Linear thinking LO22882

AM de Lange (
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 14:49:38 +0200

Replying to LO22818 --

Dear Organlearners,

Chuck Saur <> writes:

>It appears to me that there might be a chance to ask for
>some additional clarity in this discussion of linearity v.
>global or lateral thinking...
>Is this dual categorization meaningful to understanding
>thinking? Or is thinking merely creativity in a covert form?
>I could easily (in my thinking) substitute my own category
>for linear thinking with "sequential thinking" in many cases.
>I don't think the common use of the concept linear thinking
>implies logical thought patterns in all, or even many cases.

Greetings Charlie,

Perhaps the metaphor of a "scope" will help us to understand the
relationship between logical thinking and linear thinking.

A "scope" (like a telescope, microscope or kaleidoscope) is use before our
naked eyes to stress certain things in the orginal image formed in our
eyes of any object. The system of logic as it has been expounded by
logicians the past 150 years, work like a "scope". It helps to stress the
value "true" in the image we form. A good "system of logic" function like
a "logoscope".

When I use a telescope to look at an object in the far distant, it
increases the size of that object as if bringing it closer. However, the
form of the object does not change. A distant straight pole remains linear
even when bigger and closer. In the same manner a distant round disc
remains circular.

When I use a "logoscope" to follow the "path of true" in thinking, linear
thinking remain linear thinking and non-linear thinking remain non-linear

It is possible for the lenses in a telescope to lose their allignment. The
result is that the telescope deform images. A straight line will be
deformed into a curve. The mirror image of such a curve will be deformed
into a straight line. The same can happen in a "logoscope" if we do not
take care of the "alignment of its lenses". Thus a crooked "logoscope" can
transform some non-linear thinking into linear thinking. But it will
equally well transform linear thinking into some non-linear thinking.

I see in your "Is this dual categorization meaningful to understanding
thinking?" a lot of thinking on your behalf.

Yes, "global thinking" is not the opposite of "linear thinking". But
there is nothing wrong with comparing "global thinking" with "linear
thinking". In fact, what I think happens in such a comparison is to
explore the role of wholeness (or its abscense) in linear thinking. I
think that this is exactly what you had in mind because you have also
listed "lateral thinking" together with "global thinking". In comparing
"lateral thinking" with linear thinking, we explore the role of otherness
(or its absence) in linear thinking.

Wholeness and otherness are two of the seven essentialities. Sureness
("identity-categoricity") is another one of them. Once upon a time, long
before "linear thinking" became fashionable itself, "positive thinking"
was the fashion. By comparing that "posititve thinking" with "linear
thinking" of now, we explore the role of sureness.

All seven essentialities have to be present for any non-linear form of
thinking (what ever the form) to EMERGE. When a person over-stressing any
one of the seven essentialies, it will emerge in a form of non-linear
thinking provided the other six essentialities are still operating.
However, because of stressing one of the essentialities, a kind of
non-linear thinking typical to that essentiality emerge. This is why get
thinkings such as "Buzan thinking" (liveness), "Bohm thinking"
(wholeness), "Koestler thinking" (fruitfulness), "Debono thinking"
(otherness) and "Pirzig thinking" (openness). Each of these kinds of
thinking can be compare with "linear thinking".

Unfortunately, it is not only possible to stress one (but seldom more than
one) essentiality, but also to deny one (and frequently more than one)
essentiality. In such a case a non-linear kind of thinking cannot emerge.
It is most sad when this happens when people actually want to emerge from
linear thinking. It usually happens when people try to copy a particular
form of non-linear thinking which emerge in a person when that person
stress a certain essentiality while not denying any one of the other six.
Like that person they stress that essentiality, but unlike that person
they deny one or more of the other six essentialities -- the blind in the
land of king One-eye

The result is disastrous. People fighting at each other on who is right.
Sometimes it is a dual -- setting up two essentialities against each
other, mine and yours. More often it is a bawl -- fighting any other
essentiality than mine. Sometimes it becomes war -- fighting against all
seven essentialities among the enemy. And who suffers most -- those who
consider all seven essentialities as necessary, eventhough it may happen
tacitly (intuitively). And who are surprised most -- those who stressed
one essentiality while not denying the other six.

Charlie, is this not what is at the bottom of the following:

>But simply moving from item to item or thought to thought
>(like devouring one food group before moving on to the next)
>may or may not include elements of logic. I have accused,
>and have been accused of exhibiting "linear thinking" where
>others have valued something else...I understood this to be
>a criticism of my choice of thinking methods if not the

Charlie, you also ask me in:

>.... I could easily relate this to the concept to Senge's
>mental models, where the constant or f(x) determines
>not only the slope and other characteristics of the line;
>but the recurring mental model applied to determine a
>"line of reasoning". (At, is that phrase close to your intent?)

Yes. I stressed and want to stress again that feedback loops are not the
"magic cure" agains linear thinking. In fact, the most effective way to
make nonlinear electronic circuits to behave linearly, is to provide for a
special kind of negative feedback loop, namely "inverted leaks". See in my
answer to Leo how such an "inverted leak", for example from the x-axis to
the y-axis (experiment three), can make the outcome linear.

>So, are there times when "linear" is confused with "sequential"
>thinking, in practice and common discourse? And if thinking
>is simply a part of being creative, isn't the outcome of most
>importance? Then what's the fuss anyway? (big grin)

Yes, "linear thinking" is often confused with "sequential thinking". Think
again of "sequential thinking" as a "scope" rather than as the object
itself as I have suggested for "logical thinking". In this case the scope
is very much like a "cinemascope" or movie camera. When "sequential
thinking" is applied to "linear thinking", the "scope" produces an image
(linear or non-linear) which is already in the object (linear or

What is the fuss anyway? I know of very, very few people who can actually
draw an absolutely straight line with the free hand while not making use
of any device. They are as few as the people who can turn loose a
tightened nut with the free hand, not using a spanner. When observing such
a person drawing a straight line or loosening a nut with the free hand, I
am truly amazed at the power and control of their actions. It is the same
with linear thinking. It takes a very special kind of person to produce
absolutely linear thinking on purpose -- and they are few and far between.
Thus it is very fooolish to judge and condemn one another of linear

We others have to use devices -- human creations -- to aid our creating
into whatever forms of form. Should we not have the deepest of respect for
people who, almost like animals, cannot make use of devices, and yet
manage to create? I am not thinking of those people who do not need a
ruler to draw a straight line or a spanner to loosen a nut, but those who
are so disabled that they find it difficult to even lift a pen or a nut.

It makes me think of that time when humankind as such will have realised
that the most powerful "device" to aid its new creations is not its older
creations, but the creativity within itself. In that time humans will
need unconditional love so as to guide his most powerful "device".
Guidance is giving deeper form to form. Form without deeper form, like
linear thinking or formalism, can become dangerous. When using such a
powerful device such as creativity, form without deeper form becomes

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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