Problem solving and systems thinking LO20274

AM de Lange (
Thu, 24 Dec 1998 12:08:20 +0200

Replying to LO20246 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <> writes:

>I have no idea how At could keep in pace with all these
>messages. It seems that the flow of information for him
>is a laminar flow, whereas for me it became turbulent.

Greetings Leo,

My only advantage is a number of years on you. I had two very
turbulent phases earlier in my life.

The first one began in 1968 and lasted for about six years. In 1967,
while completing my MSc in physics, I experience this strange desire
to get off the band-wagon of traditional science. The next year I
landed into soil science. I soon discovered that soils were far too
complex to be accounted for traditional science. In my search for a
discipline powerful enough to give an account of the complexity of
soils, I got into contact with irreversible thermodynamics. (The key
to irreversible thermodynamics is not entropy, but entropy
production.) It changed my scientific outlook dramatically, causing
many turbulences along the way. Among many other things, it made me
aware of the fact that I was in need of a powerful theory for

The second one began in 1982 and lasted for about 5-6 years. It began
with my empirical discovery (1982-83) that entropy production also
happens in the abstract world of mind. This changed my outlook even
much more than during the first phase. During this phase I also
discovered the seven essentialitites of creativity. The phase ended
with my discovery of the Digestor. It is a model for self-organisation
close to equilibrium where the entropy production is very low. This
type (digestion) of self-organisation form the complementary dual to
self-organisation at the edge of chaos where bifurcations happen.
Again I experienced even more turbulences along the second phase, now
involving many more subjects than merely physics and chemistry.

Note that all these turbulences of both phases took approximately 12
years. If they had to be compressed into 1 year, my mind would never
have been able to handle such a high rate of entropy production. I
would have become mentally disfuctional. That is why I have cautioned
in my first response to the thread "Changing another Person" that we
have to take it slowly.

>But I also permanently try to 'translate' the entropy
>concepts to the material and abstract world.

Read again my recent contribution "A Desert Wonder LO20243".
Translating the concepts related to entropy from the inanimate to the
physical living world and then further into the spiritual world is
very much like switching from a Western way of life to the San
people's way of life. It requires a total commitment as well as enough
time to gain sufficient experiences. It is not possible in "one easy

So why the effort of doing it? Let us consider two facets. First, let
us think about understanding (comprehension). Our understanding (by
emergences and digestions) of any topic, say A, grows as we relate
topic A to all our other experiences and perceptions of other topics.
Our understanding grows only digestively and not also emergently when
we restrict our attention to merely topic A. Hence we will slowly
stagnate in our understanding. To avoid this stagnation, we must open
ourselves up to more and more topics. But we have to do it along a web
and not haphazardously. Thus we need a web which encompass all of
reality. "Entropy production" affords us one possible way to trace
this entire web.

Secondly, let us consider something elusive such as Love. How can we
love something if we cannot relate to it? How can we love something if
we do not accept it factually -- if we do not accept its present being
and becoming? Is there something which we can know about anything
before we actually have related to it so that we presently can foster
love for a possible future relation? How can our love be unconditional
if we resist exploring the entire reality? How can we express our love
other than by our creativity? How can creativity be the result of
entropy production. or is creativity itself without cause?

>What causes all these flows? One needs something to flow,
>and a difference in level (high-low), in other words a force
>(in the case of water, it is the gravitational force). But how
>does this force acts? Does it push, or does it pull? Or can't
>we speak in these terms?

Leo, I want to express my gratitude because you have articulated
something which which I was only tacitly aware of -- the push-pull
effect in the entropic force. The force is made up by a diiference in
some intensive factor. Two different values of the intensive factor
are needed to make up the difference. The one value will push
dispersingly while the other value will pull concentratingly. This
dual action set up a whole field of possible flows. To picture this,
think of two magnetic poles N (North) and S (South) and all those
lovely experiments you have made at school to trace the magnetic field

>If these questions are of some valid, we have some clues
>for the behavioural sciences.
>1. We could increase the flow speed, by creating a difference.
>Either by pushing, or pulling. Should we make (in reality
>or in the mind) 'something' attractive, or rejective?

In my opinion we should SUPPLY the missing complement, but try to
avoid ENFORCING it. Whether the other person takes up this que, is
entirely that person's own business (irreversible self-organisation).
When the time arrives that we have to enforce the mssing complement,
we should do it with compassion. Thus we need to know what will happen
when we are responsible for causing the entropic force-flux pair and
the subsequent increase in chaos.

>2. We could increase the flow speed too, by combining
>push and pull. How could we keep the effects under
>control? Does immergencies, or emergencies occur?

The same seven essentialities which help to focus the bifurcation into
a constructive emergence rather than a destructive immergence, are
also needed in the preceding entropy production. If the entropy is
produced outside the system (requiring the seven essentialities) to
fill up the system with it, there is no guarantee that the seven
essentialities will also be sufficiently developed within the system
to respond with an emergence to the ensueing bifurcation. The mere
fact that we want to produce the entropy outside the system points to
the fact that we already are tacitly aware that the system itself
could not do it. In such cases we usually expect immergences to happen
and our expectations are seldom wrong. In my opnion we should rather
guide the system how to produce self its own entropy sufficiently so
as to reach the edge of chaos where the bifurcations happen. In that
case we can expect the bifurcations to evolve into emergences rather
than immergences.

>And finally I like to come back to the bifurcation points.
>Does a vortex starts spontaneous at a well defined point?

Leo, permit me to say that the word "spontaneous" should not have been
used here. All vortexes happen spontaneously! It is a powerful way of
decreasing the system's free energy. The "decreasing of free energy"
and "spontaneous" are one and the same thing. The words which you
should have used, are "automatically" or "unconditionally".

>Osborne Reynolds did at the end of the former century
>a lot of experiments of flow behaviour within a tube. He
>finally could formulate a dimensionless parameter where
>velocity, density, viscosity and radius and resistence of
>the tube are the variables. The Reynolds number is
>important in all sorts of industrial processes. Above a
>certain value of this number, turbulence will start.
>However, it appears that the strat of turbulence is NOT
>a fixed point. It follows a trajectory with several stages.
>And turbulence occurr not only in tubes , but also in a
>resistentless environment. This is why I asked At if there
>are bifurcation POINTS or Trajectories.

The bifurcation itself is the transition from laminar flow to
turbulent flow. The emergence itself is the turbulent flow. Its
trajectory and its amplification are already part of the subsequent
digestive evolution.

Leo, I am very glad that you have mentioned the Reynold's number. It
is a dimensionless quantitiy because it does not have an unit. (In
rheology, the study of flow, a number of dimensionless quantities have
been discovered since the original Reynold's number. Al of them play
major roles in designs.) Qunaitites like length (with the meter as a
unit), velocity (with meter/second as unit) or temperature (with
celsius as a unit) are dimensional quantities. (If readers want to set
their teeth into this fantastic subject, they should study the
literature on the subject "dimensional analysis". For the
mathematically minded physicists and engineers among you, try to think
how physics will evolve when we formulate measureable quanitites in
such a manner that the Law of Energy Conservation and the Law of
Entropy Production will become dimensionless quanities.)

Since the Reynold's number is dimensionless, it cannot ever be
measured directly. It has to be calculated from the measurements on a
number of other quanitites. The only two dimesional quantities which
behave the same manner, are energy and entropy, as I have noted in the
Primer on Entropy. I have hoped that somebody would have found this
behaviour extraordinary and commented on it. But it now seems that I
will have to do so because Leo has provided for the "fruchtbare
Moment". I will do it in terms of the Reynold's number rather than
energy and entropy, thus saving me a lot of work.

One of the things which often surprises me, is the blind trust which
some people of the humanities have in measurements. They usually study
only those things which they can measure directly. The Reynold's
number should serve as a warning. Here is a number which cannot be
measured directly. Yet, as Leo notes, it is a very important number
because it is a criterium for when turbulent flow will happen.

Remember that the Reynold's number has to be calculated from the
measurements on a number of other quanitites. It means two things.
Firstly, we will have to make a number of different measurements. It
means that we cannot refrain from making measurements. We also cannot
make only one kind of measurements. We need at least three different
kinds of measurements. (Do you read how the associativity pattern of
wholeness creeps unobtrusively into the picture?) Secondly, we need to
make calculations on them. In other words, we need the mind to combine
them into one single outcome. It means that we cannot refrain from
making use of mental activities. Furthermore, these activities must
lead to a constructive emergence (an "innovative outcome" so as to

Even though we cannot measure the Reynold's number directly, its
application is singularly very direct. For all flows with a value
lower than the threshold value of the Reynold's number, the flow will
remain laminar (linearity). We can wait till doomsday, but no
turbulence (nonlinearity) will appear. Only when the value is above
the threshold value, can we expect the emergence of turbulence from
the laminar substratum. It does not mean that the turbulence will
automatically happen. It will only happen when some "buttefly flaps
its wings" somewhere in the laminar flow. If that butterfly fails to
appear, the laminar flow becomes supercritical so that when the
butterfly does appear, the transition can become extremely

Let us think metaphorically of the Renold's number in relation to
Learning Organisations. The transition from an Ordinary Organisation
(OO) to a LO is an emergent phenomenon. Thus we can suspect a TOOLO
number (like the Reynold's number) which characterises the transition
from an OO to a LO. Let us assume that it is the case. It means that
we can wait till doomsday, but an OO will not transform into a LO when
the value of the TOOLO number is lower than the the threshold value.
But it also means that we will never be able to express the TOOLO
number with merely one kind of measurement. We will need at least
three different kinds of measurements and will have to know how to
associate them into one single outcome. (TOOLO = Transformation of
Ordinary Organisation to Learning Organisation)

>For me, turbulences are a great attractor. I am studying
>wildly in this special branch of science. It is a subject
>which was until recently completely new for me. It is
>extremely complicated. But the books and pictures of
>coloured fluids, smokes, dyes, clouds of exploding
>volcanoes and other materials are fascinating. If one
>have seen the pictures of a starting turbulence (the
>co-called Karmann vortex), will be filled with great
>enthousiasm. This is absolutely ART with a capital A.

Leo, when I disovered that traditional physics and chemistry were
insufficient to give an account of the complexity of soils, one of the
avenues in which I sought help was rheology and dimensional analyses.
Your description above fits my own experiences on that avenue. But I
was at a very impatient age so I left exploring this avenue after some
months. It seemed to me that dimensional analysis had too few handles
for me to come to grib with the complexity of soils. It was OK for the
flow of soil moisture, but it did not provide enough for the chemistry
part. (Today I know better in the sense that I was not able to
translate it into chemistry.) Furthermore, as my interest in
creativity began to flare up, unlike you I could not perceive any
relationship between rheology and creativity. Today I know better.

>I hope again that theory (entropy) and practice of the
>learning organization have been connected.

I hope my TOOLO number has not shocked you out of your wits. I have
intended to write about emergent numbers since I read the first
contributions on measuring learning organisations. But I needed too
much context to do so in one contribution. While writing the Primer on
Entropy, I realised that it will give me a marvelous opportunity to do
so -- to stress in terms of historical events that not all valuable
things can be measured directly. Read the Primer again to see how I
have worked this theme into it.

Now fasten your seatbelts. If learning emerges from creating, then we
can suspect some dimensionless number to characterise the edge of
chaos for emergent learning. If believing emerges from learning, then
we can suspect another dimensionless number to characterise the edge
of chaos for emergent believing. What will the fearful masters say of
such emergent numbers since they want to control the knowledge and
belief of other people by inundating them with their own dogma. Will
they take kindly to emergences in general? I fear not.

Lastly, assume it is possible that we can measure all the things
needed for associating them with these emergence numbers, of what
value will it be when we have determided the values of these emergent
numbers. (Note that we again have the "dog biting its own tail" when
we question the "value of a value".) For example, assume that we have
determined the value of the TOOLO number and that it shows that the
Ordinary Organisation cannot emerge into a Learning Organisation. How
much will its value help us in transforming the OO into a LO?

When we measure a person's temperature and find it to be 40C, we know
for sure that the person has a fever. But we still do not know how to
cure that fever. When I walk in the dessert and the temperature is
50C, I know it for sure through my sweating and my pumping heart. But
do I know how to remain alive in such a high ambient temperature? That
is why I do not spend too much time in my systems thinking on
measurements when they are merely for the sake of measuring.

>I wish you all very fine days and a new year with a lot
>of emerging turbulences.

Thank you Leo. The same to you.

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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