Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Currently Viewing Posts Tagged world hypotheses

World Theories as Analytic-Deductive, Dispersive-Integrative

Philosophy underlies the distinction in the three volumes of the Tavistock Anthology:  founded on the World Hypotheses of Stephen C. Pepper, the Socio-Psychological Systems Perspective and the Socio-Technical Systems Perspectives are based on Organicism, while the Socio-Ecological Systems Perspective is based on Contextualism.

This thread on contextualism can be traced from the association between E.C. Tolman and Pepper in 1934, through the publication by Emery & Trist in 1965.

Fred Emery, in the edited paperback on Systems Thinking: Selected Readings (1969), cites World Hypotheses (1942) as a precedent to systems theory.  Stephen C. Pepper described the four Relatively Adequate World Hypotheses as two treatments with polarities, that can be structured into a 2-by-2 matrix, shown in Table 1.

Table 1:
Four relatively adequate world hypotheses
World Hypothesis Dispersive Integrative
Analytic
Formism
Root metaphor:
Similarity, as a recurrence of recognizable features
Mechanism
Root metaphor:
Machine, where exerting force or energy produces predictable outcomes
Synthetic
Contextualism
Root metaphor:
Situation, as a historic event in its living actuality
Organicism
Root metaphor:
Constructive development, with orderliness of changes from stage to stage

Pepper named four distinct world hypotheses with unfamiliar names, and coupled them loosely with prior philosophical schools. With each world theory, a root metaphor is induced.

  • Formism is associated with realism, and the idealism of Plato and Aristotle. Its root metaphor is similarity.
  • Mechanism is associated with naturalism or materialism, with philosophers such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, and David Hume.
Read more (in a new tab)

Philosophy underlies the distinction in the three volumes of the Tavistock Anthology:  founded on the World Hypotheses of Stephen C. Pepper, the Socio-Psychological Systems Perspective and the Socio-Technical Systems Perspectives are based on Organicism, while the Socio-Ecological Systems Perspective is based on Contextualism.

This thread on contextualism can be traced from the association between E.C. Tolman and Pepper in 1934, through the publication by Emery & Trist in 1965.

Fred Emery, in the edited paperback on Systems Thinking: Selected Readings (1969), cites World Hypotheses (1942) as a precedent to systems theory.  Stephen C. Pepper described the four Relatively Adequate World Hypotheses as two treatments with polarities, that can be structured into a 2-by-2 matrix, shown in Table 1.

Table 1:
Four relatively adequate world hypotheses
World Hypothesis Dispersive Integrative
Analytic
Formism
Root metaphor:
Similarity, as a recurrence of recognizable features
Mechanism
Root metaphor:
Machine, where exerting force or energy produces predictable outcomes
Synthetic
Contextualism
Root metaphor:
Situation, as a historic event in its living actuality
Organicism
Root metaphor:
Constructive development, with orderliness of changes from stage to stage

Pepper named four distinct world hypotheses with unfamiliar names, and coupled them loosely with prior philosophical schools. With each world theory, a root metaphor is induced.

  • Formism is associated with realism, and the idealism of Plato and Aristotle. Its root metaphor is similarity.
  • Mechanism is associated with naturalism or materialism, with philosophers such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, and David Hume.
Read more (in a new tab)

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)

World Hypotheses, Contextualism, Systems Methods

The first Systems Thinking Ontario session for 2023 is scheduled for January 9, on “Root Metaphors and World Hypotheses”.  This is philosophical content, for which a guided tour and discussion will be better than attempting a solo reading of the World Hypotheses wiki on the Open Learning Commons.  Upon announcing the session on social media, I was honoured to receive a response from Michael C. Jackson, OBE.

Very interesting, David. And great that you are bringing Pepper and Emery/Trist back into centre of debates about systems thinking – where they belong.

Thanks, also, for drawing attention to my 2020 discussion of world hypotheses.

Sociotechnical thinking went through a brief ‘mechanical systems’ phase (Trist and Bamforth) before discovering von Bertalanffy and embracing organicism. It is also true that both Trist and Emery later claimed to have moved beyond organicism and embraced contextualism.

My own view is that they did not succeed and that organicism continued to dominate in the L22 work and even in the later socio-ecological work.

I recently had an exchange with Merrylyn Emery on this who, of course, says I am wrong and that her and Fred’s later work is clearly contextualist.

My argument, which I still adhere to, can be found in the chapter on sociotechnical thinking in my ‘Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity’. It is this chapter Merrylyn objected to. She is still very active in Australia.

Read more (in a new tab)

The first Systems Thinking Ontario session for 2023 is scheduled for January 9, on “Root Metaphors and World Hypotheses”.  This is philosophical content, for which a guided tour and discussion will be better than attempting a solo reading of the World Hypotheses wiki on the Open Learning Commons.  Upon announcing the session on social media, I was honoured to receive a response from Michael C. Jackson, OBE.

Very interesting, David. And great that you are bringing Pepper and Emery/Trist back into centre of debates about systems thinking – where they belong.

Thanks, also, for drawing attention to my 2020 discussion of world hypotheses.

Sociotechnical thinking went through a brief ‘mechanical systems’ phase (Trist and Bamforth) before discovering von Bertalanffy and embracing organicism. It is also true that both Trist and Emery later claimed to have moved beyond organicism and embraced contextualism.

My own view is that they did not succeed and that organicism continued to dominate in the L22 work and even in the later socio-ecological work.

I recently had an exchange with Merrylyn Emery on this who, of course, says I am wrong and that her and Fred’s later work is clearly contextualist.

My argument, which I still adhere to, can be found in the chapter on sociotechnical thinking in my ‘Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity’. It is this chapter Merrylyn objected to. She is still very active in Australia.

Read more (in a new tab)
  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

    • daviding: “Pre-announcing April 30 Dialogic Drinks session I'm leading …” April 23, 2024
      Pre-announcing April 30 Dialogic Drinks session I'm leading on "#Yinyang and Daojia into #SystemsThinking through Changes", online 18:30 Singapore, 11:30 London, 6:30am Toronto. Repeating May 2, 8:00pm ET. Official #EQLab notifications https://www.eqlab.co/newsletter-signup
    • daviding: “Diachrony (or diachronic shifts) resurrects a word from 1857…” April 10, 2024
      Diachrony (or diachronic shifts) resurrects a word from 1857, better expressing *changes through time*. A social practice publication in 1998 contrasts synchronic with diachronic. https://ingbrief.wordpress.com/2024/04/10/diachronic-diachrony/
    • daviding: “Web video introduction of 15 minutes for 1-hour Lunch and Le…” March 22, 2024
      Web video introduction of 15 minutes for 1-hour Lunch and Learn #CentreForSocialInnovationToronto on "Systems Changes Dialogues for Social Innovation" invites practitioners for upcoming monthly meetings. Evocative animated images, details deferred to conversations with mentors. https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/systems-changes-dialogues-csi/#SystemsThinking
    • daviding: “Web video of slides from "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Sys…” March 21, 2024
      Web video of slides from "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning" for Dialogic Drinks of #EQLab represents only 1/5 of the time compared to peer-led discussions. Concise hosting called for brevity, and richer presentations. https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/from-unfreezing-refreezing-eq-lab/ #SystemsThinking
    • daviding: “Hosting multiple Dialogic Drinks on "From Unfreezing-Refreez…” March 8, 2024
      Hosting multiple Dialogic Drinks on "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning" online, March 12 (Europe), March 14 (Americas), March 15 (Australia). #Leadership meets #SystemsThinking . Short presentations, longer discussions https://www.eqlab.co/from-unfreezing-refreezing-to-systems-changes-learning-david-ing
  • RSS on IngBrief

    • The Nature and Application of the Daodejing | Ames and Hall (2003)
      Ames and Hall (2003) provide some tips for those studyng the DaoDeJing.
    • Diachronic, diachrony
      Finding proper words to express system(s) change(s) can be a challenge. One alternative could be diachrony. The Oxford English dictionary provides two definitions for diachronic, the first one most generally related to time. (The second is linguistic method) diachronic ADJECTIVE Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “diachronic (adj.), sense 1,” July 2023, https://doi.org/10.1093/OED/3691792233. For completeness, prochronic relates “to […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2”, edited by F. E. Emery (1981)
      The selection of readings in the “Introduction” to Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2, Penguin (1981), edited by Fred E. Emery, reflects a turn from 1969 when a general systems theory was more fully entertained, towards an urgency towards changes in the world that were present in 1981. Systems thinking was again emphasized in contrast […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings”, edited by F. E. Emery (1969)
      In reviewing the original introduction for Systems Thinking: Selected Readings in the 1969 Penguin paperback, there’s a few threads that I only recognize, many years later. The tables of contents (disambiguating various editions) were previously listed as 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings. — begin paste — Introduction In the selection of papers for this […]
    • Concerns with the way systems thinking is used in evaluation | Michael C. Jackson, OBE | 2023-02-27
      In a recording of the debate between Michael Quinn Patton and Michael C. Jackson on “Systems Concepts in Evaluation”, Patton referenced four concepts published in the “Principles for effective use of systems thinking in evaluation” (2018) by the Systems in Evaluation Topical Interest Group (SETIG) of the American Evaluation Society. The four concepts are: (i) […]
    • Quality Criteria for Action Research | Herr, Anderson (2015)
      How might the quality of an action research initiative be evaluated? — begin paste — We have linked our five validity criteria (outcome, process, democratic, catalytic, and dialogic) to the goals of action research. Most traditions of action research agree on the following goals: (a) the generation of new knowledge, (b) the achievement of action-oriented […]
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

  • RSS on Media Queue

    • What to Do When It’s Too Late | David L. Hawk | 2024
      David L. Hawk (American management theorist, architect, and systems scientist) has been hosting a weekly television show broadcast on Bold Brave Tv from the New York area on Wednesdays 6pm ET, remotely from his home in Iowa. Live, callers can join…Read more ›
    • 2021/06/17 Keekok Lee | Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 2
      Following the first day lecture on Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 1 for the Global University for Sustainability, Keekok Lee continued on a second day on some topics: * Anatomy as structure; physiology as function (and process); * Process ontology, and thing ontology; * Qi ju as qi-in-concentrating mode, and qi san as qi-in-dissipsating mode; and […]
    • 2021/06/16 Keekok Lee | Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 1
      The philosophy of science underlying Classical Chinese Medicine, in this lecture by Keekok Lee, provides insights into ways in which systems change may be approached, in a process ontology in contrast to the thing ontology underlying Western BioMedicine. Read more ›
    • 2021/02/02 To Understand This Era, You Need to Think in Systems | Zeynep Tufekci with Ezra Klein | New York Times
      In conversation, @zeynep with @ezraklein reveal authentic #SystemsThinking in (i) appreciating that “science” is constructed by human collectives, (ii) the west orients towards individual outcomes rather than population levels; and (iii) there’s an over-emphasis on problems of the moment, and…Read more ›
    • 2019/04/09 Art as a discipline of inquiry | Tim Ingold (web video)
      In the question-answer period after the lecture, #TimIngold proposes art as a discipline of inquiry, rather than ethnography. This refers to his thinking On Human Correspondence. — begin paste — [75m26s question] I am curious to know what art, or…Read more ›
    • 2019/10/16 | “Bubbles, Golden Ages, and Tech Revolutions” | Carlota Perez
      How might our society show value for the long term, over the short term? Could we think about taxation over time, asks @carlotaprzperez in an interview: 92% for 1 day; 80% within 1 month; 50%-60% tax for 1 year; zero tax for 10 years.Read more ›
  • Meta

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal