What is Unlearning LO10213

Sat, 28 Sep 1996 13:28:25 +1200 (NZST)

Replying to LO10198 --

Michael McMaster wrote:

"The definitions take us "beyond mind" in some way but we will have to
least have a metaphorical mind of an organisation if this is to get
our territory. (Unless we say that an organisation is only the sum of
individual members.)

I use "learning" as a subset of "development" and both as subsets of
"intelligence". All are possible, with appropriate translation for
of complexity of organisation (or of emergent phenomena, if you
to apply to individuals and to corporations or their subsets (such as

I agree - but I do not think we have to think of a METAPHOR of mind in
order to work with these ideas. We merely have to think of an appropriate
definition of 'mind'. I would propose that a mind is 'any system capable
of purposeful adaptation to its environment' ( I know ! I know! This is
the AI debate!).

If we adopt this definition then we can move on to further define an
organisation as such a system. We can then understand Michael's point
about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts by thinking of the
individual biological entities that constitute the organisation as being
able to achieve higher levels of adaptation (learning) than any of the
individuals could achieve alone.

Once I thought about this it dawned on me (it probably dawned on all of
you ages ago, but nobody has actually said it so far) that the concept of
'unlearning' is really on way of thinking about the problem of historical
channeling in complex adaptive systems. Now it makes more sense to me -
unlearning consists of contriving to produce a gateway event which breaks
out of the system's historical channeling which one again takes it beyond
equilibrium. That's OK - but I still think that the use of that word
carries a connotation (the rejection and dumping of past learning) which
does not actually describe what happens in such a process

Phillip Capper
WEB Research
New Zealand



Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>