D – Paradynamics

I talked in the previous post here about the ‘Paradynamic Self’, but I have since felt the need to take a step back and to talk first about Paradynamics. Yup, I rarely go a step forward without then going 2 steps back; this is irritating, even to me, but I can’t seem to help it. Also, it seems necessary so as to avoid making longer-term mistakes.

The problem with the notion of the Paradynamic Self is that it is ambiguous: is there only one possible paradynamic self or are there many possible forms and configurations of it? Is it a way of being or is it a single structural approach amongst many possible structural approaches?

The way to resolve that is to talk first about Paradynamics.

The multi-dimensional

The first thing to note is that Paradynamics operates within a multi-dimensional structure. It can’t operate in any other way. So, what is meant here by multi-dimensional? The ‘multi-’ part is obvious, it means ‘many’, ‘numerous’ or, at least, ‘more than one’. The ‘dimensional’ part is of course the adjective form from ‘dimension’; but, what makes a dimension a dimension? Informally and haphazardly, the notion of a ‘dimension’ is often confused with the notion of a ‘part’. So, one might hear people say that a cooker within a kitchen is a dimension of the kitchen. It’s not – this is trivial thinking. More usefully, ‘dimensions’ are intersecting entities. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Einstein posited in his Special Theory of Relativity that there are not just the three spatial dimensions but also the fourth dimension of time; we can see this four-dimensional approach displayed here with the red line showing the path of a bird, or a mosquito, or a warvicle*, moving through space and time, where ‘d’ = ‘depth’, ‘h’ = ‘height’, ‘w’ = ‘width’, and ‘m.i.t.’ = ‘motion in time’, and the little notches on the red line = equal lengths of the passage of time:

Of course, since Einstein’s Special Theory and, in fact, almost immediately, other theoreticians/mathematicians/physicists have posited that there are more than four dimensions operating within the universe. And, current theories postulate up to 11 space-time dimensions or more.

But, multi-dimensionality does not just exist within the context of space-time, of course. It can exist, unconsciously largely perhaps, in the ‘structures’ that we use to think and feel. It can exist in the structures that we use to communicate and to co-operate, and to war, and to faction.

Space-time dimensions can be used to describe the relatively static, such as when showing something in the same position in a place where time has stopped. But, in the area of thought and feeling and in communication, there is no scope for the static. Everything is persistently dynamic, which brings us to the Paradynamic.

The multi-dimensional Paradynamic

Paradynamics – definition

Paradynamics (or paradynamic modelling) is an approach to defining the structural aspects of systems. The word derives from being a blend of the words ‘parallel’ and ‘dynamic(s)’. In a paradynamic approach to the structural architectonics of system articulation, any system is seen as a combination of structure, function, and process; when we understand better the structure of a system, then we can better understand the processes that occur within the system and the function or purpose of the system. Or, indeed perhaps, certainly within the more abstract systems, our perception of the function of the system can determine to some degree our perception of its structure.

We are a system, by and large; much of what surrounds us are systems in one way or another. The key premise of paradynamic modelling is that any system structure needs to be seen as potentially inherently complex rather than simple, and as necessarily multi-dimensional. Every system is seen as tending to operate on a number of ‘levels’, and/or axes, where there are component parts within each level, and where processes of interaction occur between different-level components. The levels operate in parallel with each other and the components within each level can intersect with components on other levels in a dynamic process of interaction.

Paradynamics is an attempt to move away from working with over-simple structural paradigms within system modelling, as the over-simple structural paradigm is seen as debilitating on system modelling in representing the complexity of the underlying reality under analysis and explanation, and as debilitating on the scope then allowed for awareness and deve,opment (as well as of heakling in a psychological context).

This can all seem quite abstract and difficult to work with, but the exponents of this approach do make it much clearer as will be seen in these articles shortly.

Paradynamics – use

Paradynamics focuses mainly on the modelling of system structures and, can be used in this within the psychosocial sciences, such as linguistics and psychology and in the context of organisational-structure theory, but the theory is closely related, conceptually, to system structures in biology (such as the notion of ‘organic’ systems in nature and in bio-diverse agriculture), engineering, and other physical sciences, as well as to system structures used in musical composition, for example.

Linguistics has recently proved to be a fruitful developmental area for paradynamic modelling, in that grammar theory, in particular, has tended to focus on a one-level structure of analytic linguistics where parts of speech have been the key concern, and paradynamic modelling has opened up the awareness of the need to interrelate, structurally, analytic linguistics and synthetic linguistics in the context of analysis of many languages. Here, the synthetic aspect shows the formal expression of functional relationships within sentences and to the context of specific cases of language use, and paradynamic modelling combines the two aspects through synthetic-analytic interaction modelling. It could be said that grammar is an arcane and esoteric area of study and reflection, but it fundamental to how we think and how we give expression to feeling. If we are compelled into a simple conscious understanding of grammar, then we are limited in our ability to understand ourselves, our thoughts and in our ability to communicate our world and experience to others.

In the context of psychology, psychological theory has tended over the last century to focus on modelling, and working with, the mind – or with the mind and the psyche. Indeed, the term ‘psychology’ indicates, or dictates, this limitation of reference and concern by the fact that the word is a combination of ‘psyche’ and ‘logos’. Logos, a Greek word like psyche, has a number of meanings but putting these together it can be seen as essentially describing ‘mind’. Psyche and mind are only a part of the self and so the term radically limits its frame of reference in its very name. Within a paradynamic approach, this is seen as too limited a structural description of the ‘self’ and more complex models of the self can be developed showing the range of interactions, across different levels of the self within conscious and unconscious experience, that are possible within the ‘aware’ or ‘potentiated’ or ‘developing’ self.

It is worth noting that Paradynamics does not laud complexity just for its own sake and is careful to develop restrictions on unnecessary complexity, of the kind to be found in discourse linguistics and in psychological-disorder categorisations. A key field of enquiry within Paradynamics needs to be the development of formulae for independently determining when a system structure is of too great or too small complexity to be of genuine explanatory value and available to generating response and appreciation.

Exit from death by uni-dimensionalism

It can be noted that we live in a world where the socio-political drive is towards making us as uni-dimensional as possible, not just in the way we experience and respond to life, our lives, but also in the way we conceptualise. The aim of Paradynamics is to give scope for us to open up our lives and our mental and intellectual experience to a wider range of possibilities than the uni-dimensional, so that we can understand ourselves better, understand the ‘tools’ we use in our world better and give ourselves scope to heal from damage and to develop into broader, wider, shrewder beings.

The tragedy of the single truth (or set of truths)

Let’s return to the question that we started with here: Is there only one possible paradynamic self or are there many possible forms and configurations of it? Well, of course, there are many possible forms of the paradynamic self. To claim that there was only one truly valid paradynamic-self form would be taking a mode of enquiry and modelling into being almost a religion where there is only one truth. Paradynamics is a way of thinking about complex things and modelling them; it shouldn’t be translated into a way of life, in itself, directly. It can usefully inform and facilitate the way we think, the way we analyse, but no more than that. And so, what I need now to talk about here is one form of paradynamic modelling of the self that I have developed, and found useful, and have recently found a name for: the Arelian multi-dimensional paradynamic model of the self. A bit of a mouthful? We can shorten it. The full name shows its path of development. Why ‘Arelian’? Well, I was coming to that …

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* A ‘warvicle’ is a conglomeration word to describe something which is a smallest perceived bundle of energy and/or mass and which has the behaviour characteristics of a wave and of a particle.

David Lott

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