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Orientación y sociedad

versión On-line ISSN 1851-8893

Orientac. soc. vol.16  La Plata dic. 2016



An ontological and enactive tool for education in the management of coexistence.6

Osvaldo García De la Cerda* & María Soledad Saavedra Ulloa**

* Industrial Engineering Department, Santiago de Chile University,
** Physics Department, Santiago de Chile University,


Higher Education and the management of coexistence is an issue that is beginning to be included in the training of students and in teaching based on the demands made to teachers by the civil society and by the State in the last decade. The Ministry of Education of Chile formulates a National School Coexistence Policy that is being applied since 2002 in the country’s schools. It provides a conceptual and ethical framework to understand and act school coexistence from a rights and gender approach. It requires schools and universities to deal actively with this issue by placing teachers and professors as Promotors of Coexistence, i.e., it stresses their responsibility (beyond the disciplinary setting) in creating the conditions for training in citizenship, personal and social ethics, socio-emotional development, and social skills, among others. This obligation requires the teachers to question how they are acting, in their own coexistence and rupture spaces, to incorporate distinctions that allow them to act in the future from a pedagogical and generative perspective as established by the new State demands.

The same as in teacher training, it is important to nourish the students in distinctions that allow them to manage coexistence within the different work groups and systems in which they are immersed throughout their academic life. They must be enactors searching to generate coexistence spaces. That design of coexistence spaces must bring the conversational networks to generate the results that allow the system to achieve its objectives.

In this article we present the CLEHES [1] tool as a technology that activates this process in a system of observers: Teachers in Training System that must move its distinctions to configure a formative role of coexistence practice; systems of students who must move their distinctions to configure a role that generates coexistence practices. This means mobilizing the ability to observe and expand, by means of self-observation, the possibilities that culture itself offers to increase the complexity levels and take up the changes of practices that teachers and students must set up. The experience that we present arises from an orthodisciplinary conversation between second
order cybernetics, social science, cognitive science, and neurophenomenology to propose a formative experiential space that moves and expand the world of distinctions that the observer has in his body.


Our work is focused on the student as a human being that embodies culture and expresses through action and the subjective modes in which it is narrated, the distinctions and perceptions that underlie their practices, and as enactor [2] with the ability to self-reflect, question his action, and (re)build realities from the self- observation that he makes in those practices. We understand that he learns to know himself bodily, in the interaction, in some ways and not in others; that experience closes our microworlds and our future ways of knowing [3]. It is these closures that configure our practices that remain installed in the body, that are cultivated and are reproduced in conversations.

We postulate that it is these enacted experiences that make it possible to re-view coexistence practices that bring pain or discomfort to human activity systems. In other words, an interaction is a unique source of coexistence that allows being, designing, creating, and consequently re-creating that reality. We state that the process of (re) creation is, more than an intellectual or rational effort, an emotional-erotic experience [1].

Coexistence practices and conflict-resolving practices constitute cultural practices, and as such their sense, reproduction, and perpetuation take place in the shared symbolic worlds that are cultivated since birth, in family culture, then at school, and later in higher education and in the labor and social world [5]. From there we look at and act coexistence and conflict situations, and from there also, (in the future), we educate.

2.1- What practices distinguish the students when the program begins?

A brief look at the conflict resolving differences identified through conflict narratives of the teacher training students at the opening of the program7, puts forth that:

  • 44.2% associate conflict with rupture, whose positively valued actions are avoidance, negation, or inhibition. Fear of definitive breakage of relations and emotional management incompetence are declared as key elements of this association.
  • 38.5% associate conflict with competence or power, configuring defense and attack interactions and the possibility of control over others. This association is linked with being “successful” among peers, so it is a positive point of reference in the interactions.
  • 17.3% associate conflict with ethical dialogic experiences where one’s own responsibilities are recognized. This association is related to self-confidence as a condition that generates listening and conversation.

Our interest is oriented to construct a Pedagogy of Coexistence and of Conflict, and permitting to contribute to formation, so that tomorrow they may become active agents within the Social/Professional environment, for the generation of spaces of coexistence, not as a reaction to violence, but as the opening of the possibility for dialog with difference (Alterity, Otherness) through the recognition of the cognitive blindness embodied by every human being, (whether he is a teacher or teacher in training), and which encloses us in what we have learned. Every culture configures a way of seeing
and for the same reason constitutes a particular form of blindness; getting out of it involves moving towards learning to open the traditional practices, questioning them, and redesigning them.

We postulate that the tools that are needed to produce effective changes of cultural practices must come from human beings themselves, i.e., be derived from the constitutive elements generated recurrently by the interaction itself in the network of processes that produce them. It is what we call self-management: the process in which the system opens, generates its own (re)organization. and maintains and constitutes itself in a particular context [1].


The tool that allows us to design this process is the CLEHES© technology: Body-Language-Emotions-History-Eros-Silence.[1]; it is ontological because it distinguishes human beings from six interlinked constitutive dimensions and configures the observer that one is. CLEHES has the character of a technology due to its ability to bring to the body distinctions that allow enaction, i.e., it bursts the complexity of human beings to bring a new world that rises in the action (Saavedra y García, 2006; Varela et al, 1992; García y Laulié, 2010; Saavedra y García, 2013) and in this way reconfigures the student’s learning.

Every dimension of CLEHES is a domain from which human beings observe (distinguish) and operate in the interactions. With CLEHES we move in the social scenario: we open and close conversations, we trigger and resolve conflict situations, we build networks, we participate or we are inhibited, according to the particular ways that we have of interpreting the world. These dimensions configure micro- and multi-identities, insofar as they are observed in a human being, a community, or an organization.

Self-observation and observation constitute the strategy of which we make use in the formative program, where we distinguish the following spaces:

  • Self-observation in CLEHES: self-reflexivity space that allows observing the observer that we are and identify what to conserve and what to change in the conflict and coexistence resolutive practices, opening self-learning possibilities.
  • Observation of orthogonal interactions: space that allows observing the different levels of relations and interactions in which we participate in the social web, to generate conversational unfolding and autonomy in the intersection of our conducts and psychic states of the situated situation.
  • Observation of the CLEHES networks: it allows seeing the structure of the conversation networks and the agreements networks in which we operate and in which we can operate. It is a redesign of the networks of relations in which we participate through an adjustment of the interaction between them.

Wholly, these strategies allow opening to reflection and action spaces, as well as to their inhibition and closure in the networks that are observed and which are desired to act with the Other (Saavedra y García, 2006; Saavedra, 2006; García y Salazar, 2012).

From this perspective we observe coexistence as the dynamics or movement of a network of interactions and conversations between CLEHES that characterizes a system of human activiy in a particular context, that may or may not be in harmony. We understand that conflict, rupture, or breakage situations are inherent to the interactions, and we conceeive them as crashes of perceptions and distinctions that are expressed in the CLEHES of the components of the system, whether it is an educational center, a class group, or an organization (Saavedra, 2006; Saavedra y García, 2013; Varela, 2000). The educational program that we design takes the characteristics of an observation laboratory in which we inject the CLEHES technology as a device that questions, irritates, and disturbs the practices assumed as natural to open the possibility of design or conservation of what is desired (Saavedra, 2006; Saavedra y García, 2013). The student is invited to observe himself permanently and to dis-cover and learn in the interaction with others and not only with his student peers, but also with family, neighbor, community, and social spaces; the individual written reports, which assume the character of tasks and self-evaluation, are witnesses of this process. The laboratory is essentially a space in which work is done with breakage and confusion through games, drama, sense of humor, poetry, singing, to enter the emotional world and the body, where the practices are anchored (García, O.; Saavedra, M.; 2006) The space is opened to generate new explanations, and it is forced to establish new connection guidelines to rearrange the world, extend the view, and open the perceptual arches (Varela et al, 1992; Bateson, 1972). The transformation requires the student to bring into his history a new world that becomes embedded in his body (embodied), to take action; it is the body that is affected when practice changes are required (Saavedra y García, 2006; Varela et al, 1992; García y Saavedra, 2014; García, 2009).

The main objective of this technology is to trigger the second order learning ability (Saavedra y García, 2013) of the participants through the choreographic process of being an observer and an enactor. An observer because he can distinguish and reveal the worlds that are co-created in the interactions, and enactor because he acquires the ability to create emergent conditions according to the context in which the interaction occurs.

The management of coexistence and the conflict situations are managed in the laboratory by observing the interactional choreographies (García y Saavedra, 2014) and approaching them from the ontological dimensions that they involve:

  • The Body (Cuerpo) is the geographic space in which the interaction is received and is located.
  • The acceptance or denial towards the Other is constructed in the Language. Observing and self-observing one’s own language implies seeing oneself in the responsibility of the worlds that are created (García y Saavedra, 2014; García y Salazar, 2012).
  • The Emotions are at the base of the actions. Every human act is generated by an emotion that motivates and projects it.The emotions inhabit the body: there we feel them, we enjoy them, and we suffer them. What emotions can we identify in the conflict that is lived or is observed? What actions arise from this thrill? What consequences do these actions have for this particular context?
  • Our personal History is triggered automatically in coexistence. What landmarks, distrusts, fears, models, are in my history and are manifiested in my interactions?
  • How are these experiences mobilized or paralized in the face of a conflict?
  • Eros is the force that allows to create, come out of oneself to meet the Other in seduction, in pleasure, in tenderness, in his care, and in the care for the relations. Listening sensually (with all the senses) and opening honest conversations activates the eros. What relations do we want to care for in the coexistence? Who do we have to listen to?
  • Silence is a human resource that opens up different settings of existence. Spirituality is a dimension that feeds on silence; silence is present when there is interest for the Other; however, in a conflict silence can seem to be a punishing resource: with silence I can deny the Other, I provoke him and nullify him, but I also hide away. Leaving the silence means moving the conversations. Which conversations are missing? What design can I make from these conversations?

The students observe that each human being or group generates from these dimensions a way of interacting that triggers responses in the other and viceversa, and that entering pedagogically into this space means opening conversations from one’s own CLEHES, activating each dimension in the search for a creative design, that observes the present and questions itself for its future consequences to decide and take responsible actions (García y Saavedra, 2014; Saavedra, 2006; Saavedra y García, 2013; Maturana, 1983).

The purpose of the CLEHES technology is to create design conditions in autonomous identities, i.e., observers with the ability for self-regulation and organization in the face of situations that generate discomfort in the human activity systems for which they are responsible or in which they participate, in a continuous learning process. A community, an organization, or a human being have the possibility of recognizing
their resources and generate changes in their practices if they so desire. The key question is: What do we want to conserve and what do we want to change? The reply arises from a process of observation, self-observation, design, action, and learning on ourselves, and from the relations and networks in which we participate, which is not exhausted in the laboratory space, but is instead the initial stage of a process that is installed in the bodies of the participants.


The laboratory and the ontological and enactive tool CLEHES constitute a high impact educational space. The written reports of the students and their later teaching and academic practice allow us to state that this program conserves and changes the perspective of coexistence, allowing the students to observe themselves as coauthors of it, with the ability to manage the interactions and incompatibilities of CLEHES (conflicts, violence) and propose different conversations. The most frequent associations with which the students begin this program, conflict-rupture or conflict–competence, are supported on distinction webs that lead to the culture of conflict in Chilean society, whose critical knot is constituted by the fear of relation and identity disintegration, an emotion that inhibits the exercise of discrepancy, stigmatizes the conflict, and denies any management possibility. These choreographies that have kept company with us historically from the origins of the Republic must now be placed at the center of the discussion and of the initial teaching formation to advance in what has turned into one of the most powerful educational challenges of the 21st century: learning to live together.

The attraction that this course generates, because of its practical application, is seen in the interest shown by the students in going more deeply into elective courses and in their degree work. Special emphasis on students of various undergraduate and graduate careers that identify in this way of making Management the new way of how to be more effective in their labor future, making up for the insatisfaction related to the traditional management methods.

The way of conceiving this program has its reference point in two sources: an academic one associated with research and teaching (García, 2009), and another one, of intervention experiences made in Chile and in other countries, addressed at increasing the effectiveness of the groups, communities, and organizations that move in different contexts and are conceived as human activity systems (García y Laulié, 2010; Saavedra y García, 2013; García y Salazar, 2012).

CLEHES is a resource all human beings have, it is always available, it is free, and it offers the opportunity to design ethically the worlds that are longed for.


6. The authors are grateful for DICYT-USACH project 061617GDLC “Tecnologías y Herramientas Enactivas de Apoyo al Gobierno y a la Gestión Organizacional¨ in the systematization of their experiences, as well as for the support of the Departamento de Ingeniería Industrial.

7. This activity has been aplied since 2006 in each group of students, so that had allowed to systematize a large amount of narratives in ethnographic perspective. (Teaching Innovation Project 2015-2017; Nº 029- 2015. Universidad de Santiago de Chile).

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