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Grok Theory

May 15, 1995 04:15 PM
by Jerry Schueler

I just read a book by the mathematician, Ralph
Abraham, who puts groking into a scientific
context.  He was s neighbor of Robert Heinlein,
and picked up the word from his Stranger in a
Strange Land.  He says, "Its a translation into
English of the technical term  Verstehen,' which
was introduced by Wilhelm Dilthey into the
literature of hermeneutics.   Verstehen' (from the
German verb  zu verstehen,' meaning to understand)
refers, not unlike the word  hermeneutics' (which
comes from a Greek root meaning  to interpret'),
to a special form of sympathetic, experiential,
and intuitive understanding." (Chaos, Gaia, Eros,
HarperSanFrancisco, 1994, p. 13).

He then defines a  grok circle' which looks like
the following (I am doing this in ASCII so it
looks a bit crude):


     Dynamic                  Target
     Model                    System


This is actually a standard scientific model used
to show how we model things.  We make a model of a
target system.  Then we observe the target system,
and tweak our model accordingly, which in turn
better simulates the target system.  For a good
model, this is a never ending process.  He says
"It is implicit in grok theory that the model and
the observation are linked within the grok circle"
and so on.  I just thought that this was
especially interesting after all of the discussion
recently about groking.

     Jerry S

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