The First Summer School of Thinking by the Montparnasse Initiative in July 2018 in Paris was the first step of the today existing School of Thinking in Brussels, a program that is organised by the Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies (CLEA), a transdisciplinary research centre at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), which focuses on bringing together the different scientific, social and cultural disciplines.
In Paris, Stefan Blachfellner represented the BCSSS together with Helene Finidori.
The program focussed on the exploration on thinking itself as the background activity underpinning all knowledge and action and invited its participants to challenge themselves and others to think freely, independently, critically, and creatively. Stefan Blachfellner and Helene Finidori took part in this co-creation of a new program of experiential learning and contributed to it with several lectures.
There they met Cadell Last, co-initiator of the summer school and finally in autumn 2019 co-founder of the School of Thinking. During this time Cadell worked with the Bertalanffy Center as one of the first early career researchers the Center intends to support with its ‘Next Generation Program’. He began his work with a talk on his PhD research ‘Global Brain Singularity: Universal history, future evolution and humanity’s dialectical horizon’.
Systems Thinking plays a central role in the motivation and in the program of the School of Thinking. Following first conceptual conversations about a School of Thinking and the successful collaboration with Cadell Last, in March 2020 Stefan Blachfellner was asked to give a lecture on Systems Thinking for the Students of the Postgraduate School of Thinking.
He called his module “Systems Thinking” (from systems sensing to systems acting) and invited the students with the following words: “In this module we will inquire what a galaxy and a biological cell, an organism and an organization, technology and social fabric, an ecosystem and economy and many more unities have in common. We will inquire the potential of thinking in interconnectedness, circularity, emergence, wholes, synthesis and relationships and how this skillset may change our perception, reasoning and action (…).”
The BCSSS is very glad about the successful development. The first meeting that discussed concepts for a School of Thinking in 2018 gave promising impacts, now, in 2020, the school exists and grows. We are proud to be part of it, to connect and communicate our insights on Systems Thinking and Systems Theory to further generations.
We would like to invite you to visit the School of Thinking website. To get an idea of their program and their motivation. To think about also to get part of that exciting field and community. Critical thinking about our world, about yourself, about our nature, about all of us.
At the most fundamental level, many of the problems we face are the unfortunate outcome of the malpractice of thinking. Whichever complex problem one may consider –be it ecological, societal, political, economic, organisational etc.– one will likely find that it is caused by the clashing of incompatible or inadequate manners of thinking. Even when these are genuinely well intended and strongly self-justified, they often inadvertently contribute to composite problematics.
The inadequacies of our thinking are deeply entrenched in the way that we, humans, perceive the world, ourselves in the world, and how we interact with it. Our professional, educational, cultural and metaphysical systems strongly dispose us towards outlining sharp boundaries, separating objects from backgrounds, ’us’ from ‘them’, defining identities and carving out what is to be of significance from what can be dismissed, disposed of, or exploited. Such dispositions result in oversimplifications which are often apparent to us in the thinking of others, but much less in our own thinking. Yet, they are omnipresent and almost impossible to avoid. Once cohered by logical reasoning, anchored in captivating symbolism and encoded in algorithms, such simplifications turn into cages: mental, emotional, operational… Moving beyond them becomes literally unthinkable. We may repeat the mantra of ‘thinking outside the box’, we may praise critical, independent, creative and disruptive thinking, but these get deployed only in as far as they prove usable for the affirmation of our respective, deeply rooted worldviews.