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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.
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Mechanism is the view that nature is like a machine and phenomena can be explained based on immutable universal laws, which make them predictable. Reductionism is the method that follows such a view, using the principle that you can understand anything by breaking it down into its component parts and analysing these; reducing phenomena to simple, objective, causal relationships. A related issue to these two is subject/object dualism—the perspective that the observer (subject) can be completely independent of the phenomenon (object) that s/he is observing, and the latter can therefore be studied or recorded without the observer influencing it in any way, thus producing ‘objective’ results from the study. All of these are discussed in detail later in the book.
I am inspired by the sociologist Richard Sennett who is seeking answers to three key issues that currently plague humankind by examining other/past cultures that best managed these. His quest concerns the current bankruptcy in ideas about work, productivity, and knowing, which characterise modern economic and social thinking; the issue of how to contain or manage aggression and zeal in an increasingly violent and weaponised society; and finally, the question of making and inhabiting sustainable environments. The first of these three projects has been completed: in his scholarly research on the meaning of human productivity and value, he examines the essence of craftsmanship (2008, The Craftsman). Sennett’s finding, to summarise rather drastically in a sentence, is that craftsmanship as a skill, technique, a way of life, and mode of production has deep lessons to inform the current lack of imagination around productivity and knowing.
These are important concepts and need detailed discussion, which is done later in the book at Sects. 4.3 and 2.3.2. For now, we can look at interconnectedness as the link that appears between phenomena that are totally discrete and unconnected in space and time. However, the fact that these phenomena are linked indicates that there must exist some as yet untraced connection in the form of instantaneous sharing of information across time and/or space. Autopoiesis refers to an idea put forth by the biologists Maturana and Varela in 1987 as the defining characteristic of a living system: that it is self-producing (which is the broad literal translation). For example, despite the continual death and creation of human body cells, the organism maintains the continuity of a recognisable ‘self’ or identity.
Zurück zum Zitat Flood, R. L. (1999). Rethinking ‘The Fifth Discipline’: Learning within the unknowable. London: Routledge. Flood, R. L. (1999). Rethinking ‘The Fifth Discipline’: Learning within the unknowable. London: Routledge.
Zurück zum Zitat Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. London: Shambhala. (revised edition, 1992). Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. London: Shambhala. (revised edition, 1992).
Zurück zum Zitat Sennett, R. (2008). The craftsman. Paperback: Yale University Press. Sennett, R. (2008). The craftsman. Paperback: Yale University Press.
- Introduction to the Book
- Chapter 1
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