This article represents a concerted Laszlo effort. What you will find here is a collection of autobiographical reflections written by Ervin Laszlo that speaks to his involvement with the field of systems thinking and his impact on it, interspersed with comments and illustrative examples on points of special interest. As such, this essay should be read as a reflection piece?one in which a new generation of Laszlos muse on the power and inspiration of the vision that has served (...) as a platform not only for them but for many others in the systems community as well. To understand Ervin Laszlo and his contributions to the systems view of the world, one must place him in context?both ontologically and epistemologically. This narrative will do both, first presenting a chronological overview of his personal history up to the present and subsequently exploring the world of ideas and ideals that he traversed (and continues to traverse with unrelenting momentum). However, this narrative will inevitably be nonlinear, and bits and pieces of his adventure in thought are woven into his chronological development and vice-versa. (shrink)
Evolution in the sense of the new paradigm embraces not only the emergence of biological species but also development in the cosmos and in history. It means ?grand synthesis,? or general theory of evolution. Its roots lie in the search for meaning that inspired systematic thought since its inception: its historical antecedents go back to the Ionian natural philosophers. Today the evolutionary paradigm frames invariant scientific concepts that appear in specific transformations in the physical, the biological, and the human and (...) social disciplines. The new general laws of evolution exhibit overarching orders that encompass nature as well as humanity and respond to a perennial search for unity and meaning in experience. (shrink)
The conflict between science and religion is not irremediable: the world concept of science is changing, and the change brings about a rapprochement with religious beliefs in some fundamental areas. One such area is the question of original creation. Recent findings regarding the nature of the universe show the improbability of its having arisen in the course of a random process. The perennial religious intuition of a transcendental act of creation is a logical entailment of the randomly entirely improbable fine (...) tuning of the natural laws and processes that the observed universe manifests. (shrink)
Science, and with it our understanding of evolutionary processes, is itself undergoing evolution. The evolutionary framework still most frequently used by the general public to describe and guide processes of societal development is erroneously grounded in Darwinian perspectives or, at the very least, draws facile analogies from biological evolution. The present inquiry incorporates fresh insights on the general systemic nature of developmental dynamics from the most recent advances in the transdisciplinary realm of the sciences of complexity (e.g., general evolution theory, (...) cybernetics, information and communication theory, chaos theory, dynamical systems theory, and nonequilibrium thermodynamics). The description of the evolutionary trajectory of complex dynamical systems as irreversible, periodically chaotic, and strongly nonlinear agrees with certain features of the historical processes of societal development. But there are additional features of the evolutionary dynamic of natural systems that are seldom portrayed as part of human developmental deportment. These features include elements such as the convergence of existing systems at progressively higher levels of organization, the increasingly efficient utilization of environmental energy, and the complexification of system structures in states that are progressively further removed from chemical and thermodynamic equilibria. The sciences of complexity offer insight into the laws and dynamics that govern the evolution of complex systems across a variety of disciplinary areas of investigation. Through a study of the isomorphisms across disciplinary constructs in the theoretical analyses of the principles governing the evolution of human societies, it is possible to enrich the account of developmental dynamics at the socio-civilizational level. Such an account would further our understanding of the phenomenon of societal development and provide the means for the purposeful guidance of this phenomenon in accordance with general evolutionary principles. This article sets forth the type of considerations, and outlines a general research agenda, for inquiry toward an operational model of the evolutionary development of social systems. (shrink)
Society is at a crossroads. Interconnected systems, radical transparency, and rapidly increasing sophistication in skills, communications, and technologies provide a unique context for fostering social innovation at a planetary scale. We argue that unprecedented rates of systemic social change are possible for co-creating a future where humans and all life can thrive. Yet, this requires innovation in the conceptions, practice, teaching, and researching of social innovation itself to reimagine what it is and can be. As a multidisciplinary group of academics, (...) practitioners, and educators, we integrate our perspectives on social innovation and humanistic management to suggest the notion of systemic social innovation. We introduce the concept of “transformative collaboration” as central to facilitating systemic social innovation and propose a multilevel model for accelerating systems change. We then develop an integrated framework for conceptualizing systemic social innovation. Four levels of social impact are identified, and these levels are bracketed with a call for transforming individual consciousness at the micro level and new collective mindsets at the macro level. Blooom is presented as a case study to illustrate transformative collaboration, demonstrate the role of mindset shift in practice, and introduce four key ingredients to systemic social innovation. Finally, a call to action is issued for social innovation practice, teaching, and research. Most importantly, we seek to inspire and accelerate systemic social innovation that enables the flourishing of every human being and all life on earth. (shrink)
Humanistic management is emerging as a response to the economistic paradigm prevalent in today’s business schools, corporations, and society. There are many compelling reasons why the economistic paradigm is becoming obsolete, and even dangerous, for business if it is to become an agent of world benefit. The purpose of this article is not to explain these reasons but rather to situate the transition to humanistic management in the context of multiple worldviews. We propose an historical sequence of worldviews each with (...) its own paradigmatic assumptions about what it means to be human and the nature of the world. We draw on converging insights between new science and ancient spiritual traditions to outline an emerging quantum worldview. We further submit that integrating elements of the quantum worldview into humanistic management strengthens it in ways that are essential to humankind’s ability to shift to full-spectrum flourishing, defined as a world in which people and all life thrive now and across future generations. (shrink)
A major obstacle to chemistry being a deductive science is that its core concepts very often are defined in a circular manner: it is impossible to explain what an acid is without reference to the complementary concept of a base. There are many such dual pairs among the core concepts of chemistry. Such circulation of concepts, rather than an infirmity chemistry is beset with, is seen as a source of vitality and dynamism.
Contemporary education is awakening from a crisis that has held the development of its potential and its relevance at bay for well over a century. Revolutions in science and spirituality are emerging a new relational intelligence that demands commensurate educational paradigms for its blossoming into daily engagements with life and the world around us. At the same time as people are leading increasingly interconnected lives, aware of and often participating in the narratives of people and ecosystems in other parts of (...) the planet, information and communications technologies are increasingly integrating with and serving to mediate the human experience. This article explores the power of this confluence at the current nexus of civilizational demands in the context of increased planetary stresses and destabilizations. The case is made for a thrivable education praxis that draws on these emergent aspects of our developmental potential and emphasizes the importance of functional conviviality as an operational principle of learning for life. (shrink)
The rift between science and religion needs to be assessed not merely on pragmatic grounds, on the basis of the effect of scientific versus religious beliefs on people's behavior, as John Caiazza's essay does, but also and above all in regard to the cogency of the respective beliefs in reference to what we can reasonably assume is the true face of reality. About such truth value, the conflict is not irremediable; there are elements of belief regarding the nature of reality (...) that are strikingly similar regardless of whether one arrived at them on the basis of faith in revealed knowledge or on the basis of knowledge acquired by reasoning from or in reference to experience. Two such items are selected here by way of example: belief that in certain states of mind and consciousness individuals can experience union with something larger or deeper than themselves, and belief that the universe we inhabit is the result of an original creative act. (shrink)
The developmental trend in many fields of contemporary science is toward integrated general theories. These trends are viewed as essential components of the nature of science rather than expressions of arbitrary preferences of scientists. The law-like factors which lead science toward reliance on general theories include empirical as well as rational components. A model is proposed which exhibits the balance of the relevant factors as calling for increasing use of theories the primitive terms of which are progressively more abstract and (...) general, though no less precise and empirically adequate. (shrink)
This book is about aesthetic processes and play from the perspectives of psychologists, philosophers, and semiologists. They explore the underlying processes from many viewpoints, including the prehistoric roots of language and art; the historical evolution of artistic, literary, and musical styles; the structure of artworks from both gestalt and semiotic perspectives; the biological and psychological processes underlying production and appreciation; the appeal of sentimental art; emotional responses to art and other aesthetic forms; personality in relation to artistic style; the testing (...) and measurement of art-related skills; the relations between social life and literary understanding; literature in relation to media; as well as neurobiological, developmental and individual growth perspectives on play activity. (shrink)
As we enter the 21st century and the new millennium, our collective evolution reaches a critical threshold. We cannot go on as we did before: our world has become unsustainable. Sooner or later many local ecosystems would collapse, the climate would change adversely for agriculture and habitation, species incompatible with a large and dense human population would profilerate, and resources critical for human health and survival would become scarce, or at least beyond the reach of a critical segment of humanity. (...) We need to shift gears, moving from the kind of evolution that characterized our scientific-technological civilization, to the kind that is compatible with the human condition as it evolves on this planet. This shift requires a corresponding shift in our concept of the world. The dominant mechanistic and atomistic paradigm no longer serves us: it is not only factually incorrect in view of the latest discoveries of the sciences, it also inspires dangerously misguided behaviors. We need to find a deeper and better view of the human condition. We must no longer just see the trees: we must also see the forest. That is, we must learn to see the planetary socio-ecosystem with all its subsystems, diversities, and also its actual and potential unities. What we need is a holistic view, a view of the human being as part of her or his community, which is part of its local environment, which is part of its society and culture, which is part of the system of cultures and societies in the human family-which is part of the global environment: of the biosphere. (shrink)
There is a branch of modern medicine that relies on information rather than on biochemical substances to maintain health and cure disease. Known as information medicine, it offers an important complement to the dominant biochemical approach of mainstream medicine. This note offers a few reflections on the potentials of information medicine in reference to what is currently known regarding the role of information in the universe, and in the living organism.
The evolutionary challenge for technology in the third millennium is one of designing the vehicles for sustainable human and societal development in partnership with earth. The challenge calls for the conscious creation of evolutionary systems-not through the "hard technologies" that shape and mold the physical infrastructure of our planet, but through "soft technologies" that augment creative and constructive processes of human interaction. Through them, humanity has the opportunity to create the conditions for the emergence of a true learning society at (...) both regional and global levels. The meaning of key terms such as evolution, technology, and development must be explored if we are to create a shared understanding of the contemporary survival challenges faced by humanity. This paper explores both the promise and the threat faced by a techno-civilization such as is emerging on our planet in the early twenty-first century. (shrink)
This article explores a new perception of causality and time. It is proposed that our present is not the result of our past; instead it emerges from our futures. The intention to bring into being a world and future where all of us can thrive has been shared by numerous people. Yet despite these intentions, we have not yet been able to effectuate the deeper transformational change required for bringing this forth at the pace and scale now required. This article (...) offers the quintessence of this quest, to liberate our focus from our entrapment within the systems we defined. (shrink)