Making a Difference That Makes a Difference.
Linguists and information and systems theorists
define meaning as “a difference that makes a
difference”—avoiding sunsets and the smell of
coffee in the morning, drive-in movies, Christmas
mornings and the various manifestations and
embodiments, stereotypes and allo-typical
relativities that are meaning full to individuals:
reductions, particulars, the devilish details we
fight over—our “meaning” wars.
The idea of Difference and the idea of a Difference
that MAKES a Difference: 2 ideas that are put in
play (relationship) to define the meaning of MEANING.
And then: examples galore. Infinite. Can’t even count
the ways that differences differ to make a difference
or no-difference-at- all: the meaning of meaning on
the one hand, and the meaning of meaninglessness on the
other: an agree ability prior to the specifics we agree on
By loose analogy: here’s a way to start to talk about
transformative educating that might be considered
prior to the various meaningful ways we might define
Whether to treat learning in terms of a
1) change in calibration (transformation of
the system, a re-habilitation) or
2) as a problem in self-conscious self-correction
from moment to moment (taking care of business
as per habit, tradition, discipline, common sense,
whether it's done in teams teaching or individuals:
males no never minding.)
This dilemma seems to be present in all arts, says Gregory Bateson
in Angels Fear: Toward an Epistemology of the Sacred. .
Either surrender to the boundary between conscious self-correction
on the one hand and unconscious obedience to inner calibration
on the other. Or don’t. (no surrendering).
Conscious control Unconscious obedience.
A difference that makes a difference: a version of the Hawkinsian
the economy of
I-know-what-I’m-doing on the one hand damnit
and the economy of
knowing for crying out loud on the other hand.
And it’s the boundary:
that defines the clap clap relationship.
Go ahead: improve my terms and images. Up for grabs.
Trying to talk some Transformative Learning here without
falling off into the terms & determinations of assessmental
self-correcting logical empiricism on the one hand and the
meta force of warm & fuzzy spiritual nu-age mysteries on
the other . a difference that makes a difference. .
Boundary-Land: “toward frontiers yet unknown”
Bound to be offensive to the spiritualists on the one hand
and ridiculous foolishness to the positivists on the other.
Transformation is a border-land area (say), a relationship-
going-on that can’t be nailed down in the terms of either
hand without conflating, collapsing, and confusing the
distinction and the difference that makes a difference.
Need we argue? Of course. Of course we must.
Or what’s a college for? xxxooo, Sam