An activity of the Primer Group


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






What Wholeness means to me?
How can it be best imparted to others?



Being and Feeling
Part of Life and Nature

in a Panorama for helping to find and share
Orientation and Understanding

by Heiner Benking

"Objective Knowledge
The beginning of knowledge is not experiment
but rather the observation and
design of a complete picture
on which all knowledge
and all observation are integrated
K. R. Popper / I. Kant

We cannot observe properties of the whole
from an analysis of just the parts.
Bela Banathy.



First of all I am very thankful to be invited on short notice to be able to share my work as it developed during the last seven years. The seminar is not only interesting but, I feel, of broader concern and of high immediacy. I will try to answer the seminar questions and add some excerpts from earlier papers, hoping to provide at least some entry into the Panorama-umbrella - or roof system - or global index design - approach.


The idea is to look for a common scheme ot frames of references for utterly disparate phenomena.

By proposing a top-down approach emphasizing overview and coherence, we risk losing the ability to address complex dynamic changes on the micro-scale. But when we create (a) conceptual distance to the subject of wholeness, that is, when we (conceptually) step-back and generate a "panoramic macroview" essential as a context for the plethora of details, we see a new vista of wholeness in action...

The proposal is:

1. to visualize multi-hierarchical coherent nested orders,
2. to propose a simple unifying vision by using cognitive space-scapes,
3. to implement a conceptual mirror between the real world objects and conceptual subjects and terms,
4. to map concepts in their context, and
5. to trace metaphorical language, semantics and topologies in one common and mnemonic framework


Panorama Bridge-
A Conceptual Superstructure
as one possible model bridging disparate phenomena


3xSpace/Time links objects and subjects in open spaces - The objective is to transcend and transform by thinking within, between an beyond, not inside boxes or domains.

Note: Please check the list of references ranging form education, creativity, decision support or knowledge organization, the ISSS proceedings, or contact the author for further information.


They try to camouflage the big picture
by forcing focus on specifics.
Steve Kurtz

What is Wholeness to me ? - How can we embody it?

Wholeness, which we call a "Conceptual Superstructure, is a concept meant to signify the appropriate interconnectedness in one coherent and simple framework, . Its main quality is the multi-medial integration of coherent, transferable and transformable representations which allow us to bridge languages, domains, and notations.

We need to underline that we are working only with a conceptual map or model, not the terrain of Nature, Culture, and Society.

Conceptually, the smallest common denominator across cultures for easy illustration of complexity seems to be to embody space as 3-dimensions. Our thinking and language is based on spacial orientations - whatever reference system is selected. As there is a spacial intelligent as defined by Gardener as an independent capacity, we feel it is time for acknowledgement of the spacial, the deep, 3-dimensional character of navigation and orientation. This even though only a small, but growing fraction of people is prepared for looking deeper.

Architects are obliged to cultivate the sense of depth and in environmental research it was necessary to make a distinction between spatial 2-dimensional and spacial 3-dimensional in alpine environmental research and management (Kluwers Academic Publishers 1988 - details on request).

Realize my friend what pictures are made of:
The emergence at another place.
Franz Marc


How can this best be imparted to others ?
How do children react?
Where does it make a difference?
What are the lessons learned?

The answer? Easy. Just by playing with children, without any prepared, somber and educated answers. Just by presenting them a complete and coherent layout and inviting them to be part of the nested schemes. And inviting their simple and well-packed questions and answers.

The journalist and futurist Robert Jungk challenged me to focus more on children, as seeing wholeness and interconnectedness is a question of acceptance and consciousness. Children are concerned, eager and not willing to wait for theories to change with generations of researchers. A lot could be written how they pick it up, what questions they ask and what conceptual stumbling blocks in the design have been removed by the simple and innocent questions, which I call free floating, panning and zooming in onto themes, without the preconceived and presupposed "educated" handicaps.

Most satisfying and reassuring was the children's consideration that the meaning of situation world or space is in a way native to them. They said they were often thinking is such an associative way. And while full of phantasm and imagination, yet considered valid in some way, situation space allows talk about such issues even with parents and teachers!!!!

The spacial design for an architecture of exploitable thinking spaces (maybe we should call it a world-view? ) invites us to find and share positions and perspectives INSIDE of the cognitive spaces. It is not another outmoded anthropocentric world-view but a scaffolding where you can embody, live in and take away thematical regions or territories.

Maybe the metaphor of the ocean of knowledge and orientation and navigation fits here best, and its need to dive deeper and interconnect areas and levels.

Wholeness is very much connected by the author with the concept of Jan C. Smuts, who defined Holism in the 1920s, and the recent work of Stephen J. Kline, who worked on the Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking (1995) and the Powers and Limitations of Reductionism and Synoptism (1996). Both authors are looking for the big integrated picture, inviting scaling, bridging domains, and avoiding fixation.The author has presented a proposal for a Conceptual Superstructure (1992) based on the Blackbox Nature (1990) a concept in line with the hierarchies of constitution as proposed by Kline and the concept of Holism. Smuts was aware of levels and interactions along and across scales (!) and was able to integrate views ranging from microbiology to statesmanship into one coherent and appealing organic concept.

Creatively, this paper and proposal intends to built on Smuts and Kline, going one step further by embody and visualizing conceptual and cognitive nested spaces. By making space-scapes (deep-structures spaces) inhabitable, it is possible to live, take part, and share situations, that is why they were called Situation Spaces, or Spaces of Meaning.

The backbone is an agreed upon layout or scaffolding that helps to connect conceptual territories and dissolve artificial barriers separating concepts, domains and views.

The start and Nucleus of the design (the Blackbox Nature) was proposed for the display of wholeness and connectedness in search for common frames of references . It was not planned or ordered, but had evolved out of the necessity to bring elements into one coherent picture. The task, in a public exhibition called GLOBAL CHANGE - Challenges to Sciences and Politics , was to answer simple questions, like: What is Ecology?, What are Ecologist doing, or Which fields, scales and approaches are used? How can Science support decision making? How can science find ways to explain to the public, politics, and sciences how they and all can cooperate dealing with the problems ahead.

The challenge is to demonstrate in a simple fashion, to attract and invite further thinking, and even to leave puzzled the politicians, scientist, lay(wo)man, and children. Hopefully, the proposed embodying of imaginary nested spaces might help to bring together utterly disparate phenomena by allowing them to co-exist in connected frames. Complexity and dynamics which we have no notation for, which makes us puzzled or perplexed, or makes us at awe as we gaze, is not helpful. Instead I propose a framework or overview providing us with insights, allowing orientation and helping us find land-marks to better communicate dangers, magnitudes, levels, and the challenges involved.

Cognitive multi-hierarchical and multi-medial spaces might be the smallest common denominator for communicating complex issues across cultures and schools of thought.

The ultimate aim of science
is to obtain knowledge, descriptions,
and explanations of the whole,
in all the complex interrelations,
in all differences
from time to time and place to place.
R. Hartshorne


As the proposed realm or the Blackbox Nature allows to index what we know and mark as dark spots what we do not know, we have defined a translator space or switchboard between real and abstract object and issues, solid realities and fuzzy terms. In such a complete, coherent and simple model we can discuss frames and artificial thematic barriers, build them and take them away.

The idea to embody thought and use spatial metaphors as image schema was developed in an International Harmonization Project which should be properly credited for these studies. The task was to look for meta-databases for annotations which were language independent and able to track Environmental Change related data whatever the compartment, region, scale or measurement technique applied. To make sure, just in an overview or global index pathfinder mode, helping to find and relate to comparable, not only compatible data and concepts!

What we are talking her about is a paradigm shift integrating the reductionistic and the synoptic -- the one and the multi-dimensional holarchy -- enabling adopting a view of Life which allows to us feel concerned not only as an individual only, but as a whole. The panorama approach allows us able to discuss and point out issues before not visible or considered tangible.

This article is an synopsis of seven years of thinking of an foreigner, almost like a alien, not only having problems with foreign languages, but living voluntarily in parallel worlds or connected cognitive spaces, checking the feasibility through all domains and its relevance and acceptability in different schools of thought and fields. As requirements differ and technologically we see mayor shifts in the field of human interface design and cognitive spaces, I will only summarize that times change fast and the reception is far better by children than by serious scientists and philosophers.

The model presented here is only one, best used for finding an overview and seeing the coherence and connectedness from a birds eye perspective without all possible local processes and interactions blinding us to the forest. There is a great need for a whole orchestra of views and models, a symphony, but, at the same time, which can talk to each other and play one theme at a time!

As motion in spaces must be considered as a means of communication, a means even older than language, we might be able re-establish a feeling of being connected and involved/concerned. We can see the body languages and subsequently how to secure meaning and create contagious information and immediate action !

As a necessary Paradigm Shift is discussed in many environments, the author would like to inform the seminar about an event organized with the COUNCIL OF EUROPE, where both Members of the CLUB OF BUDAPEST focused on paradigm changes under title: New Spaces for Culture and Society . First the past president of ISSS Ervin Laszlo gave a presentation on new scientific paradigms and the author with the last presentation, summarizing work under way and some future perspectives.

Analysis and Synthesis
A century simply concerned with analysis
and which is at the same time afraid of synthesis
is not on the right path
for only both together
like breathing in and out
comprise the life of science
J.W. v. Goethe

SHARING FUTURES times, spaces, voices, views, values,... in shared perspective Voice: +49 731 501 -910 FAX -929 Heiner BENKING, PoBox 2060, D- 89010 Ulm, GERMANY __________________________________________________________

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