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Re-enchantment of environmental engagement through polyhedral animations


Psychodynamics of collective engagement with polyhedral value configurations (Part #8)


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Configuring value sets of various size: Whether as "values" or as emotionally-charged "places", the topoi as cognitive themes call for appropriate configuration -- if only to be ably to re-member, deploy, and use them appropriately.

One approach is to explore them as sets of increasing size, where sets of principles typically appear at plus or minus 7 elements:

  • a single value, such as "agreement", "love", etc. But this is obviously challenged, especially to comprehension, unless special account can be taken of parasoxical self-reflexive processes, as notably explored by Steven Rosen (2004, 2006).
  • a polarized or binary value, such as "agreement-disagreement", "male-female", "us-them", "positive-negative", "industry-environment", etc. It is these, notably as strategic dilemmas, by which society is apparently most tortured, despite the emergence of "attraction-repulsion"
  • a triadic system, epitomized by the "eternal triangle" of relationships for which no sustainable solution is immediately accessible, as with the "3-body problem"
  • a quaternary system, typical of many psychological systems offering a degree of both variety and stability (Jungian types, the four ways of Matthew Fox: positiva, negativa, creativa and transformativa).

This approach has been explored experimentally up to a set of 20 (Distinguishing Levels of Declarations of Principles, 1980).

Dynamic configurations: Such articulations do not address the challenge of a "user-friendly" dynamic configuration of them for anyone -- or any group -- seeking to navigate cognitive space. It is here that the BaGua system offers important pointers, especially given its significance for relating to any "other" through its adaptation to the "martial arts". In this respect it is important to recall the degree to which such frameworks have been consciously adapted to military strategy (eg Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings) and to business strategy (****).

Taken in its purest form as a binary coding system (of which SETI enthusiasts might be proud), the question is how it can encode and indicate the significance of members of a set of values of increasing size.

  • the challenge of a single-membered set is avoided through the ambiguities considered necessary in reference to what is symbolized by the Tao, as is appropriate in apophatic discourse
  • a two-member set is represented by broken and unbroken lines (yin and yang, respectively), as a focus for all the relevant metaphors; however these may be combined together as pairs to indicate a four-member set
  • the distinct members of an eight-member set (the BaGua) are represented by the various combinations of three broken and unbroken lines constituting a trigram

This approach may be taken in order to encode and distinguish a larger range of elements (Discovering Richer Patterns of Comprehension to Reframe Polarization, 1998). It becomes especially interesting when the polarization is understood to be especially focused on "we vs them", "me vs the environment", "agreement vs disagreement", or "norms vs extremists".. As such it offers a powerful means of encoding disagreement with both appropriate clarity and appropriate ambiguity, avoiding closure and exclusion of greater variety. It might be considered the embryonic basis for a periodic table of values (see discussion in Tuning a Periodic Table of Religions, Epistemologies and Spirituality including the sciences and other belief systems, 2007). Perhaps more significant it offers a means of indicating the range of degrees of engagement with any "other", including the environment, epitomized by the classic work of Martin Buber (I and Thou, 1923).

But, as any periodic table metaphor indicates, it is less important to privilege any particular degree of engagement and more significant to switch between them as appropriate to circumstances. Hence the value of the martial arts insight into the BaGua. The "warrior" in that metaphor has to be vigilant with regard to vulnerability of attack from any sector and hence the need to be able to deploy resources appropriately in defence -- and to be able nimbly to redeploy them appropriately for attack.

Enabling strategic reconfiguration: Polyhedral animations of sets of different sizes, and transformations between sets of different sizes, support understanding of the cognitive templates required in response to different circumstances. They may also be adapted, changing metaphor, to an understanding of how to focus effort and vision -- deploying the topoi as refractive or reflective facets in an optical or antenna array. This responds to the widespread use of the "vision" metaphor in strategy development.

Success in focusing is closely related to appropriate symmetry -- a property mentioned earlier in connection with the desirable robustness of any value set. It might be understood as intrinsic to understanding of value empowerment. As mentioned earlier, the coherence and integrity of any set of values is intimately related to its mnemonic qualities -- the "poetic echoes" associating the topoi by which engagement is elicited. There is a curious relationship between the capacity to "re-member" in this way and the capacity to "de-cide" thereafter.


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