A Cybernetic Musing: The IFSR, diagrams and inclusive logic, or-- [Both [either [either/or] or [both/and]], and [both [both/and] and [either/or]]]

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Abstract:

In this column I do two things. I introduce the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR), which has been celebrating its quarter centenary this year. I will not spend too long on the IFSR in general. What I will write about here is one outcome of one debate in a workshop intended to explore its future. In this exploration I am not so much interested in any futures proposed as outcomes, as in a particular way of thinking which is expressed in the second theme. I also consider a different type of logic: taking Bateson's distinction made through what he called 'the syllogism in grass,' I write about an understanding of the IFSR, and the situation and context in which it was developed. From this consideration I end up with an extension of the understanding that is, I think, both surprising and potentially very helpful, concerning the relationship of two types of logical operator: either/or, and both/and. Linking these is a strand concerning graphic representation, acting as a sort of glue. Graphic devices have structure and syntax that we too easily overlook, such as a tendency to polarise and exclude. These may be at odds with our intentions, and even what we are arguing verbally and logically. Tables, for instance, establish through their graphic organisation positions of polarisation which may be unwanted.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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