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Osinga Roundtable at Chicago Boyz Continues

The Osinga Roundtable on Science, Strategy and War continues at Chicago Boyz.  Much thanks to Noah Shachtman, Michael Tanji and Matt Armstrong for the links to the Roundtable!

The latests contributions in order of appearance:

Dan of tdaxp ( Dang – sweet new graphic design at tdaxp!)

“To a certain extent the argument is valid that Boyd offered merely a synthesis of existing theories, a contemporary one, important and timely regarding the context of the 1970s and 1980s, but only a synthesis.”
Osinga, 2007, pg 29

John Boyd’s OODA Loop divides cognition into four processes, perception (called Observation), unconscious or implicit thought (called Orientation), conscious of explicit though (called Decision), and behavior (called Action). Frans Osinga’s “Science, Strategy, and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd” does an excellent job describing the origins of Boyd’s learning theory in the writings of Skinner, Piaget, and the cognitivists. However, Osinga’s text excludes ongoing research into theories of learning related to OODA, as his text is focused on the development of the OODA model in particular rather than contemporary adaption. Fortunately, a recent review article by Jonathan St. B.T. Evans serves helps complete the picture, though the OODA loop is not mentioned there by name. Osinga’s book is well worth purchasing, and can be thought of as as prolegomena to all future OODA work.

Read the rest here.

Dr. Chet Richards:

Boyd, like Clausewitz and Musashi, drew on the totality of knowledge in his day for ideas. As Osinga and Coram documented (and I know from personal experience), Boyd devoured his sources. We used to joke that if Boyd didn’t write more in a book than the author did, it must not have been a very good book. As a result, he developed not just a knowledge of but a fluency in most of these subjects

….The more research I do in these areas, though, the more striking the connections between Boyd’s work and Zen concepts like clearness of vision, non-attachment to (fixed) forms and concepts, fluid awareness, and spontaneity. In fact, ideas such as these, along with Prigogine’s notion of far-from equilibrium “dissipative structures,” are what distinguish Boyd’s ultimate concept of the OODA loop, with its centrality of Orientation, from the cyclical version that he started with.

Read the rest here.

Shane Deichman:

In Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd, Osinga presents us with a fascinating “deep dive” into the evolution of a brilliant thinker – a thinker who devoted his life to applied learning and teaching. Though it is unfortunate that Boyd did not see fit to publish his theories in book form (unsurprising given his professional environment far from the Ivory Towers of academe), it is evident from his 1,500+ presentations that he rigorously developed and willingly shared his ideas. Boyd’s stamina (both mental and physical) to lecture for more than a dozen hours at a time is testament to his devotion and his determination to succeed.

Osinga nicely complements the work of Boyd biographers (most notably Coram, Hammond and Richards) by dedicating the preponderance of his 300+ pages to how Boyd’s thinking evolved – describing his intellectual influences from the expected (Sun Tzu, Clausewitz) to the unexpected (Popper, Kuhn, Polanyi). Particular attention is given to the influence of classical physicists (Newton) as well as quantum theorists and mathematicians (Heisenberg, Gödel).

Read the rest here.

More to come in the Roundtable this week. Stay tuned!

5 Responses to “Osinga Roundtable at Chicago Boyz Continues”

  1. fred lapides Says:

    It is almost war-lie to read the turgid prose of the comments at Chicagoboyz. Put simply: war changed because strategy changed insofar as numbers killed during earlier wars. One very simple illustration: when was the issuing of the bayonet ended?Why?

  2. Bootneck Says:

    I recently listened to Frank Hoffman brief at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College and I appreciated his thoughts on "Hybrid War".  I have also (actually) read: The Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd by Frans Osinga. 

    Notwithstanding that I tend to naturally believe in the wisdom of Clausewitz (I could go on but I would end up quoting Gray or Echevarria at length!) but I do like Boyd.  I guess what I am saying is that debate is good!

    I have met Wilf Owen and corresponded on a number of times and although his views do  not seem to chime with the majority, the important thing to remember is as Echevarria asserts " The problem with any body of knowledge, however, is that it has to be read before it can truly exist"

    The key determinant over time will be how the application of Boyd’s ideas to current conflicts , helps us, rather than arguments over his current perceived importance.

  3. zen Says:

    Hi Fred

    My father and uncles drilled with bayonets ( Vietnam era) but admittedly, I’ve not seen a bayonet charge lately.

    Hi Bootneck,

    Great handle BTW; and an excellent comment. I agree with your closer.

    On Clausewitz, I recall Osinga argued in his lecture at Boyd207 that Boyd had misread him ( or perhaps projected things on to him that are not merited by a close reading of On War). OTOH – great thinkers are to an extent punished both by their critics as well as the more zealous of their own followers. Comes with the territory I guess

  4. Joe blow Says:

    Fred, you are a pseudo-intellectual. Changes of bayonet occured at the technical and tactical levels of war. Far from war proper and strategy. Please, if you are going to make claims of turgid prose then don’t produce the opposite: writing so simplistic that the writer shows he knows nothing.

  5. zen Says:

    I have to say..it’s not just any day that Joe Blow stops by Zenpundit! LOL!

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