Things are more than interdependent — they are Intra-dependent.
Boundaries are real but they do not define the perimeter that contains something that is independent & self formed from an outside that is genuinely separate.
Boundaries — whether they are cell walls, membranes like skin, national borders, or organizational identity structures, are carefully maintained ongoing constructions. They do participate in producing an inside & an outside.
But what they do not do is reveal is the boundary of what could be said to make something what it is. To do that we cannot start at a boundary & go inwards. Things become what they are relationally in ways that extend both inwards & outwards. This is not a case of inter-dependency alone — it is ultimately a case of intra-dependency.
Inter-dependency signifies two or more distinct things that depend in some manner upon each other. One thing is “with” another in a significant manner.
Intra-dependency on the other hand signifies how something is the outcome of another thing. One thing is “of” another. NOTE: Karen Barad’s ‘Meeting the Universe half-Way’ develops these ideas in critical ways.
We participate in both & one type blurs into the other. The most obvious example is with our immediate environment: we make it & it in turn makes us. We are not simply ‘in’ it we are ‘of’ it. See: Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution
When emergent processes take hold of an interconnected process/assemblage the ‘whole’ begins to radically transform its parts (system causality) — the state of emergence is one of intra-dependancy: the ‘whole’ is making us (even as we can identify ourselves as separate).
What has this to do with boundaries? What makes stable bounded processes what they ‘are’ is a network of inter & intra dependent relations that extend across and are not determined by the boundary. The relations are dominant in the forming of the entity/organization (what it has the capacity to do, & how it can be affected). These operate as types of enabling-creating constraints.
These relations are dynamic and contingent — new intra-dependencies will sweep things up into new emergent ‘wholes’ — & these ‘defining’ operations are always ‘above’, ‘below’ ‘beside’ & ‘across’ any entity/organization — it is never ‘in’ that entity/organization. NOTE: this is John Protevi’s wonderful phrase.
While intra-dependencies can change, what is never the case is that we are not intra-dependant. We are never the center or cause of ourselves — that is elsewhere. Our agency, & that of any stable bounded process is from within & across what we are ‘of’. It is more webs stretching & folding than marbles bouncing.
Things are not simply ‘in’ a context — even if it looks that way because of a clearly visible boundary (such as our skin or a corporate structure) — things are ‘of’ their relations.
Creativity & innovation are always ‘of’…