Linear thinking LO22948

AM de Lange (
Fri, 22 Oct 1999 12:25:48 +0200

Reply to Linear thinking LO22930
Dear Organlearners,

Winfried Dressler <> writes:

>>When we think linearly, we have to seek the cause in culture
>>and not in nature.
>>Can Learning Organisations afford linear thinking?
>Dear At,
>sorry for sniping around in your message. It is a kind of
>many to one mapping isn't it? A kind of preparation for a
>linear answer to a complex question.

Greetings Winfried,

In an earlier contribution I wrote that exclusive thinking results in
linear thinking. I carefully created a context which made this claim
plausible. Now I want to question fellow learners: Does exclusive
thinking reduce thinking into linear thinking? Motivate your answer!

>But I have something else in mind: Can this sniping serve as
>an illustration of what you have in mind that culture does to
>nature? An attempt to cultivate of your writing?

Yes! By snipping my contribution, thus excluding the section how each
essentiality also promotes the other six (one-to-many mapping), you have
arrived at the opposite. Did you not write "It is a kind of many to one
mapping isn't it?"?

>I personally don't see culture as a way to linearize complex
>nature. Such linearization is more accurately named by the
>term sin. Since sin seems to be a possibility only for orders
>of freedom equal to or higher than human, sin is a possibility
>of culture but by no means its essence.

Winfried, I have carefully avoided using the word "sin" all the many moons
which I have participated on this list. Nobody seems to have noticed it.
Few might have noticed that, perhaps, I wrote most about God in all God's
complexity. I have my reasons for doing so.

I want to answer you with some experiences of mine. When I drive to a
desert (the closest are 1000 km away), is see fences all along the road.
Often the diversity of plants on one side of a fence is fabulously rich.
The same cannot be said of animal life. Two reasons:
(1) animals (from insects to elephants) do not only depend on
plants, but are also, unlike plants, roaming creatures.
(2) Africa has a protein hunger of such proprotions that it
defies the imagination of most people in other continents.

As the climate becomes drier, the fences veering away from the raod
becomes less. Here in Pretoria one single sheep needs 100mx100m to sustain
its life. In Pofadder a single sheep needs 1000mx1000m to sustain its

Eventually somewhere along the road the costs of erecting a fence is
higher than the income of eating or selling animals enclosed within the
fence. This is the surest sign that you are now inside the desert rather
than on its outside. I am speaking of deserts created by nature. They are
to the west of all continents. (Who have noticed it?)

But what about the deserts created by culture. You will find them in the
Amazon. I have seen them myself -- white stretches of silt next to
pristine forests not yet destroyed. You will find them in Africa, going
to the east of the continent. Patches of rich red soil so bare that not
even a grasshopper can still find something to chew -- next to them
villages with kids regularly increasing in size like organ pipes eating
grasshoppers as their last resource of food. Why do they not eat the goats
which compete with the grasshoppers for the last bits of living plants?
Ask their parents to explain this culture to you. Like in the case of
deserts made by nature you will know when you are in these deserts made by
culture when the last fences disappear.

Walk in deserts made by nature and deserts made by culture. The deserts
made by nature is rich in life forms, although little of it is of use to
humans. Why? These desert life forms made sure that they have little use
for mammals -- including humankind. The deserts made by cultrue is devoid
in most forms of life, much of it originally useful to humans. Why? Humans
have not made sure that they respect what have to be used by mammals --
including humankind.

When you drive in the eastern part of Africa, you will sometimes come to a
region with linear edges where there are grasses, young trees and a lot of
pioneer plants. If you observe carefully, you will also find the ruins of
former villages. But animal life (birds, reptiles and mammals) are
conspicually absent, except the insects. To walk in such a very quiet
place except for the soft hush of the wind and the soft drone of insects,
is an eerie experience. Jurassic park? No, the "Cretaceous Park" of an
earlier era in the Mesoic epoch.

Human culture makes it possible for us to experience evolution in nature.
It can be theoretical through the work of people like Lemarck, Darwin,
Smuts and Maturana. But it can also be practical through communities who
have lost the art of learning, individually and in organisations.

>The essence of culture as emerged from nature is in my
>view the reached degree of freedom and the corresponding
>responsibility. Culture is also diversity breeded by diversity.
>Yet it includes the possibility to reduce diversity.
>Human Learning Organizations are a cultural phenomenon.
>As such they are capable of linear thinking - but also capable
>to recognise and overcome linear thinking.

We overcome linear thinking through learning. But when the culture of
other people destroy the believing and loving of what once had been
communities, the guidance by (the back action in the feedback loops) of
these higher order emergents of learning on learning gets destroyed. The
creativity of humans are so dangerous that once learning (the primary
emergent of creativity) is destroyed, it puts all evolution which it can
put its hand on into reverse gear. Thus have I answered your question:

>As a reader of Robert Fritz, I may ask: What structures
>makes an organization oszillate between linear and non-linear
>thinking instead of advancing irreversibly?

Take care my dear friend.

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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