Or Story Reframing

A man wanted to know about mind, not in nature, but in his computer. He asked it (no doubt in his best Fortran), 'Do you compute that you will ever think like a human being?" The machine then set to work to analyze its own computational habits. Finally, the machine printed its answer on a piece of paper, as such machines do. The man ran to get the answer and found, neatly typed, the words: "That reminds me of a Story..." (Gregory Bateson)

#20 Metaphoring/ Storying and Restorying Framing

Human reasoning (thinking) not only goes up and down the scale of specificity/abstraction—it makes lateral moves. Sure we chunk up and chunk down. We induce upward from specific details and facts and draw general conclusions, hence inductive thinking and reasoning. We also deduce downward from general principles, ideas, abstractions, proverbs, etc. to specific applications and details, hence deductive thinking and reasoning.

These processes describe the scientific attitude (induction) that technicians, clinicians, and statisticians use. It also describes the philosophical attitude (deduction) so typical of philosophers, theologians, managers, planners, etc. (See Appendix C).

Yet another way to think and reason beckons us. Bateson (1972, 1979) called it abduction. This refers to thinking "on the side," or laterally, so to speak. Here we think of one thing by using another thing as a symbol. Here story, metaphor, analogy, proverb, poem, koans, riddles, jokes, etc. provide us formats for thinking, reasoning, and talking. Let us give you a taste of Bateson (1979) on this:

"This lateral extension of abstract components of description is called abduction, and I hope the reader may see it with a fresh eye. The very possibility of abduction is a little uncanny, and the phenomenon is enormously more widespread than he or she might, at first thought, have supposed.

Metaphor, dream, parable, allegory, the whole of art, the whole of science, the whole of religion, the whole of poetry, totemism, the organization of facts in comparative anatomy-all these are instances or aggregates of instances of abduction, within the human mental sphere." (p. 153).

"Every abduction may be seen as a double or multiple description of some object or event or sequence. If I examine the social organization of an Australian tribe and the sketch of natural relations upon which the totemism is based, I can see these two bodies of knowledge as related abductively, as both falling under the same rules." (p. 154).

More recently, Dilts (1998) has noted the same thing. In Modeling Wth NLP, he described "Abductive Transformations" that map between one deep structure and another, or between one surface structure and another." (p. 25).

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