LOs and Metanoia - Two Conceptions of LO's LO27293

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/26/01

Replying to LO27249 --

Dear Organlearners,

Richard Seel <richard@richard-seel.demon.co.uk> writes:

>This set me to thinking about some musings
>I had a while ago about 'groupboundaries'.
>People often talk about groups (or systems)
>having 'strong' or 'weak' boundaries. But the
>notion of boundary is surely problematical
>in a human system. After all, we are not
>referring to physical boundaries, are we?
>My thinking led me to the following model,
>crude perhaps but it works for me.

Greetings dear Richard,

What lovely musings are they not! The model [Sum(1:N) V(i)]
which you have articulated is very interesting. It reminds me much
of chemistry. When you write:

>This valence is not fixed: it will differ for
>every person in the system and it will vary
>for individuals over time.

you articulate an important truth of chemistry, using the concept of
valency almost as a chemist would do. You then proceed somewhat like a
chemist would do:

>But at any given time the group can make
>a finite number of connections, the sum of
>the individual valences of its members
>[Sum(1:N) V(i)]. The larger the proportion
>of these connections which are made within
>the system, the stronger its boundaries and
>vice versa.

In the case of chemistry the chemist will actually distinguish
between two things:
* the number of bonds to be made by an individual which they call
   its valency [let us use your V(i)] and
* the energy locked up in each bond for that individual [which they
   will indicate by say E(i)].
Thus they will calculate the energy change /_\E as a result of locking
energy up in all the bonding of all the individuals as
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(i)]

One thing I did not articulate so as not to make the conceptual jump
to large. I will take the second jump now. The formula should have
looked as
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(ij)]
One tiny symbolic difference (an index "j" added), but a profound
conceptual difference!!! The E(i) means that bond energy depends
only on the individual "i" in the system. But the E(ij) means that the
bond energy depends on both the identity of individual "i" in the system
and the identity of individual "j" outside the system with which it will
become bonded. Furthermore, the system's boundary shifts
automatically upon bonding from including only the individuals "i" to
include also the individuals "j".

Long before this kind of chemical calculations was known, Jan Smuts
(father of holism) had already anticipate the pattern. He would have
called the system with individuals "i" a "whole" while the individuals "j"
as part of its "field". Then, as a result of bonding the whole increases
to new whole by including part of its field (the individuals "j"). This is
an example of "increasing wholeness" which he defined as holism.

I cannot help but to use these two formulas to make a vital comment
on the tragic events of 11 September 2001. Before that terrible day
mericans acted as if a formula like
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(i)]
applies. After that terrible day Americans will have to act as if a formula
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(ij)]
applies. In other words, to use the terminology of Jan Smuts, before
11/09 most Americans only reckoned American identities "i" into the
whole, oblivious to the identities "j" in its field. After 11/09 most
Americans will as soon as possible have to reckon also the identities "j"
from its field into the new whole. It means that they will have to
increase in wholeness. They will have to shift their boundary. They will
have to become aware of holism.

Jan Smuts completed his book "Holism and Evolution" in 1913, but only
dared to publish it in 1926 with some modifications. He was already a key
statesman as well as general in WWI (1914-18). He found the political and
military leaders of Europe open to the idea of holism, but he had to
struggle with the political and military leaders of America every step of
the way. After the publication of his book he was duly recognised as a
break through thinker in dozens of European universities, many bestowing
honorary doctorates on him. But over America a strange curtain, let me
call it the "American Curtain", had already been drawn. Smuts sometimes
referred to it in his letters as the "American way of thinking".

Your musings, Richard, allowed me to symbolise this "American way
of thinking" (the "American Curtain") by
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(i)]
It is a formula with one index short, the index "j", indicating the very
ignorance in their thinking to "increasing wholeness"=holism.

This "American way of thinking" became worse from WWI to WWII. During WWII
Smuts had to struggle even more with the political and military leaders of
America. Furthermore, he then also had to struggle with many similar
leaders of European countries. He often said that he had to struggle with
a world which had gone crazy. Although called the "allied forces", their
thoughts lacked severely in holism. The one leader in Europe who openly
acknowledged Smuts to be the beacon of light and thus consulted him
regularly, was Winston Churchill.

Thus, Richard, your next comment:

>It seems to me that systems (organisations)
>in need of change tend to have comparatively
>few connections outside themselves; they
>have developed strong boundaries and are
>relatively impervious to changes in their
>environment, whether physical, intellectual,
>social or ethical. As a result they have
>become unadaptive.

makes very deep sense to me. The diamond is the most perfect
example we can have of a system acting according to the formula
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(i)]
For a diamond V(i)=4 and E(i)=347kj/mole. Of all kinds of crystals
it is the kind which locks the most energy up in its crystal lattice. So
beautiful is its perfect organisation that it has no free energy left over
should it stay a diamond. The Americans have become the world's
most precious stone, the diamond. Most other nations want to become
precious diamonds too like the Americans.

But all these nations will have to bear in mind that a diamond is precious
not only because of its beauty, but also because it is the strongest
against abrasion. (The technical term is "hardness".) It is at the top
(10) of the scale (1-10) of "hardness". Nothing but a diamond can cut
another diamond. Diamonds can cut anything else. Offered as my observation
with no judgement intended, this is what the Americans had been doing
since WWI. The have cut as a diamond through other nations only for their
own interests. I think that Smuts would have agreed with this metaphor.

Also bear in mind that a diamond is not indestructible. A diamond may have
tensions in it -- the bigger the diamond, the much worser the tensions in
it. Cutting such a big diamond is a most stressing job as my late father
told me. We knew when he was doing it because he would speak to nobody.
The more the stress, the more the diamond cries when getting cut.
Fortunately he never lost a big one. But he did lost smaller ones.

The next four paragraphs in [ ] are stories.

[My father did cut more 100+ carat sized diamonds than anybody else in the
world. I will ask my brother to make digital copies of some pictures of
the famous diamonds which my father cut and send them to Rick. You would
not even imagine that such big diamonds could exist.]

[Did my father get rich? No, that is not how the system works. The biggest
bonus which my father got, was three weeks of pay for a diamond which took
three months to cut. In terms of those days money he got some $5 000
dollars (3 months pay + bonus) for working on a diamond which eventually
sold for some $50 000 000. In other words, the man who transformed the
rough stone into the jewel got one ten thousandth of the deal.]

[One rough stone was moving from owner to owner around the world for many
years. At each deal its price increased. But nobody wanted to cut it -- it
clearly had immense tension in it. Eventually my father's boss bought it
at too high a price. He put the ugly monster before my father and told him
to cut it with not less than, say 40%, loss. My father protested, saying
that the boss wants a miracle. He just ordered my father again to do it.
That diamond screamed during the cutting process more like any diamond
ever before has done. One day it began to scream like a pig being led to
the slaughter. My father took it out of the claws and walked into the
boss' office. He held the screaming diamond before the boss' face. The
boss' face got like ash. He begged my father to take that thing out of the
office and never do it again. My father replied firmly that the boss
should never again expect a miracle.]

[One day the boss (a Jew) asked my father how he managed to perform that
miracle. It was such a miracle that he sold the diamond with a huge
profit. My father replied that he looked at the diamond and asked himself
what Jesus would have done with it. This gave him the inspiration to
imagine how to cut it. Since that day the boss never again used the name
Jesus in his swearing.]

A diamond with much tension in it may suddenly shatter into small pieces
like dust and often even into elementary black carbon. It is a most
horrible experience -- like the collapsing of the two WTC towers. I beg
you dear Americans to consider the two WTC and the more than 6 000 lives
lost as a diamond lost because of not heeding to sounds during the cutting
process. Please do not think that the really big diamond which you cannot
even imagine cannot be lost too in the next cutting process. That would be
more than most horrible to bear.

A diamond consist of only carbon atoms (with a few atoms of other
elements to give it a distinctive colour). But also think that the most
important element in all living organisms is carbon. Here the carbon
atoms are linked to each other in chains, thus giving up only 2 of the
4 valencies. The other 2 valencies are used to connect to atoms of
different elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus.
The formula applicable here is not
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(i)]
. /_\E = Sum(1:N)[V(i)xE(ij)]
The symbolic difference is one tiny index "j", but the conceptual
difference is an immense paradigm shift.

How I wish the Americans would stop acting as a diamond and rather begin
to act as a living organism in symbiosis with all other organisms in its

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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