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Comprehending the psychosocial hypercycle through an interplay of metaphors


Adaptive Hypercycle of Sustainable Psychosocial Self-organization (Part #10)


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Comprehension dynamics: A central question with respect to any "map" is how it is to be used. How are people expected to engage with it? It is one thing to make conventional assumptions about such a map and  navigation in accordance with them. However there is a problem if these assumptions are misleading. The map may be more like an instrument, such as a piano. Its directional possibilities may require that it be appropriately operated -- namely through how it is played. Its usefulness may be intimately associated with the melodies that can be played. Like a radar, the instrument is only of value if it is operational and the information can be appropriately interpreted.

Should diagrams Figs 1 &2 then be understood as instruments -- like harps -- whose utility derives from the skill  with which they are "played"? This is the case with the luopan (the Feng Shui "compass") Given the evident links in the above diagrams, should these be understood like the strings on a stringed instrument? Indeed, as with any conceptual or strategic "model", is its value dependent on the skills of the player rather than with the elegance of its design?

Polarity dynamics: The fundamental issue, at the core of the challenges of governance, is the polarity variously played out and associated with:

The workings of this polarity at the global level have been remarkably demonstrated by the climate change debate. Encoding such a polarity, as is done with the yin and yang symbols, enables it to be reframed in the richer context of the set of hexagrams mapping the transformative conditions of change. The design of the hexagrams, as a coding system, offers an explicit means of representing different combination of such polarities. The coding offered by the hexagrams -- with their unbroken and broken lines (as with the black and white keys on a piano) -- allows the metaphor to be explored further. The BaGua structure enables eight fundamental conditions to be appropriately encoded, as separately discussed (Discovering richer patterns of comprehension to reframe polarization, 1998).

However, as illustrated by a piano keyboard, the question is whether any "map" of value to governance will only "work" if there is the knowledge and expertise to "play" it like a musical instrument (Polarities as Pluckable Tensed Strings: hypercomprehension through harmonics of value-based choice-making, 2006). The navigational value, and the ability of the map to "transport" its users, may be intimately associated not only with the ability to play the instrument but also with the dynamics and harmonies of the melodies played. The possibility has been explored in relation to the aesthetics potentially fundamental to sustainable governance (Aesthetics of Governance in the Year 2490, 1990; Magic Carpets as Psychoactive System Diagrams, 2010).

Comprehension of appropriateness: Such a musical metaphor highlights the contrast between efforts to use binary decision-making by governance in order to achieve psychosocial "harmony" through the process of "harmonisation" (so typical of European Union strategic language). A musical metaphor makes it remarkably clear that "harmony" does not emerge from "unity" alone but requires an aesthetically integrated variety. Theories of harmony notably make use of an octave of eight pitches -- widely recoghnizable -- related to those in other octaves by doubling or halving the pitch frequency. Many forms of harmony may be expressed by playing combinations of notes within an octave. It is recognized that transformation amongst the hexagrams of the I Ching entails eight major shifts, paralleling the musical octave, with the transition to the next scale marked by the house metaphorically associated with Joyous or Lake (Allen Pittman and Marnix Wells, Walking the I Ching: the linear Ba Gua of Gao Yi Sheng, Blue Snake Books, 2008).

Why is it so readily assumed that appropriateness is comprehensible with conventional mindsets, as previously discussed (Comprehension of Appropriateness, 1986)?

Spatial reinforcement: Given the deep cognitive commitment to linear and cubic modes of organization -- in domains ranging from grid planning to accountancy's management of collective confidence through spread sheets -- it is important to note the traces of any eightfold cognitive organization. The cube does indeed have eight corner points and it is through these that a relation to a spherical/global form is possible, namely the circumsphere.

Arguably a more complete engagement with globality is associated with the eight-faced octahedron. This spatial language raises the question of how architecture reinforces or undermines the possibility of the cognitive complexity supportive of psychosocial self-organization (Metaphorical Geometry in Quest of Globality -- in response to global governance challenge, 2009). How might the configuration of the eight clusters of hexagram "houses" be most usefully "planned" -- given the design considerations of Christopher Alexander and his current preoccupation with "geometric adaptation" in pursuit of "harmony".

Isophors: Kathleen Forsythe (Isophor: Poiesis of Experience, Center for Systems Research, 1986), in a paper to a meeting of cyberneticians, argues:

Analogy and its poetic expression, metaphor, may be the "meta-forms" necessary to understanding those aspects of our mind that make connections, often in non-verbal and implicit fashion, that allow us to understand the world in a whole way.

Forsythe uses the term isophors for isomorphisms experienced in the use of language. They are distinct from metaphors in that they are experienced directly. With the isophor there is no separation between thought and action, between feeling and experience. The experience itself is evoked through the relation. She suggests that the experience of one thing in terms of another, the isophor, is the means by which we map domain to domain and that our consciousness of this meta-action, when we observe ourselves experiencing this, lies at the heart of cognition. She has postulated the development of an epistemology of newness in which learning is the perception of newness and cognition depends on a disposition for wonder leading to this domain of conception-perception interactions.

She argues that the notion of metaphor is commonly understood to mean the description of one thing in terms of another. This notion presupposes an objective reality. This objectivity may be questioned and if, as suggested by Humberto Maturana (Autopoiesis, Structural Coupling and Cognition), objectivity is placed in parenthesis:

... we can begin to appreciate clearly the role we play in the construction of our own perception of reality. for this reason, the notion of the experience of one thing in terms of another, the isophor, suggests that it is this dynamic constructing ability that involves conception and perception -- unfolding and enfolding, that this gives rise to the coordination of actions in recursion which we know as language.

The creative dweller in the labyrinthine "cognitive conch shell" of its own making is "trapped" in a self-reflexive process of providing ever more encompassing explanations for the totality of previous explanations of lower order -- providing a Theory of Everything inclusive of all previous Theories of Everything of which the latest becomes yet another catalyst for a more exclusive articulation (a cognitive analogue to Moore's Law?).


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