In pursuit of Mental Models LO29800

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 01/10/03

Replying to LO29731 --

Dear Organlearners,

Chris Klopper <> writes

>This Christmas I set out in pursuit of Mental Models (MM).
>(snip -- beatiful piece on insects)

Greetings dear Chris,

It is not only a LO discipline, but a noble quest to understand the

>'If', continues Korzybski, 'we reflect upon our languages,
>we find that at best they must be considered only as maps.
>A word is not the object it represents.'

I am inclined to make a distinction between a map of a territory and a
journey through it. When i look up the etymology of a word, it is as if i
make a journey which results in the object becoming more familiar.

>According to Bateson, Darwin got the unit for the analysis of
>evolutionary survival under natural selection wrong. Then
>follows a piece of pure wisdom which if heeded by Ordinary
>Organisation's would have made a huge difference in our time:
>'if an organism or aggregate of organisms sets to work with a
>focus on its own survival and thinks that that is the way to select
>its adaptive moves its progress ends up with a destroyed
>environment.' Wow, this is incredible, how often have
>organisations bent on individual competitive advantage not
>ended up destroying the industry they depend upon.

This is wisdom. For me it boils down to the following:-

    An organisation must not take more than what it gives back.

For example, when businesses in some sector takes more in money than what
they give back in quality, they destroy that sector. Here the quality has
to do with otherness ("quality-variety"), one of the 7Es (seven
essentialities of creativity). When an organisation impairs one or more of
the 7Es in order to advance self, it has taken more than what it should
have given back.

>Being in pursuit of MM's as I am and getting closer, I am
>beginning to feel that MM's are like maps. I am not sure
>enough yet to claim that MM's are equal to maps in the
>sense of the word used by both Korzybski and Bateson.
>I do have an open source code map with a bold heading
>Mental Models. What continues to get onto the one map
>is some of the many differences implicit in the writings
>of Korzybski, Bateson and LOrganologist's on this list.

I can live with this interpretation of MMs as maps. But then i have to
qualify it with my experiences with maps when preparing for a journey into
some desert. Maps are always specialised. Maps are produced from araial
photographs. For example, there are topographical maps showing the
vertical features such as mountains and valleys together with natural
rivers and human maid objects like roads and houses. There are also
geological maps showing the geological bedrock and sometimes also the
soils derived from them. Occasionally one may also find vegetative maps.
In exceptional cases there are also climatic maps showing sunshine,
temperature, rainfall, etc. Climatic maps cannot be produced from arial
photographs -- they require dedicated people who observe the climate of a
region daily.

My first problem when preparing for a journey into a desert is that one
kind of map is not enough. I have to overlay all the kind of maps which i
can get hold of to form a holistic picture in my mind of what to expect
and where to go in the limited time available. I think it is the same with
MMs. We have to overlay all kinds of them on a topic to form a holistic
image of it.

My second problem with maps is that i cannot take them with me into the
desert. I have to study them before the journey, but then leave them at
home. They take up too much space. Carrying water, food, first aid and
later some rocks and plants collected is much more important than carrying

My third problem with maps is that they tend to misled one from
spontaneous exploration. The map shows some features while when actually
being there, other far more exciting features not shown on the map beckon
reconnaisance. I think this is closely to what you wrote:

>All of us who drive or travel to work everyday using the
>same route, experiences something which puzzled Bateson
>too. (i) We get to the destination with pretty much no tangible
>experience or recollection of what happened on the way
>unless (ii) the territory did not equal the map. If a large tree
>that stood there for many years was removed over-night its
>absence would literally leap out and hit you in the eye. It
>would be the proverbial difference that makes a difference,
>a bit of information or an elementary idea with the potential
>of setting off a whole train of thoughts, and argument or
>perhaps a war. Do we know how and where we differ on this
>issue of MM's? No!, and no wonder we get into muddles.

I think that real experiences are even more important than "a bit of
information or an elementary idea" to make us aware of a MM needing
adjustment. Take the pending war in Iraq as an example. Those UN observers
who went there to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction could not
find any. These are real experiences. But relying on reports of
intelligence agents to stage a war is rather a case of "a bit of
information or an elementary idea".

>To summarise and conclude: I think (and I means this in
>the colloquial sense of the phrase) that the lack of free
>energy to pursue every thought, idea or concept is real
>and it is among other things the cause of a diversity
>between all of us that is important. My internal landscape
>is in large parts poorly mapped.

Chris, i myself have found out that by focussing on the 7Es, my own free
energy usually gets rejuvenated to pursue the mental creations of other
people. You have mentioned that the diversity among our thoughts is
important. Diversity refers to otherness, one of the 7Es. But what about
the other six 7Es? For example, is the wholeness among our thoughts not
important too? You have written in English and i am doing it now too. It
is all for wholeness sake so that other fellow learners can share in these
thoughts. But when we come together in person, we rather speak in our
mother tongue Afrikaans. In this case we do it because sureness and
fruitfulness can be much better optimised in our mother tongue.

>What then is a large difference? It is when my view of
>what an organisation is like is stranded on a mechanistic
>Newtonian architecture and yours is based on the kind
>of Living Organisation/organism architecture Arie de Geus,
>Fritjof Capra and others support. When we find bits and
>pieces of interesting organisational behavior we - like Oliver
>Zompro - will have the choice to force-fit it onto a known
>map or to question the validity and reliability of the maps
>we use.

Dear Chris, we should never forget how Oliver Zompro discovered the new
order of insecta, namely Mantophasmatodea. Specimens of it were already
collected in the 19th century. When Zompro was shown an unidentified
specimen (acquired in 1909) by the curator of the Natural History Museum
of London, his interest was aroused by one tiny feature. Insects (called
"stick insects") looking like this one are all herbivorous. But this
specimen's mouth was shaped to make it a carnivorous insect! Zompro saw
the proverbial "tip of the iceberg". A slight difference may eventually
prove to be an enourmous difference after sufficient evidence has been

By the way, many species of "stick insects" occur in the deserts of
Namibia. Putting out your hand to remove a stick from a plant to get a
better view of it may become frightful experience. Suddenly, almost when
touching the "stick", it springs into life, spreading its colourful wings
and making a rattling sound. I wish you fellow learners could experience

>Enjoy the trip through 2003

......catching new "stick insects"!

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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