Silence, Truth, Time, Perpetuity LO2857
Sun, 17 Sep 1995 09:51:08 -0400

I see four recent themes connecting: the use of silence in meetings,
Warfield/Peirce on knowledge and truth, and the influence of time-frames
on thought and behavior in organizations, and organizational

Is shared silence, as in a Quaker meeting, a point of access to a timeless

On Tue, 29 Aug 1995, JOHN N. WARFIELD wrote:

> A variety of contributions to this list have collectively spurred me to
> bring up a topic that I will call "knowledge versus belief".
> Closely allied with this are questions related to "truth".
> I propose to you that knowledge is depersonalized belief. Further that
> by depersonalizing belief to get the concept of knowledge, we replace a
> genuine concept--belief--with an artificial concept--knowledge.
> I propose to you further that truth is depersonalized conviction.
> Further that truth is inevitable belief, where there is no time limit on
> the inevitability.

With no time limit on the inevitability, truth, like beauty, is a timeless
conversation--to which shared silence may be one point of access.

Eliot says somewhere in the Four Quartets that "only through time time is
conquered," and that "to apprehend the intersection of the timeless with
time is an occupation for the saint." Perhaps it an occupation for all of
us. Short-term time frames in business and elsewhere are not about to
disappear. What is the possibility of apprehending the intersection of
our short-term (quarterly, for instance) conversations with our timeless
conversations? This seems to me to be one way of saying what we are up to
on this list. We seem to share a passion for bringing timeless wisdom
into pragmatic experimentation with the issues of our time.

If truth is inevitable belief, with no time limit on the inevitability, we
can imagine grounding ourselves in real futures which are not given and
driven by history. Fritz calls it "creative tension"--the idea that our
envisioned future can be real, influential, the ground of our current way
of being. We are a future for each other and for our planet--which
enables us to be clear-sighted about current reality without resignation
and despair.

(If anything will stop us, it will be undistinguished resignation and
despair. It's difficult to confront--in others, in oneself. Sooner or
later, any dialogue worth the name will bring us face to face with our own
resignation: the point at which I will stop without even realizing that I
have stopped.)

Michael McMaster said recently:

>The title of the book is "Survival, Growth and Perpetuity". That is,
>a company is about all of these things. The message is that to exist
>in perpetuity, which is the ideal proposed, the company must provide
>value to customers, shareholders and community. The book is a
>rigorous outline for what it takes for such an occurrence.

>The point is that vision and mission are not a part of this book.
>What, then is the leaders role? It is to provide *philosophy*.

"Perpetuity" is a timeless conversation, as is community. The leaders'
role, our role is to provide *philosophy*. What is the generative
question for our time? What is the question which will frame the
discourse for the futures we envision? What is the question which will
give coherence to our thinking and our praxis? Is there a question which
the inventors of dialogue--from Socrates to Buber and Friere and
Bohm--have been asking themselves, asking us?

(Brief intro: I have been designing and leading "learning teams" for
career exploration and work search, using dialogue, mental models, team
learning, some systems thinking. It works.)

Larry Hanawalt
Industrial Services Program (Massachusetts)