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Human Values as Strange Attractors

Coevolution of classes of governance principles (Part #1)


Paper prepared for the 13th World Conference (Finland, August 1993) of the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF). Theme: Coherence and chaos in our uncommon futures -- visions, means, actions. Scheduled for presentation to the group 'Creativity and Actors in Chaos'. An abridged version entitled Values as Strange Human Attractors appeared in UNiS Journal (Dramatic University), 5, 1994, 3, pp. 12-30
Introduction
Background
Methodological preamble
Value confusion
Values as "attractors"
"Strangeness"; in value-governed behaviour
Comprehending the complexity of the value surface
Self-organization and its catalysts
Global structuring of value sets
Neglected values
Beyond 'equilibrium' values
Reconciling the established and the emergent
Demystification and self-mapping
Functional relations between classes
Phases, transitions and world views
Indications for understanding of value systems
Class discrimination and demonizing
Towards an enantiomorphic polity
Conclusion
References

Introduction
Background
Methodological preamble
Value confusion
Values as 'attractors'
Strangeness' in value-governed behaviour
Comprehending the complexity of the value surface
Self-organization and its catalysts
Global structuring of value sets
Neglected values
Beyond 'equilibrium' values
Reconciling the established and the emergent
Demystification and self-mapping
Functional relations between classes
Phases, transitions and world views
Indications for understanding of value systems
Class discrimination and demonizing
Towards an enantiomorphic polity
Conclusion
References

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Introduction

Many have commented on the chaos of the times and the increasing impotence of institutions and disciplines in their response to it -- Bosnia is but the most blatant example. A major characteristic of the period is the role attributed to human values in guiding behaviour at all levels of society -- to the extent that even the most cynical commercial interests are obliged to recognize values held by the most 'other-oriented' market sectors. And yet despite the plethora of studies on values it would seem that we are no closer to understanding their nature or in agreeing on their variety.

The 1990s suggest a need to embrace chaos in some fashion, and chaos theory provides a fashionable set of insights that take us beyond those of past decades. This paper is concerned with exploring some ways of understanding human values in the light of such insights -- and what this could mean for both social innovation and social coherence in the immediate future.

There appears to have been little attention to human values in the study of complexity. Of the many eminent contributors to the United Nations University symposium on complexity, only two make significant mention of values. Peter Allen (1984) focuses on the ability to construct 'collective values' to take into account the different perceptions of policy makers of the possible future evolution of a system. Pentti Malaska (1984), in a concluding comment, raises the much more fundamental issue of the extent to which we can consider values as being rigid and unalterable:

'To what extent are they alterable and to what degree a matter of choice? Do we possess this type of value capacity?....If we accept that a capacity for changing values exists, we can more easily discuss moving over to a new society where things other than material values and the fulfilment of tangible needs are the major objectives.'

ther than material values and the fulfilment of tangible needs are the major objectives.'


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