Functional Classification in an Integrative Matrix of Human Preoccupations

Functional Self-Organization

With the switch in emphasis from pure classification to one in which functional relationships are to be highlighted, it is clear that any resultant matrix can usefully be compared with models of human social systems. One of the most interesting theoretical explorations of this kind is the investigation of Erich Jantsch as reflected in three volumes (19,20,21). The special merit of his approach is that it developed from an initial involvement in management, planning, systems and the policy sciences, subsequently to include non-dualistic insights and recognition of the significance of hemispheric specialization of the brain. In his final work (21), he provides a scientific foundation for a new world view which emphasizes process over structure, non-equilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization.

Of special relevance is his elaboration of a number of tabular presentations which distinguish levels in a manner similar to that advocated here. For example, one table concerns "Multi-level planning in relation to a multi-level reality" in which the levels of planning correspond to different time horizons and different levels of logic and system paradigms. The five levels he distinguishes are: resources, products and services, social functions, policy and values (21, p.268). In an earlier book he has tables organized in terms of areas of "basic human experience", namely what we: are, feel, perceive, know, want, conceive and can do (19, p.235). Information from these tables has been combined into a modified presentation (see Figure 6).

Jantsch stresses the significance of the new area of systems thinking concerned with "self-organization" of human systems. In effect his tabular presentations may be considered as self-organizing patterns of functions. In the presentations in his books special stress is laid on the relationships between the elements of the table through feedback loops. It is in this light that it is valuable to explore the organization of the matrix discussed here. The emergence of classes in the matrix is in this sense an organic response to the macro-organization of the pattern. The process whereby major classes of functions emerge (eg "science", "education", etc) in society is then a conceptual equivalent to "macron" patterning, as described by Ralph Abraham in one of Jantsch's books (22). Such new order emerges through fluctuation, and it is on the basis of such fluctuation that the system evolves. One of Jantsch's most important contributions is to draw attention to the relevance for social systems of Ilya Prigogine's investigations into this phenomenon (23). It is for this reason that it is considered desirable to build an element of fluctuation or alternation into the matrix pattern on which the classification is based (24,25).