Montréal, March 5, 2000
Heinz von Foerster, a systems thinker par excellence, has suggested that instead of thinking in terms of the evolution of explicit species, we should think in terms of the evolution of implicit 'species of environments'.
While the thought of environmental niches or 'features of space' evolving may feel awkward at first, as familiarization builds, it seems a much more common sense way visualizing reality than our current approach of 'categorizing' every 'thing' (every product of evolution) and having it evolve 'in its own right' according to its environmental interactions. The 'environmental' or 'umwelt' evolutionary orientation of von Foerster is a natural layover to the theory of relativity (i.e. the primacy of 'field' over 'matter') with its non-euclidian geometry, as well as the traditions of the indigenous peoples of North America, Zen Buddhists, Taoists and Celts. More than this, it disperses the fog which shrouds some of our most vexing social-systems issues and brings them out naked into the full light of day.
We are so accustomed, in our culture, to categorizing and labelling 'things', and seeing the world in terms of a collection of 'things' and what they 'do' to each other as 'time goes by', ... that we tend to assume that 'that's just the way the world is', ... or perhaps that our brains are 'hardwired' to perceive the world in this way. In this respect, we take after the philosopher Emmanuel Kant (1724 - 1804), who asserted that " Euclidean geometry is the inevitable necessity of thought", ... that no alternative system of geometry was conceivable to the human mind, and that 'time' was "A category allowing one to order events in a before-after-relationship". Kant's space and time frameworks were decidely narrow with respect to the richness of our perceptual experience, ... a complaint which has been levelled at our western culture as a whole.
But do we REALLY think we perceive things in this constrained way?
In the back of our minds, are we not aware of 'something else' going on, ... an alternative and less simplistic way of looking at the world?
When the coke bottle drops out of the sky and plonks down in the desert sand right beside a Kalahari bushman, it has a radical transformational effect on himself and his fellow tribe-members, ...as related in the movie 'The Gods Must be Crazy'.
In a congruent vein, which McLuhan speaks to, the real story of a 'factory' is not about 'what it does', ... but instead, about the social transformation it induces, and it is next to irrelevant in the big picture whether 'it makes cornflakes or cadillacs'.
Apparently, we do not just see a world of 'things', but we also see the world in terms of coherent 'fields of transformation', .... a broader field of view within which the reciprocal thing is a small contained feature, a kind of pearl within the oyster of experience. That is, the coke bottle just kind of 'sat there' and didn't do much, ... but from a 'fly on the bottle' view, the transformation it induced in its containing environment was substantial. This iconic-induction effect seems similar to situations where a president, rock star or a princess visits an out of the way community, ... its not what they do that is the real story, even though that gets absurdly detailed coverage, ... it's what they induce.
So what is going on here? Informationally, if we think in terms of 'things' and 'what they do', it says nothing about this 'induced transformation' effect, ... but if we allow our mind to visualize the fields of induced transformation, there is a net gain of information and now loss at all since 'what the thing does' is also included in the 'interference' view.
It turns out that what we're talking about here is the perceiving of reality through two different space conventions, ... when we think in terms of 'things and what they do', we are using the euclidian space convention which gives us a view of 'actuality', the explicit, tangible existence of things and their causal transactions. And when we think in terms of 'fields of induced transformation', we are using a non-euclidian (curved) space convention which allows us to perceive the larger terrain of 'possibility' or 'opportunity', ...the implicit relational interference effects amongst things within which the 'thing' and its properties and behaviors is a small included feature.
The former view is, of course, the mechanistic or 'particulate' view and the latter, the relativistic or 'wave' view, and, informationally, the latter contains the former as the special case where 'possibility' has precipitated an 'actuality', ... where uncertainty appears to reduce to zero (I use the word 'appears' since life doesn't stop moving, ... and the frozen notion of 'actuality' is simply a convenient abstraction of our making.)
Lao Tsu put this difference between the implicit, induced aspect of a thing and the explicit aspect as follows;
"Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there."
Clearly, when we look at the usefulness in the space which is reciprocal to the explicit or tangible identity of the bowl, we are dealing with an 'unbounded' space which meshes seamlessly with the 'whole' of the surrounding environment (and which goes on from there as far as you'd like).
It seems as if we adults of the western culture don't awarely exercise the non-euclidian space perspective as often as we might. Many people thought Marshall McLuhan, whose 'medium is the message' paradigm equates to an independent discovery of the general theory of relativity, was a lunatic, particularly those in academia where 'the euclidian way' is a fiercely protected tradition. Meanwhile, western parents carry on the tradition of good-naturedly teasing their children over breakfast with questions like; 'why is it that everytime your mouth opens, your hand and spoon are pulled up towards it?, ... implying that its not 'what we do' but 'what spatial opportunity induces'.
The youth of today, taking their parents at their word, are increasingly insisting that the elders in the establishment quit hiding behind their stories of how well they are making cadillacs or cornflakes, ... and start talking, instead, in the non-euclidian reciprocal terms of how government is inductively shaping our containing environment.
That these 'space convention' issues are subtle to us in the west, is historically evident from Kant's above-cited views on space and time. It was not until Lobatschewsky, Riemann and Poincare  came along in the mid nineteenth century that our natural ability to perceive reciprocal, induced field-effects of things spread over space-time was mathematically 'validated' as being possible. It's interesting and rather bizarre that in our rationalist culture, mathematical validation seems to have sufficient prestige that, lacking it, we would deny the existence of our own native abilities.
So, the door was opened, in the mid nineteenth century, for relativistic, non-euclidian perception to 'come out of hiding' in the west, and by 1908, Hermann Minkowski, Einstein's geometry teacher, was saying in a famous lecture; "Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of unity between the two will preserve an independent reality."
Praise for this breakthrough, whereby the existence of some of man's more advanced sentient capabilities could now be formally accepted into the culture, came particularly from the physicists and Einstein said of Riemann "Only the genius of Riemann, solitary and uncomprehended, had already won its way to the middle of the last century to a new concept of space, in which space was deprived of its rigidity, ... in which its power to take part in physical events was recognized as possible." and Max Born followed in suit, saying of Riemann's spherical space, "This suggestion of a finite but unbounded space is one of the greatest ideas about the nature of the world which has ever been conceived."
Here in the year 2000, due to some kind of mental regression, the glitter of the discovery of non-euclidian space-time seems to have worn off and in spite of McLuhan's efforts in the 1960's and 1970's, the connection seeming to have failed to 'take hold'. Today, we remain enslaved by the 'most simple of all space conventions', ... the euclidian space convention, an abstract 'bivalent' convention, wherein we see things in the absolutist, exclusionary sense of 'existing' OR 'not-existing', of 'truth' OR 'falsehood', and, of course, of 'one' OR 'zero'.
As Lotfi Zadeh, Bart Kosko and the fuzzy logic crowd protest, ... one would have to be mad to conceive of our reality as binary, ... it is inherently fuzzy. But apart from those involved in the commercial aspects of fuzzy engineering, ... the century old renaissance of the notions of relativity and curved space remain on the back-burner while the upcoming generations continue to be indoctrinated in the euclidian space paradigm.
Apparently, few in our culture, ... few amongst scientists in particular, want to deal with the 'messiness' of the real world. How many physicists are working on social complexity which demands a full relativistic treatment? How many biotechnology companies want their biologists to view genes and genomes in relativistic terms which include in the 'management' schema, as mother nature does, the reciprocal, 'induced transformation' effects of genes on the environment?
What all is entailed in this more comprehensive 'curved space' way of looking at 'things'? (Note: when the word 'curved space' is used, as a 'go-by', you can think of 'spherical space' and playing pool on the outer surface of a sphere, where everything is relative to everything else, ... where space is 'self-referential').
Let's review how we might define 'girl' in the standard euclidian manner. What we need is to document her properties and behaviors, so we would study her physical body, down to and including her genetic encoding, and watch her behaviors very carefully, perhaps over a period of years (to try to get the 'steady state' aspects of behavior).
From this determination of properties and behaviors, we now have our 'thing' called 'girl' and we can file this together with our files on boys and adults and cats and dogs and every 'thing' else we need to model how 'reality works', western style.
BUT, ... in order to get to the more comprehensive non-euclidian view, we need to consider those things that happens because of her that she does not do. In Lao Tsu's terms, ... in order to fill the bowl, somebody must grow something and harvest it and prepare it and serve it etc.
As we examine this in the particular case of 'girl', ... when she walks down the street, we would see boys bumping into things because they were distracted by her, ... perhaps there would be car accidents adjacent to where she was walking. We would see prospective suitors out shopping for new clothes, the styles she liked, and the radius of induced transformation would thus extend on out to mens clothing stores and their employees. Perhaps her mother would get a part time job to save up for a college education for her, and so on.
So the girl can also be described in terms of her relational interference 'field', which contains as its 'inner lining', the lesser or 'sub-aspect' of everything she 'is and does' (the euclidian view of her). When she walks around the outer surface of the sphere (the non-euclidian characterization of her local environment), she induces transformation in the enveloping constituency which means, relatively speaking, she induces transformation in 'possibility space'. She is, in this sense, like the rainforest which 'creates its own climate'.
The euclidian space convention only allows us to characterize 'things' in terms of actuality, ... their existential properties and behaviors, ... while the non-euclidian space convention allows us to characterize 'things' in terms of their enveloping, shared and unbounded, 'possibility space'. While we went through this example with a 'girl', we would have gotten fully congruent results with a boy or a billiard ball. The principles are general for all of nature. While actuality space involves tangible measurable things and their causal interactions, possibility space involves implicit relational interference pattern information which is intuitively observable but which is neither causal nor measurable. When the car accident occurs as the girl walks down the street, ... we cannot say that she 'caused' the accident in the (pre-relativistic) sense of causality. The traditional scientific approach would deal with 'cause' in the context of the car's mechanical systems and the driver's biophysical systems (vision and reflexes etc.).
The non-euclidian space convention opens the door to visualizing an 'implicit identity' of things seen in terms of their power to induce transformation in 'possibility space'. The 'substance' of this implicit identity, since it is based on relational interference is 'space' (hence 'niche persona'). And since non-euclidian space is unbounded, ... all implicit identities share this single realm, by being convolutely 'encoded' in the relational patterns of space-time and recognizeable by a whole-and-part coherency which 'points' to a material source for the induced transformation, the 'pearl in the oyster', so to speak.
Clearly, if we seek an understanding of 'community as complex system', it will make a huge difference whether or not we draw on 'possibility space' identities or confine our observations to 'actuality space' identities, the former including all of the information associated with the latter but going well beyond it. It is also clear, in this dual identity view, that the behavior of a complex system cannot be deduced from the behaviors of its parts because our euclidian definitions of the parts fail to include induced transformation effects which require a relativistic inquiry and non-euclidian space convention. Nevertheless, we persist in dealing only with euclidian space effects, as if there is some magic wormhole which will take us on through to a full understanding of complexity. However, there can be no such wormhole due to innate dimensionality constraints and as Gerhard Groessing points out, as cited elsewhere in this essay, ... relativistic inquiry, and therefore complex systems inquiry, demands the non-euclidian space convention.
Working with the 'possibility space' identity of things opens up a lot of new doors which are relevant to how we use mathematical treatments to underpin our systems of management, government, justice and education. A key limitation of euclidian space is its 'bivalent nature' by which a 'thing' is seen to exist or not exist, but not both at the same time. In terms of the complaints of today's youth, educational and employment programs seem to possess this exclusionary characteristic, ... if you 'make the grade' (meet the qualifications) ... you are 'in', ... if not, you are 'out'. This 'euclidian paradigm' approach to education and employment puts the explicit in the primacy over the implicit, ... the causal in the primacy over the induced transformational. It is an approach which can only deal with mechanical environments and not with complex environments.
This exclusional characteristic of euclidian regulation is a major issue amongst youth, who see their community fostering exclusionary competition amongst youth, to 'highgrade resources' and meet the demands of global business. Thinking in euclidian terms is built into our regulatory systems. For example, we do not prosecute girls walking down the street for causing car accidents, nor do we admit this as extenuating circumstance in prosecuting the driver 'who caused' the accident even though our common sense 'knows better'. The 'rough edges' on simplified mechanical (euclidian) approach to regulation are accepted by the community in the interests of jolting the awareness of drivers so as to make the streets safer. In this sense, euclidian management must be seen as a simple tool within a broader management program, a program based on an understanding of community as complex system, which must therefore account for induced transformational effects.
The growing conflict between youth and officialdom as technology concerns this pushing of euclidian management and its exclusionary approaches well beyond its useful limits. In spite of the extending reach of induced transformative influences due to technology and communications, the regulatory establishment is not only resisting the demands of youth, but is continuing to ignore the reality of induced transformational effects, opening the door to infusions of environmental dissonance such as may come from the currently unconstrained and financially booming domain of biotechnology.
The principles and issues surrounding bivalency and exclusion can be reviewed by examining the designations of 'child' and 'adult', with respect to 'time' and coastline with respect to 'space'.
In euclidian space and linear time we have no choice but to pick a time along the 'linear time axis' when an individual suddenly 'switches' from 'child' to 'adult'. We think that we are gaining neatness and tidiness by iconizing everything using the euclidian space convention, ... but who shall pick the precise time for the flip between these exclusive categories of 'child' or 'adult'?, .... and pick it to an infinite number of decimal points, as is necessary for absolute or bivalent (true or false) boundaries?
A similar fuzziness problem arises at the boundary between land and sea, depending on the granularity we choose to measure at. For example, "the eastern coastline of the US, as seen on a world globe, looks like a fairly smooth line some two or three thousand miles long. If one splices together the US coastal navigation charts, the curve becomes a very complex ten or twelve thousand miles long. If you were to walk it, staying within a step of the water, the length would rise to about fifteen thousand miles, and if an ant were to walk it, staying within one ant width from the water, the length would rise further, to about thirty thousand miles."
Apparently, space-time 'doesn't like' being carved up into explicit 'things' which demand the splitting apart of 'space' and 'time' (the euclidian convention), and while the logic which is the basis of all of our pre-relativity science is built upon absolutely 'clean' boundaries, nature is not listening to us.
In non-euclidian space, there are no absolute 'things' and there are no discrete boundaries in time or in space and the self-referential co-dynamics (representation of natural phenomena) simply continue to convolve with themselves. Imagine playing pool on the outside of a sphere. You make a shot and you say, before I made this shot, the configuration was 'X', and after making it, the configuration is 'Y'. Is anything wrong with this statement?. The statement appears to be 'true', but since the outer surface of a sphere is a self-referential space, there is no external reference so that these two states cannot be 'separated', ... the sole reference ground for 'Y' is 'X', so that 'Y' can only be specified in terms of its evolutionary history. 'Y' is therefore an 'evolved state' of 'X'. In terms of 'you', ... in the non-euclidian space convention, there can be no 'you' in your own, standalone right, ... 'you' can only be specified with respect to your historical development, ... 'you' can only be seen as an evolved state of your ancestors and your containing environment. To specify 'you' in terms of your properties and behaviors is radically incomplete in the relativistic worldview.
The reductionist who hears such things may turn his back and seek reassurances by joking nervously with his friends, hoping that such a focus on 'boundaries' will quickly die and disappear, ... but if we are going to understand complexity, we don't have the option of walking away from such embarassing breaches in the britches of mainstream science, because these breaches walk away with us.
Von Foerster says a few more common sense things on this topic, i.e.;
"The determining of truth or falsehood 'arrives' with the observer."
"If one has not discovered the observer [who midwifes a truth], one must invent one."
Since von Foerster also says; "Truth is the invention of a liar", we could say that if we are dealing with determined truths or falsehoods, we must either find the liar responsible for these absolutes, or invent one. Or we could say, ... behind every incontrovertible truth, there is an incontrovertible liar.
The problem here is not to abandon designations which are bivalent ('true' or 'false', 'is' or 'is not') such as 'child' and 'adult', but instead, to ensure that we are using them only as supportive tools, and that our models used for the purpose of developing an understanding of phenomena have no direct dependencies upon them, .... that our models 'do not stand upon the ladder' of bivalent categories. And since 'material things' are bivalent categories, that means that our models 'must not stand upon the ladder of material things'. (see Bart Kosko's 'Fuzzy Future').
That immediately places all of pre-relativity science, not to mention the bulk of western management and regulatory theory, including the justice system and political and economic sciences, in default, leaving ONLY the realm of non-euclidian space-time and the general theory of relativity untouched, ... the only scientific realm which is 'naturally clean' in the sense of having no dependencies upon the neat and tidy 'explicit material thing' abstractions, which, as we know, liberate pollutants and leave them somewhere else, ... but there is no 'somewhere else' in the commons of non-euclidian space-time.
If we can take a few deep breaths and get rid of the vapours of our addictive dependencies on all of that b.s. concerning the virtues of bivalency, true/false, zero/one, etc., we can proceed with an elaboration of the 'reciprocal' notion of 'things', ... which, to me, is a whole lot more 'common sensical' than euclidian bivalence.
Like the billiard ball in the game of pool, each 'individual' is most importantly defined by where 'it' sits within the topography of opportunity (for movement), ... its positioning within the 'possibility space'. Since possibility comes before actuality, ... this 'possibility space' identification, which corresponds to von Foerster's 'species of environment' is a more fundamental designator of a thing. Not only this, but in the reciprocal dispositional realm of spherical space, ... since it is an unbounded relational realm, ... an inclusionary realm, ... our environmentally designated things are allowed to have numerous designations at the same time. That is, the bivalent material designations of ''child' and 'adult' become 'niche personas' in the reciprocal domain and this 'thing' which are now thinking of in terms of its transformation inducing properties can be 'polyphrenous' in having, at the same time, niche personas of 'child' and 'adult'. Here we move away from designations based on bivalent 'existence' to designations based on participation in co-evolutionary 'becoming'.
Possibility space is firstly and foremostly about 'becoming', while questions of 'existence' or 'being' are a secondary, synthetic 'actuality'-subspace contained within possibility space, ... the special case where our need for shared expression of what is going on 'abstracts out' a discrete configuration of 'things' and says 'this happened'.
The question arises here, ... what is the nature of 'stopping' the motion so that we can describe things in terms of a 'system state', ... when common sense tells us that everything is more reasonably seen as being in continuous relative motion and participating in an irreversible coevolution?, ... and the answer is 'the observors need and attitude'. So the notion of a 'system state' is really a 'state of mind' of the observer, ... or, in other words, 'actuality' is a fabrication of the observer's mind. The system state the observer describes never actually 'froze' but continued to be involved along with the rest of nature in relativistic change through the reciprocal disposition of itself and its components. In other words, there is no absolute separation between any system and the whole. The separation of a system from the whole, or a system state from its immersing space-time flow exists by the grace of our powers of abstraction. Nature is a unity and as long as anything in nature is moving, relativistically, all of nature is in motion. In non-relativistic science, laboratory experiment consists of procedures and controls aimed at putting the observer into the same abstract mindstate as other observors who have performed the same experiment.
But if our science were to open itself up to the consideration of the full complexity of nature, we would acknowledge that if our 'girl' walks down the street more than once, the induced transformational effects are bound to be different each time because the environmental configuration will necessarily have changed, ... the wind will blow by differently etc. and her footsteps will go in different places and she will now be older than she was, etc. In fact, from a relativistic point of view, no experiment can be repeated, since the 'niche persona' or 'implicit identity' of a thing is continuously evolving. However, science will be interested only in what direct tangible-causal effect she has on herself and surroundings and will assume that she and all her parts and the parts she touches are the same as in the earlier experiments.
Thus, the name of the game in non-relativistic science is not to discover 'the way the world works', but to discover 'what things do', ... and since 'things' are our own bivalent abstractions, we make up the rules of the game so that it will 'work out' for us in terms of rational thought, but of course we cannot impose them on nature, and it is nature which overrides us on questions of system behavior etc. When it comes to a choice between standing on the titanic of science or the iceberg of nature, ... I think we have already learned our lesson on that one.
At this point, we could bring in more examples of induced transformation along with more insightful quotes from McLuhan, .. such as deal with the Computer, and the fact that an understanding of what PCs 'do' will in no way lead to an understanding of the the huge transformation PCs have induced in our society, ... 'the medium is the message', not the literal content, .... but the case is already vastly 'overdetermined' that science is 'playing in one space too low', ... it is playing in 'actuality space' when 'possibility space' (reciprocal disposition space in non-euclidian geometry) is 'where its at' with respect to UNDERSTANDING THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS rather than UNDERSTANDING WHAT THINGS DO. In addition, it is only common sense to see that this is happening, that science, management and regulatory process are coming up short, and youth sees it, and pool players in particular see it; i.e. you can't manage things in actuality space because if you do, all the while you will be screwing up in possibility space. You must manage opportunity rather than 'what is being done'.
Again, business, and science and government and education are MANAGING THINGS IN EUCLIDIAN SPACE WHICH IS ONE SPACE TOO LOW. As Einstein and Infeld say in 'The Evolution of Physics', the new theory-space of 'field' and relativity has an inclusionary relationship with the old theory-space;
"To use a comparison, we could say that creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting point and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles of our adventurous way up."
So relativity and non-euclidian space give us 'possibility space' within which 'actuality space' is a tiny part of the view, ... in the same way that 'possibility space' in the game of pool - the shape of the configuration, is the 'containing space' within which 'actuality space' - the mechanical manipulation of the balls, is a subsidiary included feature which is radically incomplete from an informational perspective.
We could conjecture, here, on why the world persists in managing in actuality space instead of possibility space (persists in managing 'thing-behaviors' instead of 'managing opportunity'), and we'd probably come up with a few insights such as Francis Fukuyama's ('Trust'), that since there are no tangible measures in possibility space, we'd have rely on trust. But the fact is that 'everyone knows' the ship is leaking, and that the captain is lying, as Leonard Cohen's song by the same name goes, ... so the more important focus would appear to be on 'breaking the vicious cycle', not by brute force analysis and problem elimination, but by being 'reborn into a larger story', as is nature's wont. In Gerhard Groessman's 'logic of evolution' terms; "symmetry => antisymmetry => integration => metasymmetry", ... or subjective actuality => objective actuality => reciprocation => meta-actuality (possibility).
That managing on the basis of 'thing-behaviors' is a vicious cycle can be seen by analogy with the game of pool. If we believe that it is our skilled execution of 'shots' (thing-behavior management) which sustains our game, we cultivate skilled shot-making as a 'way of life'. Now skilled shot-makers are those who thrive as individuals in the midst of opportunity-deprived situations, ... that is their 'niche'. Conversely, skilled opportunity-managers are those who thrive through team coevolution, by cultivating opportunity for themselves and their team-mates (for the full team ensemble) with their every action.
It seems no coincidence, that in a wellspring interview session with retired managers (some of whom were WWII veterans) a few years ago, they described what they saw as the trend in business, towards the growth of 'warrior' managers (shot-makers), the decline of 'legacy-cultivators' and the rising incidence of 'cream of the crop' professionals coming out of university as 'humility-less twits', as described in 'Stakeholder Perspectives in a Knowledge Economy', www.goodshare.org/kepnewt.htm
This essay, which seems to have rung some bells with people in business (it continues to be downloaded about 50 times per week by visitors from universities, businesses and consulting firms) includes some geometries, based on real, business data, which are congruent with what has been discussed, and thus may give an additional 'angle' on this 'fuzzy identity' theme. In particular, the 'scene-setting' at the beginning of the essay, involves conflict between 'actuality management' versus 'opportunity-management' as has been developed in more physics-theoretical terms within this essay;
* * *
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Knowledge as an Asset:
. . . . . . . . .Stakeholder Perspectives in a Knowledge Economy
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . London, February 12/13, 1997
. . . . . . . . .Knowledge Management in Oil & Gas Conference
* * *
Part I: Scene - Setting
Imagine sitting in with a group of people who are coming together for the first time, for a discussion on 'knowledge management', each having an interest or 'stake' of some sort, in the 'Jurassic Sark', a profitable North Sea oil & gas development. The aim of all present; oil company manager, staff-member, shareholder, supplier, government official, shipping rep, banking rep and consumer, is to ensure that the knowledge which engendered and sustains this successful venture will be well managed into the future.
But as they begin their discussions, they realize that they need to return to basics to define their terms in an agreed way; i.e. what is knowledge, how can it be managed and for what end, precisely? In a few minutes it becomes apparent that two very different purposes are represented within the group, one which sees the asset as the physical property and seeks to manage knowledge so as to optimize its life-cycle returns, while the other sees knowledge itself, ... the knowledge embodied in the dynamic and successful producing consortium, as the asset, and seeks to manage this knowledge, so that it will sustain its legacy of productive returns indefinitely.
Thus 'knowledge management' seems to be definable in two ways depending on whether the primary investment target is the physical asset or the intellectual asset which transforms physical property into assets.
Moving on, and determining that the essence of knowledge is successful experience in dealing with change, the group now concludes that there are two types of change which result in two different types of knowledge; change which involves the improvement of existing systems in an explicitly definable way, and change which involves creating new systems out of old ones, as in the context of 'recycling' and 'metamorphosis', in a more 'implied' than precisely specified way.
The group comes to an impasse in seeking to determine the balance of change associated with (a) improving existing business practices, and (b) creating new and destroying old business practices through an 'upwelling' of the new and a 'subduction' of the old, in a kind of business equivalent version of 'plate tectonics'. They somewhat hesitantly decide that this is a strategic choice, just as investing in physical or intellectual assets is a value choice.
The group determines that what is often missing is an open articulation of the balance of investment emphasis on these two pairs of business parameters; knowledge assets versus physical assets, and business repairs [mechanics] versus business renewal [possibility].
* * *
The 'actuality-management' focus corresponds to cultivation of physical assets and business mechanics, while the 'possibility-management' focus is on human assets and business renewal. The former leaves the people resource in the lurch on two counts, ... it interests itself only in 'shareholder value' out of the context of the welfare of the workforce and it 'depletes' the resource without 'replacement' with similar repercussions in the domain of employment opportunity. Meanwhile, the latter starts with a focus on the people resource, by cultivating them directly, not according to the present whims of the global economy, but cultivating them with the logic of evolution so that they may constitute a sustainable eco-base for the system.
As pool pro's are wont to say, 'There's no point in running if you're on the wrong road', meaning that a skilled sequence of shots is counter-productive if it simply leads on to 'snookering yourself', ... and also, ... 'Shape is everything', meaning that the sustaining of opportunity for all members of the ensemble must be in the primacy.
Given this common-sense case for putting 'opportunity management' in the primacy over 'actuality management', supported by the general theory of relativity, and the finding that non-euclidian space (the 'game of pool' type of self-referential space) is an essential requirement for relativity-compliant problem formulation, ... why it is that we keep on 'running on the wrong road'?
McLuhan seemed to have the answer;, ... the 'medium is the message'.
The medium of our culture is the medium of material things, and we manage everything on this basis of 'what things do', ... and our education system attempts to infuse this in the youthful mind by a negative feedback process. Provision of the 'space' necessary for the cultivation of youth to 'become who they are meant to become' is not part of our educational agenda, as the Quebec youth conference proceedings make clear. The educational process, instead, is aimed at cultivating, in the words of the wellspring retirees, 'humilityless twits' who can become the shot-meisters of the global economy.
The Non-Euclidian Paradigm: Towards a More Just and Harmonious Future
My studies of exceptional teams indicated the reversion to the model as suggested by von Foerster, ... of seeing the system components in reciprocal terms, as being composed of 'species of environment' rather than of 'species', ... that is, in seeing the motive agents in the reciprocal terms of their possibility-space inductive powers. This amounts to shifting our management efforts out of actuality space and 'what people do' into the higher dimensional 'possibility space' in the manner of the skilled pool player. Since reciprocal space in the non-euclidian convention is unbounded (i.e. it is fully interconnected over space-time), an individual's consciousness of his 'Here' interlaces with the consciousness of others, and an intuitive co-cultivation of the 'Here' is possible. In direct 'doing', rather than reciprocal terms, if each person is aware of what is blocking his team-mates in the pursuit of their purpose, it is highly likely that he can positively influence the opportunity landscape for them AT THE SAME TIME as he moves forward in his pursuit of purpose.
Because of this need to be aware of opportunity-purpose bottlenecking for all members of the team, the informationalizing of the team members in exceptional teams is characteristically distinct and different from the standard (dysfunctional) team. Exceptional teams develop a suite of indicators (formal or informal) which are analogous to the 'vital signs' in a living organism, and each member of the team monitors the three way co-dependency between his actions, the vital signs and the blockages faced by his team-mates in their pursuit of purpose. Information is shared much as it is in the indigenous traditions, where each person in the 'circle' gets to 'hold the talking stick' and share with all members what he is 'seeing'. At this primary level, there are no arguments about what is 'the best way' (explicit skills and techniques are supportive rather than primary) and neither is there any optimization of local 'shot-making' in its own right (out of the context of the whole-and-part co-dynamic). The whole system operates on the basis of opportunity cultivation or a 'breakthrough' approach. The breakthrough approach is the analogue of 'de-snookering' or of continually opening up possibility space for all constituents in the ensemble. When a given team-member 'acts', his action is pulled by the team goal, but at the same time guided by the cultivation of opportunity which can open the way for all members to roll forward in the pursuit of their purpose.
While one may think of this system as being implemented in terms of 'company goals', in practice it is implemented in terms of the overall needs of the individuals involved, and there is much joy experienced by those in teams which operate in this way.
The essential pre-requisite for flipping into this 'space-over-matter' or 'shape-over-shots' mode, beyond the 'unlearning' which must be done (which gets tougher the greater the success experienced by a person in the 'old way'), is the development of a feel for the non-euclidian space convention and the various new 'features' it gives rise to, such as;
Spherical Self-Referentiality: ... the implicit referencing of an ensemble to itself, seen out of the context of any external reference frames or local non-relativistic frames such as one's own subjectivity. This can be envisaged in asking oneself the question, .. 'if I move or act in this manner, how will this action effect the opportunities of the other members of the ensemble?, ... both now, ... and in the future?' If the information needed to answer this question is missing, then it must be gathered. One means of gathering the information is the 'sharing circle' where each person describes what they are seeing and experiencing without any discussion or debate about the 'correctness' of the perspective. The absence of debate during sharing is important since we act out of our own perspective and not out of the perspectives of others, even if they are officially labelled 'the correct perspective'.
Reciprocal disposition: ... the geometric configuration which the individual constituent 'sees' as he looks out towards the ensemble of constituents configured over the outer surface of his sphere of activity. The implicit understanding of 'reciprocal disposition' or 'possibility space' is developed through the sharing circles and by continually 'tuning-in' to the co-resonances of one's actions with the overall whole-and-part co-dynamic.
'Implicit Identity' or 'Niche Persona': ... rather than thinking of a person (or system or thing) in terms of its 'explicit identity'; i.e. its properties and behaviors (these attributes must be demoted to a supportive role), one thinks instead in terms of the reciprocal disposition or 'Here' which is experienced by the person, thing or system. This comes into the mind in terms of the historical base of that person, where they've been, what they've done, who they know etc.; i.e. in terms of the 'environmental niche' they are living in, ... seeing them as a 'species of environment'. (think of the shape of the space around a billiard ball and the opportunities presented in it for the particular constituent, or his degree of 'snookeredness' or excludedness). The 'niche persona' is a more complete, complex (real + implicit) concept of individual and it appears to be the entity which 'evolves', rather than the explicit thing. The implicit experience or 'Here' experience engages with explicit experience and ensures that the individual is constantly in the 'zone of proximal development' (Vygotsky), and thus 'evolving' rather than simply 'learning' in a knowledge acquisition sense.
Co-evolution: ... implicit identities exist in an unbounded reciprocal disposition space. That is, each person can be seen as his 'environmental niche' or 'niche persona' and since all environmental niches flow and meld into each other, as the possibility spaces around the individual constituents meld into one unbounded environmental space, any movement on the part of one niche-persona transforms the niche-persona of all others. Thus motion in the system is simultaneously accompanied by co-evolution of all niche-personas (to various degrees depending on the relational interference pattern specifics).
The above attempt at defining terms may be a useful 'orientation kit' for working and managing in relativistic non-euclidian space. Such terms and mathematical concepts were not available to the exceptional teams studied, but all of the evolutionary features which they describe were intuited and spoken of, though perhaps in more ambiguous and elaborated terms. For example;
Spherical Self-Referentiality is something everyone knows about in the sense of 'what goes around, comes around', ... if the accounting department decides to cut costs and make employees fill in their time-sheets on a computer screen (which costs the worker his time and effort), he may rebel by claiming more hours than he has worked, the result being that accounting department costs go down and unit costs of production go up.
'Reciprocal disposition' corresponds to one's access to the curved space commons, ... wherever you have access to shared opportunity, you can either think in terms of how to exploit all of it that's available to you (shot-management) or how to use it 'harmoniously, sharing it around so as to help open the way to everyone's forward movement in their respective pursuits of purpose. The assumption in curved space is that whatever is given is simply given by a strand in the web to the web. For example, in the case of funding, Chief Maquinna of the Nootkas' comment on first coming across a white man's Bank gives the relevant geometry; "we have no such bank; when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank." The geometry of reciprocal disposition co-dynamically references the individual to the whole, and has a radically different 'feel' than centrally administered 'euclidian' schemes (e.g. centrally administered proposals such as the establishment of a common funding to provide revenues to all individuals, from birth, 'because one exists' rather than 'to exist'.).
Implicit Identity or 'Niche-Persona' emerged in the exceptional team experience in pursuing the breakthrough strategy. In one case, the entire 150 person team (professionals, labour, management) gathered repetitively in a large open area (aircraft hanger) and shared information on bottlenecking, asking for shows of hands on who thought they might be able to help de-bottleneck. After repeating this process over time with everyone observing the evolving patterns of associations, the team abandoned (i.e. 'demoted' from the primacy) their former disciplinary structure based organisation and put this 'ecological' or 'implicit identity' based view into the primacy. A person's professional attributes and responsibilities (explicit identity) in this environment was fully subordinated to his niche persona potentials (implicit identity).
Co-evolution: The re-ordering of the team around 'space' instead of 'things' was born out of the knowledge that the actions of the individual constituent transformed the possibility space which connected all constituents (the 'reciprocal disposition' effect). Putting the impicit identity into the primacy over discipline and rank gave everyone access to those things they liked to work on, ... and enabled them to develop their experience, knowledge and skills in the manner which stimulated them. Thus they were liberated from their structural imprisonment in the grid of explicit, specialist identities and free to cooperate in a shared ontogenetic development, as a strand in a co-evolutionary web.
The Euclidian Paradigm: Towards a More Disturbed Future
It seems important to speak not only of the advantages of the non-euclidian paradigm, but also of the progressive, dissonant effects of the euclidian paradigm.
As the world grows more intensively 'self-referential' as the outer surface of the earth 'shrinks' through communications and transporation technologies, ... the euclidian assumption becomes progressively inadequate and dysfunction infusing.
One of the things under pressure within the rising tide of dysfunction is 'identity'.
In the euclidian paradigm, one has only one meaningful identity, and that is one's 'explicit identity' determined by one's properties and behaviors.
In the non-euclidian paradigm, one has dual complementary, reciprocal identities, an implicit identity given by one's reciprocal relationships with one's environment, and one's explicit identity given by one's properties and causal behaviors. Members of the exceptional team, discussed above, brought their implicit identities 'out of hiding' and put them in a primacy over their explicit identities. If you asked one of them 'who are you?', ... prior to the team transformation, you have have gotten the traditional resume of title, discipline, work history and all of that, and after it, you would more likely get the relational interference based identity which would be given in terms of the whole environmental container, how he related to the different aspects of the operation and to the business and the community, ... with the euclidian, explicit identity only being given in a supportive mode.
In his implicit identity, the person 'is' the team; i.e. he is some kind of feature of the whole, and in his explicit identity, he is an independent entity which serves as a component of the team. What's important here is that the team is not constructed on the basis of the explicit identities of the parts, and the referencing is always to 'space', .. the niche persona of the overall team. We can say that each constituent of the team has a 'fuzzy identity', his identity being fuzzified in exactly the way that the wave and particulate duality in nature fuzzifies all 'things', ... his interferential identity is continuously evolving and propagating while his causal identity is accumulating more mechanical-structural credentials.
Here, we come back to the higher dimensionality of the non-euclidian space convention wherein the person thinks in terms of being an aspect of the whole FIRST, and a standalone entity second, whereas, in the euclidian space convention he is constrained to thinking of himself in standalone terms only (i.e. as a basic standalone entity. He can of course, add in relationships on top of this standalone view of his identity).
By our common sense experience, all persons have an implicit identity as characterized by their external relationships, as well as an explicit identity, and there is a potential 'identity management' issue which crops up in the case where the euclidian space convention is used as the sole underpinning of 'identity management.'
This point can be clarified by considering the following question;
... would you agree or disagree with the proposition that we must all accept responsibility for environmental pollution? (i.e. that 'man' must accept responsibility)
What would you think if someone told you that the indigenous traditionalists who are the most dismayed and the most angry over the deteriorating state of our environment disagree with that proposition?
Perhaps you would not be able to believe this, at least at first. The following commentary aims to show why this paradoxical sounding proposition prevails and why it 'sounds wrong', and to further show how such paradox constitutes an 'identity management problem.'
First, let's examine the dictionary meaning of 'responsible' used in the above context;
Webster's says; (1) "liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent. (example: <a committee responsible for the job>) (2) : being the cause or explanation. (example: <mechanical defects were responsible for the accident>)
This usage of 'responsibility' implies an explicit identity of the causal agent which in turn presupposes a non-relativistic euclidian space convention, while the indigenous traditionalist belief presupposes a relativistic, non-euclidian space convention, ... implicitly in agreement with the 'fuzzy identity' just developed.
What are the implications?
An unnaturally twisted 'supreme' arrogance is implied by our assuming that we are the primary cause of a change in the state of our own 'containing space', ... whether 'we' refers to ourselves as individuals or to the species homo sapiens, .... since we 'are' our environment as well as being an included feature within our environment.
Statements or notions such as 'we are responsible for the deteriorating state of the environment' and 'we must embrace an ecological ethic and make the environment healthy again', ... are 'schizophrenic' views, in view of the non-euclidian perception of the world which is available to us beneath the surface of our awareness if not awarely.
For example, it is not uncommon to read propositions like the following;
"Mankind has despoiled its own home, treating Earth as if it were only something from which to take, endlessly. This myopic perspective has now resulted in placing our precious Earth, along with all of its sacred life, in danger of imminent destruction. Our mission is to eliminate all forms of pollution from our beautiful planet and to restore our Earth to its natural state of beauty and balance."
Imagine how this statement might read in a non-euclidian context, by reverting to the basic geometry involved;
"Our Strand has despoiled its own web-home, treating the Web as if it were only something from which to take, endlessly. This myopic perspective has now resulted in placing our precious Web, along with all of its sacred strands, in danger of imminent destruction. Our mission is to eliminate all forms of discord we infused, from our beautiful Web and to restore our Web to its natural state of beauty and balance."
Do you feel a god-like 'strange-loop' in the above statement, as when looking at Escher's waterfall?
If we ARE the web-of-life at the same time as we ARE a strand-in-the-web, ... then we cannot say, without splitting our identity in two, 'I caused the deterioration in my self' and 'I must fix my self', since causality demands an exclusionary split between subject and object. The problem here is that euclidian thinking is not dimensionally high enough to deal with a 'simultaneous unity and plurality', the characteristic of the non-euclidian space convention and our experiences in nature.
In the non-euclidian paradigm, when the fuzzy team-member felt that he and other members were infusing discord into the whole-and-part co-dynamic, rather than speaking of 'fixing the web', he spoke in terms of;.. .'Hey, we're not jamming with our brother-strands, man, ...we all need to get back into the groove.'
Our western culture with its euclidian paradigm is innately 'schizophrenia inducing', as has been noted by many 'rebel' psychiatrists, notably Ronald Laing ('Politics of Experience'), Peter Breggin ('Toxic Psychiatry') and others. In the web of family, the child who pollutes the web and must then re-purify it will feel that he has to rise up from his strand-in-the-web-status to a divine status in order to do so, if his upbringing does not give him access to the non-euclidian 'jamming' alternative. The bivalent 'good' and 'evil' of many religious teachings, however, suggest that 'purification' is 'the road to redemption', while in the east, the more common message is a non-euclidian message; e.g. 'do not search for the way to happiness, happiness is the way'.
As the use of the euclidian paradigm in management and regulatory process continues to intensify and globalize, by the 'medium is the message' process, the schizophrenia casualities appear to be mounting, as manifest within three categories; those in jail, homeless people, and those on continuing neuroleptic drug treatment. According to the media, the relative frequency of mental disorder in all of these three categories are on the rise, as the following excerpts indicate;
* * *
New York Times March 5, 1998
By Default, Jails Become Mental Institutions
By FOX BUTTERFIELD
On any day, almost 200,000 people behind bars -- more than 1 in 10 of the
total -- are known to suffer from schizophrenia, manic depression or major
depression, the three most severe mental illnesses. The rate is four times that
in the general population. And there is evidence, particularly with juveniles,
that the numbers in jail are growing.
* * *
Government of Canda, Ministry of Health
Hon Jim Wilson, minister
excerpt from Hansard: the Ministry of Health Standing Committee on Estimates
Hon Mr Wilson: I appreciate your comments. I would say, though, that anything I've studied on the problems of an indigent population or homelessness in our society is that these problems, Mr Martin, in all fairness to this government and to the people who have been working on these problems for years, take years to manifest themselves. People develop mental illness, which is often the root cause. They're not poor, some of the reports will indicate, certainly out of choice; they're poor because they're unable to make those daily decisions. A large number of them suffer from schizophrenia, for example. They take years to manifest themselves. You don't necessarily just end up on the street overnight.
. . .
Hon Mr Wilson: Could I respond? Again, there are many ministries working on the problem of homelessness. It is complicated. Your remarks are part of the thoughts that many people have as to the theory why people are homeless. Just going back to schizophrenia and homeless people who may suffer from that, I remind people that we continue to provide Clozapine and Clozaril. Schizophrenia drugs are distributed by psych hospitals free of charge to patients. Those programs are all still here. Tuberculosis drugs are provided through ministry funding to public health units, free of charge to patients. So those are available, and as the deputy explained, steps are being taken now to make sure they take their drugs--there are three different drugs that have to be taken in combination--to get the people out there to help people, to ensure they take the drugs.
* * *
The canary analogy is one which comes up frequently when there is discussion on the rapidly rising rates of depression and suicide. The notion is that the canary is always 'showing' its 'niche persona' and so communicates with its behavior, the state of its relationship with its immersing environment, and becomes a sensitive detector for toxicity in the environment. Similarly, it has been suggested that what is diagnosed as 'schizophrenia', 'bipolar disorder' and 'clinical depression' are psychosocial disorders which 'trigger' in those with a natural sensitivity to the alienating forces in the socio-cultural environment.
In the current era, our response to the problems of our brother canaries, rather than congratulating them on their sensitive implicit personas and warning signals, ... is to either try to get them back into the 'normal' state where an externally-imposed explicit persona will dominate, or to drug them and keep them quiet.
In this latter vein, as the pressure intensifies for the drug related suppression of mental disorders, comparisons of this cultural response are being made to the political suppression of dissent in historical situations;
* * *
Journal of Human Rights and Technology, Vol.1, February, 1997
Shrinking the Freedom of Thought:
How Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Violates Basic Human Rights
By Richard Gosden
Gosden compares the drug administration practices used for political suppression to our current administrative practices in the democratic countries. His conclusions are reproduced as follows;
* * *
There is little doubt that the conclusions from my Article 18 test [Article 18 of the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] level an accusation at psychiatric practice that requires a response. The case study involving alleged schizophrenics in NSW accounts for some thousands of people every year. But there seems to be no valid reason to confine the accusation to this restricted class of people. An accusation of Article 18 violations could just as easily be made on behalf of all the people, under every legal jurisdiction, who are involuntarily administered neuroleptic medication. This would expand the class well beyond people diagnosed with schizophrenia and would include large numbers of elderly people in institutional settings. Worldwide it would probably involve many millions of people every year.
However, even this class of people might be too restricted. Other psychiatric medications and treatments interfere with peoples' thoughts and beliefs in the same way neuroleptics do. Indeed, this kind of interference is precisely the intention of most psychiatric treatments and an argument can therefore be made that all coercisive psychiatry, by definition, violates Article 18.
By enfranchising the medical profession to control people with deviant thoughts and beliefs, modern democratic States avoid being directly implicated in violations of human rights protected under Article 18. This situation has allowed democratic States to gain a loudly-proclaimed moral ascendancy over non-democratic States that take a less sophisticated approach to deviant thinkers and believers by incarcerating citizens for supposed political crimes and making them 'prisoners of conscience'.
But this moral ascendancy is clearly undeserved. States that are parties to the international human rights covenants, apart from agreeing not to violate the rights themselves, also agree to ensure that all their citizens will be free to exercise those rights. This means that the issue does not simply rest on whether particular governments can be directly linked to human rights violations. Ultimately, what is more important is whether the human rights of individuals are violated and, if they are, whether the State, within whose borders the violations occur, takes the necessary steps to ensure that the violations cease. "
* * *
In this essay, then, a case has been made for the bankruptcy of the non-relativistic euclidian paradigm in the face of rising self-referentiality brought on by technology and communications. Only the general theory of relativity with its non-euclidian space convention, amongst modern scientific theory, is equipped to take into account this self-referentiality.
While we are naturally equipped to think in non-euclidian space-time terms, our western culture, through its educational processes and overall 'medium is the message' induction effects, has the effect of imposing euclidian space and linear time into a primacy in our perception and inquiry. Indigneous traditionalists and youth are holdouts to this vicious cycle of indoctrination, although depression and suicide rates continue to rise, as do the proportion of the population whose environmental sensitivities, rather than being 'listened to', are instead suppressed by drugs.
For those of us who have 'grown up' immersed in the euclidian 'medium is the message', it is difficult to unlearn the primacy of the explicit over the implicit and begin again to see things, as a child, in terms of the implicit over the explicit, ... to see people and things as 'niche personas', ... as co-evolving aspects of the environmental whole. In fact, the language which one needs to dialogue on these issues is often ridiculed by those firmly grounded in the non-relativistic euclidian paradigm, ... and this includes most of the established power base in business, science and government.
Philosophically, this issue has roots which go back to the time of Heraclitus and Parmenides (500 B.C.) where the former argued for understanding 'the way the work works' in terms of a 'simultaneous unity and plurality' while the latter, followed and reinforced by Aristotle, advocated understanding 'the way the world is' in terms of a 'sequential unity and plurality' . The non-euclidian space convention provides a mathematical frame for the simultaneity of whole and part, via 'reciprocal disposition', while the euclidian convention, a bivalent convention and the simplest of all space conventions, can only accommodate independent parts which interact sequentially.
While the exceptional teams I studied were mostly youthful, there were definitely seasoned philosophers amongst them who both provided the protective envelope for the polarity inversion (from 'shot-over-shape' to 'shape-over-shot'), as well as encouragement and funding for non-standard information systems as described. The rest seemed to 'come naturally'. All in all, the favorable conditions, which included some kind of 'trigger' event which united everyone, flickered and flamed briefly in this environment, with a relative frequency (to team instances) of less than one percent.
While it may sound bizarre, my impression is that the introduction of the game of pool into schools could go a long way towards familiarizing youth with the principles of non-euclidian geometry. Once the comparison is made between the choice of playing 'shape-over-shots' or 'shots-over-shape' as a general way of perceiving, inquiring and responding to one's environment, the carry over to life experience is evident. While the game of chess, which is often present in schools, serves to reinforce notions of confrontation, domination, and ultimate bondage, ... the well-played game of pool is more about competing on the basis of one's 'opportunity management' skills, in liberating one's whole team (of billiard balls) from environmental snookering.
While a more in-depth discussion as to why science has been leaving the general theory of relativity on the back-burner is another story for another time, ... there is at least one observation which may weigh in here. Von Foerster's notion of inverting 'what evolves', from 'things' to their reciprocal environmental niches (niche-personas), is not something one can wrap one's (euclidian) mind around. Instead, one needs to let one's euclidian mind be 'wrapped' by the non-euclidian notion until it will 'stay that way', or at least until you can do the flip with ease. A clue to how to do this may be seen in the early parts of the essay; i.e. by referencing oneself to real life experience and real purpose without letting yourself leap off onto some theoretical truth you 'know to be true', re-establishing your perspective from there. There will be plenty of time for theorizing AFTER you get into the non-euclidian perception mode, ... but euclidian theoretical perspectives will not 'let you get there'. This is the message cited in earlier essays and further supported by the work of Gerhard Grössing ('Austrian Institute for Nonlinear Studies', a three-person independent research team).
An implication of perceiving with a relativistic, non-euclidian space convention, as Gerhard puts it in his essay "Die Information der Physik: Subjektal und Objectal", is that the explicit notions of 'subject' and 'object' reduce to 'thought-props'. The observer, like the pool player when he is playing 'shape' instead of 'shots', ... no longer represents 'himself' or a particular ball, but instead represents the relational space between the balls. And when he shoots, he thinks simultaneously about how he is transforming possibility space and about the 'actuality' he is precipitating, seeing the possibility space as the superspace, the larger reality within which the precipitated actuality is simply a transient abstraction or 'thought-prop'.
For the past 2500 years, we in the west have put it the other way up, ... saying that the actuality is the larger reality while the evolving space-time flow, the continually transforming possibility space, is the lesser reality. Somewhere between Heraclitus and Aristotle we dimensionally downgraded from SIMULTANEOUS whole and part to SEQUENTIAL whole and part and it makes quite a difference, ... like the difference between embracing happiness in the 'Here' and 'Now' as a means of transportation, ... versus pedalling anxiously in the 'here' and 'now' along the path to happiness.
* * *
 Poincare on Hypotheses and Conventions: The following are excerpts relevant to space from Poincare's 'Science and Hypothesis', in the original french, also translated into english, which make the point on the persisting (in 1897) confusion between hypotheses which are disguised conventions, ... a confusion which is alive and well in the year 2000.
"... que d'autres [sortes d'hypothèses] enfin ne sont des hypothèses qu'en apparence et se réduisent à des définitions ou à des conventions déguisées.
("... that others [other types of hypothesis] really only appear to be hypotheses and reduce to definitions or conventions in disguise.)
Ces dernières se rencontrent surtout dans les mathématiques et dans les sciences qui y touchent. C'est justement de là que ces sciences tirent leur rigueur; ces conventions sont l'oeuvre de la libre activité de notre esprit, qui, dans ce domaine ne reconnaît pas d'obstacle. La, notre esprit peut affirmer parce qu'il décrète ; mais entendons-nous ces décrets s'imposent à notre science, qui, sans eux, serait impossible ; ils ne s'imposent pas à la nature. Ces décrets, pourtant, sont-ils arbitraires ? Non, sans cela ils seraient stériles. L'expérience nous laisse notre libre choix, mais elle le guide en nous aidant à discerner le chemin le plus commode."
(We meet up with the latter, more than anywhere else, in mathematics and in the mathematical sciences. It is precisely [from these conventions] where science derives its rigor; these conventions are the work of the unfettered activity of the mind, which, in its freedom, recognizes no obstacles. Here, our mind may affirm because it decrees, but let's understand that these decrees are imposed on our science, which, without them, could not exist; they are not imposed on nature. Are these decrees arbitrary then? No, if they were, they would be of no use. Our experience lets us have our free choice, but it guides us in helping us to find the most convenient path.")
"Un autre cadre que nous imposons au monde, c'est l'espace. D'où viennent les premiers principes de la géométrie ? . . . Nous sont-ils imposés par la logique ? Lobatchevsky a montré que non en créant les géométries non euclidiennes. L'espace nous est-il révélé par nos sens ? Non encore, car celui que nos sens pourraient nous montrer diffère absolument de celui du géomètre. La géométrie dérive-t-elle de l'expérience ? Une discussion approfondie nous montrera que non. Nous conclurons donc que ses principes ne sont que des conventions "
("An other framework which we impose on the world is space. Where do the first principles of geometry come from? . . . Are they imposed on us by logic? Lobatcheveksy has shown they are not, by creating non-euclidian geometries. Is space revealed to us by our senses? Once again, no, since what our senses show us is absolutely different than what geometry shows us. Does geometry derive from experience? In-depth discussion will show us that it does not. We therefore conclude that the principles of space are nothing but conventions.")
 The following quote from 'The Presocratic Philosophers', Second Edition, G.S. Kirk, J. E. Raven and M. Schofield, Cambridge University Press, ... makes clear that the subtlety of the curved space-time view of the cosmos, which cannot be conveyed directly in our euclidian 'thing-oriented' language, ... may well have been lost 'in translation' between Heraclitus and Aristotle, ... just as Darwin's similar intent may be lost in Sipper's 'recasting' of passages from Darwin 'within the modern evolutionary computation framework'. The omission shifts us from the domain of SIMULTANEOUS HARMONY also noted by Johannes Kepler in connection with the system of sun and planets and dropped out by Newton, to the domain of SEQUENTIAL TIME PERIODS, .. that is, the 'recasting' takes us from a curved, relativistic space-time continuum, to a rectangular (non-self-referential) non-relativistic disjoint view of independent things populating an inert and non-participating void, ... i.e. material existence out of the context of a unified whole-and-part harmony oriented space-time container. The referenced quote is as follows;
"Plato ('Sophist' 242D, DK 22 A.10) clearly distinguished between Heraclitus' SIMULTANEOUS unity and plurality of the cosmos and Empedocles' separate PERIODS of Love and Strife. At the same time, they are mentioned together as both alike in believing in the unity and plurality of the cosmos; and Aristotle's coupling of the two might conceivably have been motivated by the Platonic comparison, the important distinction between them being overlooked. See also Guthrie, 'History of Greek Philosophy',HGP1, 455f, and 458, with further references, and D. WIggins, 'Heraclitus' conceptions of flux, etc.' in Language and Logos, ed. Scholfield and Nussbaum (Cambridge, 1982), 1ff."
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