The Knowledge Indicator -- Wisdom. LO29113

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 09/04/02

Replying to LO29105 --

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

In reply to Jan Lelie < > i wrote under the topic
"Natural and Cultural Increases LO29105

>>It does remind you of the parabel by George Orwell,
>>doesn't it? Towards the end, the pigs and the human
>>meet in the farm house and the animals are looking in.
>>The pigs and humans run around the table and look
>>more and more the same.....
>Sadly, it is the case. This happens when greed displaces
>wisdom. I intend to write on this topic under the subject
>"The knowledge indicator"

So, let us explore what make humans like greedy pigs.

In the essay
"The Uncovering of Organisational Learning LO28819 Part 2"
< >
 i have depicted in figure 2
< >
the stratification of knowledge in levels. Acting upon sensations, the
act of learning let knowledge emerge through its experiential, tacit,
formal and sapient levels.

Knowledge has been depicted as a wine glass for a special reason.
In the topic
"Constructive Creativity and Leadership. Part 7 LO27847",
< >
I have explained how the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity) keep
the evolution of any creative system intact. A creative system develops
from less to more complexity. This increasing complexity is depicted
by the form of a wine glass which increases in diameter going upwards.
Please refer to the figure
< >
Thus each of the 7Es also have to evolve to guide the evolution of the
system's contents.

In the figure
< >
I have shown how a failure in the development of one or more of the
7Es leads to something like a fissure in the wine glass so that it cannot
contain its contents anymore. The contents in the glass is good, but
as it spills out of a fissure, it becomes bad. Within the 7Es (the glass)
creativity acts constructively, but outside the 7Es it acts destructively.
In other words, development of all the 7Es is necessary to maintain
constructive creativity.

Let us now study closer figure 2
< >
in "The Uncovering of Organisational Learning LO28819 Part 2".
It lacks a feedback loop in information between the learner and
co-learner. Let us imagine one or more of the 7Es to be seriously
impaired in either the learner or co-learner. The 7Es are
 - liveness ("becoming-being"),
 - sureness ("identity-context")
 - wholeness ("unity-associativity"),
 - fruitfulness ("connect-beget"),
 - spareness ("quantity-limit"),
 - otherness ("quality-diversity") and
 - openness ("paradigm-transfer").
When an essentiality is impaired a bifurcation at a certain level of
knowledge will not emerge constructively to the next higher level, but
will rather immerge destructively to a lower level. What is the
implications of this?

When an essentiality fails to develop as is required, the effect would be
worst in the highest order of the emergences. For example, when wholeness
is impaired in either unity or associativity, very little sapient
knowledge (wisdom) is possible. Little sapient knowledge self is reflected
in a disrespect for wisdom and philosophy in general (love="phileo",
wisdom="sophia"). Thus a fissure in knowledge exists at the level of
wisdom. Out of this fissure comes information which the clever crook dress
up in appealing phrases to enslave the unweary in their schemes. These
schemes may involve anything like money, porn and drugs.

This indication of a serious impairing for at least one of the 7Es may go
lower into formal knowledge, tacit knowledge below it and even
experiential knowledge. For example, a fissure in formal knowledge is
reflected by an intolerance towards information not immediately
applicable. Likewise little tacit knowledge is reflected in a lack to
accommodate new experiences.

Knowledge in general is the capacity to act. Wisdom itself is the capacity
to act swiftly and prudently. The unwise act too slowly and too
inappropriate to have any effective impact.

Let us explore the tragical effect of the lack of wisdom in difficult
financial times. The financial laws of a country have been promulgated by
the wise to prevent the stealing of the savings of fellow citizens.
However, these laws self are not wisdom, but merely information.
Furthermore, those who have to apply these laws, may lack in wisdom to
apply them swiftly and prudently. Thus the lack of wisdom makes these laws
ineffective to prevent financial crimes.

One of the most common financial crimes is pyramidal schemes. Excessive
profits which no ordinary citizen can expect to make are promised to
investors. The profits of the first investors are paid with the
installments of later investors. To ensure continuous profits, more and
more unwise investors are needed. This bubble scheme usually bursts when
some investors lower down the pyramid do not get their profits as was
promised. They demand profits because like the majority who have invested
in the pyramidal scheme, they also are experiencing financial difficulties
and cannot afford a lack of cash flow. They then apply for liquidation of
the scheme. The outcome of this is disastrous to thousands of pensioners
and laid-offs of whom many lose all their life-long savings.

I get emailed daily by all sorts of money making schemes, the majority
from the USA. Up to last year the emails usually involved pornography. But
since the beginning of this year the flood of money making schemes began
to accelerate. The gloves are off -- the crooks want the money of the
unwary and will use any possible means to get it. I shudder when thinking
how tens of thousands of unwise investors will be caught by such schemes.

What strikes me as interesting in the history of the rise and fall of
nations and even civilisations is the role which philosophy plays. In the
rise phase there is a positive inclination towards philosophy resulting in
new understandings added to its body of literature. But in the fall phase
there is contempt for philosophy up to even its banishment. In the rise
phase many study philosophy, but in the fall phase many scorn upon it.
Thus the status of philosophy in a nation or civilisation has become for
me an indicator of their mental health.

The material wealth of a nation or civilisation also has a rise and fall
curve like the spiritual wealth. But here it lags the curve of mental
wealth considerably. Information on material wealth is sought after
vigorously while knowledge on declining mental wealth is ignored.
Consequently, when material wealth also begins to decline, many reasons
for it are sought, but little can then be done to prevent it. Why? With so
little respect for wisdom, effective actions will be too late and

I think that the decline of philosophy in the western world began early in
the twentieth century. It became clearly visible since WWII. In its place
system science began to flourish in an effort to do what the philosophers
could not even suggest any more because of excessive baggage. Like
philosophers once did, system scientists ought to give far more
consideration to wisdom in their System's Thinking.

Just as the love for wisdom is an indicator of a nation's mental wealth,
the Systems Thinking of a particular organisation is also an indicator of
its mental wealth. For example, take a look at any blue chip corporation
which suddenly got bankrupt. Trace the Systems Thinking in it. It will
show invariably deterioration during its last years, wisdom in it replaced
by the greed for profit to suite its directors and stock holders. Blue
chip or not, the wise will cut all ties with such an organisation, whether
it be an investment or a service.

Here in South Africa we had several such cases the past dozen years. For
this reason many write South Africa off as a has been, not knowing our
peculiar evolution. Since 1990 when it became clear that Nelson Mandela
had to be released and democracy had to be made inclusive, South Africa
had vast political changes. Those businesses who had a sound Systems
Thinking are still operating today, many even in a better shape. But those
who generated wealth in terms of past glories, but with little, rigid or
incoherent Systems Thinking, are now history. They could not manage these
vast changes.

I think that 9/11 has introduced a cut-off point in the USA just as
Mandela's release in South Africa did or the fall of the Berlin wall in
the communist countries did. The bankruptcy of Enron, although not the
first after 9/11, was big enough to caught the attention of most
Americans. The demise of the much bigger WorldCom was the next. Many are
now asking -- which business will be the next big one?

I want to make a suggestion in terms of our South African history. Be very
careful of financial institutions, especially banks, with little Systems
Thinking. They may have excessive regulations to protect their assets, but
such regulations are not Systems Thinking itself.

The bankruptcy of a large corporation has many rippling effects,
propagated by all which had relationships with it. The bankruptcy of a
second large corporation also has many rippling effects. Where these
ripplings superimpose on each other, their combined effect is too much for
those organisations at the points of superposition. Such organisations are
usually the financial institutions which otherwise can outlast minor
ripples. They operate in terms of confidence, trust and tranquillity. They
cannot survive suspicion, large scale withdrawals and uncertainty. Thus I
think that the next in line to shatter the cherished images of USA
citizens is the demise of a grand financial institution. This may happen
within the next few months, but definitely within a couple of years.

The Reserve (central) Bank of a country usually extends a life line to a
commercial bank facing bankruptcy in good (bull) times so that confidence,
trust and tranquillity are not disturbed. But in bad (bear times) the
Reserve Bank becomes self severely constrained because it has to cater for
all banks of which many experience difficulties. Thus the Reserve Bank has
to let go of such a bank, even when having to face the shock in
confidence, trust and tranquillity.

We in South Africa have experience of it. The bears who had no respect for
the multicultural democracy we are trying to set up, tried to wreck our
economy. Some banks suffered heavily. When a large bank has to close it
doors, thousands of workers become overnight jobless while tens of
thousands of clients find themselves in financial ruin. The same will
happen in the USA, but just on a much larger scale.

What should you fellow learners do? Do not keep your eggs in one basket.
You may find out overnight that you are left with nothing. Be careful of
investing your savings in blue chips with little Systems Thinking, either
directly or by a pension/mutual fund. Invest rather in businesses with a
clear and adaptive Systems Thinking. If their yearly reports lack in
information on their Systems Thinking while they overwhelm you with
numbers, they usually have little Systems Thinking. Be careful not to be
misled by hype talk -- the love for wisdom is not hype, but a barometer of
mental health. Here in South Africa the greed for excessive profits had
been the lure to untold miseries. It will be the same elsewhere.

We are the little people in the game dictated by the big greedy guys. We
cannot avoid the game. We can only avoid them crushing us. This is
possible by acting wisely despite those who scorn upon wisdom.

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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