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Constraints on multi-level psychosocial systems


Global Economy of Truth as a Ponzi Scheme (Part #7)


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The somewhat arbitrary distinction of number of levels recalls the argument of the much-cited paper on cognitive limitations (George Miller, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: some limits on our capacity for processing information, Psychological Review, 1956). This is but one example of such constraints, as separately argued (Comprehension of Numbers Challenging Global Civilization: number games people play for survival, 2014).

Studies have explored the viability of pyramidal (hierarchical, taxonomical) organizational structures of different depth -- with obvious implications for their increasing instability (and incomprehensibility) as the number of levels increases (cf hierarchy theory; cognitive hierarchy theory; delayering; Andreas Butz, Hierarchies and Trees: visualizing topological relations, 2009) . Ironically it would appear to be that God in the Christian tradition is considered to be similarly constrained to a 9-level hierarchy of angels. Judaism has a 10-fold angelic hierarchy.

The issue is variously implicit in:

  • corporate for-profit organizations
  • administrative systems of governance
  • military organizations
  • religious hierarchies, sects and cults
  • non-profit initiatives and intentional communities
  • academic disciplines and educational instutuions

Their potential for failure should lend itself to ready analysis (Variety of System Failures Engendered by Negligent Distinctions, 2016).

The constraints are especially noteworthy where importance is attached to the relative superiority of the wisdom, insight, expertise or experience at the higher levels of the pyramid. This is partially implicit in the number of:

  • degrees (and qualifications) conferred and recognized in an academic context
  • expertise recognized in attribution of distinctions and rankings in certain domains: chess/go, martial arts ("belts"), notably as borrowed by Six Sigma to indicate relative skill in systemic oversight
  • degrees attributed in secretive societies, most notably freemasonry and scientology, as well as recognition of levels of initation in some belief systems

The acceptance of such qualitative distinctions raises interesting questions regarding:

The transition from one such "trophic level" to another in any of the above cases merits recognition from a systemic perspective as being "born again (Varieties of Rebirth: distinguishing ways of being "born again", 2004 ). As variously understood, "promotion" tends to trigger this metaphorical interpretation. Ironically this may well be preceded by a sense of "death". A promotion is thus readily recognized as "moving up the food chain" -- in existential terms.


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