"What is good" LO13231

t.struck (TXS614@novell5.bham.ac.uk)
Tue, 15 Apr 1997 14:40:02 BST

Replying to LO13197 --

Dear Orglearners,

this is my first contribution following some weeks of reading or
"learning" if you like. I don't know whether or not I reached some kind of
"common knowledge level" which appears to exist at least within some of
you, so regard my reply as an effort by someone who is learning and,
hopefully, ever will be.

[Host's Note: Welcome, Thomas. Contributions in this spirit are always
welcome here! ...Rick]

As a PhD student (coming from an Engineering background) concerned with
knowledge management or learning orgs ( I regard both as synonymous) I,
funnily enough, got stuck in philosophical questions. Reading LO messages
some time now, I tend to say, that something similar is happening in this
LO. Whereas I think most of you are already joining the commercial world,
a lot of the contributions given are concerned with rather philosophical
than practical topics.

Is the philosophical ground not solid enough to build practical

If so, the question of "what is good" or better the identification of the
problem that we don't know "what is good" is very important, because
learning does imply the desire to learn something good. Unfortunatly, as
I can see it, "Good" (I think Truth is a equivalent expression) is not an
universal constant. It depends on the social enviroment (society, family,
individual) and on time and the entity it attends to. The sentence "trust
in god" reading "trust only in god" , brought forward by At, says
something similar. There is "good" and there is "trueth", but we see the
world just through our eyes, or we create the world we see using our
senses. I remember when we learned about colours at school (Farbenlehre),
complementary colours and so on and everything was just fine, because
using this colours and a brush you could create the world around you.
Sometime later sometime later some teacher came up with the idea of
wavelength. ultraviolet and infrared light and I seriously wondered how
the world would look like if I could see this colours addittionaly. It
would be another world. Science is searching for truth, but like Karl
Popper (as far as I remember) put it : all theories (I might add of truth)
are hypothesis, Kuhn (again hopefully rightly quoted) called them paradigm
and and I might quote Polanyi (certainly correctly this time, but taken
out of context whereas I think he wouldn't reproach me too heavily in this
case. ) but this leaves my beliefs about the nature of external scientific
truth unaffected.

Again Popper : "Alles leben ist Problemloesen" (one of his books, this one
published in German, I think). Hopefully translated reasonably: "All Life
Is Problem Solving". You have to realize a problem or to define it and
then to solve it, probably using a theory or coming up with a new one.
Science, he says, is much about falsification, proving one theory wrong
and thereby advancing. This is a permant approach, bearing in mind that we
might come closer to the truth but again might never reach it.

Taking this the question "what is good" or "what is (the) truth" is
wrong. ("Trust only in god" or "trust in an external truth" but both you
might find just by accident). The question then has to be "what is better"
or "what is closer to the truth" or considering religious truth "what, say
behaviour, brings us closer to god". In that sense one wouldn't ask "what
is good leadership" but "what leadership is better than the one we already
have" and thus the approach would change to something continuous namely
learning. This is much harder and people therefore use to call for the
truth or god (an working paper at the MIT calls it call for Daddy) or
Superman when the going gets tough.

Do I make sense, or to say it otherwise is there anyone else than
Supermind who could help me finish my PhD ?

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Struck (Dipl.-Ing.)

The University of Birmingham
School of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering
Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom
Tel.: ++44 121 414 4165
Fax.: ++44 121 414 4239
Email: t.struck@bham.ac.uk
E-Mail.: t.struck@bham.ac.uk


"t.struck" <TXS614@novell5.bham.ac.uk>

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