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Set of contributing conceptual sectors


Higher Orders of Inter-sectoral Consensus (Part #13)


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The following conceptual "sectors" or "disciplines" can be viewed as offering necessary insights into the nature of a higher conceptual order. The relation between them, and the manner in which their perspectives can be used to constrain each other, can be seen as analogous to the situation with respect to the substantive sectors of the UNCED process.

  1. Connectivity / Comprehension: Within any sector, the statements will tend to reflect the most widely acceptable understanding of the nature and integrity of the sector and of the set of sectors. In practice this means that some relationships will be considered as existent, others as non-existent. There is therefore a communication/comprehension constraint on the recognition of any larger pattern (cf Ron Atkin). This constraint then defines the nature of the communications which it is considered appropriate to circulate to maintain the identity of the sector in relation to other sectors.

  2. Multiple logics and inter-paradigmatic dialogue: Faced with the limitations of classical logic, there has been exploration of multi-valued logics, of fuzzy logic, as well as of the logics of non-Western cultures. This has been linked to investigation of multiple realities and universes. Such insights can usefully influence the organization of a document in which the stress must be placed on relating incommensurable approaches in defiance of conventional either/or logic. Each sector may be considered as operating within a particular paradigm. The problem may then be seen as one of inter-paradigmatic dialogue (Kinhide Mushakoji). Each may be seen as using a different logic, making the issue one of multiple logics or of multi-valued logics.

  3. Pre-logical, temperamental or cultural "biases": The problems of the dialogue between sectors may also be viewed in the light of pre-logical or temperamental biases (W T Jones) or as cultural biases (Magoroh Maruyama, E T Hall, etc). In each case such biases affect cognitive preferences for ordering information and relationships (see Annex 10).

  4. Classification sciences: Faced with the limitations of traditional hierarchical systems, the classification sciences have been obliged to explore more complex approaches. These take account of such advances as the impact of quantum logic on the organization of knowledge and the use of non-Boolean lattices of complementary languages. Such insights can usefully influence the organization of any multi-level, multi-part document where conventional approaches would obscure the interconnections between its elements. This may lend itself to clarification through work on non-Boolean lattices for complementary languages (Patrick Heelan).

  5. Conversation theory: The possibilities of dialogue, and the integrity of the discourse, can useful be viewed in the light of conversation theory (Gordon Pask), especially as understood by Kathleen Forsythe.

  6. Semiotics and language: The nature of inter-sectoral dialogue may usefully be challenged by the discontinuities of discourse signalled by paradox (Solomon Marcus).

  7. Self-organization: The challenge of understanding the conditions of emergence of organization from apparent chaos has led to remarkable developments in the theory of self-organization. Understanding of the ways that sectors may act together to articulate a larger inter-sectoral whole may usefully be explored in the light of current understanding of self-organization (Francisco Varela, etc) and self-reference.

  8. Self-reference and self-reflexivity: The challenge of self-reference in logic, language, the information sciences and psychology has led to a richly articulated understanding of recursiveness and embedding. ****

  9. Physics: Fundamental physics has encountered and responded to major conceptual challenges that have redefined understanding of: relativity of frames of reference, singularity, discontinuity, symmetry, complementarity. Such insights can usefully influence the organization of a document which must radically reframe the relationship between local and global concerns.

  10. Mathematics: The many developments in mathematics, including non-Euclidean geometries, provide a rich pool of insight from which to draw in identifying new ways of organizing sets of elements, whilst preserving the multi-dimensional richness of their relationships. Such insights can be used to open up new opportunities for ensuring the presence of appropriate relationships between a multitude of disparate elements in a document.

  11. Symmetry and patterns of order: Challenges to engineering and architecture have highlighted the significance of regular 2- and 3-dimensional structures encountered in nature. These have proved of importance, notably in the design of tiling, packaging, computer memory, and geodesic domes, where radical new approaches to symmetry, balance, and resource optimization are required. Such insights can usefully influence the organization of a document that call for new ways of balancing the tensions between disparate and opposing elements whilst enhancing global continuity and coherence. The integrity of the structure of larger inter-sectoral patterns may be clarified by those working on notions of order in space (Chris Critchlow), patterns, symmetry, and order in time (Carlos Mallmann), possibly with insights concerning pattern languages (Christopher Alexander) and the power of limits (Gyorgy Doczi).

  12. Map projection: The challenge of map projection is to find a variety of techniques, according to different needs, to project the spherical surface of the "globe" onto a 2-dimensional surface. In the search for "common ground", it should not be forgotten that its commonality may only prove realistic when it is understood in terms of a surface of more than 2-dimensions.

  13. Visualization of dynamics: The challenge of understanding complex dynamic systems may be clarified by the work of Ralph Abraham on their visualization.

  14. Information sciences: Concern with the challenges of organizing and penetrating complex patterns of information has led to the development of such tools as "outliners", information rooms and information visualizers. These have developed understanding of the various ways to pack and unpack patterns of information to facilitate overviews and minimize overload. Such insights can usefully influence the organization of a complex document which must be open to exploration at many levels of detail.

  15. Complexity and its management: The issue of "complexity" has now become one of common interest to those concerned with its description and those concerned with its "management."

  16. General systems: Efforts have been made by the disciplines of cybernetics and general systems to address the world problematique (cf Ervin Laszlo). They have not been applied to improving the design of declarations and agendas.

  17. Governance: The focus of the previous points needs to be further sharpened by the concerns and dilemmas of governance (Donald Michael, Yehzekel Dror, Kenneth Arrow) and the male-dominated language in which these matters are discussed (Janis Birkeland).

  18. Aesthetics: The formal principles governing the organization of music, poetry and the plastic arts offer alternative ways of understanding the challenges of harmony and global comprehension in the presence of rich patterns of apparently discordant detail.

  19. Metaphor: Research into the cognitive function of metaphor highlights its potential role in providing fundamental organizing frameworks for complex patterns of information. Ways of using insights, such as those above, without falling victim to their particular concerns, may be found through exploration of the cognitive role of metaphor, especially in its relation to governance, the recontextualization of problems (Donald Schon), and learning situations (Kathleen Forsythe).

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