Passport to the 21st Century
John Seely Brown, Steve Denning, 
Katalina Groh, Larry Prusak: 
Some of the world's leading thinkers
explore the role of storytelling in the world

 I Introduction to storytelling I John Seely Brown on science I Steve Denning on change I Katalina Groh on video
Larry Prusak on organization I Discussion I | Contact us | Bibliography on storytelling

Two modes of knowing: abstract and narrative
    d. The dual character of Western Reason
It is often the case that we are the unwitting inheritors of a long forgotten philosophy and our patterns of thought are strongly influenced, if not determined by debates and arguments that we have never heard of. One such debate was that which took place between Max Planck and Ernst Mach in the period 1908 to 1913 in Germany, which foreshadowed current attitudes to science. It's discussed in Steve Fuller's book, Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History of our Times: here are some of the highlights.
Planck vs Mach
    The debate between Planck and Mach in 1908 to 1913 has deep roots in the "dual-tracked character of the Western conception of Reason.
    The first track extends from Socratic questioning in the Athenian forum through the Enlightenment to Ernst Mach and Karl Popper. It is critical, libertarian, and risk seeking - and it also seems to be the track that Jesus himself espoused.
    The second track extends from the cloistered setting of Plato's Academy through positivism (probably in all of its incarnations but certainly in August Comte's) to Max Planck and Thomas Kuhn. It 
is foundational, authoritarian and risk averse - and it also characterizes the track with which institutional Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, has often identified. ..
    It would be easy to say that the two tracks of "complementary". In fact, it would be too easy, since each regards the other its worst nightmare. 


    Suppose, on the one hand, that we have a physicist who spends the bulk of his career as an elite functionary for the scientific establishment. He identifies "the ends of science" with the interests of professional scientists, yet he continually needs to demonstrate the relevance of arcane and expensive research to a public who still think of Galileo and Newton as their paradigm cases of scientists. 
    Then suppose on the other hand, we have a physicist who spends a good part of his career as a parliamentary champion of democratic education. In his view, "the ends of science" are nothing more than a repertoire of techniques for ameliorating the human condition, one of whose burdens may turn out to be the scientific community itself.
    The two exemplary science policy spokespersons are Max Planck 1858-1947) and Ernst Mach (1838-1916), respectively....  (pp.103-104)


    Mach and Planck offered bold and conflicting visions of the future of science at a time when the future seemed up for grabs... Planck consistently maintained that the ends of science must be served before science can serve the ends of society, or neither ends will be achievable... The outcome of their dispute [in favor of Planck] gradually came to be taken for granted. (p.96)

Books and videos on storytelling 
*** In Good Company : How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work
by Don Cohen, Laurence Prusak (February 2001) Harvard Business School Press
*** The Social Life of Information, by John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid
(February 2000) Harvard Business School Press
*** The Springboard : How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations
by Stephen Denning (October 2000) Butterworth-Heinemann 
*** The Art of Possibility, a video with Ben and Ros Zander : Groh Publications (February 2001)
Copyright © 2001 Stephen Denning 
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