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Root Metaphors and World Hypotheses | ST-ON 2023-01-09

Researching the philosophical foundations of systems theory to understand the meanings of “causal texture, contextualism, contextural” from the Tavistock legacy led to philosopher Stephen C. Pepper.

The philosophical lineage and contributions of Pepper were the focus for the January online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario.  A deep reading of Pepper’s work (over a month!) was digested on a wiki site on the Open Learning Commons at http://wh.daviding.wiki.openlearning.cc/view/welcome-visitors/view/world-hypotheses .  That is better as a reference resource than an easy explanation.

The online meeting began with usual self-introductions.  After 15 minutes, a quick overview of the wiki site was reviewed, interjected with clairifying questions by Zaid Khan, and moderation monitoring by Dan Eng.  Participants were engaged in making sense of the World Hypotheses as a precursor to systems thinking, continuing for well over an hour.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
January 9
(1h59m)
[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses_1920x900.m4v]
(HDPlus 1920×900 952kbps 958MB)

[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses_640x300.m4v]
(640×300 162kbps 281MB)

[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was extracted from the video.

Audio
January 9
(1h59m)
[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses.mp3]
(110MB)

Participation in this discussion was intended more to provoke thought and conversation about philosophical framings inherent in the evolution of systems thinking, than to explicate with the intricacies of an American pragmatist taking a position against logical positivism in the 1940s.… Read more (in a new tab)

Researching the philosophical foundations of systems theory to understand the meanings of “causal texture, contextualism, contextural” from the Tavistock legacy led to philosopher Stephen C. Pepper.

The philosophical lineage and contributions of Pepper were the focus for the January online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario.  A deep reading of Pepper’s work (over a month!) was digested on a wiki site on the Open Learning Commons at http://wh.daviding.wiki.openlearning.cc/view/welcome-visitors/view/world-hypotheses .  That is better as a reference resource than an easy explanation.

The online meeting began with usual self-introductions.  After 15 minutes, a quick overview of the wiki site was reviewed, interjected with clairifying questions by Zaid Khan, and moderation monitoring by Dan Eng.  Participants were engaged in making sense of the World Hypotheses as a precursor to systems thinking, continuing for well over an hour.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
January 9
(1h59m)
[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses_1920x900.m4v]
(HDPlus 1920×900 952kbps 958MB)

[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses_640x300.m4v]
(640×300 162kbps 281MB)

[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was extracted from the video.

Audio
January 9
(1h59m)
[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses.mp3]
(110MB)

Participation in this discussion was intended more to provoke thought and conversation about philosophical framings inherent in the evolution of systems thinking, than to explicate with the intricacies of an American pragmatist taking a position against logical positivism in the 1940s.… Read more (in a new tab)

Doing, not-doing; errors of commission, errors of omission

Should we do, or not-do?  Russell Ackoff, over many years, wrote about (negative) potential consequences:

There are two possible types of decision-making mistakes, which are not equally easy to identify.

  • (1) Errors of commission: doing something that should not have been done.
  • (2) Errors of omission: not doing something that should have been done.

For example, acquiring a company that reduces a corporation’s overall performance is an error of commission, as is coming out with a product that fails to break even. Failure to acquire a company that could have been acquired and that would have increased the value of the corporation or failure to introduce a product that would have been very profitable is an error of omission  [Ackoff 1994, pp. 3-4].

Ackoff has always been great with turns of phrases such as these.  Some deeper reading evokes three ideas that may be worth further exploration:

  • 1. Doing or not-doing may or may not invoke learning.
  • 2. Doing or not-doing invokes implicit orientations on time.
  • 3. Doing or not-doing raises question of (i) changes via systems of willful action, and/or (ii) changes via systems of non-intrusive action.

These three ideas, explored in sections below, lead us from the management of human affairs, beyond questions of science, and into question of philosophy.

For those interested in the history of philosophy and science, the three ideas above are followed by an extra section:

Read more (in a new tab)

Should we do, or not-do?  Russell Ackoff, over many years, wrote about (negative) potential consequences:

There are two possible types of decision-making mistakes, which are not equally easy to identify.

  • (1) Errors of commission: doing something that should not have been done.
  • (2) Errors of omission: not doing something that should have been done.

For example, acquiring a company that reduces a corporation’s overall performance is an error of commission, as is coming out with a product that fails to break even. Failure to acquire a company that could have been acquired and that would have increased the value of the corporation or failure to introduce a product that would have been very profitable is an error of omission  [Ackoff 1994, pp. 3-4].

Ackoff has always been great with turns of phrases such as these.  Some deeper reading evokes three ideas that may be worth further exploration:

  • 1. Doing or not-doing may or may not invoke learning.
  • 2. Doing or not-doing invokes implicit orientations on time.
  • 3. Doing or not-doing raises question of (i) changes via systems of willful action, and/or (ii) changes via systems of non-intrusive action.

These three ideas, explored in sections below, lead us from the management of human affairs, beyond questions of science, and into question of philosophy.

For those interested in the history of philosophy and science, the three ideas above are followed by an extra section:

Read more (in a new tab)
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