"Implicate Order" and the Good Life
Chapter 6: Conclusions
We have reached the end of a long and complex argument. What remains is to see it in perspective and articulate some avenues of further inquiry inspired by it. But first we provide an overview of the argument as it has unfolded, as it were, from the statement of the research opportunity (How to apply implicate order in the human world?) through to the unity-diversity model (which uses the qualities of implicate flux to conceptualize the good life). We then return to our earlier critique of David Bohm's use of implicate order in the human world. We can now elaborate this critique from the vantage point of the alternative presented in Chapters 3 through 5. In a nutshell, the problem, as we see it, is that Bohm does not pay sufficient attention to the role of explicate forms in human life.
Two sections then evaluate the work presented here. Some merits and weaknesses of the unity-diversity matrix are discussed, including its contributions to the general use of two-by-two models and its reflexivity. Then follows the evaluation of the argument from ontology to values. Two versions of the argument are presented, a strong and a weak one, and two objections against the connection made by the argument are examined: the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy and an anti-reductionist argument.
Lastly, a suggestion for further research is offered. It is an experiment in decision making, accompanied by neurophysiological measurements and self-reports of subjects' experiences. This experiment is intended to demonstrate the (at least potential) testability of part of our argument, the strong version: the hypothesized relationship between brain processes, target images and experience.
6.2 Summary of the Argument
As detailed in Chapter 1, "Introduction: The Research Opportunity," the work presented in this dissertation was motivated not by a conventionally conceived research problem to be solved, but by a research opportunity to be exploited. Pregnant with potential meaning and explanatory power, the ontological concept of implicate order presents an opportunity for understanding phenomena in various domains in entirely new ways, including the world of human experience. This dissertation has attempted to develop this opportunity by using the implicate order and related concepts to construct an account of the evolution of the human world and a valuational framework for discussing what may be meant by "the good life."
We started in Chapter 2, "David Bohm on the Implicate Order in Ontology, Physics, Epistemology and Human Existence," by reviewing Bohm's work on the implicate order as a general concept for understanding how reality is ordered. The discussion identified three images used by Bohm: the glycerine device, the hologram, and the river with vortices. The glycerine device draws out distinct ink drops into long fine threads that interweave and thus illustrates the literal meaning of "implicate" (= "enfolded", the fine ink threads being folded into one another) and "explicate" (= "unfolded", the distinct ink drops appearing or being folded out from the implicate order of ink threads). The non-random relationships that obtain between the fine ink threads is suggestive of a new kind of order that cannot be captured by the mechanistic order of Cartesian coordinates, which is only applicable to the explicate order or distinct ink drops.
The image of the hologram points to another aspect of what implicate order is. The hologram is a static recording of the implicate interference patterns of light. Every part of the hologram renders a view of the whole holographed scene and thus illustrates the general property of implicate orders, that the whole is enfolded in the part, or the part contains information about the whole. The third image points to the dynamic quality of implicate order: we may think of it as the invisible flow of a river, where the visible whirlpools on the surface channel the flow or flux in such a way that relatively stable and distinct patterns manifest themselves. Together, the three images are reflected in Bohm's repeated characterization of the implicate order: "unbroken wholeness in flowing movement."
We then surveyed Bohm's use of the implicate order, beginning with his clarification of certain longstanding problems of interpretation in the quantum theory and moving on to his ideas on the meaning of implicate order in thought. The process of thinking was seen as a foreground of distinct or explicate thoughts unfolding from a deeper unarticulated background of implicate assumptions, connotations, associations, tacit meanings, and so on. Explicate thoughts, isolated from the flowing process of consciousness, may crystallize and fragment and become fixed ideas, dogmas, prejudices, etc.
Thoughts, explicate as the are, contribute to the widespread fragmentation of today's society, where groups, organizations, states and so on are fighting each other, not appreciating their common ground. To end this fragmentation, Bohm suggests, we must unfix rigid thoughts and perceive the implicate flow and wholeness underlying human experience. He advocates finding a middle ground between the fragmentation of explicate order and the flow of implicate order. We concluded the review of Bohm's work by judging this conceptualization of the human condition in terms of implicate and explicate order unsatisfactory and proceeded to develop a basis for an alternative use of the concept of implicate order.
Chapter 3, "From the Physical World to the Human World: The Unfoldment of the Implicate Flux," proposed to give a synoptic view of the connection between Bohm's ontology-cum-physics and the world of human experience. We introduced the terms "flux" and "form" to denote the dynamic aspect of implicate order. A major purpose of this chapter was to establish the distinction between implicate flux and explicate forms as generally useful at several levels of reality, from the physical-cosmological to the human-social.
The birth of the universe some 15 billion years ago was seen in terms of the congealing of superhot radiation energy (flux) into material particles (forms). The further evolution of the universe, including the emergence of life on earth, was interpreted as the sophistication of forms channeling the flux, systems like atoms, molecules, cells, organisms and ecosystems being seen as complex sets of forms that stabilize the flow of energy into particular patterns, such as Prigogine's dissipative structures. With Goodwin we pointed to the presence of an implicate-like ordering of biological systems, which were seen as self-organizing wholes described by global field equations.
The latest offshoot in the evolution of complex explicate forms is the world of human experience. With Pribram we interpreted perception as the translation of an implicate order of energy impinging on our senses into the explicate order of the world as we experience it: what our retinas receive is an implicate order of interference patterns of light, but what we experience are distinct tables and chairs, making up the explicate order of everyday experience and classical physics. Glazer's holographic theory of decision making suggested that making a decision is a holistic pattern recognition process, not unlike perception, and it may be described by Fourier analysis, the mathematics of holography. Pribram's work on distributed brain memory pointed to a possible physical realization for the decision process in an implicate order of neural activity.
Moving up to more cognitive functions, we saw "interpretation" as the organizing of the basic flux of the human world into the explicate categories and distinctions of experience and thought. Concepts are like the whirlpools in a river; they channel the spontaneous neural and motor activity (flux) of the young child into recognizable and articulable forms of general applicability (in the vein of Piaget). The roles and institutions of society are similarly channels that direct human activity into particular explicate forms: a wedding, an election, etc. (Berger and Luckmann).
In sum, the human world is the product of the evolutionary unfoldment of complex explicate forms from the implicate flux. Human experience may be usefully seen as an extra stage for the unfoldment of explicate order, additional to the explicate order of the pre-human (biological or physical) world. This extra stage mirrors the physical explicate world in that it is explicate, but it has more: it has the potential for being infused with the qualities of the implicate order. This relevance of the implicate order for human experience was developed in the two next chapters.
Chapter 4, "Implicate Order in Experience and Valuation," started by reviewing the work of some writers who have been inspired by the hologram as a metaphor for organizational redesign. We concluded the review by agreeing with their emphasis on the holographic metaphor as a proposal for better social organization, but found their work curiously negligent of the dimension of human experience: if an organization is presumed to improve by being redesigned holographically, surely there must be someone who experiences this improvement. The two aspects or dimensions of the human world identified in this review, the valuational and the experiential, were important also in the earlier chapter on the evolutionary unfoldment of the human world and were thus singled out as the foundation stones upon which to build the subsequent argument on how the implicate order may become a useful concept in the human world.
The question of values having being raised, we explored the historical context for the concept of the good and examined the naturalistic fallacy. We concluded that this doctrine is a doctrinaire prohibition against seeing morality in the larger context of man's nature and the natural world.
Thus ready to explore the possible connection between implicate order and the valuational dimension of the human world, we re-examined the holographic decision theory. We asked what a good target image is and found that the possibility of there being an implicate-like realization of decision processes allowed us to identify two components of a good decision: the context of other decision situations must be included through enfoldment, but the enfoldment must be appropriate and allow for focus and concentration in the given decision situation so that the decision is actually made and acted upon despite the (potentially confusing) presence of context. If both of these criteria hold, we may reasonably say that a person has made a good decision, and such a person is likely to experience that personally as well.
Looking for clarification of this conclusion, we looked closer at the implicate order. From the example of the sunlit room we identified two noteworthy characteristics: the whole room may be seen from a given part of it (the whole-in-part characteristic), and different parts of the room yield different perspectives of the whole (the perspectivism characteristic). Are these characteristics merely interesting physical properties of light, or may they have some deeper meaning for the human world?
We suggested that they may indeed, for individuals may experience the world in ways that seem remarkably like the two characteristics. The whole-in-part characteristic finds it equivalent in the human world in the situation where a person transcends his partial existence and merges with a larger dynamic or wholeness, as described in the flow experience of Csikszentmihalyi and the intuitive expertise of the Dreyfuses. This experience we called the unity experience. Similarly, the perspectivism characteristic can be translated into the experience or appreciation that there are many different perspectives on this wholeness, many different ways one can obtain the unity experience. This was called the diversity experience.
Now, it so happens that the diversity experience corresponds to the consideration of context that we just found necessary for a good decision; and the unity experience corresponds to the feeling of focus and determination similarly required for a good decision. Thus, through the concept of implicate order (in its double role as an order of neural activity and an order of sunlight in a room) we have elucidated two kinds of experience and expressed them in two equivalent ways: the unity-focus experience and the diversity-context experience.
A closer look at the phenomenology of the unity and diversity experiences as described (under other names) in the literature showed that it would be quite reasonable to ascribe value to them, as they are generally described as desirable and worthwhile for their own sake. Thus we arrived at the unity and diversity "valuations" which say that conditions ought to be such (or should be changed such) that people experience unity and diversity more often and more profoundly.
Chapter 5, "The Experience of Unity-in-Diversity and the Good Life: A Matrix," examined the interaction of the two experiences. Rather than seeing them as mutually exclusive, we proposed a simple matrix model that allows us to conceptualize them as mutually compatible. The two-by-two matrix generates four cells, each with a minimum or a maximum of the unity or the diversity experience, and each an extreme or pure case that is not found in the real world but is nevertheless convenient for discussion.
The cells that have one experience but not the other are called degenerate cases, as they describe distorted or degenerated versions of each experience. Thus, the cell that has unity without diversity (cell 2) describes a person who has seen the light (the whole) and know "what it's all about" but, due to the absence of the diversity experience, has no respect for other ways of living (forms of activity, parts of life). This is absolutism, and ultimately dogmatism and fanaticism.
Relativism occurs in the opposite case, where the diversity experience is present without the unity experience (cell 3). There is plenty of respect for others, but since a person in this cell has no sense that any particular path is better than any other, he sees no need to really care for the other's well-being. Respect in the absence of the unity experience degenerates into indifference, relativism and nihilism.
Cell 4 maximizes the unity and diversity experiences and claims that it is possible to experience the singlemindedness and fulfillment that derives from having found a path in life as well as deeply appreciate and show concern for other people's pursuit of other paths. This cell describes the ideal case, the good life that cannot be reached in absolute terms but may be approximated indefinitely.
The applicability of unity-diversity matrix was illustrated by means of a number of concepts of relevance to interpersonal and ethical matters: care, commitment, acceptance, attachment, meaning, growth, the game of life, and so on. It was pointed out that despite the focus of the matrix on experience it is not subjectivist or individualistic, and in fact weaves together harmoniously the levels of personal good and social good, avoiding the all-too-common tendency to see social good in terms of a struggle for scarce resources.
Lastly, the question of how the matrix may be used was discussed. We suggested that it be applied neither in an objectivistic and absolutistic attempt to objectively categorize forms observed in the world, nor in a facile relativistic manner that simply accepts that one person's X-experience is another person's Y-experience and that is the end of that. Instead, a cell-4 alternative was proposed, in which the model is used as personal compass that acquires meaning through a process of shared interpretation in a community. Used in this way, the model can provide a view of the human world and a set of concepts for discussing with one's peers which paths should be avoided and which pursued in the attempt to realize the good life in the good society.
6.3 The Bohm Critique Revisited
We are now ready to return to the critique of David Bohm's use of the implicate order in the human world. Recall that this critique, presented in Section 2.9, "Bohm on Ending Fragmentation in Life and Society: A Critique," was called off after only a few tentative objections had been stated. The reason for not completing the critique at that point and for using that critique as a starting point for the development of an alternative use of implicate order was twofold.
First, the present work was not inspired by any perceived shortcomings in Bohm's treatment of implicate order in the human world and therefore did not need to be preceded by a presentation of such shortcomings. Second, the few shortcomings that we are about to identify in Bohm's treatment can best be appreciated by reference to an alternative conceptualization of implicate order in the human world. That conceptualization (viz., the unity-diversity model) having been advanced, we now pick up the thread from Section 2.9 and expand the critique.
Recapitulating, we agreed with Bohm in his characterization of thoughts as an explicate or focused foreground that emerges or unfolds from a deeper implicate background of implicit connotations, associations, tacit assumptions, images, etc. Drawing on Piaget's view of the construction of knowledge, Bohm pointed out that the constructions (i.e., explicate forms) of the mind are not primitive; they are acquired through learning and acculturation. (In Chapter 3 this view was greatly expanded and placed in the context of Pribram's work on perception, the phenomenologists on interpretation, Berger and Luckmann on the construction of social order, and so forth.)
Bohm further pointed out that the explicate order of the human mind tends to get projected onto the world, which creates the belief that the world is actually organized along the same lines as our thinking about it. This occurs, for example, when the scientific process goes astray and scientists begin to cling to their theories of the world, believing them to be fixed truths rather than tentative forms of insight.
The remedy that Bohm proposes against such rigidification and fragmentation is to appreciate or get in touch with the deeper implicate order and let the implicate wholeness and energy permeate the surface explicate order of everyday thinking and action. This may happen by giving serious and sustained attention to fixed thought patterns such that they dissolve. One vehicle for this process of giving attention is the flow of dialog between people who help each other suspend their fixed opinions and non-negotiables and examine them carefully.
As an example of a situation where the implicate energy or flow makes its influence felt Bohm mentions the experience of music. Here, we appreciate an unbroken movement of subtly interwoven orders of tones reverberating in consciousness, surging and fading in a way that cannot be understood as the simple progression of distinct tones as in a Cartesian explicate order. "In listening to music, one is therefore directly perceiving an implicate order" (Bohm, 1980b, p. 200).
In Bohm's suggestions for how one may overcome the fragmentation of the explicate order there is an unstated assumption that the implicate and explicate orders are located on opposite ends of a sliding scale, as it were, such that a given order is seen as being more or less explicate or implicate. The more explicate it is, the less implicate it can be. To get rid of the fragmenting explicate order what needs to be done is to introduce some energy from the implicate order and the explicate order will be rolled back correspondingly. Indirectly confirming the notion that implicate and explicate order are located on opposite ends of a scale, Bohm advocates for human culture a "broad 'middle ground'... between the timeless [implicate] and the temporal [explicate] orders" (Bohm & Peat, 1987, p. 260). In other words, find the spot where there is not too much explicate order for the world to be fragmented, yet enough for the human world to exist at all.
In his attempt to avoid the dangers of fragmentation Bohm comes close to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Because of his almost exclusive focus on the implicate order and the good things that issue from it he almost leaves the impression that we may dispense with the explicate forms of the human world altogether--instead of attempt to get rid of just those forms that fragment the human world. Bohm does not make this distinction very clearly (if at all), the distinction between forms that fragment the world and forms that are just there, as part of the world. To any other observer, including this one, it would seem reasonable to distinguish the fragmenting and "bad" forms from the other, more neutral or even sometimes "good" forms.
In fact, Bohm is reluctant to distinguish between good and bad at all (as we saw in Section 2.9). He considers this very distinction a recipe for fragmentation and conflict, because it invites people to label themselves as good and others as evil.1 With no clear concept of good and bad he is little able to avoid giving the impression that he throws the baby (forms per se) out with the bathwater (fragmenting forms).
For Bohm, thoughts--which amount to practically all the forms of the human world--are so liable to turn into fixed ideas and prejudices that he cautions against using thought to solve the problems that were produced by (fragmenting and rigid) thought in the first place.2 Bohm seems reluctant to play with thoughts that have anything to do with explicitly values-related frameworks; like Krishnamurti he does not want to think up values for anyone (1981a). Explicate forms, such as thoughts, are not likely to provide any solutions, because they are themselves part of the problem, he says.
However, in our view, explicate forms are the very constituents of the human world and cannot be neglected or taken lightly. On the contrary, the effort to end fragmentation (as Bohm calls it) or approximate the good life (as we have called it) presupposes the unfoldment of evermore sophisticated forms that enable people to experience the flow of the implicate order through forms that guide one's activity. The forms of the explicate order are the very medium through which the good life may be approached, and we ignore their elaboration and refinement at our peril.
To appreciate the crucial role of explicate forms, consider that the absorbing experience of music mentioned by Bohm does not come naturally or spontaneously, but only after many years of socialization and training, during which one becomes sensitive to the forms of music (harmony, rhythm, tonality, etc.). A Balinese drummer would not be enraptured by Western harmonic music, and a Viennese Mozart-fan of the 19th century would be unlikely to feel any "unbroken wholeness in flowing movement" in Balinese drumming rituals.
The experience of flow--in music or in any other passive appreciation or active performance--is anything but direct. It is mediated by forms that have usually been acquired through great effort. As both the Dreyfuses (1986) and the Csikszentmihalyis (1988) have demonstrated at length, getting to the stage of seemingly effortless performance (intuitive expertise and flow, in their terms) requires extensive skills and the discrimination of fine nuances that only comes with many years of experience practising one's skill (= many years of letting one's activity be guided by evermore sophisticated forms).
Granted that one needs forms to appreciate the flow of music, is there anything we can say about how to proceed acquiring such forms? The unity-diversity model offers a few suggestions on the very general approach to learning new forms of any kind. One should avoid the absolutistic approach in which one clings to every form learned. Being attached to forms obviously makes it harder to modify and qualify them in a creative way, which is what learning new forms is all about. Similarly, one should also not take the relativistic route that is indifferent to all form and structure, for without attention to musical forms there can be no music.
Learning to appreciate or play music, or appreciate or play any other game, requires the right kind of attitude, the cell-4 approach: pay serious attention to forms, but know also how to play with them, experiment with them, be attached to a form for a while while you exhaust its potential and then detach yourself from it and invent a new form, and so forth. This attitude to forms will generate the unity experience of going with the flow of music, whether listening to it, composing it or playing it. The greater your acquired repertoire of refined forms, the greater your enjoyment of the activity, which is to say the more intense your unity experience.
So, instead of speaking about implicate order as being directly accessible in perception or experience, we have proposed that human experience may be characterized in a manner that derives from the structure of implicate order: the whole-in-part and perspectivism characteristics which, when transformed into the human world, became the unity and diversity experiences. According to the unity-diversity matrix, there is no way in which we can perceive the implicate order directly or draw nourishment from it without the use of forms. Instead, the implicate order becomes relevant in the human world through the ways in which forms may enable people to experience unity and diversity in their lives.
Stating the need for forms in the human world differently, we may say that forms are like a eyeglasses that allow us to see the world in particular ways (compare the analogy in the previous chapter of using the unity-diversity matrix, which is also a set of forms, as a pair of glasses one may try on and look at the world through). Should we find our glasses dirty or opaque (corresponding to fragmented forms), the proper response is not to stop wearing glasses altogether (ignore the importance of explicate forms), but to clean them or find a pair with transparent lenses (find forms that provide the unity-in-diversity experience). Clarity of vision and mind comes not from the absence of forms, the absence of categories for thinking and institutions for social action, but from their perfection.
In his neglect of the importance of putting effort into developing and elaborating still better forms for the guidance of thinking and social action, Bohm's work bears too strong a resemblance, in this author's opinion, to the mystical (but decidedly non-sectarian) teachings of Krishnamurti, whose influence on Bohm was noted in Chapter 2. They both prudently advise caution and non-attachment in dealing with life's categories and belief systems, but offer much too little by way of alternative approaches to personal development and social order.
Bohm and Krishnamurti seem too conscious of the dangers inherent in systems of thought to want to propose schemes for individual and social betterment. The unity-diversity matrix has been constructed in the knowledge that it, too, may become a straitjacket if not handled properly. Proposing the matrix has been considered worth the risk, though--if only for the reason that the matrix itself contains an injunction against precisely this kind of abuse. The constraint on absolutism, as discussed in Section 5.6, is an admonition against ever taking anything (including the unity-diversity matrix itself) so seriously that other people's activities and forms are suppressed.
This reflexive power of the unity-diversity model (i.e., the apparent paradox that the model is so powerful that it can specify its own limitations) will seem rather ominous to the reader wary of cosmological models purporting to identify what is good. In the next two sections, this reader will find plenty material that defuses this apparent omnipotence of the matrix.
6.4 Evaluation of the Unity-Diversity Matrix
Among the strengths of the unity-diversity matrix may be counted some that pertain to the nature of the matrix model in general and some are specific to the unity-diversity matrix.
The general advantages of the model have been noted by the authors who proposed it and used it (Blake & Mouton, 1964; Gharajedaghi, 1985; Galtung, 1965; Thomas, 1983). Most important of these advantages is the model's facility for rendering apparently contradictory opposites mutually inclusive. What is often otherwise assumed to be a zero-sum game (Thurow, 1980), where one man's loss is the other man's gain, can now be conceived as a positive-sum game, where both parties can maximize their interests or both attributes depicted along the two dimensions can be maximized.
The one-dimensional, more-or-less scale that connects two opposites in the conventional view permits of only one alternative to the extremism of either opposite, and that is compromise. If the one-dimensional conception is transformed into a two-dimensional one (= the matrix model), an alternative to extremism and compromise appears: the maximization of both opposites, what we have referred to as the ideal case. The one-dimensional scale that spans the extremes are contained as a special case within the matrix model: the diagonal between cells 2 and 3, the line joining the min-max and max-min points.
The conceptualization of a third way beyond extremism and compromise is useful not only in conflict and bargaining situations, where the model encourages the parties to look for common interests, but also as a logical tool that helps us appreciate the arbitrary nature of the formal logic so common in Western common-sense and academic discourse. Instead of tacitly assuming that we cannot have our cake and eat it too, the model enables us to realize how we may indeed. This is not the place to argue that general point,3 but the intellectually liberating power of a conceptualization that gets the mind out of the traps of dichotomized thinking should be noted.
More specifically now, the matrix seemed well suited to bring together the unity and diversity experiences and the other aspects of social relations discussed in the previous chapter. To appreciate the power of the matrix, consider one recent argument that dichotomizes two valuational positions successfully unified by the matrix. In the July 23, 1989, issue of the New York Times Book Review Arthur Schlessinger counters Allan Bloom's attack (noted in Section 5.3) on the erosion of intellectual standards in the American educational system. Against Bloom's dismissal of modern-day relativism Schlessinger argues that tolerance and relativism are indeed the American way.
It seems to occur to neither Schlessinger nor any of the seven correspondents that comment on the article in the August 13 issue that a better conceptualization would be one that avoids the either-or conflict and combines the best of relativism and absolutism, such as is illustrated by the unity-diversity matrix.4 By themselves, relativism and absolutism are equally undesirable, but when seen as degenerate cases of an ideal state, the positive cores of each may be brought out in the realization of cell 4: the stability and consensus that Bloom is looking for as well as the openness and tolerance advocated by Schlessinger.
This brings us to a contribution made by the unity-diversity matrix; one that also applies to matrix models generally: the identification of the degenerate case. Previous users of matrix models have paid insufficient attention to the fact that the min-max and the max-min cases are not merely benign half-way stations on the road to the maximization of both attributes, but are positive aberrations that are exacerbated to the extent the missing attribute is ignored.
Specifically, in the unity-diversity matrix, the emphasis on the dangers of the degenerate case led us to note the inadequacy of achieving the unity experience by itself, absent of the diversity experience. This problem is vastly overlooked in many of the traditions that emphasize the unity experience, most notably religions and political ideologies. In particular, the religions of the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and the corporate or state-oriented political ideologies (Hegelian, Leninist, fascist), have, in this author's opinion, paid too little attention to the diversity principle.
In their investigations of the unity (or flow) experiences, neither the Dreyfuses (1986) nor the Csikszentmihalyis (1988a) consider anything like the diversity experience, as they focus narrowly on the unity-producing activity itself and ignore the larger context of other activities and other people's activities. They are thus unable to distinguish the two cases in which the unity experience occurs, cell 2 and cell 4. They cannot distinguish a degenerate occasion of unity experience from an ideal one and thus are poorly equipped to make any valuational or ethical distinction between types of unity experience.
In the case of the Dreyfuses this amounts to valuational blindness as they simply ignore the ethical dimensions of intuitive expertise, professing to make a purely descriptive or phenomenological model of skill acquisition and performance. The Csikszentmihalyis, in their 400-page anthology, have a two-paragraph discussion of the flow experience and morality in which they say that "a culture that enhances flow is not necessarily 'good' in any moral sense" (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988b, p. 186). They continue:
Flow is a powerful motivator, but it does not guarantee virtue. Other things being equal, a culture that provides flow might be seen as "better" than one that does not. But when a group of people embraces goals and norms that will enhance its enjoyment of life, there is always the possibility that this will happen at the expense of some other group. The flow of the Athenian citizen was made possible by the slaves who ran his property, just as the elegant lifestyle of the Southern plantations in America rested on the work of imported slaves (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988b, pp. 186-187) (emphases added).
This passage demonstrates the authors' awareness of valuational and ethical issues, but their subsequent discussion completely fails to discuss what the "other things" are, the things that are assumed to be "equal" in the ceteribus-paribus qualification underlined. In contrast, from our vantage point we can see that these "other things" are precisely what are addressed by the diversity valuation, namely, the flow-experiencing actor's relationships with other people and his degree of respect for their pursuits. As the examples of the Athenian and Southern upper-class life shows, the unity experience obtained by these people lacks the diversity experience that would make them attentive to the activities that other people (in casu, the slaves) would like to engage in.
Unable to impose any well-articulated ethical constraint on the enjoyment of the unity experience (as we imposed the "constraint on absolutism," in Section 5.6), the Csikszentmihalyis rely instead on some earlier work on enjoyment (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975) to argue that the flow experience is, on the whole, a good thing. This earlier work showed that enjoyment (the flow experience) lies in the middle course between the boredom of tasks that are not challenging enough and the anxiety of tasks that are too challenging. The Csikszentmihalyis argue that the pursuit of the flow experience leads to cultural evolution, because empirically, people get used to given tasks and thus seek out new and bigger challenges so as not to be bored, and to cope with these bigger challenges they need better skills, and better skills are the essence of cultural evolution.
However, the Csikszentmihalyis are unable to say anything about what kinds of skills should be improved. According to their scheme, nursing skills and torturing skills would seem to qualify equally as cultural evolution. They realize this and therefore add the apologetic, but theoretically wholly inadequate, comments about the Athenians and their slaves. In contrast, the unity-diversity matrix is explicit on the need for attention to other people's activities and preferences. Without the diversity experience, the unity experience remains woefully inadequate.
Consider now some of the shortcomings of the unity-diversity matrix. We may note that on the question of development and learning the matrix has had comparatively little to offer. Presented with the matrix's massive block of four cells, a reader might not unreasonably think that the matrix provides a rather static snapshot of the world as it appears to the user of the matrix. To be sure, we have made several remarks about development in the light of the matrix, such as the point that the ideal case is an extreme case to be indefinitely approximated but never completely attained (Section 5.1); the cell-4 type of commitment to other people's forms that helps people establish forms of their own yet avoid becoming trapped by them (5.4); the learning involved in interpreting signals from the body in the discussion on meaning (Section 5.5); and, most important, the major point made in the Bohm critique in the previous section: the unity-diversity matrix stresses the critical role of explicate forms in the human world and the importance of their refinement and development (which was contrasted with Bohm's relative deemphasis of forms).
However, in its present incarnation, the unity-diversity matrix is hardly as explicit on the role of development in human world as its previous incarnation, the so-called model of unfoldment (presented in Ravn, 1987a, 1988). That model distinguished between two kinds of development or unfoldment in the human-social world, fragmentary and holonomic unfoldment, the former leading to the state of the world that Bohm describes as fragmented, and the latter leading to a state in which the qualities of the implicate order are integrated into the explicate order (not unlike our present cell 4).
Besides having certain problems of its own, however, the model of unfoldment was unable to to distinguish different kinds of non-ideal (fragmentary) order.5 The states that in the unity-diversity matrix are differentiated as cell 2 and cell 3 were lumped together in the fragmentary-order category in the model of unfoldment under the names of "enforced unity" (= absolutism) and "excessive diversity" (= relativism), which made the adequate characterization of the fragmentary order rather difficult.6
In any case, the unity-diversity matrix's relative neglect of development may impede the appreciation of the proper role of the four cells, particularly cell 4. This cell is "ideal" in two senses. First, it is ideal in the Weberian "ideal-type" sense which also applies to the three other cells: they are all pure or extreme types, particularly stark encapsulations of a collective of properties by means of which an analysis or interpretation may be carried out. One should not expect to see these types in the real world, despite their being referred to repeatedly as if they did occur. When we say "this is a cell-3 attitude," what is meant is simply that the attitude is more like cell 3 than like any other cell, not that it is a perfect real-world instantiation of the "ideal" (= pure-type) cell 3.
Additionally, cell 4 only is "ideal" in the sense that it constitutes a goal for personal and social development, in the sense of Ozbekhan's "defactualized designs" (1973) or "willed futures" (1970) and Ackoff's "idealized design" (1981). This is a goal of a kind that provides direction for change efforts but cannot be completely attained--in the Ozbekhan and Ackoff cases because the ideal is revised continuously to reflect the stakeholders' emerging desires, and in the unity-diversity matrix case because cell 4 is a logical rather than an empirical construct.
Saying that the good life resides in the cell-4 experience of unity-in-diversity does not mean that only in the perfect instantiation of cell 4 is life worth living: to approach that cell and that experience is to improve one's life. Making these approaches is what constitutes development. An important shortcoming of the unity-diversity matrix, at least in its present form but maybe in principle, too, lies in its relative silence on the manner (strategy, methodology, techniques) in which this development may be carried out.
Another point deserving of mention in this evaluation of the matrix is its reflexivity, that is, its ability to make pronouncements about itself (or, stated less anthropomorphically, our ability to use the matrix's categories to talk about it). Two examples were the manner in which valuations may be constructed, as discussed in Section 4.9, where we argued that this should neither be logically compelling derivation (absolutism) nor totally free invention (relativism); and the question of the proper use of the matrix in Section 5.7, where we argued against relativism of "one-man's-X-is-another-man's-Y" subjectivism and the absolutism of scientistic objectivism. (A third example will be offered below.)
That the matrix thus applies to its own construction and application is a definite advantage, seen from the point of view of completeness and consistency. The matrix's reflexivity suggests that it is not a fancy mansion with the philosopher (its user) living in a hovel beside it (as was roughly Kierkegaard's description of Hegel's philosophical system and the role of the subject in it). However, critics of this matrix may well take its reflexive power to indicate imperviousness to criticism, as critics may well suspect that any failings of the matrix that are pointed out to its user can be explained in terms of the matrix itself, thus apparently strengthening rather than weakening it.
For example, the relative inability of the matrix to account for development, as discussed above, can be taken by the enthusiastic user of the matrix as an imperfection that just goes to show that the matrix does not pretend to explain everything, which would be absolutistic and hence not a good thing, while on the other hand is does purport to illuminate some things and hence is also not relativistic. The enthusiastic user will conclude that because of the matrix's inability to account for development, combined with its ability to account for other things, it approximates cell 4 and hence is pretty good. In other words, by applying the categories of the matrix to itself, one may turn a critique of its failures into a confirmation of its adequacy.
Any philosophical system or scientific paradigm worth its salt is similarly self-referential and hence, at least in principle, resistant to falsification. This is neither good nor bad, but simply an illustration of the incommensurability of conceptual systems, as first pointed out by Kuhn (1962). When such systems are abandoned it occurs not because of any critique performed within the conceptual purview of the system itself, but because of factors external to the system: its proponents get bored with it, or they die, or it is attacked on political grounds, as Galileo did in his efforts to discredit the Ptolemaic system (Feyerabend, 1975), or for any other non-system-related reason.
Let us conclude this evaluation by identifying some of the virtues of the matrix in the manner just identified: using the matrix's categories reflexively. The unity-diversity matrix presents the foundation of a conceptual framework for valuation, for identifying some things in life and society that are good and some that are bad. The matrix does this in a manner that is neither absolutistic nor relativistic. It is not absolutistic, because no concrete recipes for acting or thinking have been given, and it is not relativistic, because it does offer general guidelines for cooking and nutrition (to stay with the culinary metaphor). What is offered are general principles for the proper handling of forms, but no specification as to what forms should be engaged. There are innumerable ways in which human forms can be realized decently, just as general nutritional principles permit innumerable kinds of healthy meals.
For this reason, the unity-diversity matrix should probably be considered an ethic only in the most general sense of a system of values, and not in the more modern or specialized sense of a set of injunctions about conduct, such as a professional ethic or bioethics. The unity-diversity matrix offers a framework or context for thinking about values, a framework that holds no specific answers but whose application may nevertheless lead to the crystallization in the user's mind of particular judgments and courses of action.
The matrix is a framework that allows the user to address Russell's concern, as cited in Section 4.3 on the question of the good: "I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of values, but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don't like it" (quoted in Bambrough, 1988, p. 90). In this passage Russell evidently laments the absence of a larger intellectual or conceptual context by which he can both legitimize his instinctive feeling that wanton cruelty is wrong and refute the subjectivist position on values. Such a context is provided by the unity-diversity matrix and the implicate flux ontology underlying it: what is wrong with wanton cruelty is that it implies insufficient respect for other people (it is lacking in the diversity experience); and what is wrong with the subjectivist position on values is that it is relativistic; it is a cell-3 attitude that ignores the unity experience by which an individual would realize the common ground of human values and thus have no need for subjectivistic relativism.
The matrix's proposal that the good life lies in the realization of the unity-in-diversity experience is put forward in the spirit of a cell-4 game, which is a game that requires both serious attention and lighthearted playfulness. Such games are what constitute the good life, according to the matrix, and the matrix itself should be treated as such a game, whose rules are the categories and terms of the matrix and whose object is to gain understanding and derive guidance for human action.7
Seeing the construction and use of the matrix as a cell-4 game implies an openness to alternative interpretations of the its categories as well as a readiness to change it fundamentally or discard it altogether. Some of the applications of the matrix offered in the previous chapter may seem to be intrinsic to it; they almost fall out of it naturally, like the notions of attachment and detachment (in this author's opinion), whereas others may seem less obvious to the critical reader, as the discussion on the personal and the social good seems to this author, in retrospect. Different readers or users of the matrix will find it useful or not useful for different applications and in different contexts, and that is as it should be.
The principal benefit of the matrix is that it proposes definite concepts for the consideration of values. It is a vehicle that advances an alternative to both the absolutistic ethical precepts of the previous century, such as utility, survival and communism, and to the confused relativism of this century, as evidenced by the textbook in business ethics that walks indiscriminately through umpteen different ethical systems for the reader's supposed enlightenment (cited in Section 5.3). The unity-diversity matrix is a valuational framework that is at once traditional in its use of timeless ideas like unity and diversity, attachment and detachment, and so on, and thoroughly modern in its constructive basis in an ontology compatible with recent scientific theories and findings.
Proposing a view of humanity's moral strivings that is set in the context of a scientifically based cosmology, the unity-diversity matrix rushes into the nature/morality territory where the natural fallacy-people fear to tread. But it does so with open eyes.
6.5 Evaluation of the Argument from Ontology to Values
Let us now consider in its totality the chain of reasoning from ontological concept to valuational framework, from ontology-cum-physics to the human world. Two main philosophical objections may be raised against it. One is the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy, which prohibits any reasoning from "what is" to "what ought to be," that is, from nature to values (Moore, 1903). The other is an anti-reductionist critique that rules out explanations of complex systems (such as the human mind) in terms of simpler elements (such as physical or biological phenomena) (Koestler & Smythies, 1970; Boulding, 1956, Bunge, 1976).
The anti-naturalist objection was critiqued in Section 4.4. It was shown to be a postulate (rather than a logical law, as the term "fallacy" implies), the opposite of which can be equally well defended, and to have generally lost philosophical credibility. From that critique we may conclude that in the context of the crude naturalism of the 19th century, which saw human nature in rather mechanistic or organismic terms, the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy may have served a useful purpose as a bulwark against the intrusion of scientism into the domain of ethics and human affairs. However, if taken out of its historical context and elevated to a universal principle, the doctrine in effect lowers an iron curtain between our knowledge of nature and our view of human morals.
As to the anti-reductionist objection, we may note while its essence is an admonition against explaining complex phenomena in terms of simpler ones, it is often associated with a search for principles common to different levels of systems. Scholars in the systems tradition commonly embrace both of these apparently contradictory positions (Koestler, 1967; Boulding, 1978), some of them coming rather close to identifying supposedly general principles that seem to derive mostly from low-complexity phenomena.8 There is a fine line between the search for universals and reductionism, the temptation being to identify as universal that which really is only applicable to simpler phenomena and thus betraying the nature of the complex ones.
The universals pinpointed in this dissertation are the equivalent pairs of concepts, implicate and explicate order, and flux and forms. In Chapter 1, we argued that implicate order (and, by extension, the other three concepts) are "ontological concepts" that belong to no particular sphere of reality, as little as "time," "relation," "sequentiality" or any other such broad concept can be pinned to one particular scientific discipline. These universals were fleshed out, in the review of Bohm's work, in terms of the three images of the glycerine device, the hologram and the river with vortices. These were preliminary expositions, intended to give the reader a first feel for the concepts. We emphasized that implicate order is not peculiar to the glycerine device or the hologram, but is a general concept the meaning of which can be illustrated by these simple mechanical devices.
Later, in Chapter 3, which retraced the evolution of matter, life and the mind, we couched the ontological concepts in terms appropriate to the phenomena of concern. For example, we suggested that "flux" is what is known as energy in physics and as human activity in sociology. Similarly, "forms" take on different guises in different areas of inquiry: they include what goes by the name of a particle in physics, an organism in biology, a category in perceptual psychology and an institution in sociology. "Implicate order" was shown to be a useful descriptor in embryogenesis, visual perception, decision making and brain memory, and "explicate order" served us well in describing the construction of objective reality and the "discrete" contents of everyday consciousness.
In other words, we have shown that the ontological concepts take on different guises, or different forms, in the different fields they have been applied to. By always endeavoring to use forms (descriptions) that are loyal to the complexity of the field studied, that is, the descriptions typically used by scholars of that discipline (dissipative structures, percepts, ideal objects, values, etc.), we have attempted to avoid the reductionism that follows from using the simplistic forms that "stick" to an ontological concept when it is transported across disciplines, from the simple to the complex.
As an example of this reductionist error, consider that the human sciences have seen numerous theories based on simplistic energetic notions, such as Freud's (1957) libido, Reich's (1973) biological orgone energy, and the concept of utility in economics, as demonstrated by Mirowski (1984): "Neoclassical economic theory is founded upon a single mathematical metaphor which equates 'utility' with the potential energy of mid-nineteenth-century physics" (1987, p. 87). The problem in these cases is not that a process or dynamic view behind psychological and economic phenomena is being sought, but that this dynamic view (flux) drags along the terms (forms) in which it was couched in the physical disciplines that so inspired Freud, Reich and Pareto. Freud's picture of the psyche as a hydrodynamical system with pipes and valves, with the Libido exerting pressure and seeking outlets (cf. McCall, 1983), is problematic not for its attempt to see personality and the psyche as dynamic phenomena, but for the mechanistic expression this insight took.
The key point in our efforts to be true to the complexity of the human world was the two transformations, which made clear that a transition was being made from ontology to the human world. They were our way of introducing two essentials of the human world (experience and values) into the discussion. By doing this we went to considerably greater lengths to avoid reductionism that what is common in many social-science disciplines whose practitioners routinely exclude the role of human experience but are generally not labelled reductionistic (quantitatively oriented social sciences, such as econometrics, criminology, and experimental social psychology). Further, the fact that mainstream philosophy of social science (if not the practice of social science) has successfully fended off the intrusion of values in the social-scientific research process without being seen as reductionistic equally suggests that in this dissertation we have gone further to avoid reductionism than can be otherwise expected.
The anti-naturalistic and anti-reductionist objections addressed, we may now consider the argument from ontology to values from another angle. The argument can be modified so as to produce a weaker version than the one presented. The weaker version does not rely on the perceptual and neural mechanisms hypothesized in the discussion on target images (Section 4.5) or on the specific physical realization in the brain of the unity and diversity experiences (Section 4.8). These links in the chain of reasoning from ontology to values are the most specific and the most demanding of supporting empirical evidence (which at the present time is inadequate), and if these links break under experimental investigation the strong version falls. However, the weak version is not necessarily invalidated by such evidence.
The strong version, as presented, depends on the existence in the human brain (or central nervous system) of an implicate order of neural activity that stores and processes target images in the shape of (Fourier) transforms. It also requires that this organization of target images (that is, values) in the brain allows for the twin aspects of context and focus that we identified as ingredients of a good decision. Further, for the "context" criterion of a good target image to instantiate the diversity experience we require that the perspectivism characteristic of implicate orders is neurophysiologically relevant. Similarly, for the "focus" criterion of a good target image to instantiate the unity experience in full bloom, we require that the transforms in the brain "align" (and thus facilitate the flow of energy associated with the unity experience) in a manner corresponding to the alignment of transforms in optical computing whereby the bright spot of light ( = high energy) is produced.
This is not the place for an extensive (and unavoidably repetitious) review of the extant evidence for and against these requirements of the strong version of the argument. Suffice it to say that with this many points of contact with neurophysiology there is ample scope for casting serious doubt on the strong version, if not falsifying it outright. The next chapter will propose an experiment that will go some way toward providing such testing.
The weak version of the arguments starts from the intrinsic interest of the ontological concept of implicate order and proposes that implicate-like principles may equally be at work in human experience and valuation. However, there is no specification of any particular biological, neural or perceptual mechanisms. By thus bypassing the difficult links in the chain of reasoning the weak version relinquishes the attempt to understand exactly why implicate order should be relevant to the human world. Instead, the weak version relies on the intuitive appeal and reasonableness of the concept of implicate order and the formulation of the unity and diversity experiences.9
The weak version corresponds roughly to the line of argument employed by the holographic-design writers. They spend little time speculating why we should take guidance for organizational redesign from a curious little device like a hologram. Why not use another piece of optical equipment as a metaphorical springboard, such as a beam splitter or a refractive crystal? These writers are certainly aware of the wider physical and ontological significance of the holographic principle and probably feel that it may have biological or neurophysiological significance, too (they cite Pribram repeatedly), but they do not attempt to spell out the reasoning that would fully legitimize their use of the hologram. Thus, because of their non-treatment of the intervening links they appear as proponents of the weak version (their use of the term "holographic metaphor" seems to be an acknowledgement of this point).
In harboring intuitions about the general applicability of the concept of implicate order, the holographic-design writers are in good philosophical company, as their views are supported by the ontologies of Leibniz and Whitehead, as cited in Section 4.6. Avoiding the intricacies of neurophysiological organization, the weak version of our argument postulates a connection between, on the one hand, the whole-in-part and perspectivism characteristics identified by both Whitehead and Leibniz and, on the other, the flow experience of Csikszentmihalyi and the intuitive expertise of the Dreyfuses (unity experiences). This connection being recognized and postulated, it is but a small step to identify a complementary experience to go with the unity experience, namely, the diversity experience. The weak version continues with the construction of the matrix and from then on becomes indistinguishable from the strong version.
Thus, the merits of the weak version of the present argument are not only those apparent from the holographic-design writers (imaginative use of a metaphor, inspiration for organizational analysis, etc.), but includes our more extensive elaboration of how implicate order may manifest itself in human experience. An additional advantage of the present weak version over the holographic-design writers' work is the isolation and considerable discussion of the two transformations, whereby the transitions from ontology (hologram) to the human world (organizational design) are brought into the open, facilitating examination and criticism.
It should be pointed out that the weak version is similar to the connection made by Bohm between implicate order in physics and in thought. As we saw in Section 2.8, he proposes an analogy between a moving particle and a train of thought, both of which may be seen as unfolding from an implicate background. His other writings on mind and thought are replete with such analogies, which he justifies by thoughtful reasoning rather than reference to specific perceptual and neural mechanisms (he often refers to Pribram's work for these details, e.g., Bohm, 1980a, p. 83; 1980b, p.198).
Where Bohm does consider the possibility of specific physical realizations of the implicate-like workings of thought he refers not to biology or neurophysiology, but to quantum physics. For example, in a paper read before a parapsychological audience (1986b) he derives from his interpretation of the quantum theory an intriguing argument for the mind-like qualities of matter. If this idea, presented in too tentative a way for inclusion here, turns out to hold water it will presumably bear on our understanding of human experience and consciousness in such a way that a strong argument can be made (i.e., one that specifies perceptual and neural mechanisms). However, Bohm does not offer such an argument and we shall not speculate on its feasibility here.
What could topple the weak version? Since it does not refer to details discoverable by natural-scientific observation or experiment, it is more resistant to falsification than a conventional scientific hypothesis. Resistance to falsification, of course, does not imply that the argument is more likely to be valid than a more easily falsifiable proposition. What it does imply, as Popper pointed out (1962), is that the conceptual construction in question is not a scientific theory. Hence it cannot be criticized on conventional scientific grounds.
Other criteria must, and will, be used to identify its shortcomings. Conceptual consistency is one such criterion. For example, it can be argued that the "focus" and "context" criteria for a good target image do not correspond sufficiently well to the unity and diversity experience to support the connection claimed between experience and target images. Parsimony in the use of concepts and the argument generally is another important standard. For example, are too many phenomena grouped under the label "forms" for it to be meaningful? Comprehensiveness is a third desirable. Does the unity-diversity matrix with its four pure types cut down the complexity of the human world to a caricature?
Criteria less related to the inner structure of the argument include pragmatic usefulness. Does the argument presented lead to new practice, new ways of thinking or acting in the world? Can it make a difference in the lives of people? Relevance to the concerns of its potential users is equally a point on which the weak version can be evaluated. Does it address problems that are of importance to is audience? Is the argument presented trite or does it represent a fresh new perspective? A political criterion will lead critics to ask whether the argument serves the interests of a ruling class or may become a force for emancipation. All these criteria may be applied in the evaluation of the weak version (and the strong version, as well) and may lead to its modification, rejection or neglect.
In sum, the strong version advances the boldest claims about the applicability of the concept of implicate order to human experience and values; it relies on the existence of specific perceptual and neural mechanisms that are likely to be discoverable by traditional experimental methods; and it is therefore the easiest to refute. The weak version proposes connections that are more philosophical or mythological (in the best sense of the word10). The weak version does not rely as strongly on scientific details. If it is shown to be inadequate, it will more likely be due to such factors as conceptual inconsistency, limited practical usefulness, or plain irrelevance.
6.6 Further Research: The Neurophysiological Basis of the Unity-in-Diversity Experience
Two lines of further inquiry will be proposed in this section. One is an experiment that addresses the relationship between experience, target images and brain processes. The other, only partially developed in the present section because more fully presented in the appendix, concerns the elaboration and "testing" of the unity-diversity matrix in a process of research on community development.
The strong version of the argument from ontology to values called for the unity and diversity experiences to be physically realized in the brain in terms of an implicate order of neural activity. This realization was assumed to be mediated by target images, defined by Glazer as Fourier transforms of the ideal objects of decision situations. These transforms were hypothesized to be capable of being, one, "enfolded" in the implicate order of neural activity, meaning that each includes the context of other decision situations, and, two, enfolded "appropriately," meaning that they are aligned in such a way that enough energy is released (the "bright spot" analogy) to enable the decision maker to make and act on the decision in a focused way. We hypothesized that decisions involving target images that are enfolded and are enfolded appropriately are associated with the unity-in-diversity experience.
To examine if such a relationship between experiences and neural activity obtains, consider the following experiment. A decision situation requires subjects to combine two previously separate target images. Self-reports of what the subjects experience in this decision situation are then compared with measurements of neural activity to determine whether particular experiences are correlated with particular patterns of neural activity. Under the proper conditions, such a correlation would support the idea that target images may be appropriately enfolded in an implicate order of neural activity and that this is the neurophysiological basis of the unity-in-diversity experience.
In more detail now, we begin by setting up two separate decision situations so as to allow for two separate target images to be formed. In the first situation, A, subjects are told that electrical currents flow into five electrodes that are placed on various parts of the body of a volunteer, with whom there is no communication and whom they will never meet after the experiment. The current of each electrode can be adjusted separately. The special electrical equipment is such that it produces a still more pleasurable tingling sensation in the volunteer as the voltage increases from 0 to 40. Over 40 volts the current gradually loses it pleasurableness, such that the volunteer is indifferent to 60 and 20 volts, and to 80 and 0 volts. After 80 it becomes slowly more unpleasant, such that at 120 volts the volunteer will utter a light "Ouch!", which at 160 volts becomes more emphatic. The process culminates at the maximum capacity of the instrument, a very unpleasant 200 volts.
Subjects are given a list with 10 different combinations of settings of the five electrodes, for example 50-50-50-60-60, 50-60-50-60-50 and 60-60-60-90-90 (notice the similarity with the decision-making experiment performed by Glazer , as discussed in Section 3.5).11 Subjects are asked to rank order the combinations as they would if given control of the settings. No ties are allowed. We may assume that since there are no other incentives, the subjects will try to please the volunteer. The target image is thus 40-40-40-40-40. This implies that the average subject will rank 50-50-50-60-60 higher than 60-60-60-90-90, but lower than its "tie," 50-60-50-60-50, because, in Glazer's prediction (which we will assume to be correct), the latter is closer to a harmonic wave.
In the second decision situation, B, there is no volunteer to receive the electrical currents and the subjects know that. Subjects are told they will be given a dollar per volt per electrode. Thus, the maximum setting of 200-200-200-200-200 would pay $1000; it is the target image. Subjects are given the same 10 settings to rank order. They now rank 60-60-60-90-90 higher than 50-50-50-60-60, which is, however, still ranked lower than the harmonic "tie," 50-60-50-60-50 (again, according to Glazer's theory).
Under our hypothesis, the target images for A and B are each represented in the brain as Fourier transforms (essentially a number of component waves with particular frequencies.) These transforms may be stored as waves of neural activity in the dendritic networks, as suggested by Pribram (1971) or in any other brain variable capable of oscillation (of which numerous have been identified; see Adey & Lawrence, 1984, Fršhlich & Kremer, 1983; Hameroff, 1987). While the subject is occupied with ranking the setting combinations, the relevant neural activity variable is monitored with electrode probes or by other means, such that the pattern of neural activity, A, that is measured may be assumed to be equivalent to or produced by the transform of target image A. Similarly, decision situation B produces a neural activity pattern B that is presumed equivalent to target image B. (This would probably exceed the capacity of current neurophysiological methods, but the principle is clear.)
Now combine the two decision situations, such that subjects are required to take both target images into consideration. In this decision situation, C, subjects are told that the electrodes are hooked up to the volunteer as in situation A, but that they are compensated as in B. In other words, subjects will have to weigh the sensation they produce in the volunteer with their personal monetary gain. Subjects are again given the 10 setting combinations and are asked to rank them. In this situation we cannot predict the ranking, since no common target image can be assumed. Some subjects might be willing to produce a slightly unpleasant sensation in the volunteer for the gain of fifty dollars and thus rank 90-90-90-90-90 over 80-80-80-80-80; others may be against the very idea and will not go above 80, thus ranking 80-80-80-80-80 over 90-90-90-90-90. While each subject is doing this ranking, the neural activity pattern, C, is measured.
After the ranking, subjects are asked to report their feelings during the decision situation, C. They may be given a questionnaire or a structured interview, or they may just be given an opportunity to talk about the experiment. The purpose is to determine the degree to which the subjects experienced unity and diversity while doing the rankings. Relevant variables may be drawn from the unity-diversity matrix as presented in the previous chapter, from the investigations into flow experience of the Csikszentmihalyis (1988a), the intuitive expertise of the Dreyfuses (1986) or Benner and Tanner (1989), the high performance of Quinn (1988), or similar sources.
Self-report descriptions that would indicate that flow and unity were experienced by the subject include statements (or answers to questions asked) such as: "that was easy," "it wasn't hard, the rankings just came to me." "I feel I spent the right amount of time doing it" and "yes, I felt okay doing it." These statements indicate that the subject was able to think and decide with determination and focus.
Evidence of the diversity experience would come from statements like "I think I balanced the two considerations quite well," "I didn't mind giving him a little discomfort for the good money I got out of it; I would have accepted it if he'd done the same to me" and "it wasn't difficult for me to decide to give up on the big money and give the poor guy some pleasure instead." These statements suggest that the subject was able to consider a context by drawing on target images from two decision situation, which is more demanding than just deciding on the basis of just one target image.
Correspondingly, evidence that the unity experience was absent would come from remarks such as "that was tough!", "I don't know why I spent a whole hour doing those few rankings," "I agonized a lot" and "I was stuck for a long time." Absence of the diversity experience would be indicated by statements like "midway through the rankings I regretted that I would take money for inflicting pain on someone else and had to do the whole thing over again" and "after a while I felt stupid being so high-minded and finally got round to giving him 90 volts, which still made me feel guilty, though."
Independent raters now interpret and score the self-reports on two scales from low to high unity and diversity experience, which amounts to placing the subjects in one of the four cells of the unity-diversity matrix. (The details of this measurement can be negotiated: maybe some intermediate categories are needed, so there are nine cells instead of four; or maybe a fully graduated system of coordinates is needed instead of the either-or of a matrix, and so on.)
Now look at the neural activity pattern recorded during the ranking in situation C. We will assume that it is possible to interpret this pattern in such a way that it reflects, one, various degrees of "enfoldment" between the transforms A and B (physically realizing "context") and, two, various degrees of "alignment" of transforms (physically realizing "focus"). Before we proceed, let us briefly examine the likelihood of our actually being able to interpret the neural activity patterns in these two ways.
Evidence that the target images A and B have been enfolded so as to provide "context" for the subject might come from the neural activity pattern C being some composite of patterns A and B, maybe simply the sum of the waves that constitute the patterns, or maybe some more complex interaction. Recall that the transforms are simply a number of frequencies, which Pribram hypothesizes to be stored by some brain medium or neural oscillator. Determining whether two sets of frequencies, however physically realized, bear evidence of having been influenced by each other should be possible.
Evidence that the target images A and B have been enfolded appropriately so as to allow the subject to decide with "focus" might come from the detection of a surge of electrical or chemical energy which would be the neural equivalent of the "bright spot" in the optical computer. This surge could, for example, take the form of resonance between the involved oscillators or it could result in some other neural oscillators becoming entrained or setting up harmonic waves. The harmonic EEG patterns detected in people during meditation and in accomplished yogis might be a by-product and indicator of resonances set up by the alignment of target images. The generally contented and fulfilled outlooks as reported by meditators (Naranjo & Ornstein, 1981; Benson, 1975) agree with this interpretation (but hardly constitutes confirmation, as the macroscopic brain states that are indicated by EEG-waves can result from numerous other kinds of micro-processes).
Our central hypothesis--what carries these target images and allows them to blend (enfold) is an implicate order of neural activity--would be borne out if the physical carrier is waves or oscillators in the brain and if the manner of storage and processing is of the Fourier type (or some other kind of frequency analysis). Waves, because of their travelling and distributed (enfolding) nature, and frequency analysis are the hallmarks of an implicate order.
The measurements of the two neural dimensions, enfoldment and alignment (= context and focus), may be mapped in a two-by-two or a three-by-three matrix, just like the self-report matrix. The experiential and the neural measurements may now be compared. Standard statistical methods will reveal the goodness of the fit, the hypothesis tested being that subjects with a high unity-in-diversity experience have a high degree of neural activity of the kind that indicates enfoldment and alignment of target images (and similarly for the other cells). Under the usual statistical assumptions, as well as the (rather demanding) assumptions about the validity of the measured variables (the two neural variables indicate an implicate order of brain activity; the questions asked and the procedures used by raters faithfully represent the unity and diversity experiences), low p-values lend support to our hypothesis about the unity and diversity experiences being physically realized in the brain in terms of transforms appropriately enfolded in an implicate order of neural activity.
Even if fully supporting the hypothesis, this experiment, it will be noted, has not attempted to find a biological or natural basis for any particular values or target images. The experiment does not in any way allow us to conclude that it is morally justifiable to administer currents of, say, 85 volts in situation C. (One has the impression that much of the popular appeal of the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy derives from the assumption that naturalists would like to derive values from biology as specific as this.) We have not shown that people who report having the unity-in-diversity experience are moral people and that their target images for the settings should be adopted by others.
It is true, as it is for Csikszentmihalyi's flow experience for example, that the unity-in-diversity experience reported by one person when setting the voltage at X may be seen as an expression of sadism (or gullibility) by another person. To repeat the essence of our discussions on how the unity-diversity matrix may be applied (Section 5.7), neither the matrix nor this experiment enables us to sanctify any concrete standards for moral behavior. Which settings should be adopted is still a matter for communal negotiation and calibration.
This fact, however, does not reduce the experiment to simply a matter of finding which brain wave pattern goes with "feeling good" and which goes with "feeling bad." Quantitatively oriented psychologists hunting for correlations between EEG patterns and depression or self-worth or whatever have probably already identified scores of such relationships. What distinguishes the proposed experiment from such mindless correlation studies are two factors. First, the correlations searched for are supported by substantive theory involving detailed assumptions (future hypotheses) about the neurophysiological basis of decision and experience.
Second, the experiment is based on a comprehensive phenomenology of "feeling good" and "feeling bad," namely, the unity-diversity matrix, which presents to the user an array of concepts and ideas (absolutism vs. relativism, attachment vs. detachment, different kinds of care, commitment and meaning, the pitfalls of experiencing unity without diversity and vice versa, etc., etc.). These concepts provide a network of interrelated ideas and parallel images that may be used in comparing and analyzing what exactly is involved in "feeling good" and "feeling bad." Without such a language for talking about what is good and bad, all we can do is state our preferences bluntly: "well, I think he should get 90 volts" and that is the end of that. With a language we can examine these preferences: what are their origins and motives, what consequences are they likely to have, what views of life do they express, how do they apply in similar and different situations, and so on.
An examination of this kind may be realized in our second proposal for a line of further research. In Section 5.7 we discussed how the unity-diversity matrix may be applied. We found that because the matrix is not a model in the conventional scientific sense of describing a world independent of the person using it, the matrix is to be used as a personal view of the world, the specifics of which must negotiated in social discourse. This was an approach to the handling of value differences between people that has found support for in the writings of critical theorists like Habermas (1971), philosophers like Rorty (1979), social constructionists like Gergen (1982) and Bohm himself (1985b).
However, it is possible to go further than merely propose the use of valuational frameworks like the unity-diversity matrix in rational discourse and communal negotiation.12 They may be applied in experiments for social change. This would entail their being applied as sources for the specification of standards by which changes in community practices and beliefs would be proposed. In other words, community members would be invited to "try on" the matrix themselves and negotiate the meanings and applications of its categories in a concerted effort to change the community. This process is experimental in the sense that the progress of the change effort would be evaluated by community members on a periodic basis and corrected if out of line with pre-articulated expectations.
A suitable context for such social change efforts is provided by a cluster of planning methodologies and philosophies that may be called "normative planning" (Ozbekhan 1973, Emery & Trist, 1973, Ackoff, 1981). These are all explicitly values-based in that they depend on the stakeholders to articulate very clearly their expectations and desires for the future of their organizations or communities. Into this process of change may be injected valuational frameworks like the unity-diversity matrix, which may help the stakeholders clarify their values and preferences, anticipate the consequences of these values, and so on, drawing on the aforementioned benefits associated with having a language in which to talk about moral and valuational matters. This process would be a candidate for further research by virtue of the very scrutiny and "testing" that the matrix would inevitably undergo in such an orchestrated planning effort.
Expanding on the possible role of the matrix in a research-cum-social change effort, we may further suggest that the matrix can be adopted by a researcher engaged in an action research with a client organization or community. Action research (Rapoport, 1970; Susman & Evered, 1978) requires the researcher to be astutely aware of the values inhering in the learning and development process, and his role is often to critically examine the criteria and values whereby the client stakeholders evaluate the alternatives confronting them. In earlier work (Ravn, 1987a) it was shown how the valuational framework that preceded the unity-diversity matrix (the model of unfoldment) was used in a social research process by a values-conscious researcher (in casu, this author). The Appendix summarizes this earlier work and proposes a five-step methodology (strongly inspired by Ozbekhan, 1973, and Ackoff, 1981) that allows the unity-in-diversity matrix to equally become an integral part of a social research effort that tests it to its limit.13
6.7 "Shooting the Breeze in Well-Heated Offices": A Final Note
In a recent book the philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend offers some personal reflections that are not without relevance to the present work. In the opening chapter he says:
The chapter will make it clear that my concern is neither rationality, nor science, nor freedom--abstractions such as these have done more harm than good--but the quality of the lives of individuals. This quality must be known by personal experience before any suggestions for change can be made. In other words: suggestions for change should come from friends, not from distant "thinkers." It's time to stop ratiocinating about the lives of people one has never seen, it is time to give up the belief that "humanity" (what a pretentious generalization!) can be saved by groups of people shooting the breeze in well-heated offices, it is time to become modest and to approach those who are supposed to profit from one's ideas as an ignoramus in need of instruction, or, if business is concerned, as a beggar and not as heaven's greatest gift to the Poor, the Sick and the Ignorant" (1987, p. 17).
These words from a man who has spent his career writing books about abstractions like rationality, science and freedom (witness the titles of his books "Against Method," "Science in a Free Society" and "Farewell to Reason," from which the quote is taken). This passage expresses his massive self-doubt about being an intellectual with ideas on offer for readers and citizens.
Unlike Feyerabend, the present author harbors no guilt about entertaining abstractions such as these, and worse. Most of this dissertation was conceived and written in one of those well-heated offices, and the "ratiocinations" that went into its drafting were at one point described by a key reader in terms more derisive than "shooting the breeze" (although they consisted of the same two initial letters). Regardless, the work presented here has been based on the premise that the opposites so emphatically dichotomized by Feyerabend in the quoted passage should be complementary and mutually supportive, rather than mutually exclusive.
Viewed against the background of this premise, these opposites reconcile happily: science, rationality and freedom are made subservient to the quality of individual lives, personal experience is enriched by "distant" or reflective thinking, "saving humanity" and helping friends change become one and the same thing, the belief that others may profit from one's ideas is nourished along with a readiness to receive instruction, and we find that there is indeed such a thing as shooting the breeze modestly and humbly.
1. Bohm prefers to distinguish between clarity, which arises from serious attention, and confusion. He talks about the confused mind as missing the point, or being off the mark. "There are not two things, good and evil, but rather there is... attention which keeps you on the mark, or failure of attention which makes you go off" (Bohm, 1985b, p. 157). Why being off the mark and being on the mark cannot equally lead to labelling and "Us-Them" fragmentation Bohm does not say.
2. His alternative was to give attention to the processes whereby thought arises. This attention is, to Bohm, not an explicate thing, but is fuelled by the energy of the implicate order and hence a legitimate course of action.
3. In the world of truly limited resources, it will be a mistake to think that you can always have your cake and eat it too. A wasteful consumer society has believed that for too long. However, in the world of attitudes, values, emotions and other intangibles, such as the experiences that are the stuff of the unity-diversity matrix, opposites are often best seen as mutually compatible.
4. One may speculate that if one contributed to the Schlessinger-Bloom debate by advocating the union of relativism and absolutism without explicitly referring to a matrix model like the unity-diversity matrix, one would probably be considered confused.
5. For this and other reasons, the model of unfoldment was abandoned in favor of the unity-diversity model. Both, however, have some merit and may serve as complementary tools for the understanding of certain aspects of the human world.
6. In his writings, Bohm also does not make a distinction between kinds of fragmented order, which prevents him from making the more detailed analysis of human experience afforded by the unity-diversity model.
7. This is the third example of the reflexive use of the model, as referred to above.
8. Possible candidates for this category include Miller's (1978) nineteen rather simple subsystems allegedly found in systems at all levels from the cell to the supranational system; Jantsch's (1980) elevation of biological autopoiesis (Maturana & Varela, 1980) to general evolutionary and socio-cultural dynamic; and Lazslo's (1987) extension of Prigoginean non-equilibrium thermodynamics to social systems.
9. The Appendix presents the weak version.
10. "Mythological" in the sense of providing reasons or accounts of existence that cannot be derived strictly from scientific knowledge but does not conflict with it (Campbell, 1972). See also the recent book by Thompson (1989) in which he offers "mythological" reflections on the possible implications for human existence of recent scientific work in chaos theory, biological self-organization, the Gaia hypothesis, and symbiotic evolution.
11. The decision situation has five features (the electrodes), as in Glazer's experiment, simply for ease of comprehension: having discussed Glazer's experiment we can readily see how these features translate into Fourier transforms, to be described below. As Glazer points out, the holographic theory applies a fortiori to decision situations that are not easily decomposed into discrete features, but these are also more difficult to test experimentally.
12. After all, the discourse approach has certain limitations, as is argued in more detail in the appendix. Or as a native friend of the author replied, with characteristic American succinctness in matters philosophic, when asked about Habermas: "Isn't he the guy who says we should talk more to each other?"
13. ...and beyond: the model of unfoldment went under (and was later replaced by the unity-diversity matrix) in no small part because of problems arising from its application in the research process described in Ravn (1987a).