Effectuation, Cause and constraints with Aristotle

At #JFE19 we discussed Effectuation , and a lot about causes versus effects. Out of Serenedipity, the next day, I just found the 4 types of causes, according to Aristotle.

In which I see the :

  • “final cause” being the “effect,
  • the antecedent being”the cause“,
  • and ”the contraints” connected to the talk we had on goals versus vision and quasi-decomposability.1

Here we go with the text from 2:

According to Aristotle (Posterior Analytics) there were four basic types of causes:

  1. Antecedent, necessitating or precipitating causes,
  2. Final causes.
  3. Efficient or constraining causes
  4. Formal causes,

Antecedent Causes

Or precipitating causes relate to past events, actions or decisions that influence the present state of a thing or event through a linear chain of “action and reaction”. This is probably the most common form of causal explanation that we use to describe things.

Final Causes

Relate to future objectives, goals or visions which guide or influence the present state of the system giving current actions meaning, relevance or purpose. Final causes involve the motives or “ends” for which something exists. In this sense, final causes often relate to a thing’s role or identity with respect to the larger system of which it is a part.

Constraining Causes

Involves ongoing relationships, presupositions and boundary conditions (or lack of boundaries) within a system which maintain it’s state (regardless of the chain of events that brought it there). Constraining causes tend to be more “systemic” in nature, and may be defined in terms of potential constraints which were not present as well as those which were.

Formal Causes

Essentially relate to fundamental definitions and perceptions of something. The “formal cause” of a phenomenon is that which gives the definition of its essential character. Formal causes actually say more about the perceiver thant the phenomenon being perceived. This type of cause is related to what Aristotle called “intuition”.

Clearly, any one of these causes taken to be the whole explanation by itself is likely to lead to an incomplete picture. In today’s science we look mostly for mechanical causes, or what Aristotle referred to as “antecedent” causes. When we study a phenomenon scientifically we tend to look for the linear cause-and-effect chain which brought it about. These understandings are certainly important and useful but do not necessarily tell us the whole story of these phenomena.

Identifying constraining causes would involve examining what holds a particular phenomenon’s current structure in place, regardless of what brought it there.

Searching for final causes, would involve exploring the potential aims or ends of these phenomena with respect to the rest of nature.

jvaldivia. “Summary of the Book Strategies of Genius, Aristotle.” Steemit, February 19, 2018. https://steemit.com/book/@jvaldivia/summary-of-the-book-strategy-of-genius-aristotle.

Simon, Herbert A. “Sur La Complexité Des Systèmes Complexes.” Revue Internationale de Systémique 4, no. 2 (1990): 125–45. http://dea128fc.free.fr/Doc%20en%20stock/simon6_complexite%20de%20la%20complexite.pdf.

  1. Simon, “Sur La Complexité Des Systèmes Complexes.” 
  2. Jvaldivia, “Summary of the Book Strategies of Genius, Aristotle.” 

Conference Notes from Dominic Barter – Restorative Circle

Quotations and

Notes from the conference and the first day on restorative Circles, Paris , 11-1-19

For me, It went further than just Restorative circle In Justice and Education, as I saw many connections to my own work in System Design, and techniques likes #SolutionFocus, #AppreciativeInquiry, #Effectuation.


farther or closer ?

If X is talking to me, and I increase the distance , what will he do ?
Probably , he will have to raise the voice… which may make me increase the distance even more… and now, he will shout…

And why if I would get closer to him when he shouts, instead of fleeing ?

This is one core hypothesis explored in #RestorativeCircles. ( and in #nvc)

This metaphor works for the relation between two people; but also around two parts of me, internally.
What if I would listen more to the part of me crying, shouting for attention ? #nvc

Conflict exists because you care

We are educated to fear and avoid conflicts.
But conflits are part of the relation .

You only have a conflict because you care about someone , a relation, something.

Otherwise you would not mind. You will filter it out, ignore it .


not affinity but Sharing risks:

A community is not the people I like, who like the same things than me, who lives near me, who pray like me, etc
But the people who accept to share the same risks than me.

The one who will stay in the same neigbouhood when things gets tough, (and not flee),
The one who share the same software, the same common…

System Design

Any changes brings Chaos, at least for some time…

3 questions

What works well
What does not works well
How do we want it to be

I connected it to #SolutionFocus, #effectuation and #AppreciativeInquiry

systemic blindness

we should have “attention to structure” :

I do not care ab out a room when I come in, but if it was badky designed, I could not work in it…

If the structure does not permit dialog, the structure will change ( inevitably , have to ) — Paolo Frey

5 preconditions

to design your restorative circle ( #structure)

don’t try to make it right, make it effective

1- Stop to follow an external authority, start going circular

usually we have the tendency to resolve conflit by referring to the most powerful person around

2- attention to time and space

  • room should be safe, favorable condition .first condition: sound !
  • Make sure clock time [^1] is not going to interupt the connexion

[1]: room taken by another meeting, lunch time, time break in school

3- community practice – have a host , guardian- a facilitator- not a mediator

he does not take decision, he follows community decision
(servant leader)

4- everybody know how to use the system

  • not everybody need to know how to BUILD the system
  • But everybody need to know how to use it

5- have an access point

  • Like 101 phone , or generic mail , or … it should be easy to contact and use it ( to request a circle)

Support system

Any system building require a support system

(The Support system is) Not the people you like or frequent, but build on a deliberate agreement

Assuming autonomy ( for grown up) means to only act on people requests, assuming they are grown up enough to do it, to raise a request ( and know how) . In other words , you would not interfere in someone else business unless he request it . This is also the #nvc assumption

However …

The moment I need the support the most, I may not be able to request it.

( hypotheses: I may be #siderated )

that means Pro-activity may be required from the support system.

Need regular, concrete, support Network. Test it so you can trust it

The support group is the first group to be trained at non violence
The opposite of non violence ( is not violence) but the submission to fear . — Gandhi

You can’t have 100 % autonomy that would means closing relations

empathetic support

efficacy is not related to talent, Books, diploma but
the ability to be less incongruent than the people around us.

don’t try to make it right, make it effective

authentic expression

if words can hurt , should I restrict them ? restrict (free) expression, ? Forbid them ?
Should I restrict my power because you have less ?

this reminded me of current movement around #RadicalCandor
or the paradoxes around innovation :

1 A tolerance for failure requires an intolerance for incompetence
2 A willingness to experiment requires rigorous discipline
3 Psychological safety requires comfort with brutal candor

Honesty : what are you the most afraid of ? Say it

See the Distinction between expression and communication

  • you need to be heard and reformulated
  • reformulate concisely, and ask ” is that it ?”

When you reformulate, there are 3 possible answers:

  • yes this is it
  • yes, and …
  • no, … ( try again) but this time he will try and be more concise

At the beginning, lots of words, less meaning; then less words, more meaning i.e. more meaning per word, heavier words.

Dialogue and connexion have a transformative action

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