What is love? LO22901

AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Mon, 18 Oct 1999 14:06:41 +0200

Replying to LO22867 --

Dear Organlearners,

Rick Karash <Richard@karash.com> writes:

>I like the definition by Humberto Maturana for thinking about
>love in communities and in the workplace.
>Maturana defines:
>Love is the domain of relational behaviors through which another
>(a person, being, or thing) arises as a legitimate other in
>coexistence with oneself.
>That is...
> - Love is a set of relational behaviors (a little odd, but try
> - ..through which the other arises
> - ..as legitimate in coexistence with oneself

Greetings Rick,

Thank you for drawing attention to Maturana's viewpoint as well as drawing
your own lines from it. It tells us more how love ("set of relational
behaviors") bridges the one with the many.

Although love is much more than merely an intellectual excercise, its back
action compels us to reflect on love in our intellectual excercises. Thus
you write:

>So, love is REALLY listening to another person, acting in a
>way that demonstrates that their thoughts are legitimate.
>Maturana might say, "acting in a way that MAKES their
>thoughts legitimate."

Yes, love is concerned with the sharing of thoughts and feelings. But you
also write wisely:

>Aggression is the domain of relational behaviors in which
>another is negated as a legitimate other in coexistence
>with oneself.

I am deeply aware of the aggression between culture (as the output of
humans) and nature, manifesting itself in issues such as global warning,
pollution and extinction of living species. This aggression is the
vicious result of a particular kind of linear thinking, namely
anthropocentrism. We may subject even love to anthropocentric reasoning if
we do not take care to prevent it. So let us trace love through the entire
nature as it "bridges by sharing" before we tend to culture.

The physics of dozens of elementary particles is a very complex picture.
Elementary particles can combine to form a great diversity of clusters of
elementary particles. But when we move along the arrow of
entropy-complexity from elementary particles to the next higher order of
atoms, the roles of the of all these elementary particles tie into three
subatomic particles, namely the electron, the proton and the neutron. The
electron is an elementary particle itself, but each of the proton and
neutron is a complex cluster of elementary particles. Now note the
pattern: three = one simpler + two complexer

An atom consists of a nucleus and electrons surrounding it. The nucleus is
made up by protons and neutrons. The "physics" or rather chemistry of
atoms is also a very complex picture. Atoms combine to form a great
diversity of clusters of atoms called molecules and polyatomic ions. But
when we move along the arrow of entropy-complexity from molecules to the
next higher order of organelles in living cells, the roles of all these
molecules and ions tie into three kinds of biopoietic compounds, namely,
inorganic substrates, carbohydrates and proteins. The inorganic substrates
are simple atomic clusters such as the water, carbon dioxide and ammonia
molecules as well as the phosphate and sulphate ions. They have less than
ten atoms in a cluster. The proteins and carbohydrates are complex
clusters, sometimes having thosuands of atoms in a cluster. Again note the
pattern: three = one simpler + two complexer

The organelles of cell form again a complex picture:- amyloplasts,
centrioles, centrosomes, chromosomes, flagellums, Golgi complex,
karyolymphs, lysosomes, mesosomes, microfilaments, microtubules,
mitochondria, nucleola, nucleus membranes, plasmalemmas, reticula and
ribosomes. But when we move along the arrow of entropy-complexity from
organelles to the next higher order of living cells, these organelles
suggest three subcellular orders:- cytosol, nucleus and cytoplasma. The
cytosol contains all the chemical compounds not connected into cell
organelles. The complex cytoplasma contains all the cell organelles except
the complex nucleus. Again note the pattern: three = one simpler + two

When the cytosol, cytoplasma and nuclei join to form cells, again a very
complex picture arises. Thousands of different kinds of cells are
possible. Diffrent numbers and arrangements of these cells give rise to
millions of different species ranging from bacteria to red trees and
whales. When we move along the arrow of entropy-complexity from cells to
the next higher order of living organisms, these cells suggest three
suborganism orders:- prokaryotic cells (of monocellular organisms such as
bacteria and some fungi), eukaryotic cells of plants and eukaryotic cells
of animals. The prokaryotic cells are less complex than both kinds of
eukaryotic cells. Thus note again the pattern: three = one simpler + two

Does this pattern of "complex emergent system depending on three
constituent sub-systems, one simpler and two complexer" not speak
something to you? Can we name this pattern? Yes, it is possible to give
uncountable many names to it. We may follow metaphoric, allegoric and even
hermeneutical avenues to give names to it. Maturana, for example, follows
a hermenuetical way in naming it, using anthropological features.

However, I want to suggest the name "commuting pattern" as a term which
spans both nature and culture. (I have discussed this idea of "commuting"
many moons ago on the list.) A commuting pattern emerge when a lesser
complex subsystem is shared between one (or more) complexer subsystems.
The commuting sets up a node between the complexity of any order and the
complexity of its next higher order. I have tried above to distinguish
commuting patterns in nature, forming nodes between successive levels of
complexity. I percieve similar commuting patterns in culture, setting up
nodes between levels of complexity.

What is the most striking feature in all behaviours of the "set of
relational behaviors" which Maturana uses to define love? All these
behaviours are "commuting patterns". These commuting patterns provide the
background for typical collective human actions such as communication and

Rick, you write:

>Love is related to respect.

Here is how the relationship between love and respect can be seen in terms
of commuting patterns. The back action of love is to enrich commuting
patterns. It means that each of us share more "simpler things" with an
increasing panorama of "complex things". This panorama involves God
Creator, all humans as well as other creatures. We ourselves depend on our
creativity to make this sharing possible. Only by actualising our
creativity do we develop respect for the "simpler things" and the panorama
of "complex things" with which they are shared.

The dialogue is a magnificent example of a commuting pattern among humans.
The node of a dialogue is its subject (topic). In a dialogue we share
thoughts and feelings. As soon as the love between participants in the
dialogue disappear, the dialogue immerges into concussions with

>Now, Maturana goes on to say that Love is the ONLY domain
>of relational behaviors that expands intelligent behavior.
>That is... Love... creates learning. Hmm...
>This IS the learning-org dialogue...

What remains of a Learning Organisation should we avoid commuting patterns
in it or the love which promotes them?

>His argument is that the domain of behaviors we call "Love"
>is a domain in which we have more interactions with others,
>a domain which increase the range of interactions that affect
>us, and creates more possibilities for our behaviors. From this
>larger set of possibilities we are more able to demonstrate
>intelligent behaviors. (My words are inadequate here. He says
>it much more clearly.)

An issue of great concern to me is the "power (dynamics) of
love". I know many people who want to love more and intenser,
but they admit to me that at the end of each day they feel they
have failed -- their fuel tanks or batteries became empty already
early in the day. It also happened to me a lot and still happens
when I take not great care to increase (recharge) my "power of
love". Rick, to use your words,
"From this larger set of possibilities we are more able
to demonstrate intelligent behaviors."
does not happen automatically. That ability which you refer to is
linked to spontaneity. We may have the ability, but when it has
become flat (non-spontaneous), the ability cannot demonstrate

In order to demonstrate how love positively affects our creativity (the
possible range of interactive behaviours), we need to become at least
spontaneous and hopefully as much spontaneous as possible. We will become
spontaneous and increasingly so in our love when we increase our free
energy to love.

Once people understand that they need free energy to love
spontaneously, their next question is invariably: "How do we
increase our free energy to love?"
(1) We must do the things which we love
(2) We much do things which have to do with love.

(1) It is no use trying to do the things which we do not love. We
will fell short in free energy when trying to do so. This may
lead to many negative behaviours. For example, aggression by
producing entropy in the wrong manner or pessimism by failing
to produce entropy.
(2) We must also be very careful when doing the things which
we love not to do the things which oppose love -- things like
murder, rape, robbery and slander or their innocent forEbears.
By doing such things we destroy our free energy soon after we
have acquired it through delayed destructive interferences as a
result of complex feedback loops.

This contribution is already becoming too long. But I will not be able to
keep up my own free energy to love if I do not mention the following
crucial fact about the free energy of love. It has to come FROM WITHIN BY
COMMUTING with the outside. It cannot be imported from the outside by
buying it or even taking it without any payment. The generation of this
free energy of love is closely linked to self-organisation (Prigogine),
autopoiesis (Maturana) or "deep creativity". We may go to a gasoline
station to fill up our fuel tank, but there are no such stations to fill
up our free energy of love. Learning Organisations cannot ever refill our
free energy of love.

Neither lower order "Creating Organisations" nor even higher order
"Believing Organisations" can refill our free energy for love. It is a
common misconception among particularly Christians that by getting
involved with a church or a group in it having special ties with God that
it will automatically make them spontaneous lovers -- sources of agape.
However, because of this false assumption, they often become examples of
people who speak about love, but do not manifest the power of love.

Organisations can only provide an environment conducive for individuals to
self-organise in love. I prefer to think of such organisations as Learning
Organisations. The less restrictive an organisation is on "commuting
patterns", the better it provides for an environment conducive for love.

It seems we have two conflicting patterns here -- self-organisation for
the individual on the one hand and on the other hand commuting patterns
with other individuals, i.e, a kind of "mutual-organisation" (symbiosis).
However, this conflict arises when we acknowledge self-organisation in the
organism (individual), but deny self-organisation in the higher order such
as the organisation. A Learning Organisation emerge when the
self-organisation of the organisation harmonises with the
self-organisation of all its individuals UP TO the highest order of love
for every individual.

Each of us are self responsible for increasing our free energy for love.
Learning Organisations make it easier and more lasting for us to do so.

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>