first order changes"
belong to what I call the "digestive asymptote" of creative (irreversible
self-organising) systems. Here the system is more open, growing in
extensive properties, gaining in free energy while producing little
entropy. The system operates in the valley of equilibrium of an entropy
landscape. We may gain much insight into this the "digestive asymptote" of
creative systems through the model which I call the Digestor.

Piaget's "reequilibrated learning" and Watzlawick's "first order changes"
belong to what may be called the "bifurcative asymptote" of creative
(irreversible self-organsing) systems. Here the system is more closed, new
intensive properties are emerging, losing in free energy because of
producing much entropy. The system operates on the ridge of chaos of an
entropy landscape. We may gain much insight into this the "bifurcative
asymptote" of irreversible self-organsing systems through the model which
Prigogine calls the Brusselator.

For creative systems to stay alive (evolving) they will have to swing
(dance) between these two asymptotes. This is the necessay condition for
living. The sufficiency condition is that they will have to increase in
each of the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity).

In the authentic learning of any human mind I call these two assymptotes
simply digestive learning and emergent learning. Together they constitue
what I call authentic learning.

>Even if the word metanoia is not used by Kuhn, the
>concept of shift of mind ("paradigm shift") is critical
>in his "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (SSR).
>Based on his double education in Science (Physics)
>and History, Khun criticizes the "continuist conception"
>of scientific evolution.

Whenever something new emerges at the ridge of chaos, even when learning,
it always involves a context (domain). This domain may range from
something minor to something all encompassing. In learning such an all
encompassing emergence will constitute a paradigm shift in a subject or
even all subjects of a kind.

>Kuhn makes a clear distinction between what he calls
>"normal science", where scientists only "solve puzzles"
>enlarging the old theory to apply it to new facts or new
>areas (and talks with a clear disdain about this "normal
>science") and what he calls "scientific revolutions" where
>a scientist (or a group of scientists) creates a completely
>new explanation for a certain number of phenomena

Both "normal science" and "revolutionary science" are needed to keep
science alive. The "normal science" phase is needed to prepare for a new
"revolutionary science" phase and the "revolutionary science" phase is
needed to prepare for a subsequent "normal science" phase upon it. Should
science get stuck in the "normal science" phase, it will get obese in free
energy and too rigid in the valley of equilibrium. Should science get
stuck in the "revolutionary science" phase, it will get emaciated in free
energy and too plasmodial on the ridge of chaos.

>Khun quotes the Physician Max Planck who said in
>his "Scientific Autobiography": "a new scientific truth
>does not triumph by convincing its opponents and
>making them see the light, but rather because its
>opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows
>up that is familiar with it".

This is sadly the case for far too many scientists. But it need not be the
case. Should they be able to swing from the digestive phase of creativity
to the bifurcative phase and vice versa in a healthy, harmonious manner,
they would be able to advance self in the evolution of science.

>Indeed, the fact that the majority of scientists will
>never make the change is not a problem for science.
>They will eventually die and the new community will
>be educated in the new theory.

This is sadly true of present science. However, in my own scientific
endeavours this had been for me one of the hottest problems to solve. The
life of every human is far too valuable to let it get stuck at any one of
the two asymptotes (digestive or bifurcative) of creativity.

> ... some companies will change, adapt and survive.
>Some others will not. But the problem that a company
>dies is of particular importance for the humans that
>work for that company, as normally they cannot
>continue to do the "normal practice" and being paid
>for it until they die.

This is sadly true of too much present businesses. A sure sign that they
are heading for this disaster is when they expand too rapidly in good
times and then downsize in bad times. The too rapid expansion signals for
me becoming "obese in free energy" while the downsizing signals becoming
"emaciated in free energy". In other words, such a business is not able to
swing harmoniously between the two asymptotes of creativity. Sooner or
later it will get stuck at one of the asymptotes upon which the death of
that business will follow. This is the death from within.

But there is also the death from without. Some event elsewhere may produce
so much entropy that when the already ill business gets deluged by it, it
cannot cope effectively with that event. Tragic as the terrorist attack on
11 September is, it is an example of exactly the kind of event which I
have in mind. Businesses who have not been keeping the dynamics (free
energy and entropy producion) of their creativity healthy will have a hard
time not to go bancrupt.

>For companies and for people who work for
>companies, the problem of profound organizational
>learning and company longevity are crucial questions
>-- very different from what it means to scientists or

I agree positively with the first half of your statement. As for the
second half, it has been the case for far too many scientists and scholars
up to now. But it need not be also the case for all future times. A
healthy creativity would change the future for them too.

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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