If we are to understand “paradigm shifts” and moves into new ways of thinking, what ever labels we give to give these, then it is certainly worth studying the start of thinking as we currently know it, which we can trace back to the ancient Greeks.
One particular path that I suggest to my students is the following quartet of books, all of which are related and belong together:
Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter (of which i am the co-author)
Taking Appearance Seriously: The Dynamic Way of Seeing in Goethe and European Thought by Henri Bortoft
Truth and Method by Hans-Georg Gadamer
Beyond Being: Gadamer’s Post-Platonic Hermeneutical Ontology by Brice Wachterhauser
When read in this order (and when read a number of times, as I have done), then given time and dedication, it will feel as if a new organ of perception is opening up inside of you, an organ which starts to comprehend not only the concept of wholeness or oneness, but wholeness in a dynamic and intuitive manner.
These newly discovered powers of perception result in a transformation of seeing, an opening up of many new dimensions of reality, from the way we understand the organic processes of nature, to the way we understand the meaning of a text, to the way we understand being itself – to be-ness.
While many thinkers posit an almost liner progression in consciousness throughout the ages, I am not so sure. The reason comes from the study of the books above, from which the feeling arises of a delicate wisdom and understanding of the world which managed to become lost in the charge towards the scientific monopoly on the unique claim to the truth.
But to understand the notion of wholeness or oneness in Platonic thought, we can use the example of three coins. We have to remember that the ancient Greeks experience number as having qualities, and as such the number one was not seen as being a number itself, but the principle of all number.
When we think of oneness, unlike gold which is physically present in each coin, oneness is a property which itself can be divided without losing its wholeness. Each coin has this property of oneness, and while perhaps it is not strange for us all all in our modern age to think about this, to Plato and his generation of philosophers this notion was a mystery to be explored.
They contemplated the numbers 1 and 2, which when added together give 3. So in some way 1 and 2 are present in 3 while 3 still retains its own unique quality.
So what this leads to is the realisation that oneness is fully present in each coin, but certainly not unique and distinct from itself, as is the case with the physical gold. As Wachterhaouser describes, “number is such in that it can be wholly present in things without losing anything of itself”.
If we then think about Plato’s Ideas – the good, the beautiful, identity and difference, Being and non-Being, truth, the One and the many – we see in Plato’s writings the desire to draw our attention to these Ideas as being woven together in a web of meaning, the web of which I wrote about in a previous article (The Unbearable Lightness of A.I.).
When we contemplate the way in which one idea (for example justice, self-control, holiness, wisdom) participates in other ideas, then it can help us to think about the differences between inexact experience and experience tested by reason. It is not the case that experience tested by reason is the ultimate truth, since a unified view of reality is in-achievable. We only have our interpretations.
But perhaps Plato was alerting us to the dangers of being unaware of the accidental character of uncertain experience? Plato is teaching us to be mindful. He is teaching us to tread carefully with the words we use in our conversations, to understand their dynamism, and the manner in which ideas are never separate from each other just as the parts of any whole are never “separate” from the whole.
The fact that we live meaningful lives in a nexus of relations, in a world which is inexhaustible in its viewpoints is something which remarkably many people who have a very fixed view of reality have yet to learn. The transition of consciousness into the experience of wholeness is an authentic paradigm shift indeed, one that has huge implications for leadership and that is profoundly powerful for organisations, businesses and networks, and the path to the experience of wholeness is the path through Holonomics and holonomic thinking.
It was great to see Holonomics referenced in the marketing report Five Human Aspirations: The Future of Brands by BBMG and GlobeScan. It’s a great report and I can recommend it as a read. Maria and I met Raphael Bemporad from BBMG at Sustainable Brands San Diego and I really like a lot of the work they are doing looking at aspirations and the future of brands.
“Online retailer Zappos is pioneering “holonomics,” a new way of doing business”.
One question that seems to be recurring of late is the intersection and relationship between Holonomics and Holacracy. While there are obvious affinities, and we do mention Holacracy in our book, there is a difference in the projects, and the focus on organisational design and the dynamic way of comprehending wholeness. Whereas Holacracy focuses on holons and holarchic structure, Holonomics goes into the dynamic experience of wholeness, and this is where the power of the dynamics of seeing lies.
As BBMG and GlobeScan report, there is now a major trend in a very large segment of society towards a deeper search for more meaningful experiences:
Aspirationals are fueling a cultural shift from fixed answers to fluid options, from having a clear destination to enjoying the journey
Society is changing and so are people’s aspirations. Maria and I are working with businesses and organisations to help them understand experience and dynamic wholeness within experience. This is to help them implement programmes of profound organisational change and design what I have termed customer experiences with soul. This is Holonomics, a path which began with the start of thinking.