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Synthesis

"bringing it all together"

Synthesis :: 1 of 1

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Synthesis is the antonym of - qua is opposite in meaning to - analysis.

And, as I have remaked upon in other writing, synthesis is at the heart of systems thinking.

Systems thinking is a way of looking at the world whereby synthesis - not analysis - is the favoured intellectual probe.

This means that a systems thinker seeks understanding of a given pattern of relationship (qua system, or "thing", as its more usually but more crudely construed) by looking at how that system interacts with a wider system of other networks in which the individual systems is embedded.

What?
On the face of it, this sounds counter-intuitive, downright odd, and strangely bloody obvious. And it is strange: all of our perceptual hardware (eyes, and other visual biology in the brain) is geared up for analysis. Breaking up the hugely complex world into manageable chunks so we can deal with it is what they evolved to do.

Most of our schooling and other education is based upon the primacy of analysis. Think of all the phrases that purport to reflect the act of making something simpler: we seek to "get back to basics"; we "break something down" to understand it; we seek "basic building blocks"; we believe we have understood something when we can "categorise it", and so on.

But how then do you generate understanding by going up - to a larger picture - instead of down - to smaller bits?

Suggesting that greater understanding can be achieved by making things bigger rather than smaller often meets with baffled or hostile rejection.

But - and here we're back to networks - systems are really nothing but networks of relationship. So what we're talking about is networks of relationship at lots of different levels of scale.

Because - let's face it - everything is a network, in the end.

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