Educate to save the humanist metamorphosis at the time of algorithmic civilization and AI

The metamorphosis undermined by the digital revolution and AI

Who can deny that the fundamentals of the humanization process (hierarchy, proximities and borders) are upset by the ongoing humanist metamorphosis which Alain de Vulpian tells us is being done to the advantage of people who are becoming more autonomous, more insightful, better able to trace their personal path in an increasingly complex environment?

Indeed, from the social fabric, which was made up of masses and bundles of made-up individuals, emanate from the interactions between people who are networked, changing and self-organizing in their own way; for the hierarchy and the domestication of man by man become looser; because cooperation trumps competition. For Alain de Vulpian is a gift from heaven or from the intelligence of the living. His optimism goes so far as to think that this metamorphosis prepares us to meet the deadly ecological and geopolitical challenges that our rationalist madness has accumulated.

But others, like Bernard Stiegler or Dominique Cardon, rightly observe that this hope is badly abused by a digital entropy that is heading towards a generalized disorder where the ephemeral and the instantaneous connection reign, prohibiting the constitution of a body of lasting knowledge, shared and in action as well as general learning.

The networked technical components (techno-sphere) endowed with so-called artificial intelligence and capacities for interrelations without human mediation, covered with links to multiple connections and instantaneous feedback, = become autonomous in a canvas which apparently overhangs human capacity and tends to dominate it. The value produced is captured by economic, state and military dominators who are curbing the open source options of platforms and preparing to use the exosphere as a weapon of massive influence.

A double helix encircles us, that of an accelerated entropic disregard due to the empowerment of the technical sphere by the digital, which escapes and destroys the social link instead of reinforcing it in its diversity and its autopoietic capacity. The immense capacities of influence (Cambridge Analytica) of the exo-sphere are placed at the service of traditional games of domination.

Internet initially carried the hope of an open world, of collective knowledge shared in co-elaboration. But the “Wiki-world” is turning around, because of what Bernard Stiegler called the “massification of mimetic behavior”. This leads to an accelerated depletion of resources and diversity, natural resources but also those of the collective knowledge of our time.

In short, it is not impossible that the metamorphosis will be slowed down, put at the service of the dominations of the old world and will have to wait for a few major collapses before constituting an alternative.

Finally, applying to the digital economy the standards and standards of the industrial economy amounts to transforming a remedy into a dazzling poison: over-capitalization, capture of value by capitalist monsters, destruction of common goods and the common good, development of areas of lawlessness as spaces for the destruction of value without a real creative alternative… Our inability to reinvent what can accommodate the revolution of artificial intelligence and in fact metamorphosis as a gift from heaven, transforms it into a formidable poison when it is approached with the norms of industrial society, its regimes of domination through financialization and its regulatory systems.

A bifurcation must and can occur to avoid this, opening up formidable hopes in line with Alain de Vulpian’s optimism. It can be born and grow at the heart of these techniques, opening us to a cognitive increase put at the service of the challenges that we have to take up: co-produced solutions, mastered by real people.

Low-cost solutions developed by and for the makers of metamorphosis are already being explored (crazy toads, street innovation, communities of economic resilience, third places, etc.). To amplify and accelerate this movement, four conditions are essential in my opinion.

  1. Elevate open source artificial intelligence support platforms to the status of common good of humanity, at least at European level. Put AI at the service of local creativity. This must be supported by research managed and financed by a citizen and public power.
  2. Reconnect to reality, from the needs of real people, the products and services they allow in a co-elaborative, repairable, durable and low-cost vision.
  3. Build deliberations at the local level accompanied by a research-action activity to build knowledge, epistemes of use and production, networked at the global level and connected to the global issues of the planet, in a learning design.
  4. Network the players and create a parliament of consciences at the global level, which opposes the private, closed possession of creative platforms, a civic possession of what is part of the common good thought of as the heritage of humanity.


These four principles apply even more to what pertains to the living and therefore to the manipulation of the gene. In a word, to build a society made up of learning, intertwined, autopoietic and networked communities, having taken control of their destiny at both local and global levels, concerned with the common good, including that which our humanity constitutes. Are we on this path?

Achieving these four conditions implies a real revolution in education.

For an education in metamorphosis


To educate is to “guide out” according to the etymology. Out of what? Out of what surrounds us, what we do not understand and which scares us, or what we have no idea and which is to be discovered. There is therefore behind this verb a notion of emancipation. That is to say, access to free will. But is it a total liberation or a responsible liberation, located in an interdependence in a world where everything is linked. This is a very contemporary question.

For a very long time, rationalist or even scientist philosophical currents have given reason, including scientific reason, the primary place in the act of education. There was a distrust of other dimensions of knowledge. Intuitive knowledge, creative knowledge or even spiritual knowledge appeared to be too easily permeable to psychological, sectarian or religious forms of subjectivity. They had the characteristic of being dependent on the subject, whereas rational knowledge appeared to be independent of the subject as an observing and thinking actor, which made it possible to develop concepts of universal scope. (Rational objectivity thought as absolute).

It was the triumph of reason stemming from enlightenment and plunging into the Socratic sources of true and false. The quest for truth through methodical doubt and the elaboration of concepts of universal scope, allowing the reading of the book of nature, which was thought to be written in mathematical language, constituted the heart and the body of the act of education. (with civics and morals). Even if there has always been the “Beautiful Letters” which were imposed at the same time, at least until around 1980. This has produced a confusion between instruction and education. Reason was then the spearhead of the economic, cultural, psychological and social emancipation of individuals. The rest was left to the private sphere and to transmission by the family.

But, this conception exploded in science itself with the arrival of the concepts of quantum physics where the observing subject cannot be separated from the result of the observation.

However, for me, this ambition to develop reason conferred as a priority on the act of education since the Enlightenment remains essential and I would say more than ever. Because the algorithmic civilization invades us. Algorithms, and the digital systems of all kinds associated with them, flood our daily lives sometimes without us knowing it. They also flood the daily lives of engineers, experts and scientists. Gradually taking control, they make us cross an unprecedented threshold in the history of knowledge and technoscientific action. They are exercised at the heart of historical interactions between opinions, mores, religion, industrial arts, fine arts and techno-sciences. In a word, at the heart of what defines a civilization. It is the act of understanding, that is to say of elaborating even a provisional truth about empirical reality, including social reality, which is often entrusted to algorithmic machines (or at least that is what is initially sought), let’s face it, to help man. But with AI and BIG DATA, they are gradually leaving the status of assistance to the act of knowledge through the enrichment of possibilities, to take on that of an “indisputable” source of truth through the analysis of correlations and not causes and simulation.

Indisputable, because not subject to critical experience and developing models that are too complex and too fast to be apprehended by the scientist. The techno-economic pressure is then exerted in full on the acceleration of the passage to the application before comprehension. We have gone from “knowing in order to do” to “doing in order to know” with the techno-sciences. We are preparing to move on to “doing without knowing”. And it is the whole civilizational sphere that is concerned. We are in an epistemic revolution in the sense of Michel Foucault. Its ethical issues are considerable.

However, the development of logical and scientific reason remains for me, although traditional, the first contemporary issue of education, the essential source of this desire for emancipation. Re-teach everyone to develop a real ethics of argumentation and therefore of the “posture of truth”. Discern and develop one’s own judgment through reason. For this, it is necessary to master the language to acquire the sense of nuance, the capacity for communicational otherness. It is necessary to master the logic, the capacity of synthesis, the capacity of calculation and that of solving by oneself complicated and even complex problems.

Full delegation to the machine by acquiring the procedures it processes without understanding the operator has been a trend for several decades. It is the harbinger of this abandonment in the face of the intelligent machine. The crisis in scientific vocations is another. It is dangerous for the day when algorithms will no longer be content to act like programmable calculators but will develop real cognitive strategies that will be non-neutral and not confronted with critical experience… This is the passage from algorithmic “for assisted knowledge engineering” to the algorithm for “driven knowledge engineering”.

This contemporary approach to educational issues aims to revisit past trends and therefore appear somewhat reactionary. But I assume the omen. But, conversely, neuroscience teaches us today that isolating the exercise of reason from the rest of thought is questionable reductionism, including on a biological level. The act of thinking and that of discerning are the result of a complex system between different areas of the brain in interaction. Thus intuition, imagination, creativity, immediate memory, deep and archetypal memory, psyche and spirituality are also at the source of all discernment, even if it is apparently completely rationalized, that is to say theoretically rid of the thinking subject. In addition, new discoveries on neuronal plasticity and epigenetics push for a more holistic view of the exercise of thought itself influenced by and influencing the body on a biological level, including in a transmissible way. All this has the effect of reintroducing the subject, as heir to one lineage and transmitter to the next in the act of thinking. Moreover, the contemporary vision of systems tends to erase more and more the subject-object duality. What is pushed to the limits could go as far as a flattening of the pyramid of living things, with humans becoming an actor-network like the others, that is to say with their own characteristics but without hierarchy, qualified as anthropocentric. We see the consequences of this today with the development of extreme eco-philosophical theories.

This “re-internalization” of the subject in a global vision of the exercise of free will leads us to broaden the necessities of the act of education if it really wants to prepare for emancipation and access to responsible free will. In fact, this is about helping everyone to reveal all of their talents and not just that of logical rationality. The development of the person as a “man in relationship” who pulls himself beyond himself to meet the values ​​that give meaning to his life, then falls squarely within the educational objective. Thus emerges the concept of integral education which opens up a new possible convergence with the humanistic vision of man. Education in Art, wonder, self-knowledge, awareness and spirituality, social justice, then take on a new educational status.

Thierry Magnin concludes our next book on the advent of algorithmic civilization as follows: “Taking care of the spiritual dimension of every human being by promoting, with great respect for the internal forum, its integral development and expression, is a essential key for a society to intelligently choose the “world of tomorrow”. The great religious and wisdom traditions have treasures of life to put in the “common pot” of our humanity in search of meaning. So that we can take up again, each in his own way, this prayer of the psalmist (Ps 117, 5), full of gratitude towards God: “You have set me free” (educere). It is this freedom, this “open sea” horizon that we need worldwide.

Indeed, this integral vision of education fully meets the growing ecological awareness essential to a desirable and sustainable future. Because what is required of us by the challenges of preserving our common home is a new relationship to time and space. Algorithmic civilization is entirely based on the acceleration of space-time. Awareness of long times and global spaces has never been so essential to our survival. The time of the living and that of the rise in consciousness essential source of our process of growing humanization are incompressible. They open on a letting go and an awareness of incompleteness source of true freedom in a global interdependence where everything is connected and in communion with nature.

For communion is not a subservience to the ecological constraints, the negation of freedom, quite the contrary. A Copernican revolution where demands for the common good is not considered as a brake on development, innovation and progress, but as a driving force. It liberates the singularity and stimulates it, opens up new horizons for it. It is not draconian by reducing free will, but on the contrary liberating by stimulating it. We touch here on one of the foundations of the new era for the field of education. 

To conclude, allow me to quote the philosopher Henri Bergson who in 1957 wrote in “The two sources of Morality and Religion” – Chapter IV […] 

If our organs are natural instruments, our instruments are by that very fact artificial organs. The workman’s tool continues his arm; humanity’s tools are therefore an extension of its body. Nature, by endowing us with an essentially manufacturing intelligence, had thus prepared for us a certain enlargement. But machines that run on oil, on coal, on “white coal”, and which convert into movement potential energies accumulated over millions of years, have come to give our organism such a vast extension and such formidable power, so disproportionate to its size and its strength, that surely nothing had been foreseen in the structural plan of our species: it was a unique opportunity, the greatest material success of man on the planet. A spiritual impulse had perhaps been imprinted at the beginning: the extension had been done automatically, served by the accidental blow of a pickaxe which struck underground a miraculous treasure. Now, in this disproportionately swollen body, the soul remains what it was, too small now to fill it, too weak to direct it.

Hence the void between him and her. Hence the formidable social, political and international problems, which are so many definitions of this void and which, to fill it, today give rise to so many disorderly and ineffective efforts: new reserves of potential energy would be needed, this time moral. Let us therefore not confine ourselves to saying, as we did above, that mysticism calls upon mechanics. Let us add that the enlarged body expects a supplement of soul, and that the mechanics would require a mystique. The origins of this mechanic are perhaps more mystical than one might think; it will not find its true direction, it will render services proportionate to its power, only if the humanity which it has bent even more towards the earth succeeds by it in straightening up and gazing at the sky. …


Reflections on the change of US leadership @Göran Carstedt



An American friend of ours expressed some months before the US election, that she hoped for Joe Biden to become the next US president. “He is not a visionary leader and he might not be very charismatic, but he is the driver, the chauffeur, that is going to take us home again”, was her thinking.

Now the American people has made their choice. From an inner voice, preferring decency, compassion and collaboration, they have chosen a “We can” instead of an “I can” leader. There is something profound in this choice.

Donald Trump came to power by mobilizing under the “Make America Great Again” promise, using a classical war strategy, identifying the enemies ,like  “the swamp”, the media, China and others. All of this  backed up by constant lies and the attempt to remove any idea of objective journalism. All news is fake. All politicians lie. There is no objective truth. So it does not matter if he tells blatant lies because everyone is lying. Facts and science do not matter.

All this made possible by the new media landscape driven by hunting for “clicks”. In this landscape lies and insults draws much more attention than truth. The viral power of social media outpace deeper analysis. Money rules.


There are many things to be said about the “I can” leadership from Donald Trump. He fits well into a mechanical worldview, where he promise to fix all problems by taking actions. Demonstrating his power by signing decision orders in media shows. Making “deals” like building walls, stopping immigrants, cancelling and renegotiating international agreements, cutting taxes, bringing home soldiers , dismantling the government and important governmental institutions etc. Pushing buttons, pulling levers as if this would change the world in the desired direction. It is a mechanical framework, seeing the world, our society, our organizations and people as machines.

This thinking is an old Newtonian worldview, building on the assumption that complete understanding of the universe was possible through analysis, by taking systems apart and believing that systems can be described  as linear cause and effect relationships. A mental model that has deeply influenced our way of thinking also when it comes to how we see organizations. Organizations as machines , with department by department, and with managers that are expected to steer and control by verticals. Expected to “drive change, to drive innovation” or “to change the corporate culture”, as if it was a spare part to be replaced.

Complicated mechanical systems can be predictable and we act on them. However, accepting the fact that society and organizations are complex social systems, we see something else. Complex social systems are hard to read and cannot be explained or predicted by looking at individual parts.  We have to act with them and they can be highly resistant. The more we push the more resistance we get, leading to unintended consequences that often ends up making the original situation worse.

Management concepts like implementing, imposing, teaching, telling comes from a mechanical mind set, while concepts like co-creation, learning and listening are more in focus when seeing leadership as a social transformation process. A process of creating meaningful and trustful relations.

We can see many examples of unintended consequences, from Donald Trump’s quick fix actions, “to make America great again”. From a European perspective, Trump´s attacks on Europe and on the US-Europe alliances, has made more for European  unity than years of political discussions within Europe. Trump´s attacks on China and Chinese tech companies, like Huawei, has mobilized China to fast forward their own technological development. In the end, Trump´s leadership style has moved him out of the White House. The ultimate unintended consequence, helped by a virus on which denials and threats doesn´t work.

Over time lies cannot win. Already the ancient Greeks did understand that a society, in order to keep together over time, has to build on leadership pursuing the following four dimensions of progress

Pursuit of truth ( science, education), pursuit of planning ( providing resources), pursuit of good ( ethics) and pursuit of aesthetics ( beauty, creation, fun).  Without a balance of these four dimensions, it is only a matter of time until such development crackles.

The reaction to Donald Trump´s “I can” arrogant attitude and autocratic mechanical leadership style, using dividing, attacking and lying as tools, has created separation and fear. Fear and hate in American politics has therefor now gone to abnormal levels. When republicans were asked if they would be unhappy if their child would marry a democrat, 5 % answered yes in 1960 and 50 % today. A telling example of a situation that ultimately goes against what people see as a desirable state of mind. That is why, I think, the inner voice of the majority of the American people has spoken and the Biden/Harris ticket has wone.


The pandemic crisis has become a “ close to death experience”. Many people has felt or do feel fear and a deep concern for their own lives or for people close to them. It is well known, that after such a “ close to death experience”, people do see their life in a different way. Things that earlier was in the background, taken for granted, is coming into the forefront. I am alive, how do I really want to live my life. You start seeing the world with the lens of the living.


With such a lens of the living, the ecosystem, nature, biology, the need for collaboration becomes suddenly concepts we are forced to become aware of. Or as Gregory Bateson asked himself – “What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all four of them to me? And me to you?” A way of thinking, a systems way thinking, that suddenly no longer is so academic.


When we start seeing the world as open living and self-organizing systems, emergence with bifurcations instead of planned futures, do become our focus of interest. That is what Gregory Bateson, Ilya Prigogine, Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela , Fritjof Capra, Alain de Vulpian and others so well has helped us understand.


The fact that this virus is biological , makes us see our biological dependence and makes us aware of how far we are from the selfish idea that we humans would be in control of nature or in control of other people. The great myth of our Modernity, that has to be dealt with.


We have to learn how to live with complexity and we have to settle with our mechanical, Newtonian worldview and the myth of being in control. We are living a time with deep and rapid change. Something old is cracking and exhausting itself, while something new is painfully trying to be born, to quote Vaclav Havel. The recent decades of globalization has created great progress but also many looser. Many people feel being left behind. People that are fearful, want to be taken care of. Something that creates an expectation of ”the strong leader”. Many are looking  upwards today, with the hope that someone should take control.


Biden/Harris represents a very different way of thinking and leading. Instead of creating separation and fear they are trying to address individual and collective aspirations. They want to recreate a sense of community , uniting instead of dividing. With a “We can” mentality they hope to be able to invite competent and passionate people to build  a strong team around  a shared vision of a more desirable, collaborative and caring future . As a shepherd, a healer or as the chauffeur that can take us home again. Or a gardener addressing the balancing processes, making sure there is enough water and nutrients. Wishful thinking or not, but that is what we can and should hope for.


However, it will definitely not be easy. The polarization is very deep and there are many groups that have legitimate reasons to feel disappointed, marginalized and abandoned We are living in scary times with so many parallel crisis around us. I often come back to our common friend  Dee Hock and his prophetic observation back in 1997 in his book ”The Birth of the Chaordic Age”.

“We are at that very point in time when a four-hundred-year-old age is rattling in its deathbed and another is struggling to be born. A shifting of culture, science, society and institutions enormously greater and swifter than the world ever experience. Ahead lies the possibility of regeneration of individuality, liberty, community and ethics such as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one another and with the divine intelligence such as the world has always dreamed.”


“Unfortunately, ahead lies equal possibility of massive institutional collapse, enormous social carnage, and regression to that ultimate manifestation of Newtonian, mechanistic concepts of organization – dictatorship “


Fulfillment or collapse, a question that also our SOL friends Alain de Vulpian and Irene Dupoux-Couturier is pondering, in their book on the humanist metamorphosis. Where we will be heading, no one knows, but we all can make our own choices. There has always been and there will always be a battle between good and evil, or as it is stated in this wonderful parable:

One evening an old Cherokee chief told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said,

“My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, bitterness, blame and meanness.

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, and compassion.”

The grandson thought for a minute, and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”


So let us live with that question and that answer, at this time when so much is at stake. Evolution and emergence as concepts of how our future is forming towards fulfillment or collapse, as a collective process of something that now wants to be born, a movement from below to be midwifed into being.

Which process will we feed ?

Things we normally have taken for granted and not given appropriate recognition, is now being seen and valued. A pandemic, like this drama, is helping us as a society and as individuals, to see who we really are. Helping us see our interdependence, how dependent we are of each other and how dependent we are of our mother company – our ecosystem. Hopefully can this new awareness be with us going forward.

Hopefully it also can help us understand that we are not in control of our development and evolution, the way we do want to believe. Understanding that our mechanical world view is a myth. The emperor is revealed without cloths.

Hopefully we can hear more from the good stories about how we live well together, about our capacity for community and about our ability to mobilize for one another.

If we can see these last turbulent years  as a phase of an ongoing metamorphosis, it helps us see a bigger picture. L´avenir ,that Arie de Gues often wanted to reflect on. A perspective on the future, that does place the metamorphosis into the center of what we now are experiencing.

Many things can and should be learned from these four years of Trump leadership and from this ongoing pandemic. How could all this happen to us ? What does this tell us of our world today and our view on good leadership ?

It gives definitely a lot of food for reflections and learning.


Reflections of an Ordinary Citizen…


This has been a brutal four years for anyone who loves this country.   We have watched our sense of propriety, decency and relationship with the rest of the world dashed daily to the point that, up to the election, it was almost impossible to remember the protocols that we always took for granted.  We have indeed taken our democracy for granted.  Since the mid 1970’s, less than 60% of the eligible population has exercised the right to vote. Voting seemed not so mandatory; the sense was always that somehow the right thing would happen and ‘my vote’ didn’t matter.  Though we knew that terrible mistakes had been made from administration to administration, there was this sense that the US Constitution was in our DNA and it would always protect us.  

That changed in 2016 as we watched guaranteed checks and balances bypassed and broken,  one by one, by excessive partisan politics the likes of which we never thought possible.  As we approached the elections, I had already limited most of our television coverage and had decided not to watch the returns. Fortunately, that position changed as the momentum grew around the campaign.  Choosing to watch the returns was like buying a ticket to a wild roller coaster ride: Do I shut my eyes to get through this stomach-turning experience?  Or do I keep my eyes wide open and dedicate my awareness to observing the ride, as well as my response moment by moment, with all the interior work  that would catalyze.   With eyes wide open, I took the ride of a lifetime – in fact, it’s not quite over yet; and we are awaiting anxiously the US Inauguration on January 20, when our President-elect is finally officially in office.. 

This is what I have learned in the process of staying open: 

1. Democracy is alive in the United States, but not without conscious participation by those whom it currently serves.  The US Constitution was meant to be a living document.  As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “[E]ach generation” should have the “solemn opportunity” to update the constitution “every nineteen or twenty years,” thus allowing it to “be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time.”    In a democracy, if that isn’t happening intentionally through civics education and ongoing participation in governmental affairs at every level, it will happen through constitutional crisis. 

2. Our current political polarization and impending constitutional crises have worked, though not without serious damage.  This election had the largest voter turnout in the history of the US: as of November 16 almost 70%, with the top most embattled states over 75%.  Even with the pandemic’s impact on changing election processes, young people (ages 18-29) voted early in massive numbers: More than 10 million youth cast ballots, either in person or by mail, before Election Day.  As the pandemic dramatically altered the way this election campaign has been run, opportunities to volunteer have been the most varied ever in the US. Most of my colleagues and friends were involved in a popular form of volunteer service in which thousands of people called, texted or hand-wrote personal cards to thousands of undecided voters. Interestingly, their message was about why they should vote, not about whom to vote for.  This was deeply moving for the people I know who volunteered in this way.

This election has been a much needed civics lesson for many US citizens, too many of whom have no idea how the US government works.  After the last four years, in which even the President and his allies seemed not to have a working understanding of their responsibilities,  there are significantly more of us who have a much more direct understanding of what a vital democracy requires.

3. The election outcomes are telling us that “character was on the ballot” and that an excess of 8 million citizens had had enough of the narcissism, incompetence and cruelty of the current incumbent.  This was a mandate to replace him with a seasoned public servant who is known for his decency and compassion,  as well as his decades of experience in our government. At the same time, many still voted for their preferred party for congress.  As frustrating as that may be for those who wanted a complete change from the partisan gridlock that follows, it is an affirmation of the way our democracy is designed to work – as a complex set of procedures designed to balance majority rule with the expression of  minority positions.  

One of the most inspiring examples of how sacred the right to vote is in this country, however divisive the campaigns have been, was the integrity and service of the thousands of volunteers who worked the polls to ensure that every vote was counted properly.  Ordinary citizens from every political background worked together, transcending their own preferences.  There were numerous news stories of the bipartisan friendships that developed during this time.  Equally as inspiring was the leadership demonstrated by Republican state governors in Michigan, South Carolina and Arizona who could not be bullied into destroying ballots or supporting unsubstantiated claims that the voting was fraudulent.  Governor after governor, election official after election official, could not be moved because they knew that their primary purpose was to protect our democracy, not get their party in office. 

4. I was particularly struck during the election coverage with how much data matters to us as a nation, especially in these times of suppression of the truth. We were given up-to-the minute data in a thrilling exposition of how each state works the electoral process.  Though we were well prepared by election analysts for the “red mirage’ that would occur due to the unprecedented use of mail-in ballots – e.g., each state’s choosing whether to count them first or last – It was a grueling exercise in patience as each state counted their votes.  Many of us have emerged with much greater faith in the process. Even now, as the current administration continues to claim fraud and obfuscate facts, there is greater trust that the system will work and a renewed understanding of both the features and the vulnerabilities of the constitutional system that was designed to help us “form a more perfect union.”  There is also a greater commitment on my part about staying closer to the process at a local level.

Now, as the nation with the greatest number of Covid cases and 20% of Covid deaths, when we only have 4% of the population, even the use of masks has been politicised.  It will be an enormous challenge to bring our people together to enact a unified approach.  It’s not that we don’t have the data to learn from, for the US and for much of the world  – we now can see how that everything we do matters – what we need to do now is support all of us to learn and adapt in real time, so we can work in accommodation with our national and state health situations as they evolve. In short, we need to effect a metamorphosis in our own collective thinking.  We need to find sustainable ways to expand  socioperception of all our citizens, especially those who feel helpless in the face of our uncertain future. 

We are fortunate to have the right leader as our president-elect Joe Biden. He has decades of experience working across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats. He is the most socioperceptive politician we’ve seen in awhile, with his single focus of practicing empathy, compassion and respect for our demogratic institutions to bring people together. He expresses a natural and explicit interest in serving all our citizens, not just those who voted for him, and he has demonstrated repeatedly that he knows what that will take. This is a leadership style that is so important now, with an authentic  humility that calls for  learning our way through these difficult times together.  

I have faith that our new administration will follow suit. I have seen that social perception breeds socioperception, Deep inclusion breeds deep inclusion.  Our leaders do indeed influence those who follow, and I pray that this compassion will touch hearts, dissolve fear and encourage  people to live by principle. It won’t happen right away and it will take every resource we have.  We are a painfully divided nation.  And the transformation needs to begin in each of us.  What I am finding in myself is that the question, “How in the world could THEY have voted that way?” is no longer an exasperated exclamation.  As I commit to the repair and reconciliation that is so desperately needed – and that our new president-elect is asking for – I find a newly emerging curiosity to make that a real question ”How indeed?” and to let the answers become known, so that we are divided no longer.  The Social Action Research question of “How do we do what we do when we are living and working well together?” has been immensely helpful in each conversation. And there are a number of us – artists, performers, philosophers, social change leaders – who are coming together throughout the US  to provide conversation spaces socioperception approaches for this to happen. 

Finally, in this election period, I have learned how much good company matters.  Through this whole experience, global colleagues have stayed personally in touch with us.  At times, it became clear that they were following the returns more closely than even some of our fellow citizens.  I know that this was not just concern for us, but also because what was happening would impact their lives so deeply, too. there is now a bond that has been created among us to know and to support each other in our search for wellbeing in each of our countries as well as in the world at large.   Since I have been learning about accommodation and social action research, I have discovered a new meaning for ‘organizational learning’… If ‘organization’ is indeed not the structures, but the flow of relationships that create value and wellbeing, then it is my concern to understand how those coherences work among us and balance the structures that enable that flow. My metamorphosis comes in that realization.

 WAKING THE SPIRIT @Alain de Vulpian

Homo Sapiens communicates with nature and the cosmos,

that’s Gaïa.

When I wrote “The Spirit of metamorphosis” in «Éloge», I knew that I had not followed my intuitions right to the end, but I hadn’t dared go that far.  Subsequently I let myself be blocked by hesitations. I could have called the chapter “Waking the Spirit”, considering it not as a state or condition of metamorphosis but as a major trend of metamorphoses currently under way.  However one of my intuitions insisted on the driving role of this phenomenon, which runs through and permeates the entire 20th century and which, if it continues in opposition to the chaotic tendencies that are gaining weight today, will greatly increase the chances of humanistic scenarios.

In the evolutionary life of Homo sapiens the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin appears like a symbol.With  Pope François he represents the modernized,  transformed Catholic church launching an exploration of the integral Human Being,  in interaction with the spiritual and purified Islam of Al Azhar.

In all cultures, men pray and meditate, and in all religions this leads to the spirit.  What really exists there? It is perhaps a relationship between the brains of Homo Sapiens transcending distance and time.

There is something there. The transcendent dimension exists. In my dreams, I meet women, my wife, my mother, I have the impression that there may be people waiting for me, it is neither upsetting nor sad. I have not been able to delve deeper into snippets of knowledge about Homo Sapiens’ relationship with nature or plants; dreams, meditation, prayer are part of it;  the businessman who meditates puts his brain in contact with new aspects of reality. Spiritualism has gone through animism, shamanism, Shintoism, it is returning to meditation. This is a separation between an emotionally-loaded spiritual ambition that creates camps and clans and supports hierarchical and controlled societies,  and a spirituality of finer emotions, meetings, communion…  developing  from commandments and obedience to love. No longer driven by dogmatic religion but by an impulse from the heart.

This spirit is life. It’s related to the brain, its vibrations. There is a part of reality to which we do not have free access, but sometimes we have flashes of communication; each socio-culture has invented a variety of fantasies to describe them, but we must look for common foundations, from religions to Jung. True humanism is the development of both the individual and the species, this is integral human development.

The authoritarian vengeful punisher god fades before a figure of love,  the renovated Christian church has relinquished the exercise of power, and other churches are changing. The Noosphere is the domain of consciousness, of love, tending towards the Omega point and fusion. We live in a wonderful time, living close to the spirit of metamorphosis without yet drawing a clear analysis. The Noos is us. We may be inventing something that we will no longer call a religion but the Spirit.

Socioperception and the emergence of an economy of meaning

The key role of socioperceptive people in transforming organisations and society


Alain de Vulpian and Tonnie van der Zouwen

Key words: Socioperception, empathy, anticipation, social fabric, economy of meaning, self-organisation, emotions, self-awareness, stakeholders


How do empathy and socioperception affect organisations in the Western world? Action research involving in depth interviews with 50 change agents operating in a dozen European companies showed that these men and women have highly developed socioperception skills. They pick up and interpret the weak signals that foretell of changes to come, perceive dangerous or beneficial latencies, sense various possible future scenarios, and act in a correspondingly informed manner. For these reasons, they are efficient and effective agents of change, knowing when and how to involve specific stakeholders. We explain the generation process of socioperception from developments in human psychology and sociology, drawing on longitudinal field studies from Cofremco. They show a resurgence of empathy and socioperception in the Western world. This article describes how the renewal of socioperception creates a new social fabric and how companies this may influence the transformation from an economy of added value towards an economy of added meaning.  For organisations in transformation we provide directions for action to make better use of their socioperceptive capital and how this may influence companies.

Why some companies will survive this crisis and others will die ?

It is not a given that all the oldest or largest companies will outlive this crisis — adaptability is key

Andrew Hill –
MAY 11 2020

The first written document about a Stora operation, a Swedish copper mine, dates back to 1288. Since then, the company — now Finland-based paper, pulp and biomaterials group Stora Enso — has endured through attempts to end its independence, the turmoil of the Reformation and industrial revolution, wars, regional and global, and now a pandemic.

“It would have been catastrophic for [Stora] to concentrate on its business in an introverted fashion, oblivious to politics. Instead the company reshaped its goals and methods to match the demands of the world outside,” writes Arie de Geus, describing one particularly turbulent era in the 15th century in his 1997 book The Living Company, shaped round a study of the world’s oldest companies he conducted for Royal Dutch Shell.

This is wisdom that companies today, wondering how to survive, let alone thrive, could use. Alas, de Geus himself is not around to help them: he died in November last year.

Part of his work lives on through the scenario-planning exercises that I identified last week as one way of advancing through the uncertainty ahead. The multilingual thinker was Shell’s director of scenario planning, where he developed the distinction between potential futures (in French, “les futurs”) and what was inevitably to come (“l’avenir”).

He also lived through the aftermath of the second world war, which destroyed Rotterdam, the city of his birth, and encouraged him and his friends to seek jobs within the safe havens of great corporate institutions, such as Shell, Unilever and Philips.

It is not a given that all the oldest or largest companies will outlive this crisis. Those that do, however, should take a leaf out of de Geus’s book.

Longtime collaborator and friend Göran Carstedt, a former Volvo and Ikea executive, says he discussed with de Geus last year how near-death experiences enhance the appreciation of being alive. “Things come to the fore that we took for granted. You start to see the world through the lens of the living,” he told me. “Arie liked to say, ‘people change and when they do, they change the society in which they live’.” That went for companies as much as for societies. Long-lived groups such as Stora owed their survival to their adaptability as human communities and their tolerance for ideas, as much as to their financial prudence.

These are big ideas for business leaders to ponder at a time when most are desperately trying to keep their heads above the flood or, at best, concentrating on the practicalities of how to restart after lockdown. In her latest update last month, Stora Enso’s chief executive sounded as preoccupied by pressing questions of temporary lay-offs, travel bans and capital expenditure reductions as her peers at companies with a shorter pedigree.

Some groups that meet de Geus’s common attributes for longevity are still likely to go under, simply because they find themselves exposed to the wrong sector at the wrong time.

Others, though, will find they are ill-equipped for the aftermath. What he called “intolerant” companies, which “go for maximum results with minimum resources”, can live for a long time in stable conditions. “Profound disruptions like this will simply reveal the underlying schisms that were already there,” the veteran management thinker Peter Senge, who worked with de Geus, told me via email. “Those who were on a path toward deep change will find ways to use the forces now at play to carry on, and even expand. Those who weren’t, won’t.” For him the core question is whether those who interpret the pandemic as a signal that humans need to change how they live will grow to form a critical mass.

For decades after the war, big companies did not change the way they operated. They took advantage of young people who believed material security was “worth the price of submitting to strong central leadership vested in relatively few people”, de Geus wrote. Faced with this crisis, though, de Geus would have placed his confidence in those companies that had evolved a commitment to organisational learning and shared decision-making, according to another close collaborator, Irène Dupoux-Couturier.

The pressure of this crisis is already flattening decision-making hierarchies. Progress out of the pandemic will be founded on technology that reinforces the human community by encouraging rapid cross-company collaboration.

De Geus was adamant that a true “living company” would divest assets and change its activity before sacrificing its people, if its survival was at stake. That optimism is bound to be tested in the coming months but it is worth clinging to.

“Who knows if the characteristics of Arie’s long-lived companies . . . boost resilience in such situations as this?” Mr Senge told me. “But it is hard to see them lessening it.”