Comparable Dynamics of Point, Bullet, Ball and Globe
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 5 Apr 2021
Cognitive Significance of Systemic Similarities Conventionally Obscured
The following speculative exploration is in the spirit of the framing of general systems research as originally articulated by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding, W. Ross Ashby and Charles A. McClelland, Such research was notably intrigued by the potential comparability of systems at different scales of order.
In that light the question here is whether the cognitive engagements with a point, a bullet, a ball and the globe have unexplored similarities. These may indeed be limited in many respects, but each may well function as a surrogate for the others in some contexts — which then merit clarification. Any parallels may well be a consequence of borrowing the language of one to frame the dynamics relating to another. This is evident in the interplay between ball-game metaphors and military discourse, or in strategic discourse with regard to the globe.
Each may offer an unexpected degree of vicarious experience of the other. Similarities may also follow from recognition of the nature of a holon, namely something that is simultaneously a whole in and of itself, as well as a part of a larger whole — a greater unity.
Boulding himself later argued:
Our consciousness of the unity of the self in the middle of a vast complexity of images or material structures is at least a suitable metaphor for the unity of a group, organization, department, discipline, or science. If personification is only a metaphor, let us not despise metaphors — we might be one ourselves. (Ecodynamics; a new theory of societal evolution, 1978, p. 345)
Point: In the case of a point, for example, a point is typically made in discourse and text — even as a series of points. Those made may be recognized as relatively strong or weak. A point can be elaborated or summarized. In that context one can “get” the point made by another — as a process of understanding. One can agree with the point made by another; a point can however be disputed, denied or resisted — or held to be incomprehensible. A point can be scored in a debate and notably in a game. In a related sense, a point can be said to be “on target” — as with a “pointed remark”. A point may well have a significant impact in debate and repartee — touché. On the other hand discourse may be deemed pointless — or the question may be asked as to “what is the point?”. More challenging is the consideration of individuals as points — as in sociometry and its controversial big data applications.
Bullet: In the case of a bullet, it can of course be made — as a particular focus of the arms industry. Obviously it is designed to be shot, and as such will have an impact on the target at which it is pointed — especially if it is rated of higher power rather than lower. Professional security personnel may be required to take a bullet in fulfillment of their functions — possibly even when that may be fatal. Curiously the probability of an accident may be enhanced when a gun is pointed at someone. Such possibilities may emphasize a need for bullet-proof clothing. There is an equivalent sense in discourse in which an analogue is envisaged to ensure protection against the points made in the argument of another — perhaps to be understood as “conceptual contraceptives”. Preparation for debate may be framed by “collection of ammunition”, possibly to be presented as “bullet points”. Exposure to another engaged in “shooting their mouth off” is characteristically avoided.
Ball: In the case of a ball, it is necessarily made — typically to particular specifications (as with a bullet). As with a bullet, the focus may well be on shooting it to achieve a goal of some kind — whereby a point is scored to the disadvantage of another, after penetrating their defences. The ball may well be skillfully thrown in the expectation that it should be caught by another. Failure to catch it may be deprecated as dropping the ball — possibly requiring that it be fetched (if it can be found). Alternatively the ball may be strongly struck or kicked — possibly outside the field of play. Emphasis may be placed on skillful passing the ball between team members to maintain control of it. Such processes are echoed in dialogue when reference may be made to “dropping the ball”, namely mishandling a point — even to the extent of being “off-point”. The movement of the ball towards another may be blocked in order to gain control of it. In discourse the development of a point in the argument of another may be similarly blocked, ignored or set aside. On the other hand the ball may be said to have been skillfully placed in the court of another — to their potential embarrassment.
Globe: In the case of any global perspective — in contrast with a local focus — it may well be asked “what is the point?”. If recognized, the condition of the globe may be reduced to a secondary point in a dispute. Strategies with regard to the globe may be articulated as a set of points — even of “bullet points”. The globe may be treated like a ball in a “great game” between superpowers — and readily kicked around. Curiously the development of that game may be framed in terms of one or more goals — as with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — leaving it unclear how scoring is to be achieved, and against whom, and especially the nature of the rules of the game. Strangely the responsibility for the condition of the globe may be avoided by effectively passing responsibility from one to another — as with a ball — in a form of blame-game in which the challenge is skillfully to avoid possession in order to ensure that the ball is always in the court of another.
The development of the argument focuses on the extent to which these disparate preoccupations may constitute unconscious modes of enacting aspects of a subtler meta-pattern by which they are connected. Their familiarity may well result from a form of cognitive encryption, as previously argued (Cognitive Encryption enabling Collapse of Civilization: drowned by the undertow of pseudophilia, 2021). Rather than having recourse to the complexity sciences, given their seeming inefficacy, the elusive nature of that pattern may perhaps be most usefully framed as a riddle requiring a distinctive form of cognitive engagement — one that is recognized by many traditions (Global Governance as a Riddle: but is a solution the answer to the question? 2018).
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