Systems Thinking vs Belief? LO19779

AM de Lange (
Fri, 6 Nov 1998 15:41:12 +0200

Replying to LO19740 --

Dear Organlearners,

In reply to to my (LO19730)
>Steve, you will probably now understand why I stress that
>we have to look in both directions, extreme simplicity and
>supreme complexity -- it is because we have to cater for
>morons, geniuses and everybody in between. ;-)

Winfried Deijmann < > writes:

>Hm, IMHO morons look into the directions of extreme
>complexity, the geniuses into supreme simplicity and
>everybody in between has a good laugh from the sideline,
>or shiffers in uncertainty Huh! ( note the changes in the
>text I made).

Greetings Winfried,

Yes, you have transposed extreme to complexity and supreme to simplicity.
We are now beginning to do with words what a great composer like Beethoven
did in music. Like you have hinted, I also had a good laugh thinking about
myself -- having to swim against the current from simple to complex when I
think simple, but also having to swim against against the current form
complex to simple when I think complex. Why? Because simple and complex
are not for me "dialectical duals", but "complementary duals". I may have
many complementary duals within me, but I am also a human who has to grow
in liveness, sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, sparseness, otherness and
openness. If I do not grow in them, my creativity diminishes.

You also wrote:

>I want to avoid that this/my contribution becomes too
>complex, nor do I want it to be too simplistic. Not being
>able how to avoid the first or the latter I will just jump into
>the middle of it and splash around a bit. Somebody might
>get wet...., if so I am sorry!

You are doing just as I intended. I created an "entropic force", but not a
corresponding "entropic flux". Thus, by supplying only one ("force") of
the pair ("force-flux") I have not forced you in any way to act
nonspontaneously. But something in you enabled you to sense the
"evolutionary field" in this "entropic force". Then you choose to open
yourself so that the "entropic flux" could happen, namely your own
thoughts (experential, tacit, ...) about simplicity and complexity.
Because you have supplied the other member of the pair yourself, you began
to act spontaneously. And because you offered it to our dialogue, it gave
me delight to work through it. Thank you very much.

>The above quote from At de Lange gave me a smile at first,
>and made me write my comments right under the quote.
>Reflecting on it, however it struck me that although both At's
>quote and my comment were meant as an 'in between joke'
>both quote and reply are not funny at all!

Winfried, you mothertongue is Dutch and mine is Afrikaans. So we both have
to struggle more than English speaking people to say in English what we
really think. When reading your paragraph, I thought that if you would
have replaced the "at all" with "only", your whole paragraph would have
fiitted perfectly in my systems thinking. In Afikaans I would have said

"beide aanhaal en antwoord is nie net prettig nie"
[both quote and reply are not only funny not]

Please forgive me for taking you on the next sidetrack, but it is
important because ultimately it has very much to do with my discovery of
the seven essentialities of creativity. Note this strange thing about
Afrikaans which only a few other languages (French and a Chinese language)
in the world have -- the double negative. In Afrikaans the double negative
is used most consistently. Having to deal with double negatives can become
quite a problem, as I have mention in my reply (not yet available) to Fred
Nichols' "Christians? LO19729". If you are not interested in the topic
"Christian?" itself, scan about 2/3 through it until you get to the
equations "not not safe = safe" and "not not not safe = not safe". Here is
a typical sentence in Afrikaans whith a double denial, "dit is nie so dat
die aarde nie rond is nie", but employing three times the negation "nie"
(not)! It helps Afrikaners (like the French and some Chinese) to think
more intuitively. The discovery of intuitionistic (constructivistic) logic
with its associated Heyting algebra is one of the main events in the
history of 20th century mathematics. It eventually gave rise to
Mathematical Category Theory (MCT) in which FRENCH mathematicians played a
leading role! (I made use of MCT in my discovery of the seven

Winfried (and Leo), the "intuitionism" and "constructivism" schools of
thought in mathematics emerged through the work of one man early this
century, the Dutchman Lutzen Brouwer. He is an exciting case study for
Thomas Kuhn's systems thinking (see "Structure of scientific
revolutions"). Did his Dutch environment have any influence on him? The
double negative occurs seldom in Dutch, but much more in the "dialects"
Twents, Drents and Gronings of the eastern Netherlands (the "Agterhoek" or
Back Corner). These "dialects" are actually Netherlandised forms of the
old language Low Saxon (Niedersachsisch). The Germanised forms in Germany
are usually known as "Platt Deutsch". Did Brouwer had any connection with
the Agterhoek Culture? Why does the double negative not occur in English
(derived from Anglo Saxon), despite even the great influence of French on

Winfried, you also write:

>It's my quess that this/his sentence came right from
>his mind, like my reply, and that he hasn't given it much
>thought. So I dare to consider it as an unconsious belief
>and not a product of clear judgement.
>Let me ask your right out At:: Why do you connect 'supreme'
>with 'complexity' and 'extreme' with 'simplicity'. Is it your inner
>belief, that going into the direction of complexity will result in
>'excellent entropy' for geniuses?

Winfried, I will use the word "logue" for a "contribution" to a dialogue.
The next may be rather confusing or uninteresting to most, but I have to
document it to give a backgound to your question.

When I write for our DIALOGUE in reply to someone else's logue, I am
already feigntly aware of my purpose in terms of one or two topics which I
do want to include in my logue. But before I begin with the actual
writing, I make sure what that purpose will be. It takes on average five
minutes of dreaming (reflection) after which I decide to go on or stop
before I waste any futher free energy -- my free energy for writing and
your free energy for reading it. The purpose has to harmonise with two
things, "past picture" and "future picture". Firstly, the "past picture
harmony". The purpose must harmonise with "picture of thoughts INSIDE the
logue" which I will formalise and the "picture of thoughts OUTSIDE that
logue". The "past outside" is the dialogue which we already had, my own
logues being merely a minor part of it. Whereas the "past outside" is
clear to me, the "past inside" is almost like a baby not yet born. It was
conceived and had been developing while I was reading the other person's

Secondly, the "future picture harmony". I am very sensitive to the
creative course of time in both the "world inside me" and the "world
outside me" -- the past, the present and the future of both these worlds.
The past is gone forever, the present is but a moment with us, but it is
the future in which we will have to live or die, phsyically and
spiritually. I try to avoid a destructive future for humankind. Should I
get even the slighest feeling that my purpose might not harmonise with the
constructive future for humankind, I abort the logue at that very moment
of feeling. But I do not abort the "baby" -- it has to stay growing in the
mind's "womb" until its true birth will happen in some unknown, future

Ok, let us assume no abortion has taken place. What happens next?

I make a connection to something in the other person's contribution which
also resonated with me. Upon that connection I allow my thoughts to flow
for a few lines up to a couple of paragraphs until I "feel" that the
connection has become rich enough. The flow is mainly intuitive, but here
and there along a sentence I would also correct a word or two or rephrase
a section of it. Then I go over the whole written passage, but now the
work is much more formal than intuitive. It is then when I make a lot of
changes by adding, deleting, and substituting words, phrases and
sentences. I look at my intuitive labour from a linguistic point of view
-- correcting the grammer (as far as I can), spelling and typing errors,
using the dictionary to make sure that every word expresses exactly what I
had in mind. I also look at it from MY creative point of view -- checking
its "mechanics (being)" by using the seven essentialities and checking its
"dynamics (becoming)" by using concepts like entropy production, entropic
forces, entropic flows, close to equilibrium, edge of chaos, bifurcation,
emergence immergence, etc. Then I look at it from the point of view of
learning. As an individual, I question my own progression or personal
mastery therough the levels "experential => tacit => formal => sapient".
As a possible member of a Learning Organisation, I ask myself if I have
not been standing in the way of its five disciplines? It is from this
viempoint that I learn a lot about myself while writing for a dialogue.

By that time a lot of work went into a couple of paragraphs. I then read
the other person's logue (the one to which I am replying) once again,
concentrating on harmony. Am I still harmonising? Am I still aware of the
whole person behind that logue? (Sometimes I have to go to the LO archives
to read again some of that person's other logues to refresh my memory or
make sure of my impressions of that person, especially how that person
changes.) Do I still follow my own purpose? (It is very much like my
wanderings in the desert -- after an hour or so I have to get to a high
point, making sure that I still know where I have come from, where I am,
and where I want to go.) Finally, what was the next topic in that person's
logue with which I have been resonating? I then use this resonating topic
as the beacon towards which I will work in the next paragraphs until I can
connect with it. So, the bigger process repeats itself. First the
intuitive, free flowing and then the formal, checked alterations.

The web becomes bigger as I move from connection to connection until the
whole logue is completed. Now for the finishing stage. I read the wole
thing through as fast as I can, but with much concentration, keeping
myself as open as possible. What I try to comprehend, are thoughts which
may assail the humaneness of any other participant of our dialogue. I
usually find several such thoughts. At each one I first look for the
reason why I perceived it as inhumane. Finding this reason usually tells
me how to correct that thought. Sometimes I cannot find the reason. Then I
begin to hammer in frustration on the keyboard, trying to change it with
whatever comes in my mind. If the result is still inhumane to me, I delete
that thought and what goes with it as if it is cancerous. Thus I have to
patch up what remains, restoring it as harmoniously as possible.
Afterwards, I read through the whole thing again to correct minor things
such as grammer and tyoing errors, but I usually cannot find them then
because the last stage of finding the inhumane thoughts exhausted me very

Winfried, now back to your question: Why "extreme simplicity" and "supreme
complexity"? If you will analyze all my logues of our dialogue, I do very
seldom in them what teachers are taught to do in formal lessons: "First of
all, announce the purpose of this lesson." Why? Well, the dialogue is
(for me) one of the five ELEMENTARY sustainers of creativity. Once the
purpose of a dialogue is FORMALISED by announcing it, the "elementary"
character of the dialogue gets changed because we are then on the road to
a FUNDAMENTAL conversation. To preserve the "elementary" nature of the
dialogue and thus its capacity to sustain our creativity, I shall not
announce my purpose -- it is as simple as that. But is it that simple?

Leo Minnigh is already very sensitive to this issue. For example, he
writes in "Squatter Problem LO19747" the following "Are At and I still in
the scope of this list? I often have much hesitation to write my
contributions because of the doubt behind this question." In another logue
he wrote that he finds it difficult to stay within the bounds of the
"subject" in the header of the email once that header defines the purpose
for him. Does it mean that Leo is without purpose? No, to use the powerful
metaphor which he has become so fond of -- no matter how much a river
seems to meander aimlesly around, it never crosses itself so that the same
water can flow twice. It means that although we may not perceive the
irreversible purpose of the river, there must be one otherwise the river
would have crossed itself and thus would have reversed its purpose.

Winfried, if you knew what my purpose was with "Systems Thinking vs
Belief? LO19740", you might even have answered your own question. Well,
my purpose with it was to make you all sensitive to the immense paradigm
shift in which we all are involved, whether we like it or not. In this
shift simplicity is a feature of the old paradigm while complexity is a
feature of the new paradigm. But, just as Leo's river of water meandering
through a geological landscape, humankind's river of paradigms meander
through the landscape of human perceptions. What appears to be a great
paradigm shift for us now when looking from a position close by, is just
another one of a number of big swerves when looking at it from far away
over a much greater time span. I used George Spencer-Brown's "Laws of
Form" in LO19740 not only because it helped me to contrast simplicity to
complexity for you, but also being (a feature of the olf paradigm) with
becoming (a feature of the new paradigm). For example, GsB's step 1 is to
begin with a becoming and not a being! (Should you ever read his little
book, you will discover this with amazement, although he never manages to
articulate his tacit senstitivity to becoming.)

To make you aware of this shift, I had to create a field (tension,
entropic force) strong enough and keep it strong all the way along the
logue. When I wrote "extreme simplicity" and "supreme complexity" for the
first time during the intuitive free flowing phase, I was doing
intuitively what we do in my mothertongue so often - using word pairs
which seems to be oxymorons to people speaking other languages. When I got
to the same sentence during the formal phase, I still remember how I
chuckled to myself, thinking that a linguist would say that simplicity has
no superlative form because nothing is simpler than simple. But in my
mothertongue we often break through conventions. For example, we would say
"mooi" (pretty), "mooier" (prettier) and "mooiste" (prettiest), but
"verskriklik mooi" (awful pretty) when we want to go beyond the linguistic
imposed limit "mooiste" (prettiest). I have observed this type of thing
also happening in English, but far less frequently than in Afrikaans

I might have used intuitively "bare simplicity" and "full complexity" for
the same reasons, but on the formal stage I would have certainly changed
it to "extreme simplicty" and "supreme complexity" to build in the "arrow
of time". Anyone who do not conform to any present paradigm is called an
extremist by the supremists of the present paradigm. But some time later
when the present paradigm and its supremists have passed away, the new
paradigm has acquired enough supremists for the same process to repeat
itself. Should I have written "supreme simplicty" and "extreme
complexity", I would have signaled that I prefer the status quo, which is
not the case. But by writing "extreme simplicty" and "supreme complexity",
I also knew that some people will get angry with me for trying to help
them. So I had to add the part "we have to cater for morons, geniuses and
everybody in between". By not telling who are the morons and by telling
earlier that morons (like geniuses) sit on both sides, I have tried to
defuse the judgement of the angry people.

Winfried, by now it may seem to you and all others that I am all for the
shift of simplicity to complexity. If you do think so, you have not read
carefully what I have written. Let me answer you through a riddle.
Compare in the Bible the complexity of Ezekhiel to the simplicity of Amos,
or the complexity of Paul to the simplicity of Peter. Were Amos and Peter
for simplicity and Ezekhiel and Paul for complexity?

Therefore, I can identify myself whole heartedly with what you have

>Tip 1: If the answers on one question gets too complex
>and you get lost in it, take it serious, because it is a sign
>that you are on a path that is getting you nowhere. Try
>one of the other questions.
>Tip 2: Stay calm, slow down and ask yourself regularly:
>What's the use of it? Where are my efforts getting me
>and is that the direction I want to go into?
>In doing so you will always belong to the "ones in between",
>the survivors.

Just two snippets before I pose a very important question to our topic
"Systems Thinking vs Belief?"

(Tip 1) I return to the question at favourable conditions until I get it
answered, no matter how complex the answer becomes. I will not give up.

(Tip 2) When I become too sure of myself (my efforts, my purpose, my
serenity, my faith, etc.) I jump into the rapids of life where I have to
swim like crazy in order not to drown.

My question is not why you believe that specifically only the "ones in
between" will survive. (If you know me good enough, you will realise that
again I have done "something subversive".)

My question is: "What survival do you fellow LO-learners have in mind?"

Has this question anything to do with LOs? No, not if we belief that LOs
are used merely to get "pepped up" or to make an acceptable profit.

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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