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"We celebrate - and this becomes especially clear in the experience of art - because we gather around something. It is not being together as such, but the intention that unites all and which prevents them from falling into separate conversations or scattering into separate adventures." (Gadamer, 1993, p.70)

A common goal for at least two parties, who join forces to realize it.

Precondition: they can perceive it as a common goal and they are motivated to act accordingly.

A group goal, as opposed to an individual goal. A goal that can only be achieved by cooperation of all parties involved.

If you break it down, the word "superordinate" means something greater than independent parts. Basically, a group is greater than the sum of its parts. It is the added value of the group that is necessary to achieve the SuperordinateGoal.

Similar to, but not the same as, SharedValues? and SharedBeliefs?

The way I normally see this put is SubordinateGoal?s, but I suppose that the difference is what you are focusing on. With SubordinateGoal?s, the center goal is focused on, and the SubordinateGoal? is necessary to meet the main goal. With SuperordinateGoal, the focus is on a set of goals, and if they are met, the SuperordinateGoal is met, so you are not working for the SuperordinateGoal itself. Instead of it being the thing worked for, the SuperordinateGoal falls out of the stuff you're really working for happens.

For example, assume the downfall of MicroSoft as a major power were a SuperordinateGoal, or just a goal. If a group that wanted that, some would want to introduce non-MicroSoft handhelds, some would want to create better desktop operating systems and user software for those, some would want to maintain and extend current server-level computing choices, and some would want to loudly exploit every security issue to shake consumer confidence. Surely, there are those developing non-MicroSoft handheld platforms. I am a big believer in non-MicroSoft desktop operating systems and non-MicroSoft server operating systems. I am far from the only one working on these issues. I am not busy exploiting MicroSoft security, but when interviewing in my current WorkPlace?, I commented that I felt I could handle Outlook as a mail agent, but I would feel uncomfortable doing so due to security aspects.

The question is this: is all this organized? Have we conspired? If so, than those issues are SubordinateGoals?, but if not, the end of Microsoft is a SuperordinateGoal.

Or maybe not. --DaveJacoby

Etymologically, a SubordinateGoal? would be a goal of the individual. (*) A SuperordinateGoal is known (in some way) to the group before they join. In fact, that is the whole point of forming the group in the first place. By the way, in this sense, a collection of random people is not a group; each person must consciously join the group and the rest of the members must be aware of that person's presence. I think what you are describing is a sort of emergent CollectiveIntelligence.

(*) A group is made up of ordinate parts, called individuals. Ordinate means at right angles to each other, or independent of each other in this context. A SuperordinateGoal is a goal that is above the individuals' personal goals. It is some goal that is defined by more than one axis (aka ordinate; individual).

That makes sense. I join a group (to follow the example, the "Eliminate Microsoft Society", and our SuperordinateGoal is to Eliminate Microsoft, with each of taking up an OrdinateGoal? so that OrdinateGoal? is akin to tactics, with the SuperordinateGoal being akin to strategy.

Or, I start working to create a better PalmTop OS, with my goal being to whup MicroSoft in the PDA market. Someone else starts working on a better web browser, with her goal being to whup MicroSoft in the browser war. If we start encouraging each other, this starts being a CollectiveIntelligence. However, as I proceed and as she proceeds, we know that you cannot make a browser alone and you cannot make a PDA alone. We hire people. We recruit people into OpenSource or FreeSoftware projects. Each of these people are joining a group, so for each of these people, they accept the SuperordinateGoals of either kicking MicroSoft out of the Browser or the PDA market, respectively. Perhaps this can bee seen as an extention of the CollectiveIntelligence or CollectiveGoal? of ending MicroSoft, but not the SuperordinateGoal of ending MicroSoft in a particular market.

But even this has limits. RichardStallman and LarryEllison? agree that MicroSoft should be stopped, but their opinions on what should replace it certainly don't match. Perhaps LinkedGoal?s or RelatedGoal?s would be good terms for what is going on. CommonGoal??

(I tend to sort out abstract issues by creating an instance of the subject at hand. It allows me to introduce messy real-world friction that makes the model more interesting.) --DaveJacoby

Good points, all. You're right. We should further specify a SuperordinateGoal is a conscious effort. A merely CommonGoal? is not superordinate. I think a SuperordinateGoal implies teamwork. Groups aren't teams; groups are a collection of people working towards a common goal, teams are a collection of people working together towards a common goal.

On the other hand, you got me thinking. Is a SubordinateGoal? really individual goals? OrdinateGoal?s would seem to be the individual goals. A SubordinateGoal? would be something lower than the individual. Values, perhaps? Or physiological needs? -- SunirShah

I dunno. Which is to say, it depends. Back to the "creating a killer PalmTop" concept, my OrdinateGoal? is creating that PalmTop. This is where my work and effort and thought goes. Defining the size, shape, features and connectivity of an ultimate PalmTop are SubordinateGoals?, as I wouldn't be doing them without the goal of the PalmTop. (How do you normally separate submissions in Wikis?) -- DaveJacoby

Do we have a superordinate goal here on Meatball? Should we? Should we attempt to state it? (perhaps this has already been discussed- links anyone?) It think things get tough in that zone because different people react differently to the same words. So a single collective goal statement that means the same thing to everyone (insiders and outsiders alike) is perhaps difficult to find (but it would be useful to find one).

On another note, I think superordinate goals feed back into ordinate goals. Achieving a superordinate goal will get me somewhere, as an individual. Perhaps bring me closer to economic or psychological freedom. -- SebPaquet

I suggest moving this to SharedGoal?, which is less jargony, but is there some subtle difference in meaning?

Yes. Superordinate is more than the sum of its parts. Just sharing a goal does not mean collaboration, but merely related interests. Consider the case where an enemy of my enemy is my friend. You have the shared goal of conquesting the common enemy, but no superordinate goal.

CommunityWiki calls this CommunityWiki:CommonCause

Being holonic, each of us can also have a superordinate goal by ourselves. Or not (that way madness lies?).


Gadamer, H.-G. (1993), De actualiteit van het schone, Meppel, Boom. Original title: Die Aktualitat des Schonen, Stuttgart, Reclam, 1977.


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