What is order?

This is a post in my organizing “between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore Bohm’s and Peat’s notion of order in Science, Order, and Creativity.1 Here is my review of the book.

Science, Order, and Creativity by Bohm & Peat

The notion of order is too broad to be encompassed within an all-inclusive definition.1 Rather than attempting to make a definition Bohm and Peat first focus on the meaning of order, and then develop new notions of order that are relevant to quantum theory, society, consciousness, and creativity.2 Everything that happens takes place in some order, which depends on its broader contexts for its meaning.3

Order, thought, and action
General notions of order play a significant role in human thought and action.4 Order enters the framework in which human thought is understood and action is carried out.5 When ideas on order change they produce change in the order of society.6 Change in the order which underlies society is not unlike changes in paradigms.7 Whatever happens must take place in some order.8 Order becomes the basis of behavior, action, and motivation9 An order is lived and experienced.10

Play, creativity, and order
What is called for is a kind of free play so that the mind does not become rigidly committed to a limited set of assumptions and false play.11 True creativity can emerge out of this free play.12 Only when the intelligence operates in a free fashion can the mind be free to engage in the formation of new orders.13

Order is context dependent
Order itself is generally experienced in a number of different situations and contexts.14 The notion of order is context dependent.15 When a new context is revealed, then a different notion of order will appear.16 Orders can be “hidden” in one context and be revealed in other contexts.17 It is possible, for example, that there are other orders in nature going beyond those than can be comprehended with the quantum theory.18

Spectrum of orders
There is a broad spectrum of order from low to infinite degree. Within this spectrum whole ranges of orders are to be found.19 At one end of the spectrum are simple orders of low degree, and at the other end are chaotic orders of infinite degree.20 Randomness is a special case of an order of infinite degree.21 Not all orders of infinite degree are random. Orders of infinite degree can contain orders of lower degree. The hierarchical nesting of these suborders forms an order of its own.22

Language as an infinite order
Orders of infinite degree are neither random nor simple regular orders.23 Language, for example, may be considered as having an infinite order. The potential for meaning is unlimited. Language also contains suborders of lower degree, such as rules of syntax.24 Although language is of infinite order, it is not random. The meaning of language is furthermore context dependent. The order belongs both to the language and to the person who uses it.25

Entropy is change of order
The notion of entropy is particularly important.26 Entropy is a kind of change of order.27 Orders of low degree can emerge from chaos, and low orders can transform into chaos.28 Maximum entropy is associated with the inability of a system to generate global orders of activity.29

Order and structure
Order lies at the root of structure.30 Structure includes not only the order of elements, but also an arrangement and connection of these elements.31 Structure is basically dynamic.32 Structure grows, is sustained, and dissolves.33 Structures are subject to organization and disorganization.34 A hierarchy of orders is an important component of structure.35 Stability of structure through mobility is of crucial importance.36 Structure is stabilized as the result of the mobility of its elements.37

Generative order
Generative order is a deeper order out of which the manifest form of things can emerge.38 This order is fundamental in nature and in consciousness.39 An artist, for example, works from a generative source of an idea which unfolds into ever more definite forms.40 The generative order of an artist’s creative work ultimately escapes definition.41. This order is very different from a machine.42

Hierarchy of orders
Generative orders are not fixed and rigid hierarchies where lower levels are dominated by higher levels.43 Rather, the levels develop out of an immanent generative principle, from the more general to the less general.44 The hierarchy grows out of a basic generative order.45

Implicate or enfolded orders
The implicate order extends the notion of generative order.46 What is essential is the simultaneous presence of a sequence of many degrees of enfoldment with similar differences between them.47 The key point of the implicate order is that it is fundamental. The explicate order unfold from the implicate order.48

Explicate or unfolded orders
Similar differences are all present together in a manifest and extended form in an explicate or unfolded order.49 The explicate order is commonly found in ordinary experience and, for example, in classical physics.50 Explicate orders are simple patterns which repeat themselves and have well-defined locations in space.51

Thought and implicate order
Thought is in the implicate order.52 One thought enfolds the another. In addition, thoughts and feelings unfold into each other, which unfold into physical actions, and on to more thoughts and feelings.53 Language is also an enfolded order. Meaning is enfolded in language, and unfolds into thought, feeling, and activities.54 Thoughts and feelings arise from an ever-changing stream of consciousness.55 Implicate and generative orders are ultimately at the ground of all experience.56

Implicate order, consciousness and matter
The implicate order of consciousness operates on many levels.57 Consciousness is organized through a generative order whose totality in many ways is similar to the totality of the implicate order that organizes matter. In this view, mind and matter are two aspects of one whole.58 There is no sharp break between consciousness, life, and matter.

Order and life
Life itself is an infinite and subtle order.59 The generative and implicate orders may be relevant for understanding life and consciousness.60 Order pervades all aspects of life and can be understood as similar differences and different similarities.61 If the generative order is basic to inanimate matter, then it is even more essential for the understanding of life.62 Erwin Schrödinger suggested that the quantum theory, with its feature of wholeness, could explain the basic qualities of life.63 Bohm and Peat propose that a deeper generative order is common to both life and to inanimate matter.64 Life is enfolded deep within the generative order.65

Conclusions and questions
Bohm’s and Peat’s notion of order makes it possible to discuss different aspects of organizing in a new way. Explicate orders for organizing are explicit and commonly found in organizational life. However, deeper generative orders for organizing are implicate. These orders are implicit and “hidden” in thoughts and feelings. It’s also possible to combine the notion of order with Heidegger’s and Bortoft’s distinction of belonging together vs. belonging together. (Here is a post on the difference between belonging together and belonging together.) Imposing explicate orders for organizing on a situation creates a belonging together.

The questions for the continued exploration are: What does that mean? How does that help?

1 Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity (Routledge, 2010, first published 1987), p. 105.
2 Ibid., p. 98.
3 Ibid., p. 130.
4 Ibid., p. 98.
5 Ibid..
6 Ibid..
7 Ibid., p. 99.
8 Ibid., p. 122.
9 Ibid., p. 281.
10 Ibid., p. 281.
11 Ibid., p. 104.
12 Ibid., p. 105.
13 Ibid., p. 110.
14 Ibid., p. 105.
15 Ibid., p. 119.
16 Ibid., p. 120.
17 Ibid., p. 131.
18 Ibid., p. 132.
19 Ibid., p. 124.
20 Ibid., pp. 126, 146.
21 Ibid., p. 122.
22 Ibid., p. 124.
23 Ibid., p. 126.
24 Ibid., p. 124.
25 Ibid., p. 125.
26 Ibid., p. 133.
27 Ibid..
28 Ibid., p. 146.
29 Ibid., p. 135.
30 Ibid., p. 137.
31 Ibid., p. 146–147.
32 Ibid., p. 137.
33 Ibid..
34 Ibid., p. 140.
35 Ibid., p. 139.
36 Ibid., p. 141.
37 Ibid., p. 147.
38 Ibid., p. 148.
39 Ibid..
40 Ibid., p. 155.
41 Ibid., p. 156.
42 Ibid., p. 156.
43 Ibid., p. 161.
44 Ibid..
45 Ibid..
46 Ibid., p. 168.
47 Ibid., p. 170.
48 Ibid., p. 176.
49 Ibid., p. 170.
50 Ibid..
51 Ibid., p. 184.
52 Ibid., p. 182.
53 Ibid..
54 Ibid..
55 Ibid., p. 185.
56 Ibid., p. 187.
57 Ibid., p. 182.
58 Ibid., p. 183.
59 Ibid., p. 126.
60 Ibid., p. 132.
61 Ibid., p. 146.
62 Ibid., pp. 197–198.
63 Ibid., p. 198.
64 Ibid..
65 Ibid., p. 199.

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

Published by Jan Höglund

Jan Höglund has over 35 years of experience in different roles as software developer, project manager, line manager, consultant, and researcher. This is his personal blog where he shares his reading, book reviews, and learning.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *