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Polarity: problems-potential


Distinguishing Emergent Conceptual Polarities: experimental ordering of a collection of research papers (Part #15)


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Problems (negatives, bias, criticism, denial) -- Potential (positives, appreciation)

Problems: Associated with the interest in disagreement (see above), there has been a long-term commitment to work with problematic materials, initially in the form of the documentation of "world problems" perceived by international constituencies (see Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, 1976, 1995). This extended into work on the strategies deployed in response to such problems, notably in the light of fundamental strategic dilemmas (1995) and the possibility of configuring opposing strategic initiatives in fruitful ways (1992).

This critical perspective has also been deployed in response to uncritical perspectives (Limits to Human Potential, 1976; NGOs and Civil Society: Realities and Distortions, 1994; Transdisciplinarity through Structured Dialogue: Beyond sterile dualities in meetings to the challenge of participant impotence, 1994; Misappropriation of words of power, 1995; Interacting Fruitfully with Un-Civil Society: the dilemma for non-civil society organizations, 1996; Distorted Understandings of Synthesis: Reconfiguring the challenge of wholeness, 1997; Undermining Open Civil Society: Reinforcing unsustainable restrictive initiatives, 1999; Arming Civil Society Worldwide, 2003; Global Civil Society: strategic comments on the path ahead, 2003).

A particular concern has been conceptual manipulation and definitional game-playing (Language Games, 1995) and the constraints of bias (Anti-Developmental Biases in Thesaurus Design, 1981). As noted above, this perspective gave rise to sessions of an International School of Ignorance (1996) over a period of years (198-1998 *?), to concern with the "unsaid" and to a highly critical approach to the evidence associated with "terrorism" and how it is conceived.
Potential: The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential was deliberately designed to offset the documentation of "problems" by information on the variety of dimensions of human potential (1991), to build a relationship between them (Phases of human development through challenging problems, 1991), and to demonstrate its relevance (1991).

A related concern has been with how external problems are embodied (Liberation of Integration through pattern, oscillation, harmony and embodiment, 1980; Embodiment in patterns of alternation, 1991; Personal Globalization, 2001; Embodying the Sphere of Change, 2001; Psychology of Sustainability: Embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002; My Reflecting Mirror World: making Joburg worthwhile, 2002).

A distinct approach has been a form of appreciative inquiry into the potential represented by various collective alternative initiatives (Challenges to Learning from the Swadhyaya Movement, 1995; Gardening Sustainable Psycommunities: Recognizing the psycho-social integrities of the future, 1995; Dancing through Interfaces and Paradoxes: group alchemy, 1997; Renaissance Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community, 2003) and the high-tech global extreme (Simulating a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values, 2001). The potential in the personal development of the individual (see personal above) has also been explored (see notably Authentic Grokking: Emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003)

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