Which came first? LO20275

AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Thu, 24 Dec 1998 13:03:15 +0200

Replying to LO20253 --

Dear Organlearners,

John Gunkler <jgunkler@sprintmail.com> writes:

>At, I don't understand your (apparent) obsession with
>establishing a precedence relation. You continue to ask
>a "which came first?" question - -- as you have elsewhere
>in this same thread and as you have done in many
>other conversations.
>I want to ask you: why does it matter? While it is a matter
>of longstanding fascination to ask, "Which came first, the
>chicken or the egg?" I'm not sure we have been enlightened
>by the attempts to answer. Just so here -- I'm not sure that
>trying to figure out whether creativity or learning come first
>is a worthwhile enterprise. I'm not even convinced
>that it is a sensical question.

Greetings John,

I have used the word "first" in order to get the attention of some
people. Finally it happened. Thanks for responding.

Please do think in terms of a "precedence relation" (cardinal number).
Rather think in terms of an "ordinate relation" (ordinal number).
Think of any two things A and B where B has emerged from A as
substratum. If this is the case, then there is an ordinate
relationship between A and B.

Let us assume that there is an ordinate relationship between C
(creating) and L (learning). What can we then expect from such an
relationship? Will C influence L in the same manner as L influences C?
What can we expect? Here is an example. Consider a plant as substratum
and its flowers as the emergence. Does the plant influence the flower
in the same way as the flower inlfuences the plant? Not even by a slim

>What I am pretty sure of, from my own experience with
>other people (and with myself,) is that both directions
>happen. I have experienced learning coming from creativity
>-- in the sense that creative activities produce learning.
>And I have seen how learning can generate creativity -- in
>the sense that new knowledge causes a person to make
>creative connections with "old" knowledge.

But do you see any ordinate relationship?

>Since both directions happen I don't see how it is useful
>to argue about the precedence of one or the other. Am
>I missing something?

One of the most powerful analytical techniques of modern chemistry is
NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) spectroscopy. The tomograph (that
tunnel through which they push your body to make "magnetic
dissections" of it) is based on NMR spectroscopy. The tomograph has
already surpassed both x ray and sonar technology. The only reason why
it it is not in common use, is because it is so expensive. The whole
of NMR spectroscopy hinges on the back action of the emergent (the
molecule) on the substrate (the individual nuclei of the atoms and how
they spin).

Let us now think of NMR spectrocopy as a metaphor. Which one of
learning or creating will function as the molecule and which will
function as the individual nuclei? Will it possible to use the one
(say creativity) as a spectroscope of the other (say learning)? What
will you say when somebody announces someday that he/she has succeeded
in using the one as a spectroscope (not necessarily by way of NMR) for
the other? What will you say when fiction has become fact?

>Perhaps it is time to stop discussing precedence and start
>talking about mutual causation -- and how to enhance both
>learning and creativity, what do you think?

John, how right you are. But are we ready to study the mutual
causation in an ordinate relationship? Will such discoveries not shock
us beyond our wits? How did my NMR metaphor really affected you? Will
we not behave exactly like the world behaved when Copernicus announced
that the sun is the center of our solar system? Are we prepared for a
paradigm shift, whatever it takes?

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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