The Tensegrity Model: You must be joking, oh God, you’re not!!!!


The one thing I have realised on my travels about Europe is that of a common mistake made by the osteopathic professions.  A simple but costly error.  Costly both financially and more importantly educationally.  What’s the error?  Model worship.  Not the Claudia Schiffer model type error but the Neo-Platonic error.  The reason for this error is consistent with a non-existent understanding of the History of Science and Philosophy.  Nowhere is this error more apparent than in the non-sense that is the Tensegrity model.


Plato proposed, in his two world philosophy (which Aristotle disagreed with), that we could not know anything by direct experience in any way, shape or form.  So, he put together the idea of direct experience as Opinion and indirect experience (now known as experiment) as Soul or Knowledge.  This Knowledge is behind any direct experience and is the true thing or things you want to know.  So, if you see a chair it’s not the real chair.  The real chair is in the world of Soul.  Plato being Plato devised a way to build a bridge between the two worlds.  As is the motto of his  Academy “let no one ignorant of geometry enter here” which is why the bridge is geometry.  Apparently, only mathematics/geometry can only lead us to reality.  One reason we use maths.


During the seventeenth century René Descartes took this further.  Realising that God is a geometrician and that the world was not rational Descartes (Cartesian) used geometry to help God organise the world and get closer to God’s level of knowing.  He designed what we now refer as Cartesian Geometry.  In addition Descartes gave us the Mind and Body Substance and the Machine metaphor.  This works nicely for Descartes as with the mind and body separate the body (and all objects) are dead machines composed geometrically. 


Putting these altogether we are left with:

  1. Every experience you have is not real.
  2. Every experience has to be re-presented in mathematical/geometric form.
  3. Reality is mathematical.
  4. The body is a dead geometric machine.
  5. So we re-present indirectly our experience with a model that is geometric.


Again and again I hear the same old response, “but, it helps to explain,”  “the wood is the bones,” “the elastic/springs are the ligaments.”  No it doesn’t it’s misleading and no there’re not. “Look” they say as they bounce and stretch their wooden/elastic/spring model with an insipid grin, “this how the myofascial/ligamentous system works in balance.”  NO IT ISN”T!!!


Why do we have to re-present in this mechanical metaphor or re-present at all?  I remember the late osteopath Robin Kirk telling that, “osteopaths find osteopathy too big to deal with.”  I’m beginning to see his point.  Why can’t we take the direct present experience (Appearance) of the patient seriously?  Why can’t we stop re-presenting with models, theories, and concepts?  Why can’t we stop re-presenting what is already there as a whole gesturing into the world?  Why can’t we get out of the seventeenth century with Cartesian Coordinates, straight lines (with springs) and dead machines?  Why are we worshipping a model?  Oh, yes I know why.  Because we have no knowledge of the History of Science and Philosophy.


Oh, at last looking it’s $40 for a Tensegrity model.