“All of us experience a gap between our minds and the reality of time – that’s why we suffer”…
— Dainin Katagiri, a Zen Buddhist and writer
Throughout Human history, Sensemaking – sensory state – has been at the core of our capacity to uncover patterns in our world and shaping generalisations & models – active state – to navigate reality.
Through abstraction, we have created Heuristics (models, narratives, analogies, maps, knowledge, theories, code, rules, logic, stories, frameworks etc… ) in our attempt to unbundle complexity.
Or as 20th Century Philosopher — Karl Popper observed :
Knowledge ( i.e. a Heuristic) is our search for truth — it is not the search for certainty…
Our embracement of Reason being inspired not by our quest for truth but by our quest for meaning — Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind.
Wisdom enables us to transcend Knowledge by providing “context” through our lived human experience — by overlaying our morals and values we shift from the “How?” and “What?” to the “Why?”
We do not observe Reality as a voyeur from a balcony, we are actors and agents immersed in the environments we inhabit.
We are interconnected and interdependent with our world.
Reality is anchored in our Perception, our lived Experience, Actions , Agency and the phenomena of Emergence from which three eternal truths unfold :
It’s the ever increasing complexity of Reality – through quantum entanglement – that results in the increasing uncertainty (entropy).
The Adjacent Possible and the ever expanding ways in which different molecules, particles and ideas can be mixed and matched through the flow of time.
Models of World
Our Intelligence is embodied – its the interplay between our mind, body and environment in our attempt to navigate the world.
A perpetual flow where we Observe (Perceive), Orient (Sense), Decide (Reason) and Act (Agency) (an OODA Loop) to our changing environment in our attempt to minimise “free energy” (Uncertainty) and unbundle complexity (Simplify).
It is through Abstraction that we create Models of the World.
It is the stories we tell
It is the analogies we shape
It is the knowledge we seek
Its the theories we form
It is the meaning we derive
However, these Models of the World are not the World.
The map was never the territory.
Without listening and being open to divergent voices & perspectives , being humble, curious, vulnerable and learning to learn we risk failing to upgrade these internal Models of Reality to mitigate uncertainty (akin to a form of Beyesian Probability where instead of frequency or propensity of some phenomenon, probability is interpreted as reasonable expectations representing a state of knowledge or a quantification of a personal belief).
We risk widening the Reality Gap.
Where our Models of the World move further and further away from the World
We risk becoming lost in space…
Ideology is essentially the phenomena that emerges when our Models of the World no longer align with our perception & experience of the World – yet despite this cognitive dissonance — we are unwilling or unaware of the need to upgrade our abstract models of reality.
French Economist Thomas Piketty has recently released a book titled — Capital and Ideology — that explores this phenomena.
He presents a cogent series of observations that sit at the core of our current day extreme social/wealth inequality and economic malaise — social groups that have given us slavery, serfdom, colonialism, communism and hyper & surveillannce capitalism — are the fruits of ignorance, intellectual specialisation and identity politics.
In other words, Ideology is our failure to close this Reality Gap (Models of the World vs World) – an absence of Sensemaking skills & capabilities – has been at the heart of the increasing challenges and system imbalances we face.
The late Harvard Innovation Professor and Business Consultant , Clayton Christensen has made similar observations as it relates to Data on this Reality Gap and the inherent fallibility of being human in a complex and uncertain world.
A quote :
“Well, it’s important to first recognise that the data are not the phenomena. They are a representation of the phenomena. Also, we must recognise that God did not create data; any piece of data you or I have ever encountered was created by a human being. Unable to fully capture this wonderfully complex world, we human beings use our bounded rationality to make “decisions” about what aspects of the phenomena to include, and which to exclude, in our data. These decisions become embedded in the tools we use to create and process data. By definition, these decisions reflect our preexisting ways of thinking about the world. These ways of thinking are sometimes good and reliable — guided by known causal relationships. But often, they are not. No quantity, velocity, or granularity of data can solve this fundamental problem”…
— Clayton Christensen
The difference between the World and our Model of the World can be expressed in a different way — that being — Volatility.
A quote from US Funds Manager, Chris Cole — Founder of Artemis Capital:
Volatility is an Instrument of Truth
Regardless of how it is measured, volatility is the difference between the World as we imagine it and the World that exists
We only prosper if we relentlessly search for nothing but the truth, otherwise, the truth finds us through volatility
It raises important questions for all of us as we move through the 21st Century with all the complexity and uncertainty that it will entail:
Are we courageous, vulnerable, humble and open enough to learn how to learn in our attempt to close this Reality Gap?
Are we relentlessly searching for truth and meaning or are we seeking certainty and knowing?
Are we embracing Sensemaking as the core skill for the 21st Century?…