What is Triadic Dialectic for Management and Organization Inquiry

Preface (continued)

Management and Organization Inquiry (MOI) claims to be science, but the sort of science accomplished is what Hegel (1807: # 49) calls “slipshod style of conversational discussion” with several citations at end of each sentence of an article, a pomposity of science, accompanied by its non-method.

I would like to propose MOI go back and start its science again, using the “triadic form” (hegel, 1807: # 50) of dialectics that can replace the lifeless MOI science, its tables of examples of statistics or transcript examples, in lifeless formalism, and schema of cause and effect, subject and object that is uncritical and monotonous.

Many novices of Hegel, have failed to notice that the word ‘synthesis’ is used only three times in the Phenomenology of Spirit, and all three are in the foreword, and not at all in Hegel’s own text. And the three instances written by the translator.

The first instance is a critique of Enlightenment of

  • “The alienated spirituality of the Enlightenment is not, however, able to achieve a true synthesis of abstractly universalistic insight and pious unsophistication: its most positive achievement in this direction is the thin notion of Nützlichkeit, Utility (§579 (pp. 410–11)).”

The second one:

  • “Spiritual sansculottism can have no programme but the downing and doing-away of everything and everyone: it can generate no principle of self-differentiation, it can throw up no genuine or permanent leadership. It is a government by junta, by cabal and intrigue, and can achieve only the universal suppression and liquidation of individuality. It would have been interesting if, instead of this dialectical criticism of the relatively innocuous and transient synthesis of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, dismembered almost as soon as formed, we had had Hegel’s criticisms of the far more adhesive pitch-like abstractions of the Communist Manifesto, in which the feet of humanity would seem as if for ever entangled.
    The third of Hegel’s studies of Spirituality is entitled Spirit Sure of Itself or Morality (§§596–671 (pp. 424–72)). Here we have a study of dutiful subjectivity, by which Hegel understands neither the personal cult of Virtue, a superseded form of egoistic Reasonableness, nor the blind obedience to the daylight or underground laws of the substantial ethical community, but rather a set of practically oriented attitudes representing the individual’s own deep reflection on conduct, balanced by a deep respect for the parallel reflections of others[…]”


And the third instance, is a refutation of Kant’s triadic form, which is Hegel’s purpose in the book:

  • “For absolute knowledge is simply the realization that all forms of objectivity are identical with those essential to the thinking subject, so that in construing the world conceptually it is seeing everything in the form of self, the self being simply the ever-active principle of conceptual universality, of categorial synthesis. In its conceptual grasp of objects it necessarily grasps what it itself is, and in grasping itself it necessarily grasps every phase of objectivity. These are the claims obscurely stated in Kant’s transcendental deduction, but there given a one-sidedly subjective slant which is here for ever done away with. (See §§798–800 (pp. 556–7).)”

Since Hegel (1807) does not use the word ‘synthesis’ and is careful to not use it, I assert that the model thesis-antithesis-synthesis is what Hegel is attempting to surpass and overturn, since categorical synthesis is Kantian, not Hegelian.

And yet, how many students of Hegel, commentators on their sabbatical, have reduced the triadic dialectic to such an absurd summary model.

Indeed, Hegel (1807: # 50 & 51) takes the triadic about life,  not some lifeless formalism, or summary schemata.  Hegel begins with sense-certainty, that “here-sense-knowledge” as the predicate form of dialectic to “superficial analogy” of the formula of so-called “construction” that any dullard student of MOI can be taught in 15 minutes or less, to recite and regurgitate on a quiz. The lifeless constructions of MOI mask the alienation and suffering of life in organizations, their violence is the “knack of this kind of wisdom”, that is the most monotonous formalism, the style of lifeless distinctions, that have not changed one iota in 30 years of meetings attended at Academy of Management. As a test, compare the programs of AOM 1977 with AOM 1987 and AOM 1997 and AOM 2007,  and AOM 2016, and you will see no change in the core of what is supposed to be knew, is only recycled.

The first negation of triadic dialectic is how sense-certainty (now we call it sensemaking) transposes existence and substance into the elements of the Self, by the passive spectator, the indifference toward existence, the retrospective obsession with the past experience, that is rendered into figurative representation, and the familiar that is taken for granted (Hegel, 1807: # 30).

This first negation, contrasts this here and now, with other heres and nows, and does not notice as important the forgotten heres and nows, and most important misses the movement of triadic dialectic as it brings into motion the matterings beyond the first negation.

For MOI to break out of the retrospective sensemaking dialectic and move along to other dialectics in other moments of the triadic, would mean moving out of the dictates of emplotment, to recognize the hermeneutic circle (spiral) of antecedents to plot, and post-plot interpretative moments.

The second set of negations are when one moves along from sensemaking to World-Spirit, and notices differences, the variety and plurality of others, and what being-for-another instead of being-for-self means.

The third moment of triadic dialectic lies in the ways Hegel anticipates quantum science, and how such as science is that actualization of Spirt in action, in its activity, for-itself.

Hegel makes the point in the Preface that many would prefer to jump form sensemaking (first negations) to the third negations, and bypass or forego the pain of alienation and suffering experienced in the second set of negations, the otherness, and being part of otherness and othering. It is in the third moment of negations that that the School of Wisdom becomes possible.

This Figure is from http://davidboje.com/hawk/What%20is%20Dialectical%20Storytelling%20Theory.htm

The second moment, the negatives of Irritability, its being-for-another, and moving beyond the sensemaking of being-for-self heres and nows. At another level its Reproduction beyond humans, to the level of species, the introreflective dialectic of self-preservation as others enact self-preservation of their own species.  Finally, in Schools of Wisdom, of ancient Greece, and still practiced in Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK), is accomplished by initiation into mysteries of life itself. One does not just hop from sensemaking directly to Wisdom.

Hegel emphasizes that to “tarry with the negative is the magical power that converts it into being” and sensemaking cannot skip being-for-another, its plurality and multiplicity of differences, and just enter being and action, directly (Hegel, 1807: # 32).

The Life of the Spirit does not shrink away from death, turn away from devastation, and stands in the midst of dismemberment (# 32).  Compare this tarrying with the negative to Appreciative Inquiry (AI) that always turns away from the face of death and alienation, and cannot stand the sound of any deficit language, much less to step into the existential, and stare into the abyss, the gap between its positivity and the negative, and thereby misses mediation itself, which it could be doing.

The manner of study of Grounded Theory (GT) is equally without ground and without theory, just as Action Research (AR) is without action and without research. These manners of study in our modern age, need to retreat to be schooled in the School of Wisdom of ancient times, and learn some Native Science (Cajete, 2000), and some Tribal Wisdom (Rosile, 2016).  for MOI, in general and AI, GT, and AR specifically, to become Native Science, would be to stare into the abyss, to court not just the positive, but the negative moments of inquiry.

It is time to purge the ready-made concepts of construction of the AOM and study the “concrete variety of existence” give up the fixity of concepts, and enter action and being, where the ‘real’ ground’ the real ‘action’ lies beneath the pomposity and imitative science of AOM.

What is this triadic dialectic. IT is a hermeneutic, what Hegel (1807: # 33) calls the “self-movement circle” and its all about moving from sensemaking to plurality and multiplicity to the live Spirit of Reason that is a possible Science of the organic whole, a scientific method of connectedness, and pathways in the “process of becoming” (# 34).

The “negative to knowing” its negation of sensemaking limits, admits the existence of Spirit, and would mean MOI taking the “path” to “becoming an other to itself” and then “suspending this otherness” to become alienated for itself, and itself from this alienation (# 36).

The third set of negations does away with the agential cut (as Barad 2007 calls it) between what Hegel cals the “I” being-for-self” and “substance” and staring into the “void” at one’s own material self no longer “antithesis of being and knowing” (# 37).

Hegel in sections 39 to 45 goes through why triadic dialectic is not a process of distinguishing true and false, not a dogmatism of actions, not a mathematical truth seeking, nat an applied statistics, which posits a theorem, a proposition or two, then does not deliver anything but magnitude or numerical units, far removed from Being.

Then in # 46 Hegel beings to look at how what passes for Science, in its “synthetic propositions” approaches temporality in a hollow semblance of time. This lifeless time, its numerical unit (clocktime in Heidegger), is accompanied by a lifeless space of more numerical units, and a lifeless mattering that avoids the movement and restlessness of life in self-movement.

The point is for MOI to be more than imitative science, or pseudo science, MOI will need to study the “whole of the movement” of the triadic dialectic not just in mathematical or applied statistical operationalizations, but in the immediacy of existence and essence.

And by # 50 of the Preface, Hegel has give his triadic a mission of being about life, and avoid “superficial analogy” (# 51).

If nothing else I hope I have persuaded you for MOI to become scientific, it cannot turn its back on the ontologic, on the being and action, on the manifestation of the Spirit, which for Hegel is Reason, worked out in the triadic dialectic.