Sunday, 24 November 2013



      .........In the course of preparing to move house, some old papers surfaced again - still topical, I think, posted below as they were then.

There are three items:

  1. An occasional paper for the Faculty of Building (a construction industry forum)
  2. A transcript of a debating speech
  3. A sketch

by L M Hohmann, Dipl-Ing RIBA FFB

Doubts are being cast on the benefits of technology-as-­we-know-it. Especially the young feel often disillusioned.

At the same time there can be no doubt, however, that technology holds the only hope for survival: the application of mind to matter to produce a survival margin. In this form of a forward survival margin we may call the result Wealth.

Since matter and energy cannot be 'lost' — only converted — and since mind, intellect, is limitless, wealth is potentially endless; at least as long as the application of mind to matter produces enough knowledge in the right direction to outpace the effects of entropy.

So what has gone wrong? Not our intellectual capabilities and their technical applications, I think, but our sense of direction, our notion of what is 'good', and how to organize its achievement.

Designers in any field are no longer embedded in a safe matrix of generally understood value systems — there is no consensus of what is 'good' in us or for us. I have a suspicion that there never was such a cosy featherbed of knowledge of doing-the-right-thing anyway; due to the increased speed and scale of technological operations, however, any ill effects are experienced faster and by a worldwide audience. (The good effects are those that were intended anyway, and do not make any headlines therefore).

Like everyone else, and however inadequately to start with, designers are forced to question themselves about their values and directions.

Do we not all think of ourselves as "professed" architects, planners, engineers — designers, in short — because we wish, and claim, to improve the human environment, if not the human predicament?

How is the QUALITY of such improvements to be measured?

What, therefore, constitutes "good" organization of "good" design?

The need to consider such questions stems from the fact that all planning and design (if not all perception of pheno­mena through our senses) requires an internal model of the world in our minds. This mental model should, of course, be one in which our emotions, hopes and dreams are at one with all we consciously know about the world we live in.

Anything less than that would only continue the social and institutional schizophrenia that tries to separate the `arts' from the 'sciences', the 'humanities' from 'technology' — is it not technology that needs to be human? —, the inner life of man from his situation at work, 'leisure' as escape from the 'drudgery of work' (which therefore may remain a drudgery) — all of which violates the unity, integrity and essence of being 'human', would you not agree?

Since design requires a mental model of the world in which we live, it is necessary to find out what connects mental models with reality, since design and all actions based on it stems from this model.
If the model is largely a true representation of reality, design can hope to achieve something relevant to real life; if it is a false model on which design and action rely, they will drift away from the reality of life and survival and become irrelevant at best, harmful and lethal at worst.

The central design problem is therefore the clarification and 'de-bugging' of mental models of reality which steer all design. The really significant design errors start here.

Design is action to produce something that others may use or enjoy to their further benefit: every design-product is another man's tool or toy: design is action to produce something that enables other preferred actions to occur.

So why should I write about it instead of sticking to my 'professed' trade as an architect? Henry Miller summed-up an answer to which I would subscribe:

"A child has no need to write — he is innocent. A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life."

Or similarly, J. M. Keynes:
"The difficulty lies not in new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones."

Another reminder which I find useful to retain a perspective when it comes to dealing in words (as talker or listener), is a passage from J. B. S. Haldane:

"Looking at history, it can be summed up as man's attempt to solve the practical problems of living. The men who did most to solve it were not those who thought about it, or talked about it or impressed their contem­poraries, but those who silently and efficiently got on with their work."

But in an era of institutional and governmental over-regula­tion, how many can still 'get on silently and efficiently with their work'?

Be that as it may for the moment, design is never a one-man activity, if only for the reasons of production and use by others. The first aspect for which we need some sort of measure, therefore, becomes: What is a measure for the quality of organization?

Which immediately poses the second problem: no social organization is a prime mover; it does nothing that is not done by one or more individuals within it. Therefore we need to ask: What is a measure for the quality of an individual?

Design activity is the designation of means to an end in ordered sequence, arrived at by evaluating aims and possi­bilities against a set of values. There are plenty of value systems to choose from judging by the many religious, philosophical, economical and political systems clamouring for our support if not devotion to causes. In order to choose: What is a measure for the quality of value systems?

Whatever I shall find under organization, individual and value systems, it will have to be brought to bear on design and those who practice it: What is a measure for the quality of a designer?

And finally, — one thing remains certain: mistakes will continue to be made. It is therefore important to ask: Why do things go wrong?

These are the five questions to which I seek some answers. For my personal use I term them 'Laws'. This is possible only by adopting one overriding rule: don't make rules for others — formulate your own and use them to test them. The five 'laws' I shall propound in the following are, therefore, quite strictly Mike's Laws: what anyone else does with them is entirely their own responsibility, as is the adoption or rejection of any other set of answers they may choose in reply to the questions I asked.
You may even have better questions! I hope to trigger them through Mike's Laws!


Before you immediately write that off as too much of a platitude let me look at everyone's functions — the roles we are playing daily: usually these are understood in terms of their historical development, and such explanations are unavoidable. But problems arise when one tries to describe them in terms of the dynamics of the immediately present circumstances which may or may not be the same as their historic explanations. In a fast changing world, they are often no longer coincident with the historic situation on which they are based, and we must distinguish between the two: one is history, the other information in terms of present relevance.

Present-day facts, we would like to call them, or true explanations of things-as-they-are. But facts are not static entities and their explanations must be given vectorially, i.e. as to kind, magnitude and direction of their constituent forces and activities. Only these forces and their direction can be observed in the real world and compared with our explanations to establish their truth-value. This becomes more and more important when we continue to translate — as our design function — these explanations into hardware and structures that are often longer-lasting than the forces that gave rise to them: obsolescence, re-cycling, adaptability, replacement, renewal, refurbishment etc. all derive from such considerations, and I shall return to this point when I come to talk about the quality of a designer.

For the moment, two consequences in relation to our function need to be remembered: firstly, that we can no longer permit ourselves to use explanations of circumstances, of problems we wish to tackle as information unless we can give an adequate account of the quality, quantity and direc­tion of the matter, energy and information flows our explanations purport to describe. Secondly, it seems no longer wise to use norms of behaviour which are not con­ducive to the collection, distribution and use of information — the vectorial explanations described — and their continued comparison with reality; including the reality of our intentions.

This systematic comparison of explanations with reality is what we usually describe as science. Observation of nature, of reality, does of course not end with observation of matter and energy; information and its handling has long been included. Observation of mental processes, pre-verbal and verbal, and of our emotional responses are equally important parts of this overall process.

All these observations have so far proved that nature is decodable, is understandable, however difficult at times. As Norbert Wiener says:

"Nature is subtle but not mean: it may offer resistance to decoding, but it does not jam communication. The only devil there is in nature is not one of malice, but one of confusion."

Confusion is the absence of information: it's negative. Wiener continues:

"Therefore, anyone fighting a devil as an evil force trying to pervert us is completely wasting his time and ours".

Performing our functions we must also communicate — language and words are our everyday tools, more so than pens and calculators. And here looms a danger: while nature may be difficult at times, it does not try to jam.

Language, however, does permit of jamming, of misuse, of disinformation. This need not necessarily mean the imposition of a point of view upon others, of propaganda, or suppression of information and the like. Truth or falsity of communicated statements and ideas are not the only considerations. I shall return to this point when I come to talk about value systems and their qualities.

Still on the function of designers: design assembles known patterns of matter, energy and information in preferred directions that promise to cater for a perceived need. The perception of needs is, of course, itself influenced by expectations, by our mental models of the world, or of worlds that we think should be.

Design activity, therefore, comprises always the two aspects of soft and of hard design: soft design is the organiza­tion of systems, the structuring of organizations to deal with complex undertakings, management forms and styles, the book-keeping and accountancy rules by which we attempt to measure performance in social energy units, i.e. money.

Money is how we measure social energy, so to say, and its willingness — helped or hindered by institutions or by laws — to flow in the direction of credible, creditable, ideas or not.

Hard design is the actual product, the hardware, that is brought into existence to answer a need when matter, energy, information is credited with social energy to enact it. Usually, it is the hardware that is credited, not the ideas or the activities it will enable to take place.

If we call the soft systems the 'forms', i.e. all organiza­tions, patterns and structures of activity relationships for which we seek a hardware design solution — be it a house or a Channel bridge —, then its spatial configuration is its `shape'. Shape is visible and understandable by perception, form only as conception. Shape is only the visible aspect of form.

Design needs to be concerned far more with the con­ceptual aspects of problems and their solutions; hardware and its shape become almost trivial in comparison — except when the two coincide and we have a true thing of beauty.

Nevertheless, shape alone is not the essence of design, and in the sense just outlined, we must reverse one of the dictums of modern design: form does not follow function: forms determine functions which in turn may influence the shape of things.
To discuss shape without a grasp of the forms (the soft design aspects) is too superficial to be meaningful. Design starts with the forms in which it is embedded, and signi­ficant improvements lie in improvements of forms.

That does not mean to say that without understanding or getting involved in forms, in soft design, in social engin­eering, in politics you cannot tackle the design of hardware. On the contrary:

"More lives can be saved by antibiotics than by acts of any parliament anywhere; more shelter can be had from alloys and from polymers than from social legislation",

as Buckminster Fuller reminds us. It is understanding the connection between the two that matters.

Benevolent legislation remains useless until the technology, the wealth, is created adequate to individual needs. And that, definitely, needs designing. Neutra called it "Survival through Design".

Biologists tell us that
"Life or the livingness of a substance or conglomeration of substances can be defined as the measure of the rate at which it can increase the organization of its surround­ings with which to increase the level of its own organization",
in the words of Isaac Asimov.

That is not different from Fuller's definitions of real wealth:
"the total organized capacity of society to deal with `forward event controlling', that is with future con­tingencies".

At both levels of organization — biological or social — we deal with open systems: organizations that depend and interact with their environment.

The most important characteristics of open systems are summarized by the Law of Requisite Variety as stated by W. R. Ashby:

"Let 'D' stand for all external disturbances impinging on an organization or system; (R) for any regulator; (T) for a table of moves, i.e. a list of disturbances against which are set a list of possible regulating responses; (E) for the outcome which the regulator is to hold stable or within certain limits for the system to survive.

                    “It will be easily seen that for the outcome to be held stable, the regulator’s
responses (R) must at least be equal to the variety of disturbances (D) 
reaching the system. For any survival margin to exist, (R)’s variety of 
responses must exceed all possible outside influences. "                  

"Only variety in (R) can force down the variety due to (D)  —  only variety can destroy variety, and keep a system stable or alive".

This concept lies at the root of our understanding curiosity as the source of creativity.

"The second way to read this diagram is to consider (R) as a transmitter:
                      from which can be seen that (R)'s capacity as a regulator cannot exceed (R)'s capacity as a channel of communica­tion".

This concept forms the basis of our understanding what we mean by competence.

In talking about the organization of design one obviously has to look at the prophets of modern management techniques: Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs, McGregor's distinction between Theory X (people are morons and need constant instruction and supervision) and Theory Y (work is as natural as rest or play and people will organize them­selves better if they can subscribe to mutual objectives provided there is scope to satisfy their own developmental needs); Herzberg gave us a list of motivators active in Theory Y situations, viz, achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement, growth — as the potential `satisfiers' together with a list of hygiene factors which potentially give rise to dissatisfaction e.g. policy and admin­istration, interpersonal relationships, pay, security, status.

None of these explanations, I suggest, provide the insight to understand the powerful life-inherent drives underlying them. If we take the two predominantly physical drives as understood, namely
1.                   hunger (the need for energy, its husbandry, shelter, food, comfort,            health)
2.                   sexuality (procreation, obviously, but also all the attendant emotional states)
then Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety provides an explana­tion for the informational needs of any organism or organiza­tion:
3.                   curiosity and creativity (to provide an excess of possible responses to outside disturbances as a survival margin)
4.                   the urge to demonstrate competence (knowing that theo­retical survival margins from 3. need to be realized in practice).
5.                    In other words, access to information and scope to make use of it are as fundamental to being alive as food and love.

One can then go on and say that anything that is con­ducive to the proper functioning and development of these four driving forces of life is synergistic to an organism or organization, anything that hinders them is antagonistic. The needs on all four fronts are inherent system necessities, their provision is the work of mankind, their existence and availability: wealth.

While there are upper limits in respect to purely physical aspects of any of these, there are no upper limits to the mental and spiritual aspects of them. Conversely, there are lower limits, both physically and mentally, that would prevent one 'being human' in the sense of being an informed and competent member of society. Let me label inadequacies here as frustration.

Perhaps one could then describe — once we have agreed on appropriate units of measurement — the quotient of synergistic and antagonistic forces as the frustration co­efficient of an organization or society.

An example in that direction may indicate how widely felt the need for such a measurement is. We are accustomed to compare wealth between nations by comparing their per capita gross national products (GNP). Which tells us, however, very little about its meaning to individuals and is a crude attempt at measuring everything in terms of a 'drive one' (hunger) measurement.

The Overseas Development Council has recently intro­duced the use of a new Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI). It attempts to measure the quality of life through a combination of statistical data on infant mortality, life expectancy and literacy. The significant point of interest is that it acknowledges the impossibility to measure even the physical quality of life (which might strictly be a 'drive one' — hunger — measure) without bringing in information needs: literacy, the door to the social functioning of drives three and four (curiosity, creativity, competence).
Just a few juxtapositions of GNP and PQLI figures (1973) may illustrate the differences:
GNP per capita       PQLI
(US dollars)             index
Sri Lanka                             130                                                                                          83
India                              140                        41
Iran                              1 250                       38
Kuwait                        11 770                        76
Japan                          4 070                        98
UK                             3 590                        97
USA                           6 670                        96
USSR                        2 600                        94
Sweden                       7 240                      100
PQLI may measure literacy, but it does, of course, not measure what you can read or write, which is where curiosity, creativity and the demonstration of individual competence really begin to take off.
Norbert Wiener summarized this aspect:
"To live effectively is to live with adequate information. Thus communication and control belong to the essence of man's inner life as much as they belong to his life in society".
He proposes also that we can measure the personal availa­bility of information as a result of asking
"whether it results in the individual assuming a form of
activity which can be recognized as a distinct form of activity by others, in the sense that it will in turn affect their activity, and so on".
Ultimately, any improvements in the human predicament can be measured only in terms of psychic and vegetative health of the individual; of all individuals, that is. Slave-holding or pariah societies are inhuman by common consent.

      A.    N. Whitehead puts it thus:

"Each human being is a more complex structure than any social system to which he belongs. Any particular com­munity life touches only part of the nature of each civilized man. If the man is wholly subordinated to the common life, he is dwarfed".

And that takes us back to the requisite variety of informa­tion and its use. Nobody can know all of it and we rely on the information created by others and by other institutions. I have talked about the frustration coefficient of an organiza­tion earlier on as the quotient of synergistic and antagonistic influences in it: F = A/S, so to say. Let me now define stupidity as anything that increases this frustration co­efficient through an increase in antagonism. One of the most frustrating events in any organization must surely be the containment of existing information under various labels of secrecy. Taking my definition of stupidity then, we can reverse the First Law and say:



You are right to gasp at another such sweeping assertion. Is that really all one need say about the quality of an individual? Of course not. But I think it is that part of individual qualities directly relevant to design. And since design activity cannot claim to exhaust the field of human endeavour ... or can it?

That depends how widely we choose to see my earlier definition of design: the designation of means to an end. It is certainly legitimate and necessary to see ourselves — physically and mentally — as the "means" to achieve the "end" of becoming fully "human" ourselves. And that, surely, requires as much individual 'internal' design effort, if not more, than any common-and-garden design activity as normally understood by designers.

But where do we draw the line between that which can be achieved by design externally to the individual, be it in the design of 'forms' or of the hardware, and that which is the sole concern of everyone's individual consciousness, conscience, humanity?

E. F. Schumacher, whose "Small is Beautiful" you will know, gives an answer in his later "Guide for the Perplexed" in which he distinguishes two kinds of problems:

"First, let us look at solved problems. Take a design problem — say, how to make a two-wheeled man-powered means of transportation. Various solutions are offered, which gradually and increasingly converge, until finally a design emerges which is simply 'the answer' — a bicycle, an answer that turns out to be amazingly stable in time. Why is this answer so stable? Simply because it complies with the laws of the Universe — laws at the level of inanimate nature".

Schumacher calls problems of this nature convergent problems: the more they are studied irrespective of who does the studying, the more the answers converge. Some convergent problems are solved, others of the same kind simply require more time, more money and more talent.

But then there are other problems: the longer they are studied the more we are led to answers which diverge to the extent that some lead us to equally logic sets of answers except that one is the exact opposite of the other. 'And no amount of further knowledge or application of logic can provide a clue to which of the pair of conclusions is the `right' one.

Schumacher cites the problem of how to educate our children. One way to look at the problem starts by seeing education as the process by which existing culture is passed to the next generation; those who know teach and those who don't learn. The best climate for this process is one where teachers have authority while discipline and obedi­ence is expected of the pupils. If that is seen as a good thing, more of the same must be better, and the perfect solution becomes one that combines perfect authority with perfect discipline, and the school resembles a prison.

Schumacher then gives the other view of education where schools are seen simply as the facility, the fertilizer, in which young plants thrive by themselves. Following the same line of logic, if freedom is good, more of it is better, perfect education provided, then, by perfect freedom the school becoming a wilderness, even a kind of lunatic asylum.

This may well be a problem for General Systems Theory, or for the study of tuning effects in self-organizing systems which Ashby's regulator (R) has to hold stable in certain ranges or the system will become unstable. Bucky Fuller would, I am sure, instantly recognize a problem of synergy:

"Synergy means the behaviour of whole systems unpre­dicted by the behaviour of their parts taken separately".

So there is a lot of study and thinking to be done, a problem of soft design: the 'form' of education is not decided by the architectural brilliance of a new university complex. Another note in passing: the two views of education quoted are `perceived needs', dependent on how you choose to see the problem — your 'internal model' already colouring your perception of a 'real' problem.

Back to the educational problem posed: Schumacher goes on to explain that logic does not help in such situations since it insists that if one thing is true or good, its opposite cannot also be true or good, i.e. we have here a divergent problem which demonstrates that life is bigger than logic; in the words of Sir Karl Popper

"The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our know­ledge of our ignorance. For this, indeed, is the main source of our ignorance — the fact that our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite".

Man has always lived in the absence of perfect knowledge, and not unsuccessfully. How is it achieved if logic does not help in the most human situations of the kind described in the education problem posed? Only by bringing in higher human qualities beyond straightline logic.

Schumacher suggests that good teachers might reply: `Look here, all this is far too clever for me. The point is: you must love the little horrors'.

Another example Schumacher gives of a divergent pro­blem is that of freedom and equality. Logical pursuit of either leads to the exclusion of the other: freedom vs. equality. Total freedom leaves the weak to suffer and no equality will be left, while total enforcement of equality must lead to heavy curtailment of freedom. Only a higher
level intervention can resolve the dilemma, as in the slogan of the French Revolution: liberty, egalité, fraternité. How do we recognize fraternité as belonging to a higher level? Schumacher explains that liberty and equality can be insti­gated by laws and backed by executive institutions and force:

"Fraternité is a human quality beyond the reach of institutions, beyond the level of manipulation. It can- be achieved, and often is achieved, but only by individuals mobilizing their own higher forces and faculties, in short, by becoming better people."

With this help from Schumacher I shall now claim that, yes, my Second Law explains all that can be said about how to measure the quality of an individual (given just one sentence to do it in). Problems involving people — social and organizational problems — i.e. the design of 'forms' – are divergent problems. And these cannot be solved, only resolved through individual internal decisions on human planes beyond the reach of coercion, laws manipulation, hardware design because they exceed the natural laws appli­cable to matter, energy and logic.

This is why no amount of conferences between police commissioners, planners, housing managers and architects will resolve such problems as vandalism.
Not only that, but the whole question of professionalism is involved: the recent "Structure of the Profession Study" published by the RIBA talks of the 'natural logic' of architectural organization and describes it as

". . . the need for judgment to be applied, individually and directly, in each case."

Professions are defined in this study as

“…those cases where society controls risk in important decision areas by investing responsibilities in persons rather than procedures. A profession is a list of persons who are empowered to interpret incomplete high risk knowledge to practical cases… "

where it is counterproductive to have

"... a series of intermediaries between those who think about principles and those who deal with cases".

Now — while I wholly agree with these definitions, I remain unhappy with the link to 'high risks'; if it were only these, then more time, more money, more information could design all risks out of any problem. And only because we have to live with inadequate knowledge, there is some mythical beast called 'society' which invests other mystical beasts called 'professionals' with personal powers of decision in lieu of insufficient time and data? If this were the case, then all professions would be doomed by the advance of computers-and-chips with everything coupled to more and more R&D, and we would only have to argue about when this doomsday might arrive, for arrive it will.

I think that exactly the opposite is true: all data with all computers will only solve convergent problems. Now, archi­tecture and all other design problems are, of course, full of these, for which we can do with all the help we can get, including chips.

But the expression of unease with technology and design which I took as my point of departure is, surely, not of this convergent kind of the problematique — is it not the resultant quality of life that is questioned? Is it not the divergent aspects, where no 'final solutions' are possible, that have been ignored for too long?
"Divergent problems offend the logical mind which wishes to remove tension by corning down on one side or the other; but they provoke, stimulate and sharpen the higher human faculties without which man is nothing but a clever animal. A refusal to accept the divergency of divergent problems causes these higher faculties to remain dormant and to wither away, and when this happens the clever animal is more likely than not to destroy itself”.

So Schumacher again, who continues

". . . societies need stability and change, tradition and innovation, public interest and private interest, planning and laissez-faire, order and freedom, growth and decay: everywhere society's health depends on the simultaneous pursuit of mutually opposed activities or aims. The adoption of a final solution means a kind of death sen­tence for man's humanity and spells either cruelty or dissolution, or generally both".

Here is the challenge to professionalism that will never become redundant: society does not just grant temporary personal judgment to professionals until a better institu­tional way is found to deal with high-risk decisions any other way. Rather, part of design and planning is always involved with divergent problems for which there is no `best' or 'final' solution but various impermanent recon­ciliations of opposites either side of a middle way avoiding extremes and avoiding claims to lasting fitness. And to arrive at such resolutions requires always personal judg­ment involving highly personal human qualities such as compassion, empathy, wisdom, courtesy — manners. And it is those who dare develop such qualities (even to talk about them has almost become an impossibility in con• versation) and who take the onus at the risk of initial ridicule on themselves to expose their whole essence to the resolu­tion of divergent problems who will be acknowledged as professionals. Royal Charters alone are no defence against the monopolies commission.

These professionals need to club themselves together for the continuous process of querying each other's wisdom in the light of today's circumstances.

And that is the function of a professional body — in addition to solving all the convergent design problems, of course, like keeping the rain out of buildings, or a solar- powered car.

We now come across another divergent problem. On the one hand we may agree with Wilhelm Reich that

"All discussions of the question whether man is good or bad, a social or an anti-social being, are philosophical pastimes. Whether man is a social being or an irrationally reacting mass of protoplasm depends on whether his fundamental biological needs are in harmony or in conflict with the institutions which he has created".

At the same time we have to agree with Erwin Schroedinger that

"Consciousness is never experienced in the plural, only in the singular".

To find out what we individually 'have in mind' amongst all those connected with any enterprise, we need communica­tion amongst a community of men. How far does a com­munity extend?  Norbert Wiener explains that

"Properly speaking, a community extends only so far as there exists an effectual transmission of information."

And that, for a brief moment which we all witnessed live on TV, goes as far as the moon.

Back to earth and to design: every object or device designed is tantamount to an hypothesis that it is appro­priate, good or right for its purpose or intended function, and that the underlying conception or the social context of that function is itself preferable to any other in the circumstances constituting the design problem.

In his "Art of the Soluble" Peter Medawar points out that

"In a modern professional vocabulary a hypothesis is an imaginative preconception of what might be true in the form of a declaration with verifiable deductive conse­quences. Formulation of an hypothesis includes, as an element of responsibility, the moral obligation to find out if it is preferable to any other".

I think this applies equally to convergent as to divergent problems, or rather to their proposed solutions, except that for divergent problems more than one answer will be preferable to some of the people some of the time in some circumstances. Solutions to divergent problems require communication and consent between designer and user; not necessarily on a bespoke one-to-one ratio as long as there is choice from a variety of ready-mades. But if there is too little communication between designer and user, then some not-so-very-old buildings need to be blown up even where the convergent — technical — problems have been solved.

In order to practice such arts of design and to come anywhere near to living up to the high demands of self-ordering necessary to deal with the two kinds of problems, self-ordering is required. Following Popper, such ordering capability has two aspects:

1.    Discovery which is the invention of possible explanations for what we know, sense or feel to be relevant including what we may hope or dream to achieve with any design answer. In short, everything that would fit-under the head­ings of curiosity and creativity coupled with the acquisition of adequate technical competence to deal with the conver­gent aspects and the observation, development and clarifica­tion of our thought, feelings, emotions arising in connection with the divergent aspects of the problem, and to explain them — true or false.

2.    Proof, the acceptance that we are concerned, if we want to survive, with finding out what practical truth there may be in our inventions. This can only be done by testing, especially of convergent problems: will it technically work? But what about answers to divergent problems which lead to seeming­ly irreconcilable opposites? Isolated mock-up tests are not possible; here all solutions have to be lived with, have to be experienced. Different life-styles have to be experimented with. We have already seen that such problems cannot be solved without designer-user collaboration and agreement. Where the client is not the user then he may well be part of the problem instead of part of the solution, for both the designer and the user!

Whole populations of varied answers are possible — as varied as the individual needs of the population of users. Only one thing is known with certainty: any single remedy proposed will always be wrong in reply to divergent problems. Variety and choice are the hardware aspects of tolerance! Another aspect of the Law of Requisite Variety from which derives the demand, if not the necessity, for the Open Society.

The surprising result in comparing these two sequential steps of procedure is that to devise tests, to experience solutions, necessarily demands at least equal powers of creativity, competence and understanding as those demanded by the initial invention. If not more: for the value of any explanation, of any design, is wholly dependent on the quality of tests it survived, technically and in human experience.

Sir Karl Popper arrives at this summary:

"The method of trial and error is applied not only by Einstein but, in a more dogmatic fashion, by the amoeba also. The difference is not so much in trials as in a critical and constructive attitude towards errors . . . It gives us a chance to survive the elimination of an inadequate hypo­thesis, when a more dogmatic attitude would eliminate it by eliminating us. (There is a touching story of an Indian village community which disappeared because of its belief in the holiness of life, including that of tigers.)".

The failure of the extinct lies in the failure to eliminate error which includes the error of refusing to acknowledge the divergency of divergent problems. We can now reverse the Second Law and state:



All human activity, especially so all design activity, is directed to achieve aims. Intentional action is always directed to transform an existing situation "A" which is perceived as inadequate, unattractive and undesirable into another situation "B" that does away with the inadequacy, is more desirable, or more profitable, or simply needs doing because it is possible: exploration of the limits of competence arising from curiosity, e.g. climbing Everest, putting a man on the moon, F. L. Wright's design for a mile-high tower, etc.

Design activity is the mapping of such transformation processes starting from a given situation to arrive at or achieve a second, preferred situation. The transformation process is always one of informed action. Information must be adequate for the achievement of the transformation which will only come about if then acted upon. Skill and resource considerations are part of the design process. As far as convergent problems are concerned, all resources can ultimately be expressed in terms of social energy, i.e. money.

The main point for us here is that situation "B", the preferable result to be achieved by the transformation process, always constitutes a declared aim. Aims can only be agreed upon because a value is attached to them, which is seen or agreed to be a value by all necessary to achieve the aim. Sets of values, or value systems, are as varied as all other hypotheses, only more so: economical, political, religious varieties abound, be they personal or institutional. Quite a few are seen as mutually exclusive and some even include a licence to kill — from cold wars to holy wars or to hanging, to be topical.

Anyway — all design starts with a declared aim accepted as of value: "Let us try and put men on the moon and bring them back", or "Build me a factory", and everything else follows. Even a simple statement like "I am hungry" leads to a designation of means to that end, i.e. to design action. And it can be seen that some agricultural policies may not be of so common a value as some have assumed.
In other words, we are dealing with goal-seeking behaviour as described by biologists where we are told that feedback control of informed action is not wholly adequate to explain the processes of information handling, and something else called 'directive correlation' is required to explain and to understand what goes on. G. Sommerhoff describes it as follows:

". . . directive correlation is not co-extensive with feed­back control ... for instance in all actions involving single choices. I approach the door of my house and enter. Here the approach towards the door might possibly be inter­preted as an error-controlled movement in which visual and proprioceptive impulses provide the basis of an error computation which is then used in determining correc­tive outputs. But it does not apply to my choice of this door as distinct from any of the other doors in the street. And yet, this is a directive correlation, too. And even if we just look at the chosen door, all we can see, strictly speaking, on the observed facts of the case is that these movements are error eliminating — not that they are error controlled in the strict sense of the term in which this implies a mechanism based on the initial computation and setting-up of an error signal reflecting the magnitude and direction of the discrepancy between the actual and the desired state of the system".

It is surely not coincidence that error elimination should be seen as a fundamental system characteristic of all things biological and that Sir Karl Popper should find that error elimination from testable hypotheses explains the scientific method: the amoeba and Einstein use the same method!

So that at every level, for all things alive, survival seems to be organized around answers to detailed derivatives of the one central question: How can errors be eliminated before they eliminate us?

If living is equal to a continuous process of error elimina­tion, and if we further take as the central human value that we want to live, and therefore have as aim the maintenance of the life-support systems of spaceship Earth and the enrichment and variegation of 'civilized human life', then the quality of all human values, whether consolidated into partial -systems or not, is measurable only by the degree by which they allow errors to be found and corrected.

Since consciousness exists only in the singular, and since we are dealing also with divergent problems, such error correction must start and end with the individual.

In other words: error elimination in support of life cannot be done at the expense of lives: you will not be less ignorant by burning heretics, nor will they!

"L'infer c'est les autres", said Sartre: they keep remind­ing us that our answers to divergent problems are not the only ones, and that irritates, of course. "Le paradis — c'est nous" is the only possible answer, and that paradise is capable of infinite improvement.

Error elimination is the only human fight worth fighting. For divergent problems the test of answers is whether you and others are willing to practice them, not whether you are cunning or powerful enough to force them on others. The only weapon allowed is tolerance and patient persuasion to give it a try.

And that means discussion (‘hot’ discussion is preferable even to ‘cold’ war), something that happens all too seldom.

Most of the time, something far more curious happens, as Aldous Huxley pointed out:

"In regard to propaganda, the early advocates of universal literacy and of a free press envisaged only two possi­bilities: that propaganda might be true or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies — the development of a vast mass-communication industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant".

So, if we think that the development of higher human qualities required to find civilized responses to divergent problems is a worthwhile aim, then the elimination of the irrelevant is the most important, and bulkiest, sub-class of the problem of error elimination. That 'elimination' is to be done in your mind, of course, not by book-burning or censorship.

John Dewey in his essay "Experience, Knowledge and Value" points to a similar connection:

"Inquiry itself involves in its own nature conditions to be satisfied. The anatomy of inquiry is equivalent to the demand for integrity of inquiry . . . In this regard, the operations of valuation which I have affirmed to be involved in any case in knowing — in choice of data and hypotheses and experimental operations to be performed — pass into definitely moral valuations whenever the existing habits and character of an enquirer set up obstacles to maintenance of integral inquiry".

Inquiry is not only an individual concern, but involves all social institutions designed in response to complex problems or situations. It is, therefore, also a question of morals whether any of our institutions set up obstacles to the maintenance of inquiry. Reich may be worth repeating here: `whether man is asocial being or an irrational mass of proto­plasm depends on whether his fundamental biological needs are in harmony or in conflict with the institutions he has created'.

And error elimination is about as fundamental a biological need as you are likely to find. It must, therefore, rank as number one of all human values for without it, all other values are useless, inhuman.

Habeas mentem is more of an inalienable individual right and necessity than habeas corpus.

We all know our own reluctance to even acknowledge at times the divergency of divergent problems, let alone discussing the human qualities required to find and live with solutions before we can even develop and practice things like love, wisdom, compassion, tolerance — to name but a few.

Great efforts are, therefore, made to try the impossible and to reduce divergent problems to convergent ones by passing-off man-made laws or ideas as 'natural' laws; this to allow the 'scientific' demonstration of all answers along convergent methodologies in an attempt to pass them beyond argument. It also helps to justify the 'natural' necessity for intolerant institutions based on them. And as only complete morons would query such 'scientific' answers any dissenter must by definition be insane. Kafka and Orwell have charted that road long ago.

But, you may say, if this wonderful method of error elimination is so biologically fundamental and good and useful, why is it shunned? Why this longstanding urge to shear everything with the one, convergent, comb?

Well, for one thing — you have to know the difference first in order to see it when you meet it. So now you know it. But it's nothing new; records prove its existence since several thousand years. The real reason is, simply, cowardice: the fear to acknowledge responsibility for our actions. Popper spells it out:

"We may perhaps discern two main tendencies which stand in the way of adopting a critical dualism (critical dualism: a conscious differentiation between the man- enforced normative laws, based on decisions or con­ventions, and the natural regularities which are beyond man's power, op.cit.).

"The first is a general tendency towards monism, that is to say, to the reduction of norms to facts. The second lies deeper, and it possibly forms the background of the first: it is based upon the fear of admitting to ourselves that the responsibility for our ethical decisions is entirely ours and cannot be shifted to anybody else; neither to god, nor to nature, nor to society, nor to history. All these ethical theories attempt to find somebody, or perhaps some argument, to take the burden from us. But we cannot shirk this responsibility. Whatever authority we may accept, it is we who accept it. We only deceive ourselves if we do not realize this simple point".

So there you have it. If you wish to do something con­sciously in connection with the 'quality of life' and the mere use of terms like 'environmental design' already appears to imply such aspirations and I say if, for there is no self- evident reason why anyone should, but if you do so then you are also dealing with divergent problems. To cope with these, both designer and designee need 'emotional' learning in addition to rational learning, need to cultivate virtues, need mental and physical freedom to practice the art of living. But

". . . it is not good enough to decide that virtue is good and vice is bad, which they are, . . . the important thing is whether a person rises to his higher potentialities or falls away from them",

to quote Schumacher again.

The Art of Living is, of course, the only art that matters. To learn from others' artistic experiences, of their emotional knowledge, 'the Arts' are the vehicle of communication. Of necessity, artistic communication is a description of an experience, not the experience itself, it is a memory of living so intensely. Art is open to errors and to falsification just like any other communication device, whether as ancilla theologiae or as handmaiden to 'social realism'. Artistic skills in the employment of pure propaganda or only for entertainment will miss this higher, human purpose of emotional development: it hooks your materialistic, convergent, aspects.

There is, in other words, existential unity between episte­mological, technical, social and individual character structure; falsify one, and you falsify all.


3.             THE FOURTH LAW

E.T.A. stands for Estimated Time of Adequacy which comprises much more than mere amortization of costs during the useful life of the constructed device if costs are measured only in terms of money.

Adequacy in E.TA. means support at minimum achiev­able frustration level of all those qualities which have been found to determine organizational, individual and value ordering systems, for the whole time during which the designed device, structure or 'form' is maintained in exis­tence — outside of a museum.

As synergy is explainable as a tuning effect, i.e. as the attraction between frequencies not too far apart from each other into a common, more stable frequency which in turn permits such systems to become self-organizing, it follows that synergy cannot occur where frequency events (activities) are so widely different that no attraction can take place between them: the system is 'out of tune' which is another way of saying that its frustration coefficient is very high.

From this viewpoint it appears that the synchronization of technical with epistemological, social and character structure is the real educational task facing us. There are no two separate cultures: only blindness to see their unity without which there is no culture at all worthy to be called human.

But there are limits to the speed of this restructuring of accustomed views and institutions, however overdue this adaptive learning may be. Alvin Toffler provides an explana­tion of these limits:

"This is why we form habits . . . Some anthropologists drag in the theory of 'territoriality' ... the notion that man is forever trying to carve out for himself a sacrosanct `turf'. A simpler explanation lies in the fact that program­ming (routine habits) conserves information processing capacity ... In a familiar context we are able to handle many of our life problems with low-cost, programmed decisions. Change and novelty boost the psychic price of decision making".

Life, universe, is a process. All goals we set ourselves are equally dynamic parts of this overall process, not in any way ultimate or final. The most important aspect of any desired achievement is direction (there are only vectors) which leads to the concept of unity of ends and means: direction is given by the means employed, not by the state­ment of aims.

Adopting E.T.A.-consistency as quality indicator means that change through renewal of forms and hardware at increasing frequencies will make adjustments of attitudes towards 'property' and modes of ownership unavoidable. In the words of Aldous Huxley:

"To find a solution to the problem of over-organization is hardly less difficult than to find a solution to the problem of natural resources and increasing numbers.

"On the verbal level, and in general terms, the answer is perfectly simple. Thus, it is a political axiom that power follows property. But it is now a historical fact that the means of production are fast becoming the monopolistic property of Big Business and Big Government.

"Therefore, if you believe in democracy, make arrange­ments to distribute property as widely as possible".

It appears that only such an approach will allow answers to divergent problems a.) to be found and b.) to be lived with: Small is not only Beautiful, but practical and necessary; in business as in life-styles.

We can then apply to divergent problems Dewey's

". . . proper interpretation of pragmatic: the function of consequences as necessary tests of the validity of pro­positions, provided these consequences are operationally instituted and are such as to resolve the specific problem evoking the operations".

In other words, can you yourself live with your proposition? Can you find others who will adopt your proposition for the purpose of experiment? Such exercise of individual decision-making requires the individual wherewithal, property, social credit, with which to stake your experiment. And that is not only 'democracy' but an essential part of it if it is not to deteriorate into majority dictatorship. Habeas mentem, the individual right to be different from, and to challenge the "Conventional Wisdom of the Dominant Group" as C. H. Waddington says, for which the acronym "COWDUNG is memorizable, appropriate and accurate enough".

Minority rights are the real concern of Human Rights issues, including minorities of one: consciousness is singular.


4.             THE FIFTH LA W

As little as the knowledge of what needs to be done carries with it the knowledge of how to do it does the increasing amount of recorded know-how imply what is to be done with it.

"Crime", says Shaw, "like disease, is not interesting: it is something to be done away with by general consent, and that is all about it. It is what men do at their best, with good intentions, and what normal men and women find that they must and will do in spite of their intentions, that really concerns us."

Forms dictate functions!

What should we be trying to do? I started with the tacit claim of professional designers always attempting to improve the human environment if not the human predicament. In the course of following the consequences of such claims there certainly was no way in which we could even begin to think about one without the other: the environment is part of the predicament.
The quality of life does also depend on material resources: man does not Live by bread alone, nothing at all can survive on the best of sentiments alone.

To make the desert bloom needs the application of mind to matter; there is no discernible upper limit to our learning and understanding, and energy or matter cannot actually be lost. The wealth we create is the product of the two — potentially limitless. In the words of Buckminster Fuller

"Wealth is operational capability. It has two ingredients: energy
 and intellection."

Fuller develops the following argument from this point of departure:

“The first moment in history when economic data were coming in from all around the earth to one place on earth was the latter half of the 18th century in England. Thomas Malthus (Essay, 1798), integrating the data discovered that the world's people were multiplying their numbers more rapidly than they were producing goods to supply themselves.

“Similarly, a world-around look at animals led Darwin to his Origin of Species (1859) and his theories of evolution and natural selection. Not Darwin, but Herbert Spencer (under the false assumption that acquired as well as inherited traits were genetically transmitted) later coined the phrase of the 'survival of the fittest'.

“Up to this time in history whether societies fared well or ill had seemed to be a matter of fate or of a whimsical decision of the gods. Suddenly the combination of the Malthus and Spencer theories — survival of only the fittest in a world of diminishing supplies, i.e. a you.or-me, not both, concept — seemingly became a stark scientific fact which confronted the political and economic leaders of nations.

“The solutions under this challenge fell into two main political categories:
1.                   ruthless but often polite decimation of the unsupport­able fractions of the population, or just leaving them to their unhappy fate; and
2.                   socialism, the theory of austerity for all and equal shares of inevitable misery during the slow mutual approach to certain untimely demise.

“The social implications of these theories were drawn in the economic framework of purely agricultural produc­tion. In this century, however, a new pattern has emerged which potentially promises the complete invalidation of such assumptions in both the economic and social domains.

“Intellection, the use of information in the networks of industry has created a new economic pattern in which man's relative survival advantage is continually augmented.

“The mechanism here is that of the wealth of operational capability which does not rely on supplies of raw-materials becoming more abundant — the per capita ratio is actually decreasing — but relies on the use of information by which the performance ratios of available resources are improved and the increased yield from a given supply of resources continually gives a higher survival margin.”

Today we are all instantly aware that the industrial network is a worldwide one, both to resources and information, not to mention the entertainments industry. As such, it has always to be dealt with by multi-nationals, whether they are called East India Company or IBM. For large-scale pro­cesses large-scale institutions are indispensable and in that respect government is too small: Polis Earth is without a town council.

We need to narrow our view again in order to find direc­tions of travel for designers, Design for Survival means wealth creation:

"Wealth really has something to do with how many forward days we have arranged for our environment to take care of us and regenerate us in life and give us increased degrees of freedom . . . Yet the real problem is not in communications as such. The real gulf today ... lies between what science and engineering are capable of doing for mankind on the one hand, and what the average citizen is getting as a result of all this knowledge, on the other",

is the start of direction provided by Fuller.

Toffler explains the process as the switch from seeing life as a zero-sum game to adopting non-zero-sum explanations and attitudes, personally and institutionally.

In a zero-sum game, a player can only win what another loses, the group as a whole is no better off at the end. Neither a village community nor Polis Earth will be one iota better off if one sovereign part tries to improve itself by robbing another part. Industrial wealth creation has proved the Malthus-Spencer theory groundless.

"As we move from poverty toward affluence, politics change from a zero-sum game into non-zero-sum games. In the first, if one player wins, another must lose. In the second, all players can win. Finding non-zero-sum solu­tions to our social problems requires all the imagination we can muster". (Toffler)

If we recall the definition of life given earlier — the measure of the rate at which it can increase the organization of its surroundings with which to increase the level of its own organization — one can take the view that life is always a non-zero-sum game. The funds of the universe as one of the players from whom all can win are unlimited. Limits are only our ignorance and stupidity; "there is no adequate defense against the impact of a new idea except stupidity" explains Bridgman in his 'Intelligent Individual and Society'. All of which provides us with this last definition of the purpose of design: to conceive, make and test the forms (systems) and the hardware for the all-win, none-lose, non-zero-sum art of living.

According to the definition of stupidity given earlier — anything that increases the frustration coefficient amongst the players of this non-zero-sum game — humility in the face of our learning task just will not do. Modesty, yes. By rejecting humility it is not to adopt arrogance, but to adopt integrity: to become an integral participant in the self- organizing process of living.

William Blake, prophet of the new industrial age, offers this in his ‘Everlasting Gospel’:
"If you humblest  thyself, thou humblest me,
Thou also dwelst in Eternity.
Thou art a Man — God is no more,
Thine own Humanity learn to adore".

So to shake us from lethargy,
HUMILITY, as the antonym of Integrity, IS A FORM OF STUPIDITY.

(i.e. those whose better insights you have seen me use to support my frailty)
Ashby, W. R. "Self-regulation and requisite variety" in Systems Thinking,                F. E. Emery, ed, Penguin Modern Management Readings, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1969.

Asimov, Isaac: Only a Trillion, London, Abelard-Schuman, 1957
Blake, William:  A Selection of poems and letters. J. Bronow­ski, ed. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1966.
Bridgman, P. W. The intelligent individual and society. New York, Macmillan, l938.

Dewey, John: "Experience, knowledge and value", in The Philosophy of John Dewey, in: The Library of Living Philosophers, P. A. Schilpp, ed., New York, Tudor Pub­lishing Co. 1951

Fuller, R. Buckminster: Utopia or Oblivion, New York, Bantam Books, 1969. "Education for Comprehensivity", in Approaching the Benign Environment, T. Littleton, ed. Collier-Macmillan Ltd., London 1970

Haldane, J. B. S., The inequality of man, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd., 1938.

Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World Revisited, London, Chatto and Windus, 1966.

Medawar, P. B., The art of the soluble, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd., 1969.

Miller, H., Sexus, London, Panther Books, 1970.

Popper, Karl R., The logic of scientific discovery, London, Hutchinson and Co., 1968; The open society and its enemies, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.. 1968, 2 vols.; Conjectures ,and Refutations, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1969.

Reich, Wilhelm, Listen, little man!, New York, The Noon­day Press, 1967.

Schroedinger, Erwin: What is Life? and Mind and Matter, Cambridge, University Press, 1967, 1 vol.

Schumacher, E. F., A Guide for the Perplexed, London, Sphere Books Ltd., ABACUS edition, 1978.

Shaw, G. B., "Preface to St. Joan", in: The complete pre­faces, London, Paul Hamlyn, 1965.

Sommerhoff, G., "The abstract characteristics of living systems" in: Systems thinking, Penguin Modern Manage­ment Readings, F. E. Emery, ed. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd., 1969.

Toffler, Alvin: Future shock, London, The Bodley Head, 1970.

Waddington, C. H., Tools for Thought, St. Albans, Granada Publishing Ltd., 1977.

Whitehead, A. N., Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead as recorded by Lucien Price, Boston, Little Brown, 1954.
Wiener, Norbert: Cybernetics, M.T.T. Press, 1961; The human use of human beings, New York, Doubleday Anchor Books, 1954.

Morris, M. D. and Liser, F. B., "Measuring the Physical Quality of Life — A New Index for Economic Develop­ment". Our World, vol. 29 no. 2 May 1978, AFS Inter­national/Intercultural Programs Inc., New York.

Bar-Hillel, Mira. "Large private practices come out best in the structure of the profession study" Building, 13 April 1979, p. 9. 

A previous version of this paper was first presented to the Design Activity International Conference (London, 29-30 August 1973), sponsored by the Design Research Society (U.K.) and the Design Methods Group (U.S.A.).




The YES proposition to:
             [five minute limit]

Should everyone be allowed to muddle through his own life in the same way as you muddle through your own?

“What does it matter? What does anything matter?" asks the Devil's Disciple in Shaw's play. So that we do not misunderstand the meaning of the question, Shaw spells it out in his foreword on Diabolonian Ethics:

"Who was it that directed your attention to the distinction between Will and Intellect? Not Schopenhauer, I think, but I: Shaw!”

·         The question before us allows choice;
·         choice requires a decision;
·         to make a decision requires the formation of will;
·         and will has not only intellectual components but emotions are also involved.

Of course, if you follow that other Teutonic mastermind, Dr. Pangloss, the mentor of Voltaire's ‘Candide’, and believe that "everything is to the best in the best of all possible worlds", a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer to the question we consider does not matter as you go through life like a zombie.

But all of us are here because we did not accept that everything is at its best – certainly not our speaking skills, let alone the state of the world.

All of us, therefore, have already accepted that the question does matter, and claimed a ‘Yes’ answer for ourselves.

Which leaves us to ask: should everyone else be allowed to shape his own life in similar, individual fashion?

A simple answer would be: who are we to deny it? And go home again with Pangloss.

If we therefore reject ignoring the question altogether, then we are STILL left with two choices of reply: Yes or No.
Both answers have been given, and lived through, by many societies in the history of human civilization.     But we will find no clearer examples than in the classical Greek city states:

The yes-answer is the ideal of democracy, of the open society, summed up by Perikles of Athens: 

"Although only a few may originate an idea, we are all able to judge it.”

The no-answer was formulated only 80 years later by Plato of Athens:

"The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male or female, should be without a leader. Nor should the mind of anybody be habituated to letting him do anything at all on his own initiative. In a word, he should teach his soul by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, and to become utterly incapable of it."

Both choices will always be possible; and however expedient the second one may at times seem, I would now like to demonstrate why ‘NO’ is not a tenable answer.

First of all, freedom over shaping one's own life is far from a muddle. What seems a muddle at times is simply the process of learning, which only stops at death and is only possible through trial and error.

Secondly, the whole of the universe is capable of description under three headings only:
·         the first two, energy and matter, will account for all lifeless forms and happenings from here to the edge of the known universe;
·       only one more heading is necessary to describe all forms of life from the virus to Einstein: information handling.

Now then:  the most complex information processor known in all the universe, designed to be self-assembling, self-programming, and capable to ask original questions, is situated between two ears.

Note that this highest known form of awareness comes in unit packages of ONE. Consciousness exists only in the singular.

Thirdly, it must therefore be developed individually. This is a natural fact of life, no choice here.

But all information processors, your brain included, are governed by the Law of Requisite Variety as follows:

·         All forms of life are in the business of survival, maintaining themselves in a stable form within unstable environments.
·         It is obvious, that for any survival margin to exist there must be more responses in the ken of the system than there are disturbances in the environment. Curiosity, creativity, play, hopes and dreams are not luxuries, but necessities without which survival is not possible.
·         Restrict this variety, following Plato, and you have made a decision for extinction. Look at Athens now.

Fourthly, experiences gained by trial and error on an individual basis, can be exchanged through language and pooled through its mechanical extensions: prints, records, tapes, beyond the limits of a lifetime.

But the unquestioned acceptance of such pooled knowledge also contains dangers: the mere mention of words like inquisition, Gestapo, Gulag Archipelago, McCarthyism will conjure up enough examples in your own mind; the  best summary is the story of the Indian village community which disappeared because of everyone’s unquestioned belief in the holiness of life -- including that of tigers.

Remember also that one child's question opened everyone's eyes to the riddle of the Emperor's new clothes.

Only individual muddling will get rid of mud.

Should everyone be allowed to muddle through his own life in the same way as you muddle through your own?

     YES      the question does matter           
YES      is the only answer I find acceptable for the       reasons given

YES      I leave you no choice but to muddle through to find your own answer.


         And then there were the Sixties:  Buckminster Fuller lectured in London, proposed his Design Science Decade 1965-1975 to the International Union of Architects in Paris, Southern Illinois University Press published his books, and I immersed myself in all of it - and tried to understand his grand idea of Integrity.  This is what I made of it at the time:


1 comment:

  1. And now, that TYGER bit me again, with “What do YOU care what other people think?” by Richard P Feynman, Penguin Books, 2007 – and there at the back is an Epilogue headed The Value of Science (a public address given at the 1955 autumn meeting of the National Academy of Sciences). ending with

    “It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.”

    Another TYGER MustRead.