Society may be usefully perceived as facing an entropic crisis. This view has been explored by Jeremy Rifkin (105). The second (entropy) law of thermodynamics states that matter and energy can only be changed in one direction, from usable to unusable, or from available to unavailable, or from ordered to disordered. And whenever any semblance of order is created anywhere, it is done at the expense of causing an even greater disorder in the surrounding environment. For Rifkin the inexorable nature of this process provides an understanding of why the existing world views are breaking down.
Development through Alternation
The difficulty in exploring patterns of alternation is the seeming lack of concrete (as opposed to abstract) examples by which the credibility of such patterns in practice may become apparent. The rotation of agricultural crops is therefore an interesting "earthy" practice to explore in the light of the mind-set which it has required of farmers for several thousand years.
Given the essential discontinuity between the domains in a pattern of alternation, the key question is whether there is any way of comprehending and communicating the nature of the transformations between the elements in the pattern, other than "superficially" in purely right-hemisphere (dramatic) terms. Furthermore, it would be useful to clarify the basis for the emergence of each domain within the pattern.
The approach to learning discussed is too basic for it to be possible to derive much of significance that can be applied directly to organizations. The problem lies in the Western bias discussed earlier in favour of a learning "zigzag" in an essential linear direction. If the zigzag is considered as occuring around a learning cycle however, marrying in the Eastern bias towards recurrence, this cycle can then be subdivided into sufficiently detailed elements to be of significance for organizational operations.
In a learning society, in which no one can aspire to be informed of every item of significance, it is quite unrealistic to expect ignorance and non-comprehension to have a purely minor role, hopefully to be further diminished by development programmes and information technology. Whether it be between the preoccupations of disciplines, cultures, generations, levels of education, or temperamental preferences, non-comprehension must necessarily continue to play a major role in the ordering of society, if not a progressively increasing one.
The authors of the preceding five sections (Stamps, Rescher, Bohm, Dossey, and Rudhyar) each argue for an alternative to Cartesian/Newtonian frameworks as a necessary condition for any adequate approach to perceived complexity. The need to elaborate a strong argument for such an alternative in each case obscures the author's explicit recognition of the continuing need for a Cartesian/Newtonian framework under certain conditions. The two alternatives may even be viewed as complementary in the full sense of the term (161), necessitating an alternation between them.
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As Attali has shown (79), music remains one of the clearest domains in terms of which the thinking underlying any social order can be discussed. It provides a more concretely accessible language with which to comprehend the subtleties and distinctions reviewed in the two previous sections. Thus the composer Dane Rudhyar, in a study of spatialization of tone experience, confronts the basic duality of those sections:
As has been noted on many occasions, the concept of health is intimately related to that of wholeness. As broadly defined by the World Health Organization, it encompasses the physical, psychological and spiritual well-being of the individual and is thus central to the concept of human and social development. It is therefore valuable to explore the evolution in the concept of health, as a form of integration, and as throwing light on the implications of such integration for an understanding of development.
As a theoretical physicist, David Bohm is concerned with the illusory nature of fragmentation (93 ??, 94) and the manner in which distinct fragments emerge from wholeness in movement (8). He sees the perceptual problems with which he deals as being as relevant to a more healthy response to psychosocial fragmentation as to the problems of fundamental physics. The value of Bohm's perspective for understanding healthy individual development has in fact been recently stressed by a physician Larry Dossey (95).