Antenarrative generative mechanisms exist in the quantum nature of things in ways that are independent of narrative. My colleagues and I have been theorizing and studying several kinds of antenarrative generative mechanisms.
Figure 1: Antenarrative Generative Mechanisms (AGMs) (Drawing by Marita Svane in Svane & Boje, 2014, 2015). Key: BME stands for beginning, middle, end narrative coherence emplotment
In particular, antenarrative generative mechanisms are ontologically the ‘fores’ before, beneath, between, and bets in the becoming that are independent of both living story webs of lived experience (life in-the-middle) and independent of dominant narratives and counternarratives (see Boje, 2014 fore definitions of the fores, and articles listed in references for actual studies).
My purpose: In this essay, I want to argue that the intelligibility of sensemaking in organizational science itself presupposes the intransitivity of antenarrative generative mechanisms through which narrative and counternarrative formation and outcomes are obtained. In short, antenarrative generative mechanisms are not in a transitive sequence after living stories and before narrative and counternarrative
Antenarrative generative mechanisms are quantum things existential, intransitive, and independent of narrative and counternarrative manifestations. Antenarrative generative mechanisms (fore-having to fore-care in Figure 1) are grounded in the ‘real‘ something that endures and acts in characteristic ways.
Roy Bhaskar (1975: 49-50) makes a point we can apply to antenarrative generative mechanisms. In closed systems with the controlled conditions of a lab experiment, the causal laws , and causal agents of particular generative mechanisms can be identified empirically (sometimes), however in open systems there are countervailing generative mechanisms and countervailing causes that make generative mechanisms identification more a tendency, a potentiality of what may or may not be in play.
Antenarrative generative mechanisms, (AGMs) therefore, in the open systems of organizing (and organization) are ‘real’ but do not always become causal agents, since there are competing causal generative mechanisms.
In Bhaskar’s (1975) theory of transcendental realism, ‘real’ is more encompassing than the ‘actual’ and both are greater than the ’empirical’ positivism. There is an ontological distinction between event patterns, experiences & their sensemaking), and the antecedent AGMs which have “real independence” in ‘open systems’ (Bhaskar, 1975: 13). “Hence one of the chief objections to positivism is that it cannot show why or the conditions under which experience is significant in science” (IBID., p. 13, boldness mine).
Take for example the empirical positivism of ‘Structural Equation Modeling’ in opposition to AGMs. SEM depreciates the role of theory, whereas AGM demands it. SEM positivism does not demonstrate the AGMs (or other causal mechanisms) outside the ‘closed systems; of experimental conditions, where event pattern conjunctions are verified in statements of sensemaking of experiences. From the SEM empirical positivism results, generalizations are made in a narrative account (an ethnostatistics rhetoric of interpreting the model equations). In SEM studies, the intelligibility of the retrospective sensemaking of the empirical experiences in the closed system occurs independently of open system event patterns, experiences before sensemaking, and any antecedent AGMs are dismissed from the empiric playing field. Bhaskar argues that the domain of the ‘real’ is distinct from the domains of the ‘actual; and the much narrower domain of of ’empirical positivism’. Living story ‘event-ness’ is enacted in both the domain of the ‘real; and the domain of the ‘actual.’ AGMs are ways of acting of things, antecedent to humans doing social constructions of sensemaking, or narrating this or that event pattern, or conducting empirical positivism, such as SEM. The things themselves are ‘telling a story’ (as William James, 1907: 97 puts it) is an accounting of some AGMs antecedent to human species making sense.
Figure 2: Three domains (real > actual > empirical positivism) within the three kinds of realities: AGM, Event Patterns, and Experiences (& their sensemaking) – original drawing by Boje, Nov. 14 2016
The weakness of SEM is that it ties its causal laws and set of variable statements to a ‘closed system’ rather than continuing empirical-testing in ‘open systems.’ In ‘Open systems’ the relation of antecedent cause and consequent effect is loosely coupled because there are always alternative causes and AGMs that can and do come into play. The science dialectical development in the opposition of SEM with AGMs in this example, has no foreseeable ending (never a synthesis). this is because as each level of reality is discovered, a new theory is eventually constructed, and in AGMs is empirically tested (or can be) to discern what happens on each level , using available or new experimental techniques and new sense-extending observational equipment. However, as in the Double Slit experiment, the law-like behavior of waves and particles, resides in the ‘real’ antecedent to the observed event patterns and their experiences (& observational sensemaking). It does not lie in the event nor in the experience domains, which are affected.
What Bhaskar (1975, 1993) is proposing is a dialectic science that goest the next step to challenge the problems of induction (Popper) with falsification. SEM portends to do falsification, by setting one model against auxiliary models of variable relations. The problem of course, is reductionism, where the real and actual are reduced to the domain of empirical positivism. Bhaskar calls this the epistemic fallacy, the reduction of ontologies to just epistemology. There is a dialectic here between empirical positivism and antecedents such as AGMs. The creative model tests of SEM imagines AGM to be irrelevant. However, ‘transcendental realism; of AGM calls for empirical-testing of the empirical generalizations of SEM (their transcendental idealism is called into question), which calls for an “empirical scrutiny” (Bhaskar, 1975: 15).
In this dialectic the science of organization grows and develops by opposing transcendental realism (e.g. AGM) with empirical realism (and its transcendental idealism generalizations, e.g SEM). The theoretic assumption is that AGMs can come to be know as ‘real,’ in the process of meaning, their Being-in-the-world itself, in the entities, in thing-ness, that has what Jane Bennett calls onto-story.
Jane Bennett (2001) first coined the notion, ‘onto-story’ in her writing on enchantment and disenchantment. Her work builds upon Stephen White’s notions of weak ontology and its role in social theory. Weak ontology is defined by Bennett as a style of theorizing that includes a set of claims about humans and the fundamental character of the world, even when such claims are contestable. She then develops onto-stories of enchanted materialism. Her ontology approach is rooted in Deleuze and Guattari, how the refrain plays in an onto-tale of enchantment.
Bennett (2004: 347) draws upon “Lucretius, Spinoza, Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour” to develop an ontological “materialism of lively matter to be placed in conversation with the historical materialism of Marx and the body materialism of feminist and cultural studies.” Bennett contends that “thing-power materialism is a speculative onto-story, an admittedly presumptuous attempt to depict the nonhumanity that flows around and through humans”(p. 347)). In onto-story, “agency, is the property of an assemblage” (p. 354). In Bennett’s (2010) more recent book, Vibrant Matter, there is a concept of onto-story, how the assemblage applying Latour’s (2005) actor-network-theory is ontological-storytelling. Things have a history and are swept up in some path of existence, in the middle of some situation in space and time. Bennett (2010) calls it ‘onto-story,’ or ontological storytelling, of our human relationship the material assemblage:
“The way chemicals affect our moods or our bodily functions is a clear exemplar. Matters can hinder our will, and even act as “quasi agents” to affect our will through their thing power” (Bennett, 2010: xii).
More at Boje book on Advanced Interviewing Methods for Organization Science.
To summarize, my deductive theory is that antenarrative generative mechanisms (AGMs) ontology is independent of the empirical positivism ontology, such as the retrospective sensemaking in organization science in these ways:
- Retrospective sensemaking narratives (and counternarratives) acts of perception (Weick, 1995) presuppose the intransitivity of antenarrative generative mechanisms. For narrative sensemaking to occur, to cohere, there must be antenarrative generative mechanisms.
- In fact, it is the independence of antenarrative generative mechanisms that are the very means by which the ‘meaning’ of sensemaking perception empirically depends.
- Antenarrative generative mechanisms (AGMs_ are fore-events that act and endure independent of the retrospective narrative experience.
- We can demonstrate this in fore-caring, which is scientifically trainable for observers to be aware of particular fores (fore-having, fore-structuring, fore-conception, fore-telling, & fore-care) in Heideggerian ontology that antecedes and changes empirical ontological retrospective sensemaking objects of perception and experience. Fore-telling itself is an antenarrative generative mechanism necessary to prospective sensemaking.
- Antenarrative generative mechanisms (AGMs_must have a distinct Being-ness, a once-occurrent event-ness of Being (as Bakhtin puts it) in space, in time, in mattering which as Barad (2003, 2007, 2011) are inseparable spacetimemattering of quantum things that are independent yet entangled with retrospective sensemaking experience. Quantum things-ness telling a story (as William James, 1907: 97 puts it) is an accounting of something antenarrative.
- Indeed, I do not think narrative (& counternarrative) is the primary object of storytelling processes out of which events and state of event sequence are being reconstructed retrospectively in sensemaking (Boje, in press). Rather, narrative (& counternarrative) along with living stories and antenarrative generative mechanisms (AGMs_are what constitutes the domain of storytelling.
- Quantum things are independent events of sensemaking experience (perceptions) and actualize the unperceived, in the absence of the human species (which is the basis of posthumanist philosophy of science). Antenarrative generative mechanisms (AGMs) can be perceived or remain unperceived event-ness. In the later, it is still meaningful posthumanist philosophy.
- There must therefore be (for all the above deductive components) an dependence of antenarrative generative mechanisms (AGMs), particularly in the open systems (& systemicities) of complex organizations, that is more intelligible in closed systems where the causal relations are more selective in experimentation. In the open systems of organizing and organization, there are assemblages, ensembles, and while existent, the antenarrative generative mechanisms remain as potential partners with narrative (& counternarrative) and the web of living stories, all of which make for the entanglement of a storytelling domain.
With this as the basis of the independence of AGMs, I would like to conclude with quantum storytelling.
What is Quantum Storytelling? In William James (1907: 97) terms, “things tell a story.” Now in quantum storytelling, all the things are living, alive in a native ‘living story’ sense (Gladstone, 2012; Boje, 2014). Quantum things tell stories of the flux of interacting, complex, and unfinished organizing projects relates to Hitchin and colleagues (2015) , focus on untold stories, their multiplicity, and sociomateriality in ‘real’ spacetimemattering (Barad, 2002, 2007; Boje & Henderson, 2014; Henderson & Boje, 2015; Strand, 2011) of organizations. Quantum storytelling (Hitchin, 2015: 221) attends to attractors, fractals, virtual fragments, stings, flux contingencies, complexity, contradictions, and the forever inability of obtaining consensus, synthesis or harmony between untold and fragmented stories and the overarching, dominant, representational narratives.
You are welcome to attend the annual quantum storytelling conference held each December in Las Cruces New Mexico. http://davidboje.com/quantum for details.
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