Adopting a Process Orientation…in Practice: Chiasmic Relations, Language, and Embodiment in a Living World

John Shotter

in Process, Sensemaking, and Organizing

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594566
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595721 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives on Process Organization

Adopting a Process Orientation…in Practice: Chiasmic Relations, Language, and Embodiment in a Living World

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What is involved in our adopting a process orientation, in practice, rather than just talking about it in theory? Below, I explore some of the difficulties involved in terms of Wittgenstein's (1980) distinction between difficulties of the intellect—difficulties that can be solved by rational thought—and those of the will—which require our coming to embody new ways of relating or orienting ourselves towards events happening in our surroundings. So although I begin by examining what both Whitehead (1925/1975; 1929/1978) and Bergson (1911) had to say about a process orientation, in theory, now, after Wittgenstein's (1953, 1969) emphasis on the fact that our utterances can only take on determinate meanings within the confines of a “language‐game,” I argue that our talk of various entities can only take on a determinate meaning within a particular language‐entwined practice, and will remain indeterminate outside such practices. And straightaway, in situating us within the realm of practice and practices, this requirement re‐orients us toward the importance of poetic forms of talk, utterances which can “touch” us and “move” us towards adopting expectations and anticipations relevant to going out to meet events happening around us with the right kind of embodied responses, at the ready, so to speak.

Keywords: process orientation; language‐entwined practices; chiasmic relational events; prehensive unities; diffraction effects; withness‐thinking

Chapter.  14548 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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