It is important to notice the nature of an organization: They are emergent systems that exist everywhere in the society as schools, companies, states, institutions and so on. An organization always exists to serve some purpose in the complete structure of society, be it tangible or symbolical. Typically these functions cannot be separated, as there is always the purpose that is pursued and one that is actualized. There are complex forces both inside and outside organizations that continuously construct, preserve and dissolve them.
Power is the force that seeks to keep these systems intact and functioning. Basically it aims for balance between the forces of conflict, unity, crisis and separation – each of them in excess amount has the ability to break down the organization, and too little of them can make the organization unresponsive and dysfunctional in the long term, thus rendering it irrelevant.
Here I have tried to picture the dynamics:
Debord wrote in The Society of the Spectacle:
The spectacle inherits all the weaknesses of the Western philosophical project which undertook to comprehend activity in terms of the categories of seeing; furthermore, it is based on the incessant spread of the precise technical rationality which grew out of this thought. The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality. The concrete life of everyone has been degraded into a speculative universe.
Philosophy, the power of separate thought and the thought of separate power, could never by itself supersede theology. The spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispelled the religious clouds where men had placed their own powers detached from themselves; it has only tied them to an earthly base. The most earthly life thus becomes opaque and unbreathable. It no longer projects into the sky but shelters within itself its absolute denial, its fallacious paradise. The spectacle is the technical realization of the exile of human powers into a beyond; it is separation perfected within the interior of man.
The power of the spectacle lies in the power of unimaginative thinking that infiltrates every aspect of collective life by stating:
No such thing shall be that yet hasn’t been.
The spectacle altogether rejects history that states that 1) things change, and 2) everything that now is hasn’t always been. Instead, every image is filled with tautology: everything is because of, and the challenge of man is just to live with it.
The task of a philosopher is to leave this world of moving images in order to turn towards more real existence. The burden of return is difficult to carry, and that is why philosophers prefer to stay in the sun and philosophize ad infinitum and end up with extremely pragmatic advice such as “something should be done about it”.
To overcome this built-in dead end of philosophy, philosophers should become engineers concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for problems. Tangible creation with the idea of Good in mind is the only way of effectively deconstructing the spectacle since it communicates the most disenchanting message:
Something can be done, and I am doing it.
I draw this image to clarify the thought about emergence in the previous post. You could imagine the axes to stay in place while emergence of things and phenomena “flow” towards it.
One could start paying attention to where in this process different fields such as science, politics and philosophy focus on. (This kind of continues the faith-self-reliance discussion.) The result is this image:
In this way of thinking, different “emergence fields” have been constructed that focus on different areas of the process.
Science studies matters that have emerged. Applied science uses scientific knowledge to generate new and useful emergence (such as technical equipment or new practices).
In the field of politics, the attention is partly on “what has emerged”, but mostly it focuses on generating “what is good”.
Religion is mostly concerned with distant future (“what shall emerge”), but to some extent their followers also seek to enter the field of politics.
Philosophy is the basis from which structured science, politics and religion have emerged, so it’s a kind of meta-level field.
In the contemporary culture the typical aim is to keep the fields clearly separated. This often produces controversies and clashes; examples are when religion tries to enter the field of science (intelligent design) or politics (islamism), politics seeks to enter science (value-free science) or science enters religion (new atheism).
It seems that the only fields that are passive are philosophy and applied science. Something in these fields cause engineers and philosophers to be typically peaceful people. Perhaps it’s the satisfaction creativity provides.
The concept of emergence challenges the linearity of time. Linearity works quite well on short timeframe, since in linear time movement is typically predicted to continue with the current direction and pace. However, linearity has no sense of repeat or build-up; This leads to neglecting these basic facts of evolution. Cyclical time, on the other hand, includes repeat but is somewhat indifferent towards build-up processes (they are not valued per se, but they guide the path towards nirvana).
As in many philosophical cases, we should separate the mental structure of time and truth about what is this thing we call time. Mental structures often seem to us as definitive and unquestionable, and that is exactly when they need to be questioned.
One way to look time is to see time as three-dimensional spiral. A single point in the spiral can be seen as “a state of being”, and the whole spiral is “the flow of being”, that is, time.
The direction of the curvature can be seen in many ways: the line can start from the small center (universe-centric) or from the outer curve (consciousness-centric). In the universe-centric view, the starting point is the big bang, in the consciousness-centric view, the end point is the individual consciousness observing the image and wondering how it represents time. One could also see each idea as a starting point of time (seen as flow-of-being); from those ideas swarming (such as life, economic activity, fruitful dialogue or this text I am writing) spins out of.
Random googling returned me a Wikipedia page on Spiral dynamics, which seems to be an interesting view on human development.
I’m fascinated about systems thinking; when you start to see life as constant emergence, flow and disappearance of systems (creatures, objects, situations, phenomena etc), old concepts and debates like reason versus faith become much more interesting.
I consider faith and self-reliance as intertwined: they are essentially the same thing described from a different perspective.
From a systems approach, what is self-reliance? It is when a part of the system becomes aware of itself and the meaning of its being-in-the-world, from which agency emerges.
Reason, on the other hand, typically refers to making sense of the current state of the system based on past states.
This iron cage reason is characterized by the refusal to take a stand on the future state of the system. It is caused by the lack of self-reliance to one’s own understanding (as described by Kant). Hence the iron cage reason – which never creates, but only seeks to understand and thus only preserves – breaks when it comes to building and running random or synchronous systems (see table on page 5).
The answer to this dilemma is systems reasoning in which the actor understands that its reasoning isn’t separate but that it also alters the system in question.
(Picture from SystemsWiki.)