STORY TELLING 1)3)
The use of stories to emphasize some critical and sometimes unheeded aspect of a situation, especially in complex systems.
This technique has been widely used by R. L. ACKOFF, and sometimes produces striking results. Stories help to discover original angles and new meanings, get out of the rut by avoiding commonplace views and stuffy overbearing prejudices, produce synergies, increase competence in participants and generally stimulate creative insights.
According to R. SCHANK, storytelling is also and endogenous mnemonic process of stabilization of recollections: "It is the process itself of creation of the story which creates the mnemonic structure that will contain the basics of this story for the rest of our life" (1995, p. 154).
In both cases, the story can be a fabrication, but it is then a meaningful one. A related subject is the construction of scenarios for forecasting and planning purposes.
R. NUMMELA CAINE and M. CAINE observe: "Stories are powerful because they bind information and understanding over time. In fact, there is strong reason to believe that organization of information in story form is a natural brain process… At a minimum, a story is a sequence of experiences with a meaningful theme" (1994, p.121-2)
Indeed, story telling is as old as Gilgamesh, Ramayana, or Ulysses epopeas and the Bible itself: values, norms and understanding transmitted through an easily assimilated mental fare.
In a somewhat different sense, story telling is unavoidable, even as a contribution to scientific knowledge.
C. SLUZKI speaks of the "EIGEN-values of stories"(1995, p. 41) Of course, even if very imaginative of even fanciful, no story can make any sense if not connected to what SLUZKI call a "system of narratives". Moreover, different cultures can offer widely different systems of narratives, each within its own "whole conversing system "(id. p. 45)
S.J. GOULD observes (In "Wonderful Life", as quoted by P. BAK (1996, p.7): "Many large domains of nature – cosmology, geology and evolution among them – must be studied with the tools of history. The appropriate methods focus on narrative, not experiment as usually conceived".
This is so because, in these domains, no event is ever exactly repeated and no reproducible experiment can be organized that could eliminate all contingencies.
Of course, the analogies discovered among different, but more or less similar events, as for example a number of earthquakes or various hurricanes, can produce a deeper understanding of a whole class of phenomena and decrease the arbitrary perceptive deformations and interpretations always possible in story telling.
A good example is the discovery of the so-called laws of chaos, initially derived from meteorology research by E. LORENZ.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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