Storytelling Science is Possible in Higher Education [?]

I was told I cannot get published in Academy of Management journals if my title has a ‘� ‘ mark. But in a blog, I can have� in the title.  There is also this formalism about how to write in narrative ways while publishing or doing narrative work of any sort.

The Poetic, Pentad, and my own Septet narrative formalism must not be regarded as scientific when they are, as Hegel (1807: #48) puts it ,”reduced to a lifeless schema, a mere shadow” “degraded into a table of terms” or used as basis of “lifeless numerical unit” in empiricist of “material dead space.”

Table 1: Poetic, Pentad and Septet Narrative Formalisms & Other Lifeless Schemas 

Poetic (Aristotle) Pentad (Burke) Septet (Boje)
1. Plot (or Fable) 1. Act 1. Plots � have become inter-plots, interconnecting pre-plots in networks, in the middle of being worked out.
2. Character (or Agent) 2. Agent 2. Characters � the cast of characters are in the middle of being enrolled, and characters morph their persona in schizophrenic ways.
3. Theme (or Thought) 3. Purpose 3. Themes � themes of oppression fan out in rhizomatic weaves, and are met by themes of resistance.
4. Dialog (or Diction) 4. Agency


4. Dialogs � obfuscating language and double-speak mixed with euphoric testimonials and bland reassurances attain and shed meanings.
5. Rhythm (or Melody) 5. Rhythms � rhythmic resonances self-organize in chaotic patterns that refuse to freeze, and often disintegrate what was just integrated.
6. Spectacle 5. Scene 6. Spectacles � spectacles are intertextual to other spectacles; they embed in socio-economic contexts by decontextualizing and recontextualizing.
* Frame of Mind of spectator * Frames of Acceptance/Rejection 7. Frames � Frames are ideologies that are in dialectic contest, resisting each other, and refusing to synthesize.


Aristotle had ‘frame’ in Poetic all along, and Burke added it in a publication before he passed on, but made Septet Frame focused on dialectic that is refusing to synthesize (get at negation of negation in Hegel).  I do like Aristotle’s original splitting of Dialogue from Rhythm rather than their collapse into Agency.

Hegel says Kant’s triadic dialectic is rather lifeless and uncomprehended, and of course the empirical relies on “lifeless numerical unit” imagined in “material dead space” (# 48). It is interesting that Hegel uses the term “ready to hand” before Heidegger (1962) appropriated it, in the dialectic of present at hand opposed by ready to hand.  But then, on the other hand, this move is no surprise since Being and Time begins in section one with Hegel, and is Hegelian throughout, and finishes with a critique of Hegel’s dialectic.

Beginning – Heidegger starts (1962: #1) question of Being, with reference dialectics Logic from Plato and Aristotle “down to Hegel.”

Middle –  Heidegger has many middle uses, but here is one: (# 171) “Primordial and genuine truth lies in pure beholding. This thesis has remained the foundation of western philosophy ever since. The Hegelian dialectic found in it its motivating conception, and is possible only on the basis of it.”

End – Heidegger has many used of Hegel at the Ending, and this is just one: (#405) “In Hegel’s Interpretation of time both possibilities are brought to the point where, in a certain manner, they cancel each other out. Hegel tries to define the connection between ‘time’ and ‘spirit’ in such a manner as to make intelligible why the spirit, as history, ‘falls into time’. We seem to be in accord with Hegel in the results of the Interpretation we have given for Dasein’s temporality and for the way world-time belongs to it…”

See more of ways Hegel and Heidegger approach dialectics

Here, I want to make the point that Hegel’s Spirit (= Reason or what he calls ‘Notion’) Heidegger’s Da-sein (=Being-there) are different, but not that different since both Da-sein and Notion are making a connection to time, and in both world-time belongs to these ontologic standpoints.

When the Poetic, Pentad, septet, and so on of narratology banish the Notion along with the pedantry and pomposity of Science, or are replaced by non-method of presentiment and inspiration in managerialism narrative (elevator pitch, Appreciative Inquiry, Springboard, and so on) then there is a degrading of the ontologic, and the dialectic becomes quite shallow and superficial.

Hegel (# 50) uses a triadic form of dialectic that is not supposed as a  Kantian lifeless dialectic schema, or a shadow of some degraded table of  lifeless terms such as Hayden White’s Synoptic table of Metahistory (source wikipedia):

Rather, for Hegel, a “Notion of Science has emerged” (# 50).  Narratology presumes that it has comprehended and expressed the Nature of life in a Poetic/Pentad/Septet emplotment, or Synoptic table, but the truth of the matter, is there are as many definitions of narrative (& story) as there are narratologists (see Table in Boje, 2014, Dragon Book Table 5.2, p. 71-78), and these can be multiplied into infinity.

This is what Hegel calls a “circle of reciprocity” of teaching and learning the schema categories, and how one definition is different from another, and that they mean something different from what they say (# 50). In application the 50 some definitions of narrative and story can be used thoughtlessly and uncritically, as they are in everyday organizational life, and an Academy scholarship that is unscientific. This does not bode well for a Storytelling Science.

Sensemaking is a simple mode of the “determinateness of intuition — which means here sense-knowledge — is predicated in accordance with a superficial analogy, and this external, empty application of the formula is called a ‘construction'” (# 51). Our narrative formalism schemata, where one emplotment is just like any other allows a dullard in any Business School to spend 15 minutes to learn four types of plots, four world hypotheses, four ideologies in the Synoptic Table, and the student is ready to do a proper elevator pitch, or take a dive off a Springboard. Such is the state of education in narrative (& story) in the Business School. At least that is my own outcome assessment, ready to hand, for the AACSB annual interrogation.

With such shallow instruction in storytelling, we expect Business students in the US, at least, to learn in a few semesters of Ph.D. to transition from an empirical into a theoretical scholar. But as Hegel observes, they will have trouble expressing the “meaning of sensuous representation” and this the untutored graduates who delighted in the character of each lifeless schemata that they so easily intuitively comprehend, are congratulating themselves to at recalling 4 kinds of plots, 4 world hypotheses, and 4 ideologies in their comprehensive exam, and examiners calling it a “splendid performance” (#51). Quickly learned, easy to practice, its repetition is part of the ‘PPS’ Emplotment Virus (Poetic-Pentad-Septet), and its such as insufferable “conjuring trick” this “monstrous formalism” its like having 4 colors of plot, 4 colors of World Hypothesis, (Mechanist, Organicist, Formalist, & Contextualist), and 4 more colors of ideology, that one can use to paint narratives by numbers in the Synoptic Matrix of metanarrative.  Or something simpler, The Appreciative Inquiry case “where everything is heaven”  (# 51) on earth, and such a a shallow schema  of the 4 D’s (Destiny, Dream, Discover, & Design) has become the recipe for positivity and positive science of positive stories, positive leadership, positive organizational behavior, positive sociology, and positive so on, in the Academy of Management divisions. Hegel describes this situation as like going to the grocer’s shelves, finding the closed and labelled boxes, in which “all the flesh and blood has been stripped from the skeleton” and the living essence [Sache] has been packed away and “the living essence of the matter [Wesen der Sache] has been stripped away or boxed up dead” (# 51).

Hegel’s passion here his critique can be applied to narratology, to the teaching of storytelling in the Business School, in the US. I say US, because traveling to Europe, there is more hope for a Storytelling Science to emerge, or there was, until the Schools began to downsize and dissolve the humanities, in an effort to imitate the American model of Higher Education and its void of formless whiteness of lifeless Understanding of storytelling.

Deprived of any Spirit of Reason,  or any dialectic of positive and negation, the flayed skin and skeleton of narrative emplotment dispenses lifeless knowledge mixed with conceit that content of Living Story does not matter, and Antenarrative processes of Before and Becoming can also be ignored.  This is the face of power, exercising Higher Education over the hearts and minds in the “the constructive unfolding into universality and determinateness of form in which its perfection consists, and which alone makes it possible for this universality to be used in a superficial way” (# 52).

A Dialectical Storytelling Science, therefore, must organize itself by the “life of the Notion itself” attached to Existence and Essence dialectic, its “self-moving soul of the realized content”, and in the “moment of ‘being'” that consists of “becoming an other than itself” in unfolding of Existence, a movement of negativity, differentiation (para, # 53).

Hegel develops a dialectic we can apply to Dialectical Storytelling, a triadic, where the three aspects loop into one another, by acts of movement and transition.

The triadic starts with negation, differentiating Essence and Existence, yet having our place and time int he world of living movement of reality, the “self-surveying the whole” (# 53) in dialectic reflection:

  1. Becoming an other than itself, a surrender to  the life of the object, which forgets the general formalism of narrative schema (#53) .
  2. Becoming its own immanent content, returning into Self, falling into the content emplotment has stripped away  (# 53) into one kind of dogmatism or another (# 54).
  3. The mediation of the formal Understanding that degrades and simplifies itself into something that is pigeon-holing by some ‘construction; (#51).

What would a Storytelling Science Look Like?

It would elide the usual superficial [begrifflos], the social constructivism [fore]concept that treats Thought and Being as identity in its epistemic standpoint (# 54). Storytelling Science, by contrast is an ontological standpoint, the study of dialectics of Essence and Existence.

For example, the Hawk and the Human are in a dialectical relationship, as each makes its self-identity distinguishable from another species’ identity. We can use Storytelling Sciences to study the dialectics within and between Sensemaking, Irritability, Reproduction, and Wisdom.

Boje's Dialectical Storytelling Model

The Hawk in pure abstraction, itself lacks identity is in a  Human’s reflection into Hawk’s own content. Hawk and Human sensemaking of one another is in a fluidity dialectic, as each has in a few instances a Here and Now of direct experience, but mostly the Human has hearsay (indirect experience) in storytelling heard from others in indirect Heres and Nows. The fluidity of sensemaking is how Storytelling allows the direct and indirect (& unexperienced) to be seamlessly lumped together in oneness.  Meanwhile, there is plenty of forgetting by Human (possibly by Hawk) of thousands of years when the two species co-existed. There is also more immediate forgetting of the retrospective sensemaking Here and Now, when the Hawk did not swoop or dive-bomb at all, despite noisy construction, workers elevating themselves on mechanical cranes, using hand saws and mechanical chain saws on poles to cut away nests, and so on.

Irritability persists. The elasticity of Being-for-self, while not Being-for-another, the usual path of Human and Hawk is being disrupted. The Hawk is adapting to the noise of construction, to the Human erosion of Habitat that allowed Hawk survival. The Human at my University has been refusing to adapt, refusing to supply or use umbrella, refusing to look away form cellphone while walking or to take out ear buds and listen to the Hawk warning, their acoustic rhetoric is discernable, ‘Kearrrr…” There is obviously an Irritability dialectic, an elasticity (the stretch the returns to its former form), as the Hawk is irritated and screams ‘Kearrrr…’ each time the workers (doing their job) deconstruct each nest. And the Human is irritated at having to do such ‘dirty work’, and other humans irritated at being dive-bombed, and Hawks irritated when Human steps too close to a fledgling, learning to exist.

Reproduction (#266) is introflective dialectic in the preservation activities of two different species.  Here introflective is something more than the “universal fluidity” of sensemaking (sensibility, while forgetting; merging direct & indirect experiencing), and its something deeper and broader than the Irritability “organic elasticity” dialectic of quiescent being-for-self reacting to another, and possibly choosing being-for-another (reflected into itself).

What is this introflective dialectic of Reproduction?  Hegel says it “is the action of this whole introflected organism, its activity as itself an End, or s genus” (#266). The Human (& Hawk) repels itself from itself. In the procreative act the Hawk reproduces its organic members (eggs) or the whole individual (fledgling). Human and Hawk act in sense of preservation in general , to return into itself, producing parts of itself,or in genus, bringing forth individual Swainson’s Hawks.

In reproduction (# 298) there is also the dialectic of inorganic (Human construction) and Hawk’s organic (engineering of nests in trees). The “introflected simplicity and antithesis” with it, the dialectic of universal and individual, and in Essence of this life itself, as the dialectic moves between the levels of sensemaking, irritability, reproduction, and sometimes wisdom, moving across and between levels to higher levels of universality of species relation to another species. Our observation of Nature finds this dialectic of organic Nature opposed by our own inorganic activity. The US Fish and Wildlife law has the character of abstractions, the negotiations between University and this government agency, allowing for exceptions for these particular Hawks, the life of organic Nature, on the one hand, opposed by the inorganic Nature of the University, is the antithesis with it of universal life and individual life. The Essence here is not the genus, it undifferentiated element (# 298), self-sundered, self-moved, and for itself is undifferentiated in its antithesis. This antithesis also contains the individuality of Hawk, of this Hawk pair, and the individuality of this University, its self-consciousness, unlike other Universities such as Cornell, which applauds the arrival of its Hawk, its Hawk eggs, its Hawk fledgling.

Hegel’s only other reference is to “an introflected negativity” (#545) of something imperceptible, an invisible Spirit (defined as Reason) that infiltrates.

“For though the nature of what consciousness received into itself was simple and homogeneous with it, yet it was also the simplicity of an introreflected negativity which subsequently also develops, in keeping with its nature, into something opposed to it and thereby reminds consciousness of its previous state” (Hegel, 1807: # 545).

The homogeneous becomes this opposite. For example, this is not just any Hawk its a ‘Swainson’s Hawk’ discovered by Mr. Swainson, who thought he found another scavenger buzzard, but he was mistaken.  And my University thinks this is not just any Swainson’s Hawk, but an ‘Aggressive Hawk’ as the University lawn signs do narrate.  The latter insight has become widespread, betraying that a contagion has occurred, and “the struggle is too late, and every remedy adopted only aggravates the disease” since the University “las laid hold of the marrow of spiritual life” of the Hawk and its own “Notion of consciousness” judges the pure essence of Hawk to be aggressive (#545). Therefore, Storytelling Science can aim at some deeper sort of reflectivity, the introflected negativity, and its manifestation, struggle to overcome superficial symptoms, to get at “its real nature” as “when it breaks out in symptoms and single eruptions antagonistic to the content of faith and to its connection with the reality of the world outside of it” (#545). Outside my University Hawk and Human often leave each other alone, and co-exist without incident.  In those cases, an “imperceptible Spirit … infiltrates the noble parts through and through and soon has taken complete possession of all the vitals and members of the unconscious idol” (# 545). Memory alone at my University still does storytelling, in retrospective narrative (& forgetting) that “preserves the dead form of the Spirit’s previous shape as a vanished history, vanished one knows not how” (#545).

This vanishing of history, such as when Hawk and Human co-existed, and preserved a common Habitat, needs to be apart of Storytelling Science. And from here a new dialectic of Wisdom becomes possible.

In Native American and some other Indigenous tribes, Hawks are doing a storytelling all their own, imparting Wisdom to humans. This is the basis of Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK) labeled and dismissed as Animism by the likes of Stephen Pepper, who omitted and banished IWOK from the Four World Hypotheses, as did von Bertalanffy banish it from Open Systems Theory, unwilling to engage in any sort of vitalism.

What Wisdom of Native Science (Cajete, 2000) can we learn?  Hawk dissolution by Human is a result of Hawk that lacks identity to Human, but meanwhile the Hawk is pursuing its own self-preservation of ‘concrete life’ in acts of Reproduction (migration, nesting, hatching, raising hatchlings). Human self-interest, its own becoming, pursuing its own self-preservation of ‘concrete life’ encounters and finds pure identity in otherness of the Hawk, and can learn that all the while Human is doing the opposite of its own self-preservation (i.e. species being extinguished, dissolved) does not address the long-term survival of Habitat, and diversity of species.

What is Quality in Storytelling Science?

As discussed, quantitative focus is on magnitude, counting of this and that, and using such activity to legitimate a schemata. And as quantitative reaches the limits of Understanding all this counting, it does turn to the Qualitative to move from Understanding to Reason. Hegel declares (#55) that “Existence is Quality, self-identical determinateness, or determinate simplicity, determinate thought.” “Anaxagoras first recognized the essence of things to be” or the “Nous” (#55). Anaxagoras (c. 500—428 B.C.E.) was a Pre-Socratic Greek natural scientist and philosopher, born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor (now a port in present day Turkey), who brought philosophy to Greece.  Anaxagoras was a materialist, and asserted the sun was a fiery rock, so Athenian court sentenced him to death, but the materialist scientist philosopher fled.


This might be an early example of Quantum Wisdom. First, Araxagoras professed in the material world everything contains a portion of everything else. This is related to “his view that the heavenly bodies were fiery masses of rock whirling around the earth in ether” (source). Araxagoras is considered among the “post-Parmenidian philosophers was to present a proper account of nature while maintaining the demand that the stuff that constitutes reality can neither come into being from nothing nor pass away into nonbeing” (Ibid.).

Second he asserted that Mind (Nous) is the initiating and governing principle of the cosmos. “According to Anaxagoras, the agent responsible for the rotation and separation of the primordial mixture is Mind or nous: “And when Mind began to cause motion, separating off proceeded to occur from all that was moved, and all that Mind moved was separated apart, and as things were being moved and separated apart, the rotation caused much more separating apart to occur” (Ibid.source). Note that Anaxagoras, did not propose Divine Mind, “In fact, the uniqueness of Anaxagoras is that he proposed a rationalistic governing principle that remained free from the mythical or theological characteristics of prior cosmogonies” and asserts ” (Ibid.).

this Mind (Nous)is for Hegel the basis for Idea (Eidos), the determinate Universality of a Species (e.g. Human and Hawk), or a cultural group (Universities and Hawk Flocks). Hegel says he does not want to put Notion of Idea in a fog of some shrouds (# 55). Hegel asserts “Nous, simplicity is substance” (# 55).

Žižek reclaims Hegel’s wisdom as relevant to Quantum mechanics, and to what I mean by Quantum Storytelling Science.  More on this in another post