Monday, March 13, 2006

"What we really want is to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.... something with real meaning"

With this quote, Barbara Annis, CEO of a consulting firm based in Canada, prompted Howard to first work on 'Reïnventing Capitalism'. He had better called his book 'Reïnventing meaning'. Walter Freeman - autor of 'How BRAINS make up their MINDS' - states: 'A fundamental and enduring human activity is the search for meaning'. But, here is the catch, we cannot define meaning. We can talk about meaning, as we're doing now, but like the definition of time: you know what I mean by meaning, but you can never define what it is.

Meaning is unique for each and every person. Meaning emerges from each and every situation. We're craving for meaning, we create - and destroy - meaning. Meaning is all there is, from the moment we receive our name to the tombstone on our grave. Meaning is nameing written differently.

People seek meaningful relations. On the surface, you think 'what's in a name?' But under the sureface, you do not want superficial relations. You want to know: 'what's in in for me?'. You've perhaps been told that you should look for value for money. You know differently. 'What's in it for me' is about relations. You, I, we need deep relations. We start to create meaning, we shape meaning, we're in the business of relationships. In fact, meaning 'is' the relationships. This explains why a definition would end - 'fini' - a relation. That's why in this conference, relations are core activities.

The medium is the message and mine is the meaning. Meaning consists both of content, the message, the words, the wink of an eye and relationships. In fact, the relation is shaped by the meaning. The content is a disctinction between background and foreground, something like the black letters on the white of this screen. The relationship is a distinction between the context and the interpretant, something like the difference between you and me. Meaning emerges from the distinction of distinctions. That is why 'status' is so important for bacteria, plants, animals and people. 'Status' signifies the meaning of the relation, it shapes the relation, it 'is' relationship.
Our small conferences 'Facilitating a new Renaissance' - are about contributing something to yourself: reinventing meaning to your work. We aim to explore the big questions of our society. Not by telling what they are, but by listening to each other. Then we'll vote ('having a say differs from having a vote' - Max DePree) over the issues and start searching for feasible solutions. Then we're going to ask YOU to make a contribution to what we all think is a feasible solution of an important problem now. We're offering you a way to make a renaissance happen. It has been done before.


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