Use of metaphors LO5547
Mon, 12 Feb 1996 08:34:55 -0500

Replying to LO5473 --

To Michael McMaster

Michael, You said:
>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 don't think I agree with that. It might be fruitful to pursue the notion
that the biological analogue of "trust" in social system is the immune
system, which rejects 'foreign" organs and infections. The analogy
emphasizes that trust is a quality of the system, not the individual
organs. Trust does not require that each of your organs have a "mind".
Your heart won't reject your liver, but your system might reject both (as
transplants). Trust deals with relationships between entities, not the
entities. So it might help to understand how the immune system works so
that we can talk about a fuzzy systems concept like trust more clearly.
How about the workings of Cyclosporin, the wonder anti-rejection drug, as
a model on which to map the building of trust in social systems?

IMHO we have to push our metaphors as far as we can -- until they break --
they are all we have to communicate in language about reality. We get into
more trouble when we don't push them than when we do. Those that don't
break are candidates to be turned into really helpful models.

Best wishes,
David Hurst
Speaker, Writer and Consultant on Management

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