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Paradox

Thinking in paradoxes takes on a central role in this system theory counselling approach. What is meant by this? Here is an example: can an almighty God create a stone which is so heavy that it cannot be lifted? This question, posed by a medieval theologian, illustrates the problem. In that moment in which the end has an effect on the beginning – this is called reflexiveness – a strange situation occurs: if God can do this, he is not almighty and if he cannot do this, then he is not either!

System theory assumes that all physical, all psychological and all communicative systems must work with reflexiveness in order to stabilise and sustain in time. Paradoxes are based on time, on a procedure. Theories which build upon what supposedly exists (the being), exclude, like logic, contradiction and ambiguity. The truth then becomes supposedly free of contradiction and the same for everyone. In contrast, in meta theory the world becomes paradoxical as soon as you observe it. This is because when someone recognises something, he ‘simultaneously’ (!) causes something to disappear. Recognition makes you blind, because the entirety, the whole, cannot be observed. This is why so much depends upon how you handle paradoxes, i.e. how systems operate with the distinctions and decisions made. This principle guides all our considerations about psychodynamics, group dynamics and organisational dynamics.



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