Lectures, learning, leadership, LOs LO19889

AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 13:01:47 +0200

Replying to LO19830 --

Dear Organlearners,

Steve Eskow < DrEskow@aol.com> writes:

>Thank you for your commentary on my remarks on lectures
>and sermons. I would like to comment on your remarks.

Greetings Steve,

Thank you for your comments.

Since this list is intended for a public dialog on LOs in such a manner
that we all can learn from it and thus enjoy what we are doing, I will
answer to your appropiate comments.

>So: my problem is this:
>How do I help you to change?

I think that this question can be answered in the new subject which Rick
has initiated.

>Next I want to help you to see a technique you often use
>here which I think quite deceptive, and quite dangerous:

(snip: example using "apartheid", see end)

>What you have done here is something you do well and
>often. By a process of linguistic sleight of hand you have
>mangaged to assert that the disciplines that undergird our
>civilization: the natural sciences, the human sciences, such
>disciplines as grammar and rhetoric and geometry and
>physics. . .are equivalent to racial apartheid.

What I am asserting is that when almost every academical discipline works
in isolation to the rest, then we have reached the stage of "academical
apartheid". (This has to do with imparing the essentiality "wholeness",
especially associatitvity.) Despite this assertion, I will not advocate
the disintegration of academical disciplines. (This has to do with
impairing the essentiality "sureness", especially identity.)

What I have done by a "linguistic sleight of hand", is to use "racial
apartheid" as metaphor. I will take heed to your caution and use metaphors
more sparingly.

I do not use metaphors to deceive. I use them to jump large amounts of
information. So let me now give an account of the jump which I have made.

It is possible to describe "academical apartheid" without using the word
"apartheid". One word is not enough, but the following will give an idea:
"academical fragmentarism".

How dangerous is "fragmentarism" to initiating and maintaining a LO? At
the back of his book ("The Fifth Discipline") in Appendix 1 Peter Senge
summarises his five disciplines in terms of five pyramidal diagrams. At
the base level of each diagram are the "practices". At the middle level
are the "principles" which sustain a theory of these "practices". At the
top level are the essences. Senge writes about these essences: "... while
they are difficult to express in words, they are vital to grasp fully the
meaning and purpose of each discipline."

The two essences listed as vital for Systems Thinking are "holism" and
"interconnectedness". If they are vital, then their opposite
"fragmentarism" is detrimental to Systems Thinking and hence initiating
and maintaining a LO.

Not so long ago we had the subject "LOs in Higher Education". The majority
of dialogers had not much hope for LOs to emerge in Higher Education. What
about "fragmentarism" as one of the reasons for the failure?

But Senge has even more to say in Appendix 1. He writes: "At the level of
essences, the disciplines start to converge". Obviously, he refer to his
five disciplines. But even for that, I have never seen anybody else
comment on this sentence. I have experienced the same type of thing with
the seven essentialities. It is impossible trying to keep the academical
disciplines "apart" while trying to improve on the seven essentialities.
The logical explanation is that in trying to keep the academical
disciplines apart, something is done exatly opposite to "improving the
seven essentialities" What else can it be than "impairing the seven

What relationhip is there between Senge's "essences" and the "seven
essentialities"? For the benefit of fellow learners, I will list
Senge's essences. I will also add correspondences to the seven
essentialities where it seems possible:

holism => wholeness (monadicity?)
interconnectedness => wholeness (associativity)
being => liveness (being)
generativeness => liveness (becoming)
connectedness => fruitfulness (connect)
love of truth => sureness (categoricity)
openness => openness (open)
commonality of purpose => otherness (quality)
partnership => wholeness (associativity
collective intelligence => sparseness (limit)
allignment => fruitfulness (connect)

Well, well, what do we have here? All "seven essentialities" reflected in
the "eleven essences" of Senge. (Note that I have discovered the seven
essentialities about five years before Senge's book has been published.)

I have written before that the essentialities are seven (no more, no less)
because of the way in which they have been discovered. (I call this way
"Bridge of Adjunction", but I will not explain it here.) If somebody else
think that he/she knows of an eighth one, then this eighth one must be
subjected to the same "bridge of adjunction" to determine whether it is
not covered by one the existing seven essentialities. Because of the
unique number seven, I call them "essentialities" rather than "essences"
or "essentials".

I have also written on a number of occasions that it is possible to group
the seven essentialities in less than seven "essentials" (note the use of
essentials rather than essentialities) of more complexity. Such complexer
"essentials" often gives exciting insights. Here are some which had much
use to me:


The point which I wish to make, is that there are 5040 different
permutations possible. Hence there is little sense in trying to play off
one set of "essentials" to another set.

I have also written that it is possible to cut the seven essentialties
into more than seven "essentials" of lesser complexity. Here the number of
possibilities can run into tens of thousands. Grouping some essentialities
into more complex essentials and cutting the rest into lesser complex
essentials can push the number of possibilities into the hundreds of
thousands. Thus there is really no sense in trying to play off the seven
essentialities against any one of the hundreds of thousands of sets of
essentials which can be formed out of them.

It now happens to be that one of these hundreds of thousands of sets of
essentials is a truely remarkable set, namely Senge's eleven "essences"
for a Learning Organisation! Senge became aware of these "essences" while
struggling to articulate the disciplines needed to transform an
organisation into a Learning Organisation. I discovered the seven
essentialities while trying to articulate the conditions sufficient for a
bifurcation at the edge of chaos (due to entropy production) to result in
an emergence rather than an immergence. Without a sustaining Systems
Thinking it may seem as if Senge and I were working on completely
unrelated problems. But it is not the case. He was working on the
"specific emergence" of an organisation into a LO. I was working on
"emergences in general" (physical and spiritual) as a result of "entropy

I would definitely like to caution fellow learners of the following.
Consider the following comparison as the clearest example of what I have
in mind:

holism => wholeness (monadicity?)
interconnectedness => wholeness (associativity)

As I see it, the two "essenses" holism and interconnectedness are both
important factes of one "essentiality", namely wholeness. But it does not
mean that the other six essentialities do not play any role in Systems
Thinking. If that were the case, or if even merely one other essentiality
were absent, the effect would have been devastating. Systems Thinking as
a discipline would not have emerged. And if somebody would have tried to
study (with one essentiality lacking) such an emergent phenomenum, the
study itself would have bifurcated into an immergence rather than an
emergence. Thus what happens here in Systems Thinking is that the focus is
on wholeness with the other six essentialities in the background.

I cannot speak for Senge, but I will "translate" my explanation above in
Senge's terminology. In Systems Thinking the focus is on the two essences
holism and interconnectedness while the other nine essences operate in the
background. Similarly, in Personal Mastery the focus is on the three
essences being, generativeness and connectedness while the other eight
essences operate in the background. It is because all eleven essences are
operating (some in the foreground and others in the background) that Senge
can write: "At the level of essences, the disciplines start to converge".

It is because all seven essentialities are operating in the foreground
that I have written the following:

>>A modern description of this process would be
>>"apartheid". The vocabulary of each discipline
>>concerns only a PART of reality. Reality which has
>>no division, had been cut APART to rule over it. The
>>ideology of APARTheid is used to keep these pieces
>>APART. One outcome of this ideology, two millenia
>>later, was the policy of "racial apartheid" (1948-1992)
>>in South Africa.
>>But there are also many other outcomes which still
>>exist today. One of them is "academical apartheid".

Steve, the above is the example of "apartheid" which I have snipped out at
the beginning. It is to this example which you have replied with

>Really bad stuff, At, and you should not be encouraged
>to think this way, no matter how gently you do this kind
>of manipulation.

Steve, I want to encourage you to think carefully about Senge's eleven
essences. How can these eleven essences help us to grasp fully the meaning
and purpose of the lecture? How can these eleven essences help us to make
lectures electrifying experiences of an LO -- one in which the lecturer
and students, "individually and collectively, are continually increasing
their capacity to produce results they really care about" [phrase quoted
from Ricks introduction to the LOlist.]

Best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> 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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