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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Thinking Refracted in Organisations; the Finite and the Infinite/ the Conscious and the Unconscious

We are on the cusp of being in the Thinking Society, which will be attained once we have negotiated the transition from Capitalist-Industrial Society. This may take a few years. This transition is grounded in the paradigm shift we are all experiencing as communication, or Information, technology exponentially grows as a result of the scientific and technological discoveries arising out of quantum physics. The Thinking Society, which has been variously named as Knowledge, or Learning, or Creative Society, is one where the mind is valued as the most important assets of the society. We move less and less atoms, as we did in the industrial epoch, and now move more and more bits of information derived from thinking. Each of us, as members of ISPSO, has a contribution to make to the emergent Thinking Society.When Bion distinguished between Oedipus and Sphinx in the context of groups, he drew attention to the individuals with their private, inner, imaginal worlds, but also their capacity to think and give meaning publicly to their world (Bion, 1961, p. 8). Between these two, Oedipus and Sphinx, there is a symbiotic relationship, and it is something of this symbiosis that I want to address. Starting with Sphinx I am to address the question of thinking. Later I will indicate the connection between Sphinx and Oedipus (using these as short hand terms). Two preliminary points that are essential to my argument: (1) I want to convey the sense of thinking being refracted thinking, for knowledge, derived from experience, is not a body of thinking 'out there' that has to be acquired through learning; it is rather both 'out there' and 'in here', as it is continually created. Thinking is refracted both ways because Sphinx and Oedipus are in a symbiotic relationship. One cannot exist without the other(2) We as human beings are thinking contexts. We think as total entities ' not with part of our bodies, or features, or faculties of our minds and brains. David Bohm's proposal is 'that body, emotion, intellect, reflex and artifact are now understood as one unbroken field of mutually informing thought' (Lee Nichol, foreword to Bohm, 1992, xi, italics in original). This mirrors A.N. Whitehead's view, expressed in his Science and the Modern World, that the universe is pure mind and thought.In this paper I am speculating. I shall do that in the time-honored fashion of developing working hypotheses. I shall be mistaken, to a greater or lesser degree, but this risk I have to run if something new is to be developed. And the chances are that you will disagree with me, but this is to be welcomed because it is a way of arriving at what may be truth in the course of the subsequent discussions.'