Use of metaphors LO5473

Michael McMaster (
Thu, 8 Feb 1996 23:17:41 +0000

Replying to LO5424 --

Enrique, thanks for your critique of my comments. I agree that we
should "press analogies as deep as we can" ..... but not deeper.
There is a place where we must bring in the language nature of human
beings and therefor their organisations.

You say it's important that people FEEL "undifferentiated so that
they can become a part of the WHOLE." Already you must have stepped
from the analogy because, as far as I know, the cells don't "feel"
they are part of the whole. They *are* part of the whole. (Our
language has created a false separation and it is through language
that we will heal this.) It is also important to note that
self-similarity is not the same as undistinguished. There are
differences built on a basic structure of similarity.

I don't think that "all cells of an organism have the same
information to begin with". I also do not share the
anthropomorphising that "they all share the same vision and mission
explicity." Beyond my doubt that any such vision or mission exist,
there is no evidence that such need be shared. All that need be
shared is connections and what I might call "design" or organisation.

That is, the cells are connected and related and communicate in ways
that transmit partial information of the whole.

Now for your really interesting comments:
> In distributed control systems this has to happen, the difference is that
> the points of take over are very clearly defined. Certain messages are not
> subject to the control of the parts, even if they do belong to the whole.

This is the place of design (in language) and specific language acts
(such as committed speaking and lines of communication). This, I
think is THE challenge for our organisational work. Our designs,
connections, relationships, organisation are either so rigidly
controlling or so vague and loose, that the agents to not get signals
that contain sufficient information for self-organising responses.

> I strongly feel that this TRUST is an essential part of belonging that
> comes with the "knowledge" of the efficiency of the control system.

What is the equivalent of "TRUST" in biological systems. Does my
heart "trust" my liver? No. They are connected - tightly coupled -
by design and the issue does not arise.

I find in my personal life and in my work that trust is a replacement
for good communication. I don't mistrust those with whom I can
communicate anything. Where I can't communicate, I must "trust" on
my own creation - or not at all.

What I think we are developing is a theory of language based beings
- and their institutions - and that we can learn many principles from
living systems but must then account for (at least) two additional
phenomena. One is that our connections and response don't come
hard-wired but exist in the medium of language. Two, that we have
access to our language and thus design access to our connections and

I really appreciated the information and depth of your response. It
is that which demanded developlment of my own thinking. I hope this
is a contribution to yours.

Michael McMaster

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