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Looking back over the centuries at how knowledge has been framed, in hopes we can figure out how to frame it better, or at least more holistically, going forward. To me, complexity seems to enter in to the 'sweet spot'; between science & philosophy. Thoughts?
Chris Jones's profile photoPaula Thornton's profile photoJohn Kellden's profile photo
Hey +Paula Thornton thanks for your interest on this. +Adrian Chan and I have been tweeting on whether my "divergence" idea holds up under scrutiny in several contexts. Our tweet stream of the last few days gives you a sense, though most of the deeper convo was today.
I'll see if I can pull over the key ideas succinctly, but the one that called you immediately to mind was "design thinking", somewhat (but not exclusively) related to Aristotle's "Final Cause". I recall you have much energy on the topic of design, so I wanted to get your thoughts.
I don't want to speak for Adrian. He can bring forward any of those topics from our tweet stream.Of course, I find critique and feedback not just interesting but important. I want to foster coherence and consensus from this. In the end, I am angling for some level of epistemological convergence. Why aim low? :)
Tell me more about "Aristotle's "Final Cause"". I tried to check the tweetstream a bit, but I was lost for the context. In effect, you've engaged a DT approach to your model. It serves as a prototype for discussion (provided it's being offered as a mechanism to be changed). The fundamental concept is that none of us is as smart as all of us -- not in the sense of groupthink, but in the sense that...well that T-shaped people (a common term used in the design field) aren't the 'squares' that they need to be. Being deep in just one area isn't sufficient -- we need depth across the breadth, so we engage the expertise of others and then synthesize it all.

But I'll be anxious to get a better sense of where you were focusing before I keep blathering.
I had been talking about comparing philosophy & science, and that, to me, there seemed to be some level of affinity w/ how we've come to understand LB/RB thinking. Specific question though was this: "What is affinity, as a concept? Is design thinking non-propositional logic?"
You're not blathering at all. In fact, already seeing value in how you're framing 'square' vs. 't-shaped' design thinking. Not familiar with that, but it sounds highly relevant to where I hope we can take this. Can u share a bit more?
Don't know if you have energy/interest in Aristotle's 4 modes of causation, but after material, formal and efficient comes 'final', which I've heard described as a.) physical/biological context (acorn will cause an oak under right conditions); b.) design purpose/intent context (think architecture form/function); and c.) Divine Craftsman context. All this was getting to Q of whether Aristotle s/b used to frame conceptual and/or intuitive aspect of design intent, as opposed to a merely physical spec aka biology/DNA.
The basic premise of T-shaped (a concept that has always made me uneasy) is that designers are valuable because they work to be T-shaped -- broad/shallow understanding of a lot of things but deep in just a narrow area. I don't agree with the theory at all. The breadth that is spoken of is situational -- due to the ability to synthesize the things that are observed. What design thinking as a discipline brings to the table is the ability to use the depth of many. I've never really though about it in this way before -- as individuals bring their depths to the table we could think of them as "I"s -- what design thinking does is brings them together to find the ways in which they fit together to create a 'whole'. As we bring the perspectives together, we then also look to see where there might still be holes and then seek out insights in those areas. The thing about design thinking however, is that many of the holes can/should be about what hasn't yet been discovered -- and that becomes something that is discovered collectively, by 'trying stuff out'.

Your poster is an example of same.

Per your Aristotle notes, so A=environment? B=purpose? C=potential? I'm smelling an E=MC2 in some sort of form here.
I also think that there are bound to be clues in a book that +Stephen Taylor recently shared with me "On Justification -- Economies of Worth" He's also far more of a philosophy guru than I am, so he should be able to help me with the Aristotle chasm (he's my bridge-builder).
lol, no, won't be backing into formulas for epistemic relativity, at least not tonight :)

I'm not well positioned to do a full analysis of Aristotle. Would love others who are. In learning mode. Maybe +Stephen Taylor has some insights on the depth and extensibility (or lack thereof) of Aristotle's 4 causes.

Kant, on the other hand, I'll be coming at more deeply in the next major Critical Thinking post, following I'm excited about what his Categorical Framework holds in store. I'm sure I'll have much of it wrong on first pass.

But that's where you guys come in :)

Back to design, I really like your "holistic" frame of design thinking. I'm all for "take all letters". Trying to have a bench of "I" specialists who can come in and perform precisely the right elements seems impractical and limiting. I think is better to let the gaps be what they are, and allow the team to co-create solutions for the gaps. That's where innovation comes from. Otherwise, we're just recreating so many model-T's (pardon the pun).
It's late back east, and I don't think +Adrian Chan is on tap. Hope he'll circle back to find this soon.
I had this theory that G+ could be way better than Twitter & WordPress as a conversational scratch pad. I think we are validating that here. WP is still there for the key posts, ideas. This is like design space. Yes?
Yes, after all the, chart above started on a napkin. It's only fitting :)

I'm out for now, Paula. Thanks so much for offering to help on this, and providing the thought space. More soon -
Random thought placeholder: LMNOP More later.
LMNOP came to me right before (or as) I was falling asleep last night. I took a moment using my fading faculties (counting on my fingers) to confirm that save for the 'K', LMNOP represent the 'middle' of the alphabet. They're something that can serve as a symbol for the transition from the beginning to the end and the end to the beginning. The only reason they tend to stand by themselves without the 'K' is because of the linguistic pattern of how we 'say/sing' the alphabet -- they stand a lone. Even in the linguistic oration they're treated as a transition. Every other letter gets its own audible announcement. LMNOP is treated like its own 'whole'.

It's a quite unique metaphor if you think about it a bit.

Complexity theory is similar. It has no individual parts, and it embodies the transition between polar states (and yet at the same time IS the polar states -- in that way, LMNOP fails as a metaphor).

But back to Chris's original point, is Complexity the transition between Science and Philosophy? No. What you're seeing in Complexity is a shadow of all 'wholes'. Science and Philosophy are parts. While we can find exceptions on both sides, predominantly, I would suggest that if you were to look at the graphic models of what I believe design thinking embraces (see lower pages Science fits on the right and Philosophy fits on the left -- they're pieces/perspectives of a larger whole. You're really not seeing the 'reality' without both, because science relies on what we can see and philosophy describes that which we cannot (even when it attempts to model the 'essence' of a science -- it's still describing its mystery/spirit and its heuristics).

Complexity is the one classic example of a 'perfect' model. It is the quintessential example of optimal design -- it's the reason we leverage its 'perspective' as part of design thinking. They're just different expressions of the same reality.
Fascinating. At every level - !!

The more I learn about design thinking, the more I want to learn. But then, my sponge-like behavior is what got me in this 'mess' (using the phrase affectionately and as a metaphor for complexity) in the first place.

"Different expressions of the same reality." Precisely where I was going. But you said it so effortlessly.

Curious your use of the phrase 'perfect model' because complexity literature often describes reality in the opposite sense, namely, as 'messy'. Would like to nail down the semantics there, if possible. Perfectly imperfect? etc.

Only place were I got stuck was your "no". Imagine that.

Not sure I intended to show complexity as a transition between science and philosophy, per se. My use of "common ground" certainly created that impression. But what if I was seeking some harmonization and/or balance at a more abstract, epistemic level?

Your point, I think:

SCIENCE >> complex reality << PHILOSOPHY
(not a transition; 2 ways of looking at the same reality)

but how about 3 Epistemic Dimensions aka Knowledge Frameworks:

(3 ways of looking at the same reality)

the latter of course assuming the possibility of an epistemology for complexity in the middle, the interesting "in between". LMNOP? Who knew?
Perfectly imperfect, indeed. Embracing the reality of non-control, and yet still attempting to allow for full potential to emerge. My favorite analogy here would be butterfly pupas. Can't help them with their struggle, but can protect them from harm.
But what about 3 epistemologies? I really do think we can begin to model complexity, or at least complex adaptive systems. They say it can't be done. But I'm a bit or a renegade that way.
I'll buy into your renegade intents and add a challenge -- if we can 'model' complexity, what have we done? We have uncovered the essence, the elements of its design. 3 epistemologies? If 3 then, there are many, many more -- each, taking a different perspective on reality -- each uncovering one more way of looking at the design of everything.

I'd suggest that instead what you have done is attempted to show how these three are related. In the end, they're all related, it's just that because complexity theory best embraces the natural sciences, it is the one that is best used as the Rosetta Stone for unraveling the common underlying design of truth beneath them all.

But it typically only accounts for half of the equation -- things that are seen, not things that are unseen. The beauty is that it allows for the unseen, but as a science, forbids heuristic and mystery -- things that can be felt but cannot be 'seen'.

What would our lives be like if we only could rely on the 'seen'? Hopeless and helpless indeed.
Thought provoking. Always!

Let me run with these ideas a bit ..

I have always loved design.
Helping expose the relationships of components. How are the elements arranged? How and where can they move? When they're in proximity, how do they interact? And what might emerge? Let's see. If we take, as an example, one of my favorite case studies, a social 'complex adaptive (eco)system', where all the components aka agents are people, then you have something that looks a lot like culture.

Does culture have a design?
It certainly has component elements, relationships, and interactions. It has forces of influence, some reinforced, others adapting in a constant swirl of change, pulled and pushed by, yes, mysterious invisible forces. Other dynamics constrain the flow, and create barriers that lock some components into rigid, archaic modes of functioning that afford no escape.

Can a culture be influenced?
Ask Lou Gerstner.

Social change lies at the core of some of my most interesting and elusive complexity questions, and is in part why I search for a broader, more all-encompassing epistemology.

As you know, I have many questions :)

In the context of the example above, does empirical science play a part? On the surface, it seems we could follow this course quite a long way without beakers or bunsen burners. I grew up with science. I appreciate and respect how it's transformed our life on the planet. But I don't think it's going to solve all our problems. Especially not the big, complex challenges forming on the horizon.

Thanks as always for making me think, Paula. Exploring edges. Now that's the fun part.
First, let me add +Stephen Taylor to this conversation. He's great at trolling through streams to connect bits.

Then let me connect another relevant piece (see link in comments): (esp. re: culture)

Lastly, let me add a few more thoughts. Science looks for the 'proof' -- the repeatability, the reliability. These are things on the right side of the design thinking model (algorithm and binary code). Having them is incomplete. Why? Because reality, all reality (even the reality we try to make up), is also governed by the mystery and the heuristic. The mystery includes those things that operate at the quantum level, the string level. Assuming that we can know about and control that level is foolishness. But we do know that by embracing it, we can influence it. If we attempt to suggest it doesn't exist or that it's 'beyond' us, is in essence ignoring it.

The culture topic falls far more on the left side of the model. It requires that we really get cozy with the left side of the model (but will find things to fit on the right side along the way). As the piece above suggests Zappos focuses there first, and they suggest that Tribal Leadership does a good job of capturing some of what's going on -- I think there's more.

For the purpose of 'grounding' for the left side there are all sorts of references that are applicable (including the I Ching). Others that come to mind include in particular: "What the Bleep!? -- this one not only for the content but the format of the delivery mechanism: 9 hours of materials that can randomly be served up in different ways each time you watch it -- it provides a mindset for quantum thinking -- and "The Biology of Belief" by Bruce Lipton And I've just added this Bruce Lipton video series to my list for watching "The Biology of Perception" Bruce Lipton - Biology of Perception 1 of 7
Because of comments he's made on related Yammer conversations, I'm adding +John Kellden to this conversation, as well.
As you watch the Bruce Liption video segments, see if you can draw an analogy between the parts/pieces and a culture. Particularly in video segment 3 (although there are interesting clues all along), Bruce suggests that there is a critical point of focus -- the membrane of the cell as it converts external signals into internal signals. Consider what that might mean for a culture and what the differences will be between a healthy culture and an unhealthy culture.

+Stephen Taylor And here's where we tie your interests back in (the crossover point): "Although ANT shares
this distrust for such vague all encompassing sociological terms it aims at
describing also the very nature of societies. But to do so it does not limit
itself to human individual actors but extend the word actor or actant to
non-human, non individual entities. Whereas social network adds information
on the relations of humans in a social and natural world which is left
untouched by the analysis, ANT aims at accounting for the very essence of
societies and natures. It does not wish to add social networks to social
theory but to rebuild social theory out of networks. It is as much an
ontology or a metaphysics, as a sociology (Mol and Law, 1994)." Source:

In effect, sociology -- the most commonly leveraged source of study/reference for cultures -- is entirely insufficient to understand same.
Wanted to share a question posted elsewhere from +Amira notes
"I've been looking at how knowledge has been framed over the centuries, in hopes we can figure out how to frame it better, or at least more holistically. To me, complexity seems to enter in to the 'sweet spot'; between two ways of describing things, at the core: a cause & effect approach, vs. more intuitive patterns. Thoughts?"

Given that I see complexity as the perfect paradox, as well as the design thinking model that I use, "Intuitive" certainly fits on the left and "Cause & Effect" on the right of the grand paradox.
Here's something interesting from Bruce Lipton 5 of 7 Bruce Lipton - Biology of Perception 5 of 7
My thought is +Chris Jones that this is Reeee-ally relevant to just how much weight we place on emergent behaviors (that is, I'm suspecting that things aren't as emergent as we think they are -- they only appear that way because we can't see the cause and effect).

Let me set a bit of a background. Lipton is showing how genes don't control anything -- they're simply patterns/instructions for creating proteins. Proteins are the inanimate machine parts for causing cell behaviors. If a new protein is needed the DNA must be referenced (like a software code library). Genes contribute to the production of proteins. One particular slide says: "When a gene product is needed, a signal from its environment, not an emergent property of the gene itself, activates expression of that gene."

Lipton goes on to say, "The genes are selected in response to the environment that you're in." Unless you would consider the environment part of an algorithm, this sounds a bit like a heuristic operating environment. Save you'd like to suggest that it's a heuristic-algorithmic operating environment -- which is reasonable since from my perspective, all things at an optimal design are operating as a mystery-heuristic-algorithmic-binarycode environment -- all at once, simultaneously. The biggest distinction across different situations is the distribution of 'weights' across the model (some decidedly more weighted toward one section/side of the model).

To determine why certain behaviors ensue, we have to look for the signals in the environment which elicit perceptions and then behaviors. But the signals themselves are also moderated by perceptions, so behaviors are driven by perceptions -- whether or not they're accurate. Our perceptions are shaped by our beliefs and once we get to beliefs, we've now moved all the way to the 'mystery' side of the model.

Do you see the potential, even at all levels? Design operates in response to constraints/circumstances (the environment). We 'design' our lives on a daily basis by responding to constraints/circumstances across the full model: we engage our beliefs and based on our previous experiences we may either move forward based on intuition (which of itself is an act of pattern matching), try something new to see the results, evaluate the variables and apply a corresponding algorithm (when these conditions are present, I do...), or operate totally predictably (in response to...I always...).

But then of course this is a highly simplified version of the reality. In reality, there is some portion of us that engages one element, another portion that engages another, etc. etc. In the end, we engage them all, simultaneously.
"I'm suspecting that things aren't as emergent as we think they are -- they only appear that way because we can't see the cause and effect" - +Paula Thornton brilliant insight. I've kept telling everyone for a while now - "perception is eighty percent of success".
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