A FATHER’S QUESTION: What’s the Ontogeny of Your Ontology?

September 26, 2020

In memory of my father, Dr. Douglas E. Kelly, who passed away Sept. 17, 2020, here’s a re-post of a memorable visit from the good professor. Fly high, Dad. You live in this work. — Alan Kelly

A Cell Biologist’s Big Question

December 6, 2011

Readers of The Elements of Influence and attendees of my talks know of my father’s impact on the Taxonomy of Influence Strategies. He’s Dr. Douglas E. Kelly (pictured), a noted cell biologist, researcher and medical school teacher, now retired and irretrievably consumed by a passion for kit-built airplanes.

Dad dropped by the Playmaker’s bat cave last week, eager to see what’s new and to preview System 2.0, now in final design. Hearing of our recent head-slapping epiphany: That the system is surely an ontology of influence (see Aug. 24, 2011 post), he pulled from his bottomless bag of vocabulary another new term and a killer question, a transparent challenge play of course:

“What…” he asked slowly, “is the ontogeny of your ontology?”

Fathers are never bested; I was numbed and asked him to explain. He was asking about the evolutionary development of the Playmaker system. A what-did-we-know, and when-did-we-know-it kind of query. Here’s the definition.

“Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny!” he professored on. Huh?!  “If you were an anthropologist looking at your system of plays what could you determine were its evolutionary stages of development?”

In other words: What did we know, and when did we know it? As users of strategy and influence, did humankind’s mastery of plays begin with one or two or twenty-five? Better yet, did earlier hominids have lesser mastery than Homo sapiens? Do other mammals of presumed intellectual capacity, like dophins and chimpanzees, run plays? Or subsets thereof? Or more than their fellow primates?

It’s food for thought as we dust off and further discover the certain fossils of influence in our play-crazy culture.  Thank you Dr. Kelly for keeping us on our toes.

Posted by Alan Kelly