Category Archives: social psychology, organizational development

Objectively, There Are, Sometimes, Adjustments

david a kolb

Objectivity, no matter what it is in practice, or within technique, or in philosophical specification, lands always as a sort of brutish given. It is a species of truth claim that is paradoxically about the independent nature of the so-called real object, and also is reliant, even dependent, on a subject having derived this truth claim from perception, mechanical observation, or from all the methods of grasping. Still, objectivity is not an interpretation; oh, it is said to not be so!

The potential for discrepancies between features of the subject’s perceptual impressions and the real qualities of the perceived object generates philosophical questions. There are also philosophical questions regarding the nature of objective reality and the nature of our so-called subjective reality. Consequently, we have various uses of the terms “objective” and “subjective” and their cognates to express possible differences between objective reality and subjective impressions. Philosophers refer to perceptual impressions themselves as being subjective or objective. Consequent judgments are objective or subjective to varying degrees, and we divide reality into objective reality and subjective reality. Thus, it is important to distinguish the various uses of the terms “objective” and “subjective.” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Objectivity)

(see also: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Scientific Objectivity)

I remember as a thirty-something man–so, sometime ago–Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic moved me to tears one lunchtime while contemplating the nature of nature from the sun-warmed bank of the Otter Creek, Middlebury, Vermont. The other learning at the time was to finish the book before investing in the emotional reaction!

Soon enough I would find my way to the practicalities of William James. Yet, A.J. Ayer of course goes all the way around his circle too.

Evidently, there is no general answer to the question what constitutes a
meaningful life. A life lived in one culture at a given social and economic level
which satisfies one person might well fail to satisfy another who dwelt in a
different or even in the same environment. Treating the question subjectively one
can say, platitudinously, that it is a matter of the degree to which one achieves self
fulfilment. Treating it objectively, it is a matter of one’s standing in one’s society
and the historical influence, if any, that one exerts. We have seen that the results
of these different viewpoints need not coincide either with each other or with
what we humane and liberal persons would regard as morally commendable. (A.J. Ayer, The Meaning of Life)


Since everything is an apparition, "perfect" in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may as well burst out in laughter. (Longchenpa)

Since everything is an apparition, “perfect” in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may as well burst out in laughter. (Longchenpa)

In common, folk, practice, with respect to the social sphere, objectivity is pragmatically the non-confounding ‘just so’ of commonsense comprehension of the ecology of human objects, structures, regulatory features, and so is graspable as being constituted by the clear description, the sensible abduction (or explanation,) the operational model (or map) of mechanical interrelationships, and, at the extreme where objectivity quickly fades into intersubjectivity, the shared truths or norms. These latter elements also reflect a hypostasis of collective interpretation, and churn the just so into the good enough. Not everybody need be in agreement on these, now, subjective, matters.

We recognize that objectivity-proper doesn’t need to come up much. Our sight and cognition is fairly dependable once it is well understood what interpretation tends to cloth perception “in.”

For example, it could be observed that the Free Play Softball League meets around 10am on Sunday. A dude looks over the roster of players who have showed up and starts to design line-ups on a piece of notebook paper. Thinking  of a more particular recent instance, this same dude could be observed to have made an adjustment to the line-ups midway through the game.

(I suppose we’ll have to make an inquiry to learn why the dude did so.)

Still, such goings-on are clearly and objectively aspects of the game. Such goings-on may be observed, described, explained, as objective parts of the game.

The dude last Sunday was very pleased, and this was observable, at the conclusion of the game. It reflected a tally of runs. Dude liked the tie score. He could be seen to be smiling.

A 1-2-0-7-0-5--15
H 2-0-3-6-3-1--15



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Extreme Cases



At the threshold of the divine, how to know
But indirectly, to hear the static as
Pattern, to hear the ragtag white noise as song—

No, not as song—but to intuit the song bird
Within the thorn thicket—safe, hidden there.
Every moment is not a time for song.

Or singing? Imagine a Buddha, handmade,
Four meters high of compacted ash, the ash
Remnants of joss sticks that incarnated prayer.

With each footfall, the Buddha crumbles. Ash shifts.
With each breath, the whole slowly disintegrates.
To face it, we efface it with our presence.

An infant will often turn away as if
Not to see is the same as not being seen.
There was fire, but God was not the fire.

Eric Pakey is the author of ten collections of poems, most recently Trace (Milkweed Editions 2013) and Dismantling the Angel (Free Verse Editions 2014). A new collection, Crow-Work, is due out from Milkweed Editions in 2015. He is the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University. Kenyon Review Fall 2011

Werner Herzog on Chickens from Tom Streithorst on Vimeo.

Since most categories are matters of degree (e.g., tall people), we also have
graded concepts characterizing degrees along some scale with norms of various
kinds for extreme cases, normal cases, not quite normal cases, and so on. Such
graded norms are described by what are called linguistic hedges (A4, Lakoff
1972), for example, very, pretty, kind of, barely, and so on. For the sake of imposing
sharp distinctions, we develop what might be called essence prototypes,
which conceptualize categories as if they were sharply defined and minimally
distinguished from one another.

When we conceptualize categories in this way, we often envision them using
a spatial metaphor, as if they were containers, with an interior, an exterior, and
a boundary. When we conceptualize categories as containers, we also impose
complex hierarchical systems on them, with some category-containers inside
other category-containers. Conceptualizing categories as containers hides a
great deal of category structure. It hides conceptual prototypes, the graded
structures of categories, and the fuzziness of category boundaries.
In short, we form extraordinarily rich conceptual structures for our categories
and reason about them in many ways that are crucial for our everyday
functioning. All of these conceptual structures are, of course, neural structures
in our brains. This makes them embodied in the trivial sense that any mental
construct is realized neurally. But there is a deeper and more important sense in
which our concepts are embodied. What makes concepts concepts is their inferential
capacity, their ability to be bound together in ways that yield inferences.
An embodied concept is a neural structure that is actually part of, or
makes use of, the sensorimotor system of our brains. Much of conceptual inference
is, therefore, sensorimotor inference. ( George Lakoff Philosophy in the Flesh )

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Pure Experience

Organized Detritus (2017) Stephen Calhoun

What is left of experience if from it are erased feeling it, thinking it, feeling about it, thinking about it?

I’ve been reflecting on the paradox of mindfulness. Mindfulness, over the last several years, is among the hottest trends in management and organizational “self-improvement.”

It seem to me partly counter-intuitive in that mindfulness’s site is individual consciousness, whereas both managers and organizations tend to strongly focus their collective consciousness on some master plan given by holistic “master” assumptions.

Yet, there is the lower level paradox found in the second/third order appreciation of mindfulness, which is: to speak of it is not to be it.

Carl Manchester reads Chapter 2 A World of Pure Experience, from:

William James: Essays In Radical Empiricism (download via

Pure experience is the centerpiece of a larger, radical empiricism, one that rejects the assumptions that created the epistemic gap between experience and reality in the first place. This gap is predicated on “an artificial conception of the relations between knower and known,” James says, and this fake problem is his first target. The history of philosophy has shown that all sort of theories have been invented to overcome this gap, he says. Some theories put a mental representation into the gap, common-sense theories left the gap untouched, believing that our minds could just make the leap and, he tells us, and the Transcendentalists brought their Absolute in to perform this epic task. James and Pirsig, on the other hand, say that subjects and objects are not the conditions that make experience possible. Instead, they have been carved out. As James puts it, inner and outer are just names for the way we sort experience. They are linguistic affairs, products of reflection, concepts derived from experience. To supposed that these terms mirror Nature’s own divisions or otherwise correspond to pre-existing ontological categories is to reify these concepts. Under our radical empiricists, subjects and objects are stripped of their metaphysical, ontological status and otherwise demoted to the rank of mere concept – thereby eliminating Cartesian dualism and replacing it with an experiential monism. For the radical empiricist, experience and reality amount to the same thing. This is the context in which James and Pirsig make their claims about pure experience or the pre-intellectual cutting edge of experience. Pure Experience and Dynamic Quality February 16, 2012 by David Buchanan

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A Myth of Isolation and a Fairy Tale of Causation

The notion of the individual entity having agency is confused by a paradox. The confusion lies with the idea of individuation. The entity (organism, person, or organization) is bound to its unique perspective or epistemology, and in that sense is identifiable as a separate source of responsibility. But, there is no aspect of that entity that is uninfluenced, uninformed, or unbound to the larger contextual interactions. On closer examination we begin to see that agency is diffused into the larger contextual processes that are shared by the entire community. Agency is a paradoxical product of mutual learning within and between people, nature, and culture.

Leadership does not reside in a person but in an arena that can be occupied by offerings of specific wisdom to the needs of the community. So leadership is produced collectively in the community, not the individual. The individual’s responsibility is to be ready and willing to show up, serve, and then, most importantly, stand back. Leadership for this era is not a role or a set of traits; it’s a zone of interrelational process. Step in, step out.






Context transcends causality.
Causality transmits content.
‘A Content’ turns over to reveal ‘an’ other side.
This other side reveals a hidden context.
Do this over and over.

example of inferring causality from content:


Context is hard. Contexts are much harder.

(Semi) Final test:

Ford Clitaurus from MP Cunningham on Vimeo.

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Forced Choice


In sixty seconds,

(1) Pick your favorite.

(2) Pick your least favorite.


Experiential Learning:
Fourth Annual Experiential Learning Conference June 16-17, 2016

Hunting and Gathering In the Cleveland Art Museum
(Thursday June 16, 1:45pm) facilitated by Stephen Calhoun, squareONE:experiential toolmakers

Hunting and Gathering sets eager learners to the playful of task of exploring and
discovering consequential relationships between their personal learning goal and novel data able to be hunted down and gathered in the galleries or environs of the Cleveland Art Museum. This experiential tool blends a model of collaborative experiential learning with a framework for deliberately animating a learning space.

Here listed are several aspects of experience and learning I am fascinated by, and, drawn to theorize about, in a most informal way. Other times, I rope in subjects and do experiments!

One–entanglements of contexts and their contextualizations; abductive contextualizing
Two–personal culture and the geneaology of individualized knowledge
Three–hidden contingencies, webs of uncertainty, biosemiotic fragility
Four–novelties, serendipities, oracles, synchrons

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Pareto Trap


Years ago I offered to a musician I was working with (what struck me at the time) to be a commonsense insight: spend your time leveraging your fans who get it and much less time trying to convince every last person to like your music. We then discussed the powerful draw the unconverted have on the creative person’s aspiration to have their creations liked.

At the time, my sense of marketing music was attached to three ideas, (1) think globally, act locally, (2) thoroughly understand what any middleman does, and what is in it for them (3) Who gets it? Always be mindful of the 80/20 Rule.

The 80/20 Rule, the Pareto Efficiency, suggests that in any deployment of resources, such as personal time and energy, there are optimal, and, sub-optimal matchings. If one spends time on converting hard cases, that time is lost forever. But, it could be spent converting both easy cases and strong ‘leaners.’

(Although I don’t work in the music business anymore, I would add a fourth principle to my simple foundational set: (4) Any minute spent on “A” cannot be recovered to spend on [B]. Time is lost forever.)

A friend described the proliferation of dating dead ends and asked me how much a hard dating case should be indulged. She described a stereotypical kind of prospective romantic partner: afraid to diligently pursue deeper connection.

(her) When does one give up?

(me) As soon as you realize the person is combining fear and lack of self-awareness.

(her) This often pops up on the first date.

(me) Better you find out sooner, rather than later.

(her) Harsh suggestion!

(me) 80/20 Rule. After all, the optimal efficiency is realized when you are having a first date with a self-aware man who is fearless about partnering.

PARETO TRAP >my term :-)

The Pareto Trap, a construct of critical cognition, states that systemic feedback in some occasions of Pareto inefficiency will reinforce that the negative subject is all there is.

We only have customers with problems.

There are only scared man-child single men.

This follows from the inefficient deployment of cognitive resources that experientially accrue and come to bias the operative system self-awareness.

To break the Pareto Trap, in the dating example, means to spend less time with unlikely candidates; and, assuming such candidates represent a substantial majority, it may be most efficient to knock each out of contention for the sake of maximizing an encounter with a rarer, likely candidate.

(As several of my close friends know, at least this is an experiment one can do.)

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Healthy Solipsism I.


Solipsism and the Problem of Other MindsInternet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Solipsism is sometimes expressed as the view that “I am the only mind which exists,” or “My mental states are the only mental states.” However, the sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust might truly come to believe in either of these propositions without thereby being a solipsist. Solipsism is therefore more properly regarded as the doctrine that, in principle, “existence” means for me my existence and that of my mental states. Existence is everything that I experience — physical objects, other people, events and processes — anything that would commonly be regarded as a constituent of the space and time in which I coexist with others and is necessarily construed by me as part of the content of my consciousness. For the solipsist, it is not merely the case that he believes that his thoughts, experiences, and emotions are, as a matter of contingent fact, the only thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Rather, the solipsist can attach no meaning to the supposition that there could be thoughts, experiences, and emotions other than his own. In short, the true solipsist understands the word “pain,” for example, to mean “my pain.” He cannot accordingly conceive how this word is to be applied in any sense other than this exclusively egocentric one.

On occasion I am presented, again, through the offices of other minds, and for good reasons, with my sense that this other person may not readily embrace the idea that she is living in her own little universe, and, that this other person, couldn’t grasp I am living in their own universe.

Tacit and fixed ‘normativities’ do not, and cannot, rule. If such mild and possibly, and sometimes potently, conceded folk dispositions can be spoken of as ‘holding,’ nevertheless, such intersubjective fixations are not objective, and also are not able to be entertained in a discussion about that which may be objective.

Once upon a time, I listened to a friend go on about family systems and the pernicious developmental effects caused by a person being in or from a toxic family systems.

She asked me, “what do you think?”

“Twin studies.”

Another way I like to refer to this unique universe constituted for each of us to inhabit is: PERSONAL CULTURE. This culture’s facts are reflexive, and so, in fact, to some extent every person can tell the story of the development of their own personal culture. This means to do auto-ethnography and recover the genesis of one’s own culture and outlook.

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Don’t Follow the Directions

Stephen Calhoun, artist

Jack’s New Scheme (2015)

Pagan Kennedy’s New York Times feature, How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity, is apparently drawn from her new book, due January 26, Inventology. Her article is a very good read.


In the article Kennedy mentions a researcher, Sanda Erdelez. A little digging brought her paper Information Encountering, A Conceptual Framework for Accidental Information Discovery to light. At the end of the paper her summary inspired me to reflect on the status of “pre-direction” in search routines.

From this it seems worthwhile to muse on a adirectional learning, and directionless directing.

Meanwhile, Kennedy wrote:

That’s why we need to develop a new, interdisciplinary field — call it serendipity studies — that can help us create a taxonomy of discoveries in the chemistry lab, the newsroom, the forest, the classroom, the particle accelerator and the hospital. By observing and documenting the many different “species” of super-encounterers, we might begin to understand their minds.

A number of pioneering scholars have already begun this work, but they seem to be doing so in their own silos and without much cross-talk.

What could these researchers discover if they came together for one big conversation?

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Boojums, Anti-finality, Art, and Learning

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

African Alchemy – African Alchemy Inversion


I’ve been in the season of collecting desiccated Lily blossoms from the Lily patches in our yard and the yard of our neighbors, a retired couple. I walk over and show proofs and drafts of new pieces to ‘Mrs. Neighbor,’ when these involve stuff I’ve picked from the floor of their wonderful, large garden of perennials. The other day, I caught both of them and showed them the photo on the left, African Alchemy. Mrs. Neighbor always asks me to invert the image from the geometry I’ve decided upon. Once the photo was turned upside down–inverted–Mr. Neighbor almost immediately remarked that he liked the inversion better than the ‘pre-inversion.’

I like it better this way! (turned upside down)

I studied it. I nodded my head. I walked away wondering whether or not I could create a new piece out of the inversion, or, join the new pieces into a two panel, and new, piece. A new two panel piece could be immense, 74 inches wide by 54 inches in height.

As an artist of the sort of artist I happen to be, the feedback of a viewer which challenges me to pursue a specific experiment further is simply part of the territory my vision for my art and artistic life inhabits.

With respect to this transaction and response, my outlook intends for the transaction to admit a potential for recursion back into the unfinished project.

“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.” 

The Hunting of the Snark – Lewis Carroll

The predicate for the recursion is: uncertainty. There is no completed piece. My work obtains its imperfect goal by virtue of the engaged viewer. There is: the piece, the unaltered (abductive) experiential sense, the abductive experiential sense which requires an altered or alternate explanation.  Three times true.

But then I discovered that the rule of three was not invented by Lewis Carroll. It is far older and used to be called nolo episcopari: I don’t want to be a bishop. The idea was that when somebody was appointed bishop it was a given that they would be too humble to accept the post: that’s what Christian humility means. So they would say nolo episcopari meaning “I don’t want to be a bishop”. They were meant to say this twice as a matter of etiquette. On the third request they were meant to surrender and take the mitre. If they did not, if they said nolo episcopari a third time, it was assumed that they were telling the truth and a new candidate was sought. To say something twice may be mere manners, Truth speaks thrice. – Mark Forsythe, author, The Inky Fool

Kailash Awati ends his excellent article about Carroll’s The Paradox of the Learning Organization,

Conclusion. Experts and consultants have told us many times over that the journey towards a learning organisation is one worth making….and as the as the Bellman in Carroll’s poem says: “What I tell you three times is true.” Nevertheless, the reality is that instances in which learning actually occurs tend to be more a consequence of accident than plan, and tend to be transient than lasting. Finally, and perhaps most important, the Snark may turn out to Boojum: people may end up learning truths that the organisation would rather remained hidden. And therein lies the paradox of the learning organisation.

See also, The Hunting of the Learning Organization. A Paradoxical Journey – Paul Tosey, Univ. of Surreypdf

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Social Cybernetics – ‘eye to eye’


Social Cybernetics is my coinage. Social Cybernetics means:

Social Cybernetics: is the ecology given in interpersonal engagement for the purpose of two persons intending to know each other. This ecology intermixes two enactive systems, each broadly characterized as constituting separate systems of awareness able to be at once self-knowing and other-knowing.

The basic dispositional elements of a social cybernetic system are:

(1) FIRST ORDER: Automatic, ‘just so’ awareness

(2) SECOND ORDER: Habitual, normative awareness

(3) THIRD ORDER: Creative, transformative awareness

Combinations of the different orders of social cybernetic awareness suppose an optimal combination of two aware person-systems. This optimal social cybernetic ‘meta-order’ is instantiated when the two aware person-systems both are in Third Order relations, and, so, the interpersonal ecology is of the Third Order.

Furthermore, the sensemaking capacity of this ecology produces knowledge which can only be mainly referenced to Third Order, creative, repertorial(*), operations of awareness.

Transformative: the kinds of intentional awareness that are: not automatic, not normative, and, at the same time, are kinds that afford knowledge or sensemaking.

Transformative sensemaking is outside the boundedness of automatic awareness, and, its kinds are either coupled to normative awareness, or are uncoupled. Non-normative, counter-normative kinds of interpersonal awareness would likely strike a habitually aware person-system as being strange or alien.

(Various successful deployments of transformative awareness builds up a ‘Third Order repertoire.’)

If person-system A hopes to draw person-system B into Third Order Social Cybernetic ecology of mutual relations and mutual knowledge-making, then it would be the case that some sort of transitive and transformational negotiation or exploration of the (class of) dialectical polarities, NormativeNon-Normative, would be deployed by person-system A.

People’s experience of being drawn from the habitual ecology of relating and mutual knowledge-making/sense-making into Third Orders expresses a narrative about: sudden shifts, or surprising emergent productions of knowledge, or coaxing another or one another into novel modes of relating, or intuitive leaps and probative hunches, etc..

Third Order interpersonal knowledge-making supposes intentional, adventurous operations of co-construal.

FIRST ORDER: “Hi, how are you doing?”

SECOND ORDER: “What do you do for a living?”

THIRD ORDER: “Have you had any big dreams lately?”

(*) repertorial, from repertoire – having the sense of a collection of approaches, lenses, heuristic devices. In the Third Order, in the sense of having a repertoire, the means and method, or way of being, of approach ‘in awareness’ to knowledge-making, is chosen from this repertoire; as if choosing from a menu of possible ways of being.

There are also menu items in a Second Order repertoire. Those items are anchored to normative, or typical, ways of being, means, methods, approaches.

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Two New Learning Cycles


Recently I’ve been musing about how the learning cycle of David A. Kolb could be partially re-theorized in my novel social cybernetic terms.

Social Cybernetics: the system supposed by the engagement of enactive self-aware persons in relationship with one another, and, the system enabled for the purpose of making sense of the how and the what and the why–in this order–of intersubjective and intrasubjective knowledge creation, knowledge creation in turn in service to mutual construal and co-construal.

There are four sub-schemas depicted in the pretty pictures.


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Friendship: A Schema for Depth and Learning


I have been reflectingintuiting over the past six weeks on my relationship with Ken Warren, and, the nature of active creative sustained depth-full relationship. This has been, is, almost a prototype of grief framed by bittersweet finality. This is both a ‘hard’ thing and a very good thing.

As I grapple with a phenomenology of deep relationship, very little of what I have been shaping over the last few weeks is inflected by interactions brought up and out from an ongoing relationship. I have been focusing on the unique qualities of my relationship with Ken. The implicit irony given by conceptualizing without solidarity is not lost on me at all.


This schema depicts one view of generalizations oriented to a foundational perspective. In turn, it is taken from the most basic interpenetrating levels, levels identified and discussed by Ken and myself. This schema represents the hand of deep relationship oriented to co-creative exploration, taken from the unique fingerprint of our relationship. Every deep relationship expresses a unique fingerprint.

In my view, the hallmark of deep exploratory relationship is that it is relationship founded by the transformation of instrumental relations into core depth orientation and action. Deep relationship is noetic.

Deep relationship is ironic in several crucial senses. First, such relationships demand what I term ‘open time’ orientation for the sake of turning away utility, and turning toward exploration. This further means that deep exploratory relationships are not mainly normatively useful. Secondly, exploration itself requires ‘heuristical’ flex within the open time modality; and this is instigative of the negotiation and transit and transfer of meanings, and the recursive chatter which soon enough finds any granted perspective to be ‘ironic’ in the given relation to some other perspective.

Ken and I cycled through this second aspect precisely in the way that the, his, foreordained could encompass both traditionalism and naturalism whereas, my notional contingency would encompass both fortuity and emergent spontaneity. We discovered early on that the spirited verticality is entangled ironically with soulful horizontality. This crossing, so-to-speak, constituted the background frame to our wandering, experimentation, and exploration.

Third, the introduction of a profound ludic element to the core orientation is clearly ironically situated in the way playing around pulls time out of its linear contour, and, amplifies the timelessness of the first order intrinsic motive; which is to assert here how play is motivated by virtue of play being enjoyable for its own sake. This is a baroque way of describing the experience of combinatorial flow in our relationship.

“Wow, I can’t believe we’ve been hanging out for four hours!”

Stephen Calhoun, experiential toolmaker

Deep Relational Matrix per Warren/Calhoun

(email me if you want the Warren-Calhoun Matrix in pdf)

In my idiosyncratic and syncretic phenomenology of profound friendship,  essential qualities of deep relationship are placed in the order of this matrix. The matrix proposes that such relationships possess qualities and dispositions of these types. Those qualities and dispositions in the flux of relationship are dynamic, whereas the apparent square form of the matrix is stable.

Typology given by the functional primes: A(nalytical) | E(xperiential) | I(ntoxicating) | C(ombinatorial)

In noting this, a relationship may be broadly typified. For example, Ken and my relationship was in the main Combinatorial, and its type in order was much of the time, C(IEA) The subdominant quality is an inferior quality, so our Combinatorial relationship could be very impractical. Although I have yet to conceptualize the dialectical primes and secondary polarities given in the matrix, it seems readily apparent that the basic oppositions are given in the pairings, C<>A, and E<>I.

Additionally, right now the rough appearance suggests the typology of the Analytical Psychology T/F, N/S, unequivocally associates with the relational primes:


Alas, all this is worked out without my favorite colleague and friend and co-explorer’s contemporary contribution. Our inquiry had begun to stir  into these elements the liberated psychoastrology and the experiential learning theory of my colleague David A. Kolb.

Still, Ken was very jazzed by our recent inquiries coordinated by our mutual sense that some of the deep noetic structures of organizations, such as public libraries or suburbs, were literally secreted in the profound dyadic relationships of persons in those kinds of communities.

(My considerations here are surely novel in their relation to what is a very small normative literature about depth-in-relationships–found within the scholarship about management.)

One way to work with these ideas is to imagine a controller for your close relationships and then conjure how you sometimes manipulate its regulatory dials.

Intentional control regulates relational dynamics and core 'co-performance'

Intentional control regulates relational dynamics and core ‘co-performance’

Let me know what you discovered in playing around with the dials!


The Matrix itself could be larger, and more robust. Because our own relationship comprised our principle laboratory, in our collaborative deconstruction of my promethean puer, and of Ken’s anima problem,  over the last year or so, we discovered a lot of shadowy elementals, darkened aspects, impersonal inversions, and hidden unconscious facts. Ken termed these occulted aspects. Those aspects obviously figure into, and would augment, the organization of the fuller set of generalizations of the qualities and dispositions of deep relationship.


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Enactivism II. and the Simplicity of Social Cybernetics


My art produced from photographs and subjected to further manipulation is the kind of art an enactivist might intentionally produce.

Embodied Situated Cognition /Enactivism

[link] Varela and colleagues build on Merleau-Ponty’s work to develop a model of cognition as “embodied action”, a process they call “enactive” (Varela et al., 1991: xx). They concur with the principle above that cognition is embodied and factor in the wider “biological, psychological, and cultural context” (Varela et al., 1991: 173). By emphasizing action they highlight that cognition is an aspect of the sensory body (Varela et al., 1991: xx) and that “knower and known, mind and world, stand in relation to each other through mutual specification or dependent coorigination” (Varela et al., 1991: 150). The enactive approach to cognition “is based on situated, embodied agents” (Varela, 2001: 215) and explicitly rejects representationalism, bypassing the “logical geography of inner versus outer” by understanding cognition as embedded in a total “biological/ psychological, and cultural context” (Varela et al., 1991: 172-173). They conclude that “organism and environment enfold into each other and unfold from one another in the fundamental circularity that is life itself” (Varela et al., 1991: 217).

Varela presents four “fundamental insights” of enactivism which he claims to be “established results” (Varela, 1999: 71). The first fundamental is that the mind is embodied and therefore “[t]he mind is not in the head” (Varela, 1999: 72; authors emphasis) and what we conventionally think of a ‘subject’ and ‘object’ are co-arising. Because the mind is embodied and arises out of “an active handling and coping with the world”, then “whatever you call an object … is entirely dependent on this constant sensory motor handling”. As a result an object is not independently ‘out there’, but “arises because of your activity, so, in fact, you and the object are co-emerging, co-arising” (Varela, 1999: 71-72). The mind “cannot be separated from the entire organism” (Varela, 1999: 73; authors emphasis) or the “outside environment” (Varela, 1999: 74). Varela’s second point focuses on the emergence of complex cognitive processes from much simpler sub-systems. The global process of cognition emerges from a huge number of simple interactions between “neural components and circuits” (Varela, 1999: 76). The relationship between local and global processes creates a “two-way street”; just as simple systems give rise to the complexity of conciousness, so what we consciously think impacts those local components (Varela, 1999: 76). From this stance it is no surprise that Varela introduces intersubjectivity, though he notes that this area is “not well charted yet”. Our everyday assumption – reinforced by older “cognitive and brain science” – is that “a mind belongs inside a brain, and hence that the other’s mind is impenetrable and opaque”. However, he claims that recent research shows “that individuality and intersubjectivity are not in opposition, but necessarily complementary” (Varela, 1999: 79). Varela points to consistent evidence that “all cognitive phenomena are also emotional-affective” and that affect is a “pre-verbal” and “pre-reflective dynamic in self-constitution of the self”. Thus our pre-reflective sense of self is “inseparable from the presence of others” (Varela, 1999: 80-81). Varela’s final point is “far less consensual than the preceding ones” and concerns issues of the philosophy of a “neurophenomenology” that lie beyond the scope of this review (Varela, 1999: 82; authors emphasis).

(Bold my emphasis)

“that individuality and intersubjectivity are not in opposition, but necessarily complementary”

Furthermore: there is the matter of how for example two persons (agents!) might go about exploring the entwined entanglement of their own/each two selves within the multiple orders of the given holistic circularity. I term the graceful and intentional effort to do as much: 3rd order interpersonal social cybernetics.

The 3rd order interpersonal social cybernetics takes time. It is this simple: two people figuring out together how to deeply know one another.

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Teaching Cartoon: Enactivism I.


Enactivism, a combination of Constructivism and Embodied Cognition, is a theory wherein cognition and environment are inseparable, and learning is drawn from the interaction between learner and environment. It is rooted in the phenomenological work of Merleau-Ponty and Bateson’s biological perspective work. Enactivism is underpinned by the thought that actions are not simply a display of understanding, but they are themselves understandings. This makes it possible to observe how humans learn alone and in groups, and how participation in any shared actions contribute to an overall sense of identity. For the enactivist, what is imagined, what is fantasized, what is guessed at, and what is intuited, are understood as being extremely important to meaning making and contributing to knowledge and what is learned. Cognition is an evolving interaction between systems; the cognitive system is a producer of meaning rather than a processor of information, as in constructivism. Learning is not about gaining information; instead, it is seen as an ongoing process of exploration about consciousness, self, context, and interactions of complex systems in order to adapt to the evolving world. Action and mental process are inseparable; action is knowledge. Applied to an educational context, enactivism stresses that reality and mind are interlinked and cannot be separated; as a result, learning should never occur as isolated events in a classroom. Bernier and Busby 510Wiki Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments

(bold emphasis is my own.) Bernier and Busby ‘s definition is succinct. Definitions of enactivism vary. Wikipedia’s initial definition:

Enactivism argues that cognition arises through a dynamic interaction between an acting organism and its environment. It claims that our environment is one which we selectively create through our capacities to interact with the world. “Organisms do not passively receive information from their environments, which they then translate into internal representations. Natural cognitive systems…participate in the generation of meaning …engaging in transformational and not merely informational interactions: they enact a world.”

This is okay, but its use of participate is question-begging. Yet, definitions of enactivism are, by definition, question-begging too, because each definition terminates in a particular evolving interaction. This is hardly a global termination because what enactivism can be said to be is the best explanation given the integrity of the specific action of grasping what it is enactivism. There is here, then, a recursive aspect. (I would suggest there is here a 1st and 2nd order biosemiotic bridge too. The synthesis of enactivism and biosemiotics has yet to be accomplished.)

Biosemiosis, [is the] processes whereby living systems identify and interpret environmental states or events as signs – visual, olfacory, auditive etc. – [and use] them to guide their activities.  (Jesper Hoffmeyer)

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Free Play and the Warm and Fuzzily Utilitarian


Katz, the greatest junk ball hitter of all time

THE JUNIORS     3  0  4  4  2  7  0  5   x25 
THE KATZ'S      3  1  4  1  1  7  3  4   x24

The Dilemma (opening day 2015, our 25th year begins)

It is the bottom of the sixth and the home team is losing 10-20. I hit a soft grounder up the middle of the infield. Jedi Master Matt was on first base at the time so he took off for the second base. I get to first base. I hear a commotion. A lone voice from the home team plaintively asserts: “He is safe all the way.”

Whereas, from the team in the field, come eruptions disputing the soon-to-be irrelevant opinion, and these eruptions are followed by vigorously argued alternative accounts, accounts which fly up like rubber-band powered airplanes, except the rubber bands have not been wound. These accounts collide and clatter to the ground.

Walt, the first baseman, stands next to me and offers his own view. He steps away from the base path and the legion of visiting players, stuck somewhere between a Greek chorus and a forty year reunion of The Vienna Boy’s Choir, turns toward me and moans a chorus of certitudes spiced with complaint.

Walt turns toward me. “What is your call?”

To myself, briskly, I consider the possibility of the confirmation bias having infected the perceptions of the visitors. I consider the several colliding narratives. I noted for my own part, my own senses were holistically focused on reaching first base. And, anyway, Walt blocked my view.

I regarded the rare facticity of uncertainty and a Bayesian assessment unable to be—no, I didn’t do this. Rather, I appealed to a principle of ethical utility that sometimes comes into play in our free play. A rout was at hand, and yet momentum was maybe to swing for a moment in the direction of the underdogs. A window clamped down all winter could be heard ascending its rusty tracks.

I thought to myself:

It is not a sure thing, but a possible thing, that the see-saw might swing toward competitive equilibrium if I grant amidst an irresolvable conflict that a higher, and grander principle be served. Understanding a close game favors the greatest good for the greatest number, I turned my head away from the protestors and toward the Jedi Master.

“Matt, they report you never even touched the base. Are you touching the base now?”

Yes! He replies.


Then I call this man safe today!

Basis of moral judgment:
I Moral value resides in external, quasi-physical happenings, in bad acts, or in quasi-physical needs rather than in persons and standards.

Stages of Development:
1. Obedience and punishment.
2. Naively egoistic orientation

Basis of moral judgment:
II Moral value resides in performing good or right roles, in maintaining the conventional order and the expectancies of others.

Stages of Development:
3. Good-boy orientation.
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation 25%

Basis of moral judgment:
III Moral value resides in conformity by the self to shared standards, rights, or duties.

Stages of Development:
5. Contractual legalistic orientations
6. Conscience or principle orientation 75%

(Kakkori et al, adapted from Kohlberg, Levine, & Hewer (1981) Leena Kakkori, Rauno Huttunen, Gilligan-Kohlberg Controversy and Preliminary Conclusion)


Fortunately for me, the visitors eked out a one-run win in one extra frame.  . . .smiling faces all around.

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Patricia Shaw On Conversation

Patricia Shaw has worked as an organisational coach and consultant for 20 years, helping both public and private sector executives rethink their approach to leadership. She tends to discourage reliance on the abstractions of 2 by 2 matrices, idealised schemas and simplified typologies that characterise much of the management literature with their emphasis on large scale programmatic approaches to strategic change. Instead she encourages people to live with the immediate paradoxes and complexities of organisational leadership where we must act with intention into the essentially unknowable. She concentrates on helping people convene and participate in more emergent organising processes in which lively sense-making may flourish, paying particular attention to the part they play in constructing the cultural and political contexts of their organisations and institutions. source: Shumacher College UK

Changing Conversations in Organizations: A Complexity Approach to Change Amazon

In red, what I would love to converse about with Ms. Shaw, (except this would be managing the conversation.) Still, I’d love to see what we could come up with.

My keynote for 2014 was searching for dyadic relationships that–to me–are the foundation of deep probing open-ended, self-organizing, conversations. Two persons answered the call of the many chosen. Thanks RL for the pointer toward Ms. Shaw.

from Chris Rogers’s superb bullet points regarding Ms. Shaw

Work from the process outwards.
Change the conversation and then draw attention to it – does it make sense?
Work with energy and intent; but it happens in the moment, through the conversation.
There is no beginning of change – How did it come about? . . . And how did that? . . .
No start, just emergence – so work from here.
Understanding comes with insight; and faith and trust come with understanding.
Engage with people who have the motivation, interest and sense of urgency – invite them to take up the invitation to make sense of what’s happening.
Beware the reification of models.

Mode of enquiry engaged through conversation
What kind of causality do we employ to make sense of our decisions and actions?

Paying attention to the movement of sensemaking
What are we finding ourselves talking about?

Attributes of ‘good’ conversation• Free flowing.• Sensitivity to emerging themes.• Alertness to rhetorical ploys.• Introducing themes from other communities.• Awareness of shifts in anxiety/ spontaneity.• Holding ambiguity to allow the novel to emerge. Alertness to conscious processes which trap us.

source and hat top to Chris Rogers, Informal Coalitions Blog

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Sam Harris Solves the Problem of Islamic Faith

Shortly after viewing the intensely puerile tag team tussle betwixt Affleck/Kristof/Steele and Maher/Harris (on Real Time With Bill Maher, October 3rd,) I knew it would take a little while, but that I would soon get an email sent from the ramparts of the Integral Empire pointing out that the Real Time combatants just don’t get religion like the Wilberians in actuality do get it.

Sure enough, on the 18th, Dustin DiPerna weighed in on The Daily Evolver (email newsletter) with Bridging the Chasm: Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, and a Needed Dose of Integral Theory. In turn, although the link back is not available in the newsletter, Mr. DiPerna contributed a longer article to Integral World, the safehouse for heterodox views of the integral. Finally, at The Daily Evolver itself is Jeff Salzman’s article/podcast Dog and God.

Predictably, came the appeal to the integral framework’s notion of levels in the flux of person and religious system.

DiPerna: Islam, like all of our world’s great religious traditions, is enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved. To be sure, Islam has a particular shape and flavor that has consistency throughout all interpretations. Folks like Harris tend to emphasize the consistent dimensions of faith, often intentionally highlighting the aspects that many consider the most challenging to stomach, as a methodology to provoke or even dismiss entire traditions as “bad ideas”. But just as each tradition has a flavor and shape itself, it is equally true that every human being has a lens and worldview that brings forth particular elements of the tradition according to the world that he or she can see. There is not one version of Islam that is either “Good” or “Bad” but there are at least five versions of Islam, all dependent upon specific levels of interpretation. Each of these levels is not arbitrary. The levels are consistent across traditions and can be correlated with very specific stages of psychological development.

Whether we use the work of Harvard researcher James Fowler’s Stages of Faith or the early models of developmental progression found in the works of Jean Gebser, we see a very similar metric that can be used to explore five basic levels of development. These levels can be referred to using the shorthand terms: magic (Stage 1), mythic (Stage 2), rational (Stage 3), pluralistic (Stage 4), and integral (Stage 5). Each level has particular characteristics and hallmarks of how it shows up in the world. Furthermore, each level has both moderate and extremist orientations.

If an interpretation is dependent, and decisively dependent upon the lens and worldview discoverable at the scale of the individual–and this is implied by religion enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved–then there are as many versions of a religion at such a scale as there are actors.

This follows from DiPerna’s organic analysis that uses the blunt conceptions, via Jean Gebser, of integral analysis. A reader such as myself then can anticipate the arrival of the prescriptions.

DiPerna. Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development. In doing so, this stage of religious orientation seeks to build bridges connecting various levels of interpretation. Understanding that everyone starts the developmental process at stage 1, this level sees the importance of building conveyor belts of potential growth and development in each tradition. Rather than merely sitting in a circle in dialogue (as the Pluralistic level might do) the integral stage combines discernment and compassion acknowledging that some views are broader, more compassionate and more inclusive than others.

In his podcast, Dog and God, Integral insider Jeff Salzman will get to this same Stage 5. (His discussion of religion in the context of stage of development begins at 11m into the podcast. download )

A reader such as myself, (having followed along with the Integral framework since 1979,) can anticipate the arrival of the prescription.

DiPerna. Rather, what is needed is the critical comprehension that individuals, with different levels of development, are enacting Islam (and all other religious traditions) according to their own worldviews and levels of development. And even more importantly, we must come to the understanding that there are paths that can be highlighted that can help individuals move along that developmental spectrum from magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral versions of each tradition. As development unfolds, interpretations of faith move from being more restrictive, ego-centric and ethno-centric in view to orientations that more compassionate, open, and world-centric.

Sam Harris, transcript of the clip: 

There are hundreds of millions of Muslim, who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people, prop them up, and let them reform Islam.

Harris’s view is obviously crude and unreal, and, for someone who spins dimes into bullion on the anti-mythic religion trail, his prescription is shockingly and shamelessly a product of his being deeply ignorant about what religions generally are about, and how religions come to change–let alone, be reformed.

Salzman’s cop from DiPerna is less crude but is no better:

Integral teacher and scholar Dustin DiPerna, also inspired by the Maher/Harris/Affleck flap, wrote a terrific essay for Integral Life on how development trumps religion.

Were Salzman, DiPerna, and Harris deep critics of their own biases, I’d have some hope for the development of better prescriptions with regard to the problem of religiosity and its variable contexts. Although, I don’t know of anybody in the post-conventional community who is so devoted to such radical solutions that he or she is willing to evangelize for free, directly to the target audience. As far as I can tell, Harris mostly preaches his degenerate prescriptions for religion to people who already have ejected themselves from religion’s clutches, or, have little experience with religion.

It would be quite remarkable for it to someday be demonstrated to be the true case that religions actually are driven to evolve in the direction promoted by the Integral idealization, an idealization itself rooted in the nowadays diffuse and defused transpersonal and noetic counter-culture of the late sixtes and early seventies. Wilber’s own philosophy soon enough came to be reactionary, constitute a logo-therapeutics, realize a messianic brand and industry, and engage a magnificently one-sided, touchy but no feely, developmental track today termed the Super Human Operating System. Could this be the inkling of the first world post-religion?

This is to suggest that those higher Integral stages are themselves geared to enlighten, but, at the same time, in the shadow of those later, higher stages, are currents strong enough to evoke the clearly promethean demiurge that supposes the point of a human life is superior development, and, this is given so as to, among many effects, trump religion, blind the religious as it were by the light of higher consciousness, bend the lower stage aspirational wills by contact with consciousness liberated from its worldly objects.

This leads to the chicken/egg problem that can bias investigation of religion. This problem is in extremis in the Integral milieu. The problem clearly comes to the surface when, for example, Harris offers a potential for reform of Islam to be caused in the crucible of ambivalence. I take this lightly to be a person speaking about changing something he is innocent of. Do we understand what the amiable endpoint of Islam will be, from being able to conjure a Fifth Stage?

I consider the Integral view on religion to be largely incapable as a hermeneutical tool. Still, it would be a remarkable coincidence if it turns out Ken Wilber has in fact discovered the optimal stages of human development, and these, as DiPerna states, have come to trump religion!

Harris? Salzman? DiPerna? Wilber? Does such a person carry close to them a criticism of their own prescription? After all, at least with all the starry-eyed advocates for centauric development, it can be presumed he or she has developed powerful tools with which to deconstruct and parse via the AQAL, and further analyze, and, process via the ironic turn, the beneficial and costly ramifications of their own prescription, and such prescriptions would be born from their own experience, biases, expertise, and ignorance.

The complexity of human and social phenomena was long ago subsumed by the abject claim, given here by DiPerna, “Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development.”  Certainly, as a social cyberneticist and Batesonian, the analytic operating methodologies for systematically evaluating spectrums of growth and development as expressed in Wilber’s own body of work is amusingly and ironically reductive, naively one-sided, rarely counter-factually argued in a very spotty literature, and, is shamelessly innocent of the apparently dull details of, to name two gigantic fields of study, psychology and religion.  So, you say “entire” and I hear: gigantic.

There was a time around the turn of the century when Ken Wilber’s vision for the Integral Theory was that it needed adherents to go into the academy and become better schooled and eventually some exchange and synergy and informed evolution on both ‘sides’ might result. But, then stuff happened, and Wilber didn’t ever lead this charge. Instead, he built with help, the Integral Technologies, technologies just recently termed the Super Human OS.

Install this OS and trump really old stuff?


Meanwhile, neo-traditionalist, ‘not-of-the-world,’ radical Takfiri Salafism, can’t be understood to center Islam, but, those particular jihadi offshooters are on an intensely devotional mission to convert the unbeliever everywhere, or be martyred making the attempt.

I doubt a unitarian-like revolt from the fringes could make a difference, Mr. Harris.

My own prescription only has to do with what anybody might decide to do in taking initial steps for the purpose of understanding any complex human matter, such as religion, or a religion.

First, how do you identify what your tool set will be?

What are the given problems and opportunities given by where you start your investigation from?

What are the nature of your biases ?

What frameworks and tools for knowledge/sense-making are congenial or seem to carry a prospect for intrinsic motivation?

What do you need to know firstly?

Where will you start, and why start there?

How will you gather up resources and mentors?

What will be the qualitative measure of your inevitable partial understanding?

What will you not understand if you are unwilling to “do” or experience the religion?

Second, speaking very broadly, there are fields for investigation of religion, and religions. For the anthropologist, religions are largely in the local context of historical and present-day development and concrete practice at the small scale where individual, family, community practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions are able to be studied. How is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

For sociologist, religions are largely in the larger scale context given by how institutions and relationships between social groups come to bear upon both local practice and the organization of local practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions into the larger social scales, and, organizational practices and routines, of a society or well-defined group. How is this all to be understood as a driver and sustainer of institutions and their practices?

For modern historians, the development of a religion asserts how a religion came to center or otherwise instantiate crucial social impacts and changes at the scale of community or tribe or group or nation or region or continent or planet, and, at all of those scales altogether.

Psychologically or social-psychologically, the nature of religion refers to its aiding cognitive cum psychological organization of individual and intrapsychic and intersubjective and group: identity, meaningfulness, symbolic systems, inheritable interpretation of history, ethics, birth/life/death, family, theories of mind (or consciousness,) development, aspiration, and relations to the profound objects and possibilities larger than one’s own single mortal self. In a psycho-anthropology, how is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

There are also many other fields and disciplines, like philosophy of religion, plus, all the various fields possess lots of disciplinary subsets.

My gloss here is intended to sketch lots of choices, showcase complexity. Also, this gloss supposes all sorts of tacit relations and subject matters between the disciplinary fields. Obviously, I recognize my own investigations are at the level of what is called the ‘folk,’ and so I also recognize whatever I do happen to know is more lightly disciplined and more subject to error than that of most masterful experts.

As far as I know, most of the thrust of Integral investigators is inexpert too. There is to my knowledge not a single deeply informed integral treatment on the subject of religion, (or on any other subject for that matter!)

I sense the deep irony unintentionally embedded in the various Integral prescriptions.

It is clear to me that even if the post-religion implicit in the higher stages of Integral development drives the good will of those who urge upon Islam reform for the sake of Islam evolving to become trumped by the Integral (!), the various Integral self-proclaimed scholars do not yet seem to me to be at all conversant with religion as a social scientific object of study, let alone conversant with Islam proper.

As for Bill Maher, I enjoy his New Rules, but he is, in the main, an asshat and charlatan.

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Missed-Understood and the Web of Hypotheses

This video counts as keeper in my quest for laser-focused riffs on adult development lasting less than ten minutes.

The one qualification I would offer about managing conversations is: be aware of what happens if you idealize the structural and intentional features of a conversation. It seems to me all deep conversations come to be managed in their real time trajectory. From my perspective, discernment and shaping of conversational intentions (of any party to the conversation,) may engage third order repertoires. This seems to me to be part of the system and meta-system of conversational communication. It’s okay.

On the other hand, this may also be rationalizing on my part!

“Not-knowing refers to the belief that one person cannot pre-know another person or his or her situation or what is best for them. It refers to the intent and manner with which the coach thinks about and introduces his or her believed knowledge and expertise (what they think they might know). Knowledge and expertise (e.g., whether from research, experience, or theory) are tentatively offered as food for thought and dialogue and remain open to challenge and change.”Harlene Anderson, h/t C.Visser

Harlene Anderson bio from Taos Institute.

Harlene Anderson, Ph.D., is founding member of the Houston Galveston Institute, the Taos Institute, and Access Success. She is recognized internationally as being at the leading edge of postmodern collaborative practices as a thinker, consultant, coach, and educator. She takes her tools — her insights, her curiosity, her engaging conversational style, her leadership skills and her keen interest — to help professionals turn theory into new and often surprising possibilities for their clients, students, and organizations. She embodies her own belief in learning as a lifelong process — inviting, encouraging and challenging people to be inquisitive, creative, authentic, and open to the ever-present possibilities for newness in others — and in themselves.


Harlene Anderson and Dr. Harold A. Goolishian developed collaborative therapy as a postmodern approach to creative and solution-based communication. A core component of postmodern collaborative therapy is that the relationship between therapist and client is one of equals; the therapist is not in a position of authority over the client. Instead, therapy is viewed as a partnership that allows the therapist and client to combine their expertise. There is a strong emphasis on becoming comfortable with uncertainty, including the therapist’s own uncertainty. The therapist avoids the use of jargon, and makes notes readily available to the client. Clients are encouraged to actively participate in the process by providing feedback on the process itself, for example, and loved ones in the client’s life are not stigmatized or viewed as harmful. Instead, they too are invited to participate in the therapeutic process.

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The Precarity of the Estimate

Free Play Aug 4

This week, with the game on the line in the top of the last inning, the visiting team smartly aimed their offense at a weak spot in the infield and ended up with one single, one runner on base by error, and three successfully fielded ground balls. Outlier!

Then, needing a run to win with two outs in the bottom of the last inning, and bases loaded, this same fielder came up with his bust-to-boom hitting approach and pumped a pitch 300 feet for the walk-off win.

One run  game. Ideal obtained!


A simple example will show the nature of this difficulty. Consider some ball game played by a few people of approximately equal skill. If we knew a few particular facts in addition to our general knowledge of the ability of the individual players, such as their state of attention, their perceptions and the state of their hearts, lungs, muscles etc. at each moment of the game, we could probably predict the outcome. Indeed, if we were familiar both with the game and the teams we should probably have a fairly shrewd idea on what the outcome will depend. But we shall of course not be able to ascertain those facts and in consequence the result of the game will be outside the range of the scientifically predictable, however well we may know what effects particular events would have on the result of the game. This does not mean that we can make no predictions at all about the course of such a game. If we know the rules of the different games we shall, in watching one, very soon know which game is being played and what kinds of actions we can expect and what kind not. But our capacity to predict will be confined to such general characteristics of the events to be expected and not include the capacity of predicting particular individual events. Friedrich August Von Hayek

As the Free Play Softball handicapper for ten years, social systems/human cybernetic theories provide me with critical perspectives, none of which impact my ability to obtain the ideal of handicapping: a close game. Such perspectives are meta-related (second order in a cybernetic sense,) to the game at-hand. They allow me to not only be a participant/observer, but also to be informal analyst/ethnographer. Crucially, at least for my peace of mind, I can step back and consider the interplay of domains in the game but not of the game. Another consequence of how I view my role is: I make out line-ups knowing beforehand that any line-up possesses characteristics of some kinds,and, doesn’t possess characteristics of other kinds.

For example, line-ups do not possess the characteristic of embedding the eventual outcome of the game within their flux of estimations and generalizations.

They do reflect an on-the-spot generalization of a quick reconnaissance of performative variables. However, I know going into the exercise that the actual dynamic interplay of many player’s regression-to-the-Mean with the outlying performances of a handful of players is enough to falsify any hope for a close game, and realization of a game that objectifies actual parity. I make a very informed effort to design a close game and yet close games, decided by three or fewer runs, are comparatively rare.

(I have had occasion to point out to a few of the several players who monitor my handicapping track record that outlying negative performance of the better players and exceptional performances of the mediocre players tends to be more decisive than the mean performance of mediocre players.)

Other players theorize the line-ups. Player’s folk theorizing doesn’t bother me because I understand the double framework of the performative system: the Meta-system is focused by its norms and heuristics–a line-up is a heuristic–while the phenomenal system instantiates the precarity of performance. The latter system cannot ratify idealized estimations. Idealized estimations are heuristic; what players actually do to implement the five skills (hit, catch, throw, run, remember where they bat in the lineup,) is part of the phenomenal–enacted by experience–system.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Free Play Softball League for me, the inveterate researcher, is that I assume most players think meta-thoughts about the game and these in turn refer at least loosely to their cognition within their own contextualizing of their individual Free Play experience. I don’t know anybody else’s detailed specific system-making, but I do know how I contextualize the game. Players may regard the heuristics, regard their phenomenal experience of the game, and reflect upon and make connections between the two fields in completely different ways. There is something of the black box in this, but also, the line-up–which after all is a quasi-economic object too–is established to be the main totem of anticipation of outcome.

The line-up is a charismatic object, and along with this come, at times, a projection onto the handicapper which holds that in some direct way the result of the game is embedded by me (!) in the line-up. No, most times my estimations and generalizations, aimed to achieve parity, are falsified.

What allows me to put up with line-up related guff is my understanding something about the math of precarity in human systems.

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Bambino Communicates

Free Play June 29

Our foray into animating mostly aging bodies for the purpose of continuing the autopoietic experiment set course on a perfect June day.

Last week featured a walk-off comeback, but Sunday’s game echoed the game two weeks before, the bottom of the order of the visitors–the visiting team being the team I place Mark Jr. on–came through again with lots of seeing-eye hits. To make the self-organization of the mismatch possible, Jedi Matt arrived late, after Pete, “shirtless, above average first baseman,” and automatically was placed at the bottom of the home team’s line-up.



Driving away after the game, I slowed down to complement Jedi Matt on his five hits in five at-bats day–including a homerun, and he in his modest way, reminded me he is over two weeks, ten-for-ten. I have to emphasize modest too: for the twelve years I have been playing Free Play Softball Matt has not once become entangled in any drama, any vaunting of any outcome, and, even his reminder about his performance carried with it no inflection of self-aggrandizement. Yes, Jedis are like this!

Katz, the greatest junk ball hitter of all time.

Katz, the greatest junk ball hitter of all time.

Where is this ball headed?

I tease Katz, asking him when he arrives,

Which Katz is showing up today?

The effortless fielder and crafty hitter has been showing up recently.


Niklas Luhmann suggests new framework for understanding society that society is an autopoietic system, in other word, society is the nexus of communication. He insists that the element of the society is communication, not actor nor action.

Purloined from Naruse, Iba; Ecosystem as an Autopoietic System Considering Relationship between Ecology and Society based on Luhmann’s Theory [pdf].

(Being a cybernetics kind-of-dude, any event that constitutes a difference making the difference is communicative; this includes all such events in the closed system of a softball game. Example: a hit or a catch encapsulates the embodied psychic intention; so a hit or a catch enacts the communication in the physically permeable agentic structure of the game’s social system. A game structures the possibilities for emergent instances of communication and so a game instantiates events that reflect, and briefly ‘incarnate,’ the foamy, non-substantial, psychic intentions.)

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