What is the world of an artificial manager made of? Part 4 – Events in the imagination

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In a previous blog post, I discussed what resources are in the world of an artificial manager. Before that, I still gave definitions of things that come from philosophy. They were the basis of my reflections on what an artificial manager should “see” and how to recognize these objects. Today I will show you the second fundamental element of the robot world – the event. For now it will be an event in the imagination, but later I will describe what this event is in organizational reality.

Let’s return for a moment to “things”, described earlier as things in the imagination are. Things as such are unchangeable, they just are. But if they are already undergoing some kind of change – quantitative (something arrives or disappears) or qualitative (something becomes different in terms of a given characteristic) – then there must be some “force” at work (I put this word in quotation marks on purpose, because it doesn’t have to be a force known from the SI) that changes this thing in a given respect. Let’s call such an abstract force an “event.” The distinction between these two types of entities (things and events) is known in many philosophical approaches that have developed since ancient times [1].

From the point of view of analytical philosophy, the interrelationship between things and events is described by the following statements: 

  • an event is a state of affairs occurring over time,
  • facts are certain kinds of situations, they can be regarded as situations actually occurring,
  • a state of affairs is a combination of objects and a correlate of a sentence in the logical sense,
  • an elementary sentence represents a certain state of affairs,
  • a state of affairs is a thought expressed in a sentence. [2]

The concept of state of affairs used above appears in L. Wittgenstein’s theory of facts. The state of affairs is the totality of the characteristics of a thing at a given, dimensionless moment [3]. However, the state of affairs can refer to things not only in the period of the dimensionless instant. For example, in the management sciences there is a view that the state of a thing does not change, not only in a dimensionless moment, but more broadly – in a given interval of time. At the same time, a state of affairs is invariant because of something – that is, a set of characteristics that are relevant to that something [4]. According to Z. Zieleniewski, “things” exist in time and space, so in order to stop attention to the details concerning them (states of affairs), it is necessary to consider their properties in a given moment of time, in a static way [5].

I must add that T. Kotarbinski called states of affairs “static events.” Together with “kinesthetic events,” i.e. changes of states, they constitute, according to him, “a general category of events.” [6] It can be further added that “Objects persist in time, changing their properties and parts. Persistence in time is (…) indispensably connected with change.” [7]

All this may seem complicated to you, especially since I am again writing about things when you expected to read about events here. However, an event is the very “force” I mentioned above, by which things change, or to put it in the language of L. Wittgenstein, states of affairs change. Therefore, we need to isolate the second brick of the world of the robot manager – the event. And this is how I designed this organizational size system, which contains the ontological assumptions of organizational reality.

I must also add that if we want to focus our attention on events in organizational reality, it is necessary to detach ourselves from those elements – in this case, “things” – that are unchanged at that moment when the event occurs. However, this is just a trick of thought, because in reality there is nothing like the extra-temporal structure of things, nor is there anything like events detached from some things.

This is an extremely important methodological observation, because it follows that the technique of collecting information about things that have occurred should therefore be refined to the point where the time measured in seconds between observations tends to zero. It’s a bit like shooting a movie with an infinitely high number of frames per second. Then we would get every very small fraction of a second an accurate picture of the “state of affairs” of the reality around us.

In summary, the events that occur in organizational reality create or change the things that occur in it. They are like the forces of creating or changing something physical as we know it in physics. And importantly, things and events are two separate, completely different bricks of the robot manager’s world.

Finally, a riddle. Imagine you’re supposed to draw a Gantt chart of your project on a blank sheet of paper. But you haven’t drawn anything yet. Is there a plan on this sheet of paper or not?

You will find the answer in the next post.

[1] M. Thompson: Ontological Shift or Ontological Drift? Reality Claims, Epistemological Frameworks and Theory Generation in Organization Studies. Academy of Management Review 2011, Vol. 36 (4), s. 755.

[2] A. Wojtowicz: Sytuacje, stany rzeczy i zdarzenia. W: Przewodnik po metafizyce. Red. S.T. Kołodziejczyk. Wydawnictwo WAM. Kraków 2011, s. 316.

[3] J. Zieleniewski: Organizacja zespołów ludzkich. Wstęp do teorii organizacji i kierowania. Warszawa, PWN, 1978, s. 40.

[4] D.M. Amstrong: A World of States of Affairs. Philosophical Perspectives 1993, Vol. 7, Issue Language and Logic, s. 430.

[5] J. Zieleniewski: Organizacja zespołów ludzkich. Wstęp do teorii organizacji i kierowania. Warszawa, PWN, 1978, s. 40.

[6] T. Kotarbiński: Traktat o dobrej robocie. Wrocław, Warszawa, Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1973, za J. Zieleniewski: Organizacja zespołów ludzkich. Wstęp do teorii organizacji i kierowania. Warszawa, PWN, 1978, s. 40.

[7] M. Grygianiec: Trwanie w czasie. W: Przewodnik po metafizyce. Red. S.T. Kołodziejczyk. Kraków, Wydawnictwo WAM. 2011, s. 211.