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Rationality and Unambiguity

Rationality assumes that the world is unambiguous: 2+2 = 4. Mathematics is both factual (2+2 is not 4 ‘and’ 4,2) as well as social (2+2 is not 3 for one and 5 for the other), and also chronologically unambiguous (2+2 is not 3 today and 5 tomorrow). Therefore, it is the natural sciences world which is ‘capable of rationality’. ‘The Prepared World’ (A. M. K. Mueller) is really more like the conditions in a laboratory. This is good, as because of this, aeroplanes mostly fly reliably and the production in organisations can largely be planned for and the profit usually well calculated. From the qualifiers ‘mostly, largely, often’ you can deduce, however, that the world (as opposed to mathematics) is messy. Phenomena are ambiguous, internally torn and controlled from within. Insights are shaped by the observer, and the unknown future cannot be calculated.

For this reason, organisations require more, and different methods than just rational procedures. Cultural changes cannot be controlled and made to conform to a plan. Decisions don’t know(!) what they are doing, but rather, they trigger the unexpected and must cope with the unexpected. Small causes have enormous effects, networked relationships outstrip the calculation capacity of all computers. As simple as this insight may be, the belief in rationality and the overestimation of its potential is nevertheless widespread.