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Conversation is not only the basis of human communication, as it is an act of continuously shaping and reconstructing reality. Therefore, a group of friends came together to engage reflexively in systemic conversations, seeking for new ways of being and doing in the world to transform reality.
In the “systems community”, holding conversations is not something new. Systems thinkers and cyberneticians have a great interest on conversation because it is “the basis of human communication”. Humberto Maturana goes even further by saying that “we human beings exist, are realized as such, in conversations. It is not that we use conversations, we are a flow of conversations”. The “Systemic Conversations” presented in this book are the emergent outcome of a conversational system resulting from a meeting of friends, interested in reaching mutual understanding and broad agreement on a range of themes and issues. Designed with a certain resemblance to a retreat, the “Systemic Conversations” unfolded over five days at Aparados da Serra National Park, in the south of Brazil. In the words of Richard Bawden, one of the participants, “the whole experience was wonderful with its essence of holism if you will, with the music and singing and the eating together, and the pairing off in walks in the canyons, all being as important, I feel, as the conversations themselves”. In other words, the “Systemic Conversations” were much more than just conversations, in a clear example that “the whole is different than the sum of the parts”. The conversations reveal how the modern worldview has taken us away from doing synthesis, from the ability to integrate different domains of human existence. The book is also an invitation to the readers to engage in reflexive conversations themselves to reconstruct their own realities, and as a way to improve their ways of being and doing in the world.