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Dynamic Reframing of Union: Implications for the coherence of knowledge, social organization and personal identity


Dynamic Reframing of "Union"
" Union "
Outmoded understandings of "union"
Generic understandings of "union"
Attributes of "union"
Beyond the "intelligible"
Playing with fundamental quaternaries
Averting an institutional Apocalypse
Emergent higher-order symbol as a cognitive/existential "keystone"
Operational implications

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In an earlier discussion of the emerging significance of "union" (Emergence of a Union of Imaginative Associations engendered by a Union of Intelligible Associations from a Union of International Associations, 2007), the argument focused on the shifting significance in relation to the three initiatives mentioned. The argument presented there has been further developed here (including text from the other paper as appropriate for readability).

The century-old Union of International Associations ("UIA1") aspired, certainly in the eyes of its founders, to a form of union dependent on the organization of knowledge -- its classification -- and the institutional consequences for harmonization, cooperation and coordination. This tendency is still to be found in many intergovernmental initiatives, notably those of the European Union and the United Nations.

Efforts to reform and transform the UIA ("UIA1") have been reframed as effectively engendering a distinct "transitional" vehicle, usefully named as the Union of Intelligible Associations ("UIA2"). This has emphasized a strategic knowledge management function beyond the conventional information gathering and classifying preoccupations of UIA1. The fundamental challenge to UIA2, as presented there, usefully models similar inadequacies in many institutions variously seeking to enhance collective intelligence in response to information overload in the face of social and strategic complexity.

Confronted by its own inadequacies, UIA2 is however understood there as having itself created a context for the emergence of a Union of Imaginative Associations ("UIA3"). This could be understood as more relevant to the integrative possibilities and culture of the times -- and to the strategic flexibility and forms of cognitive engagement for which they call. These three different "stages" are first described before subsequently exploring the necessarily unusual, counter-intuitive challenges to how they may be fruitfully understood as interrelated -- if UIA3 is to be of any significance.

Given the assumptions readily made regarding the nature of "union" it is useful to develop the earlier argument, generalizing it to include the challenges of other initiatives, but especially those instigated as complements to the Union of Imaginative Associations, namely:

Consistent with the self-reflexive emphasis of their approaches, "union" is inappropriately framed as any one of the ways it might be readily understood (as articulated below), rather it is a relationship between these whose nature is variously suggested by each -- and by other insights that may emerge. This understanding of "union" necessarily also applies to the relationship between the four new complementary initiatives (noted above).

Such complementaries point to mutually counter-balancing echoes of a central process in the moment and beyond time. Together they form an emerging, overarching union of interweaving processes: a potential "pattern that connects". The nature of any union of significance is therefore not predefined by any form of understanding but is progressively and continually (re)discovered in time. Indeed, since "yoga" signifies "union" (in Sanskrit), the corollary may be that the challenge of any "union" of significance implies some form of "yoga".

Such an approach is also a challenge to the implications for any new understanding of the European "Union", in the light of efforts at constitutional reform and popular credibility, and more generally of the "United" Nations, itself still in quest of reform after many decades. An indication of new thinking on "union" is evident in the proposed alternative to the divisive foreign policy of the Bush regime (as inspired by the neocon Project for the New American Century), namely a new bipartisan report by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (Princeton University), titled Forging a World of Liberty Under Law, US National Security in the 21st Century (2006). This notably proposes an appropriate charter for the establishment of a "concert of democracies". Some possible implications are discussed elsewhere (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006)

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