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More Context

This page is relates to and extends the Context section. It discusses how ProxThink relates to some other very general patterns. One is the idea of emergence – how local interactions can lead to global order (Johnson). Another is the idea of persistent disequilibrium – how nature and life are in a continuous state of surfing forever on the edge between never stopping but never falling (Kelly). A third is the idea of pluralism. In addition to the Underlying Concept, these ideas are some very general patterns. They relate to how ProxThink as a whole can contribute.

Currently, this page is a sketch to be filled in more completely. It draws on ideas about emergence from a book called Emergence by Steven Johnson. Emergence is subtitled "The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software." This page also draws on ideas about nature, biology and ecosystems from a book called Out of Control by Kevin Kelly. Out of Control is subtitled "The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World."

Consider the following seven points:

Local Interactions and Emergence
Emergence is about local interactions leading to global order. It's about a set of simple local rules that generate complex behavior and order from a more global viewpoint.

Persistent Disequilibrium
You could consider the emergence idea of global order to be the persistent disequilibrium that Kevin Kelly talks about in Out of Control. Persistent disequilibrium is an idea Kelly found in his surveys of biology, environmental concepts and evolution theory. Kelly describes it as a continuous state of surfing forever on the edge between never stopping but never falling. Note that the global order of emergence isn't a static or rigid order. It's more about persistent patterns which repeat. So persistent disequilibrium shares some aspects with emergence.

The ProxThink set of ideas decodes some of the local interactions in the proximity and situations, which can include elements ranging from inert to processes to people. The ProxPatterns are simple local patterns or rules, that can be used in local interacations (here the term local can be interpreted as similar to proximity), which generate complex behavior and order from a more global viewpoint. In short, ProxPatterns help lead to emergence. The ProxPatterns can be observed and used in situations, but none of them in isolation describe the behavior of situations as a whole. However, considered as a group, the ProxPatterns can describe aspects of situations as a whole, as different elements or ProxSets in those situations use various constellations, or subgroups, of the ProxPatterns. People very frequently use individual ProxPatterns, and groups of ProxPatterns, without calling them that (both consciously and unconsciously). In doing so, we create a persistent disquilibrium for ourselves and our creations in towns, cities and the globe. In short, ProxThink helps emergence, in that the use of ProxPatterns helps encourage complex behavior and global order. Yet our use of the ProxPatterns also represents and engenders a kind of persistent disequilibrium, generating our own surf, so to speak, and riding on it as we go.

Thinking more explicitly
ProxThink allows us to think more explicitly about local interaction patterns, and the persistent disequilibrium of situations as a whole. By being more explicit, I mean being able to talk about situations in greater detail from various perspectives. That means being able to describe elements and relationships in the proximity in abstract or structural ways with ProxThink terms and concepts. The ProxThink set of ideas is the most general way of thinking about situations I know of. This ProxThink explicitness is of course in addition to the explicitness of other disciplines of thinking (science, arts, design, engineering, business, etc.), as well as more casual or narrative descriptions along a number of different dimensions (feelings, visual, aural, poetic, processes, interpersonal, etc.).

How being more explicit helps
What is better about being more explicit? While not always helpful (remember the Limits PPs), there are a number of advantages. The advantages of being explicit range from making situations more enjoyable to the effeciency of knowing how to do something. An argument could be made that most evolutions and innovations through much of history have an aspect of making relationships more explicit. Think about technology, law, money, markets, government, religion, the arts, science, engineering, philosophy, psychology, etc. A potential disadvantage is in being explicit you may get stuck and rigid. However, using the ProxPatterns (PPs) explicitly helps us not get stuck and rigid (via Allow Uncertainty, Relate a Variety, Value of Some, etc.). ProxPatterns can also help us avoid using one of the ProxPatterns too exclusively. For example, instead of honoring the integrity of one element no matter what, we are reminded of how a variety of diverse and even contradictory elements and PPs can help the situation.

Part of the persistent disequilibrium of life probably also stems from the tension of disagreements about what is important. Some of the danger of disagreement stems from getting stuck there, rather than acknowledging, allowing and negotiating some disagreement, which thinking from a ProxPatterns perspective can help. Disagreements about priorities can be helped by several ProxPatterns, such as Rank Depends, Value of Some, and Allow Uncertainty. Other ProxPatterns provide ways to relate to such disagreements as well. Additionally, the concept of Vadi Agreements provides a framework for creating agreements that help deal with differences by working with the valuable differences (hence the name "vadi").

Disagreements are often about different points of view. In the sense that ProxPatterns promote seeing, accepting, valuing and responding to other points of view, perhaps ProxThink helps enable pluralism. Pluralism is another very general pattern that is considered effective and desirable in many situations.

[[to come - work in ideas from James Carse's book Finite and Infinite Games? For now, see Keep it in Play.]]

[[to come - relate to James Lovelock's The Ages of Gaia idea/fact (?) about the earth's atmospere. That the earth's atmospere is unbalanced and in a state of perpetual disequilibrium as a result of life's presence. This mirrors the perpetual disequilibrium the ProxPatterns as a group can help sustain.]]

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