Essentialities and experience LO18082

Mnr AM de Lange (
Tue, 12 May 1998 15:11:56 GMT+2

Replying to LO18062 --

Dear Organlearners.

Winfried Dressler <> writes in reply to my

> >Is it possible to transfer experience from one person to another
> >person?

> Experiences are partly individual and partly collective. They are
> individual as phenomenons and collective by means of interpretation
> (understanding) and selection (didactics).

Winfried, thank you for your answer. Your explanation of experience
itself above helps me to follow your answer and agree with your
conclusions. But, and I hope you will understand it, a different
explanation of experience leads to different answers. Specifically,
should we drop the qualification that experience is partly
collective, then experiences cannnot be transferred from one to
another person.

The ramifications of this latter conclusion is very important to
learning, for individuals as well as organisations. For example. Is
it then possible to tranfer knowledge? What is the role of a
teacher or facilitator? How does the collective learning, typical of
a LO, happens?

But before we try to answer such questions, let us first think about
experience itself. How much are the following three words connected:
experience, expertise (expert) and experiment? Let us then think
about the following two questions:
Can we transfer expertise from one person to another person?
Can we transfer an experiment from one person to another person?

The second question seems to be almost a foolish question. Why do we
ever want to transfer an experiment from one person to another
person? An experiment is not something inherent to a person, or is
it? On the other hand, an experiment without a person performing it,
is something unthinkable. The experiment and the experimenter can
never be fragmented from each other. Thus the experiment and the
experimenter form a holistic unit. But we have exactly the same
holistic unit between expertise and expert. The only difference is
in external relationship (for experiment) and internal relationship
(for expertise). Is this difference the reason for not wanting to
transfer an experiment? I do not think so.

With respect to experiments, what one person does transfer to another
person, are three major things:
(1) information how to repeat the experiment
(2) information on the observations which have been made
(3) information on the conclusions which have been made.
In other words, it is only labels (information) which are transfered.
But the actual conductances, the actual observations and the actual
conclusions of the experimenter cannot be transfered. They form a
holistic unit with the experimenter. Furthermore, these conductances,
observations and conclusions are not externally, but internally! Is
that the reason why they (and thus the whole experiment) cannot be
transfered? I cannot see any other reason.

Since it is not possible to transfer the experiment from person A to
person B, it becomes absolutely important for person B to repeat the
experiment (conduct, observe and conclude) when in doubt. (You
are probably now aware that the essentiality "identity-categoricity"
or sureness operates in the back-ground.) In other words, what person
B does, is to set self up this holistic unit between experiment and

But why the doubts in the first place? There are two main reasons.
Firstly, the information which person A sends out (whether it reaches
person B or not) cannot actually label the holistic unit
experiment+experimenter. The information labels only parts of the
holistic unit. There is no isomorphy between information and the
experiment+experimenter. Secondly, person B have to interpret this
information in terms of his own ?????? (experiences?). In the
information ABOUT conduction, observation and conclusion of person A
the person B recognises what he himself conducted, observed and
concluded, but in DIFFERENT niche (instances, events) of space+time.
Thus person B is primarily reminded of his own ?????? (experiences?).
When they differ from that of person A, doubts will most probably
arise. In order to make sure that these doubts are ONLY
INFORMATIONAL, person B then repeats the experiment.

But let us now think about the holistic unit expertise+expert.
Can we transfer expertise from one person to another person?
What is an expert? It is someone who has exceptionally superior
knowledge (theory/sense/being and practice/skill/becoming) in at
least one topic, someone who has transcended through self-learning
beyond that which can be carried by information. Thus an expert is
someone who deals with information on a topic in such a manner that
it does not increase informational doubts while capable of pointing
out any existing informational doubts. Again this requires
outstanding ?????? (experiences?) as an individual, but now also also
as someone who has outstanding ?????? (experiences?) with
interpreting other individuals' ?????? (experiences?) on the same
topic. In this sense I am of opinion that also expertise cannot be

The closest we can come to a "transfer" of expertise, is for an
expert A to create learning situations by which person B
(1) can learn through self-experimentation and
(2) can learn how to interpret without doubt information concerning
the self-experimentation of others.
This makes the "exemplar" as an archetype of creative learning just
as important as "problem solving". Unfortunately, the present
fashion (hype) concerning "problem solving" not only overshadow the
"exemplar", but creates the impression that expertise can be
transfered from one person to another person, just as anything else
which does not depend on self-organisation.

Ok, if experiments and expertise cannot be transferred, what about
experience? If I tell you about some of my own experiences, do that
information transfer these experiences so that you also have actually
experienced them? No. But the information, as soon as you receive it,
interpret it and recognise through it your own experiences, do create
additional experiences within you. However, these informational
experiences should never be confused with sensory experiences.

I used to take a lot of slides (pictures) of the deserts. But I
stopped doing it somewhere around 1985. My family and my friends
were very furious. "You are keeping that experiences to yourself" is
their main argument. I answered them that I would rather prefer to
tell them about it than showing them slides. But then their answer
was usually "One picture is worth a thousand words". This then gave
me the opening which made them so furious; "A few words spoken or a
thousand words pictured can never equate actual experiences. Go to
the desert yourself."

My dear wife decided to go with me on one trip to the Namib desert -
and especially a region known as Namgorab. I always told her that
this place is the closest to heaven. She, like the rest of the
family, thought that I was somewhat infatuated with Namgorab. I
know through my own experiences and that of others sharing theirs
with me that merely traveling up to that desert itself is an ordeal.
Thus, when arriving at Namgorab, a person's mind can be so negatively
tuned, because of the preceding ordeal, that Namgorab is perceived as
hell itself.

So I took some extra money and showed it to my wife. I said to her
that although I love her, if I perceive the slightest negative word
or body sign along the journey to Namgorab, I will put her with a
smile on any flight back to Pretoria (four possible places). She then
knew she could not take any chances. I coached her to merely
experience what will be happening along the journey and to completely
postpone any judgement - to take everything just as it comes.

On the third day we entered Namgorab down through the Gorab pass. As
we made the last turn so that the splendour of Namgorab unfolded
before us, she shouted like a child "At, stop". I stopped the truck,
gave her one look, saw that she was completely mesmerised by what she
was seeing, got out and began climbing the steep slope. When I
returned after half an hour, she was still sitting, gazing at what
her eyes were telling her. With my remark "well, this is Namgorab" I
shocked her back to earth. She said only one thing "I have seen
heaven." The rest of that day she was very quiet.

Today she agrees with me. First hand experiences and second hand
narratives, even with modern technology like a video camera, just
cannot be compared - no isomorphism is possible between them.

> Experience takes place in given domains, which are sets of interpreted
> phenomenons (like physics, music, art, mathematics, company A, industry B,
> school, family...) These domains represent the state of the art sureness -
> the established isomorphic relation between phenomenon and its current
> symbolic representation (short: interpretation). Due to the complexity of
> real phenomenons, the isomorphism will never be complete, thus collective
> experience will evolve and domains and culture develop.


> Articulated individual interpretation of phenomenon (personal experiences)
> are judged by a field of experts, accepting or rejecting the claimed
> experience. An important control on a persons experience has the field of
> experts this persons believes to be relevant (engineering experts?
> financial department? customer? At de Lange?).


> With this, I can try to answer your question:

> The transfer of experience is a process of sharing domains.

Winfried, stop. Is it not that
the SHARING of experience is a process of sharing domains?.

> snip

> Asking the question whether transfer of experience is possible, At tells
> us, that this question is basic to his domain and the experiences provided
> by tackling this question will help mastering the domain. Yet it is still
> an open question, how to connect this metadomain fruitfully to other
> domains - transfer the experiences of At to another person. For the time
> being, At's view is such complex, that it will take long time to develop
> up to this complexity.

Is it really still an open question? Is the transfering of
experiences possible? In my humble opinion - NO. But is the sharing
(articulation, communication, recognition) of experiences possible?
In my humble opinion - YES. This how any Learning Organisation
emerges - by sharing (and not transferring) experiences among all its

Best wishes


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

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