Extension Transference and specialization


In his book Beyond Culture, Edward T. Hall introduces a term that I believe defines one of our biggest sources of confusion today – E.T. or Extension Transference – “the complexity of our systems that distracts us and prevent us from remembering the original purpose of our systems – their most basic goal. Extension transference where we forget the point of our complex systems.”

Adaptible specialization is often related to rising complexity. Some writers point out that specialization is often the cause for extinction. That may be true in some aspects. But I think that part of the problem associated with specialization is the lack of holistic re-connection or holistic perspective that seems to emerge.

In other words, specialization often becomes associated with limited, reductive perspectives, limited processes, limited mental models and the illusion that whatever topic is being considered exists in a vacuum, in a modular world that denies interdependence.

Whenever I hear the saying, “Think globally, act locally” – it reminds me that we have to continuously switch between considering the micro and the macro perspectives at many levels.

Today we are beginnig to combine holistic awareness with specialized knowledge. We are beginning to re-connect our disciplines through multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary education.

Those of us that made it through school before we began to re-connect knowledge have the responsibility to teach ourselves. I would propose that there is a market here that may need to be addressed by innovators.

The innovation challenge would be to create educational tools that re-connect knowledge across disciplines, across history, across industries to give rise to a holistic knowledge.

Perhaps we can learn something from one branch of knowledge that has always had a systemic view of our world – the branches of knowledge focused on sustainability of our ecological systems.

Beyond Culture – Edward T. Hall



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