relations, bonds and links LO29733

From: Don Dwiggins (
Date: 12/26/02

Replying to LO29640 --

Leo writes in LO29640:
> "what sort of relationships/bonds/links could be distinguished in our
> world?" and "what makes something a whole?"
> plays a couple of weeks in my mind. I realised that it is a complex
> subject, the subject itself, but also its implications and relationships
> with other subjects such as wholeness, fruitfulness, umlomo and the
> creativity of the mind. In the background play also matters like internal
> and external factors and form/content a role. I am not sure what is wise:
> just let this contribution stop with the above questions and thus giving
> you the oportunity to create your own thoughts, or start with sharing my
> thoughts with you (and thus possibly influencing your mind flows). I
> decided to do the latter and try to translate my thoughts on the general
> question and later on the more specific one. However, I hope that you
> still are able to think independently on this subject. I need your input!
Adding a bit to your very nice investigation, from a different

What you've described looks to me to be "related" to the software
profession's graphical modeling tool/language called Entity-Relation (ER)
modeling. As the name implies, it models "things" in the world as
entities or relationships among entities. (There's nothing in ER
corresponding to your dynamical vs. mechanical distinction, however.)
The main goal of ER modeling is to create a representation of an
application domain, in terms of relational database tables and references
among them, that will be adequate to the purposes of the application(s)
that use the data.

There's also been quite a bit of work around relations in the artifical
intelligence community, and there's an area of philosophical ontology
called "mereology" that studies the relationships between parts and
wholes. (Hmm, I should read up on that again to see how it looks from the
vantage point of the 7Es.)

To add to the examples you cite, consider a bus (the transportation
vehicle, not the electrical component), and its relations to the
passengers, the driver, its engine, its tires, and its operating license.
Of all these, the passengers have the loosest and most transitory
relationships with the bus. It's also interesting (and possibly useful) to
consider the different kinds of relationships the bus has with the various
entities listed, as a physical system, as a vehicle, as a part of the
municipal transportation system, etc.

Finally, I've given some thought to the connection between the concepts of
relation and of role. In general, it seems to me that the concept of an
entity playing a role implies/relies on the presence of a relationship
involving that entity. Human roles such as parent, employee, leader,
teacher, etc. are ways of focusing on particular members of a


Don Dwiggins Let your mind meander toward a sea of relations, bonds, and links...

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