Replying to LO28056 --
Greetings to all of you.
This is a long contribution which I will have to divide in two parts. If
too long, press the ESC and then the DEL keys.
The reason for its length is the curious nature of the contribution which
I will reply to. Each of its paragraphs is like a stepping stone in a
muddy river. Somebody before has crossed the river by stepping on them so
that it can be done again. But these stones are under the surface so that
they cannot be seen, but have to be felt with a long pole. While searching
for the next stone, one also feels the rest of the topography of the
bottom. This is what will now happen.
Part 1 -- Exploring tacit knowing once again.
Daan Joubert <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
>Anyone who scans the contributions to this dialogue
>will soon find that my old friend At with many wise
>and thoughtful posts and in particular his 7 E's of
>creativity plays an anchor role in many of the
Greetings dear Daan,
Well, we were friends some thirty years ago, then lost contact, met again
through Internet and finally had face-to-face contact a few days ago. In
your aging I saw my own ;-). We have both grown in things dear to us. It
is a pity that we could not have worked together in a LO during those
thirty years. I have worked in three LOs which were oblivious to Senge's
articulations. You mentioned during our recent reunion an incident which
made me think that you also have worked in one LO. Perhaps one day, with
more insight in a LO, you may tell us of your experiences.
One of the most vital aspects of any LO is what we may call the "open
chair". It means that we must expect newcomers, be prepared for them and
show respect to them. Thus we have to tell some stories over and over
again because they may not be aware of the past.
For these newcomers, I want to tell once again that I discovered the 7Es
(seven essentialities of creativity) by seeking for a second bridge
between the physical and spiritual realms of the universe. Nobody wanted
to believe my discovery of the first bridge even though it complied
technically to all the requirements of a scientific discovery. To make
sure that nothing was involved which I did not take into consideration, I
set myself the task to discover a second bridge.
I felt that I had to seek for the corresponding patterns between a
material system of creativity and a mental system of creativity. Both had
to be superior systems by means of creativity, even though the hundreds of
thousands who contributed to the elucidation of these systems were not
aware that they did so by virtue of their creativity. I selected the
chemical system (for the material one) and the mathematical system (for
the mental one).
I felt like Columbus, knowing to go west, but not knowing what to find.
Finding these patterns was one thing. But articulating them with a natural
language and not merely technical symbolism was another thing. I knew I
had more tacit knowledge on them than merely the mathematics and chemistry
involved. So I began to read who else were aware of them and how they
articulated them. I worked through thousands of promising books, using
their indexes, in our university's library.
I found that many other thinkers tried to articulate some of the 7Es,
usually one of them. I found that it had been as difficult for them as it
was for me. I became deeply under the impression how they used some of the
7Es (not knowing they were 7Es) to articulate that particular
essentiality. The further I explored, the more I realised that the only
thing new in my discovery was to find all seven essentialities together in
one project. Each one of the 7Es was discovered and articulated many times
before me. Consequently none of the 7Es can be called mine and thus not
even all of them together are mine. So, referring to the 7Es as mine is
not historically correct, except that I call them the seven essentialities
The only other thing which is mine is the way in which I articulate the
7Es. For example, each essentiality gets a nominal name followed by a
seminal name. Consider the one of which liveness is its nominal name of
"becoming-being" is its seminal name. I would strongly suggest that we
never change the nominal names so as not to create confusion. But the
seminal names we can change as much as we want to reflect our tacit
knowing, thus creating complexity. For example, someone deep into systems
theory may think of liveness as "process-structure", someone deep into
languages may think of its as "verb-noun", someone deep into visual
communication may think of it as "movie-snapshot" while someone deep into
mathematics may think of it as "functor-set".
Even today it is still difficult for me to articulate the 7Es in an
understandable manner to another person. The best way to do so is for me
to use the articulated personal knowledge of that person self rather my
own articulations. When I have no articulations of that person to work
with, I feel like a ship wreckling on the Skeleton Coast. I am destined to
become a skeleton too. Think about it, somebody claiming to have made an
important discovery, yet being unable to articulate it independently. It
is crazy. But think about it, can one person live from birth isolated from
humankind still have a human language? No -- and there are sad cases to
demonstrate it. Could Columbus come back all alone and tell understandably
of the New World? No -- the ship needed a crew.
The 7Es are like a new kind of language which has to be developed by
people, not an individual. It is like discovering a New World with a ship
needing a crew. This is why I said above "Each one of the 7Es was
discovered and articulated many times before me." Can any thing be
discovered authentically more than once? Is discovery itself not a unique
event? Yet, when a peculiar discovery has to be made collectively rather
than individually, what happens when an individual makes such a discovery?
It is bound to become discovered authentically again and again by
individuals until such time that a tightly bound group of humans discover
it together. This unique collective event ends the possibility that it may
be discovered authentically again. The discovery of LEC (Law of Energy
Conservation) is an example of these peculiar collective discoveries. But
what is an example for this "tightly bound group of humans"? Take a guess
Daan, if you perceive that the 7Es play an anchoring role, it is not
because of my inferior articulations of them. It is because we are
becoming conscious of our tacit knowing of them and try to act
accordingly. We are here together because of our passion for learning.
Learning without one or more of the 7Es is impossible. Endless learning
without an increase in each of the 7Es is also impossible. My task, even
though voluminous when trying to accomplish it, is to help fellow learners
becoming aware how crucial their tacit knowing of the 7Es is to their
creativity and whatever which emerges from it. By my own articulations I
become the donkey trotting in front leaving a dropping at regular
intervals ;-) (Search for that desert story in the archives.)
> I am still very much the novice here, both as time
>passes and measured by my ability to absorb from
>this fountain of insight and knowledge.
Your metaphor of a fountain is very striking. I will come back to it
I think of trees. A seed has to germinate. The seedling has to grow into a
shrub. The shrub has to grow further into the canopy of other trees. As a
mature tree it has to flower and set seeds. It may take hundreds of years.
Is the seedling wrong and the shrub not? Is the shrub wrong and the seed
producing tree not? Judgements on any stage in any metamorphosis, even any
evolution, are as unfitting as looking at a rose and a daisy, claiming
which one is more the flower.
>Yet for me time is also of the essence and I am going
>to risk a strategy that says, "Go with the current; let the
>stream grab hold of you and see where it takes. If there
>is risk ahead, or when one's mind gets trapped in a
>whirlpool of circular reasoning and turbulence and loses
>its laminar flow, there will be people at hand with much
>greater understanding and insight to drag one to safety."
That is the spirit -- swim Daan swim.
You also speak of three wisdoms here. (1) Chaos (the manifestation entropy
production, the arrow of time) is necessary to reach a new destiny beyond
the past. (2) The system SY has to evolve together with its surrounding
systems SU because all evolution belongs to the universe UN=SY&SU and not
to any system in particular. (3) Knowing when the dog bites its own tail,
running in circles to keep up with it.
>We have been discussing what I believe to be a
>need for direction, in LO as in any other venture
>or process that we as people can undertake. I am
>suggesting that the Golden Rule (GR) as it finds
>expression in the normative directive (Decision maker,
>improve the worth of your system!) - which is quite
>contrary to current management practice and
>philosophy in the west - is a constant that can define
>such direction in an optimal manner.
I agree with all which you have written, except for the "constant"=being.
As I understand it, that which leads to a richer life is in my opinion not
a "being", but a "becoming-being" -- an EO (Elementary Organiser). You and
I and perhaps a few other fellow learners like Rick and Winfried learned
in physics that Quantum Mechanics (QM) gets unfolded by "operator-operand"
pairs. (I think it was introduced by Nobel prize winner Paul Dirac.) The
operator is the becoming and the operand is the being. This
"operator-operand" pair baffled many a physicist, thinking of them as an
esoteric complication. Nevertheless, the "operator-operand" pair has been
the EO of QM as history shows us.
I have stopped long ago working formally with definitions. You may search
through all my writings in the LO archive and not find me using even once
any definition. The reason is that for me any fertile definition contains
an EO which enables that definition to become expanded into further work.
I rather present the EO as unobtrusive as possible so as to get on with
Is this "unobtrusive" a clever way of me to appear as some mystic person?
Is it a clever way to avoid any attacks? Think of a language and most
sentences spoken or written with it. The sentence will contain a verb
("becoming") and a noun ("being"). This "verb-noun" is the EO of
sentences. I think it would be obtrusive to any listener or reader should
I indicate in the beginning sentence its verbs and nouns when I want to
convey meaning and keep on creating meaning in the next sentences.
Furthermore, a definition is part of some formal knowledge. We may strive
to show how that section of formal knowledge begins with its definitions.
There is nothing wrong doing this. But formal knowledge does not begin by
itself. This is what the word intelligence means. It is grounded in
something else, namely tacit knowledge. Formal knowledge emerges from
inner tacit knowledge rather than external information. A flower emerges
from a twig rather than from all the flowers around it.
Definitions may become a barrier to this emergence from tacit knowing to
formal knowing. Tacit knowledge is like underground water and formal
knowledge like surface water. A definition ought to be like a fountain
rather than a plug stopping its flow. This Daan, is what your metaphor
"fountain" means for me. This is also why I have named each of the 7Es in
such a strange way. The nominal name is the rock formation of a fountain
defining its hole. My definition of each 7E is a simple name, not even a
simplest sentence. That is why I have worked through thousands , of books,
trying to find the best possible nominal name. The hole through which the
water flows is the seminal name.
By this I am not saying that you or any other fellow learner should not
make use of definitions. I am only exploring new and perhaps ancient ways
of thinking. Many years ago I became aware that seeking fixed ("constant")
definitions in a subject was the greatest obstacle to my further learning
of that subject. But take any subject and study in its history how often
its definitions get modified during the course of time. I have done it for
several subjects and came to the conclusion that definitions are not snap
shots, but movies themselves
I have also found as a teacher in chemistry that one of the most
serious learning disabilities of learners is to consider definitions
as fixed constants. For example, they have been instructed
somewhere in the past the definition of an atom as the smallest
particle of an element which can participate in a chemical reaction.
With this definition, all is fine when they encounter a corrosive
Fe + CuSO4 = FeSO4 + Cu
But should we only write down only the actors and leave out the
spectators, the equation becomes:
Fe + Cu2+ = Fe2+ + Cu
atom ion ion atom
Suddenly their world falls apart since the Cu2+ ion is smaller than
the atom Cu. (The ion Cu2+ has two electrons less than the atom
Cu.) How can such an ion smaller than an atom participate in a
Another definition they cling to is that an atom is the smallest neutral
particle of an element. (This is only true for protium, an isotope of
hydrogen and the simplest of all isotopes.) The smallest neutral particle
is actually the neutron(s) in the nucleus. The positive protons in the
nucleus make it positive. The neutrons provide for nuclear stability. The
surrounding negative electrons makes the whole positive, neutral or
negative, depending on how many they are. Only in the neutral case is the
whole called an atom.
But by clinging to this definition the students shut their eyes to the
functions of the neutrons in chemistry (apart from their functions studied
in physics). One main chemical function is that the neutrons are as
important as the protons in determining the atomic mass of the element.
Thus the students are unable to make quick, approximate, mental
calculations involving atomic mass. Tell them that sodium Na has the
element number 11 and they will time and again assume its atomic mass to
be 11 rather than at least 22. OK, they also rely on their pocket
calculators to do such calculations unlike us old timers who had to do
mental arithmetic ;-)
Can an atom be defined? The ancient idea, even adhered to up today, is
that an atom is so simple that its definition is a simple sentence. Forget
about this idea. Quantum electrodynamics for the electrons around the
nucleus and quantum chromodynamics for the nucleus itself have revealed
that the atom is far more complex than the dynamics of our solar system!
We might succeed in defining our solar system with a sentence, but to
define the atom we need at least a paragraph, if not a chapter.
Fellow leaner Alfred Rheeder, although trained in the world of economics,
is heavily involved with chemistry as a result of the nature of their
family owned business. He is learning chemistry informally in terms of
text books as well as in their manufacturing of certain products. I think
he has learned by experience that having constant definitions is contra
productive to his learning and their business. But he has to speak for
himself whether it is the case or not. Nevertheless, I think that is why
he did the following which you referred to:
>Alfred (LO27973) asked whether there is no danger
>in adhering to a constant; whether there is not a
>dynamic in expanding the "Do unto others . ." into
>more explicit forms, an idea At took further in his
>response to Alfred (Loxxxx).
Daan, your next very brave move is to write:
>In this post I want to approach the GR from another
>direction - by applying just one of At's 7 E's. The one
>of liveness "becoming-being". A duality that has one
>aspect with the nature of process, or change, and
>another that refers to a condition, or state. [And I am
>aware of the fact that the 7 E's form a unity and that
>grabbing one in isolation is a near heresy (:-)), but i'll
>risk the censure]
I say it is a brave move because for any person to try and articulate
his/her own tacit knowledge is a difficult job, even more so when it
concerns the 7Es. The difficulty is in trying to match the articulated
information with what is actually known tacitly and not the other way
around. It is like baking a cake without a recipe and then somebody else
ask the recipe of this delicious cake. The difficulty is even greater
because some tacit knowing cannot ever be articulated. For example, we can
use the name "consciousness", but in my opinion to tell what it is failed
dismally in every attempt.
I think that in liveness the duals "becoming-being" or "change-state" to
use your articulation are complementary (Afrikaans "toegevoeg", English
has no equivalent) rather than dialectical (opposite) to each other. Verbs
and nouns do not oppose each other, but tell of each other. A man and a
women do not oppose each other, but complement each other.
A most curious property of our mother tongue Afrikaans, the youngest in
the world, is that it has far more words than any other language capable
of acting as either a verb or a noun without any explicate syntactical
modifications. In fact, it has the tacit rule that almost any noun may be
used as a verb and vice versa because of where it occurs in the sentence,
provided it still makes sense. Afrikaans has a liveness, an order in the
flowing of words in a sentence, which does not frighten for anything. That
is why it is very difficult for me to write in English, even though a
language close to Afrikaans. Words may act in Afrikaans as EOs (Elementary
Organisers) whereas in English they often act either as a verb
("becoming") or as noun ("being"), but not as both, i.e., as an EO.
As with any collection of things, the essentiality fruitfulness entails
that when we want to explore that collection, we will have to begin with
one of its members. The essentiality wholeness entails that we then have
to visit and work upon each of the rest. The essentiality otherness
entails that it can be sequential (one-by-one...), combinatorial
(one-by-two-by-four...) or any different pattern like the Fibonacci
series. But when that collection of things is the 7Es, the problem is that
the dog bites its own tail. This circularity can be broken by using
openness. Take one of the 7Es and explore its relationship with any system
other than the 7Es. Perhaps this is what you are now doing, but I would
not articulate it with "isolation". However Daan, it is for you to tell
what is actually the case.
Perhaps my biggest barrier ever in understanding the 7Es came as a result
of my training in mathematics, chemistry and physics. I thought of the 7Es
as independent from each other. I thought of them as seven unit vectors
orthogonal (rectilinear) to each and thus defining a 7D space. Only when I
began to think of them as seven unit vectors parallel to each other and
hence broadening any infinitely thin straight line into a fractal pattern
keeping the same direction, my understanding of them began to advance in
leaps almost like what they do to the straight line. Goethe used to call
It is really impossible to speak or write about one of the 7Es, say
liveness, and avoid using the other six 7Es. We can avoid refering to them
explicitly and calling their names, but their patterns occur implicitly in
whatever we say or write. Avoiding one of them completely while trying to
describe a particular one make such a description impossible. The less the
patterns of one (or more) of them occur (even implicitly) in what we say
or write, the more difficulties we will experience in our learning. When
the patterns of one of them is absent, learning is impossible.
>It will serve no learning purpose to simply use
>At's description of this E - rote learning, At? -
>so I am going to risk showing my lack of
>understanding in order that At and the rest of
>you can tell me where I erred. The focus will
>be the GR and what it means for people and
>organisations, so that the discussion does not
>stretch too wide into generalities.
Unfortunately, the 7Es stretch through the entire universe.
Daan, if my description fits your own tacit knowing, then use it by all
means. This will not be rote learning just because your description and
mine coincide. But if my description lacks what you know tacitly, it would
be better for you to give your own description. A big simplicity problem
will be to avoid what you know tacitly of one essentiality when describing
another essentiality to appear as part of that other essentiality. That is
why anyone who want to describe the 7Es from his/her own fountain of tacit
knowing, has to study those of others in the past who have contemplated
their own fountains.
For example, I think that by defining holism as "the whole is more than
the sum of its parts", Jan Smuts did make use of his tacit knowing of the
essentiality wholeness. The sum involves an association of parts. But by
defining wholeness as the "whole with its field" where the field "consists
of many wholes", I think Smuts was actually articulating the essentiality
sureness "thing-context". This is not wrong because it is a shift from
looking simplistic at wholeness alone to looking at each of the other six
7Es through wholeness. I call it deep wholeness. Smuts was definitely
aware of deep wholeness since, for example, he also often said that
wholeness requires preservation of diversity. It tells that otherness is
connected to wholeness, thus making deep wholeness complex.
Likewise for liveness we have to explore the descriptions of other
thinkers ("mitsein") and not merely the individual ("dassein") fountain of
tacit knowing. For example, Prigogine of irreversible thermodynamics has
been very sensitive to liveness. But in the early years (almost a century
ago) of quantum mechanics Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac were also sensitive to
liveness. Likewise another century earlier the German philosopher Hegel
became very sensitive to "sein" (being) and "werden" (becoming). But so
was the Greek Heraclitus more than two millennia ago sensitive to it. And
even more ancient was Job!
Daan, when you or any other fellow learner have a lack in understanding my
articulations of the 7Es, that is as normal as can be. You have no way to
know my tacit knowing of them other than through my articulations. I often
claim that I am not good at articulating them so that it cannot be an
error for you not to understand what I know tacitly. My greatest challenge
in life is to articulate what I as individual knows tacitly such that the
greatest number of fellow learners recognise their own tacit knowledge in
I always think, when any person tries to articulate his/her tacit
knowledge, of that articulation as the tree beginning with a seed, then
seedling, shrub, mature tree and finally pollinated flowers setting seed.
So, as I see it, what you are going to show me is not your lack of
understanding, but the growth in your articulations from a seed into a
flower setting seed. Winfried calls it "putting the mind into action".
I want to warn you and every other fellow learner that you have far more
tacit knowledge than what you are aware off. I have demonstrated this to
hundreds of students who came to me for consultation when having a hot
problem. They had much tacit knowledge on this problem, but that it was
merely asleep. What I usually do, is to draw that tacit knowledge out of
them question by question. As they formulate these answers (like seed to
setting seed again), they begin to awaken to that tacit knowing.
They almost invariably discover with great surprise that they have solved
their own problem with their own answers. I then suddenly claim that I
have not given them one bit of information. Sometimes, not willing to
acknowledge the surprise and me never asking them to admit it, a student
will argue that my questions had information in it. Again I claim that the
only information which my questions had, had been supplied by that student
self. I illustrate it by examples from our dialogue.
This is not a novel technique because already Socrates did it more than
two millenia ago. It was not even novel to Socrates because Job did it
about two millenia previously! What is novel, no, what is a sheer miracle
is when any learner begins to use this technique self to break through the
barriers of rote learning. To ask questions which fathom deeply into one's
own personal knowledge.
With care and best wishes
At de Lange <email@example.com> 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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