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BL: synergy
Posted: 16 January 2014 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The birth of a business buzzword

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Posted: 16 January 2014 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think Buckminster Fuller had a lot to do with popularizing the term.  He was already something of an intellectual fad-guru when he published Synergetics in 1975-79 (vol 1 and 2, resp.)

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Posted: 16 January 2014 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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FWIW, I’m not sure one can use it today without some risk of encountering an eye roll or a snigger, although a raised eyebrow is probably more likely than a snigger.  Then again, the only way to eliminate any risk of sniggering at one’s word usages is to never speak.  (And never speaking, of course, can lead to other forms of mockery, or worse.)

Interesting to see that “synergy”, at least in the buzzword sense, really did originate in business writing.  Language Log had an interesting post a while back noting that many disparaged buzzwords that are associated with business speak (or “management speak") did not actually have their origins there, and, in fact, do not seem to actually be disproportionately used by them.  For example, this seems to be true of the oft-maligned impactful.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Of all the annoying business buzzwords, I find that synergy is one of the least annoying. It does actually mean something, and there was not a previously existing single word that means what synergy means.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Good god, do people still use synergy?  I hadn’t thought about it in decades.  (Back in the day, I worked for a Big Eight accounting firm—this was back when there were still Eight—and synergy was indeed inescapable.)

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Posted: 16 January 2014 08:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I just realized that I use a software product every day called Synergy/DE that’s put out by a company called Synergex.  According to their website the company was founded in the 80’s, which makes sense.  I suppose some may think the name sounds dated but to me it’s just background noise.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 08:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Good god, do people still use synergy?

I haven’t heard it in decades and I definitely remember being told that “we need to find ways to build synergy with our customers and vendors.”

I remember thinking to myself.. “Really? I think you need to find ways to f yourself.” Did I mention I have 35+ years of hating sales meetings?

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Posted: 16 January 2014 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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According to the AHD it was originally a Greek word for cooperation. Apparently a doctrinal word (?) if you look under “synergism” in same dict. So was it hanging out for a couple of thousand years until it was discovered by Bucky Fuller?

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Posted: 17 January 2014 12:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Did I mention I have 35+ years of hating sales meetings?

I love you, happydog ;-)

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Posted: 17 January 2014 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Did I mention I have 35+ years of hating sales meetings?

One solution is Buzzword Bingo. You make up bingo cards with the buzzwords used in your industry and you play during the meetings.

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Posted: 17 January 2014 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I used to just read Pushkin surreptitiously.

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Posted: 17 January 2014 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Iron Pyrite - 16 January 2014 10:54 PM

According to the AHD it was originally a Greek word for cooperation. Apparently a doctrinal word (?) if you look under “synergism” in same dict. So was it hanging out for a couple of thousand years until it was discovered by Bucky Fuller?

Nothing I relish more than a good heresy. Here’s the definition from OED and the earliest cite, which shows one had to be careful back then with matters synergistic!

synergism, n.

1. Theol. The doctrine that the human will co-operates with Divine grace in the work of regeneration.

1764 A. Maclaine tr. J. L. von Mosheim Eccl. Hist. (1833) Cent. xvi. iii. ii. i. §32 488/2 He [sc. Strigelius] was accused by Flackius of Synergism at the court of Saxe-Weimar.

On a side note I can’t recall whether it was Gibbon in those two notorious chapters from the Decline on early Christianity or a copy of William Hone’s New Testament apocrypha that first sparked my interest but I do know when I came across an almost complete set of the Ante Nicene Fathers at Bill’s old book shop I became totally hooked. I can still spend happy hours with Irenaeus or Hippolytus. And now, of course, with resources like the Nag Hammadi library online the heresy hunter’s joy is complete!

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Posted: 17 January 2014 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Theol. The doctrine that the human will co-operates with Divine grace in the work of regeneration.

Not sure about the heresy at the court of Saxe-Weimar, but the locus classicus in the Greek Scriptures would be James 2:22 “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” and the more abstract Rom 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (AV). The way an old Sunday School teacher, schooled in the Authorized Version, used to say this was “for thems that loves the Lord.”

The Synergism of Flakius seems to have been the assertion among Lutherans that the human will under the guidance of the grace of God was not “totally inactive” but played a role in one’s own salvation. Lutherans (here played by Strigilius) stuck to their firm believe that it is “Grace alone” (Sola Gratia) that accomplishes our salvation. Why this is a problem is not clear to me inasmuch as the five “Solas” of the Lutheran Reformation are Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Christus and Sola Deo Gloria. Seems like the Synergy of Grace and Faith are possible. But here is a discussion of the so-called heresy at Saxe-Weimar.

edit: Sorry that link takes one to the book but not the page. It starts on the bottom of page 152 and goes to the top of 153 or search on Flackius.

Attached is a snip of that discussion which seems to perplex even the author of that book:

[ Edited: 17 January 2014 03:32 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 17 January 2014 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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On a side note I can’t recall whether it was Gibbon in those two notorious chapters from the Decline on early Christianity or a copy of William Hone’s New Testament apocrypha that first sparked my interest but I do know when I came across an almost complete set of the Ante Nicene Fathers at Bill’s old book shop I became totally hooked. I can still spend happy hours with Irenaeus or Hippolytus. And now, of course, with resources like the Nag Hammadi library online the heresy hunter’s joy is complete!

There are times one simply stands in awe.

The Synergism of Flakius seems to have been the assertion among Lutherans that the human will under the guidance of the grace of God was not “totally inactive” but played a role in one’s own salvation. Lutherans (here played by Strigilius) stuck to their firm believe that it is “Grace alone” (Sola Gratia) that accomplishes our salvation. Why this is a problem is not clear to me inasmuch as the five “Solas” of the Lutheran Reformation are Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Christus and Sola Deo Gloria. Seems like the Synergy of Grace and Faith are possible. But here is a discussion of the so-called heresy at Saxe-Weimar.

It’s worth reading a few paragraphs of Archibald Maclaine’s translation of Mosheim (1838) just to be reminded of truly fine academic prose. Besides, it’s an interesting moment in history. And there’s quite a bit of knowledge being perpetrated in this post, too.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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The Synergism of Flakius seems to have been the assertion among Lutherans that the human will under the guidance of the grace of God was not “totally inactive” but played a role in one’s own salvation. Lutherans (here played by Strigilius) stuck to their firm believe that it is “Grace alone” (Sola Gratia) that accomplishes our salvation. Why this is a problem is not clear to me inasmuch as the five “Solas” of the Lutheran Reformation are Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Christus and Sola Deo Gloria. Seems like the Synergy of Grace and Faith are possible.

Do you see “Sola Voluntate” in there?  I haven’t been a Lutheran for many a decade, but I aced Sunday School and got confirmed with flying colors, and I can assure you that Will and Faith are two very different things.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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languagehat - 18 January 2014 06:47 AM

Do you see “Sola Voluntate” in there?  I haven’t been a Lutheran for many a decade, but I aced Sunday School and got confirmed with flying colors, and I can assure you that Will and Faith are two very different things.

This is a theological conversation relating to human and divine agency as regards “Faith” (is it a pure gift of God or is human will “totally inactive?") It is, however, unrelated to the origin of the word synergism.

My effort was to get at Aldi’s reference to Synergism as a heresy in Saxe-Weimar. I’m afraid I opened that door in my non-Lutheran speculations and I’m now closing it.

[ Edited: 18 January 2014 07:20 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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