“Organisation” : What is it?
Nine hundred people committing suicide in one place at the same time would appear to be a ‘highly organised’ occurrence (Jonestown Guyana, November 18, 1978). On the other hand, it is ‘organisation’ that is somehow different than the organisation we see in the fall where the northern skies are filled with birds, flying southward, in formation.
I would say that ‘organisation’ differs by whether it is ‘grounded’ in what’s going on in the space it is included in, or not; i.e. whether the organisation concerns only ‘what thing do’ or whether it comprehends, at the same time, the dynamic relations of things and the dynamics of the space they are included in.
For example, when groups of people organise, it is often due to their ‘knowledge’ so that the organising is internally driven from out of the individual organisms. This sort of organisation is ‘ungrounded’ in the dynamics of space in which it is included.
Consider three groups of people who come together at the same place and at the same time, but at different times for each of the three groups. The place is a shoreline along which there are intertidal flats rich with clams and oysters. Group A arrives first and group B arrives exactly one hour later. Their organisation is based on their knowledge and their knowledge informs them of the time of a major low tide and because they all have access to this common knowledge and act upon it, they arrive at the same place at the same time. However, there has been an error in the publication of the tide tables and this highly organised group will have to sit around for four hours until the low tide actually arrives (could be worse, could be two weeks). Group B arrives one hour later that group A because, while their behaviour is knowledge-driven as well, and while it is based on the same tide table publication, they knew that they had to add one hour to correct for the fact that their watches and clocks were giving them daylight saving time. Group C arrives at the same time as the low tide, since, like the birds flying south, they let their behaviours be orchestrated by the dynamics of the space they are included in; i.e. they watched the moon phases, listened to the receding wave sounds and generally sustained a continuing attuned awareness of the tidal movements.
In all three cases, large groups of people arrive at the same place at the same time. Can we say that the ‘quality’ or ‘degree’ of ‘organisation’ represented by these events is roughly comparable?
If we answer ‘yes’ then we are overlooking a basic distinction between two types of organisation;
1. Mechanical organisation: – Knowledge-driven organisation which is defined in terms of the association of local objects/organisms as implicitly reference-framed by absolute space and time. This sort of organisation has no ‘grounding’ in terms of the relation between the dynamics of the inhabitants and the dynamics of the ‘real’ (nature-) space the inhabitants are included in. It is the sort of ‘organisation’ epitomized by the ‘goose-stepping’ of a rectangular grid of marching soldiers.
2. Organic organisation: – This sort of the organisation is the ‘result’ of the habitat-dynamics in which the inhabitants that are undergoing ‘organisation’ are included. That is, it is habitat-orchestrated organisation which can be defined in terms of the conjugate habitat-inhabitant (dynamical) relation. This sort of organisation takes its basic meaning from its grounding in the continually unfolding dynamics of space (habitat). It is the sort of ‘organisation’ epitomized by the ‘migration of birds’ from north to south in winter and from south to north in summer, or by horses huddling in cold weather and dispersing in hot weather.
Mechanical organisation impresses us purely by the relationships amongst ‘things’ and ‘what things do’. In order to visualize mechanical organisation, we have to substitute ‘representations’ of them for our visual observing of them; i.e. we have to ‘lift’ these ‘things’ out of their inhabitant-habitat dynamical relationship and re-present them in a notional absolute space and time frame. Thus, when we watch group A or group B arriving at the same location (in a notional absolute euclidian space) at the same ‘time’ (‘time’ being a convention we invent so that we can describe motion in terms of time and location of objects in an absolute fixed and empty containing space), we get the sense of something going on that is ‘highly organised’, IN ITSELF (in a ‘what things do’ sense) without any ‘grounding’ in the continually unfolding spatial dynamics of nature in which the ‘things’ are inevitably included. It is thus ‘organisation’ that is grounded in intellectual BELIEFS rather than the unfolding dynamics of nature.
Organisms streaming in and out of a purely intellectualized containing space such as ‘the USA’ is organisation that is ungrounded in the dynamical space of nature (animals, birds and insects are missing the intellectual concept of a ‘place’ defined by imaginary line boundaries and thus do not ‘organise’ on this basis).
It seems that we commonly ‘confuse’ these two types of organisation and thus, when we think of such notions of ‘organisation’ as ‘Darwin’s theory’ and/or ‘genetic theory’, we miss the point that it is ‘type 1’ organisation – ‘mechanical organisation’ – that is ‘intellectual’ rather than ‘organic’. This ‘confusing of idealisation for reality’ gets us into a lot of trouble; e.g. when we describe genetic organisation (type 1. organisation) as ‘nature’ in the question of ‘nature versus nurture’, we are confusing our own intellectual machinations for reality. Progressively, our social modes of ‘organisation’ have been ‘twisting off’ from type 2 ‘organic’ organisation and re-orienting to type 1. mechanical organisation.