I think Group Think LO29238

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/26/02

Replying to LO29233 --

[Host's Note: I think I got this out of sequence with Jan's reply. Sorry.

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <janlelie@wxs.nl> writes:

>This is the third time this day that i read he word "dialectic".
>Dialectic is the ugly brother of dialogue: a method for
>resolving through the use of rules, as in law courts and
>arbitration. Graduallly dialectic has become a way to
>settle disputes between opposing systems of thought,
>cultures, beliefs.
>So GroupThink is a step in the dialectic of an issue, it is
>the step that deepens the conflict or polarization in order
>to reach a solution that will induce the re-occurence of
>the same issue in a different way.

Greetings dear Jan,

I wrote
>>I personally do not like setting "organisational thinking"
>>and "individual thinking" as a dialectical (opposing) pair.
>>They are rather the two sides of the human condition, i.e.,
>>a complementary pair. When one of the pair becomes
>>overstressed to the detriment of the other, it is called
>>"collectivism" or "individualism".

I did not explain in depth why I do not like dialectical thinking, but
rather prefer complementary thinking where possible.

The Greeks already reflected upon dialectical thinking. But it took
another two millennia for Hegel to formulate it as a phenomenon of the
mind and thereafter to develop it into his philosophy dialecticism. He
admits that reading some of Goethe's work put him on this course of
thinking. Hegel's work is very perplexing and might have gathered only
dust were it not for Karl Marx who applied it brilliantly to economics.

What might be perceived as two opposite poles, may actually be only two
different values of a property which has many values. When this is the
case, the other values get neglected or even ignored. (Fellow learners
sensitive to the dynamics of entropy production will recognise in this
difference a possible entropic force.) I think that "organisational
thinking"=Group-Think (the positive interpretation of it) affords a far
better opportunity to get a representation of many values of this property
than "individual thinking" organised in two opposing camps, each camp
following its own exclusive Group-Think (the negative interpretation of

Ouch, what a long sentence. (Benjamin Frankling, who usually writes
manageable sentences, wrote on p56 of his autobiography a sentence
consisting of 151 words! If i knew him not better by that place in the
book, I would have thought that he is just careless. But he actually
combined bifurcations and digestions in a remarkable manner. What a

>A polarization is part of the the dialectic way, as a
>polarization creates clarity on the issues. At the same
>time however the polarization might lead to the use of
>force - even revolution - , persuasion and charisma.

Here in South Africa, which is a multiracial, multicultural, multilingual
and multireligeous society, dialectical thinking often causes more
problems than solving problems. A few political leaders like former
president Nelson Mandela of the ANC and Pieter Mulder of the Freedom Front
try to avoid dialectical thinking, but they have only their tacit knowing
to rely upon and "the use of force - even revolution - , persuasion and
charisma" as you have noted.

Please remember that Mandela was jailed for planning and armed revolution
to overthrow the South African government in the sixties. But he learned
in jail through deep reflection that the use of force, even with a
revolution, is the one way in which political problems cannot be solved.
He have made this clear many times since his release. Recently he phoned
former pres Bush so see if he cannot convince his son to seek a peaceful
solution for the political problems in Iraq.
With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.