"Implicate Order" and the Good Life
Chapter 4: Implicate Order in Experience and Valuation
This chapter extends the discussion of human experience and also argues for the importance of values in the human world. These two essential dimensions of what it is to be human provide the context for our continuing exploration of the possible meaning of implicate order in the human world.
The chapter begins with a review of work by a handful of organization researchers who have been inspired by the metaphor of the hologram. They examine the hologram for interesting properties and suggest that organizations and other social systems may improve from adopting similar qualities. The review reveals the centrality of the two dimensions just mentioned: experience and values.
The discussion of values launched, we proceed to put this theme in context by giving an overview of the philosophical tradition in ethics. Since we are about to explore the applicability of the concept of implicate order in the realm of values, we must take issue with a traditional philosophical objection against defining the good in terms of any "natural" (or, in our terms, ontological) properties. A close examination of this objection, called the "naturalistic fallacy," shows that it rests on some very questionable assumptions and thus cannot impede our explorations.
We proceed by returning to Glazer's theory of decision making and asking what may constitute a "good" ideal object. We find that Pribram's work on implicate-like brain processes allows us to address this question in some detail, which brings the concept of implicate order into our emerging discussion of what constitutes good. The remainder of the chapter approaches the same issue from the vantage point of implicate order per se (not in organizations, not in the brain, but as an ontological concept) and develops in yet another way our argument for the relevance of implicate order to experience and values.
4.2 The Organization as a Hologram: A Critical Review
A number of writers in organizational theory have drawn upon the hologram as a metaphor for understanding the nature of organizations (Morgan & Ramirez, 1984; Morgan, 1986, n.d.; El Sawy, 1985; Pauchant, 1986; Mitroff, 1984, 1985; Bradley, 1985, 1987). The idea shared by these writers is the possibility of using this metaphor for identifying organizational arrangements in which the functional or structural properties of the organization are somehow distributed throughout the organization, so that each part of it is capable of doing what the organization as a whole does.
In a paper entitled "Action learning: A holographic metaphor for guiding social change" Morgan and Ramirez (1984) deplore the mechanistic character of modern organizations and ask if an alternative design principle can be found. They note that in a hologram, the whole is represented in the parts and any part can be used to reconstruct the entire image. They continue:
How wonderful it would be if our social institutions could possess this capacity. If we could design them in accordance with the holographic principle so that we systematically attempt to build the functions necessary for the whole into the parts, then there is a chance that we could... make them much more responsive and creative than they are now (Morgan & Ramirez, 1984, p. 2).
They go on to propose a principle of "holographic design" according to which...
...each element of an organization is designed to be able to perform a range of activities which may not all be needed at a single point in time. Emery (1967) and Emery and Trist (1973) have described this design principle as being based on a "redundancy of functions"--the parts have functions that are not always utilized but can be utilized when they are needed, for example, to deal with a changed situation or unexpected circumstances. This is holographic in that each part is endowed with functions that are necessary for the operation of the whole. Thus in an autonomous work group designed in this manner, all members may be trained in multiple skills so that they can substitute for each other as the need arises. Whereas in a more traditional (mechanical) work design, such as an assembly line, each member has a narrowly defined job defined by its place within the system, in the holographic design the nature of "one's job" at any one time is defined by problems facing the whole. The nature of the part in this latter case takes its specific shape at one time from the nature of the whole, whereas under the mechanical design principle, the whole is merely the sum of the parts. In the holographic design the redundant functions signify a potentially important self-organizing, and hence, adaptive capacity (p. 4) (emphases in original).
From these opening statements about the possibility of a holographic design the paper goes on to propose ways in which the self-organizing and adaptive capacities identified in the quotation may be developed in an organization. Despite the stated inspiration from the holographic metaphor the authors leave it behind after the first few pages and build the rest of their extensive argument for organizational change strategies on cybernetic principles, such as requisite variety (Ashby, 1956) and double-loop learning (Bateson, 1972, Argyris & Schon, 1978), as well as the tradition of action learning (Revans, 1982) and action research (Susman & Evered, 1978).
Morgan and Ramirez return to the holographic metaphor only sporadically and seem to have included it mostly for its immediate imaginative appeal. In a more recent paper Morgan (n.d.) draws on the holographic metaphor to argue that "microprocessing technology can be used to... create more decentralized forms of organization" (p. 2). A section titled "Facilitating Holographic Organization" surveys the four "principles of holographic design" that were also discussed in the Morgan and Ramirez paper (and which to this author seem more like cybernetic principles): redundant functions, requisite variety, learning to learn, and minimum critical specifications (pp. 7-10).
El Sawy (1985) goes into more detail with the holographic metaphor in a paper on the "technostructure" of organizations. He observes that in an organization a technostructure component (such as planning, computer services, and personnel functions) starts off as a separate staff function. When its importance increases, there is a turning point at which "it loses its separatism, its boundaries become very fuzzy and an increasingly large part of the functions that it performs are distributed and enfolded into the middle line of the organization..." (p. 5).
Noting the similarity with the enfolding of light in holography, El Sawy lists seven properties of holograms, such as the whole being enfolded in the parts, non-localized and parsimonious information storage with reconstructive capabilities, resistance to local noise, and the coherence of the laser light used. These properties are then used to interpret the evolution of technostructure and to propose some principles for organizational design. One is segmentation, the creation of components each of which "is a structural and functional replication or every other" (p. 21); another is "holographic interdependence" in which "the 'inseparable wholeness' of segmentation makes coordination much less costly" (p. 22), and a third is coherent light as a metaphor for strong central leadership.
Pauchant (1986) argues that strategic planning must be supplanted by what he calls a "holographic strategy." A consideration of the many interesting properties of a hologram leads him to suggest a number of components of a holographic strategy. They include the importance of developing a corporate vision of a more desirable future (Pauchant presumably relates this to the hologram because of its imaging ability); a multi-perspective mode of inquiry suggested by the fact that the hologram is viewable from different angles; the point that "any individual in the organization needs to be a representative of the whole organization at the strategic level" (p. 23a); and the need for the organization to be dynamic (this point Pauchant derives from the possibility of making holographic movies, although apparently ordinary photographic movies could equally well illustrate his point).
Consider now the work of the four holographic-design writers as a whole. Two things stand out. The first is that they have all chosen to use the holographic metaphor as a tool for envisioning better ways of organizing, rather than as a traditional scientific model for describing existing ways of organizing. The spirit shared by all of them seems well expressed by Morgan and Ramirez in the exclamation quoted: "How wonderful it would be if our social institutions could possess this capacity," that is, the capacity of the whole being represented in the parts. They all express dissatisfaction with existing mechanistic models of organizational structure and behavior and are inspired by the novel features of the hologram to propose alternative ways of understanding and designing organizations.
The confluence of efforts to better understand and design organizations is one that is typical of the tradition to which the four writers belong, that of organizational research. In this tradition the classical scientific distinction between descriptive/explanatory science and valuational engagement, between "facts" and "values," has always taken a back seat to the more pragmatic concerns of improving whatever organizational qualities are in fashion intellectually and politically: administrative efficiency, industrial output, quality of work life, "excellence," etc. As writers concerned with organizational design, Morgan and Ramirez, El Sawy and Pauchant are understandably drawn to the holographic metaphor for its potential to identify better forms or organizational structure and behavior.
That the holographic metaphor may be used as a model which is merely descriptive of organizational structure is suggested by Mitroff's mention of it (1985). In a paper entitled "Why our old pictures of the world do not work anymore" he presents three pictures of the world that are relevant to organization research. The first is the old "world as a simple machine;" the second the more recent "world as complex machine," inspired by Ackoff's stakeholder view of the organization (1981), and the third a novel "world as complex hologram." The third picture essentially corresponds to Mitroff's earlier (1983) model of the organization as a mental entity consisting of Jungian archetypes labelled as "stakeholders of the organizational mind," the title of his 1983 book.
As to the rationale for couching his organizational-archetype model in terms of a hologram (this description being absent in the 1983 book), Mitroff writes in 1985:
Figure 3 [which depicts a model of "the world as complex hologram"] differs significantly from Figure 2 ["the world as complex machine"] in another way. Some of the most recent and radical philosophical speculations concern the proposition that the world may be akin to a hologram (Wilber, 1982a). A hologram is a very interesting three-dimensional projected figure. It has the interesting property that if any part of it is enlarged, one does not get merely an enlarged picture of the part being blown up but a fuzzier picture of the whole holographic figure! That is, a hologram has the strange property that the whole is contained in every part but not to the same degree of clarity and sharpness. If a hologram is a good metaphor for a complex social system, then is each stakeholder an imperfect re-creation and projection of all other stakeholders? (1985, p. 32).
Mitroff does not develop the metaphor further than this. The final question in the quoted passage contains a premiss ("a hologram is a good metaphor for a complex social system") which, unfortunately, is not discussed. However, its being stated gives the impression that Mitroff thinks it is correct. If so, this constitutes an example of the use of the holographic metaphor (or, rather, a proposal to use it) as a descriptive device, a model for understanding the way organizations are, not particularly the way they ought to be.
A much more extensive descriptive-explanatory use of the metaphor is fond in Bradley' study of patterns of interpersonal relationship in communes (1987). Bradley collected questionnaire data on the dyadic relations between members in each of 46 communal organizations and constructed sociograms from these data. He found that a remarkable overall order and coherence emerged in each pattern of relationships, to the effect that the whole sociogram can be constructed from any part of it. To account for this fact he tries and discards four traditional sociological hypotheses (historicist, interactionist, normative, and stratification-based) and embraces instead a "holonomic" hypothesis.
...images of global order can be constructed from mappings of dyads. This suggests that social organization may be like a hologram: it is possible to derive a view of the group from dyads because the parts (dyads) contain all information about the organization of the whole (the group). Thus, the relation between part and whole is holonomic... (Bradley, 1987, p. 225).
Like El Sawy and Pauchant, Bradley lists a number of properties of a hologram, each of which is found to have a social equivalent. They include distributed information storage and the consequent resistance to damage, which may explain the persistence of social order despite the destruction of many of its parts; efficient information storage, which corresponds to the ability of an individual to experience a complete reality in each situation; three-dimensional image reconstruction, equivalent to our experience of social reality as being as "real" as the physical world; and the projection of the image away from the plane of the hologram, which is similar to the common idea that social structure is "out there."
Bradley concludes this list by noting that "by now it should be apparent that there is good reason to take the holographic metaphor seriously and explore its explanatory potential as a model of social organization" (p. 246) (emphasis added). He proceeds to do this by testing the listed properties against his data and finds that there is indeed good evidence that a hologram-like structure prevails in the communes.
Mitroff's mention of the holographic metaphor and Bradley's extensive work with it illustrate that the metaphor may be used descriptively or valuationally, the latter course having been pursued by Morgan and Ramirez, El Sawy and Pauchant. This is a choice one has to make, whether to pursue the classical social-scientific course, adopting the metaphor as an explanatory model, or to launch into valuational considerations with the metaphor. As already indicated, the latter path will be taken in what follows.
Now, the second thing to notice in the four holographic-design writers, besides their valuational orientation, is a slight bias towards the structural or formal aspects of the organization and a concurrent de-emphasis of the organizational situation as experienced by the stakeholders. This is evident in El Sawy's focus on the impersonal technostructural and strategic functions that must be enfolded in the organization and in Pauchant's concern with strategy as defined from the corporate top rather than, say, issues of stakeholder participation. The structural orientation is similarly reflected in Morgan and Ramirez' example of the autonomous work group which has a distribution of skills specified by analogy with the formal properties of a hologram. This orientation may be contrasted with the phenomenological or interpretive grounding of social reality provided in the previous chapter, in which the individual's experience or interpretation of the world is taken as a starting point for understanding.
Before we pursue this point, it should be noted that personal communications from the holographic-design writers as well as other publications of theirs rule out the possibility that the emphasis in the quoted papers on "outer" structural matters and the comparative neglect of "inner" experience is anything but accidental or unintended (cf. Morgan, 1983; Ramirez, 1983; Pauchant, 1988).
Nevertheless, the omission to take a phenomenological or experiential perspective when employing the holographic metaphor stands out because a values-based discourse is undertaken by the holographic-design writers--and especially in the realm of values personal experience must be considered. To wit, if one introduces a new design principle by means of which an organization is supposed to improve, there must be somebody to feel the improvement; some stakeholder must experience the new design as better than the previous one, otherwise we could not talk about improvement.
While it is important to generate novel and exciting images of alternative organizational arrangements, it seems a fundamental principle that these designs be evaluated by those whose lives are affected by them. It is entirely possible that the stakeholders of an organization which has been redesigned according to a holographic design will be considerably less satisfied with their jobs and lives in general than they were before.
For example, despite the fact that an autonomous work group with multi-skilled members may seem to embody a holographic design principle, it is conceivable that some people derive more satisfaction from exercising the one skill they have perfected, and the organization may be the better for it. As with any design principle, there is always the possibility that the stakeholders, whether internal or external, will remain unexcited by it and prefer the old structure. Thus, the criterion of what constitutes a successful redesign of organizational structures and functions cannot be its degree of conformity with some abstract design principle, holographic or otherwise, but must refer to the experience of the people concerned.
In light of this it seems reasonable to propose that the valuational focus introduced by the holographic-design writers must be accompanied by an experiential focus. These writers chose to use the holographic metaphor not merely as a descriptive-explanatory framework, but as a starting point for valuational considerations. It is argued here that a corresponding shift from a concern with formal structures and functions to a view of social reality as being rooted in the experience of human beings must be effected. This shift from an "objectivist" view of the social world to an experience-based one has in fact, as pointed out, been argued convincingly by the holographic-design writers themselves in other contexts than in their publications on the holographic metaphor. These papers are probably best seen as preliminary explorations of the metaphor that await closer integration with the rest of the work done by these writers.
In a recent book on metaphors in organizational analysis, Morgan (1986) takes a step towards this integration by placing the holographic design principle in the context of corporate culture, ethos, and the employees' shared sense of the organization, that is, their experience of their social world. Citing the case of a plant that reorganized and created autonomous work groups, he notes that...
...the whole ethos of plant operations is characterized by holographic integration. The work design was stimulated by a desire to create a holistic relationship between people and their work, so that employees would acquire a sense of identity with the firms and its products.... It is by building this shared sense of the corporate whole into each and every employee that holographic organization achieves its coherence. Though not usually discussed in this way, the role of corporate culture is important in modern organizations because of its holographic potential (Morgan, 1986, pp. 104-105).
Although most organizational members would probably resent having a shared sense of the corporate whole "built into" them, as Morgan's ill-chosen formulation goes, his attention to the importance of people's sense of identity with a larger whole, which he does not develop further here, is in broad agreement with our emphasis on the role of human experience in the application of the concept of implicate order to the human-social world.
The passage quoted from Morgan may stand as a motto for our continued explorations in the remainder of this dissertation, in which the valuational and experiential dimensions will receive further treatment. The two shifts discussed in this section, from a descriptive-explanatory use of the holographic metaphor to a valuational use and from an "objectivist" account of social reality to an experiential one, will later be referred to as the two transformations necessary for the implicate order to become a more humanly meaningful concept. In light of the extensive discussion of the interpretive or experiential dimension in the previous chapter, the next two sections attempt to set the scene for the valuational dimension and the discussion of the good life.
4.3 The Question of the Good
In Western philosophy the question of what constitutes good has been pursued under the rubric of moral philosophy and ethics. Aristotle was the first to give a comprehensive treatment, in the Nicomachean Ethics, of the proper relations of man to man. He proposed the idea of the golden mean as a central principle governing human conduct and identified some twenty pairs of extreme characteristics of human behavior and attitudes. For example, between the opposites of extravagance and stinginess generosity is the golden mean (1119b-20). The good life, a phrase which also traces back to Aristotle, lies in pursuing this middle path between excesses, between too little and too much.
From Aristotle on, a panoply of learned answers to the question of the good have been advanced by philosophers, theologians, and political thinkers, to say nothing of the more practical attempts of social reformers and activists of all kinds to improve the lot of people. While it is clearly impossible to generalize about the latter's practical attempts to lead the good life, the theoretical answers, particularly those proposed by moral philosophers of the modern age, mostly seem to be borne by the desire to place values on a solid foundation that can be comprehended by rational thought and described in precise terms. This, of course, is in accord with the general philosophical impulse to find the principles and rules that govern the phenomenal world (cf. Dreyfus, 1988). In the area of ethics this impulse leads naturally to an attempt to find a firm and systematic footing for the question of what is the good life.
The long list of system-builders in modern ethics includes such names as Hobbes (1968), whose idea of the natural human instinct for self-preservation was the cornerstone of his view of man and the state, Spinoza (1982), who based his ethics on the method of geometry, Kant (1959), whose philosophy of moral obligation relies on reason, not observation, Bentham (1970), whose utilitarianism depended on a calculus of pleasure inspired by scientific method, Mill (1965), whose qualitative hedonism distinguished kinds of pleasure, Spencer (1896), who proposed an ethics of survival on the model of Darwin's theory of evolution, and even the anti-system Kierkegaard (1959), who pinpointed the non-rational act of decision as the center of man's existence but who nevertheless spent his entire short life writing voluminously in the attempt to grasp in words and thought what he found essentially irrational and inexpressible.
MacIntyre (1981) finds that the systems constructed by moral philosophers since the Age of the Enlightenment have proved to be of little help in modern life. The attempts to find a solid basis for values have come to nought; hardly any universally agreed-upon values have crystallized as a result of the philosophers' efforts. Modern society contains a profusion of incompatible subjective and competing values. The exasperation of the moral philosopher seeking universal standards is well expressed by Bertrand Russell (quoted in Bambrough, 1988, p. 90): "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."
Under the influence of logical positivism and the general lack of success in philosophical ethics, philosophers of the early and mid-20th century largely gave up the attempt to build coherent systems of ethical principles and instead turned to an analysis of the meaning of ethical terms. This effort has been termed "metaethics," which contrasts with the "normative ethics" of earlier times (Garner & Rosen, 1967). (Influential works in metaethics include Hare, 1952; Nowell-Smith, 1954; Toulmin, 1960.)
[Metaethical] philosophers do not attempt to construct a systematic ethical theory for use in daily living; they endeavor to analyze moral concepts or the logic involved in moral concepts.... They refrain from offering moral judgements.... [They] are constantly investigating the meanings and functions of words and sentences expressing moral values (Sahakian, 1974, pp. 3-4).
The 1970's and 80's have seen a return of philosophical interest in practical ethical problems and more of a willingness on the part of philosophers to commit themselves to normative positions. A topic such as justice and rights has received considerable attention (Rawls, 1971; Dworkin, 1978; Martin & Nickel, 1980; MacIntyre, 1988; Kohlberg, 1981). The field of bioethics has attracted major public interest on such topics as abortion (Sumner, 1981), brain death (Lamb, 1985), genetic engineering (Glover, 1984), and environmental concern (Attfield, 1983). Under the rubric of business ethics, the question of corporate responsibility and the morality of economic transactions constitute yet another area of current interest in ethics (French, 1984; Benson, 1982; Paul et al. 1985).
Like these efforts to clarify the values in areas of modern life as important as law, health and business, the present dissertation is an exercise in normative ethics. The concern here is not merely, in the manner of metaethics, to explore the meanings of terms, such as "What does it mean to ask what the good life is?," but actually to ask the question "What is the good life?" and attempt to answer it. To be sure, far more concrete answers to this question have been given than will be offered in this work, such as the advice for living found in self-improvement manuals (Carnegie, 1936; Peck, 1978) or in the literature on social reform (Schumacher, 1973; Freire, 1970; Illich, 1973). Unlike such books, the present work devotes more attention to laying the conceptual foundations for a discussion of the good life than to practical advice.
In a certain sense, the present work is written in the tradition of moral philosophers who sought a firm basis for values. Hobbes, Spinoza, Bentham and Spencer were all influenced by the scientific knowledge of their day and tried to align their understanding of human values with the current understanding of the workings of nature. This author shares that interest, namely, the search for a view of reality that affords mutually consistent accounts of the natural and cultural worlds. He is, however, under no illusion that the "foundation" identified, the implicate flux ontology as derived from David Bohm's work, is at all firm. It is a speculative proposal which is in reasonably good agreement with current physics (Chapters 2) and with a variety of accounts of biological evolution and human-social development (Chapter 3), but there is no sense in which this can be said to provide the indisputable foundation for values sought by the moral philosophers of earlier times.
The idea of an ontology that affords the simultaneous consideration of scientific and valuational topics raises an issue that must be dealt with before we can proceed further. This is the problem of the "naturalistic fallacy."
4.4. The Naturalistic Fallacy
The doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy was formulated by the analytic philosopher G. E. Moore in his influential Principia Ethica (1903, chap. 1). The doctrine was part of Moore's general philosophical antipathy towards the naturalism of the 19th century and its influence in ethics. Naturalism was the philosophical position that everything can be explained by reference to things found in nature and investigated by scientific (empirical and experimental) methods. No supernatural explanations are needed, nothing outside of nature needs to be invoked in order to understand the world.
In moral philosophy the naturalist position held that...
...moral rules and moral judgements can be derived from--and so justified by--what biology, psychology, sociology and the other sciences can tell about human life and nature. The age-old quest for a universally valid moral code may, it is assumed, be satisfied by modern science. It is not in any way surprising that this belief became prominent during the latter half of the 19th century, when the final success of an all-embracing mechanistic science seemed in sight and the advantages of viewing man as a part of nature seemed obvious (Blegvad, 1959, p. 230).
Some well-known naturalistic moral philosopher are Hobbes (man acts from egotistical impulses, so the highest ethical principle is that of self-preservation), Bentham (man strives to maximize happiness, so society should seek to the obtain the greatest sum total of happiness for its citizens) and Spencer (life is an impulse towards growth, so society should stimulate growth).
Against this identification of man with nature Moore wished the assert the autonomy of man's moral life from the laws of natural science. He rejected the attempts of the naturalist philosophers to define good in terms of things found in nature, that is, in terms of the properties of the objects believed to be good. The identification of good with the natural properties of empirically observable objects he termed the naturalistic fallacy, implying that such reasoning is invalid (cf. Warnock, 1966, chap. 2).
After Moore, the phrase "naturalistic fallacy" has come to be applied to any attempt to define the meaning of good in factual or descriptive terms and "...in particular, [to] any inference that purports to derive a normative conclusion from purely factual premises, any passage in reasoning from 'is' to 'ought'" (Quinton, 1988, p. 563). In other words, to infer from a description of how the world actually is to a prescription of how it ought to be is to commit the naturalistic fallacy.
This has been called "Hume's Law" because of a remark made by Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature:
In every system of morality which I have hitherto met with I have always remarked that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought or ought not expresses some new relation or affirmation, it is necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others that are entirely different from it (Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, III, I, i, quoted in Fink, 1969, p. 41.) (Emphases in original.)
Nowell-Smith (1954) explains this passage as follows:
Freely translated into modern terminology, what Hume means is this. In all systems of morality we start with certain statements of fact that are not judgements of value or commands; they contain no moral words. They are usually statements about God or about human nature, that is to say about what men are and in fact do. We are then told that because these things are so we ought to act in such and such a way; the answers to practical questions are deduced or in some other way derived from statements about what is the case. This must be illegitimate reasoning, since the conclusion of an argument can contain nothing which is not in the premises, and there are no 'oughts' in the premises (p. 37. Quoted in Fink, 1969, p. 42).
In recent times this charge has been put against sociobiologists (such as Wilson, 1975 and Dawkins, 1976). They attempt to identify laws of evolution and reproduction and derive prescriptions for human behavior from them. Wilson is quoted (in Slater, 1977, p. 349) as saying that "scientists and humanists should consider together the possibility that the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of philosophers and biologicized," and he looks forward to "a genetically accurate and hence completely fair code of ethics." Slater objects to this stark naturalism:
David Hume first pointed out what has come to be known as the Naturalistic Fallacy; that arguments on ethics tend to start with a series of statements about 'what is' and then suddenly leap to 'what ought to be'. What is known about evolution theory helps to explain what is, it may give an idea of what could be and in what circumstances, but it can say nothing about what ought to be. There seems no reason to propose that values derived from evolution have any relevance to the needs of present-day human societies (p. 351).
Now, our research opportunity is to render the ontological concept of implicate order meaningful in the human world. This is being attempted by interpreting implicate order as relevant to the idea of the good life. As indicated by the title of the present chapter and as we shall see in later sections, "valuations" will be constructed from the implicate order. Does this not entail committing the naturalistic fallacy? Is the idea of "constructing" values-related principles from a scientific description of the world not an instance of invalid reasoning? Is it at all permissible to bring an ontological concept, which has a reasonably clear meaning in the physical world, into a discussion of what may be understood by good in human existence?
The sociobiological case seems clearly inacceptable and apparently for the reason that it commits a naturalistic fallacy of sorts: from the behavior of the animal kingdom one cannot conclude that humans, even though they share substantial parts of their biological constitution with animals, should act the same way. Is the argument in the present dissertation, which passes from an account of physical, biological and psychological unfoldment to valuational principles for human life, any different from the sociobiological argument? Let us attempt an answer to this question through a critical examination of the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy itself.
A number of objections have been raised against the anti-naturalism inherent in this doctrine (as documented in Foot, 1967; Hudson, 1969; Blegvad, 1959; Fink, 1969), and some of them will be discussed below. They are variations on the same theme, namely, that the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy is based on a questionable exclusion of context.
Nowell-Smith's rendering of the naturalistic fallacy quoted above points to the logical core of the anti-naturalist argument: to reason is to draw conclusions from premises, and if there is no "ought" in the premises, but only "is," then how can there be an "ought" in the conclusion? This objection, which was attributed to Hume, presupposes that the only legitimate form of reasoning is the syllogism. This is a view of valid reasoning most people, including most philosophers (Fink, 1969, p. 43), would probably consider too restrictive.
A more informal type of reasoning is the "contextual implication," by which the wider context of the statements made is considered as well. This form of reasoning admits that the speaker may legitimately take clues for his reasoning from other circumstances than merely the premises as stated. For example, if the statement "This is a long train" is taken in isolation, out of any context, it is true that we cannot deduce any evaluative statement from it. The fact that the train is long may be good or bad, we cannot know. But if one includes the context in which this statement is made, evaluation often flows from it. If the statement is said by someone wishing to find a friend on the train, a listener is likely to conclude that the speaker thinks it is bad that the train is long, but if it is said by someone still hoping to find a empty seat, it is good. Such "contextual implications" are drawn quite effortlessly by ordinary people and constitute a normal part of everyday thinking and discourse.
Another argument for the inclusion of context is made by Searle (1964, 1969). He shows that the inclusion of the institutional context in which statements are made enables him to derive an "ought" from an "is." He does this as follows:
Each of these statements follows logically from the previous one, and yet the first is a description and the last is value-judgement (cf. Fink, 1969, pp. 96ff). The transition from "is" to "ought" in this example relies on the social institution of promising, according to which promising someone to do something implies that one ought to do it. This line of reasoning is a contextual implication because the institutional or cultural context, which holds that one ought to act on a promise, implies that statement 1 is equivalent to statement 5.
Statements are always made in a social context which contributes to their meaning; they are speech acts, as Searle calls them (from Austin, 1962), that is, acts carried out in a social world of actors. This social context must be included in the analysis of any reasoning process. In the abstract world of formal logic, the syllogism may be the supreme form of reasoning, but not so in the real world of social interaction; "contextual implications" are equally valid, and considerably more common.
A further problem with the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy is that it presupposes the possibility of distinguishing sharply between evaluative and descriptive statements (Fink, 1969, pp. 52-62). Otherwise, how could it be argued that the passage from one to the other is illegitimate? However, a closer examination shows that it is extremely difficult to make such a distinction rigorously, that is, in such a way that any statement can be classified as either evaluative or descriptive. For example, the mere presence of certain words, such as "is" or "ought," is not sufficient basis for classification, as illustrated by the following sentences: "This is an exciting book" and "According to the schedule the train ought to be here now." The former is clearly evaluative, despite the presence of "is," and the latter descriptive, despite the presence of "ought." Nor does the presence of certain types of words, tenses, or grammatical categories indicate which kind of statement it is.
Arguing that one cannot derive "ought" from "is" obviously presupposes that there is a specific difference between descriptive and evaluative statements to begin with. But what is the nature of this difference? As argued in the preceding paragraph, it is impossible to distinguish rigorously between descriptive and evaluative statements. In the following passage Fink points out that the sharp distinction drawn between descriptive and evaluative statements by anti-naturalists is irrelevant to the naturalist, who conceives of the difference in other terms:
The [anti-naturalistic] argument attempts to show that "ought" cannot be derived from "is," because it 'seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation [i.e., proposition] can be a deduction from others that are entirely different from it' [Hume, as quoted above]. But this presupposes that "ought" indeed is 'entirely different from' "is." A naturalist will deny the correctness of this presupposition. The [anti-naturalistic] argument could be validly applied against people who make the contradictory assertion that "'ought' and 'is' belong to clearly distinct logical domains; and yet one can deduce 'ought' from 'is'." But what the naturalist would claim is rather, "the difference between 'ought' and 'is' is such that the question of whether one can be deduced from the other is completely irrelevant" (Fink, 1969, p. 44. Translated by I. R.).
The kind of is/ought difference that concerns us here is one that is bridgeable not by logical deduction, but by an argument referring to the unfoldment that generated the human world from the natural world. To bring out this point, we must first appreciate the equivalence between the is/ought distinction and the distinction between the natural and human worlds.
It stands to reason that the moral dimension is central to what it is to be human (morality requires freedom of choice, which in turn requires the faculty of abstract reasoning and symbol use, as discussed in the previous chapter--so a sizeable portion of what is normally considered constitutive of human being is involved). If the moral dimension thus characterizes human being, the discontinuity between facts and values postulated by the anti-naturalists is equivalent to a postulated discontinuity between the physical-biological world and the human world. In other words, the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy presupposes not only a logical split between statements of fact and statements of value, but also an ontological split between the physical-biological world and the human-social world.
This split or discontinuity was deployed by the anti-naturalists as a defense against the intrusion of what they saw as the naturalists' overly scientistic view of human life and society (cf. Blegvad, 1969, pp. 19ff). In this light the attempt to denounce arguments that pass from an "is" to an "ought" as a fallacy on a par with other logical fallacies appears as an attempt to assert the autonomy and special status of man's moral life. This becomes all the more understandable and excusable when one recalls the crude reductionism and mechanism advanced by philosophers who were inspired by the scientific conception of nature, such as Bentham.
While quite understandable in its historical context, the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy becomes an impediment to a proper understanding of the relation between human beings and nature, because any consideration of the possible relevance of our evolutionary roots to human values is prohibited. The classical debate about naturalism in ethics was about the question whether humans really were as base and simplistic as suggested, for example, by the mechanistic analogies of Hobbes. The anti-naturalists apparently accepted the idea that if there were a connection between man and nature, it would have to involve a reduction of humanity to something lesser, animal-like or biologistic. Against this reduction the anti-naturalists wanted to preserve the special status of human beings vis-a-vis nature, but they have ended up throwing the baby (an appreciation of the relationship between the human and natural worlds) out with the bathwater (the attempted reduction of the human world to the natural world).
After Darwin, however, we can no longer question the connection between man and nature: we spring from simpler life forms and have plenty in common with them still. At issue now is not whether we are related to the natural world, but what the nature of this relationship is.
The previous chapter offered a formulation of the relation between the physical-biological world and the human world. We developed a view of reality as having unfolded from an implicate flux, giving rise to a multiplicity of forms that constitute the explicate, manifest world. In the course of cosmic evolution, these forms complexify; some generate boundaries (and become systems); and some of these systems develop an inner world that enables them to act intelligently in the outer world.
Gradually, over thousands or millions of years, some of these latter systems form an inner world of experience, which itself is organized as an explicate order with distinctions, categories and symbols. In this inner, phenomenological world, things not immediately present to the senses can be entertained by the mind in the form of symbols. This allows us to consider alternatives to what is immediately experienced, such as various courses of action and their consequences. This constitutes freedom of choice. To exercise this freedom intelligently, some guidance--values--is required as to which alternatives should be selected. In this account of the unfoldment of the human world, values represent an aspect of human existence that flows "naturally" from what precedes it (which is not to say that specific values follow naturally).
Berger and Luckmann (1966, p. 47) point out that humans are distinguished from pre-human animals by their relative lack of biological determinants for action. That is to say, the forms guiding an animal's activity are by and large innate, whereas a human has to learn and/or invent forms to guide action. At birth, an animal's world is "closed," while the human infant's world is "open" and full of possibilities. Culture--that is, non-innate forms of activity created and maintained in a community--is what closes the world of the human being, and it does so by channelling human activity into definite patterns. These patterns constitute a world of shared experience, a world of explicate forms that guide human activity. Jantsch puts this point as follows:
The moral experience... gradually replaces the genetically determined instinct as a regulator of behaviour. In the human realm, where possibilities for action are available in such a wide spectrum, it is primarily the mental structures--our intentions, desires, and preferences--which are guided by morality and determine our overall behaviour (1978, p. 460)
The relative absence of innate forms of behavior in humans amounts to a requirement that we invent or generate such forms. As a species, we must come up with forms to guide our action, otherwise we will perish. But how do we know what forms to invent, what forms will serve us well, what forms are good, what forms bad? The naturalist would find an answer to this in human nature or in the world around us. Finding inspiration in the character of the natural world cannot be ruled out as impermissible a priori. Why should this be more illogical or illegitimate than taking one's cue from someplace else, such as Moore's postulated ethical intuition or, for that matter, a supernatural (divine) power Such sources of good might equally well be denounced as "non-naturalistic fallacies."
One can probably construct both reasonable and quite unreasonable ethical systems from naturalist as well as non-naturalist starting points, but there seems no reason why any one starting point should be dismissed out of hand as long as it opens itself to reflection and dialogue (this last condition being, of course, also an axiomatic value, and one that will be elaborated later).
4.5 Brain Order, Decisions and Values
Let us now return to Glazer's holographic theory of decision making and its possible realization in the brain to see if this provides a framework for a discussion of values.
We recall from Section 3.5 that this theory assumes the existence in the brain of Fourier transforms of "ideal objects" (to be called target images henceforth) against which the transforms of objects in a choice set are compared in a holography-like process. The object whose transform produces the best match with the target image is the object selected. Decision theorists are generally concerned only with the instrumental or mechanical aspects of decisions (how are choice objects compared against the target image?), not with the deeper question of where target images come from in the first place (why is this object and not that elevated to the status of ideal object or target image?).
To more fully understand the nature of a good decision we will go beyond the standard decision-making models as well as the holographic theory and ask "what is a good target image?" Before we embark on an answer to that question, we may note that the concept of target images (that is, ideal objects) is the decision theorist's way of talking about values. Since all our actions can be said to presuppose decisions, minor ones or major ones, the target images that guide decisions are essentially values. To say that my target image for a mode of transportation is a non-polluting, inexpensive and safe vehicle is the same as saying that such are my values.
When we describe people as doing well (excelling at their jobs, for example) we mean that the decision that triggers every action involved is based on a good target image. Making a good sales presentation requires having a good idea (whether consciously or unconsciously, or both) about what a sales presentation should be like (as well as selecting the appropriate sub-actions efficiently, which is what decision theory is about). A discussion of good and bad target images is thus ultimately a discussion about values.
But what is a good idea of what a sales presentation should be like? What is a good target image? We can approach this daunting question by noting that while decision theorists in their experiments usually consider one decision only, in isolation from the rest of the world, decisions in real life are always set in a context, such as that of other decision situations than the one at hand. Let us therefore approach our question by asking not what is one good decision, but what are two good decisions.
Imagine that I am about to buy a car and want to make plans for a vacation, two major decisions. Aspects of one decision are evidently relevant to the other. If I buy an expensive car, I cannot afford that six-week Caribbean cruise I always wanted, and if I decide to spend my vacation touring the country by car, a new car with a decent mileage would come in handy.
For me to get the most out of these two decision situations, the target image of each must take the other into account. In terms of processing and storage in the brain, information about one decision situation must be accessible to or part of the target image of the other. Recalling the implicate nature of the target images in the holographic theory of decision making, we may express this intimate relationship between two target images by saying that one is "enfolded" into the other in the implicate order of the brain. The notion of enfoldment, as used by Bohm, indicates that information about one part is available to the whole and to all other parts. As applied to target images in the brain, this means that information from one transform is available to or present in the other transform, by some wave-like physical mechanism.
In the example, if I am able to make decisions that do not conflict but take each other into account, then my target images may be said to be enfolded into each other. I will rightly feel that I have made the most of the decision situations. If on the other hand I bought the expensive car and the next day persisted in planning for the cruise (both of which I cannot afford), my target images do not harmonize; they are not enfolded into each other. I have messed up the situation. So far, two good target images appear to be ones that enfold each other.
To make the most of not just a two-decision situation, but life as a whole, I must take many other decision situations into account in every decision that I make (in proportion to their relevance to the situation at hand). People who are able to take many factors into account in their decisions we describe as skilled (like the basketball player who knows where everybody is when he makes his move), farsighted (like the planner who considers factors that are not present yet but may appear in the future), considerate (like the parent who cares for the needs of the entire family), responsible (like the person who acts on his obligations to many other people), and so on, all qualities generally considered good.
Let us say, preliminarily, that a good target image is one that enfolds many other target images, both target images held by oneself, applicable in other decision situations, as well as target images held by other people, applicable in their decision situations. In the limit, the best target image for a given situation is one that enfolds all other target images.
That said, we must examine in more detail the nature of this enfoldment. Clearly, we can get into situations where one target image is inappropriately enfolded into another, as when an aspect of one decision situation influences another decision unduly. For example, as a player in a basketball game my desire to impress the audience may so bias my judgment that I attempt to shoot a basket from mid-court (and miss) when I should have passed the ball to someone closer to the basket. In this case we would say that my target image for how to relate to the audience, which includes impressing them by scoring, unduly influenced the target image guiding the particular situation on the court.
This is not to say that it is easy to determine what "undue influence" and "inappropriate" enfolding mean. The enfoldment of target images will be evaluated differently by different people. For example, if I choose the fancy car over the cruise, my cruise-hungry vacation companion will likely think that my car-buying target image has distorted my vacation-planning target image, whereas I may believe that the two target images are quite appropriately enfolded into each other. But the distinction must be made, between appropriate and inappropriate enfoldment (or, rather, degrees hereof).
By the appropriate enfoldment of target images we will understand a kind of enfoldment that allows an individual to consider the influence of other factors on the decision situation at hand, yet does not distort, confuse or paralyze his decision-making abilities. With appropriately enfolded target images an individual takes the world into account yet is able to decide and act in a focussed manner, singlemindedly, effortlessly, with clarity of purpose and vision. Notice that this is not the same as making decisions in isolation from the context, like the type of decision typically considered in decision theory. Other images are indeed taken into account, but not excessively so.
We can now refine our definition of a good target image: it must not merely enfold other target images, it must do so appropriately, that is, in a manner that allows the individual to decide and act with conviction and focus. Thus, a good target image requires both context (enfoldment) and focus (appropriate enfoldment).
Let us suggest that the individual with such target images (and the ability to act on them, as described by decision theory) will experience the world in a way that can be described in terms of two experiences, or aspects of the same experience. The first is that he is able to consider the wider context of other decision situations, his own as well as others'; that is, he grasps or appreciates the diversity of challenges and tasks facing himself and other people. The other aspect of his experience of the world derives from his ability to act in the current situation with determination and focus in a way that is not unduly skewed by other factors. His decisions are not scattered or confused under the influence of other decision situations, they are focussed and of one piece. We may say that he appreciates the unity of the situation and is able to realize it in action. These appreciations of diversity (context) and unity (focus) may not be experienced by an individual as separate or different at all. They are abstractions from the experience of decision, and they are identified here because they will prove useful in the later discussion about values.
As was indicated in the concluding remarks of Section 3.5 on Glazer's theory, the notion of decision making as pattern recognition renders the term "decision making" somewhat inappropriate. Qua pattern recognition, decision making appears much less a conscious or willed process than the word "decision" connotes, and more an act of perception, of taking in the gestalts and redundancies of the situation and "recognizing" the course of action to be taken. Indeed, the reflection and scanning that people engage in in more complex situations may be seen as a special case of the more general process of fast and efficient pattern recognition. In other words, we reverse decision theory's traditional emphasis on distinct, deliberate decisions over the spontaneous and immediate acts of recognition in everyday life. Instead, we see the distinct and willed decision as a special limiting case of those much more numerous realizations of what is to be done that are an integral part of all human activity.
Consequently, the target images presumed to be guiding human activity should not be thought of as distinct entities each associated with a distinct action. To be sure, this was how they were conceptualized in the decision-theory context, where only one decision situation is considered, and we adopted that usage. However, with any given target image being enfolded in and relevant to innumerable other target images, we may best understand them as a complex of superimposed or overlaid information, an extensive interweaving of waves of neural activity, interference patterns and Fourier or other transforms in the implicate order of the brain. The total set of target images available to an individual may more properly be seen as a composite image that is internally integrated (that is, contains appropriately enfolded target images) to the extent it allows for the smooth execution of action, as in skilled activities like bicycling or typing.
It is interesting to note that in their model of skill acquisition, Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986) consider the deliberate and conscious approach to action (which we noted in the decision-theoretical conception of decision making) to be characteristic of the merely competent individual, but not of very accomplished individuals, or experts. The competent person--say, a driver a year out of driving school--plans his performance by consciously taking various factors into account and making deliberate decisions that further his goals. The expert, on the other hand, acts in a much more intuitive way; he does not make plans or reflect on pros and cons or make extensive calculations. In "intuitive expertise," as the Dreyfuses call it, one simply takes in the whole situation and acts appropriately and smoothly:
With expertise comes fluid performance. We seldom "choose our words" or "place our feet"--we simply talk and walk. The skilled outfielder doesn't take the time to figure out where a ball is going. Unlike the novice, he simply runs to the right spot. Taisen Deshimaru, a Japanese Martial artist, remarks: "There is no choosing. It happens unconsciously, automatically, naturally. There can be no thought, because if there is thought, there is a time of thought and that means a flaw... If you take the time to think 'I must use this or that technique,' you will be stuck while you are thinking" (quoted in Restak, 1984, pp. 85-86) (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986, p. 32).
The Dreyfuses (1986, p. 59-61) suggest that a holographic device could be involved in what they call the "holistic similarity recognition" that is required for the rapid and effortless execution of tasks. They explain how the identification of patterns, such as picking out familiar faces in a crowd or finding all instances of the letter "f" on a printed page, could be accomplished by overlaying two holograms, much in the manner of Glazer's (independent) theory of decision making. The recognition process would require no painstaking comparisons, feature by feature. Consequently, the familiar question of "similar with respect to what?" would just not arise, for the similarity pertains to the entire object, as captured by the hologram, and not to its particulars.
It should be noted that the holographic accounts of the decision process proposed by Glazer and the Dreyfuses are essential to the discussion of good target images (and, hence, to our larger agenda of exploring the concept of implicate order as providing a framework for values). Were it not for the implicate-like brain mechanisms presupposed by these theories, the two criteria for what a good target image is (context and focus) would remain commonplace observations about the desirability of considering other factors and yet making the decision regardless. With the proposal that context is included in a given decision process by the physical enfolding of target images into each other in the brain we have a more substantial view of the relationship between the order of brain processes and the order of, not only decision making (matching choice objects with target images) but also, more interestingly, the order of valuational processes (improving target images by enfolding them into each other appropriately).
If we subscribed to the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy we could not pursue this line of inquiry. However, having bracketed it, we are justified in the attempt to find brain processes that conform to what is known from common experience about human decision making and action. In this section, we identified two such commonly known aspects of decision and action with two aspects of the order of good target images, as developed from Glazer's holographic theory. They were "context" and "focus," which we also, somewhat obliquely, referred to as the appreciation of diversity and unity, respectively. When these are present we will assume that the relevant target images are properly enfolded and hence good.
We have exhausted the capacity of the decision-making frame of reference for elucidating the nature of target images, enfoldment, context, focus, and so on. To better understand how the concept of implicate order is critical to the fuller development of these ideas we will now turn to a consideration of the characteristics of implicate order as a general, ontological concept.
4.6 Whole-in-Part and Perspectivism in Implicate Order
Consider a simple implicate order, such as the order of light in a sunlit room, as discussed in Chapter 2. Sunrays, which are waves of electromagnetic radiation, enter the room and, reflecting off the exposed surfaces, convey information to our eyes about these surfaces. This information is carried by wavefronts that interfere and create an implicate order in which the information is everywhere the same, in a certain sense. This we realize if we move our eyes, that is, place them in different locations in the open space: it is still the same room we see. However, what we see from each position is also a little different, because the room and the things in it appear to us from different angles, relative to where we place our eyes.
So, we have two important characteristics in this implicate order of interfering light waves. One, every part of the interference pattern of light enfolds (contains information about) the whole. This we will call the whole-in-part characteristic of implicate order. Two, the information about the whole varies with the position from which it is obtained; that is, different parts yield different perspectives of the same whole. This will be called the perspectivism characteristic of implicate order.
For another example in which we find both of these characteristics, take window shopping. Standing ten feet from a department store window we may see the entire store display--mannequins, merchandise and props. Now, if the right half of the window is blocked by a piece of board, we can still see the entire display if we move to the left and go a little closer. If progressively larger parts of the window is blocked we are still able to see the whole display, provided we move still closer to the unblocked part of the window. In other words, through a part of the window we may see the whole display. This is the whole-in-part characteristic.
The perspectivism characteristic in this example appears from the fact that if we look through different little parts of a store window, like those sectioned off with white tape at Christmas to evoke panes, we will see the same display through each one of them, but from different perspectives.
That the two characteristics manifest themselves in a window is of course not due to any special properties of the glass, but merely to the fact that the light reflected from the display is ordered in the implicate manner. Information (in the form of wavefronts of light) from all illuminated points in the display arrive at all points on the window, just as it arrives at all points in the volume of space in front of the display, forming an interference pattern. In this space we place our eyes here and there, just as we did in the sunlit room. In this example, the boards are merely a device for shutting out some of the light from certain angles, so that we are forced to move about to see that information from the whole store display is contained in every part of the implicate order of light, and in such a manner that different parts of the implicate order produce different perspectives of the display.
A hologram is, in a sense, a window which, by means of a special laser technique, is capable of retaining the image of the store display after all the mannequins, merchandise and props have been removed. Hence, a hologram also features the whole-in-part and perspectivism characteristics. We may cover or break off any part of a hologram and still see the original image in the remaining part (the whole-in-part characteristic), and each part renders a view of the whole from different angles (the perspectivism characteristic).
Another example of an order that embodies the two characteristics is sound, which is also a wave phenomenon and thus an aspect of the implicate flux. The order of the music filling a concert hall is implicate because sound waves from each instrument propagate and interfere with sounds from all the other instruments. The resulting interference pattern can be picked up by the ear everywhere in the concert hall; in other words, every little volume of air contains the entire information available (the whole-in-part characteristic).
However, the music will sound slightly differently from each seat in the hall. The audience on the left will hear the violins fractions of a second before those seated on the right, who are farther away from the violins, but closer to the wind section. Every part of the hall gives access to the whole symphony, but this same symphony is heard from different "perspectives." This difference, however, is so slight that it is rarely recognized, but for the trained ear it illustrates the perspectivism characteristic.
It is interesting to note that the two characteristics of implicate order can be found in the work of a couple of philosophers concerned with the structure of the universe. Leibniz, for example, presaged the idea of implicate order in this passage from his ontological treatise, the Monadology:
Now this connection... of all created things to each and of each to all, brings it about that each simple substance [monad] has relations which express all the others, and that, consequently, it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe. And as the same city looked at from different sides appears entirely different, and is as if multiplied perspectively, so also it happens that, as a result of the infinite multitude of simple substances, there are as it were so many different universes, which are nevertheless only the perspectives of a single one, according to the different points of view of each monad (Leibniz, 1951, p. 544, #56-57. Emphases in original).
It appears that Leibniz' intention with the concept of a monad is to argue that each part (called a monad) of the universe "...is a perpetual living mirror of the universe," that is, the part contains information about the whole. Additionally, the different monads present "...different points of view..." of the same one universe.
It is worth noting that Leibniz uses the language of static particles (the monads) to express what we have called the dynamic and wave-like nature of the implicate order. This produces rather a mystifying account of reality that does not explain how particles, which are intuitively (and correctly, in this author's opinion) thought of as localized and limited to a particular region, can be connected with the rest of universe. This ill-considered use of particle-language to convey an idea better expressed in wave- or flux- language might have contributed to the relative neglect of the monadology on the part of the philosophical and scientific establishments of later times.
One exception was Alfred North Whitehead. Inspired in part by Leibniz, Whitehead fashioned a view of reality as featuring what he called "prehensions." This term expresses the point that a thing is essentially related to and contains information about its surrounding context and the totality of which it is a part.
We [posit] a provisional realism in which nature is conceived as a complex of prehensive unifications. Space and time exhibit the general scheme of interlocked relations of these prehensions. You cannot tear any one of them out of its context. Yet each one of them within its context has all the reality that attaches to the whole complex. Conversely, the totality has the same reality as each prehension; for each prehension unifies the modalities to be ascribed, from its standpoint, to every part of the whole (Whitehead, 1967, p. 72).
In other words, reality consists of prehensions that are interwoven in such a manner that each of them contains all the information (or "reality") that is found in the whole. This corresponds to our first characteristic of implicate order: the whole is contained in the part. Further, this information is held and "unified" by each prehension in a way that brings out those of the whole's modalities that are seen "from its standpoint," that is, from the particular perspective of a given prehension. This corresponds to our second characteristic, perspectivism.
Among the other writers on implicate order or the holographic metaphor, some have noted the whole-in-part characteristic (Bentov,1977; Bohm, 1980b; Pribram, in Goleman, 1979). The perspectivism characteristic does not seem to appear in the published writings of Bohm, but is mentioned by the holographic-design writer Terry Pauchant (1986, p. 24, 27-28).
As there are certain problems with the terms "whole" and "part," we need to express the whole-in-part and perspectivism characteristics of the implicate order in the equivalent terms of flux and form. To do this, recall the image of the river with vortices. Each vortex enfolds the whole in the sense that all of the water flows through the vortex (or at least might flow through it). A vortex cannot be said to be driven by only a limited part of the river; the entire river contributes to its maintenance. In this manner, the whole of the river, the entire flux of the river, is or can be present in each vortex, which is what was described by the whole-in-part characteristic.
In terms of the forms that inhabit the explicate universe (stars, atoms, cells, animals, cultures), we may equally say that each form reflects the energy of the entire universe because each is nourished by this energy or flux, the background sea of energy, as Bohm described it (Section 2.6). For example, the photons that carry electromagnetic energy are not distinct particles as much as undulations or disturbances in the electromagnetic field; they are ripples on the surface of the ocean of energy and thus reflect this total energy.
The perspectivism characteristic, expressed in terms of the river image, requires a little stretching of the imagination. We can imagine that even though each vortex channels the flow of the entire river, it does so differently, because each vortex is different from rest. Each vortex thus presents a different "perspective" of the flux, a different manifestation of the "same" flow. In terms of the forms of the explicate universe, all forms may indeed reflect or enfold the total flux of the universe, but they do so differently from each other. A sunflower channels energy in photosynthesis and metabolism differently from a daffodil, and each thus gives a different "perspective" of what the flux is or can do.
As we saw in the review in Chapter 2, Bohm goes to great lengths to show that the implicate order is not a "thing" (despite its status as a noun), but a dynamic phenomenon, as expressed by his phrase, "unbroken wholeness in flowing movement." If a whole is a truly dynamic phenomenon, its parts cannot be conceived of as static components, the way that sections of an orange are the parts of the whole orange. Dynamic wholes have parts that are only relatively stable, such as the vortices in a river. These parts do not make up the whole in any mechanical way, but express different aspects of it, the way the swirling vortices give us a sense of the river's flow that was otherwise not detectable. In short, when seen as a dynamic phenomenon, a whole is like a flux, and the parts of the whole are like the forms that channel the flux.
4.7 The Unity and Diversity Experiences
With the whole-in-part and perspectivism characteristics we have identified two properties of implicate order that are relevant to our discussion of the appropriate enfoldment of target images. To bring out this relevance, we will now restate these two ontological characteristics in such a way as to make them applicable to the world of human experience.
This connection between ontological characteristics and properties of human experience parallels the connection made in the discussion of target images between brain order and the experiences of the decision-making individual. In that discussion, little was made of this connection, as we simply searched for a kind of brain order that would account for an individual's experience that he was making two good decisions. That is, we suggested what the order of the brain processes would have to be (viz., an implicate order of Fourier transforms) to physically realize an individual's decision situation as he experiences it. Since the connection between the implicate order (of the brain) and the world of human experience is far from trivial, the present section discusses it in a more explicit way.
An additional reason for undertaking such a more explicit discussion is that the notion of experience was one of the two dimensions identified in the review of the holographic-design writers. Just as we concluded from the review that one cannot ignore the dimension of experience when talking about holographic organizational design, so may we now state that in discourse about the human world we cannot use the whole-in-part and perspectivism characteristics in their "raw" form as descriptors of some observer-independent reality. To be useful in discourse about the human world, the two characteristics must be modified so as to say something about people's experience of the world, the world as we see it, the world become personally meaningful to us, and not the world "out there."
The reasoning by which the two characteristics are made applicable in the world of experience will be called the experiential transformation of the characteristics. The experiential transformation changes them from descriptors of reality understood in physical or ontological terms to descriptors relevant to the human world of experience and interpretation.
Consider first the experiential transformation of the whole-in-part characteristic. Changed by this transformation, the characteristic refers to a situation in which a person experiences a larger wholeness in a given part of his world. Expressed in terms of flux and form, the person becomes absorbed in the flux through exercising a particular form. To capture both aspects of this experience--the whole-in-part aspect and the absorbed-in-the-flux aspect--we will call it the unity experience. It is a feeling of unity with something larger than oneself, a flow of energy and wholeness, an experience of "unbroken wholeness in flowing movement."
As an example of the unity experience, consider the so-called "flow experience" that has been studied extensively by Csikszentmihalyi and his co-workers and reported in the anthology "Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness" (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988a). The main editor explains:
Artists, athletes, composers, dancers, scientists, and people from all walks of life, when they describe how it feels when they are doing something that is worth doing for its own sake, use terms that are interchangeable in their minutest details. This unanimity suggests that order in consciousness produces a very specific experiential state.... To this state we have given the name "flow," using a term that many respondents used in their interviews to explain what the optimal experience felt like (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988a, p. 29)
Csikszentmihalyi points out that the flow experience arises when people engage in particular activities (in our terms: forms, or parts):
...flow typically occurs in clearly structured activities in which the level of challenges and skills can be varied and controlled, such as ritual events, games, sports, or artistic performances.... "Flow activities" [are] those sequences of action that make it easy for people to achieve optimal experiences (1988a, p. 30) (emphases added).
The exercise of such activities puts people in contact with something larger than themselves; it involves a transcendence and a merging with the larger system or context:
At the most challenging levels, people... report experiencing a transcendence of self, caused by the unusually high involvement with a system of action so much more complex than what one usually encounters in everyday life. The climber feels at one with the mountain, the clouds, the rays of the sun, and the tiny bugs moving in and out of the shadow of the fingers holding to the rock; the surgeon feels at one with the movements of the operating team, sharing the beauty and the power of a harmonious transpersonal system (1988a, p. 33)
Similar evidence of the unity experience comes from Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus' (1986) studies of the performance of experts. According to their model of skill acquisition, the novice is given a set of rules that he is told to apply regardless of context. For example, a beginning driver is told at what speeds he should change gears, regardless of the driving environment. At later stages of competence and proficiency, the driver adds context and begins to consider goals and execute plans, until, at the highest stage, the stage of "intuitive expertise," he goes beyond conscious planning and control and simply becomes unself-consciously absorbed in the activity:
The expert driver becomes one with his car, and he experiences himself as simply driving, rather than driving a car.... Airplane pilots report that as beginners they felt they were flying their planes but as experienced pilots they simply experience flying itself. Chess grandmasters, engrossed in a game, can lose entirely the awareness that they are manipulating pieces on a board and see themselves rather as involved participants in a world of opportunities, threats, strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and fears (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986, p. 30).
The sense of being absorbed in an activity and transcending the dichotomy of subject and object is evident from this passage: there is no driver and no car, but a union of the agent and the acted-upon; no chess-player distinct from his pieces, but a world of opportunities, threats, etc. To become thus absorbed in one's activity and lose the sense of separate self is to have the unity experience.
Csikszentmihalyi's flow experience and the Dreyfuses' intuitive expertise are by no means rare or exalted phenomena accessible only to the select few. Quinn (1988) has found the unity experience in seasoned managers, Benner (1984) in highly skilled nurses, and Murphy and White (1979) in accomplished baseball and football players. Outside of the vocations we are all experts at common human skills, as the Dreyfuses point out: carrying on a conversation, dashing for the telephone and expertly avoiding obstacles, riding a bicycle, cooking a meal, etc. In all these activities the unity experience should therefore be available to us. What counts is the attitude, one's approach to one's everyday activities and doings. (In the next chapter we will return to this point and further discuss the non-esoteric nature of the unity experience.)
With the mind properly attuned, any seemingly trivial and everyday activity may reveal the wholeness and energy and give rise to the unity experience. David Bohm's childhood experience of crossing a stream by leaping from rock to rock (see Section 2.3) is an example of an otherwise ordinary activity that turns extraordinary. Recall that in a flash of insight Bohm realized that to cross the stream he would have to let go of his habit of trying to map out things beforehand and instead be one with the flow:
...what I am is to be in this state of movement from one rock to the next and... as long as I do not try to map out what I will do, I can cross safely.... [This experience] affected my whole life thereafter.... A great deal of my work has been directed toward the understanding of movement, with the aid of this particular insight, that is, that undivided flowing movement is what is primary..." (Bohm, 1981a, p. 391).
So, the unity experience derives from engaging in particular activity in such a way that the ego is transcended and one fuses with something larger than oneself. Through the particular activity, or form, one becomes absorbed in the energy that flow through that form, so to speak; one "goes with the flow," as the colloquialism has it.
In some types of unity experience the wholeness or unity or energy contacted is referred to as God (the Divine, the One, Allah, Tao, Brahman, etc.). This we may define as the religious experience. We may speculate that the core of the religious and the non-religious unity experiences is the same, the difference being the interpretation that the experience is given, the words used to refer to it, the institutional context, etc. The unity experience that is referred to as a meeting with God typically occurs in a highly ritualized and institutionalized context. If it does not, it is usually called a mystical experience, mystics eschewing the trappings or churches and clergy. A classical expression of the mystic's experience is William Blake's lines from "Auguries of Innocence":
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
The unity experience may also be obtained in a social or political context. It is present whenever people feel united with their fellows and engage in shared action for a larger purpose, such as block parties, community actions, election campaigns, or guerilla warfare. Whether a devout Christian in a revivalist meeting, an expert mountaineer on the sheer face of a rock, a campaign worker for a winning candidate, or a participant in a Nuremburg-type rally, one may equally experience a transcendence of one's ego and an alignment with powerful energies coursing through one's veins. (Innumerable historical and current examples of people pushing aside their personal egoes to merge with a larger whole, such as an intolerant religion or a totalitarian state, illustrate that there is an ominous side to the unity experience. This will occupy us in the next chapter.)
As these examples make clear, the unity experience is not restricted to any particular activity; it may be obtained through the exercise of any "part" of the human world, whether the parts are defined by vocational, cultural, political, religious, national, economic, sexual, racial or whatever distinctions. As the word "part" indicates, the unity experience may come to the person who "plays his part" well, the person who does his best to fill the role he has taken upon himself, mountain climber, pilot, Christian, campaigner, whatever. Playing one's part, one may experience a unity and oneness with something more expansive than oneself.
The wholeness accessed in the unity experience should not be seen as a collection of constituent parts, such as subject (driver) and the object he manipulates (the car). Rather, the unity experience is the experience of coherence and harmony in the exercise of highly coordinated activity in which the subject-object distinction simply falls away. Such situations possess no substantial constituents; they are constituted from or shaped by forms of activity that channel the flux of human activity. As such, the unity experienced pertains to the manner in which one engages in the particular activity, the quality of the enjoyment and the intrinsic fulfillment derived from the activity. What is unified about this quality of experience is the sum of aspects of the experience, the fact that together the different phases, initiatives, movements or forms that make up an activity, all these aspects form a unity.
The unity experience may be summed up as the feeling one may have while completely engrossed in an activity: "this is what it's all about." In this phrase, the "this" is the current forms engaged in, or the part one plays at the moment; and the "all" is the wholeness and unity referred to. The experience of the "whole in the part" is generally as unspecific and hard-to-articulate as this phrase reveals, for which reason the phrase will stand as an appropriate motto for the unity experience.
Consider now the experiential transformation of the second of the two characteristics of implicate order, the perspectivism characteristic. This transformation takes perspectivism from the ontological discourse into a discourse about the human world, the world of human experience. It now refers to the situation in which a person appreciates that different parts of the world may yield different perspectives of the same whole. This recognition of the diversity of ways in which wholeness and unity may be accessed will be called the diversity experience.
The diversity experience is the realization that many different forms, many different kinds of activity can lead to the experience of merging with the "unbroken wholeness in flowing movement." There is no one set of forms that is uniquely conducive to the flow experience; there is no one skill that provides privileged access to the subject-object oneness associated with intuitive expertise. Csikszentmihalyi (1988a) found the flow experience in people engaged in mountaineering, playing tennis, performing surgery, playing the piano, enjoying one's marriage, in work as well as leisure activities, to name but a few.
While Csikszentmihalyi does not discuss the diversity experience, the very fact that he has discovered the flow experience in so many different activities and takes an equal interest in exploring the flow experience in all its manifestations indicates he himself enjoys the diversity experience in this regard. Not only does such a person "see life whole," as was so important to the ancient Greeks, he sees that there are many equally legitimate ways of doing so.
A common example of the diversity experience is found among fans of spectator sports. Most baseball fans will readily acknowledge that baseball is not intrinsically superior to, say, football or basketball, which are most likely recognized by the baseball fan as equally legitimate and worthwhile (but less exciting) paths to the particular experience that watching sports brings to the enthusiast. Different sports may produce the same unity experience of being absorbed in the flow of the game; different sports are easily recognized as being different parts or perspectives of the same "rush" that sports spectators feel. (However, most sports fans are not quite so noble when it comes to paying respect to the opposition. Witness British soccer hooliganism; not much diversity experience there, to venture a guess.)
In the social history of the West, the unity experience has mostly been associated with the Church and with political totalitarianism. The diversity experience, on the other hand, comes closer to the heart of the secular, liberal tradition. The principles of human rights, as defended in the French and American revolutions, embody the respect for the other person's preferences that is essential to the diversity experience. If the respect for other people's rights to life and the pursuit of happiness includes the understanding that what other people strive for is but a different aspect of one's own striving for unity and wholeness, then the diversity experience obtains.
The diversity experience is not particularly common in institutionalized religions. On the whole, the religions deriving from the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) do little to encourage the experience that other belief systems are worthwhile, while the religions of the Far East (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism) are somewhat more tolerant of each other. For example, occidental religions have never permitted the worship of competing gods, whereas this is quite common practice among Hindus and Buddhists in India.
Just as the unity experience could be summarized in a colloquialism ("this is what it's all about"), so may we seek to encapsulate the diversity experience in a popular saying. "Different strokes for different folks" comes to mind. Here, the "different" would stand for the acknowledgement of diversity, and the "strokes" stands for our appreciation that people do things differently from ourselves for a good reason, namely, for the stroking it brings, the intrinsic rewards of the flow or unity experience.
Summing up, we performed the experiential transformation of the two characteristics of implicate order to make explicit the transition between the order of brain processes and the order of the human world of experience. Also, the transformation served to highlight the dimension somewhat lacking in the holographic writers: subjective experience. It also relates back to the discussion in Chapter 3 about the emergence of the human world through symbolism and interpretation, or the abstraction of concepts and meanings from the implicate flux, as treated by the phenomenological tradition and the interpretive turn in the social sciences (Rabinow & Sullivan, 1979a).
The unity experience is when we feel wholeness, unity and the energy of the flux through one particular and maybe seemingly insignificant form or part of the world. The diversity experience is the appreciation that there are many different ways to obtain this unity of experience, and that all ways have merit. (Several important qualifications and elaborations of these concepts will be put forward in the next chapter).
Table 4.1 summarizes the experiential transformation:
Ontological characteristic of implicate order:
The experiential transformation gives:
The unity experience: "flow," a given part of life reveals wholeness and unity.
The diversity experience: other parts of life can equally reveal wholeness and unity
Table 4.1. Transforming the Ontological Characteristics into the Unity and Diversity Experiences
4.8 The Unity and Diversity Valuations
It will be apparent that the unity and diversity experiences do not occur in each and every situation. They may, but often they do not. The unity experience is lacking in the person who feels trapped in his corner of existence and cannot see any larger wholeness or unity through what he does. The flow experience investigated by Csikszentmihalyi occurs in specific situations, not all the time. Whenever individuals are stuck and cannot move with energy and determination, when their best efforts are thwarted, when they are torn between alternatives, when their allegiances are divided--all these common experiences are contrary to the unity experience. When the feeling is not "this is what it's all about", but rather "what's it all about?", there is confusion and fragmentation, which impedes ego transcendence and contact with a larger wholeness.
Similarly, the diversity experience is often absent. When people fail to appreciate the equal legitimacy of different paths, when they forget there are other reasonable views of the world, when they ignore the rights of others to pursue their goals, they do not have the diversity experience. This absence of the diversity experience is associated with most conflicts of interest between people, which often derive from the inability of one party to see the other's interests as complementary to his own. The parties' interests are not seen as simply different and equally legitimate perspectives of a shared unity or wholeness. The common occurrence of this experience likewise indicates that the unity and diversity experiences should not be taken for granted.
While the authors cited in the previous section all recognize that the unity and diversity experiences are occasional in most people's lives, it seems that these authors on the whole hold the two experiences to be valuable and worth striving for. For example, Csikszentmihalyi is very explicit about the value of the flow experience. As we shall see later, he considers it a third alternative to boredom and anxiety the title of one of his books says: "Beyond Boredom and Anxiety" (1975). He defines flow as follows:
....optimal experience or flow... obtains when all the contents of consciousness are in harmony with each other, and with the goals that define the person's self. These are the subjective conditions we call pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment.... To keep on experiencing flow becomes one of the central goals of the self (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988a, p. 24).
The Dreyfuses are less forthcoming about the value of their version of the unity experience, intuitive expertise. In fact, they seem to want to avoid evaluating it altogether, seeking instead to offer a value-free description of what experts do. However, it is but a small step to conclude from a skill acquisition model that to be an expert is better than to be a novice. Thus, Benner and her asociates (Benner and Tanner, 1987; Benner & Wrubel, 1989) have applied the Dreyfus model to nursing practice, arguing, among other things, that nurses' compensation be based on their skill level as determined by the model. Clearly, to be skilled is a good thing. Quinn (1988) similarly makes no bones about the desirability of "high performance," his version of the unity experience.
Further evidence of a wide recognition of the value of the unity experience comes from the holographic writers. The example offered by Morgan (and cited above), in which he praises "holographic" organization, identifies several aspects of the unity experience (underlined):
...the whole ethos of plant operations is characterized by holographic integration. The work design was stimulated by a desire to create a holistic relationship between people and their work, so that employees would acquire a sense of identity with the firms and its products.... It is by building this shared sense of the corporate whole into each and every employee that holographic organization achieves its coherence (Morgan, 1986, pp. 104-105) (emphases added).
Seen in the light of the remark by Morgan and Ramirez cited earlier ("How wonderful it would be if our social institutions could possess this capacity [of the whole being represented in the parts]"), they clearly consider the kind of experience obtained in the "holographically integrated" organization (we would call it a unity experience) to be desirable and of value.
Not only the unity experience, but also the diversity experience is widely considered desirable. The Bill of Rights, which guarantees American citizens the rights of speech, assembly, etc., may be seen as instantiating its drafters' diversity experience. The respect for other people's way of life is also the core of Kant's categorical imperative, which exhorts a person to consider his neighbor.
It would take an obstinate person to dispute the value that aspect of the diversity experience which is simply the respect for others. Possibly more controversial is the other aspect of the diversity experience: a person respects the other because he realizes that the other is pursuing a different (but compatible) path to the same experience of unity. Observers of an explicitly anti-mystic bent might reject this formulation as invoking an undefinable super-human entity, a quasi-mystical unity purported to be the object of human experience in the situations described. The reader who is so inclined must also reject the unity experience and, with it, the phenomenology of the flow experience as investigated by Csikszentmihalyi, the Dreyfuses, Benner, Quinn, and Murphy. Here, we shall assume that it is meaningful to employ this concept of a unity that may be experienced or accessed from different perspectives.
A further reason to consider the unity and diversity experiences valuable in themselves comes from our discussion of "good" target images. The holographic theory of decision making and Pribram's theory of holographic memory lent themselves to speculations about the kind of brain order that would instantiate our experience of having made a good decision. A good decision, we found, consists in taking the context of the decision situation into consideration as well as deciding and acting with focus and determination.
To consider the context is to be aware of the diversity of factors and competing values in the environment, which amounts to having the diversity experience. A good decision further requires that the actor not be overwhelmed by the context, but is able to distill the relevance of the context in the given decision situation and mobilize the energy to decide and act with focus and conviction. To see how the whole embedding context in which a given decision situation is embedded is relevant to the decision and to act with power and energy on the basis of this knowledge is an example of the unity experience.
In other words, already in our formulation of the nature of good target images did we indicate the value of the unity and diversity experiences. To make a good decision, target images need to appropriately enfolded. This requires consideration of context (the diversity experience) and the ability to marshall the energy or flux required to act with focus (the unity experience). To repeat the reasoning here: good actions are preceded by good decisions, which require good target images, which are ones that are appropriately enfolded, which means they include context and focus, which is what the unity and diversity experiences are about.
In sum, we have adduced good reasons for suggesting that the unity and diversity experiences be considered of value. Let us suggest, then, that they be used not only as neutral descriptions of how people may or may not experience the world, but also, more interestingly, as proposals or stipulations for how the world ought to be: the world ought to be such that people obtain the unity and diversity experiences. Since this adds a valuational dimension to the two experiences, let us say that a valuational transformation of the experiences results in the unity and diversity valuations.
The unity valuation says that the unity experience is of intrinsic value and that social, political, psychological and other conditions should be such that people are enabled to obtain it as frequently and profoundly as possible. Correspondingly, the diversity valuation pronounces the diversity experience good and urges changes in life and society that promote the diversity experience.
Apart from urging changes in the forms channeling human activity so as to promote the unity and diversity experiences, the two valuations also provide an indirect standard by which one may assess the value or goodness of an already existing form, activity, role, belief, ideology, institution, political system, and so on: to what extent does it facilitate the unity and diversity experiences? The forms that are more conducive to these experiences may be considered the better. Amplified to existence and society as a whole, the unity and diversity valuations thus become a standard by which the gauge the quality of life. Where the unity and diversity experiences are promoted maximally we are likely to find the good life in the good society. (The next chapter returns to these points and examine them in greater detail.)
Table 4.2 summarizes the valuational transformation.
The valuational transformation gives:
The unity experience:
The unity valuation:
The diversity experience:
The diversity valuation:
Table 4.2. Transforming the Unity and Diversity Experiences into the Unity and Diversity Valuations
At this point, let us briefly return to the question of the neurophysiological basis for the unity and diversity experiences and valuations. Recall that in Section 4.5 we halted this exploration, having exhausted the available evidence on brain processes that could instantiate the decision-making processes in question. In the intervening sections, we have travelled a parallel route from implicate order as an ontological concept to the possible nature of certain kinds of human experience and the valuations associated with these experiences. From the vantage point of the several phenomenological descriptions of the unity and diversity experiences (flow, intuitive expertise, etc.), we are now able to offer some additional ideas on the nature of the brain processes that may underlie these experiences.
In the discussion about target images, we identified the unity experience with the focus and determination required to make a decision in the context of other (potentially distracting and confusing) decision situations and target images. The examples of intuitive experts and individuals in flow--the driver, the pilot, the chess player--amply indicate that in these situations "decisions" are made with such focus, concentration and singlemindedness that they are not even perceived as decisions: the intuitive expert in flow simply does what is right without rationally deliberating his every move or judgment.
Such action presupposes the expenditure of energy in a highly coordinated and harmonious fashion. Elucidating the unity experience, we said that it involves merging with or becoming absorbed in the flux. In terms of decision making carried out with focus and determination, we may say that the unity experience requires the optimal mobilization or channelling of energy in the individual. This is obvious in the individual who engages in some form of physical activity, such as a ballet dancer or a pole vaulter, both of whom must make sure their metabolic energies (as used in perceptual and motor activity) are optimally coordinated. Performers who marshall the energies at their disposal with the utmost grace and efficiency so exude the unity experience that spectators often feel it equally. The experience of performing or watching such performance may be described as a merging with a force or energy more powerful than oneself, a becoming totally absorbed in a world of beauty, grace and perfect flow.
Performances of a less bodily and more intellectual nature also requires the coordinated mobilization and expenditure of energy. This must be as true for the chess player, composer, and writer as it is for the improvising ballet dancer's less cerebral but equally challenging activities. Let us propose that the harmonization of energy required in such performances is not just metaphorical, as the everyday usage of these terms seems to imply, but real. The very functioning of the brain or the central nervous system may be such that activities that give rise to the unity experience are indeed ordered in a very special way.
We are not here talking about the occurrence of harmonic patterns in the relatively coarse EEG waves, although such recordings certainly testify to the relevance of a wave-energy approach to states of consciousness. At issue is micro-level neural activity of the kind referred to by Pribram and the other advocates of a holographic theory of brain functioning, neural energies finer than the discrete firings conducted by axons. It was in the dendritic networks surrounding axons and nerve cell bodies that we proposed the Fourier transforms of ideal objects could be physically realized. Decision making would then occur through the matching of transforms presented through the senses (the objects in the choice set) with the transforms of ideal objects, or target images, stored in the brain.
In a note in Section 4.5 we suggested that just as the alignment of Fourier transforms in an optical computer produces a bright spot when the transforms are alike, so "enlightenment" and "illumination" may equally derive from an optimal alignment of transforms in the brain. The piercing insight and the experience of light and clarity that are associated with these two terms seem somewhat related to our unity experience. Let us speculate that the light energy that two matching transforms in an optical computer let through to the other side (the bright spot) is paralleled by a similar high-quality channeling and organization of energy in the brain, such that the oneness-with-the-flux felt in the unity experience actually derives from a concrete, physically equivalent energy-ordering process in the brain.
In simpler terms now: if we feel energized and in total harmony with our surroundings and in control of the situation, it may be due to mechanisms in the brain that mobilize or extract energy for us from the flux (whether from the body's own resources or from outside the body, such as energy arriving at the senses) and then channel and coordinate it such that we perform at our best. Optimal performance, and the flow experience that goes with it, would thus derive from the optimal alignment of transforms in the brain. This optimal alignment is what underlies our ability to decide rapidly and execute effortlessly in flow situations, where there is little search through futile and energy-blocking alternatives (transforms that do not "let light through" when matched with the target image). Flow is based on transforms that match perfectly and swiftly become the basis for action; action uninterrupted by searches for better alternatives, actions executed with grace, elegance and economy.
The surge of energy released through the optimal alignment of transforms has been called the "unity experience" regardless of the psychological or institutional context in which this happens. The unity experience can occur in vocational activities, physical exercise, games, political action, worship, meditation, anywhere. Along with the suggested common neurophysiological basis, this point lends itself to the observation that there are great similarities in these various experiences, and that the differences lie mostly in the interpretations that the cultural or subcultural context provides.
The basketball player will talk about the rush of knowing every other player's minutest move, the driver will say that he is one with his machine, the writer speaks about the creative frenzy that made him write that book in a month, the born-again Christian says he met Jesus, the Nobel-prize winner will refer to the great Aha!-experience that fuelled his research for years, and so on. The recognition that all these experiences may be the "same" and merely appear in the guise of different forms would of course greatly facilitate the diversity experience.
4.9 Summary and Conclusions
The main thrust of this chapter has been to introduce values, or valuation, into our discussion of the implicate order. We started by reviewing the work of some organization researchers who used the holographic metaphor to argue that an organization designed according to holographic principles is a better organization. From this review emerged two dimensions relevant to our discussion. One was the valuational nature of the manner in which the holographic metaphor was being used, and the other was the point that speaking of an organization becoming better through (holographic or other) design must refer to the experience of the stakeholders.
Developing the first of these themes, valuation or, generally, the nature of good, we located the present dissertation in the context of earlier philosophical attempts to find a foundation for values, or a reasonably consistent justification for a view of what the good might be. Anticipating objections to such a "naturalistic" foundation for values, we discussed the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy, according to which attempts to find a natural foundation for values are doomed to fail on logical grounds. We showed, however, that this doctrine rests on several dubious assumptions and may indeed, as Searle has pointed out (1969), be more aptly called the "naturalistic fallacy fallacy."
Picking up the holographic theory of decision making, we next considered the order of the brain processes responsible for producing what may be called a good target image (= a good ideal object). We argued that a good target image is one that allows the decision maker to take other decision situations into account. The concept of implicate order allowed us conceive of a given target image as being "enfolded" into the target images of other decision situations, such that the target images form an implicate order of neural activity in which information about all target images (the "whole") are available to (enfolded in) each target image (the "part"). We further suggested that this enfoldment must be "appropriate," which means that the consideration of other decision situations must not be such that the decision at hand cannot be taken efficiently and acted upon in a single-minded and focussed way.
Continuing the search for a framework for values, we went on to consider implicate order in its more generally ontological sense. We identified two pertinent characteristics of implicate order: the whole-in-part characteristic, by which the whole is enfolded in each of its parts, and the perspectivism characteristic, by which this whole appears from different perspectives, relative to the part being used.
To make explicit our intention of applying the concept of implicate order in the human world, we devised an "experiential transformation," which changed the two ontological characteristics into descriptors of human experience. This produced two kinds of experience. The unity experience is the feeling that a given part of existence reveals the whole, or that engaging in a particular activity (form) one experiences a unity with a larger flux; it is the feeling that "this is what it's all about!" The diversity experience is the realization that one may obtain the unity experience in many different ways that are equally legitimate. Different parts of life give different perspectives of the whole, and different forms of activity provide equally fulfilling opportunities to merge with the flux. The diversity experience is the acknowledgement that there are "different strokes for different folks."
Recognizing that the unity and diversity experiences do not occur all the time, we noticed the generally positive tone in which they were discussed in the literature on flow, intuitive expertise etc. From this and our considerations of the nature of a good target image we concluded that the unity and diversity experiences may reasonably be elevated to general standards of what is good in human existence. To highlight this step from a description of experience to the prescription that such experiences should be sought, we termed the step the "valuational transformation." This produced the unity and diversity valuations, which stipulate that psychological, social and other conditions be changed so as to promote the unity and diversity experiences.
The two transformations make explicit what was implicit in the discussion of the good target images, namely that the ontological concept of implicate order may be relevant in the world of human experience because of the possibility of formulating in terms of implicate order what a good decision is: a good decision is one based on the appropriate enfoldment of target images in the implicate order of neural activity.
Further, the experiential and valuational transformations of the two characteristics of implicate order lays bare the kind of reasoning that presumably underlies the holographic-design writers' use of the holographic metaphor. By stating explicitly and justifying with reference to neural mechanisms what in their work remained largely non-justified assumptions (such as "we can learn about social organization from an device used in optical engineering," "holographic organization is good," "the stakeholder's experience is unimportant," etc.), we avoid obsfuscating the central philosophical issue and openly invite criticism on the details of the transformations involved.
Although the research opportunity was to make the concept of implicate order applicable in the human world, the term "implicate order" will hardly be used in the subsequent elaboration of the unity and diversity experiences and valuations. The two transformations have made further mention of the term redundant, since its relevance in the human world lies in the unity and diversity experiences and evaluations that were produced by the transformations of the two characteristics of implicate order. In other words, with the concepts of the unity and diversity experiences and evaluations in our toolbox there is no need to refer to the implicate order.
Before moving on to the next chapter's elaboration of the unity and diversity valuations, we may usefully pause to clarify some common values-related terms in the light of the conceptualization of human experience offered.
The difference between right and good has been spelled out in multiple ways in the various ethical systems. A common distinction is to use right/wrong in a deontological context (where moral obligation is considered the supreme value) and good/bad in an axiological concept (referring to the intrinsic qualities of things). Thus, the pair right/wrong is typically used to refer to actions (or, more generally, verbs: stealing is wrong, keeping secrets is right), while good/bad tends to be applied to objects (or nouns: a good meal, communism is bad).
These and other distinctions employed in the various ethical systems may serve a useful purpose in the philosophical contexts in which they appear. However, for the present purposes, the good and the right may be collapsed to simply the good. In the implicate flux ontology, only forms are subject to evaluation; the flux simply is. In the human context forms are good to the degree they promote the unity and diversity experiences, this being the valuational standard proposed in this chapter. Right action is human activity that instantiates or promotes the unity and diversity experiences. We may, of course, speak of more or less good and right forms guiding human activity; it is a matter of gradation. The practical problem of determining what concrete forms are better than other we have not addressed yet, but the linguistic usage is clear: good or right forms are those that promote the unity and diversity experiences in people.
Thus, to refer to a social, political, psychological or other human form as good, right, desirable, worthwhile, valuable and so on is to suggest that people should strive to realize such forms, so that human experience may be guided by them. In this way, a term like value simply denotes a form considered worth striving for: something is said to have value or to be of value or to be a value if the forms that constitute it are considered important to the realization of the unity and diversity experiences.
Further, ethics, usually considered the study of morality or moral action (= good forms of human activity), concerns itself with the question of what good forms are and how to bring them about, so that they may guide human experience. The phrase the good life will be used to describe the life permeated by the unity and diversity experiences, and the good society is a society with institutions conducive to the unity and diversity experiences.
Notes (numbers to be reconstituted)
Whenever the hologram, rather than the implicate order, is used as a starting point for reflections on order and structure, the term "holographic metaphor" will be used. This is in agreement with the usage established by the writers reviewed in this section. Their usage can be distinguished from our previous use of implicate order as an "ontological concept," for the reason that a hologram is a concrete object with certain interesting characteristics that may evoke similar characteristics elsewhere, just as the concrete game of basketball may serve as a metaphor for illuminating interpersonal relationships in an organization (see Section 1.3 for a fuller discussion of "metaphor" vs. "ontological concept."). A main difference between hologram and implicate order, as pointed out in Section 2.5, is that a hologram is a static recording of the dynamic implicate interference pattern of light. This leaves the holographic metaphor incapable of capturing the dynamic aspects of the human world, such as human activity and experience.
Morgan and Ramirez offer the following explanation of holography: "A hologram is a photograph, taken with a lensless camera, where the whole is represented in all the parts. If the hologram is broken, any piece of it can be used to reconstruct the entire image. Everything is in everything else; just as if we are able to throw a pebble into a pond and see the whole pond and all the waves, ripples, and drops of water generated by the splash in each and every one of the drops thus produced" (p. 2) (emphasis in original). This explanation propagates the mistaken belief, first articulated in the popular newsletter, the Brain/Mind Bulletin (reprinted in Wilber, 1982c, p. 6) and repeated by El Sawy (1985, p. 14), that holography is "lensless." Holography requires the use of several lenses, only they are not used to focus the light, as in conventional photography, but to expand the laser beams to the approximate size of the object holographed. Also, the equipment used to make holograms is not ordinarily referred to as a "camera," as Morgan and Ramirez do, since what is involved is an open, non-portable table-top set-up that covers at least several square feet (often square meters) under current technology.
Thus: "Responsibility for learning becomes a responsibility of everyone (just as action learning offers the promise of holographic organization where all the 'parts' are able to respond in some way to problems facing the whole), with 'leadership' changing in different ways at different times according to the capacities of those who are able to contribute" (p. 18). And: "Action learning strives to link individual and social transformation. In accordance with holographic principles, action learning emphasizes that desirable social change can only be achieved if the qualities and capacities required in a system (group, organization, or society) are embodied in the human beings who comprise that system (p. 20) (emphasis in original). Lastly: " [In the philosophy of Gandhi] ...we find a vivid illustration of holographic principles. Gandhi's approach to social change was not to begin with legislation or by espousing social revolution, but by creating a revolution on his own life and letting the consequences reverberate in their effect on others (p. 20).
What is to be understood by a hologram being "complex" is not explained. It is not a descriptor used in the technical literature on holography (e.g., Smith, 1975; Caulfield, 1979; Abramson, 1981).
It should be pointed out that the description of a hologram in the quoted passage is rather inaccurate. A hologram is not a "three-dimensional projected figure;" it is a flat piece of photographic film that has been exposed to coherent light in a special way (as described in Section 2.5). What is three-dimensional is the image that is projected from the hologram when the hologram is illuminated in the proper way. Also, there is no question of "enlarging" or "blowing up" any part of a hologram, and it is therefore misleading to suggest that one would expect to "get merely an enlarged picture of the part being blown up." To demonstrate the property of the whole being contained in the part one merely has to cover up one part of the hologram or break it off and look through the other part, and one will still see the entire image (providing the image is projected sufficiently far from the plane of the hologram, a condition far from always met in commercially available holograms or in the holograms seen in galleries). Mitroff's description of a hologram seems to derive less from acquaintance with real holograms than from Wilber's (considerably more misleading) description ("if you take a holographic photo of, say, a horse, and cut out one section of it, e.g., the horse's head, and then enlarge that section to the original size, you will get, not a big head, but a picture of the whole horse" [1982c, p. 2]).
Also, the question itself is not addressed later in the paper. Another paper (1984), which is essentially a truncated reprint of the present paper (1985) but featuring another title ("Radically changing images of productivity"), adds a further question: "Is the performance of an organization an imperfect reflection of the performance of its stakeholders and vice versa?" (p. 106). This question is also not addressed by Mitroff in that paper.
To be sure, the main part of Morgan and Ramirez' paper deals with action learning, in which the experience and personal outlooks of stakeholders are held to be central. However, this part of the paper is poorly integrated with the opening part on the holographic metaphor, as pointed out above. One is left with the impression that the authors consider the holographic metaphor unsuitable for a discussion of personal experience.
The philosophical quest for rational, verbally expressible systems of ethical imperatives can be contrasted with typically pre-modern (e.g., mythological) and non-Western (e.g., Oriental) ideas about good and bad, many of which are of a non-rational and non-verbalizable kind. Whether based in revelation or intuition, these traditions find that direct insight or immediate experience--sometimes as presented through the mediation of spiritual leaders and sacred texts--constitutes a satisfactory framework for specifying proper human conduct. The moral tales of Nordic mythology or the Tao Te Ching's poetic advice contains little to satisfy the modern Western mind with its demand for precision, clarity and certainty.
Generally, Moore denied the possibility of defining good at all, whether in such terms as pleasure, desirability, happiness, or anything else. For an alternative Moore proposed an ethical intuitionism, according to which good is an undefinable and primitive experience like the experience of yellow. Good is not explicable in terms other than itself; we possess an autonomous moral faculty by means of which we grasp goodness directly. In the present context, this alternative view of good, which is but one of many alternatives to naturalism in the history of ethics, is of less interest than the doctrine of the naturalistic fallacy which Moore named.
MacIntyre (1959) suggests that Hume does not, in fact, dismiss the naturalistic passage from "is" to "ought," but merely points out how difficult it is and then proceeds, in the next section of the Treatise, to show how it can be done legitimately.
The derivation from "is" to "ought" is simplified greatly here. Searle introduces numerous supportive premises and ceteribus-paribus rules to make the derivation work.
Blegvad (1969, p. 30) suggests that the "fallacy" in "naturalistic fallacy" is somewhat of a misnomer. "Fallacy" is the conventional term for a erroneous deduction made within a formal logical system. By using this term Moore seemed to imply that naturalists commit a logical error of a severity similar to those identified in the formal study of logic. However, since the naturalist will rarely attempt formal deductions from descriptive to evaluative statements, but is more likely to slide from one to the other without calling attention to the transition, Blegvad finds that, at most, one can speak of a confusion of domains held by the anti-naturalist to be separate.
Since this discussion is explicitly based on the holographic theory, we will not insist on laboriously distinguishing between the ideal object and its Fourier transform but use the term "target image" to denote the ideal object or its transform. The context will make clear which is meant.
For this enfoldment of one target image into another to be able to affect and change the target images we may have to assume some non-linear mechanism other than the simple Fourier transformation. Some other transform may be required, or perhaps the non-linear dynamics of neural networks (Hopfield, 1984; Rumelhart et al, 1986). The work in preparation by Pribram mentioned in the previous chapter addresses the issue of non-linearity and proposes a holonomic theory that transcends the earlier holographic hypothesis. Whatever the outcome of this research, it is unlikely to affect significantly the argument presented in this section.
Referring to the analogy of the bright spot of light produced when two closely matching holograms are overlaid, we may update the earlier speculation about "enlightenment" as being a property of finding the right course of action. At that point we assumed, with decision theory, the a priori existence of a target image. Now that we have discussed the nature of a good target image, "enlightenment" will of course have to arise from the use of appropriately enfolded target images. This means that the bright light ("illumination") or surge of energy of "enlightenment" is associated with the extensive consideration of the context of other peoples values and situations (the experience of diversity) and the ability to decide and act in a focused way (the experience of unity).
The tremendous efficiency of holographic storage and the availability of extensive networks of dendrites around each of the billions of nervous cells constitutes a stage large enough for the target images guiding the colossal range of activities that human beings perform, and often perform with exquisite elegance and economy. One leading researcher in optical holography says that the storage capacity of holograms is such that the information contained in the entire Library of Congress can be stored in a cubic centimeter of a suitable medium (Caulfield, 1984). While this does not necessarily apply to the brain, which does not rely on light or emulsions, but energy of likely much greater wavelengths that require more space, it is nevertheless suggestive.
As explained in Chapter 2, the whole-in-part characteristic in holography derives from the fact that light from every region of the object reaches every region on the hologram, which means that every part of the hologram receives information about the entire object. The reconstructed image is three-dimensional because the holographic exposure process captures the perspectives that we experience in a real object. This accounts for the perspectivism characteristic, because the views of the object differ with the angles of view recorded. While these characteristics of light do not cause much stir in our everyday perception, where we experience them constantly, they surprise us when we see them materialized and recorded on a piece of film. Yet the real thing is different from the film in only regard: it is dynamic, not static.
Leibniz and Whitehead wrote against the prevailing materialism and atomism of their times, and most histories of philosophy seem to consider them somewhat mystical and obscure. Leibniz wrote when classical mechanics was just emerging, and his monadology appears to have had little impact on the development of contemporary science (although other aspects of his work, such as the infinitesimal calculus, of course proved tremendously influential). Whitehead was a close follower of the sciences of his day and attempted to account for quantum mechanics in his process philosophy.
To appreciate these problems, consider a simple mechanical system like a car. It may be said to be a whole composed of certain parts, such as wheels, doors, engine, etc. These parts have fairly well-defined boundaries and are thus easily distinguishable. They stand in certain relationships to each other, and together with their interactions they constitute the whole. However, when it comes to an implicate order, such as the interference pattern of light in the sunlit room, there are no such easily identifiable parts. The different "parts" of the interference pattern referred to earlier are really only arbitrarily delimited sections of the space in the room. Similarly for the hologram: it has no distinguishable parts; it may be cut anywhere to make the "parts" through which the whole image can be seen. Consequently, the "parts" of an implicate order cannot be said to stand in any "relationship" to each other, they do not "interact," and they do not "constitute" a whole. This conceptualization of things as being outside each other, spatially well-defined and interacting to constitute larger wholes is, in fact, characteristic of explicate order (Bohm, 1980b, pp. 178-179) and cannot be easily used to describe implicate phenomena. The "whole" apparent in each of the the "parts" of an interference pattern is therefore not to be understood in a mechanical or systemic (Ackoff, 1971) fashion, but as the unity of information represented in the entire space in that room. As regards the hologram analogy, as used by the holographic-design writers, the matter is complicated further by the fact that the "whole" that is being viewed, that is, the image projected from the hologram, appears to the viewer as an (image of an) explicate object with discrete parts. The confusion arises from the fact that a part of one thing (a section of the hologram, that is, the film) produces a view of another thing (the holographic image projected by the hologram). It is not a part of the image that lets us see the whole image; it is a part of the hologram that lets us see the whole image. The fact that the whole in the holographic example is so readily viewable is convenient for brief explanations, such as those given by the holographic-design writers, but under closer scrutiny it becomes an impediment to understanding. For this reason it plays no major role in the present work.
This, of course, should not be taken to mean that the human world is all inside the individual mind. On the contrary, as the discussion of the social context of experience showed, the world of experience of the individual is inherently and necessarily related to the worlds of other individuals, which provide an intersubjective background of meanings against which an individual's actions and interpretations take place. The point that the experiential transformation makes is that the human world is a world of interpretation and experience (both of which are inherently social phenomena), very unlike the impersonal or de-subjectivized reality of, say, a positivist epistemology.
The connection between the "unity experience" and our use of "unity" in the discussion on target images will be explained later in the main text.
As we shall see later, Bohm's conceptualization of these matters is not quite compatible with ours, which is why his work has been kept in the background in this and the previous chapter. Bohm speaks of a direct experience of the implicate order, whereas we would say that such experiences are always mediated by particular forms, this being the only way that any contents may enter consciousness. The unity experience is the experience of wholeness of flow as obtained through the exercise of a particular explicate form of activity, not in the absence of such forms, as Bohm seems to imply (cf. the preliminary critique in Section 2.9 and elaborated in Section 6.3).
"Unity" and "diversity" were adopted for the two types of experience for the additional reason that they provide an apposite connection with extant philosophical traditions that use these terms to denote qualities of human experience (Huxley, 1944, Copleston, 1982). While the concepts of whole and part are indigenous to mainstream Western philosophy and in the latter half of this century have become adopted for scientific usage in cybernetics and systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Buckley, 1968), the notions of unity and, to lesser extent, diversity seem to have found use mostly in theology and mysticism. Notice that we do not speak about unity and diversity as objective properties world, in the manner of Koestler (1967) who argues that evolution goes through a process of unification (integration) and diversification (differentiation). We are here speaking about the experience of unity and diversity, that is, unity and diversity as seen from the insides of human beings looking out on the world. The emphasis on experience and the role of the unity and diversity experiences in the good life, as we shall discuss in the main text, is perhaps better reflected in Angyal's (1941, see Trist, n.d.) concepts of autonomy and homonomy. Angyal sees the healthy personality as characterized by the twin tendencies of autonomy (reliance on self) and homonomy (orientation towards the world).
The repeated emphasis on experience does not imply any bias as to where the locus of intervention should be, whether inner or outer, "subjective" feelings or "objective" social conditions. All human forms, whether conventionally considered inner or outer, shape people's interpretation, experience and understanding of the world and may equally be the target of efforts to bring about the unity and diversity experiences. What the emphasis on experience does imply is that any discussion of values and the good must refer to a subject who experiences things to be good or bad, valuable or worthless. Glossing over the subjective dimension in ethics, as hard-line Marxists do when they identify "objective" class interests that apply whether the masses know their interests or not, is thoroughly misguided, if for no other reason than its neglect of the crucial role of experience and interpretation in the human world.