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THE PRIMER PROJECT

A Special Integration Group (SIG) of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
originally SGSR, Society for General Systems Research.

and

IISII
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE
for
SYSTEMIC INQUIRY AND INTEGRATION

Presents

 

 

ONE - WHOLE

 

An activity of the Primer Group

 

THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL ELECTRONIC SEMINAR
ON WHOLENESS

December 1, 1996 to December 31, 1997


THE STORY


Preface to the Third generation

The following story was constructed by combining the key statements of the various authors together such that they seem to tell a whole story. The entries have been purposely arranged in this fashion so that all the various perspectives work together.as a whole.

 

PREFACE

PIERRE TEILHARD de CHARDIN

The egocentric ideal of a future reserved for those
who have managed to attain egotistically the extremity
of 'everyone for himself' is false and against nature...
The outcome of the world, the gates of the future,
the entry into the super-human --
these are not thrown open
to a few of the priveged or to one chosen people
to the exclusion of all others.
They will only open to an advance of all together,
in a direction in which all together can join and find completion
in a spiritual renovation of the earth...
No evolutionary future awaits man except in association with all other men.

 

MURRAY GELL-MANN

Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system,, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavoir of the whole."

 

by ALBERT EINSTEIN
"A human being is part of the Whole...He experiences himself, his thoughts
and feelings, as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons
nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening
our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of
nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the
striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a
foundation for inner security".

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING

In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly. affects all indirectly... I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.

 

PIERRE TEILHARD de CHARDIN

In the most general form and from the point of view of physics, love is the internally affectively apprehended aspect of the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world, centre to centre...Love is power of producing intercentric relationship. It is present, therefore (at least in a rudimentary state), in all natural centres liiving and preliving, which make up the world; and it represents, too, the most profound, most direct, and most creative form of inter-action that is possible to conceive between those centres...Love, in fact, is the expression and agent of Universal Synthesis.

ERWIN SCHROEDINGER

Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is, in a certain sense, the WHOLE; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in the sacred, mystic formula which is yet so simple and so clear: "Tat Tvam asi". this is you...And not merely "someday"; now, today, every day she is bringing you forth, not once, but thousands upon thousands of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over. For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.

 

 


 

THEME

 

The theme of this seminar is a statement -

"What Wholeness means to me"
and the obvious subsequent question "How can this best be imparted to others?"



 

PRIMER WHOLENESS SEMINAR

THE STORY


PROGRAM

Opening Comments by Anna Lemkow adapted from "The Wholeness Principle"

...an inquiry into the dynamics of wholeness as an all-pervasive principle, by its nature... will demand obtaining as synoptic and inclusive a perspective as possible. one that comprehends to some measure the multi-formed and multi-dimensional nature of existence.

Longing for Unified Knowledge by Ivan Havel

Let us consider the question of whether we can engage in transdisciplinary research at all when it is so hard to overcome the fear of dilettantism. The call for improved communication among specialists would fail miserably if scholars were expected to learn first yet another specialized discipline.

I would like to suggest a small proposal. What about locking up a few top scholars from different disciplines (perhaps from the sciences as well as humanities) in an inaccessible tower for a certain period of time - certainly not a few days only, more preferably for a few months. Let them freely think and chat among themselves while protected from the distractions and demands of their peers. They will soon learn to understand each other's language. I bet that they would soon achieve a resonance of shared motives, themes, principles, concepts and ideas.

The Language of Integration: Submitted by Joe Engleberg

No. 1

PhD's are the most specialized of all human beings:
each of their areas of specialization
even has its own specialized language.
Indeed, each PhD
is virtually an area of specialization.

Even fields with generalist labels
presently have the earmarks
of areas of specialization.

Systems study, however,
cannot be an area of specialization;
a generalist
who claimed to be a specialist in generalism
would be a ridiculous figure.

Who are the myriad generalists/integrators
who hold the world together?
They are homemakers male or female,
some MD's, politicians, statesmen, entrepreneurs,
administrators, religionists, etc.

 

How Big is our Umbrella? Adapted from Ken Wilber

What is important is not, I think, my particular version of an integral view, but rather that we all begin to enter into this extraordinary dialogue about the possibility of an integral approach in general, an approach that-we can say this in several different ways-integrates the hard-headed with the soft-hearted, the natural sciences with the noetic sciences, objective realities with subjective realities, the empirical with the transcendental.

Systemic Principles of Education Compiled by Tom Mandel

There is an inmost centre in us all,
where truth abides in fulness,
and, wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in.
And to know rather consists in opening out a way
whence the imprisoned splendor may escape
than in affecting entry for a light supposed to be without.

E.B.Browning

Aphorisms A Collection

"The dramatic change in concepts and ideas that happened in physics during the first three decades of this century has been widely discussed by physicists and philosophers for more than fifty years...The intellectual crisis of quantum physicists in the 1920's is mirrored today by a similar but much broader cultural crisis. The major problems of our time...are all different facets of one single crisis, which is essentially a crisis of perception...Like the crisis in quantum physics, it derives from the fact that most of us. and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated world view...At the same time researchers...are developing a new vision of reality...emerging from modern physics can be characterized by words like organic, holistic, and ecological. It might also be called a systems view, in the sense of general systems theory. The universe is no longer seen as a machine, made up of a multitude of objects, but has to be pictured as one indivisible dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can be understood only as patterns of a cosmic process". What we are seeing today is a shift of paradigms not only within science but also in the larger social arena...The social paradigm now receding had dominated our culture for several hundred years, during which it shaped our modern Western society and has significantly influenced the rest of the world...This paradigm consists of...the view of the world as a mechanical system, the view of the body as a machine...the view of life as a competitive struggle...the belief of unlimited of unlimited progress achieved through economic and technological growth and the belief that the female is subsumed under the male...During recent decades all these assumptions have been severely limited and in need of radical revision. Indeed, such a revision is mow taking place...In science, the language of systems theory. and especially the theory of living systems, seems to provide the most appropriate formulation of the new ecological paradigm.

F. Capra

Is Virtual Reality Really Virtual? Excerpted from ISSS Procceedings: by Eric Schwarz

....We think that the universal wisdom and the spiritual tradition are full of resources to facilitate a conversion of our industrial society and logico-empirist paradigm to a more holistic approach. The reductionist and empirist discipline which emerged gradually since the Renaissance was probably useful to get rid of the aging, dogmatized, and perverted scholastic establishment. In the same way as the scholastic paradigm went through the steps of discovery and pertinence, maturity and decline, our rationalist paradigm generated a profitable stage in the history of mankind, teaching us to respect the indications of nature and to learn the power of logical coherence; it later allowed industrial society to take advantage of the controlling power nourished by the materialist sciences. It now seems that the unwanted by-products of technological advancement, like the ecological, social, economincal, political, financial chaotic movements point to a transformation not only of our model of natural processes but, more importantly, of the foundation of our knowledge and of our beliefs about reality.

Holism and Evolution; Jan C. Smuts Excerpts

Holism (from the Greek Holos, whole) is the theory which makes the existence of "wholes" a fundamental feature of the world. It regards natural objects, both animate and inanimate, as "wholes" and not merely as assemblages of elements or parts. It looks upon nature as consisting of discrete, concrete bodies and things, and not as a diffusive homogeneous continuum. And these bodies or things are not entirely resolvable into parts; in one degree or another they are wholes which are more than the sum of their parts, and the mechanical putting together of their parts will not produce them or account for their characters and behaviour. The so-called parts are in fact not real but largely abstract analytical distinctions, and do not properly or adequately express what has gone to the making of the thing as a whole.

Thinking The World Back Together Again by Noel Fredericks McKinnis

Today most ears are still unable to hear that our planet is beyond restoration to its prior state. Earth can be restored only to a new state of realized wholeness, not to an old one. Accordingly, we are to "think the world together" as we would sing a song in unison: mutually complying with the song's integrity by respecting its particular togetherness. Thinking the world together--mutually complying with the planet's integrity--honors the truth in Ernest Holmes' declaration that we may have earthly dominion only to the extent that we are in harmony with the principles that govern Earth's being. "To command nature, we must first obey it," Holmes insisted, meaning that the ways of our being must be in compliance with the essence of whatever we would master.

New Concepts of Matter, Life & Mind by Ervin Laszlo

Advances in the new sciences suggest a further modification of this assumption about the nature of reality. In light of what scientists are beginning to glimpse regarding the nature of the quantum vacuum, the energy sea that underlies all of spacetime, it is no longer warranted to view matter as primary and space as secondary. It is to space or rather, to the cosmically extended "Dirac-sea" of the vacuum that we should grant primary reality. The things we know as matter (and that scientists know as mass, with its associated properties of inertia and gravitation) appear as the consequence of interactions in the depth of this universal field. In the emerging concept there is no "absolute matter," only an absolute matter- generating energy field.

Unifying Theory of the Organism and Behavoir: Chapter 3 by Ralph Siu

Our approach echoes the underlying theme of continuous change in the oldest existing book of Chinese antiquity, the I Ching or Book of Changes372. All behaviour, be it inanimate, plant, animal, or human, is a manifestation of changes in state. To understand behaviour is to grasp the nature of the stuffs undergoing change and the associated process...

As far as the ingredients of change are concerned, mass-energy is now universally accepted as essential. Most natural scientists would go even further. They would explain all changes as transformations of mass-energy alone --be they animate or inanimate, human or plant, mental or physical.

These assertions, however, appear to be largely based on circular reasoning. Mass-energy has been defined solely by techniques devised for the measurement of changes in inanimate systems. Having achieved often terrifying success in the manipulation of inanimate systems, using theories invoking only mass-energy as the stuff of change, the scientific enthusiasts have been trying to impose the same exclusive framework upon the living, behaving, and thinking organisms.

Intellectually dominant elites throughout the ages have always been similarly tempted. Everything is to be explained their way and theirs alone. Every secret is to be opened by their bag of tricks and theirs alone. So it was that the medieval scholars of Christianity insisted that the rotation of the planets and all other physical phenomena must conform to their own biblical interpretations. And so it is today that the twentieth century scholars of the natural sciences insist that the behaviour of human beings and all other living phenomena must conform to their own mass-energy model. Just as the medieval scholastics had proclaimed that their biblical account of the universe was complete, the scientific counterparts of today are proclaiming that their physicalistic account is complete.

The philosopher Feigl dissected the tautological claim of the radical physicalists. It "amounts to a truism....that there can be nothing within the intersubjective-physicalistic account of the world that is not intersubjective-physicalistic." We would be less confused if we recognize the game being played. "These admittedly keen and clear-headed philosophers (and alas, often unwittingly) apply the `Hylas Touch`! No wonder then that whatever they deal with turns out to be physical !"

J.B.Rhine Lecture QVI as a basis for non-local experience: by Ervin Laszlo

Inasmuch as the quantum vacuum interconnects the motion of the events that occur in space and time, it functions as a holographic field that encodes the particulars of their motion and transmits them to `in-form' the motion of other events. There is no immediate indication, however, that this interconnection would be of the anomalous variety that is characteristic of psi. (Psi, as researchers well know, implies signals that are space- and time-transcending, that is, instantaneous for spatially distant objects and indifferent as to the time when the signalled events took place.) Yet a deeper analysis shows that the signals transmitted through the vacuum field are precisely of the psi variety. The reasons for this are first, because information in that field is holographic (that is, distributed and thus simultaneously available at distinct locations), and second, because the propagation of the holographic interference patterns is quasi-instantaneous.

1996 ISSS Keynote Address by Willis Harman

The implications of research on consciousness ... suggest interconnection at a level that has yet to be fully recognized by Western science, and throw into doubt the pervasive conception of a world dominated by competition. The ontological stance of the universe as holarchy appears to have great promise as the basis for an extended science in which consciousness-related phenomena are no longer anomalies, but keys to a deeper understanding; a science that transcends and includes the science we have. .

Synchronicity, an Excerptation of: by F David Peat

Each of us is faced with a mystery. We are born into this universe, we grow up, work, play, fall in love, and at the ends of our lives, face death. Yet in the midst of all this activity we are constantly confronted by a series of overwhelming questions: What is the nature of the universe and what is our position in it? What does the universe mean? What is its purpose? Who are we and what is the meaning of our lives?

Science attempts to offer answers to these questions, for it always has been the province of the scientist to discover how the universe is constituted, how matter was first created, and how life began.

There appears, therefore, to be an unbridgeable gap between the objective and the subjective approaches to the question of the universe and our role within it.

It is, however, the argument of this book that a bridge can indeed be built between interior and exterior worlds and that synchronicity provides us with a starting point, for it represents a tiny flaw in the fabric of all that we have hitherto taken for reality.

Carl Jung defined synchronicity as "The coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same meaning." His implication is clear--certain events in the universe cluster together into meaningful patterns without recourse to the normal pushes and pulls of causality. These synchronicities therefore must transcend the normal laws of science, for they are the expressions of much deeper movements that originate in the ground of the universe and involve, in an inseparable way, both matter and meaning.

Arnold Mindel gives the example of a psychotic patient who declared that he was Jesus, the creator and destroyer of light. At that very moment the lighting fixture dropped from the ceiling, knocking the man out

The true story of synchronicity begins with the collaboration of two remarkable thinkers, the psychologist Carl Jung and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Their concept of synchronicity originated in a marriage between the approaches of physics and psychology.

Jung writes, "In writing this paper I have, so to speak, made good a promise which for many years I lacked the courage to fulfill. The difficulties of the problem and its representation seemed to me too great...If I have now conquered my hesitation and at last come to grips with the theme it is chiefly because my experiences of the phenomenon of synchronicity have multiplied themselves over the decades".

No Boundary Excerptation of Ken WIlber

That all opposites - such as mass and energy, subject and object, life and death - are so much eachother that they are perfectly inseparable, still strikes most of us as hard to believe. But this is only because we accept as real the boundary line between the opposites. To put it plainly, to say that "ultimate reality is a unity of opposites" is actually to say that in ultimate reality there are no boundaries. Anywhere. For boundary lines, of any type, are never found in the real world itself, but only in the imagination of the mapmakers.

Complementarity by John Hitchcock

Thus we have two experiments, both of which, after sixty years of refinement and discussion, are considered correct and factual. Each absolutely excludes the theory which is the necessary basis for the explanation of the other- necessary, that is, if we must think in such terms as waves and particles. On this point, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman emphasizes, "All our experience is with waves and particles." The wave and the particle natures are two sides of one thing whose nature cannot be rationally expressed. This one thing is light, which seems both continuous and discontinuous, and which the experiments show is neither continuous nor discontinuous, but which we know at a level beyond rational knowledge is a unity....Our knowledge that it is light, a unity, or electron, another unity, to which the opposites apply, emphasize a "both/ and" which links the two and highlights their contradictory character.

General Systematics by John Bennett

The impulse to understand, and not merely to know and to act, is an impulse characteristic of man and apparently not shared by other animals. I am not concerned here with the origin and nature of this impulse, but with its implications that there is something to be understood and that understanding is not reducible to knowledge and action. We know facts by way of perception and conception. We act from instinct and desire directed by knowledge. But it also seems that knowledge and action would be mere automatism - indistinguishable from animal behavior or even the work of a machine - if not informed by some kind of understanding.

The assumption that there is something to be understood beyond fact and feeling, means that we suppose that there is some universal order or principles by which both we and our world are regulated. If there were no such order or principles caprice would reign.

Toward a General Theory of Consciousness: Submitted by James Newman

Looking for a core dynamic rather than a linear cause

Emergence From Chaos by Richard Knowles

As people with courage, caring, concern and commitment come together with integrity around the work of bringing forth the ideas and patterns of the organization, emergent and fluid design structures come into being. The emergent structures will continue to evolve spontaneously. The design criteria are specified in and the resulting fluid design structures will evolve to respond to the changing environment in appropriate ways.
In working in these areas of chaos, complexity and living systems, I've found that a very useful way to think about things is to use systematics. Tony Blake, a student of John Bennett who developed this subject, points out that systematics is the study of organized complexity. This is a method of understanding which is based on Number. The elements of a system represent the various degrees of wholeness. In looking at systems in this way, we can find focus and clarity in what we're trying to talk about. Systematics begins with the monad ( a one element system) which looks at wholeness. It moves into the dyad that looks at polarity and difference. Next is the triad that brings a third element in to help resolve the dyad. Each time an element is added the picture becomes more concrete. The emphasis is on the connectedness and relationship of all the various elements. The networks of relationships are extremely important.

A Fourfold Minimal System by A. Judge

The significance of a quaternary attitude is evident for any human and social development programme: "Instead of proclaiming absolute dogmas, a "quaternary" attitude of mind then develops which, more modestly, seeks to describe reality in a manner that will - if it is based on archetypal concepts - be understandable to others. One remains simultaneously aware of the fact that assumptions of the unconscious do indeed reflect outer or inner reality, but also that they are transformed, through their passage into consciousness, into constricted, time-bound language" (p.26). The step to a fourfold approach to the world problematique was beyond the impotence of mental processes revolving about "intellectual theorizations" into those which partake of the creative adventure of "realizations in the act of becoming" (1974, p.131).

The Seventh Letter by Plato

For everything that exists there are three instruments by which the knowledge of it is necessarily imparted; fourth, there is the knowledge itself, and, as fifth, we must count the thing itself which is known and truly exists. The first is the name, the, second the definition, the third. the image, and the fourth the knowledge.

If you wish to learn what I mean, take these in the case of one instance, and so understand them in the case of all. A circle is a thing spoken of, and its name is that very word which we have just uttered. The second thing belonging to it is its definition, made up names and verbal forms. For that which has the name "round," "annular," or, "circle," might be defined as that which has the distance from its circumference to its centre everywhere equal. Third, comes that which is drawn and rubbed out again, or turned on a lathe and broken up-none of which things can happen to the circle itself-to which the other things, mentioned have reference; for it is something of a different order from them. Fourth, comes knowledge, intelligence and right opinion about these things. Under this one head we must group everything which has its existence, not in words nor in bodily shapes, but in souls-from which it is dear that it is something different from the nature of the circle itself and from the three things mentioned before.

Of these things intelligence comes closest in kinship and likeness to the fifth, and the others are farther distant.

The same applies to straight as well as to circular form, to colours, to the good, the, beautiful, the just, to all bodies whether manufactured or coming into being in the course of nature, to fire, water, and all such things, to every living being, to character in souls, and to all things done and suffered. For in the case of all these, no one, if he has not some how or other got hold of the four things first mentioned, can ever be completely a partaker of knowledge of the fifth.

History and Systems:, Ancient Systems Theory by Tom Mandel

But what if WATER was merely an example of Thales Stuff? And what if AIR also was an example of the Boundless? And what if FIRE was an example of Change rather than the accepted version that everything was fire? And what if EARTH was an example of what happens when you put all these Together? We would have a Greek General Systems Theory that would rival any we have today, at least of the general sort.

Indeed, if we interpret these elements in this relational manner, we find that we have two primary elements, water and air, which is combined like fire combines, the whole of which is one, like the earth. Certainly this idea is not different from our own general system principles -- "standing elements in relationship." Could they have gotten it right to begin with? There is evidence that such a scenario could have existed.

The Whorfian Hypothesis by Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Among recent developements in the anthropological sciences hardly any have found so much attention and led us to so much controversy as have the views advanced by the late Benjamin Whorf.

The hypothesis offered by Whorf is:

That the commonly held belief that the cognitive prosesses of all human beings possess a common logical structure which operates prior to and independently of comunication through language is erroneous. It is Whorf's view that the linguistic patterns themselves determine what the individual perceives in this world and how he thinks about it., Since these patterns vary widely, the modes of thinking and perceiving in groups utilizing different linguistic systems will result in basically different world views (Fearing, 1954)

We are thus introduced to a new principle of relativity which holds that all observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe, unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar...We cut up and organize the spread and flow of events as we do largely because, though our mother tongue, we are partes of an agreement to so so, not because nature itself is segmented in exactly that way for all to see. (Whorf, 1952, pg. 21)

Stereo Icon A Test of Your Perception,

Cross your eyes to merge the two figures............FOCUS. .............FOCUS

Tom; The effect you describe, however, is one Baars (1988) writes about as a defining characteristic of conscious perception: it strongly favors ONE perceptual gestalt. The examples he uses are ambiguous figures (the Necker cube or the famous Gestalt image of two faces/one goblet). The point is that we always perceive one or the other, not both simultaneously. What you describe fits that, although I would predict that you could also see the figure as all yellow at times, but as you note, not green. James Newman ASSC

Systems and Cybernetics, definition of systems, Cambridge University Press,

What is Systems Theory?
Systems Theory: the transdisciplinary study of the abstract ORGANIZATION of phenomena, independent of their substance, type, or spatial or temporal scale of existence.

It investigates both the principles common to all complex entities, and the (usually mathematical) MODELS which can be used to describe them.

Systems theory was proposed in the 1940's by the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy (anthology: General Systems Theory, 1968), and furthered by Ross Ashby (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956).

von Bertalanffy was both reacting against REDUCTIONISM and attempting to revive the UNITY OF SCIENCE. He emphasized that real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively new properties through EMERGENCE, resulting in continual EVOLUTION. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrange ment of and RELATIONS between the parts which connect them into a whole (cf. HOLISM). This particular ORGANIZATION determines a SYSTEM, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc). Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different disciplines (physics, biology, technology, sociology, etc.), providing a basis for their unification.

Francis Heylighen and Cliff Joslyn
Prepared for the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy.
(Copyright Cambridge University Press)

A Taste of Systemicsby Bela Banath