Tag Archives: enactivism

Settled It!

I would use such a rarified technical term to better describe my artistic position, that there is no reason to actually deploy it! While I contemplate the problem of the insider/outsider artist, I also play around with the designation I grant to myself. There is no way to summarize or integrate the slew of positions that are–at a minimum–personally vibrant. On twitter I have at times tagged posts #outsider, #visionary, #archetypal, #generative, #experimental, #experiential, (and more.) Each such designation fits in their specific way.

Nothing rides or rests on this designation even if it might find its way into an explication gathered from possibilities which inhere to ‘here’s what I am about as an artist.’ Nor can any designation capture the thick part of my practice, the part that is partly described as being underdetermined, stochastic, heuristic, etc..

Still, to my self and for myself, I am an enactivist artist. My subjectivity is situated in a body, in a time and place, in an interface, in a constructively vital ecology. This settles it for the time being.

And, yes, I am dedicated to articulating designations that rub the post-modernity of the art world’s predispositions and normative designations differently. Why?

It seems to be a universal feature of human perception, a feature of the underpinning of human epistemology, that the perceiver shall perceive only the product of the perceiving act. He shall not perceive the means by which that product was created. The product itself is a sort of of work of art. (Gregory Bateson, A Scared Unity, p217)

If we relate this to seeing the art object, the crucial tacit element to this point of Bateson’s is that the entirety of the second and third orders given in the cognition, processes and history of the artist, and which are behind the art object, are not at all features of perception.

enactivist theory:

Tutorial on Embodiment

Tutorial on Embodiment (eucognition.org)
5.1.3. Embodied dynamicism and enactivism

“Since the early 1990s the computationalist orthodoxy has begun to be challenged by the emergence of embodied-embedded cognitive science (e.g. Clark 1997; Wheeler 2005; Varela et al. 1991). This approach claims that an agent’s embodiment and situatedness is constitutive of its perceiving, knowing and doing. Furthermore, the computational hypothesis has been challenged by the dynamical hypothesis that cognitive agents are best understood as dynamical systems (Van Gelder and Port 1995). These developments can be broadly grouped together under the heading of embodied dynamicism (cf. Thompson 2007, pp. 10-13). While this approach has retained the connectionist focus on self-organizing dynamic systems, it incorporates this emergentist perspective into a non-computationalist framework which holds that cognition is a situated activity which spans a systemic totality consisting of an agent’s brain, body, and world (e.g. Beer 2000).” (Froese, 2009)

“The paradigm of enactive cognitive science originally emerged as a part of the embodied dynamicist approach in the early 1990s with the publication of the influential book The Embodied Mind by Varela et al. (1991). However, while the enactive approach also emphasises the importance of embodiment, situatedness and dynamics for our understanding of mind and cognition, it has stood out from the beginning by promoting the cultivation of a principled phenomenological investigation of lived experience as a necessary complement to a standard scientific inquiry of the mind (e.g. Varela et al. 1991; Varela 1996, 1999). Moreover, it has recently set itself apart even further by placing a systemic biological account of autonomous agency at the heart of its theoretical framework (e.g. Weber and Varela 2002; Thompson 2004; Di Paolo et al. 2008). This complementary focus on biological (living) and phenomenological (lived) subjectivity clearly distinguishes the enactive approach from the rest of the competing paradigms in the cognitive sciences (cf. Thompson 2007).” (Froese, 2009)


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Artist’s Statement, Part II. & III.

Hat Thangka II (Stephen Calhoun 2016)

Hat Thangka II (Stephen Calhoun 2016)

Secondary and Tertiary Contexts and Multiplicities

ARTIST’S STATEMENT (middle section)


I came to this as a matter of my lifelong drive to satisfy my curiosity. This mission demands that I wander, experience, explore, do experiments.


To steep ourselves in a subject-matter we have first to plunge into it.— John Dewey

If you have not experienced a thing, it is not true!— Kabir

The goal of life is rapture. Art is the way we experience it. Art is the transforming experience.
— Joseph Campbell

Follow the perfume, not the tracks.— Shams of Tabriz

Commentary: My art isn’t post-modern. This doesn’t mean that a post-modern trip is impossible. All trips may be possible. From my personal outlook, there is a cybernetic reaction possible and so I’m doing the only thing I know how to do. What gets read into this counter-normativity my work supposes? Whatever it is, it is tertiary. It would interest me. There are some bridges which could be fashioned. These would join the secondary to the tertiary!

What’s the best explanation of what you are seeing? This is a very hard question.

I’m working a cybernetic formula too. It has three constituents. It would shock and delight me were anyone to figure this formula out from the reflection on experience, or, (easier,) from the background.

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Thick Over Thin, Beyond the Need to Know, Deep Digging

Stephen Calhoun artist

twitter meme series via @sq1learning aiming to cause thinking/feeling

If one wants to get to the absolute bottom of something, presumably for many kinds of human somethings, the journey to reach the bottom will:

(1) take time
(Rule of thumb: if it seems like it will take too much time, you’re at the start of the right path)

[paradoxical dialectic #1]
(2) demand suspension of reactions
(3) cause encounters which elicit antipathy and sympathy

(4) require configuration of viable abductions at ‘ripe’ waystations (during the journey)

[paradoxical dialectic #2]
(5) be advantaged by one feeling through one’s self feeling through the subject
(6) be advantaged by enacted agency removed from the subject’s ideology/personal culture

(7) be advantaged by researcher’s understanding of the imposition provided by their own ideology

(8) be completed by the invocation and instantiation of negative capability

These dispositional elements support deliberate knowing (learning) and stand against the varieties of thin approaches, each of which is anchored in a singular routine to obtain, ‘not really needing to know much more than I can easily know without spending more time, and certainly not challenging myself to learn more–beyond where I habitually like to stop learning.’

(Substitute satisfyingly for habitually to capture the reflexive certainty, “know enough already, thank you!” Enough is equivalent to knowing all one needs to know.

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Evan Thompson, Presentation May 2015


According to [Francisco] Varela, an autonomous system can be precisely defined as a system that has organizational closure and operational closure (Varela 1979, pp. 55-60). The term ‘closure’ does not mean that the system is materially and energetically closed to the outside world (which of course is impossible). On the contrary, autonomous systems are thermodynamically far from equilibrium systems, which incessantly exchange matter and energy with their surroundings. ‘Organizational closure’ describes the self-referential (circular and recursive) network of relations that defines the system as a unity. At any given instant or moment, this self-referential network must be maintained, otherwise the system is no longer autonomous and no longer viable in whatever domain it exists. ‘Operational closure’ describes the recursive, re-entrant, and recurrent dynamics of the system. The system changes state on the basis of its self-organizing dynamics (in coupling with an environment), and the product of its activity is always further self-organized activity within the system (unless its operational closure is disrupted and it disintegrates).7 Biological examples abound—single cells, microbial communities, nervous systems, immune systems, multicellular organisms, ecosystems, and so on. Such systems need to be seen as sources of their own activity, and as specifying their own informational or cognitive domains, not as transducers or functions for converting input instructions into output products. In other words, the autonomous nature of these systems needs to be recognized.

Neurophenomenology: An Introduction for Neurophilosophers (pdf)
Evan Thompson, Antoine Lutz, and Diego Cosmelli

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Slow, Steady, and Permanent

Your half hour will be well spent in a close engagement with the thought of Mr. Varela.

Recovering Common Sense
The tacit assumption behind the varieties of cognitive realism (cognitivism, emergence, and the society of mind) has been that the world can be divided into regions of discrete elements and tasks. Cognition consists in problem solving, which must, if it is to be successful, respect the elements, properties, and relations within these pre-given regions.

This approach to cognition as problem solving works to some degree for task domains in which it is relatively easy to specify all possible states. Consider for example the game of chess. It is relatively easy to define the constituents of the “space of chess”: there are positions on the board, rules for movements, turns that are taken, and so on. The limits of this space are clearly defined; in fact, it is an almost crystalline world. It is not surprising, then, that chess playing by computer is an advanced art.

For less circumscribed or well-defined task domains, however, this approach has proved to be considerably less productive. Consider, for example, a mobile robot that is supposed to drive a car within a city. One can still single out in this “driving space” discrete items, such as wheels and windows, red lights, and other cars. But unlike the world of chessplaying, movement among objects is not a space that can be said to end neatly at some point. Should the robot pay attention to pedestrians or not? Should it take weather conditions into account? Or the country in which the city is located and its unique driving customs? Such a list of questions could go on forever. The driving world does not end at some point; it has the structure of ever-receding levels of detail that blend into a nonspecific back- ground. Indeed, successfully directed movement such as driving de- pends upon acquired motor skills and the continuous use of common sense or background know-how. (Chapter 8, The Embodied Mind)

Varela passed away in 2001. What would he think about self-driving cars, and self-navigating drones? On one hand, he would no doubt be impressed by the effective programming underlying the operational flexibility in such robotic machines. On the other hand he would have every reason to remind us about the inherent uncertainty in particular task domains.

Embodied Cognition Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Archive.org full text Francisco J. Varela, Evan T. Thompson, Eleanor Rosch The Embodied Mind Cognitive Science And Human Experience MIT Press (1993)

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Penetrating Sensings II.

Krishnamurti said that “to be” is to be related. But relationship can be very painful. He said that you have to think and feel out all your mental processes and work them through, and then that will open the way to something else. And I think that is what can happen in the dialogue group. Certain painful things can happen for some people; you have to work it all out.

This is part of what I consider dialogue—for people to realize what is on each other’s minds without coming to any conclusions or judgements. In a dialogue we have to sort of weigh the question a little, ponder it a little, feel it out. You become more familiar with how thought works.

It isn’t necessary that everybody be convinced to have the same view. This sharing of mind, of consciousness, is more important than the content of the opinions. You may find that the answer is not in the opinions at all, but somewhere else. Truth does not emerge from opinions; it must emerge from something else—perhaps from a more free movement of this tacit mind. David Bohm, For Truth Try Dialogue


Proprioception (PRO-pree-o-SEP-sh?n), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own”, “individual,” and capio, capere, to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.

In my view, “thought” is a kind of ruler that imposes its rules, hence it suppresses the spontaneous emerge of natural coherence. Any imposition by “thought”, such as a particular ideology, religion, or a predetermined topic, or having some kind of agenda, would ultimately block the natural flow of the dialogue which must be free to find its own way towards coherence. It cannot be brought about by conscious attempts.

“Thought” does have an important role to play; not as a ruler but more as a servant: it should serve to carry out the implications of what is revealed by the natural coherence that emerges out of the chaos resulting from anarchistic dialogue. So, the first thing “thought” must do is to become aware of its purpose and stop suppressing the very thing it should serve. But it is a rare ruler who voluntarily becomes a servant. William van den Heuvel, Dialogue and Anarchy


David Peat recounts: “In an earlier posting we saw how Bohm believed that the laws of physics were contained within his physical body. On occasion he experienced this directly. Once when working on an equation he felt a strong sensation within his body and, as he continued to work, a counter sensation. These sensations appeared to correspond directly to the mathematics he was writing down.

Bohm spoke to Einstein about this who told him that when working on his field equations he would squeeze a hard rubber ball and note the sensations in his arm.

When thinking Bohm also had the habit of tossing a group of coins from one hand to another. This annoyed Robert Chambers who occupied an office separated by a lightweight partition from Bohm’s. Month after month he had to put up with the sound of Bohm’s pacing up and down and the jingling of coins.” via The Bohm Documentary

Three types of incoherence of thought:
1- Thought is oblivious to its being participative.
2- Thought stops tracing reality and autonomously executes like a program.
3- Thought establishes its own abductions, frames of reference, and methods for fixing problems, without also deconstructing how thought is a feature of the problem

Like in a dream from Jeremie Brunet on Vimeo.

Bohm Dialogue

The David Bohm papers at Birkbeck Library

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Signed Cosmos In an Ambiguous Multi-verse

Slide via Soren Brier  http://www.epicic.org/sites/default/files/Brier.pdf

Slide via Soren Brier

Deana Neubauer 20 minutes on Biosemiosis

earlier on the blog
Professor Soren Brier presents 90 minutes Cyber[bio]semiotics, through Bateson, Luhmann, and Peirce

More Brier:

Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication the Interaction Between Nature and Culture Søren Brier, PhD (pdf via Integral Review.org)

Cybersemiotics: Possible Levels of Ontologies of Signification Søren Brier, PhD (pdf via Arisbe, The Charles Sanders Peirce Gateway)

Anybody know of a ‘Kolbian’ pure experiential theorist–as opposed to applied theorist–fascinated by the potential for bridging its theoretical brain=mind supposition to the farther shore, the shore where variants of the mind=ecology theorizing of biosemioticians, enactivists, neurophenomenologists, or monist dynamical systems folks produce some intriguing possibilities for building a (social) cybernetic framework for grasping the nature of learning?

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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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Maslow + Cube-O-Probe Mashup


Right hand column is what I term a totem. Cube were randomly drawn in a bottom-to-top order. The cubes were next placed against the basic classes of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This creates novel, and other types, of pairings.

Question 1: what kind of pairs are these kinds of pairs?

Question 2: what does each pair assert?

Bonus Question: What potential for learning is neuro-phenomenologically encoded in pairs–such as, these kinds of pairs? Simple version of this question; What are the ways we may get at the assertions of each pair?
note to self:
Congruent Pair
Incongruent Pair
Novel Pair
Dynamic Pair
Significant Pair
Pure Dialectic
Spiral Dialectic
Transitive Dialectic
Replacement Dialectic
Modal Dialectic
Abductive Dialectic
Ecstatic Dialectic


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Dr. Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (Hertfordshire) on: “Wittgenstein’s Razor”

Dr. Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (Hertfordshire) on: “Wittgenstein’s Razor” (pdf)

5th Annual Conference of the British Wittgenstein Society (BWS)
Wittgenstein, Enactivism & Animal Minds
University of Hertfordshire, 7-8 July 2012

Here’s some help from Dr. Moyal Sharrock‘s entry Knowledge and Certainty, 2015 Blackwell Companion to Wittgenstein. Glock, H-J. & Hyman, J. (eds.). Wiley Blackwell


In On Certainty, Wittgenstein subverts the traditional picture of basic beliefs. They are not indubitable or self-justified propositions, but animal certainties. With the word ‘animal’, he does not mean to reduce these basic certainties to brute impressions or to intuitions, but to say that they are nonreflective and nonpropositional. So that what philosophers like Descartes and Moore put forward as propositions susceptible of falsification and thereby of scepticism are in fact heuristic formulations of certainties whose status is logical or grammatical, and whose only occurrence qua certainty is in action – that is: in what we say (e.g. ‘I’ll wash my hands’) and in what we do (e.g. we wash our hands). So that although they often look like empirical conclusions, our basic certainties constitute, not objects of knowledge, but the ungrounded, necessary, nonpropositional basis of knowledge. This paper delineates Wittgenstein’s route to this conclusion, while countering the epistemic and/or propositional readings of ‘hinge propositions’ put forward by Michael Williams, Crispin Wright, Annalisa Coliva and Duncan Pritchard. It is argued that only a nonepistemic and nonpropositional reading of hinge certainty allows it to solve epistemology’s core problem: the infinite regress of justification.

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Process & Humanness


A precarious process is such that, whatever the complex configuration of enabling conditions, if the dependencies on the operationally closed network are removed, the process necessarily stops. In other words, it is not possible for a precarious process in an operationally closed network to exist on its own in the circumstances created by the absence of the network.

A precarious, operationally closed system is literally self-enabling, and thus it sustains itself in time partially due to the activity of its own constituent processes. Moreover, because these processes are precarious, the system is always decaying. The “natural tendency” for each constituent process is to stop, a fate the activity of the other processes prevents. The network is constructed on a double negation. The impermanence of each individual process tends to affect the network negatively if sustained unchecked for a sufficient time. It is only the effect of other processes that curb these negative tendencies. This dynamic contrasts with the way we typically conceive of organic processes as contributing positively to sustaining life; if any of these processes were to run unchecked, it would kill the organism. Thus, a precarious, operationally closed system is inherently restless, and in order to sustain its intrinsic tendencies towards internal imbalance, it requires energy, matter, and relations with the outside world. Hence, the system is not only self-enabling, but also shows spontaneity in its interactions due to a constitutive need to constantly “buy time” against the negative tendencies of its own parts.

The simultaneous requirement of operational closure and precariousness are the defining properties of autonomy for enactivism. It is this concept of autonomy that answers the opening question in this section about the individuation of the body. A body is understood as such an autonomous system, an understanding that allows for the possibility that any given body need not be constituted exclusively by its biochemical or physiological processes (Thompson and Stapleton 2009; Kyselo and Di Paolo, under review).

The Enactive Approach (pdf) Ezequiel Di Paolo and Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson


Biology . . . shows us that we can expand our cognitive domain. This arises through a novel experience brought forth through reasoning, through the encounter with a stranger, or, more directly, through an expression of a biological interpersonal congruence that lets us see the other person and open up for him room for existence beside us. This act is called love, or, if we prefer a milder expression, the acceptance of the other person beside us in our daily living. This is the biological foundation of social phenomena: without love, without acceptance of others living beside us there is no social process and, therefore, no humanness. Anything that undermines the acceptance of others, from competency to the possession of truth and on to ideolog- ic certainty, undermines the social process because it undermines the biologic process that generates it. (Maturana & Varela, The Tree of Knowledge, 1992, p. 246)

bonus pdf:
Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s Contribution to Media Ecology: Autopoiesis, The Santiago School of Cognition, and Enactive Cognitive Science

So it came about many many years after reading The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light by William Irwin Thompson that I noted his son Evan is an important shaper of the enactivist frame.

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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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