Skip to main content
main-content

Über dieses Buch

This book advances systems thinking by introducing a new philosophy of systemic knowing. It argues that there are inescapable limits to rational understanding. Humankind has always depended on extended ways of knowing to complement the rational-analytic approach. The book establishes that the application of such methods is fundamental to systemic practice.
The author advocates embracing two modes of consciousness: intentionality, which Western philosophy has long recognized, and non-intentional awareness, which Eastern philosophy additionally highlights. The simultaneity of these two modes of consciousness, and the variety of knowings they spawn are harnessed for a more holistic, systemic knowing.
Four practices from fields related to systems thinking are examined: two contemporary action research methodologies from the US and the UK; the Sumedhian (Indian) approach to inquiry about processes within groups; and a technique of group psychotherapy originating in Eastern Europe. Each of these systematically harnesses knowing using both modes of consciousness. Therefore, the author insists, such approaches must be included in systemic practice, in purposeful and methodical juxtaposition to rational-analytic ways. The book provides examples and guidelines for deployment.
“All researchers and practitioners of systems thinking and action research must read this book...Raghav has craftfully blended Eastern and Western wisdom. He uses his immersion into Eastern ways of knowing practically, to elaborate the systems philosophy in rich detail. He has incorporated, from cooperative inquiry as action research, the idea of four ways of knowing: practical, propositional, presentational and experiential, to bolster the foundations of systems thinking”―SHANKAR SANKARAN, Professor, University of Technology Sydney, Australia; President International Society of Systems Sciences (ISSS) 2019-2020
“This is a book with the potential to stimulate the emergence of a new paradigm. Raghav shows that systems thinking can transcend rational analysis and incorporate other ways of knowing, such as arts-based methods… also, rather than be overly preoccupied with striving for change, there is value in simply abiding, which comes with a deep appreciation of the ecological relationships we are part of. It’s not that rational analysis is wrong – it’s that it is only part of a genuinely transformative practice”. ―GERALD MIDGLEY, Co-Director, Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull; former President, ISSS (2013-14)

“Raghav Rajagopalan’s writing on generating deep appreciation for the social and ecological interdependencies ties in closely with my own work. The philosophical ideas he develops contain the tracings and essential tones of Gregory Bateson’s idea of "Mind" as a process of living complexities reaching well beyond the notion of the body. This book demonstrates outstanding erudition and deep compassion at the same time. It should delight the adventurous reader unafraid of big questions”.―NORA BATESON, President of the International Bateson Institute

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction to the Book

Abstract
In this introduction, I lay out the canvas of the book. I outline the context, the lacuna I find in contemporary systems thinking (especially in systems philosophy), and the approach with which I have addressed this gap.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 2. Systems Thinking

Abstract
This chapter summarises the development of systems thinking and goes on to uncover some of its limitations. First, a brief sweeping overview of the history and development of systems thinking is provided. Next, the development of applied systems thinking in terms of three successive waves is recounted briefly—hard systems thinking which assumes that systems are representative of reality; soft systems thinking which emphasises the intersubjective construction of realities; and critical systems thinking , which attempts to build a more comprehensive framework. The contributions and limitations are summarised. The focus is, firstly, on recounting the key milestones; secondly, panning the basic features of the recent approach called systemic intervention; and thirdly, on uncovering the ontological and epistemological premises and describing the limitations which the book will address in later chapters.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 3. Three Basic Perspectives to Evaluate Systems Thinking

Abstract
Three perspectival frames useful to the interrogation of systems thinking are introduced: the idea of second-order science , the idea of an evolutionary perspective, and the operation of two modes of consciousness . First, I unpack the meaning of the terms ‘holism ’ and ‘reflexivity ’. These two terms constitute core and central ideas in systemic thinking; the three perspectival frames are described in reference to these ideas. The Western phenomenological tradition, resting on intentionality as the key originating impulse of consciousness , operates from a singular mode of consciousness which I term as the becoming-striving mode. Eastern philosophy, however, additionally recognises another mode, which I term as the being-abiding mode. Relying solely on the former mode results in subject–object dualism and all sorts of fragmentary knowing, which can only be overcome from the being-abiding mode of consciousness . The two modes operate always and are in simultaneity; the nub is about awareness of this. To enable a clearer appreciation of the operation of these two modes, I describe some of the paradoxes that arise from the dependence on only one mode, which informs the ontological principles underlying most systems thinking. I suggest that, corresponding to each of these two modes of consciousness , we must characterise separate ontologies and epistemologies. The chapter is concluded by pointing to three real life examples that ought to be amenable to systemic intervention; and yet systemists would be hard put to deal with them.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 4. An Ontology for Systemic Knowing

Abstract
The systems ontology is characterised, corresponding to recent systemic findings about the nature of reality. Three key features, an idea of the interconnectedness of all things, the idea of enactive cognition , and an idea of the teleonomic principle, are suggested as central to a systems perspective. The irrationality inhering in the modern outlook and its rigid and limited view of basic ontological elements such as space and time is described. The debates and understanding of cognition are reviewed and the enactive idea of cognition is elaborated by incorporating a model called the anticipatory present moment . The inherent paradoxes in reality as constructed from purely rational frames are described. The chapter concludes by stating plausible political , epistemic, and pragmatic goals for systems thinking that follow on this systems ontology.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 5. Two Useful Models of Knowing

Abstract
Two epistemological models are described in detail to show how they commensurate with the suggested systemic ontology. First, the four ways of knowing framework from Heron and Reason (1997) is elaborated—this model corresponds to the mode of being-abiding. Next, the praxis learning cycle Hodgson (2013a), another epistemological model, is described: this corresponds to the mode of becoming-striving. The advantage to systemic understanding from the incorporation of these two epistemological models is elaborated. Testimony of their universal relevance is offered from an awarded case study.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 6. Innovative Knowing Methods and Wisdom Practices: What We Can Learn from Allied Disciplines and Further from Other Ages and Cultures

Abstract
Four contemporary domains of practice which answer the problems raised in relation to systems thinking are described: the Human Process Inquiry from the Sumedhas Academy in India, Cooperative Inquiry from the UK, Action Inquiry from the USA, and Holotropic Breathwork from Europe. Drawn from four major world regions and cultures, they have each demonstrated a maturing of method (and theory, in two cases) and evidence documented results. These methods also stand for wisdom approaches that have long been applied by humankind, now rediscovered and redeployed in recent sociological practice with the corresponding development of supporting theory. Each method is reviewed for its correspondence with the systemic ontology and its contribution to an effective systemic epistemology .
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 7. Immersive Systemic Knowing: A Theory for Knowing in Practice

Abstract
A cartography of the four abstract elements introduced in the previous chapters (the two ontological and the two epistemological models corresponding to each of the two modes of consciousness) is assembled and the nature of the spaces they hold is described. This provides us a model of systemic knowing: the immersive systemic knowing framework. The proposed approach overcomes the limitation of systems thinking in operating from a singular rationality as the gap relating to the means to acquire significant knowings relevant to a situation of inquiry is addressed. This is a preliminary formulation, an abstraction as an aid to comprehension, which will undergo further development in future.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Chapter 8. Conclusion

Abstract
In this conclusion, I wish to summarise the book’s contributions to the theory and practise of systems thinking, as also to larger domains of knowledge. I also discuss its limitations and future prospects. Finally, I offer some ideas about how to incorporate these ideas and practices into your own life, work, and inquiry.
Raghav Rajagopalan

Backmatter

Weitere Informationen

Premium Partner

    Bildnachweise