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Unity of Difference

An old, if not entirely appropriate example in every respect, for the (off-putting) formulation ‘unity of difference’ is a magnet. It consists, on the one hand, of two poles (=sides) and on the other hand there is a ‘third’, which is the magnet that is neither one nor the other pole. It is ‘created’ through the interaction between the two poles. The one (magnet) consists of two poles. If one separates the magnet, one ends up with two more, if one puts two together, one gets one.

This (system-theoretical) way of thinking – unity of difference – is the basis for the concept of guiding distinctions, for example, also the ‘magnets’ acceptance, goal setting or handling the past. These ‘consist’ of two poles: affirming/negating, stabilising/changing and retaining/learning. Each of these poles is dependent upon the other and cannot be without it. The erasing of the other side would always be the extinguishing of the first side, too!

Behind each unity is hidden a difference, each difference can be examined with regard to its unity. When using a magnet one uses one pole, not both at the same time, in the same place.

The unsuitability in the example of ‘magnet’ is that a magnet ‘exists’. Everyone who observes the world, however, generates their own ‘magnets’. One can distinguish a healthy cow from a bull, from a sick cow, from a calf and from other mammals. When doing this, one always uses a different unit of the difference used: gender, state of the organism, age or biological type. Therefore, the guiding distinctions of the change processes in the systems, described and introduced here, are also an observation and not that which is happening in the world!



One Comment

  1. Jürgen Große-Puppendahl

    The Paradox of the Unity of Difference
    The paradox is created by the observer who is making a distinction and indication between him- or herself and the team (s)he is working in as one example.

    And who can be an observer is also an interesting question?
    In this approach observers are individuals, teams, and organisations, in general all living or life-presupposing systems who/which generate their own “magnets”.

    [Side note: At night when the organisation doesn’t work there is no process of organising and also no organisational observer]

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