Virtue LO22578

AM de Lange (
Sat, 4 Sep 1999 19:16:40 +0200

Replying to LO22554 --

Dear Organlearners,

Max Schupbach <> writes:

>this is fun and deep stuff, that you play around with. I liked
>that you mention taoism and translation problems with the
>word desire, since in my mind we must not forget that
>Confucius' definition of virtue has to be seen as part of a
>dialogue with the slightly older Lao-Tzu and the Taoists,
>whose nature concept of "the way" was very different from
>the more people and social order oriented Confucians.

Greetings Max,

Trying to understand cultures other than our own culture
is indeed fun as well as taxing. When doing it, I keep a
lookout for two things:
(1) correspondences with our culture
(2) differences with our culture.
The fun and difficulty is not in finding these correspondences
and differences, but making subsequently sure that they are
indeed the case! It is then when the lack on a number of
things become very real to me:
(1) too few documents from DIFFERENT scholars to work
from, especially here in Africa, even South Africa
(2) the documents are in an European language which is
very different from the language of the culture.
(3) some scholars have a "hidden" agenda which they are
not even aware of.

Why do I try to find out more of the cultures of other people?
To see if there is anything which does not fit into the Systems
Thinking (based on entropy production and its consequences)
which I am developing. I do find many holes in the System
Thinking -- holes in the sense of things which I have not yet
given sufficient attention to. But I do not find any more things
which have to be turned around or upside down or even
deformed to make them fit.

I used to read a lot about the Roman, Greek and earlier
Babilonian civilisations because books on them were readily
available. Thus I develop the outlook that cradle of civilisation
was in the "bridge between Europe and Asia". Today I know
that not only is this outlook foolish, but it is also dangerous.
Iit leads to the assumption that other present civilisations
must accommodate themselves (like branches) in the
Western Civilisation (as the trunk of the tree of all
civilisations.) This assumption results in the belief that the
Western Civilisation is the only one with virtue -- "do as we
do because we are the best".

But coming back to the Chinese civilisation. I now realise
that what happened in Europe between two and three
millenia ago happened with remarkable synchronicity in
China also. Europe and China are now to me rather the
branches of a much older civilisation as a trunk -- one of
which the Ancient Egyptian civilisation was its last part.
The Greek philosophers (like Aristotle) and the Chinese
sages (like Confucious) are the synchronistic outcomes
of this much older trunk.

And let us not forget the Hebrew/Arab/Cananite branch
between these two branches. Most of the prophets of
the Old Testament (like Jeremiah) fit into this same
period of synchronicity. And the little which I can get
hold of on the Civilisation(s) in and around Central
America, points to the same thing. What? Humankind
as such very thinking more than usual about virtue,
humaneness and spirituality.

I am very certain that the same thing is happening
again. One great advantage is Internet which puts
a person in contact with many kinds of people all over
the world. However, it may be that these very people
thinking "deeper about life" flock to Internet. So what
about people who have nothing to do with Internet,
people who are far away from the rapids of international
communication and commerce. Where I go, I find more
and more people questioning
(1) the future of humankind
(2) the virtue of humankind

It is only that on Internet these people begin to discover
that they are not alone and the spiritual freaks of society.
Many of the big corporations of the world act as if making
profits is the highest virtue. Yes, in terms of money and
what money can buy, they are far superior to these
"spiritual freaks" of society.

We must not underestimate what money can buy. It can
buy the opinion of people. It can buy the academy to
further the cause of money. It can buy justice and so
keep it from the poor. It can even buy religion and so give
people a false sense of virtue. But it cannot buy spirituality
which emerges from within the creative person. It cannot
buy authentic spirituality which keeps a civilisation
healthy and virtuous.

So what can these "spritual freaks" do what the money
grabbers and lenders cannot do? They help people to
discover the way to spirituality. They set an example
for spirituality. They are the catalysts through which
people form new organisations with goals very much
like that formalised for a Learning Organisation. Although
they might never even learn about a LO, they will
function intuitively as a LO, creating once again examples
which students of LOs might draw upon.

>Today, the difference between a Confucian view and
>Taoist view still play out when working practically within
>an organisation. A more taoistic approach would be to try
>to recognize the "natural" or "dreamlike" flow of an
>organisation, the fate or tao, so to speak, and bring it to
>the awareness of its participants, assuming that
>this flow is the right fate for the people involved in it.
>A more confucian approach would be to work on yourself
>morally to serve an organisation which could be stagnant in
>its expression. What do you think?

Max, I love the strokes with which you paint. Some would
prefer to interpret these two modes as opposing each other.
Some would even take sides "I am a Confucian" or "I am a
Taoist". Thinking of the Greek civilisation, one may say
"I follow Zeno" (== Confucius) or "I follow Plato" (== Tao).
It is very easy to do so. For example, Leo Minningh and
Winfried Dressler are two of our fellow learners. Should they
have to choose only one side, probably Leo would choose
the taoist viewpoint and Winfried the confuscian viewpoint.

But there is in biology a "strange law" first formulated by
Dollo. It says that in its evolution nature has never walked
the same path twice. I now think the same kind of "strange
law" operates for the civilsation order and not only biological
order. Civilisations 2500 years ago, although very different,
behaved in some ways similar. These ways will not be
repeated again for the present civilisations. Let me
illustrate with the very example of Leo and Winfried.

Both of them will most probably first ask "Why do I have
to take sides?" Yes, the first inclination of Leo is to
meandering and the first inclination of Winfried is to set
a standard, but what about their subsequent inclinations?
Leo will probably very soon arrive at the necessity of
morals and Winfried at flow. In other words, both of them
will most probably resist intuitively in taking sides. But
rather let they answer for themselves.

The point which I want to make is that humankind as such
do not so easily take sides as 2500 years ago, although it
still happens much. Humankind is becoming sensitive to the
one-to-many-mapping as the viable alternative for the
one-to-one-mapping. And as I have tried to show in a
earlier contribution, this has very much to do with

Perhaps you are not one of the few who try to understand
the formal side of irreversibility. It has to do with entropy
production. Now entropy is produced by force-flux pairs.
It takes both a confuscianist == stoic ("zenoist") as the
entropic force (a "being") and a taoist == platonist as the
entropic flux (a "becoming") to produce the entropy needed
for a spiritual emergence. Many people are now knowing
tacitly that the birth of all things and not only babies is
something complex rather than simple. Both the man (entropic
force) and the woman (entropic flux) have responsibility when
making a baby.

Let us not confuse the tacit knowledge of these millions
of people with the formal knowlegde of a handful of people.
Let us also bear in mind that these millions of people are still
a small minority in terms of humankind itself. Nevertheless,
to find out if this people have such tacit knowledge, we merely
have to observe their behaviour.

Many of them are now known as the "silent majority" or
even the "lurkers". It seems as if they are doing nothing.
But is it the case?

In my own mothertongue many of them will be called
"draadsitters" ("draad" = wire, "sitters" = sitting person).
They are sitting on the fence because they do not want to
get stuck in one of the two camps on either side of the fence.
But some have stopped being "draadsitters". They are now
working as "draadgangers" ("gang" = corridor). They have
split the fence into a corridor and they are widening the
corridor by the day. They think inclusively wherever possible
rather than exclusively as a matter of principle. Thus they
appear to be "draadspringers" ("springer" = jumping person).
They also make bridges over the fence and holes in the
fence so that people on both sides can make contact with
each other. Thus they appear to be "draadbrekers" ("breker"
= person who breaks).

>.... why the human rights campaign of the West is
>altogether not only well received in Asia, who partially is
>appalled by the western focus on what a society can do
>for you, but would prefer to ask what you can do for your
>society. Working within Japanese corporations, I found
>these concepts to form helpful frameworks to understand
>better where people are coming from.

Max, the opposite is also happening in Asian countries --
people beginning to focus on Western ideals. This causes
great tribulations in East Asia as you well know. Furthermore,
not only people of Asia are questioning self-centered Western
values. The same is happening in Western countries. I tried
to give an account of it above.

>look forward to hear other thoughts and ideas on this matter,
>especially from members from Asia.

Max, my thoughts have been from someone in Africa -- Africa
as the fence between the West and the East. Africa is
beginning to realise that it does not want to get stuck into
either side. Africa is still very much stuck in the small corridor
of mud which it has been creating. The West and the East
look with pity at this muddy, sticky corridor. They have
become tired with muddling with Africa's affairs. But they, the
camps on any side of the corridor will find it very difficult to
perceive what is really going on in the corridor simply
because they do not live in it. Perhaps it is better so.

Thank you once again for making the LO net wider so
that we can even contemplate civilisations together
forming a LO. The UN has failed dismally. Is it not
because it does not know to how to function as a LO?

As I was writing this lengthy contribution, a thought
took shape in my mind which I want to share with
you for dialogue:
Civilisations are the virtues of humankind.

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

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>