Help with "Emergence" LO16498

Mnr AM de Lange (
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 17:52:16 GMT+2

Replying to LO16465 --

Dear organlearners,

Don Dwiggins <> writes:

> At, could you present a case study of an emergence for us, to help us
> along the birth canal? I'm thinking of a description that starts with a
> system near equilibrium, traces its growing chaos to the bifurcation
> point, and shows how the essentialities worked to create the emergence.

I will try to do so. In my book I will report one case study which
concerns the essentiality "associativity-monadicity" (wholeness) which
happened on the university level of learning. I will now rather discuss
another case which I reported to this very LO-list in May 1997, I think
under the heading "The Blue dog". It happened on a pre-school level. It
concerns the essentiality "quality-variety" (rangeness). It concerns my
granddaughter Jessica who was 4 years old at that time. I reported it to
prepare some background for a later contribution on metaphors.

I will indent the report so as to distinguish it from the the theoretical
(explain, describe, predict) considerations.

* A few days ago my granddaughter Jessica went with me to my
* nursery outside our city. I have to go there after work
* every day. She usually helps me to pollinate flowers, water
* plants, etc. But that day she was agitated. She wanted us
* to visit every possible friend of mine which she could
* think of! I said no because we had to get back home early.
* I did not want to tell her that we were invited by my
* eldest son to his wife's birthday party. We wanted to keep
* it a surprise for her.

Jessica is a self-organising system like each of us. I have been fortunate
to observe her whole development as such and not merely to know her as a
grandfather. It had not been the case with my own children because at
their pre-school ages I had not progressed so far in my own learning.

Every day I observe how Jessica behaves close to equilbrium in some topics
(E-phase) and far from equibrium in others (R-phase). In the E-phase the
rate of entropy prodution is low (dissipation is slow) and in the R-phase
the rate is high (dissipation is fast). I find it fascinating how she (as
a kid) can switch without diffculty between these two phases as is
required by the development of the topic on which she is self-organising.

Yet that day of the blue dog even I should have known better. The
intensity with which she begged me to visit my friends known to her
was profound. I should have observed in the "let us go visit X"
immense chaos of becoming - the first manifestation of entropy

* When we drove back to my home, I asked her what she did at
* the nursery school that day. She said she made a dog. I
* asked her whether she painted it or drawn it with crayons.
* She said she made it out of paper. (It is the activity of
* pasting pieces of coloured paper together.) I then asked her
* if it was beautiful. She said it was a blue dog. I then
* asked why blue. She said with a dark broody face that they
* gave her only blue paper to work with.

A source of free energy is required to produce entropy. The entropy is
then produced by a force-flux pair. The force is created by a tension or a
difference in quality while the flux is created by a flow of some quantity
matched (complementary) with the quality.

Jessica probably wanted to create a brown dog. (I have three brownish dogs
with which she often plays - the dogs she had plenty of experiences with.)
The difference between brown and blue is a difference in quality and thus
an entropy producing force. Moving the coloured pieces of paper into the
picture she envisioned repesents the flux. She wanted a brown dog to
emerge, but that emergence did not happen because the essentiality
"quality-variety" was impaired.

Her "dark broody face" indicated that she was emotionally very upset by
the failing of this emergence. These emotions, entropy creating forces
themselves, arise by cross inductions through the so-called Onsager
reciprocal relationships. (See irreversible thermodynamics.)

I should have recognised that she was far from equilibrium with respect to
some topic of knowledge which had to emerge within her. But I was also
driving and could not give full attention to it.

* Then she continued, saying that the dog had died. I asked
* why. She said that there are germs all around us. I asked
* her why she did not give the dog some medicine like pills
* to keep it alive. She said that it would not have worked.
* She then continued, saying that she made the dog alive
* again. I asked her how she did it. She said that she put
* some yellow flowers in its month. I asked her why flowers.
* She said that it seems I have forgotten that flowers give
* life.

Now, afterwards, I realise what has happened. She already had tacit
knowledge (even for her age) on the essentiality "quality-variety". The
"germs" was her articulation of things which impaired her creative
emergences. In this case the single colour blue was the germ.

She also was able to determine, eventhough in an intuitive manner, the
attractor state. She used yellow. We know objectively that yellow is the
colour which clash least with blue. The entropy production in an attractor
state should be less than before. What she then did, is to "articulate",
not with words, but with flowers, that yellow will bring life again, i.e
signify the emergence. In other words, she merely made use of her already
acquired tacit knowledge that "quality-variety" is an essentiality of
creativity. Yet she was still extremely upset - why? Was she questioning
the truth of this essentiality? Today, with hindsight, I know that
something else was in the process of emerging.

* Late that night, after the party, she did not want to go
* with her mother to their apartment. She begged me to go
* with me and her grandmother to work on my computer with the
* paintbrush program. I immediately realised why. I promised
* that she could work on it the next evening. The next day I
* asked the teacher to see her creation. It was indeed a deep
* blue dog with yellow flowers in its mouth.

The teacher was looking guilty. The yellow paper used for the flowers was
from a different source and torn in a different manner. I think Jessica
has torn it from some wall decoration and got reprimanded for that.

Anyway, what did I realise? Jessica's immediacy was her begging for a
bifurcation. She needed to increase her rate of entropy production up to
the bifurcation point. Remember that when entropy is produced, it is first
manifested as chaos of becoming. This chaos of becoming has to be commuted
(transported) to the rest of the universe. But each commutation pathway
has a finite restititivity. This means that when the rate of entropy
production is increased, not all of it can immediately be dispersed
(dissipated) as chaos of becoming. There is gradual build up of entropy at
the locality where it is produced so that the locality slowly gets
saturated with entropy manifested as cahos of becoming.

* The next evening I allowed her to work with paintbrush on
* the computer. She made many circles, eclipses, squares,
* and rectangles. She coloured each of them differently by
* selecting all the colours on the colour bar (Win95). She
* worked with intense concentration. After 30 minutes she
* exclaimed that it is beautiful. I agreed and asked her if
* we should shut the computer down. She said no because she
* still had some work to do. She suggested that I should
* leave and so I went to the TV room, wondering what went on
* in her little mind.

Jessica was moving herself futher from equilibrium by testing the
essentiality "quality-variety". She used all the colours (stepping up the
force) and placed such solours wherever she choose (stepping up the flux)
without letting to figures flowing into each other by using idential
colours. At that stage I thought she was concerned with the emergence that
"quaility-variety" is indeed essential for painting. What a fool I had
been to leave her alone for the next 10 minutes.

* After 10 minutes she called me excitedly. She has coloured
* every one of the original figures in blue and the
* background in yellow. She was laughing with great relieve
* and tears in her eyes. I asked her why she was so happy.
* She said that it was because she had made it blue and
* yellow herself. She said that I must go away because she
* still had some things to do.

Emergences to a new higher order happen when the second manifestation of
entropy production takes place. The entropy produced is then not only
commuted outwards to the rest of the universe as chaos of becoming, but
also binded inwards as order of being. This makes emergences localised
phenomenona. The reason why Jessica sent me away, is to articulate this
localness by insisting on privacy. Giving "birth" is not something for the
whole world to see.

But what then did emerge within her? The freedom of choice - the right to
make an informed choice - the right not to be forced by another party to
follow that party's choice.

The concept "freedom of choice" should not be confused with the
essentiality "quality-variety". Freedom of choice means that the
self-organising system ITSELF determines SPONTANEOUSLY its emergences by
relying on the seven essentialities, "quality-variety" being one of them.

Jessica was forced to create a blue dog (and its consequences like putting
yellow flowers in its mouth to give life to it). But in the paintbrush
episode she made the blue-yellow choice herself after having first created
much entropy with the many colours. The final amount of entropy needed to
reach the bifurcation point was produced when she recoloured all the
figures in blue and the background in yellow.

* After 5 minutes she called me again. I looked at the
* screen. The paint area was blackened by colouring every
* figure and the background in black. (A few blue and yellow
* pixels escaped her eyes.) I asked het why she did this. She
* said that she had to kill all the germs. She then said that
* I could shut down the computer so that we could play
* dominos somewhere else. She played the dominos with
* the flair of a queeen..

What she did was to decrease the rate of entropy production so that she
could move out of the R-phase into the E-phase. The painting of every
figure and the background in black was her first action to be taken in the
E-phase, to let the bare emergent grow step by step into full maturity. It
also supplied her with the perturbation to initialise a new cycle in her
life - the black background of the screen connected to the blackness of
the dominoes. She was ready and willing for another game of life.

It is not possible to maintain eternally a R-phase. It will simply consume
all sources of free energy. New fully charged sources have to be found.
Self-organising systems provide for them self through the R-phase and
charge grow them to maturity through the E-phase.

* She was very happy and very sweet for a couple of days. She
* had been generating her own creativity. Her grandfather
* merely acting as midwife. She helped him to understand
* even more in a formal and objective manner what she
* already knew intuitively. Three days later he asked her
* about the blue dog. She could not remember a thing!

Conscious memory is used to store fragmented beings and fragmented
becomings. As soon as some of these beings and becomings become intimately
connected into the whole to which tacit knowledge also belongs, they
disappear from conscious memory. The "blue dog" was such a fragmented
being and "making choices" a fragmented becoming.

It is now eight months later. Jessica is definitely now able to make self
informed choices. She also now allows others much more to make choices for
her. She willing take responsibility for such choices provided they de not
interfere with her integrity - provided they do not degrade/impair her
self-organisation. In that case she quickly drives herself far from
equibrium with entropy production to handle this new invasion of her

Don, I hope that the report and the theorising about it will help you and
others along the birth canal.

Best wishes


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

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>