The Dance of Understanding

We subscribe to the view, expressed by Humberto Maturana and others, that a satisfying experience of understanding does not result from invoking objectivity, the truth, or a compelling argument, to achieve agreement by the force of reason, nor from a process of information exchange, but from some other qualities of the biological interaction itself. We find a simple explanation of these qualities to be elusive and therefore we try to combine scientific explanation with a poetic metaphor which likens understanding to a dance.    We experience some dissatisfaction when the “force of reason” viewpoint is not acknowledged, but is a hidden agenda, in so many group discussions. It is as if the dance becomes a dance of deception. To address our frustration and this issue in human coexistence, we employ second-order cybernetics, in particular the biological explanatory framework of Maturana, Varela and others, to speak about the process of human understanding. We also introduce some ideas about behavioural confidence and structural coupling which are derived from animal studies and contrast quantitative attributes of behaviour with qualitative attributes of emotion. It is in this respect that metaphor seems especially useful. The satisfaction we derive from doing this is seen by us as part of our own understanding.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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