Our VIEW OF LIFE IS TOO FLAT – so how about a deeper concept ?

Let us call it purposely controversial: “the Benking Universe" <sik> so it has a name and maybe catches some attention. It is a 9-dimensional reference model, a deep schema as a combination of 3 extensional spaces. (9-d or Cognitive Panorama[1])

And please check out the extra challenge:  and 21stCenturyAgora collection and retrospective inquiry !

Breaking news Sept 19, 2009  the EcoTHEE proceeding have hit the streets in Athens and Crete:




 This page: http://9-d.org in combination with the IN BETWEENER and DEEPWORLDS pages are presently re-designed


My limited "universe" is a model with only 9 dimensions. You will respond that this is poor and inappropriate, since we can say that the living cosmos in time has unlimited diversity, complexity, dynamic, variety, beauty and dimensions. You are right - and I agree full-heartedly!!

No effort to describe and study the vulnerability and wealth of GAIA can be matched by any human “conundrum” or “universe”.


How many dimensions are feasible, make sense, and can help us overcome the oversimplifications and under-complex approaches ? – which called by Mikhail Gorbachev  the “TRAP” (more below)..

We will later show that we have to leapfrog beyond only using a certain representation only: signs, words, labels, pictures, graphs, films, … but let us first outline the width of the challenge.

Traditionally we use and fight over words, seldom we use a spectrum of meaning between two “ends” and rarely we address issues like in these diagrams of wheels: (see benking.de) but the challenges are today larger, we have to bridge scales and times conceptually as we cause changes in other dimensions and times, and are confronted with various formats, models and schemas from different disciplines, cultures and times like never before)




Wiser Earth “net

We explored with data from the UIA and Dropping Knowledge advanced uses.

More on Semantic webs, there Pros and Cons elsewhere DO: ****



what really matters

“what needs to be done”

I often use this „wheel“ to show fields of activities and how they are connected and overlap.





“Women of Vision and Action”  Building Community


Truth as “Gesamtumfang[2] and “Gestalt”. This graph based on Rudolf Steiner goes beyond “isms” or „schools”.

Such deeper, coherent, meaningful and pragmatic & helful shared designs we are looking for and discussing on this site !!. See footnote [1] and this paper.

Nowadays fashionable are displays as nets and webs, but even when such semantic webs displays are 3-dimensional and can be navigated,  they are “too flat” in view of the challenges posed. The wheels represent not only items in sequence, but show “neighboring” and opposite sectors and are in this way able to present much meaning “in-between”. Matrix schemas and many other representation to share meaning and negotiate “orientations” have been studied.[3] We feel they can be very helpful, but to address the challenge of the “TRAP” we have to take our conventional viewpoints out (even add extra perspectives[4]) and use other ways to communicate and present, use arts and design to overcome the hidden assumptions and ways of thinking (without concrete sharing). So what we add here is not only some more (tangible, extensible, concrete) dimension, but make sure we can overlap fields of meaning and combine patterns, fields, and spaces of meaning and sharing[1][5] – but about that later[6]

So - what is this 9-d about?


When Mikhail Gorbachev  received the Planetary Consciousness Award (Frankfurt, 1997), he introduced his views on  "New Thinking" and explained that it went beyond the old dualisms like East-West, good-bad, black-white,… I reported on this in the Club of Budapest Viewsletter  DO: **** Upload Viewsletters a.s.a.p. *** and we had the opportunity to meet him and his advisor for one of the Preparation Conferences for UNESCO’s “Culture of Peace” where Gorbachew’s advisor Vladimir Lomeiko was very helpful and trail-blazing.


When I saw him today at the CINEMA FOR PEACE event (February, 8, 2009) he requested again this “change in the minds of the people”, and “overcoming the old rules”. But he did not say how except inviting leaders in the Green Cross Foundation and coming to true dialog on equal terms. When Confronted with the Financial Crisis he said it is a “TRAP”, we create again and again (hu)man made  An Analysis of this TRAP and alternative ways to “Step out of the Box” is what this page is about. And as we are stuck and think too flat, circular and dualistic I propose to add and share some more concrete dimensions, same as model-makers introduce alternative models in planning and design to discuss with experts and the public !


My mentor and friend Herbert Stachowiak had always shown that between such poles or extremes lies in fact a significant, important and very varied spectrum of meaning. Which is  more than just linear, dichotomy thinking. But what has happened the last 10 years since Gorbatchev spoke before many leaders and thinkers? My answer: Very little, as we are still wired to think in overclaims and oversimplifications.


Gorbachev proposed to leave this box of thinking in extremes but what we have experienced is that we have fallen back into out old habits of labeling, geopolitical thinkers invented even new extremes and boundaries “in-between”! Not only between people and concepts, but for the world, separating not only North versus South, “Developed” and “Developing”, but Gap and Core countries, the good Western and modern and the “Other”, “Failing states”.

Such argumentation and reasoning is not only dangerous but dumb, as reality as described above is not so simple and silly and shows we are still living on a flat, undercomplex conceptual “cosmos”, very much like the European Medieval Ages.


Our times of global shift to sustainability and new co-operations is about jointly going beyond such “flat” one-eyed right-wrong thinking and doing. This is a fundamental a matter of schooling! But still, in schools, we learn little or nothing to leave this undesirable box of labels, stereotypes, symbols, signs, and numbers.



Maybe as a short-cut see this paragraph:

In the Einstein Year and keeping in mind Einteins 4 Dimension we want to show some models which can help us as "orienting generalisations"  to keep from "a distance" our store of knowledge in order and help us to communicate and share multi-dimensional and multi-cultural content.
I propose to visit some new entries in the International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (SAUR Publishers) and come back soon.
another proposal to get startet is visit the KNOW MAP Magazin
http://benking.de/Global-Change/spatial-spacial.html, our Wholeness Seminar: http://benking.de/ISSS/ISSS-Primer-wholeness.html, and some reports on Workshops with CHILDREN in the Education directory, maybe start with the above mentioned OUR VIEWS OF LIFE IS TOO FLAT



What is the different of what I am proposing here?

I use many steps and elements, simple ones. We call it a chain of methods[7] but I also combine them in various ways! (here-in lies the origin of “my” 9-d approach)


·         We create a model space. Like you would create in the sand-box a reality which you can play and negotiate together / jointly. This model space is not an oversimplified new model or space, but a combination of extensional spaces. A composite of the space of the geographical, physical (extensional) world we all know, and 2 “extra” model or imaginary model spaces  to help us gain ability to also point to contexts along and across scales, and to the world of words in libraries (VERSTEHE NICHT DEN ZUSAMMENHANG). You can call this an order, an index or a switching space between (between the two? Zusammenhang unklar), which also helps address the important challenge of relating meanings in different cultures and languages. Since this touches on many disciplines, you may wish for some background information to get the full picture. You can read about its evolution  over the past 20years: (KnowMap Magazine, Spatial vs. Spacial 2001) or in an article for the United Nations Years of the Mountains 2002 (sorry only in German, google translation tools may be of help : http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en).

·         We use workshops for “Paradigm Mapping and “Out of the Box” thinking as expanded from workshops developed for foreign students in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. [more]

·         We expand our possibilities to dialogue and co-create by exploring methods for a new dialog and decision culture which we call “Open-Forum” (since 1995), and apply this in the field of governance towards new “art of the arts”: communication (seed: Benking), and “panethics” to reduce the infliction of suffering in the world and expand our compassion, and look into a new ethics with space and time horizon (Hans Jonas) with a new systematic neopragmatism and his model theory (with UNESCO) since the 1960s and 1970s (Herbert Stachowiak).

·         We include concrete grounding and point to concrete issues, so that "corpus" of meaning in embodied. The negotiation of issues which are contextualized is also of great importance. The impact was fist discussed in the Konrad Lorenz Institute Emergence series. See also Concreteness in Integral Worlds, Show or Schau?, and what the impact could be for conversations, The Dialog among Civilizations, participation and a Dialog and Decision Culture, towards a  Culture of Peace.



How this Universe of thinking and shared action came about (some words of thanks, providing some roots and fundaments):

  • When, in the early 1990s, I gave a presentation in Bonn: “Knowledge Cosmos or Knowledge Panorama”[8]  a Professor of Education asked his students to explore the “Benking Universe”. First I was a little shocked as I felt I only created a Panorama (like a sketch) for seeing things and issues from a distance. But I later agreed, as we are model making humans and can make maps and models to share meanings and orientations. As our society, is trapped in a downward spiral of “dumbing down”, accelerated by commercial Cyberculture and the media glut, I feel we must not only open a few words about “New Thinking” without showing how that can actually be achieved. But we have to think big and share new models. This is new, it goes beyond common ways, and it is exciting! Please see the reaction of children in 1993 “Our View of Life is Too Flat”. [more in German].
  • I owe much thanks in regard of my whole professional development to the friendships with Dr. Alfred Schinz for more than 25 years. He, same as Leopold Kohr, saw much misery in our lack of understanding and differentiating between the fields of architecture and planning, and so avoiding the central issues of Prognosis, Utopia, Planning, see: Georg Picht. Alfred Schinz supported my thinking and work for the German Chancellory (Global Change exhibition May 1990) and showed me that my Cognitive Panorama *************** maintains the same conceptual structural thinking as can be found in the Science of Settlements by Doxiadis. Further research showed that Doxiadis considered his Ekistic Grid to be expanded into a third dimension: Time ! – the 4th of the 9 Dimensions of the Cognitive Panorama. Doxiadis also used the term Ecumenopolis – which I have summed up as the combination of oikos, ecumene, ecudomy.
  • My focus on "ecological modeling" for my engineering degree in the early 1970s have led me to the original prospectus of the Club of Rome. DO: **** UNKLAR FORMULIERT ***: how the clashed and separated in the early 70ies and what the original idea was. To map inter-sectorial strategic dilemma. To not only look at  problems in isolation, but look into causation and relations along and across scales. The Original Prospectus (see 2.) was not to model (only) (prognostic futures), but to explore participative and normative futures as well. This line of thinking lead “Structured Dialogues” towards a “New Agora for the 21st Century”. You can look at a recent outcome (OBAMAVISION) and study the process of the Agoras of the 21st Century! It is very important not to look at a hierarchy of Problems but to see how they connect and to identify Drivers behind Issues! and so establish the context and ways and means, actions, options, strategies (Vol. 3) for solving them!! And in all this matter of strategies for world change, and many adapted and developed ways and off-springs of methods by many thinkers and experts, it must not be forgotten who were the early scientific visionaries  who started these disciplines:  Churchman, Ozbekhan, Jungk, Judge,...
  • Last not least I have to mention again Robert Jungk, add Hans Jonas and  Ralph G. H. Siu.  Without them, their cheerfulness, subsuming and resonating, the broader concepts and purpose of my work would not have the necessary, humane, pragmatic and ethical grounding and direction.  Even a "Universe" needs concrete and shared frames of references. (UNKLAR: The aim and vision of my work is…) My work was draw this map to Survey Global Change or to create a Global Covenant as we called it later around GEIG (Urbino) and the Earth Charter. And so I have to thank people like Noel Brown and Walter Bogan who always worked successful and hard, were the people behind the scene, instrumental not only for Stockholm 1972 and Rio 1992 (see Side-Events as we have been doing them for years (here with Walter Bogan) but were even so modest that they did not request to have their names mentioned in those important processes.



After the necessary acknowledgements above let us be more concrete:


There were many breakthroughs in “thinking out of the box” and leaving narrow fixations. Let me give an example. The Thinking-Learning Space of Enlightenment Education - The Denklehrzimmer der Aufklätungspädagogik. I add below a little picture so we can share the same. What we are talking here about is an arbitrary, but meaningful and pragmatic schema or model. The usefulness is decided allowing us to gain more insights and help “bridge” between the various classes or expertises, like that of teachers and thinkers, and that of practical people and pupils.

My professional mentor and friend was Alfred Schinz, who worked “besides” on order schemas in world building cultures, rhythmical measurement schemes in ancient cultures,…. You got the picture. We did a presentation just before he died in the German TECHNIK MUSEUM, (our Smithonian) in a series called ORDER ET MENSURA, so you can see that these people looked “in-between” used patterns, scales, rythms,… I show an example from old Chinese Townplanning where Alfred Schinz focussed on overlapping order schemas.              


The Thinking-Learning Space of Enlightenment Education

The measurement schema of Erelitou I with Ying and Yang grids. Alfred Schinz

Otto Schärli drafting the Cognitive Panorama and how different kinds of information, signs and concepts can be related.


So how about knowing a virtual order schema which is like geographic co-ordinates just help for positioning and orientation. Like regions overlapping – of fields, if you think in a special way, you would avoid the fixation on one box or one “shelf” and would be able to “negotiate” regions and sectors and how they connect. DO: ****Switching Systems in Library Sciences….

With Otto Schärli we were drawing how we such a navigation see these slides presented at the EcoTHEE 2008 (publication under preparation).


Thinking out of the Box and Paradigm Mapping


Maybe you still need some of the links:   back section maps&systems&models   Culture  Education  Global Change   "Systems/models"  

please see also the master-page: http://9-d.org






[1] Call it “individual/ego-universes”, or worms-eyes, Orientierungsrahmen (general orientation frames like in education) or a panorama. What is meant is a complete” coherent, meaningful and useful picture. Remember: Universe is not a collection of objects, communion of subjects (Thomas Berry)? We have called it also House of Eyes or World House, but mor important is what is meant a shared vision people not only believe in but – but identify with and build and help civilizations find a common grounding in. I have written on the House” in the Arab tradition repeatedly. (House of Wisdom (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bait al-Hikma)   See: Story of Manu and Harun al Raschid for example at the “Ethics-Sumit”) - Maybe you consider it an architectural design – not engineering blueprint, both and more are needed !

[2] total circumference, complete amount, entire range – but this is not to be understood verbally, but embodied and encompassing, a difficult word like “Gestalt” in German.

[3] Sharing and Changing Realities with Extra Degrees of Freedom of Movement, In: Computation for Metaphors, Analogy and Agents: An International Workshop, Univesity of Aizu, Japan 1998

[5] As in academic circles citations are necessary, here two scholars, Kim Veltman, Toronto, Maastricht, Michael Giesecke, Hannover, Erfurt which in their publications sow the width and depth of what is being addressed here: Frontiers in Conceptual Navigation Heiner Benking, another speaker at the German chapter of the ISKO conference builds ..... Culture of Peace and Intersymp 97. 9th. International Conference on Systems Research,. Informatics and Cybernetics, August 18-23, Baden-Baden, ... www.mmi.unimaas.nl/people/Veltman/veltmanarticles/1998%20Frontiers%20in%20Conceptual%20Navigation.pdf   -  Frontiers in Conceptual Navigation 2  Heiner Benking, builds upon the framework of Dahlberg and Judge (as in figure 7 above), ...... Culture of Peace and Intersymp 97. 9th International Conference on Systems Research, ... August 18-23, Baden-Baden, available electronically ... www.sumscorp.com/articles/art50.htm  -  Interfaces for Cultural Heritage  culture, where immediate profit is less obvious, these techniques remain largely unknown. .... The implications thereof for culture are no less impressive ... www.mmi.unimaas.nl/people/Veltman/veltmanarticles/1998%20Interfaces%20for%20Cultural%20Heritage.pdf Giesecke:  09 Leitbilder zeitgemäßer face- to- face- Kommunikation: dialogue ...  Von den Mythen der Buchkultur zu den Visionen der ... [1] So Farah Lenser und Heiner Benking: Gesprächskulturen und runde Tische, ... www.michael-giesecke.de/theorie/dokumente/09_dialoge/exzerpt/09_leitbilder_zeitgemaesser_face.htm   09 Dialogische Gruppengespräche als Übergangsobjekt  … versprechendsten Methoden eine erstarrte, verkrustete Gesellschaft und deren Institutionen wieder in Bewegung zu bringen www.michael-giesecke.de/theorie/dokumente/09_dialoge/fliesstext/09_dialogische_gruppengespraeche.htm

[6] We have to think here about new order systems and schemas, the need to bridge realities, like physical and virtual with all the challenges connected to it, and make use of other forms of indexing, use as we now have GPS as a geographic positioning also a conceptual or cultural positioning systems (GPS plus CPS), Walter Zessner, Heiner Benking (work in progress – not yet published).

[7] I was busy “creating“ another chain of methods already in the mid 1980s. This was a very broad and sensitive research, data acquisition and management concept in the field of ecological research. We called it TOPOGRAMM. See geo-eco-dynamics . Important was to outline the challenges of data integration (coded and non-coded data) which lead to the UN-G7 harmonization and meta-data projects under the umbrella of UNEP. See harmonization and access and assimilation and Grand Environmental Challenges.

[8]IKO-Symposium:  Ökologie und Kommunikation, 5.-5. Mai 1995.  My Contribution: Knowledge Cosmos or Panorama? -  Wissenskosmos oder Wissenspanorama? Quo vadis Medien, Bildung und Bewußtsein.  I feel these copies from a preliminary  symposium resume, aptly summarized  by the organizer Armin Scholl show the tragic of different disciplines using their jargon and are used to their media and sign-systems and with zero-tolerance for anything new or “other”.  This was also experiences by a director of IIASA in Laxemburg, Nathan Keyfritz, in the 80ies. He summarized it nicely as “Sectarianism of Science” *** DO: add a.s.a.p.  ****]  please also see: Future of Higher Education, 5 Volumes: http://quergeist.info/higher-education/