LO as paradise lost and liberation LO29802

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 01/10/03

Replying to LO29705 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie <janlelie@wxs.nl> writes:

>in a column - in Dutch, i'm afraid,
>Veerle Rooze publishes her essay on Peter Senge's Fifth
>Discipline. She motivates her writing as a consequence
>of the perceived enthousiasm with students for this book
>and its concepts. She tries to prove that the LO is a kind
>of religion - assuming that a relegion is a kind of orm and
>quite independent of a content.

Greetings dear Jan,

Thank you very much for this report on probably a very provocative essay.

>The LO provides for:
>- identification with a group

I have snipped the reasons which she has given, otherwise this essay will
become to lengthy.

>She notes that The Fifth Discipline contains all or most
>of the important Christian values (integrity, freedom,
>loyality, openness, forgiveness) but lacks a normative
>framework. (snip)

I have written an essay already before Christmas on the topic "Is the
Kindom of Heaven a LO?" I will mail it as such

>What do you think? Are we the disciples of a new faith?
>Is LO great and Senge its prophet?

I myself try to make a distinction between religion and faith. Faith is
personal whereas religion is public. Religion involves faith. So let us
first try to understand what religions are.

When we try to understand what religions are, we ought to take care that
we do not restrict our understanding by Mental Models (MMs). These MMs may
be simple or intricate. For example, a simple MM is like that a religious
person is naive or that religion divides society. Intricate MMs are often
convincing, but they usually fail the test of at least wholeness. For
example, in the theological MM any religion which does not comply with the
theological assumptions is a mythology. In the philosopical MM any
religion which does not fit into the systems thinking is superstitious. In
the scientific MM any religion which does not correspond with scientific
facts is false.

Einstein said:
"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
To this I want to add:
"Theology without religion is hypocritical. Religion without theology
is profane."
"Philosophy without religion is mediocre. Religion without a philosophy
is a tyrany."

Understanding religions is very much like understanding trees. Just as
trees are part of nature, religions are part of humankind's culture. In
fact, religions have a very long history. They go back as far as
humankind's ability to document its thoughts. Long before humankind
contemplated theology, philosphy, science or any other branch of
systematic thinking, religions were already practised and some of them
documented. In fact, it seems that humankind's acquired ability to
document knowledge as information coincided with the beginning of its
religious practices. So, when St John report in chapetr 1 of his gospel
"In the beginning was the Word, and the ...", he is saying something which
all archeological evidence some 2000 years later still cannot refute.
Language and religion goes together. As impossible as it is to wipe out
all languages, it is impossible to wipe out religions.

Religions have a taxonomy (genealogy). By this I mean that the development
of the various religions have a tree like structure. The oldest religion
in Western Asia (Sumer) some 6000 years ago, of which little is known,
formed the trunk. But as cultures came and went while people dispersed
over continents, the articulation of this religion took remarkable shapes
into the various branches. The shape of the religions in the Far East
began to differ as much from the African or European religions as that of
the American religions. We need Michael Polanyi's concept of "tacit
knowing" to understand why. When people want to articulate their religious
experiences, they draw upon the metaphors of their culture to do so. For
example, God is represented as a king in a monarchy or as a ruling council
in an olicharchy.

This taxonomy entails that we can also discern a funtional structure
(physiology&morphology) in religions. Perhaps the most important feature
of it is that any religion involves the organisational worship of a
superior power capable of influencing the lives of ordinary people. A king
or ruling council have powers beyond that of ordinary people, but in the
religion it is assumed that their powers are surpassed by that of the
godhead. Such power of the godhead is manifested in the belief that it
created everything which exists by bringing order to chaos.
 Today we know several natural laws which bring order to nature, but we
are still struggling to understand the laws which bring order to human
culture. Can we jump the gun by accusing religions for articulating too
hastily the laws of spiritual order?

The relationship between religion and personal faith is very much like the
relationship between Individual Learning (IL) and Organisational Learning
(OL). A person discovers him/herself further in the learning of other
people. This common collective feature may be the tacit reason why XYZ
Rooze thought of the LO as a religion and Senge as its prophet. But there
is even more to it. The enigmatic South African Eugene Marais was capable
to discern OL in communities of ants and baboons. He called it their soul,
but never their religion. Perhaps this discovering of the soul in OL
causes the LO to be confused with a religion in which the soul is another
major feature of its functional structure.

Religious organisations can emerge into LOs like any other kind of
organistions. But this does not make a LO a religious concept , nor does
it imply that a LO is a religious organisation. For example, when a sports
team or a class of students emerge into a LO, they do not become a
religious fraternity. They discover that they are more than the sum of
them as individuals. They may have no explicit information on holism, but
they certainly practise it in their "tacit LO".

The reality of religious organisations is that they can have an immense
influence on the course of human events. They can let civilisations thrive
or bring civilisations to an end. They can let the noble and divine in
humankind blossom or they can trigger the tragedy of human horrors. Our
task is not to eradicate offending religious organisations, but to let
them emergence into learning organisations so as to behave themselves. The
main problem to overcome is usually self-justification as a result of
inferior learning. A religion which put blinkers on the learning of its
followers is destined to become a problem. It does so by compelling its
followers to conform to doctrine rather than using it as information to
grow in knowledge.

No, I do not think that the LO is or will become a religion and that Senge
is its founding prophet. But I do think that articulation of a LO in the
Fifth Discipline had been the major breakthrough of the 20th century in
managerial science. My first experiences with a "tacit LO" were in the
early seventies of the 20th century. I always marveled and wondered about
it. Only some twenty years later Senge articulated my tacit knowing,
making me very indebted to him. For me he did not work out an abstract
idea, but managed to articulate something which happens from time to time
in some organisations since the dawn of humankind -- the collective
discovering of the soul.

Perhaps one day we should have a dialogue on "The LO and Disovering the
Soul". But for now we first have to make sure that the concept of a LO is
not a religion, even though religious organisations can benefit by it as
any other kind of organisation.

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

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