As the final year of the twentieth century nears, along with the end of a millennium marked by immense human struggle and widely disparate progress, an opportunity is provided to explore the possibilities of different paradigmatic boundaries and new worldviews to guide the conduct of scientific and professional activities. In particular, the opportunity is presented to examine a proposed paradigmatic perspective that could provide social work with a universally common paradigm to guide the activities of a new century of practitioners and academics. Although a resistant-free transformation to a different paradigm would be welcomed by the turn of the century, social workers need to be aware of the revolutionary resistance mounted by adherents of entrenched paradigms. In fact, as forecast elsewhere, resistance to changing the dominant paradigm of science has been so effective throughout the 20th century that social work is currently at risk of becoming a full century, and at least three science paradigms, behind in examining the possibilities of a common paradigmatic home (Ramsay, 1991). On the optimistic side, transformational changes in the sciences, which first appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century, have shown signs of increasing scientific and public acceptance. The emerging paradigms recognise recent (and ancient) knowledge of the nonlinear, deeply relational and qualitatively complex nature of reality. These paradigms have greatly facilitated a deeper understanding of the limits inherent in the linear, precisely predictable and quantitative view of reality that currently defines and legitimates most of modern science. The new paradigms are so similar to the intuitively determined importance of complex person-in-environment systems identified by social work pioneers that a relatively resistant-free transformation to a common paradigm may be possible early in the next century.
The quest for a common paradigm needs to recognise and integrate the diverse roots of social work. These roots are linked to ancient values and expectations of charitable behaviours in times of need. Hammurabi's Code of Justice is often cited as an example, as are the concepts of equality, charity and compassion professed by Confucius, Moses, Mohammed, Christ and other sages in human history (Barker, 1995). Although seldom referenced, social work's contemporary identification with holistic perspectives echo the first revelations of holistic reality in ancient Eastern philosophies such as the Advaita Vedanta formulated in India 3000 years ago (Jitatmananda, 1993). Jitatmananda also points to the similarity between the philosophy of the Vedanta and the theory of implicate order proposed by the twentieth century physicist David Bohm: “[that] all things are enfolded in a total wholeness and unity" (15).
Social work's more recent
roots are linked to the dismantling of feudalism in Europe, the social
exclusion and harsh inequality effects of two industrial revolutions, and
the nineteenth century rise of moral authority values amongst religious
puritans. These factors, in combined ways, contributed to ideologies, policies
and actions that were often considerably less than charitable in meeting
common human needs or establishing common human rights. Early forms of
social work were both resistant to and compliant with these uncharitable
responses. Contemporary social work roots are generally associated with
the emergence of social reform movements, charity organisations, settlement
houses, and feminist concerns for human rights, social justice and gender
equality in the nineteenth century.
Descartes, a French Catholic mathematician, initiated the mechanistic "truth" of mind-body separation. He authored the view of a universal split between the "determined material reality of nature" (i.e. environment) and "the free-thinking reality of people and God" (Sagan, Margulis, & Guerrero, 1997: 171). The environment, conceptualised as the universe or nature, was deemed to be a vast machine-like system. The positive side of his view was the expansion of scientific investigation and the beginning of a scientific paradigm that has dominated the world for close to four centuries. The negative side of this ontological view, which assumed human consciousness and the objective environment to be separate entities, set the stage for everything (including the prejudicial removal of human subjects from the human condition) to be experimented on with impunity. This was the Cartesian license "to investigate virtually everything in an effort to discover the mechanism by which God had 'built' the phenomenal world" (172). Everything apparently existed in three-dimensional space, objectively separated from the scientific observer, and all was to be measured, compared, controlled and ultimately understood by mathematical laws.
Descartes' philosophy had its roots in Galileo's failed (and recanted) effort to study the world "written in a great book which is always open before our eyes" (Jacob, 1973, cited in Sagan, Margulis and Guerrero, 1997: 172). Because the Church condemned Galileo's discovery that Earth was not the centre of the universe, Descartes abandoned his thesis of a heliocentric world. In doing so, he "gave great impetus to the modern practice of investigation by doubting everything but the existence of his own doubting mind" (173); humans were exempt from the determined laws of nature. His philosophy therefore appears to have been carefully crafted to side step the defenders of the prevailing paradigm by defining a mechanical universe created according to the laws of God. Descartes' suppression of his heliocentric thesis closed Galileo's "great book" approach to scientific exploration, but opened the door for objective science to flourish free from creationist (i.e. man/humankind made in the image of God) condemnation. This legacy of separating the observer from the observed is still prevalent in most areas of science education despite challenging twentieth century discoveries. Newton provided scientific support to explain life based on the Cartesian philosophy with evidence that material entities manufactured by God "predictably respond to forces and obey natural laws" (179).
Those who write about the history of social work seldom link the roots of social reform and other activist pursuits with the freedom to challenge the status quo sparked by the Cartesian license. Despite the sacredness of a creative God in Descartes' philosophy and the notion of divine powers vested in Kings and other authorities, resistance to this kind of imposed authority surfaced and contributed to dismantling the feudal system. Eventually the separateness of free-thinking people was also challenged, opening the way for applying the machine metaphor to all people.
Between the application of
the machine metaphor to humans and the evolutionary discoveries of Darwin,
Thomas Malthus concluded that the Earth's population growth was outstripping
the capacity of life-support resources to sufficiently care for all of
humankind. Malthus in 1805 was director of the newly formed East Indian
College in the early days of the British Empire. He reported that "populations
increase geometrically while life support resources - the ability to feed,
clothe and house itself - expand arithmetically at best," thus creating
the concept of "fundamental scarcity" (Edmundson, 1992 : 268) that strongly
influenced the operation of social and economic institutions. Malthus reinforced
the human penchant for dichotomous categories such as dividing people into
groups of "worthy and unworthy", "haves and have nots", "privileged and
unprivileged", "deserving and undeserving", and so on. Those negatively
defined were often justifiably refused fundamental life support resources
and were even deemed expendable. Darwin's evolutionary theory did not challenge
the Cartesian paradigm nor did it challenge Malthus’ theory of fundamental
scarcity. Darwin concluded that humans, like all other entities, had evolved
via natural selection and its “survival of the fittest” corollary. As the
nineteenth century closed modern (Western) science, rooted to the Cartesian
paradigm and its mechanistic metaphor, was firmly embedded as the exemplar
for discovering truth, and truth (often described as reality) was equated
only with the observable and measurable. Western science had assumed a
God-like supremacy, which was to endure throughout most of the twentieth
century. Further more, adherents of the world's two great ideological camps
- capitalism and socialism (also known as Marxism) - accepted Malthus'
conclusions as absolute truth and proceeded through warring and superior
weaponry motivated science to establish convincing arguments and shows
of force that only their respective followers were fit to survive. The
machine metaphor of modern science was not only used to separate the worthy
from the unworthy, it was co-opted by ideological powers to advance the
machinery of war and human destruction.
The modern science paradigm has been present in the West for more than 2000 years, given its link to the atomic theory of Democritus. The theory, however, was gradually transformed from an insight of how the Universe operates to "an absolute truth that the whole of reality is actually constituted of nothing but ‘atomic building blocks’, all working together more or less mechanically" (Bohm, 1983: 8). The atomic theory was particularly conducive to the idea that the human being in his/her societal environment could, in principle, be understood in terms of aggregates of separately existing atoms. From this came the basic assumption that a whole could be analysed and understood as the additive sum of its separate parts, scientifically known as reductionism. According to Bohm, "the whole weight of science was eventually put behind this analytical and fragmentary approach to reality" (9).
The fragmentary approach of modern science fostered what is now the widespread practice of dividing the arts, sciences, professions, and most other forms of human work into specialties, each considered separate and different from the others. Fragmentation reflected the way society in general had developed by being "broken up into separate nations and different religious, political, economic, racial groups" (Bohm, 1983: 1). The fragmentary approach also reflected the way individuals were divided into separate parts based on different aims, ambitions, loyalties, and so on. These often-conflicting divisions made it easy for different groups of people to actively exploit each other. The legacy of this approach is still prevalent, witnessed by widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family, profession, and so on) which often precludes members of these groups from working together for the common good of all people.
The Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm, rooted in atomic theory, worked well for several centuries. According to Bohm, if we supposed that “theories gave true knowledge, corresponding to ‘reality as it is’, then we would have to conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false while relativity and quantum theories suddenly became truth” (4). Although this is a good guideline to note the transition from modern to postmodern (i.e. post Newtonian) science, it perpetuates the notion that the purpose of a theory is to establish true knowledge (i.e. fixed truths). Theory development must be recognised as a major part of the thinking that goes on in scientific research. However as Bohm points out, the Greek meaning of theory is connected to ‘theatre’ meaning ‘to view’ or ‘to make a spectacle’. In this sense, theory is an informed understanding of how something works, not a claim about absolute truth. Bohm would prefer that Newtonian theory be seen as limited in the domain that it has application, not as a theory that is no longer true. This would lead us to regard theories as ways of giving us new views of the world or different insights about existing views rather than as purveyors of absolute truth. It would be helpful if everyone were made aware of the modern science tendency to promote fragmentary thought and then be encouraged to consciously work at limiting the domination of this view. Dividing is convenient and useful in practical, technical and functional activities. It is problematic only when it becomes the dominant worldview, making reality appear to consist of separately existent fragments.
Limiting the domain of a
centuries old worldview will not be easy. There are many who would still
argue that the fragmentary base of modern science is real. The division
of the world into nation-states, cities, religions, political systems,
and the naturalness of conflict in wars and violence toward others are
considered proof of natural fragmentation. Wholeness, and undivided interconnectivity,
as its counterpart is only an ideal toward which humankind should strive.
When Abraham Flexner gave an invited address to the U.S. National Conference on Charities and Corrections in 1915 entitled, "Is Social Work a Profession?", his conclusion was based almost entirely on a strong allegiance to the tenets of modern science. He was one of North America's most influential experts on professional education, having authored the 1910 Flexner Report which triggered the transformation of medical education to the machine metaphor foundations of modern science. Three of his major reasons for the young profession of social work not to qualify as a profession were: 1) its primary (and unique) focus on relationships instead of material entities; 2) its lack of independent specialisations; and 3) its lack of scientific objectivity (Austin, 1983). Although he was an isolated commentator on the professional merits of social work, his message reflected the times. Without compliance to the modern science paradigm, social work had little chance of gaining credibility as a profession dedicated to the betterment of human relationships and the eradication of the harsh inequalities fostered by the industrial revolutions and continued assumptions of fundamental scarcity of life-support resources.
The dualistic foundations of modern science facilitated the evolution of social work as a dual purpose profession, divided into person-centered and environment-centered camps. The primacy of an interactional focus on the multitude of interdependent relationships in a complex person-in-environment system receded into the background. Each area of the profession concentrated on the development of specialised approaches to social environment improvements or therapeutic interventions to improve individual social welfare. Kendall's (1998) review of social work's Euro-American foundations described European approaches to be more environment-focused, with North American approaches tending to be more person-focused, emphasising methods of therapeutic change. Even with these trends, the primacy of the interactional focus was not totally lost. Bertha Reynolds, one of America's exemplary social work pioneers, never gave up on her view of human behaviour as a "functional adaptive response to the complex system within which the individual and the social environment interacted" (Hartman, 1986, cited in Reisch, 1998: 174).
In spite of the influence of Reynolds and others, social work in many parts of the world became a fragmented collection of competing specialisations, often warring over the alleged supremacy of their respective methods to scientifically manipulate human behaviour in the direction of predictable outcomes. With the eventual introduction of general systems and ecological perspectives to social work, mid-century critics of the increasing fragmentation were able to reintroduce a more holistic, interactional focused conception of the profession.
Bartlett (1970) was one of
the first to succinctly reintegrate the "lnteractional" connection within
the dualistic person and environment purpose of social work. This led to
a renewed Person-Interaction-Environment (PIE) construction of social work's
conceptual domain and ultimately to the widely accepted person-in-environment
representation of social work's domain of practice. The primary focus of
social work practice was directed to the dynamically complex interactions
between person and environment. Bartlett's work significantly reasserted
social work's identity as a relationship-centered discipline. However,
without an appropriate science paradigm to support a relationship-centered
identity, social workers continued to be largely entity-centered and modern
science based in their approaches. Clinical social workers, tied to earlier
efforts to develop scientific, technique-based methods of social casework,
endorsed client and/or family-centered specialisations. Macro social workers,
similarly linked to community organisation methods of scientific explanation
and prediction, endorsed environment-centered approaches. Even today, the
effort in developmental social work to shift away from material-centered
development has been put forward as people-centered development (Cox, 1998).
This laudable effort to change a problematic approach to developmental
social work underscores the challenge of shifting to a relationship-centered
conception of the profession. In spite of many declarations made by the
profession that the primary focus of social work is on the interactions
between person and environment, the perception of an entity-centered, dual
purpose, modern science based profession remains intact.
Before describing these shifts and their relevance to social work's quest for a common paradigmatic home, I want to acknowledge the beginnings of an important integration of ancient Vedic principles and postmodern science. I speak of the work of Vivekanada, recognised as one of India's stalwart thinkers along with Ramakrishna, Tagore, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Radhakrishnan (Patel, 1987), and his two lecture tours of America. Nearly a century ago (1899) Vivekanada prophetically foresaw that the conclusions of science will be the very conclusions of the holistic philosophy of the Vedanta formulated in India nearly three thousand years ago. Vivekanada was clear in his mind that "science and religion will meet and shake hands" (Rolland, 1993: 260). A great theme of the Vedanta was the "oneness of everything" (Jitatmananda, 1993: 65), and the belief that separation was the root of all misery. More recently, Jitatmananda, in the spirit of Vikekanada, shows how postmodern science paradigms are "pointing more and more to a holistic universe where matter, energy and consciousness are connected together in one inseparable background" (ix).
I also want to mention the French mathematician Henri Poincare´, who discovered a major flaw in the linear cause and effect laws of Newtonian mathematics near the end of the last century (Kellert, 1993). Although not widely published at the time, and even doubted by Poincare´himself, the results of his work laid the foundation for chaos theory and the complex systems paradigm to emerge in the twentieth century. An important chaos theory feature of all complex systems is known as "sensitive dependence on initial conditions". This feature removes the capacity of precise predictability "because even the smallest degree of vagueness in specifying the initial state of the system will grow to confront the researcher [practitioner] with enormous errors in calculations of the system's future state" (Kellert: x-xi).
The context for a major paradigm shift was underway early in the century. The first notable signs appeared with Einstein’s theories of relativity (1905 and 1915). His discovery that matter is a form of energy changed our understanding of knowledge. All scientific knowledge was relative, not absolute. Further evidence that the mechanistic science paradigm had reached its limits was found in quantum theory, the second major shift away from the mechanistic paradigm. Amongst its many breakthroughs, quantum physics (also known as quantum mechanics) "eliminated the Newtonian dream of a controllable measurement process" (Ford, 1989: 354). The quantum science paradigm set the stage for systems perspectives and the development of general systems theory (Capra, 1996). Instead of a mechanical 'building block" view of the world, the quantum paradigm described nature to be more like a web of "dancing relationships" between constituent elements of a unified whole. By 1927 when Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle indicated that things might happen without cause, the limits of mechanistic science were clearly established but its dominance remained extensively embedded in the professions and sciences.
Discovering the limits of modern science was advanced by other events in 1927, generally unknown to social workers. Buckminster Fuller, later to be recognised as one of world's most innovative thinkers, inventors and philosophers, turned away from a planned suicide and dedicated his life to a comprehensive reexamination of the conceptual underpinnings of Western thought. His discovery of synergetic principles was supported with measurable evidence that the whole is more than the sum its parts. In Fuller's words "synergy means the behaviour of whole systems unpredicted by the behaviour of their parts taken separately" (Edmundson, 1992: 33). Fuller was able to produce geometric artifacts of the quantum discovery; there are no solids or "basic building blocks", only energy events and relationships. All energy events regardless of physical embodiment or entity identification are held together by sets of interconnective relationships. For humanity to solve its complex problems Fuller was convinced that the emphasis had to be on relationships. In the1940s, with the help of a student and later well-known sculptor, Kenneth Snelson, Fuller was able to construct tensegrity structures. He used them to physically demonstrate that the structural shape of any system is guaranteed by the continuous relationship (tensional) behaviour of the system, not by the behaviours of the entity elements on their own (Edmundson, 1992). In other words, the strength of a system is largely determined by its tensile (relationship) strength not by its compressed (entity) strength.
Fuller brought the discovery
in quantum physics that the observer cannot be separated from the observed
to a practical level. Modern science has assumed a three dimensional reality
based on the three coordinates XYZ - height, length, and width of conventional
cubical measurement (Applewhite, 1977). In other words, we have been socialised
to use this cubical way of describing the observed space we experience
as a three dimensional environment. Since we now know that what is observed
cannot be independent of the observer, the observer always represents an
additional dimension making our observed reality minimally four-dimensional.
In social work, for example, I have used this understanding of holistic
dimensionality to conceptually represent person-in-environment as a person
interconnected (each part connected to every other part) with a minimum
of three environment elements. Fuller discovered that the parallels and
right angles of cubical systems cannot model the holistic interconnections
of a four dimensional network, only the angular structure of triangles
can model this kind of network interconnectivity. Using a four dimensional
system, Fuller was able to show how the minimum complexity of interrelationship
patterns between self (person) and otherness (environment) could be modeled.
The relationship between self and otherness was a critical part of Fuller's
understanding of wholeness. In fact, he described the entire universe as
a "scenario of otherness and self" (Fuller quoted in Applewhite, 1977:
19). His intention in presenting a minimum four-dimensional, deeply relational
model of reality was to open new ways of improving the human predicament.
In this regard Fuller's work is considered by many to be the first organised
opposition to reductionism and the mechanistic metaphor of modern science.
Ralph Abraham (1996), a world renowned chaos theorist, states that three major shifts in the sciences finally came into public view in the 1970s. He describes them as the Chaos Revolution, Gaia Hypothesis and Erodynamics. Chaos science is a new branch of mathematics that recognises the presence of many "intrinsically irregular natural processes" (3). Gaia science which comes from the biological sciences "affirms the intelligence of the whole life system of our planet in creating and regulating the physical conditions optimal for the emergence and maintenance of life" (5). Erodynamic science which comes from the social sciences as part of applied chaos theory "provides the basis for understanding the symbiosis of human populations and the biosphere, and explores models for the world economy and the global environment in tightly coupled interaction" (5).
Out of these different discipline based shifts, we are seeing the emergence of a complex systems paradigm, the third major shift away from the Cartesian paradigm of modern science. This paradigm "has become recognised in recent years as a new scientific discipline, the ultimate of interdisciplinary fields" (Bar-Yam, 1997: 1). The word "complexity" from a dictionary perspective underscores the importance of interconnectivity and interwoven parts in complex systems networks. In this paradigm, complex systems include collections of human beings, ranging from families to entire civilisations. According to Bar-Yam, the inclusion of collective human systems broadens the interdisciplinary field to take into account "social psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and economics, and to the borders of public policy, social work and social welfare" (783). Transitions to this paradigm are creating shifts in the Cartesian motivated goals and objectives of individuals, as well as entire professions (and, eventually we hope in corporations and societies of people). Traditional objectives of achieving positions of power and control as descriptors of accomplishment and fulfillment are giving way to descriptions of "team players, networks of interacting individuals, and other more cooperative models of behaviour" (818) that are not used to achieve conformity to a single norm .
With the emergence of the complex systems paradigm, the work of Margulis and Sagan (1997) is showing that "no scientist should be deceived by the pretense of objectivity, and no information can be garnered on delicate issues by single researchers acting alone. All science is a highly social, self-correcting, interactive exercise" (xxi). The thrust of their book, Slanted Truths, is to address the extent of connectedness of the elements of the living world. They identify that the unity of life and its environment on Earth's surface has implications which humanity has barely begun to understand. From this, it is not hard to conclude that the early twentieth century relationship-centered character of social work, which Flexner rejected as a requisite condition to be a profession, is now supported by a scientific worldview that was emerging at the same time. Unfortunately, it did not start to come into acceptable public view for another sixty years. The recognition by social work pioneers of complex person-in-environment systems, and their intuitive sense of a holistic, deep ecological worldview shows them to be conceptual thinkers well ahead of their time. The value of their early insights has had to wait for an acknowledged science paradigm to emerge and receive public acceptance.
The complex systems paradigm is also captured by the following key words in the view of Margulis and Sagan (1997): Gaia, symbiosis, and evolution. These words set the stage for social workers to significantly reduce the influence of the Cartesian paradigm and machine metaphor in their professional work and increase their acceptance of the complex systems paradigm and Gaia metaphor. The Gaia metaphor "put simply, views Earth's atmosphere (the place where life exists) as a single, self-regulating entity: the Earth is alive" (xxi). Gaia is not a mystical based philosophy. Used as a living systems metaphor, it describes the healthy nature of far-from-equilibrium systems discussed by chaos scientists in contrast to the mechanistic view that equilibrium is the hallmark of a healthy state. The Earth's atmosphere, for example, exists in an extremely far from equilibrium state, but without it we would not have a living Earth. Far from equilibrium health, with characteristic evidence of robustness, diversity, flexibility, and cooperative behaviours is the sought for dynamic in a complex systems paradigm.
Symbiosis refers to the physical connection between organisms of different species (xxi). Symbiosis deals with relationship partners, some permanent and tight, some flexible and loose, that lead to new composites. Symbiotic evidence from research science provides scientific support that "all life is directly and indirectly connected with all other life" (xxii). Symbiosis challenges our modern science notion of individuality. From a symbiotic perspective, individuality as a separate entity in space and time does not exist. Individuality, defined by Margulis and Sagan, is actually a complex symbiosis of many formerly free-living component organisations that entails constant adjustment and reintegration. Evolution as the third term is also deeply interconnective. Simply defined as change through time, "evolution connects all life on Earth through time" (xxiii).
Margulis and Sagan take us back to quantum theory as the point in the twentieth century where the "Newtonian worldview [came] to a functional end, although the momentum of scientific discourse has prevented it from reckoning with the consequences of this theoretical shipwreck" (1997:64). The domination of the Cartesian paradigm and modern science has prevailed for most of the twentieth century, preventing the narrowed limits of this worldview from being fully communicated and explained to others. The power of this dominating paradigm continues to hold social work from resurfacing its original alignment with relationship-centered practice and aligning itself to the scientific paradigms of postmodern science. More specifically, it precludes acceptance of the Gaia metaphor that represents the deep symbiotic interconnectivity between all life forms as a necessary condition for the well being of all people. And, it has slowed the momentum toward global achievement of social justice actions and sufficient regenerative life-support resources to benefit all of humankind.
Margulis and Sagan argue that an autopoietic Gaia will replace the neo Darwinian mechanistic life science worldview. Autopoiesis, a term invented by Maturana and Varala, "refers to the self-making and self-maintaining properties of living systems" (1980: 98). In this respect living systems do not simply "adapt" to a passive environment as most mechanically minded neo-Darwinians assume; instead a living system actively produces and modifies its surroundings. A physical Universe run by mechanical laws does not determine human functioning and relationship connections to others. Instead there is emerging evidence that their autopoietic are governed by the tensegrity principles discovered by Fuller and Snelson (Ingber, 1998). The Gaia metaphor that is associated with the complex systems paradigmincludes "all organisms as part of a single continuous bounded autopoietic system that has never been breached since the origin of life . . . While portions of the system (individuals, populations, species) are always losing autopoietic properties, the entire system persists" (Margulis and Sagan, 1997:104).
The Gaia metaphor will shift
the focus of science on extra terrestrial frontiers to a focus on the Earth
and the interaccomodative relationships of its living organisms as a frontier
for research and professional practice activities. The Gaia metaphor will
also set the stage for the development of interdisciplinary, symbiotic
partnerships between disparate disciplines. The current practice of dividing
disciplines into separate divisions often impedes science. Margulis and
Sagan (1997) identify "academic apartheid", which is still pervasive in
almost all higher education institutions, as an enormous impediment. A
Gaian worldview will foster interdisciplinary research on Earth systems,
including human communities and other social systems of interest to social
work, precluded until now by obstacles of academic apartheid and the slowly
diminishing momentum of modern science's Cartesian paradigm.
If social work's adherents
don't consciously move in the direction of being guided by the emerging
paradigm shifts in the twentieth century, the dominance of the machine
metaphor will remain embedded in the education and practice of social work
around the world. The profession will continue to let itself be informed
by a science paradigm that relies on the "logic of domination" and the
associated values of subordination and social exclusion. The profession
will be left several paradigm transitions behind and inadvertently it will
continue to be guided by a paradigm that is clearly not common to social
work. As Kellert (1993) warns, continued support, explicitly or implicitly,
for the machine metaphor view of reality will preclude the kind of revolutionary
shift needed to embrace the chaotic, robustness and diversity of complex
systems. Our economic, political and social systems will be allowed to
continue presuming that men are more rational than women, thereby allowing
the subordination of women to continue. Those in power and other positions
of influence will continue to presume that people are purposive while natural
processes (environment) are not, thus allowing the subordination and destruction
of our natural environment to occur without regard for the deep ecological
interconnectivenesss between all living organisms. The relationship-centeredness
of social work will continue to be rhetoric based instead of practice based
for yet another century. Instead of ranking as a leading-edge profession
of the twenty-first century, social work will become increasingly irrelevant
and outdated as a contributor toward non-discriminatory human well-being,
peaceful co-existence among people and nations, and the pursuit of social
justice for all in the new millennium.