edward nelson

facilitating change                                                                      ...opportunities to discover the healthy side of conflict

 
 
 
 

Quantum Physics and the Art of Conflict Resolution

 

What physics has discovered is that everything is radically interconnected in ways that are subtler and much deeper than can be explained or understood on a purely mechanical or macroscopic physical basis.

- Mark Comings1

Introduction

Conflict is often discussed as if it were something we can differentiate from ourselves. It is often seen as a problem separate from us that we work on to solve. This paper challenges that assumption and, using findings from the new sciences, offers a number of perspectives that can serve to enhance our work as conflict resolution practitioners. The impact of Quantum Mechanical Theory(QMT) on our way of looking at the world, although not yet fully understood, is beginning to permeate through all fields of study and Conflict Resolution(CR) is no exception. InBringing Peace into the Room, Daniel Bowling and David Hoffman apply parallels from the new sciences to their experience as mediators. In their chapter, "The Personal Qualities of a Mediator and their Impact on the Mediation", they conclude:

1) There are phenomenon at work in mediation that operate at a level of subtlety that we have only begun to fathom and 2) Mediation is a process that we can better understand as an integrated system than as a set of discrete interactions between and among individuals acting autonomously. (p37)

While still only appropriate at the level of metaphor, such a view on reality is also shared in the realm of QMT. Exploring the new science of quantum mechanics, I will show the various levels to which Bowling and Hoffman's statement may be valid. To do so, I will first show how conflict is akin to the behaviour of subatomic particles. From there, I will explore various findings from the realm of quantum physics to see how they can inform the practice and theory of conflict resolution. From these perspectives, I will also critic some theories and practices already in use in the field of CR.


Conflict is natural; neither positive or negative, it just is.

-Thomas Crum2


Conflict as an Intrinsic Part of Life

The first place I want to look at applying QMT constructively in CR is in the interpretation of the concept "conflict". This proposal also serves as an application of some of the ideas suggested I will explore later, namely: That how we look at something affects it. Currently, I would suggest the prevailing mentality about conflict is that it is a negative thing and we should try and eradicate it from our lives. This is not only part of a wider cultural mindset, but also prevalent within the field of CR itself.(Benjamin, 2004) Such a belief may serve to hinder productive engagement with conflict. In order to encourage a more active involvement with conflict, we could do well to change the way conflict can be demonised. QMT provides an opportunity to explore this.


Thomas Crum suggests, "Conflict is just an interference pattern of energies."(Crum, p49) This sounds just like an account of the quantum physicist's investigation into the nature of light. (McEvoy & Zarate, p108)InWay of the Dancing Wu-Li Masters, Gary Zukav describes quantum reality as "a sparkling realm of continual creation, collision, transformation and annihilation"(p42). Interestingly, this also sounds like a description of conflict. Theorists such as Bohm, Capra and others, describe the reality of the universe as actually one interconnected "dance"; and that which manifests as "matter" is just the result of a continual interplay of energy (Capra, 1991, p225). Although we can not perceive it with our immediate senses, we are made up of these processes and they are, in fact, the fabric of our existence. In fact, Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 is another way of saying matter isenergy. At some level our bodies, thoughts and world are made up of this dance of energy, continually annihilating and creating. Such dynamism, of which conflict is a kind, is intrinsic to life. In short, conflict is a integral part of this dance. Applying such a notion of conflict to the field of mediation would help to de-demonise it, and potentially support our engagement with it.


On the Nature of Science: An Observation on the Applications of Quantum Mechanics

Unfortunately, this is not an essay on the philosophy of science, which is indeed implicated by the subject matter, and has its own rich perspectives on the notion of evolution, transformation and the development of theory, all of which have insights for CR theory. There however are number of concerns in applying the workings of the subatomic world to the rest of reality, not least of which because of the details in quantum mechanics can't easily be articulated. This in turn, limits our capacity to understand it. As Heisenberg said, "The problem of language here are really serious. We wish to speak in some way about the structure of the atoms...But we cannot speak about atoms in ordinary language." (Capra, p55) So again, a lot of what we take as "fact", is actually interpretation.


InQuantum Theory and the Flight from Realism, Chris Norris's puts forward a number of problems with the interpretation of QMT. In "Bell, Bohm and the EPR Debate" (pp72-105) he argues that the favouring of the Copenhagen Interpretation (counter-intuitive, non-local system) over EPR (the more rationalist, local causal idea) was the result of the political climate in Europe, particularly Germany, after the war: From a "progressive" point of view - determinism was "bad" and had led to the instruments of the holocaust at the time. Thus aspiring scientists and academics were keen to distance themselves from such a dangerous perspective. He suggests, quoting Paul Forman that the "problems in atomic physics played only a secondary role in the genesis of an acausal persuasion" and had more to do with the socio-intellectual pressure of the academic community.(Norris 2000, p79) This echoes a Foucaultian type analysis of the rise of the social sciences in America in the Fifties which suggests that findings had more to do with funding and cold war politics than with human nature. For example, if they were able to show how Communism was dangerous and Capitalism was a good idea, then they would be more likely to get support. (Ze'ev Emmerich, Lecture, 5th Feb 2007). In both cases it is argued that the "scientific findings" have as much if not more to do with the current social and cultural psyches than they do with an employment of objective science3. Ironically, this affirms the propositions in this paper, that true "observation of reality" is difficult and subject to a range of influences, notwithstanding the perspectives we bring to it. What is revolutionary here is that we may be implicated in the co-creation of our "reality", and its conflicts, than may first appear. At very least, it is worth considering why we are entering a conflict, that is our intent, as that may shape our findings.


Furthermore, it is often the case that scientific explanations of the world begin as theoretical propositions, and while many are still just that, many have been found to be proven later. Subject to a Kuhnian analysis of scientific revolutions, this is another example of how we maybe co-creating our world. In this light, Einstein's quote "Imagination is more important than knowledge" takes on a whole new significance. If this is a stretch, then there is at least enough evidence to suggest that leaps forward in science come as much about by intuitions and creative wonderings as they do by experimental insights. As Heisenberg said of Bohr:


He had immense insight, a result not of mathematical analysis but of observation of the actual phenomena. He could sense a relationship intuitively rather than derive it formally.4


Likewise in the field of CR, as suggested by Benjamin, (p91) and Reitman (p242), we ought to pay as serious attention to our hunches and intuition as our observations, skills and experience.5 Therefore it is crucial that CR practitioners ability to work on conflict must extend beyond their rational analysis and recognise the value of self-awareness, intuition, imagination and intention.


The measurement changes the state of the electron. The universe will never afterwards be the same. To describe what has happened, one has to cross out the old word 'observer` and put in its place the new word 'participator`. - John Wheeler6


Observer as Participator

The field of Quantum Mechanical Theory provides us with a number of examples that further challenge the very way we look at the world. Furthermore, I believe these challenges actually serve to enhance the field of conflict resolution. One such challenge begins with the act of "looking" and has implications about the relationship between observer and observed that are worth considering.


The power of observation alone is a concept long known in the field of conflict resolution. The use of "observers" is a fundamental part of peace-making, from a form of UN interventions to the Quaker principle "to bear witness".7 Furthermore, the power of observation is highlighted by Foucault in "The Eye of Power" (1980 pp153-54). Bernard Mayer, in his book The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution, articulates how the introduction of a mediator to a conflict has four distinct impacts on the conflict dynamic - only one of which is skills based.(Mayer, pp192-3) Of mediators, Mayer says, "their presence changes the course of a conflict, regardless of the intervention." Furthermore, the mediator "often arranges for new systems of interaction, new types of meetings...and other structural alterations to the interaction process".(Mayer, p192) In short, the evidence from the field of CR is that even the introduction of an observer has significant impact on an event. Such a view is synonymous with the findings in quantum physics. As John Wheeler says:


[Quantum mechanics] strikes down the term 'observer` of classical theory, the man who stands safely behind the thick glass wall and watches what goes on without taking part. It can't be done. (Zukav, p54)


In QMT, the impossibility of separating the "observer" from the phenomenal world is highlighted in Young's famous double slit experiment where physicists discovered that light behaved like waves, AND like particles and, more importantly, that this changed depending on how you observed it. (Penrose, p56) These experiments demonstrated physically that the observer was impacting that which was being observed. (Arntz et al, ch 4) Such a discovery challenged the scientific notion that we can separate the observer from the object; implying that they are, in fact, interrelated. As Fritjof Capra puts it:


The scientist cannot play the role of a detached observer, but becomes involved in the world he observes to the extent that he influences the properties of the observed objects.

(1991, p141)

Such a view supports Bowling and Hoffman's statement at the beginning that it might be more useful to look at mediation as an integrated system rather than a series of separate interactions. They also claim that mediation "produces differing results depending on who is in the room and the personal qualities they bring to the process." (p30). These observations also reflect my own experience as a mediator. The questions it raises for the Conflict Resolution practitioner include: To what do we assign the label of "conflict"? How are our observations and interventions as shaping the conflict process? How can we know? This in turn, begs the question, can we truly separate ourselves from the conflict? How? And in light of the above propositions, is this even a valid exercise?


As we are dealing with people rather than sub-atomic particles, I will briefly explore one way of working with observations that is already well documented. In his book, Non-Violent Communication (2003), Marshall Rosenberg highlights the value of communicating an observation and articulates it as a very specific tool for conflict resolution. It is worth noting that speaking is already more than simply observing, but as pointed out by quantum physicists, what constitutes an observation is not necessarily so straightforward. In the NVC "I-Statement", the first thing that needs to happen is an Observation, as opposed to an Evaluation of the situation. Although a seemingly simple task, it can be very difficult thing to do, particularly when caught in a conflict where emotions are flying and defences are going up. Krishnamurti even goes so far as to say "observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence." (Rosenberg, p28) In Chapter three of his book, Rosenberg goes into the value, of making observations: One, they help generate a clearer picture of the event; and two, they can diffuse animosity by focusing the parties on a specific detail. In fact, I have found this practice often very successful at changing the dynamic of a conflict situation. With both these perspectives in mind, the challenge of "making an observation" takes on an entirely new dimension. Take these examples of reframing an "evaluation" to an "observation":


Party:My husband is a dirty pig!!

1)Your husband is a dirty pig?

2)You have a dirty husband?

3)Your husband is bloody awful!

4)Your husband leaves dishes in piles until there are no clean ones before washing them?


Interestingly, each one of these could be both true and incomplete. Nevertheless, each of these statements will direct the course of the conversation in a different way. The first re-iterates the evaluation, handing it back to the party to accept or not; the second varies the evaluation slightly; the third emphasises it; while the fourth goes back to the facts behind the statement. How these will determine the course of the conversation is not determinable here, but each statement reveals somewhat of how the mediator is looking at the problem and may also influence how the party may do so. The interaction will further be influenced by how the interaction is going between the party and mediator and by the party's current relationship with the husband. Either way it is not possible to discount the influence of the mediator on shaping the conflict that is being discussed and, therefore, the potential outcome. While these are people and not sub-atomic particles, the parallels in how the observer can play a role in creating the outcome are strong. For me, it serves to recognise the power of interventions, even under the guise of observations, and therefore demands consideration of how CR practitioners view a situation.


The End of Determinism

The theory of Determinism is this: if one could figure out the position of all the particles in the universe at any one time, we could calculate the past and future, and figure everything out!(McEvoy & Zarate, p159) However, in (date?) Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle pointed out that it was impossible to know both the momentum and the position of a particle at any given time. Significant here was that he showed that this was not because our instruments were not yet good enough, but because this was actually the nature of the subatomic world. (McEvoy & Zarate, p156) This proposition shattered classical physic's perception of the world - that everything was knowable - and undermined Laplace's Theory of Determinism. Both David Bohm and Gary Zukav provide examples of situations in the observable world that are not explainable by classical physics but are by quantum physics. These are the depolarisation of light (Zukav pp278-284) and Holograms (Bohm pp145-47). In their attempts to identify, measure and understand the these phenomena, quantum physicists uncovered even more shortcomings in applying classical physics. This is not an argument to dismiss a causal view of the world: If you swing a baseball bat at my head, I will duck! However, such a causal perspective is not complete and invites further analysis and understanding - nor will such an understanding preclude me from ducking. While a conflict resolver would be hard pressed to believe they could figure out the exact cause of a conflict and prescribe a remedy, the degree to which such a mechanistic view of life permeates our culture is even evident in conflict resolution theory.


Like the theoretical physics, conflict resolution theories can be very effective, however they are not complete. I would now like to show instances in CR theory where a deterministic or causal view of reality is implied and yet may be limiting. First, a deterministic mind set can be fallen into by those practising popular Interests or Needs based approaches to mediation. Specifically, Marshall Rosenberg's formulation of the "I Statement" (2003) prescribes a formulaic method of conflict resolution. The underlying premise is this: if you can figure out what the person's needs are, you can solve the problem. While this can be a powerful tool- it is not always true and therefore is not a complete theory.


Similarly, Fisher and Ury's seminal work on interests based negotiation, Getting To Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In(1987), provides fundamental structure and great strategies for dealing with conflict. In fact, it appears to contain something for every situation. However, it still describes, if not prescribes, a problem as being a separate entity to which you can apply some specific remedy to sort out. While these strategies do work, they do not account for the fact that there are things neither we, nor the parties know, or do not reveal. Nor do they account for the irrational and dreaming states that Jung argues affect our reality.(Quote here?) In summary, its not the tools that these practitioners provide that are the potential problem, but the deterministic mentality they engender; such as "we know how to get to the answer", that can restrict the CR practitioner. In fact, people in conflict often come to mediation to get away from the vast array of deterministic approaches to problem solving. (Benjamin, 2003, p90)


However, one of the tenets of mediation that infers a move away from this mechanistic thinking is to be "future-focused."(also in Fisher & Ury p52) Experience has shown mediators that if the parties go on a fact finding mission to figure out the causeof the conflict, chances are the they will end up back in the conflict. As QTM suggests, attempts to figure out exactly what has happened are not wholly possible: Not because our "equipment" may not be up to the task, but because it is not actually possible to recreate a situation exactly. Whether done consciously or not, such a practice of looking at what the parties want to move toward can be very productive; particularly in light of some of the propositions later in the paper. The argument against this strategy is that being future focused only helps if the parties feel heard first and are ready to move on. With an awareness of all these perspectives, the mediator can allow party's to flip between a productive future-focus, a level of uncertainty, and a need to be heard.



There is a place beyond right and wrong, I'll meet you there. - Rumi


Moving beyond Right and Wrong

The next piece of QMT genius from which I gather inspiration is Neils Bohr's Theory of Complementarity. Akin to a piece of mediation Ju-Jitsu, Bohr tried to tackle the problem of the wave/particle duality by moving beyond "either/or" and saying that both were possible! (McEvoy & Zarate, p160) This challenged the heart of rational thinking where such properties were once considered to be mutually exclusive. In order to do this, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrodinger came up with a theory that accepted an unknowable quantity; this meant, until measurement there is not a definite outcome or certain "object", only potential probabilities. This theory became known as the Copenhagen Interpretation (CHI).(McEvoy & Zarate, p161) Einstein argued that such a theory was not science as it was incomplete; and thus arose one of the greatest debates in modern science. However, despite its defiance of logical reasoning, it is, so far, one of the most reliable interpretations of the interaction of "matter". The acceptance of CHI's proposition, that we must enter into a situation with the acceptance of unknown factors, is yet a further metaphor that supports people working in conflict resolution: One, it is itself an example of creative problem solving and two, it demonstrates a move away from the idea that we need to know everything before we can work productively on a situation and three, that we must accept a degree of not knowing. Furthermore, Robert Benjamin would argue that our "not knowing" is actually an asset:

The confused mediator more readily sees the validity of each person's perspective and more naturally resists aligning with a particular side.(2003, p85)


But, the supportive analogies from the emergence of CHI for CR theorists do not end there. Essentially, the debate between Bohr and Einstein was over accepting the concept of EITHER a combination of multiple but incomplete theories OR a single unified and complete theory of physics. Despite its counter-rational premise, the former CHI approach, which included Bohr's Complementarity theory, was temporarily accepted as the way forward in physics. It is as if Bohr was physic's version of Benjamin's Trickster!(2003, pp82-3) Given both the incomplete yet multitudinous perspectives on what constitutes conflict resolution, I would argue that such a rationale be used as a suitable and supportive parable for similar debates within the field of CR: That, despite having "precious little understanding of what causes conflict"(LeBaron, p135), we can still, indeed, proceed. Nor is it essential to have one unifying theory to in order do so.


Spooky-ness

Next, in an attempt to discredit the CHI theory, Einstein pointed out, that for it to be consistent, particles must have superluminal (faster than the speed of light) communication. According to his Theory of Relativity, this was impossible and CHI was flawed. To demonstrate this, Einstein and colleagues came up with the Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen thought experiment, EPR. (see McEvoy & Zarate, p166 and Zukav p297-332) The concept of "spooky action at a distance" as Einstein called it, was first suggested as an impossibility by EPR. However, this was taken up by Bohr as a potentially accurate reflection of relationships in the subatomic world. The suggestion is this: That signals must be communicated in ways, beyond our previous comprehension and by influences unseen. Called Non-Locality, this idea completely challenges the Newtonian concept of cause and effect and may even be used to explain such things as voodoo and ESP. (McEvoy & Zarate, p170) Such a notion began to be tested in the 60's' by JS Bell, and although not conclusive, it provides further prompting to look at the universe, and situations within it, beyond the realm of a causal reality. Non-Locality brings into question both the notion of causality and the potential complexity of our interconnectedness.


Embracing such complexity is potentially beneficial to the CR practitioner. The concept of non-locality supports Bowling and Hoffman's decree that in mediation we are dealing with things that are unfathomably subtle. (p37) Furthermore, Robert Benjamin and Michelle LeBaron are articulating ways to embrace and navigate such complexity, see their articles in Bowling and Hoffman,"Managing the Natural Energy of Conflict"(pp79-134) and "Trickster, Mediator's Friend" (pp135-149). Moreover, I would argue that the inclusion of an unknown in our reality may help people to think outside of the box. As Benjamin encourages, getting people to have their perception of the problem changed to create space for them to think about alternatives is key to getting people to move beyond a conflict.(p109)


The Conflicts Have the Solutions

Non-locality is not the only "spooky" thing to emerge from the world of QMT. In Capra's book The Tao of Physics (1991), he explores the subatomic realm, paying particular attention to particle collisions. By looking at the beautiful photo images of these collisions and trying to make sense of them, physicists uncovered some astonishing phenomena. First, that for every particle, there exists an "anti-particle", such as an anti-protons for a proton and so on. Physicists proposed the existence of anti-particles to explain the appearance that particles can travel backward in time! Moreover, scientists observed that theresults of collisions between particles can manifest moments beforethe collision.(Capra, 1991, p184) This implies that a) time is not linear and that b) the outcome of the collision is apparent before it actually takes place! If we liken QMT collisions to a conflict, this suggestion offers something to the CR practitioner: That is, when involved in a conflict, be aware that the outcome, or at least the seed of it, may already be present! This is not too dissimilar to Kenneth Cloke assertion in Mediating Dangerously(2001), that often parties' "solutions are already contained in their conflict."(p123)



One has now divided the world not into different groups of objects but into different groups of connections...The world thus appears as a complicated tissue of events, in which connections of different kinds alternate or overlap or combine and thereby determine the texture of the whole. - Werner Heisenberg8


We are All Connected

Another puzzle to come out of the studies of subatomic realm is the degree of constant change and interconnectedness that subatomic particles demonstrate. Because of their "continual transformation into one another, their mutual interaction through the exchange of other particles...and their decay into various particle combinations", the mathematic formula used to describe the particles also has to be dynamic. (Capra, 1991, p261) The degree of flux made it basically impossible for the physicist, come creative mathematician, come prophet, come trickster, to describe. As a result the focus needed to shift off the observation of the particle or wave and on to therelationships they created. Heisenberg's S Matrix, which focuses on mapping the way these particles relate, is an attempt to capture the essence of the presenting interconnectedness. (See Capra 1991, p261-277) Explaining and formalising this has still not been wholly possible. Capra likens these frustratingly impossible attempts to wholly grasp subatomic phenomena to eastern mysticism's take on the nature of reality (p277):


When the oneness of the totality of things is not recognised, then ignorance as well as particularisation arises, and all phases of the defiled mind are thus developed ... All phenomena in the world are nothing but the illusory manifestation of the mind and have no reality on their own. - Buddhist Saint


Lets explore another leading physicist's take on a reality based on interactive relationships. In his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, David Bohm suggests that we are all interwoven structures that only appear to manifest as objects momentarily and are subject to our situational relationship.(Bohm p184) In Bohm's Implicate Order, like other theorists projections, we are all far more connected than we realise(Bohm, p9):


One can no longer maintain the division between the observer and the observed... Rather, [they] are merging and interpenertrating aspects of one whole reality, which is indivisible.


Following this quote in their book, Bringing Peace into the Room, Bowling and Hoffman agree that this is "certainly what we see in the mediation room".(p30) However, what Bohm is asking for is that we shift our view from seeing a world that is made up of separate objects that may or may not be in relationship, to one where we are all inextricably connected.(Bohm, p185) He suggests that while not everything will be presenting all the time, we are at some level connected to everything.


In conclusion, we are connected, not only in the way that systems theorists9 argue, but potentially due to our interwoven reality and non-locality. Such perspectives ask CR practitioners to consider more than our connection to the "other", they demand an acceptance of a deeper connection to all things: And this includes a connection with conflicts. Whether we like it or not, conflicts, internal, relational, community-based or international, are at some level interpenetrating aspects of ourselves.



Out of mind spring innumerable things, conditioned by discrimination... These things people accept as an external world ... What appears to be external does not exist in reality; it is indeed mind that is seen as multiplicity; the body, property and above-all these, I say are nothing but mind. - Buddhist Teaching10


Looking at Ourselves as CR Practice

That we may, in some way, always be connected to all conflicts is both a challenging and empowering perspective to maintain. Moreover, it brings a further dynamic to our relationship with conflict: In light that we are all connected, systemically, non-locally and inseparably, the effective practice of conflict resolution is something we can all be engaged in. Indeed, we may even have a role in creating it! Such a perspective is not something that is confined to the world of Eastern mysticism, nor to the world of the quantum physicist, but pervades all humanity, even conflict resolution. As Kenneth Cloke says:

It is easier to assist conflicted parties in being authentic and centred with one another if we are authentic and centred [ourselves].(2003, p52)


In "Self-Awareness and the Co-Construction of Conflict," Beth Fisher-Yoshida says, upon reflection of the conflicts we have been involved in, "we may identify the role we played in co-creating, co-developing and co-sustaining them."(p162) In fact, she points out that people may even create part of their identity through their involvement with conflict. (p170) Our relationships to the conflicts we have are up to us, and therefore, she argues, it is up to us reflect and cultivate our self-awareness.(p174) In conclusion she says:


The more unaware we are of our own values, world-views and mental maps the less aware we will be of how we are impacting the a situation. No matter how impartial we think we are, we are still influencing the situation in as simple a way as choosing what we do or don't do, say or don't say. Just our presence has an impact. (p179)


The importance of developing ours self awareness is not confined to Fisher-Yoshida. Carl Jung says that (Zukav p56):


When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner contradictions, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposite halves.


He and his student, Arnold Mindell, both promote working on ourselves as a key practice in conflict resolution. In Leader As Martial Artist, Mindell outlines a number of reasons why this is important:

You will have all kinds of accusations thrown at you; you will be facilitating the group and no one will be facilitating you; and again, that your presence will have an impact on the room" (pp64-66).

As Johnson, Levine, & Richard, point out in "Emotionally Intelligent Mediation: Four Key Competencies": (p156) Self awareness alone is one of the most powerful engines of human behaviour. Therefore I promote self awareness for two reasons, one because we have an impact on those we interact with, and two, at some level we may be co-creating conflicts. The insights into our interconnectedness provided by QMT and other theories, combined with our potential role in the co-construction of conflict, demands that as CR practitioners, we not only have a responsibility to cultivate self-awareness, but that self-awareness is an offering in itself.


Conclusion

Exploring the Theory of Quantum Mechanics provides many useful parallels and insights for Conflict Resolution Theory and practice. In particular, it has made me value a number of elements that I believe are key to the practice of conflict resolution, these are: Seeing conflict as a dance of energy; an awareness of the interactive nature of relationships and subjectivity of observations; seeing beyond right & wrong; the importance of self-awareness & intuition particularly in light of our potential to co-create conflict; a greater respect for the unknown; and an appreciation for creativity and imagination - as demonstrated by all the scientists and theoreticians discussed here. What is more, I find the continually unfolding and amorphous nature of quantum mechanics itself to be a useful metaphor for the conflict resolution practitioner. Finally, I concur with Bowling & Hoffman, that the insights from quantum mechanics will continue to support both the challenges and developments within the field of conflict resolution for some time.

1Quoted in Levy, p.xi

2Crump 49

3 Interestingly, the politics of these two perspectives are quite different- one is supporting a theory to counter a power- base (Facism) and the other a support of the dominant paradigm (Capitalism).

4Quoted in McEvoy & Zarate, p122

5Although it is worth bearing in mind that "Mediators who experience sudden bursts of intuition are in reality able to bring their theoretical base to bear on the information offered by the disputants". (Lang & Taylor, p111)

6Quoted in Capra (1991) p141

7Contrary to popular perceptions of Greenpeace as an "intervention" organisation, its original objective was strictly to bare witness and, in light of the "facts," let both the witnessed and the public choose the appropriate action.

8 Quoted in Capra, (1991) p264

9 See Capra's The Hidden Connections, 2003 for an excellent elaboration on systems theory.

10Quoted in Capra, p277



 
 
 
 
 

Edward Nelson ©2011  Email: info@edwardnelson.org  Phone: +44 (0) 7832 133 101