Is it alive? LO16410

Mnr AM de Lange (
Fri, 2 Jan 1998 21:19:46 GMT+2

Replying to LO16314 --

Dear Organlearners,

Steve Eskow <> writes:

> Microsoft succeeds; Apple falters, and may fail.
> Why?
> The biological metaphors tell me that both are alive, both are "complex
> adaptive systems". So: one has failed to "adapt," has gotten ill, may die,
> while the other has successfully adapted, is healthy,etc
> Have I really learned anything from my use of these metaphors, or do they
> just repeat the situation in pretentious terms?
> If I add the language of cells and entropy, do I add to my insight?

Steve, no person will add to his/her insight if what he/she knows about
cells or entropy, cannot be connected to the Microsoft/Apple saga. The
insight comes from the ability to make connections between various
phenomena of reality, uncovering underlying common patterns. This ability
is better known as creativity.

What I have stressed above, is that creativity is promoted by the
essentiality "assoiciativity-monadicity". Understanding or insight is also
a creative phenomena, just like the appearance and maintenance of cells.
It is possible to deny any connection between entropy and creativity and
thus cells or even the Microsoft/Apple saga.

On the other hand, it is possible to give a novel definition for
creativity, namely, creativity is the result of entropy production
(dissipation, irreversibility). In such a ase we will have to investigate
how the entropy production of Microsoft differs from the entropy
production of Apple, accounting for their different behaviours.

> All I still know is that Apple is in trouble and Microsoft seems to be
> flourishing.
> The metaphors pretend to explain the situation, and can delude me into
> thinking I have a proufound insight into it.

What you have said here, is true. It concerns another essentiality, namley
"quality-variety". By going lean on different metaphors and especially
metaphors of quality, a person's understanding (mental emergences) will
seriously be impaired.

For example, even in biology we can get into trouble with our metaphors.
Cellular biology just cannot explain all that is known in botany or
zoology. Attempts to do it has failed utterly. We have to work
simultaneously on the different levels of biology, not even mentioning
physics and chemisrty.

> I still have to figure out--if I can, and without the help of
> metaphors--what decisions Jobs and Sculley and Apple made that may have
> created their problem, and what Gates has done--so far--that has kept
> Microsoft rich.

The only "things" which are not metaphors, are the "things" which are
essential to the universe and every piece of it. We may call them
universal terms. Enegry Conservation and Entropy Production are two such
universal terms.

> The biological metaphor may take my eyes and mind off the answers. Perhaps
> Microsoft isn't a "complex adaptive system": perhaps it flourishes because
> Gates is smart, cunning, ruthless, reads the signs of the times right, and
> follows none of advice he gets about participatory management and learning
> organizations.

Is Gates a self-organising entity or not? Is it not possible to view a
self-organising system as smart, cunning, ruthless, reading the signs of
the times right, following its own mind? Is entropy production
(irreversibility) not the common property of all self-organsing systems?

> Perhaps.

Perhaps we should be allowed to question our gut feelings. For example, is
Microsoft in the world of software companies a normal cell, or is it a
cancerous cell which thrives to the detriment of normal cells? There is no
end to the questions which we can ask. The one thing we should resist at
all costs, is to end prematurely the questioning of this universe - to
invoke the canon of exclusiveness.

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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