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Development beyond Science to Wisdom'

Facilitating the emergence of configurative understanding in Councils of the Wise through computer conferencing dialogue (Part #1)

Prepared in connection with the sub-projects on networks, dialogues, and concepts of development of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University. Presented at the Conference of the World Future Studies federation (WFSF)on Science, Technology and the Future (Berlin, 8-10 May 1979) - a conference in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development (Vienna, 20-31 August 1979), Agenda Item 4: Science, technology and the future. Printed in Transnational Associations, 1979, 7/8, pp 364-371 [PDF version]
Current Problems
Some Attempts at a Remedy: Structure
Further Attempts: Destructure and Process
Nature of the Problem: Action
Nature of the Problem: Conceptualization
Operationalizing' Wisdom
Configurative Criteria
Configuration Formation: Facilitative Technology
Configuration Formation: Facilitative Software
Configuration Formation: Groupware Problems
Action Integration

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Current Problems

Irrespective of the many well-publicized 'world problems', there are others which are less well recognised (1). These handicap our society in its ability to respond to those which appear more urgent. They are seldom discussed or researched because they call into question the methods used and the institutions or disciplines using them. They may even only be described in a humoristic vein (2). It is not the purpose of this paper to document such problems in detail, even if it were possible (3). It is usually the case that, to those familiar with them, supporting evidence is superfluous, but, to those who are not, no amount of evidence is convincing.

The argument of this paper is not based on any consensus concerning the 'existence' of all such problems, but rather on an increasing awareness that there are problems of this type, irrespective of how many a particular individual or group is prepared to recognise.

A list of such problems, described elsewhere (3), is included here as Annex 1. A humorous list (derived from 2) is given as Annex 2.

The concern of this paper is with the process that is used to reflect upon and discuss problems and action to be taken upon them, using intellectual, organizational and other human resources, in the light of present and emerging values, and with some objective of 'human development' . The 'hidden' problems now make a mockery of the processes that are used. There are few little boys to note that the Emperor, as in Hans Andersen's famous tale, is lacking any clothes. One unique but unsatisfactory attempt at recording this is by Arthur Koestler (4) reporting from bitter experience of interdisciplinary meetings of international experts. It is unofficially accepted that at least 90% of published papers are virtually worthless other than to the author and his or her career advancement. Research has even shown that the 'average' journal article is 'read' by one person amongst the total subscribership. The production of such papers is carefully designed to avoid confronting this issueand indeed in whose interest would it be to confront it ? And yet the collective ability to respond effectively and creatively to problems seems to decrease rather than increase.

The difficulty is not only evident in use of the written word. The dynamics of meetings are such that the majority of spoken insights goes unrecorded, and even if recorded goes unread, as pointed out above. But what is most unfortunate is that the insights produced, as a linear sequence of statements (possibly in parallel sessions), can seldom be effectively interrelated into new patterns. The decisions which emerge are more often characterized by the insights which they ignore than by those which they are able to incorporate. In the field of ideas, as it has been between nations, 'might is right', although such a simplistic standpoint cannot counter a famine or an ecological disaster.

But this would not be so bad if those advancing insights were is some way interested in weaving their perception into a larger pattern. In fact this is not the case, somehow we (and the author must necessarily include himself) are only interested in ensuring that our own perspective is well-placed in the limelight of the stage. And in fact debate within the international community is more characterized by divergence and diffuseness than by focus and clarity. So that on the one hand there is the simplistic imposition of 'bandwagon' topics (which usually last from 2 to 5 years) and on the other a cornucopia of unrelated preoccupations.

ch usually last from 2 to 5 years) and on the other a cornucopia of unrelated preoccupations.

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