Diversity LO20061

AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Wed, 2 Dec 1998 13:37:46 +0200

Replying to LO20032 --

Dear Orgamlearners,

Don Dwiggens < d.l.dwiggins@computer.org > writes:

>I wonder... a local part of the universe smashed into the earth
>not long ago (in geologic time) with a resulting dramatic
>reduction in the diversity of life for a time. Is it possible that
>the larger rhythm becoming is an alternation of diversification
>followed by a sort of consolidation (inevitably causing local
>immergences) that sets the stage for the next wave of
>diversification? On the level of mind, could this be a
>characterization of the progress of learning?

Greetings Dwig,

Before I try to answer your questions, just something interesting. The
"smash" which your refer to, could easily have happened in "South Africa"
before the continental drift began. Should we study a geological map of
Southern Africa, we will find that most of the geological formations are
distributed in concentric rings. The centre is at a place called
Vredefort, about 150 kilometters WSW of Johannesburg. This geological
feature is known as the Vredefort Dome. The Vredefort Dome is about 2
000km in diameter. The rings become more disturbed and less pronounced
further away from the centre.

The theory is that the "smash" was caused by a giant meteorite hitting the
earth at Vredefort, penetrating deep into the earth, spilling out the
mineral riches which South Africa has become famous for. The collision was
so powerful that even the continental drift was one of its consequences.
It was so powerful that it even seems to have caused a major change in the
inclination angle of the earth from a value close to zero to its present
value. In other words, before the collision, there was no seasons like
spring, summer, autumn and winter. The poles had immense ice caps holding
much water while at the equator it was steaming hot. Yet the climate was
in a sort of static equilibrium because of the lack of a cyclic change.
The best place for prehistoric plants and animals was in the temperate
zones between 15 and 35 degrees of latitude. The climate was so different
from today that the following serves as an example -- most of our desserts
of today are found in the zones of 15 to 30 degrees of latitude around the

What we must try to see, is that the very factors (large seasonal changes
in temperature and humidity) which caused the immergence (extinction) of
prehistoric species, also caused the emergence of life forms as we know
them today. Whereas angiosperm plants and hot blooded animals had no
advantage over gymnosperm plants and reptiles in prehistorice times, the
situation is now reversed. (Note that differences in temperature and
humidity act as entropy producing forces.) Symbolically, if B
(representing immergences) and C (emergences) are effects while A is the
cause (like the Vredefort collision), then


We should not think that the immergences B ending a former wave of
diversification is the cause for the emergences C of a new wave of
diversification. Symbolically, we should not think that
But we should try to understand why it is so easy to think so. The
immergences B happen very fast while the emergences C happen much
slower. It means that, although A cause both B and C simulatenously,
the immergent effect B becomes noticeable a long time before the
emergent effect C. In other words. destructions which are easy and
fast come before constructions which are difficult and slow.

Dwig, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this point
clear. I am not saying that you thought of B=>C rather than A=>B&C. What
you did was to see by way of questioning a possible relationship between B
(immergences) and C (emergences). What I did, was to point to two
possibilities, namely B=>C and A=>B&C. (by using the model theory of
logics, I can actually point to 16 possibilties usisng merely B and C. For
A, B and C the posibilities increase to 256.

So far we have talked only about the physical world of brain and not the
spiritual world of mind. Ilya Progigine has shown that massive "entropy
production" by means of "force-flux" pairs are responsible for the
emergence of new orders. The emergences happen at the "edge of chaos"
through so-called bifurcations. A bifurcation may be described as a
"forking breaking point" when the system cannot handle the "entropy
production" in terms of its present orders and the chaos in them. The
bifurcation can result into either a constructive emergence to a higher
order or a destructive immergence to a lower order. In a complex system
may bifurcations can appear at the edge of chaos. Some of them will
quickly result into immergences while others will slowly result into

Prigogine wrote nothing about entropy production in the abstract world
of mind. For him it is still something purely physical. But, should we
contemplate that "entropy production" also happens in the abstract
world of mind, we may suspect the same things to happen there. A
certain abstract cause A results into destructive immergences B which
appear faster and constructive immergences C which appear slower. When
I wrote the following which you have refered to
>We merely have to look at natural languages. In
>Southern Africa there are approximately 1500 Banthu
>languages. Rather than each developing to reflect the
>world of its speakers, they are gradually eroded into
I was specifically thinking of the invention of printing by
Guthenberg -- the cause A which led to some fast immergences B and
some slow emergences C. Writing and printing are physical processes.
But the idea to commit speach to a more permament physical format, is
something abstract rather than material.

Writing was completely unknown among the Banthu languages -- they were
purely spoken languages. Some use this as an argument to denigrate the
Banthu people. But in the absence of a written language, they have
developed cultural systems far more complex than in Europe or Asia.
Colonisation brought the IDEA of writing to them with, but also ablative
immergences (gradual destruction) of their languages and culture. The
really sad thing is that these Banthu languages were given ortographies
(patterns of writing) which do not suite the Banthu languages. These
patterns of writing were based on prevalent linguistic schools in Europe
(studying Indogermanic languages) during the colonisation times. Thus we
will find that in one Banthu language an exclusive syntaxis is used
(writing a sentence as a large number of simple words) while in a close
neighbour language an inclusive syntaxis is used (writing a senetce as a
small number of complex words.) This exlusive/inclusive feature makes the
reading of closely related Banthu langauges very difficult, although in
speach it is relatively easy understanding them.

I want to emphasise that I have nothing against technology in general
or printing in particular. Technology is not our problem. The problem
is our ignorance to the relationship of technology with the rest of
human culture such as science and ethics. Technology is the result of
human creativity. The very reason why technology is developed, is to
enhance human creativity. Unfortunately, human creativity can be
constructive or destructive. Thus technology can be used for
constructive or destructive purposes. This is what I had in mind when
I wrote:
>Whereas it was the business of the universe to
>create more diversity in nature and culture since the
>beginning of time, humankind is succeeding the past
>couple of centuries to reverse this process.

Without technology, it is impossible to reverse the process of increasing
diversity in nature and culture. In other words, technology is essential
to decrease diversity in nature and culture. But this does not make
technology the culprit. For example, I need a knive (technology) to cut my
food in manageable pieces (nature and culture). In this sense I use the
knive constructively. But I can also use the knive destructively to murder
a fellow human. Which outcome it will be, is determined by my ethical
system. Thus the culprit is the lack of the ethics which should complement
a technology.

Again we have the time factor. The development of a particular technology
is easier and faster than the development of a corresponding ethics for
it. (Modern biotechnology provide excellent examples.) Here the
differences in ease and rate are not because of the difference between an
immergence and an emergence since both the technology and the ethics are
constructive developments. The differences in ease and rate are because of
the order and complexity involved. Ethics is of a higher and complexer
order than technology so that the development of ethics is more diffcult
and slower. In other words, the complements technology and ethics do not
devleop at the same rate.

I can see only one solution to prevent technology from outpacing its
corresponding ethics. The same people who develop a technology should also
play the major role in developing an ethics for it. The same people who
brings a technology into the world of business, should also play a major
role in bringing its ethics to the world of learning. Once again it means
that we should avoid fragmentarism -- some people creating the technology
and other people creating an ethics for it. In other words, we should seek
wholeness when developing and commersialising a technology. This
essentialness for wholness brings a new urgency to introducing the art of
Learning Organisations.

A few months ago Leo Minningh and I had a dialogue on Medieval Guilds as
LOs. What struck me about these guilds, and Leo pointed it beautifully
out, is how they helped to preserve the wholeness between technology and
ethics. I have also pointed out that the technology of printing, even
though it gave rise to the Renaissance (a complexity of emergences
unprecedented in the history of humankind), it led to the immergence of
the guilds. Thus western culture lost an essential feature in its social
system, namely the LO. More than 500 years had to pass before Peter Senge
makes us aware of Learning Organisations once again, but now formally
rather than intuitively.

Just as "wholeness" (holism) is essential to appreciate LOs for modern
society, "otherness" (diversity) is also essential. For example, to
understand the creative essentiality wholeness, we require the
associaitivity pattern X*Y*Z. With respect to the wholeness of technology
X and ethics Z, what should the intermediator Y be? I am convinced that it
has to be science. I do not think merely of the hard core sciences such as
physics or chemistry, but of all branches of academy which qualify as
science because of using the scientific method. (The scientific method is
basically irreversible self-orgnasition invloving a cyclic three stage
process -- observation, speculation and falsification.) I do not think of
merely hiring scientists, but of making the spirit of scientists through a
scientist avaliable to all the members of a LO by using the disciplines
Shared Vision and Team Learning.

The mediator science Y between technology X and ethics Z brings another
dimension into an already complex picture. Which comes first, technology
or science? If we do a comparative study of the history of technology and
the history of science, technological developments usually precede their
scientific understanding. For example, long before Pythagoras formulated
the proof of his famous theorem

3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2

for right angled triangles, builders of large structures (eg pyramids)
already made use of this theorem. Another example is gun powder. It was in
use centuries before its chemistry was known.

When we look at the full associative (X*Y*Z) pattern
(technology)*(science)*(ethics), ethics is the member which is the
most difficult and slowest to develop. Because of this fact, we ought
to give special attention to ethics so that it does not get outpaced
by science and especially technology. But to a large extend this does
not happen. As far as I can see, it is because of a serious deficiency
in our Systems Thinking.

In my opinion it concerns the three acts "creating", "learning" and
"believing". If we consider them of the same order, this deficiency i n
our Systems Thinking results. But once we consider "learning" as the first
order emergent of "creating" and "believing" as the second order emergent
of "creating" and thus first order emergent of "learning", we begin to
understand why "believing" can be outpaced by "learning" and especially
"creating". Ethics like faith is a direct outcome of believing. However, I
want to stress again that we should not think fragmentedly. When I say
that ethics is an outcome of believing, I do not have a believing in mind
which is fragmented from learning or creating. What I have in mind, is a
believing firmly grounded in learning with the learning itself firmly
grounded in creating.

Dwig, to answer your question in summary, I would say that the loss of
diversity in the world of mind is due to destructive creating
(creativity). This destructive creating can be reversed (but not
prevented) by optimising creativity constructively -- the emergence of
learning. The reason why learning cannot prevent destructive creativity is
that learning just like creating also has to be optimised constructively.
Hence believing emerges. The power to prevent destructive creativity is
derived from the highest order emergents such as faith, ethics and wisdom
as outcomes of believing. This power is the back action of a higher order
on its sustaining lower orders.

The burning question is:
What is essential to the emergence of learning from creating and
believing from learning.
My answer to that question is the seven essentialities of creativity.
It is easy to deny the burning question, simply deny any ordering
between creating, learning and believing. The same can happen to your
question above. Deny it by denying any ordering between immergences
and emergences. Denial is definitely the easiest of all options, but
it is also the cause of most of our problems.

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

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>