Exploring the Concept of "Design"
of Social Systems
by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D.
Head Minister, "Amplifying Divine Light in All Church"
One always has to be aware of all the answers to: Who is designing what for whom and how does that design become lived experience?
"Design" can be "manipulation." Is it always that? When is it NOT manipulation?
"Design" can be the master-planners of a totalitarian state, even if they are philospher-kings of Integral Wisdom, using government's monopoly on the "legitimate" use of force to impose that design on everyone, willing or not.
And "design" can be DNA, unfolding into lived experience in a dance with so-called "external" influences.
Design implies forethought. Design implies template or essence.
Is "chaos" an opposite of design? Is "natural growth" an opposite of "design?"
Are there levels and layers of "designers" so we might think we are initiating "designing" when we are designed to design?
In a human body, the brain does not "design" for the liver. They influence one another, in a context of influences they both exert and are subject to. So who are we, the 'wise ones' to design for whole large groups of others, how they will live and work and play?
If humans are Gaia's "organ" capable of reflection (I happen to think there are others equally capable of "reflection") then the humans who believe THEY are 'designing' for other humans, or for Gaia, might do well to zoom out and see what is influencing them. What are they a part of, and are they thinking they are some ultimate agentic force when they are actually part of a whole which is carrying out some larger "design" from some Larger Intelligence?
And thus, can "designers" in human form become cancerous cells and growths within the larger body/bodies, if they run wild with their own wisdom, their own intelligence, without realizing their natural place in the holarchy? What is "informing" their design process, and what indeed is motivating their desire to "design?" Where is that impetus coming from? How self-aware are these "designers" who might presume to know what is best for others, on the basis of what are after all only models?
What are the relative usefulnesses of "emergent" as contrasted with "imposed" or "designed" or "engineered?" And if we zoom out far enough, are those (emergent/designed) any different? And does the contrast actually make a difference at certain zoom-settings?
These questions, these contemplations, lead me again to the value of "emergent collective intelligence" (see my previous blog entry) which is trans-human or supra-human. These questions also lead me to take a very close look at any attempts by some humans to "design" for others on a macro level of life in social systems.
I'd love to contemplate further the synonyms and antonyms of "design" -- and the connotations and denotations. What does the notion of "design" imply to you? What do you consider as being "design" and what do you consider as being "not design/ed?" What is the relationship of design and emergence in various places/times and various zoom-settings?
What are the relationships among planning, design, and control? And what differences might it make where the "designers" are coming from: arrogance, or humility? Control or service? "We know best" or "Let's co-create?"
Teachers design curricula; parents design outings for their children. These are aimed at making the future predictable and controllable. Yet it is also possible to "design" within human systems, to facilitate emergence rather than control or predictability. A good teacher can design situations in which learnings will emerge for the student, even if the exact learning is not predictable and controllable. Workshop designers also can design to facilitate spontaneous emergences. "Open Space" is a design technology which if used, can have unpredictable results.
So how far "down the line" into the future is a designer designing? And what factors dictate the optimal timeframe for the design to cover?
What is the relationship of design and implementation of the design? Where does that process come in? Who designs THAT? Is it all to be voluntary? Is it OK to use force to get someone to behave according to our designs, if we think we know better than they do, what is best for them?
I welcome comments on any or all of these questions. My purpose is not to land on a definition or an answer, but to enliven and enrich our inner and outer dialogue on these concepts/questions, so we can individually and together arrive at something which is most useful for our purposes, and help even the evolution of those purposes.
by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., Head Minister, Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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