Thursday, December 5, 2013

Montuori on Morin

Recall earlier in the OOO thread (this post, and before and after) where I was wondering about thoughts as autonomous substances that do not belong to any one individual but were more how larger cultural assemblages transmit and propogate themselves, like memes. I was reminded of this by Montuori's paper on Morin and complex thought. For example:

"While we normally assume that we have ideas, it became clear to Morin that ideas can also have us—literally possess us. Human beings can literally be possessed by ideologies and belief systems, whether on the Left or the Right, whether in science or religion. Henceforth, Morin’s effort would be to develop a form of thinking—and of being in the world—that is always self-reflective and self-critical, always open and creative, always eager to challenge the fundamental assumptions underlying a system of thought, and always alert for the ways in which, covertly or overtly, we create inviolate centers that cannot be questioned or challenged. Knowledge always requires the knowledge of knowledge, the ongoing investigation and interrogation of how we construct knowledge" (4).

The discussion on pp. 8-9 reminded me of how I view this forum and my blog. Morin's writings attempted to include his personal experiences, his personality, and express the process of its being and becoming. This is contra to the general academic process, where oneself is to be eliminated as much as possible, where 'objectivity' is paramount. Like this forum he tried to display the "actual process of inquiry itself, to the ups and downs of the research, the blind alleys, the mistakes, the insights, dialogues, and the creative process."

Oh, this is nice: "And this is in many ways Morin’s central contribution—to point out that there are problems, such as the human/nature or two culture split, that must be approached with a radically different way of thinking, a way of thinking that, as Morin states, is not disjunctive (either/or), but connects, without the Hegelian assumption that the dialectic will always lead to a new synthesis" (10-11).

More from Montuori:

“Morin refers to mathematical approaches to complexity that still draw on a classical epistemology as 'restricted complexity.' This is contrasted with 'general complexity,' which requires a fundamental rethinking of what we consider knowledge and of how we think. We should therefore not think of this as an attempt to use 'complexity theory,' as it is known in the United States, to address issues in the sciences or philosophy, even if we can find some conceptual parallels” (12).

“Of particular interest for integral theorists, I believe, is the way Morin helps to think through the relationships and interactions between the four quadrants, for instance between brain and mind, individual and culture, and so on.” (14).

“For Morin the issue is addressing the problems of thinking, and this is where his work begins to show considerable parallels with efforts to articulate post-formal ways of thinking, offering a bridge to integral theorists. Herbert Koplowitz (1984) argues strongly for the relationship between general system theory and post-formal thought: 'Formal operational thought is dualistic. It draws sharp distinctions between the knower and the known, between one object (or variable) and another, and between pairs of opposites (e.g., good and bad).' Elsewhere Koplowitz states, 'In post-formal operational thought, the knower is seen as unified with the known, various objects (and variables) are seen as part of a continuum, and opposites are seen as poles of one concept' (as cited in Kegan, 1982, p. 32). In Method we see Morin articulating at considerable length some of Koplowitz’s key principles, also applying them to systems theory and cybernetics” (15).

“Morin articulates the importance of the notion of open system. He spends several hundred pages outlining the quite dramatic implications of a concept that is all-too often taken as a foundation of systems thinking, but largely undertheorized. Morin critiques systems theory approaches extensively, and points to the problematic nature of discussing open and closed systems as opposites when in fact every open system is also, to some extent closed. The complexity of open systems leads him to questions such as how an open system is also closed, the crucial nature of a system’s relationship with the environment, the nature of autonomy, the opposition between reductionism and holism, the possibility of emergence, and self-organization, or as Morin revisions it, self-eco-organization” (16).

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