Whole-System Patterning Concepts address what truth more generally becomes when cultural guideposts no longer provide reliable direction. Their interest lies with the “crux” concerrn of the degree an act or idea is “life-giving”—in the language of formative process, the degree it supports and enhances our creative growth and well-being. (See “Crux” and “Multiplicity” Discernments.) They address questions like purpose, morality, capacity, and violence. While less immediately provocative than creative truth’s two more differentiated sorts of concepts, many people find them in the end the most transforming in their implications.
First we will look briefly at how not just the content of truth, but also truth as process, becomes creative in a culturally mature reality. Usual notions of content and process combine to a produce a more dynamic and systemic—exploratory—picture of guidance. Then we turn to three specific types of Whole Systems Patterning concepts.
The concept of Aliveness (the more formal term is Question of Referent) addresses what in any moment a system will find most creatively true—most enlivening. It is directly pertinent to personal truth. Without clear guideposts we must learn address questions of what matters bare-boned. And just as much it is pertinent to broader cultural understanding. As familiar ideologies prove insufficient, it becomes increasingly essential that we be able to distinguish governance and it purpose from particular governmental forms, education from educational structures, and religion as sensibility from religious ideology. In CST, every inquiry starts with the Questions of Referent. It provides the biofeedback (rational feedback/emotional feedback) on which everything else must rest.
The concept of Capacitance addresses capacity for experience, how much life/creation a system can tolerate before become overwhelmed. With any moment of choice, we want to know not just where the most creative options lay, but also whether we are up to what they might ask. In times past, things like gender roles, generally agreed upon moral codes, and a world of clear allies and enemies provided the boundaries needed to keep challenges to Capacitance within reasonable bounds. Today, whether our concern is the decision’s that define our increasingly complex daily lives or the challenges of international policy in an ever-more global world, discerning Capacitance accurately and managing it well becomes increasingly critical.
The concept of Creative Symptom describes how systems respond when pushed beyond their available Capacitance. We see that different systems—as a function of all of these patterning variables—respond in predictably different ways. Appreciating how this is so helps us understand responses we see. We become better able to avoid reactive responses based on misinterpretation. We also become better able to support the creative growth of systems—whether that be ourselves, relationships we are in, organizations, or human society as a whole.