Sunday, July 3, 2005

Open Architecture

Philosophers from Kant to Peirce have discussed the structure of knowledge in terms of architecture.

Peter Lindberg (Tesugen) finds some interesting data to support this.
In these quotes, Kant identifies some characteristic functions of human reason and science:
  • Human reason regards knowledge as belonging to a possible system.
  • It therefore allows only such principles as do not at any rate make it impossible for any knowledge that we may attain to combine into a system with other knowledge.
  • Science is architectonic, in that it makes a system out of a mere aggregate of knowledge
Kant presents our knowledge system as an open system - we are (or at least should be) always open to new knowledge that may trigger us to reconsider and reconfigure the knowledge we already have. This was a radical idea for Kant's time. Previous philosophers saw knowledge in terms of recovery (restoring what had been lost) and accumulation (adding to the sum of what was already known) - in other words, knowledge as a closed system.

Open-mindedness may be either an individual characteristic or a collective one. A person or an organization can be open or closed to new ideas and information, and can be tolerant or intolerant of uncertainty.

We can observe many settings where knowledge and uncertainty seem fragmented and brittle, and where they seem strongly resistant to reevaluation and change. In such settings, there is often a strong drive to add more knowledge, with more detail and precision, and yet the extra knowledge fails to have any useful effect.

Kant invites us to pay attention to the architecture (or architectonics) of knowledge - how knowledge is composed and decomposed. Equally, we must pay attention to the architecture of uncertainty - how uncertainty is composed and decomposed. This may often be the best route to opening up an organization to innovation and positive change.

Technorati Tags:


  1. Reading your blog and I figured you'd be interested in advancing your life a bit, call us at 1-206-339-5106. No tests, books or exams, easiest way to get a Bachelors, Masters, MBA, Doctorate or Ph.D in almost any field.

    Totally confidential, open 24 hours a day.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

  2. Dear rxzw85wnln

    On reading my blog, you figured I might need a degree? Does my blog make you think I don't already have one?