Abstracts of the 43rd Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences Internet resources Abstracts organized by sessions Paper sessions in Alphabetical order Jump to alphabetical section A to C D to G H to J K to L M to O P to S T to Z Workshops
Ralph H. Abraham, The Construction of Collective Intelligence and a Sustainable Future
Robert Artigiani, Becoming Human: Towards A Systems Interpretation
Søren Brier The Self-Organization of Knowledge in a World of Complexity:
Pille Bunnell Tangible and Intangible as Domains of Living
Eric Chaisson A Cosmological Imperative: Emergence of Information, Complexity, and Life
W. B. Dress Epistemology and Rosen's Modeling Relation
Len Duhl Community as a COMMONS: Dialogue and Democracy
Riane Eisler Cultural Transformation: ThePartnership Way
Jamshid Gharajedaghi Iterative Design: the Third Generation of Systems Thinking
John P. van Gigch How to Become a System Guru:
Sally J. Goerner Dynamic Evolution and the Integral Age
Debora Hammond Integrity, Integration and Learning Communities: Theory and Practice
Stuart Hameroff Quantum vitalism" - Are consciousness and the "living state" fundamental
John J. Kineman and Jesse R. Kineman Non-mechanical ontology in the explanation of organism and evolution.
Harold Linstone Technology and Social Systems: a Widening Chasm
David Loye Darwin's Lost Theory:the New Grounding for a Scientific Revolution
Humberto Maturana Conservation and Change
Donald C. Mikulecky Robert Rosen: The Well Posed Question and Its Answer-Why Are Organisms Different from Machines?
Len Troncale Unification of Hierarchy Theory, Duality Theory, and Evolutionary Theory:
A Mechanism for Emergence
Plenary Abstracts Unification of Hierarchy Theory, Duality Theory, and Evolutionary Theory:
A Mechanism for Emergence
Chairman, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Director, Institute for Advanced Systems Studies
California State Polytechnic University
3801 W. Temple Ave., Pomona, Calif. 91768
A key contribution of the ISSS is the work of its individual Special Integration Groups. Their clear focus on a particular and specific area of research in systems science enables a synthesis of its literature, workers, concepts, and results. Without such focus, systems work and workers spread themselves too thin to communicate and build effectively due to the vast span of systems research, methodology, and application. However, unless synthesis also occurs between SIGs the overall objectives of the ISSS will not be attained. This paper reviews the output of 3 ISSS SIGs over 3 decades for the purpose of unifying their results. The output of these 3 SIGs amounts to many dozens of papers authored by dozens of capable past and present ISGSR members and they constitute a significant body of insights and results. Many of these papers exist in our past proceedings, but they are unknown to, and therefore not cited by new workers who have recently joined the ISSS. We will bring a CD-ROM edition of these selected papers to the Asilomar meeting for free distribution to interested workers. More importantly, we will present an analysis of the conclusions of these papers, as well as a comparison of their methodologies. We will focus on any consensus or agreement between the papers as the beginning of a unification of the three important systems topics, hierarchy, duality, and evolution. This analysis will continue with a summary critique of why the results of these papers did not become a foundation for future work in all three areas. This will be a detailed case study and example of another presentation at Asilomar that describes what is necessary to improve ISSS work toward a consensus general theory of systems.
Beyond this service to the ISSS in establishing both a detailed example of synthesis of past work and a computerized tool for enabling such synthesis, this paper will introduce a particular case study of unification. We will begin with a comparative analysis of several natural systems at very different scalar levels. This analysis will show what the different systems have in common as regards both their hierarchical structure and duality features. It will also show that one of the mechanisms in duality theory impacts both the formation of hierarchies and the systems-level phenomenon called emergence. The combined understanding of the mechanisms for duality formation and hierarchical structure will be shown to result in emergence of new qualities at new levels of scale and new levels of systems. Thus, emergence will be shown to be a self-organizing result of identifiable mechanisms that are testable. The result will be a systems-level mechanism of emergence, that is, a new theory of emergence. We will then emphasize the importance of proving and further investigating the mechanistic theory of emergence and its limits. Arguably, the most important discovery of the nineteenth century was the discovery of the theory of evolution. But a theory of emergence spans a much broader set of natural phenomena than evolution. As such, discovery and further investigation of a natural theory of emergence would be even more unifying and important to a true understanding of living and non-living natural phenomena than evolution. Such work could improve the reputation, utility, and funding for the entire field of systems science in the future.
the Third Generation of Systems Thinking
Six S. Bryn Mawr Ave. Suite 200
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-3215
Systems thinking, despite its relevance, significance, and potency has yet to realize a fraction of the recognition it rightfully deserves. Except for a notable few, the students and practitioners of systems do not seem to enjoy proper demand and are not rewarded appropriately for their efforts.
Failure to produce an acceptable systems methodology that would operationally define the holistic approach to the satisfaction of market place and unwillingness to go beyond generalities has effectively diminished the value of this exciting conception in the market place to the level of mere hype or truism.
The imperatives of interdependency, the necessity of reducing endless complexities, and the need to produce manageable simplicities require an operational framework that would enable us to focus on the relevant issues and avoid the endless search for more details, while drowning in proliferating useless information.
To meet this challenge, the notion of "iterative design" will be introduced as the Third Generation of Systems Thinking. It operationally deals with the art of simplifying complexity, managing interdependency, and understanding choice.
How to Become a System GURU: The Path to Energize System Gurus of the New Millennium
to Make System Science More Credible
John P. van Gigch
As the history of most disciplines demonstrates, System Science is a field which has borrowed from many others. In its initial years, the system movement was led by several innovating gurus whose ideas which were fresh and pioneering. In this plenary session, answers to the following burning questions are sought:
Has the system movement spawned disciples of the early gurus? Can the modern system-guru(s) re- energize the movement in the new millennium? and, How can this quest be achieved?
For our purposes, a guru is a leader and a mentor who has very innovative and original ideas that challenge the conventional wisdom and ordinary ways of thinking. Most revolutionary ideas have been championed by strong guru-mentors who energize and lead adepts and followers to make notable accomplishments in their respective fields of endeavor.
Many of the young ISSS members are budding system- gurus. They should be encouraged to realize their full potential and explore creative ways to develop a credible system discipline. As a start, they need to understand where the strengths and weaknesses of System Science lie so that, on the one hand, they remedy the disciplines weaknesses and avoid system failures, and, on the other hand, emphasize the disciplines strengths to obtain system successes.
The strengths and weaknesses of System Science are explained by studying the epistemology and philosophy of science which underlies its thinking. Thinking in the movement has several common characteristics:
The world requiring our attention displays ORGANIZED COMPLEXITY.
It is populated by Complex PROBLEMS (van Gigch).
PROBLEMS are webbed in a MESS or NETWORK OF PROBLEMS (Ackoff).
Everything is related to everything else (Churchman)
Invariably, Solutions of old Problems bring the inception of new problems (De Zeeuw).
System thinkers are primarily GENERALISTS rather than SPECIALISTS. They are predominantly preoccupied by PROBLEMS at a high level of GENERALITY and a low level of SPECIFICITY.
The duality between GENERALITY and SPECIFICITY causes system research to conceptualize PROBLEMS, but, except for some exceptions, the discipline is not well known for offering implementable solutionS to problems or for producing knowledge that can be shown to approximate THE TRUTH or any truths.
The path to make System Science a strong discipline is clear. Hopefully many system thinkers will be energized to become gurus with clear new visions on how to lead the system movement to a needed revival.
Conservation and Change
F. Ciencias Dpto. Biologia
University of Chile
Casilla 653 Santiago Chile
I will show what living systems are as living systems. Further I will show that the history of the biosphere is a spontaneous result of the systemic dynamic conservation of living.
Quantum vitalism" - Are consciousness and the "living state" fundamental
Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology
The University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona USA
What is life? What is consciousness? Their essential natures are generally explained with two types of alternative descriptions:
1) EMERGENCE/FUNCTIONALISM. Life and consciousness are both seen as emergent properties arising from complex (nonlinear) dynamic interactions among components. In the case of life, complex dynamics among biomolecules presumably results in emergent functions such as self-organization, metabolism, adaptive behavior, reproduction and evolution. In the case of consciousness, complex dynamics presumably occur among synaptically connected neurons in the brain, resulting in emergent functions such as perception, recognition, movement and feelings. In the emergence/functionalism approach, the makeup of system components is irrelevant. Consequently researchers in "Artificial Life" maintain that complexity in computer systems can be equivalent to life. Researchers in "Artificial Intelligence" (or Artificial Consciousness) maintain that computers can be conscious.
2) FUNDAMENTAL QUANTUM APPROACH. Something is missing from the emergence/functionalism view. In the case of the living state this is a dangerous view, historically criticized as "vitalism", or "animism". Vitalists, or animists believed that some mysterious force, or electromagnetic field pervaded and controlled living systems (e.g. "elanvital"). Such views dominated biology until the time of Darwin, however with evolution, and especially the recent advent of genetic engineering, life has been portrayed mechanistically, and any appeal to vitalism cast aside and criticized. Now however, evidence and theory have accumulated that quantum processes are essential in the functions of proteins (folding and conformational dynamics), cell water and other biomolecules, and that quantum states and processes may be an essential feature of the living state ("quantum vitalism").
In the case of consciousness, Roger Penrose has argued that the mind utilizes a non-computable mechanism derived from quantum (gravity) processes at the basic level of reality. Others maintain that features of consciousness (binding, pre-conscious to conscious transition, free will, nature of experience) also depend on quantum processes in the brain. Panpsychist/panexperiential philosophical approaches argue that the nature of experience (qualia) derives from a fundamental (quantum) feature of reality, and that proto-conscious qualia are intrinsic to nature, like mass, spin or charge.
The Penrose-Hameroff model suggests that quantum superposition/quantum computation occur in protein microtubules within the brain reach threshold for "self-collapse" (objective reduction) by Penrose's proposed quantum gravity mechanism. In this view consciousness couples biological activities to fundamental (panexperiential) processes at the basic level of reality (e.g. Planck scale spacetime geometry). In the model, biological factors provide feedback to "orchestrate" the quantum computation in microtubules (orchestrated objective reduction---"Orch OR"). If consciousness utilizes quantum processes in protein microtubules, water and other biomolecules, then quantum processes must have preceded consciousness in evolution, and could be an essential feature of life in general.
Proteins are key constituents of biosystems, and account for organized movement, ion flow, signaling, and metabolism. Proteins are high energy molecules which can occupy numerous conformational states. Regulation of protein conformation (and states of surrounding water) is perhaps the key question in understanding life and consciousness. High energy forces within proteins cancel out and conformational states are regulated by weak, but numerous and influential quantum mechanical forces called van der Waals London dispersion forces which operate throughout each protein, but especially in isolated nanometer scale intra-protein regions called hydrophobic pockets (where anesthetic gas molecules are known to act).
One theory of the origin of life suggests that earth's first living systems were "nanoforms", tiny cavities within minerals of nanoscale dimension. In such regions, quantum processes (London forces, quantum superpositions, Casimir effects, entanglements) would be protected, gain causal influence and eventually become more complex and diverse. The living state may originate from quantum processes, and connect biological systems to fundamental reality, and each other.
Robert Rosen: The Well Posed Question
Its Answer-Why Are Organisms Different from Machines?
Donald C. Mikulecky
Department of Physiology
Medical Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University
BOX 980551 MCV Station
Richmond, VA 23298-0551 USA
The question "What is life?" has been around for some time. There is an impressive list of great minds that tackled the question. In spite of this, it never has been answered in any definitive way. One line of research that grappled with the question was started in the late 1950's by Robert Rosen, a student of Nicholas Rashevsky and a product of the Mathematical Biology program at the University of Chicago. It is worth examining the progression, which lead Bob Rosen to realize that he was dealing with a poorly posed question and that when rephrased, the question had an earthshaking answer.
The answer was earthshaking not so much due to its information content but more so due to the process by which it was answered. This process and it really revealing ramifications will be the subject of this presentation. It is no easy task to try to say these things in Bob Rosen's stead, and you will suffer from having to hear a surrogate. On the other hand, to see beyond where anyone has seen before has often necessitated standing on the shoulders of giants.
What we will examine here is the entire epistemological basis for modern science. We will examine it with a view that, in itself, is a product of that very examination. And, thus, from the onset, we will be forced to stop every step of the way in order to remind ourselves that what we are doing is only effective if it is changing even as we do it.
Why so bold a goal? Because anything short of that easily and deceptively lapses back into well worn tracks even if dressed to seem new and different. What Robert Rosen discovered had that effect on him, and, as he wrote and spoke over the years, it began to have an effect on some of us. The path we are about to traverse is very difficult. It was even more difficult for Bob, for as he saw, he had to communicate what he saw. This is difficult enough with new ideas even when they nicely extend the ideas upon which they are built. It is far more difficult when the new ideas radically change that perspective.
Now we will move on to the subject at hand. The role of the machine metaphor in science goes back to Descartes. It was built upon by Newton and those who followed. The success of this world-view was so great that it became as strong as any of the other belief structures we might identify as religions. In this case, however, it was to liberate us from superstition and myth and to give us a basis for evaluating those things that were to be candidates for truth.
Hence physics dealt with the fundamental laws of nature and chemistry and biology were to use these laws to deal with specific applications of the general laws physics discovered. In other words, the relation of physics to biology, in particular, is that of the general to the special. Rosen was able to see that, in fact, this was a prison for our thought and an extreme handicap to our understanding. It was a legacy of the machine metaphor. How could this be? It is so because the world of the machine is a "simple" world. Its laws and inhabitants are simple machines or mechanisms. What if the objects in chemistry and biology are not that simple? Then we must reduce them to subunits that are. By this reductionist path we will learn all that there is to learn about the real world. Robert Rosen discovered that this approach was a dead end! He discovered that when the reduction is performed, something real and necessary is lost and in a way which made it unrecoverable. This profound realization turned the ontology of our world upside down! It isn't the atoms and molecules that are at the hard core of reality, it is the relations between them and the relations between them and things called processes which are at the core of the real world!
There is much to this discovery and we will only be able to have a taste of it. In that tasting we will examine the modeling relation that is the key to our own ongoing examination of what we are doing as we do it! We will examine the alternative to a mechanistic world, a world of processes and causes. A world ever changing and yet a world more rational than the sterile world of machines. Finally, we will utilize this new way of seeing to repose the question about life and answer it.
Tangible and Intangible as Domains of Living
2366 West 18th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6L1A8
This essay presents an explanation of how it is that we may live the distinction of objects as tangible and the experience of phenomena as intangible in a manner that is seen to conflict. It also presents a manner of looking at and living the same in a way where no such conflict arises. In this view objects and phenomena, or tangible and intangible, are seen as different manners of distinguishing and explaining different domains of human existence.
Both tangible and intangible arise in a dynamic of changing relations in which phenomena and objects are distinguished as entities. Any relational dynamic may result in the establishment of a recursion in relationships such that a we may distinguish a structure - indeed all the objects that we normally distinguish have arisen in this manner. Once an object is perceived to exist, we tend to consider it as the ground for relationships. That is we think of relationship as the interaction between structures, and thus revealed to us through the changes in the structures. Once we accept this view we easily forget that objects arise as a relation of relations; and in this sense are a second derivative, or a recursion of the simple dynamic of relation.
Once distinguished, relations exist, or have a presence, as entities that participate in the modulation of human living. This is so even if their domain of existence has not been specified. In order for tangibility to appear, the domain of the relation, and hence the domain in which it modulates living, must be specified. This may or may not correspond to an already distinguished sensorial surface. What is relevant is that the realization of living in the organism/niche structural coupling follows a path contingent on the relation. Tangibility appears through distinguishing the concommitant alteration of structure.
An intangible phenomenon is whatever we distinguish as having an ephemoral existence of its own which modulates relationships. The act of distinction is a modulation of neuronal dynamics that alters the path of relations between languaging system (a human being) and its medium. Hence that which we distinguish as intangible modulates the tangible domain. However, we do not easily give validity to the ephemoral, and hence we either discount or devalue it, or give it credence through treating it as an object. When we treat the intangible as having a presence in the same way as the tangible, we may become frustrated through this confusion of domains.
The reflections I make are grounded in the acceptance of "reality" as a relational domain without a transcendent existence. Accordingly this essay is grounded in what I call the "observer cosmology". This cosmology is possible through the biology of cognition - which is, and explains is-ness, and explains how it can be so that is-ness can be explained. Therefore, in order to substantiate the above claims I articulate relevant aspects of the observer cosmology. Further, I show how the notion of the co-existence of tangible and intangible as different domains of distinctions in a systemic existence, alters the concerns related to objectivity and experience, mind and body, and other similar juxtapositions of structural and phenomenological abstractions.
Becoming Human: Towards A Systems Interpretation
U.S. Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5044
Consistently applied, systems principles could reframe the famous "dreadful questions" about who we are, where we come from, and what life means, this time offering answers which are scientifically rigorous and humanistically attractive. Systems being "wholes greater than the sums of their parts," the principles of systems science should, e.g., be able to accommodate "spiritual" phenomena by tracking the "emergence" of qualitatively new levels of reality at symmetry-breaks when components are transformed. From this perspective, the world evolves when self-organization produces new systems, whose relations attribute new characteristics to their components.
If societies are systems, then their self-organization accounts for the creation of a new reality in which Values, Ethics, and Morals (VEMs) emerge and people evolve. Systems science further suggests the emergence of VEMs is as "natural" as the cosmic processes producing physical atoms, chemical molecules, and biological cells. Moreover, a systems perspective indicates that understanding humankind will never be possible by analyses reducing the question of who we are to anything like its physical, chemical, or biological dimensions. Our physical, chemical, and biological characteristics are what we take into social systems. But if elements acquire new characteristics through membership in self-organized systems, what we are is as much the consequence of the systems in which we are entangled as the biological givens with which we are endowed. And, as importantly, the evolution of the systems to which we belong should explain how what we are changes in time.
This presentation will explore how human identity might be regrounded in nature through the systems science paradigm, with special emphases on both the patterned processes by which societies self-organize and the possibility that seemingly fundamental human attributes like consciousness and selfhood might actually be societal artifacts. An attempt will also be made to indicate key systemic dimensions contributing to the growth of the human.
The Construction of Collective Intelligence and a
Ralph H. Abraham
University of California
The Visual Math Institute
Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
As the human predicament and world problematique emerges as a millennial challenge to holistic science, a little green door opens onto the infinite vista of cyberspace. In this talk we will speculate about the roles of math, science, systems thinking, dynamic simulation, and virtual worlds in the construction of collective intelligence and a sustainable future in the next millennium.
A Cosmological Imperative:
Emergence of Information, Complexity, and Life
Wright Center, 4 Colby St.
Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155
The scenario of cosmic evolution seeks to synthesize the reductionistic posture of specialized natural science with the holistic view that goes well beyond it. It is a story about the awe and majesty of twirling galaxies and shining stars, of redwood trees and buzzing bees, of a universe that has come to know itself. But it is also a story about our human selves--our origin, our existence, and our destiny. This paper will address the impressive hierarchy of generative and developmental change seen in Nature, from quark to quasar, from microbe to mind.
Dynamic Evolution and the Integral Age
Sally J. Goerner
Triangle Center for the Study of Complex Systems
It is clear that the clockwork view of the universe is ending and the interwoven Web view of the world is rising to take its place. This shift represents a major historical turning with implications for all facets of human society, from politics and economics to science and spirituality. The threads of scientific change have been accruing for a long time--starting with Systems Theory and moving through Gaia, Chaos, Complexity and the new biology. When one integrates these threads, however, the perceptual shift is more radical than is usually imagined. To be specific, a new vision of evolution emerges whose insights apply equally to our current situation as well as to biological change. No longer a crude outcome of accidents and selfish genes, evolution is seen as a universal ordering process whose patterns play out in all types of organization and at all levels of the living and non-living world. This process, Dynamic Evolution, is a product of energy flow and the world's web nature. It provides the scientifically-sound, pragmatically-useful and spiritually satisfying framework we need to bring about a sustainable Integral Society. This talk summarizes the story of Dynamic Evolution and looks at how its basic patterns apply to the rise of the Integral Age.
Non-mechanical ontology in the explanation of organism and evolution.
John J. Kineman and Jesse R. Kineman
Bear Mountain Institute
1101 Bison Dr.
Boulder, CO 80302
In this paper we ask if a non-mechanical ontology must be considered in the definition of life itself. We contrast the perspective of an outside observer with that of life as a participatory and experiential phenomenon, and explore how we may recognize psychological experience as a fundamental cause in nature. Likely connections between quantum "reality" and experience (or psyche/consciousness) seem to establish a scientifically acceptable basis for such ontology. We argue that organisms in general are, aside from their physical form, experiential entities, and that experience can be causally active in both ecology and evolution.
The implication of these ideas is explored with respect to the commonly accepted passive model for evolution by natural selection, i.e., the new-Darwinian "modern synthesis." The introduction of experiential ontology as a modification to neo-Darwinism is termed "autevolution;" which means evolution of the experiential self and the role of that self in evolution. From this broader perspective of evolution (and science), evolutionary pathways may be viewed as constrained by environmental influences, facilitated by genetic variability, yet driven by the psychological representation of "function" in addition to commonly assumed random variations.
The term "experiential reality" is not definable in mechanistic science, and is accordingly ignored. In this paper, we take the position that subjective experience is a complimentary aspect of existence with respect to observable form. The claim that experiential realities are dispensable in science (made by materialism, reductionism, mechanism, and most forms of determinism) rests on the assumption that there must be a complete correspondence between the mechanical (computably determinate) view and the experiential (indeterminate) view. Complimentarity, however, denies that any complete correspondence can exist; and thus establishes scientific validity for a dual ontology. The common belief that science cannot involve subjective realities has prevented progress in this area, yet is clearly unwarranted as an overstatement of epistemological difficulties. The mechanical effects of subjective experience can be studied directly, and methods exist to record experiential phenomena indirectly. Progress in this area requires first that we recognize the mind as a causal phenomenon.
The traditional boundaries between human and non-human phenomena are continuously dissolving as we discover our common origins. The attempt to establish a common ontology for life, mind, and matter lays the foundation for extrapolating to the implied nature of organisms, evolution, and ecosystems. If we accept that experience itself is a "real" phenomenon that is not reducible to materialism, then life itself must be recognized as an active causal force in nature; and theories, such as the theory of evolution, must account for this additional cause. If, on the other hand, it can be shown that the complimentary aspects we assume (experience and observation) are fully dependent, i.e., that experience is redundant with observational variables, then and only then can we limit the science of life to mechanically descriptive models. But attempts to demonstrate this have irretrievably failed and the opposite case seems provable: The ontology of matter clearly implicates a broader reality that is closely associated with mind. We thus hope to shift the burden of proof to those denying the importance of experiential phenomena in science, asking them to show the necessary correspondence. Meanwhile we propose theoretical development along parallel tracks, recognizing both ontologies, which, we believe, is most in keeping with modern science and epistemology.
Application of a dual ontology (for observation and experience) in the definition of life translates into a complimentarity relationship between mechanical and experiential properties within the organism. This in turn results in a complimentarity between form and function through evolutionary time. In allowing (epistemologically) for original (causal) input at the phenotypic level, as evidenced in human experience and strongly implied elsewhere, it is recognized that a purely passive evolutionary model based on environmental selection would be modified by organismic decisions in a non-reducible way. In particular, organismic originality would modify one or both of (a) selective environments the organism exposes itself to, and (b) selective forces themselves, within a given environment. Through either or both means, future selection will partially depend on past decisions, thus creating the possibility of self-reinforcing decisions. Evolutionary pathways will therefore reflect a combination of passive and active selection factors, the balance depending on the psychological capabilities of the evolved organism.
The complimentarity relationship between the mechanical and the experiential is directly analogous and perhaps an extension of that found in quantum measurement (i.e., "observership"). This ontology establishes a basis for consciousness as a general postulate that is involved in the definition of matter, has been elaborated by organisms through their evolution, and, in turn, can significantly affect evolution. This view must necessarily claim that the properties of observership are retained in specific kinds of structures (correlated matter) as they evolve with the organism. Life itself may be defined in terms of this relationship. Conclusions to be drawn from this view include that "experience" is a property of all life (and matter), accordingly scaled. Also, that free will is a theoretically meaningful concept that can be used in constructing theories of organismic behavior and psychology. This view introduces issues of teleology, which we claim are scientifically manageable.
It is finally necessary to realize that all our worldview assumptions about reality, and the predictive or explanatory conclusions that result, are conceptual, as is all of science. We can no more claim what is truly real than we can explain our own existence or a Zen Koan. We are forced, first by our perceptual limitations and then by our conceptual models, to view nature through filters which we ourselves create. Being our creations the filters themselves cultivate what we can perceive and how it is presented to us. The issue in adopting a view as proposed here, versus retaining only the computational, mechanical view of reality, is first an issue of explanatory necessity and secondly an issue of epistemological efficiency with regard to existing knowledge. But the choice for its development is ultimately an issue of values. As we focus our interests on mechanical nature we make progress in understanding the world of mechanically creative devices. As we begin to broaden our interest to include experiential phenomena, we may find greater progress in solving other kinds of problems: those involving personal psychology, human society, organismic life, ecosystems, and evolution.
The Self-Organization of Knowledge in a World of Complexity:
The Interplay of Paradigms of Knowledge in the Non-Cartesian Transdisciplinary Epistemological Framework of Cybersemiotics
The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University,
Section for Method and Project Work, Denmark
The view of mechanistic philosophy science is expounded and its limitations as a foundation for transdisciplinarity is pointed out. The paper then deals with the Copernican turn in the understanding of scientific knowledge, putting human knowing in the center of a philosophy of science. In accordance with Niels Bohrs complementarity view on the epistemological lesson of quantum physics, I develop a framework to understand the relation between science and other types of knowledge by giving up the idea of one science and absolute universal truth limiting the scope of science.
The paper attempts to develop a non-reductionistic and interdisciplinary view on human knowing in the light of the growing development of interdisciplinary practices and sciences. Medicine being one of the oldest, ecology and information science being some of the newer examples on radical interdisciplinarity. In contrast to the classical mechanistic view of science, knowledge is seen as a self-organized system of signification based on metaphysical frameworks communicated through signs with a meaning content based on social practice. The interpretation of signs in a systematized knowledge framework is actually where the medical sciences started in the classical Greek tradition of Hippocrates.
The paper discusses the lack of a recognized place and value of phenomenological knowledge in relation to the general mechanistic scientific ontology and its view of knowledge which is still central to main stream western scientific thinking. The dualistic idea of transcendental and eternal mathematical natural laws and an algorithmic program behind intelligence and language is rejected for its inability to include the phenomenological and existential perspective of knowledge and the practical knowledge beyond words (tacit knowledge). Based on Prigogines view of a science of complexity within time, the central role of the observer in second order cybernetics and autopoiesis theory, plus C.S. Peirces view of chaos and signification, an epistemology is promoted which sees science as only one aspect of our knowledge; acknowledging that human knowing is before science and that human knowledge goes beyond language. An opening for the phenomenological is then created in our modern scientistic and mechanistic metaphysics.
This non-reductionistic framework connects to the cognitive semantics of G. Lakoff and to pragmatic linguistics such as Wittgensteins language game theory, without giving up what we have gained through the rigor and the methods of the sciences and the logic of philosophical analysis. I call the present version of this transdisciplinary epistemological framework "Cybersemiotics" (see Brier 1996, 1998).
Integrity, Integration and Learning Communities: Theory and Practice
California State University Sonoma
Originally conceived as part of a panel on Kenneth Boulding's contributions to the systems field, this paper will focus on the theme of integrity. An essential element of Boulding's thought was his concept of the integrative function, which he saw as a critical third force in society, mediating between the exchange function of the marketplace and the coercive function of structures of authority and power. The integrative function, in its task of nurturing community and connection, depends upon the development of skills in communication, dialogue, and conflict resolution, as well as the cultivation of a systemic awareness of the interconnectedness and interdependence of our lives as individuals in an increasingly complex and global social order. The dominant model of education is not well suited to the task of nurturing such skills and awareness. Based upon my own
experience teaching in a seminar-based, interdisciplinary liberal studies program, this paper will address the concept of learning communities in education as an approach that can support the development of integrity and wholeness in both individuals and society.
Epistemology and Rosen's Modeling Relation
W. B. Dress
Instrumentation and Controls Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-6011
Robert Rosen's modeling relation, originally conceived as a conceptual device for clarifying the relationship between natural systems and intellectual structures we create for understanding such systems, is presented as a general method of epistemology that not only subsumes the scientific method but extends to all of human intellectual activity where the acquisition and exploration of knowledge is of concern. As Rosen himself emphasized, the scientific method is a particular instance of a modeling relation. It is suggested that the possession of a model of the scientific method produces an understanding of the scientific process that volumes of philosophy have not been able provide. This viewpoint extends Rosen's seminal work in the biology of complex systems (organisms) to touch on the problems of thought and consciousness itself. When used as a tool for thinking, certain paradoxes and intellectual conflicts are seen to evaporate when mapped onto the modeling relation as a whole. Additionally, the modeling relation used in this manner is seen to provide a method, beyond that of Karl Popper, for distinguishing between science and pseudo science, while not restricting speculative and creative thought.
Going beyond the modeling relation as a tool for thought, a simple deconstruction and metaphor are presented that lead to a suggestion of and a possible path for developing a mathematics of thinking and consciousness.
Community as a COMMONS: Dialogue and Democracy
Professor of Public Health and Urban Planning
University of California
School of Public Health
Berkeley, CA 94720-7360
The increasing complexity of our society has lead to fragmentation and self-interest. To find answers to most of our problems requires knowing and working with diverse issues, organizations, ideas and values. The world is more and more urbanized. However, the geographic communities are no longer able to deal with the chaotic developments.
How do we work with each other to shape our future, to govern, in the face of this complexity? The central issue seems to be a need for a COMMONS where these issues can be resolved.
The worldwide Healthy Cities program is an example of a process that permits this to occur. See the web at: www.healthycities.org.
Cultural Transformation: The
Center for Partnership Studies
"Human Evolution is now at a crossroads. Stripped to its essentials, the central human task is how to organize society to promote the survival of our species and the development of our unique potentials. A partnership society offers us a viable alternative." (Eisler, 1987)
Partnership is more than working together. Partnership is a way of life based on harmony with nature, nonviolence, and gender, racial, and economic equity. It takes us beyond conventional labels such as right versus left or religious versus secular. It moves us into a future of flourishing untapped human potential.
It is part of our human nature to be caring, sensitive, and creative, to seek pleasure and avoid pain. During much of our prehistory, humanity was rooted in the partnership model. This is our lost heritage. Through a cultural shift, history became the familiar tale of violence, injustice, and domination. We need to restore our Earth and renew our communities. We need social and economic inventions based on partnership.
Perhaps the most important of these is the application of the partnership model to how we teach and what we teach -- from kindergarten through12th grade and beyond.. Are we equipping our children to meet the challenges they face? What do we need to teach children about human possibilities? Do we need more than add-ons such as Women's History Month and Black History Month? What do children need to understand about our natural environment if they are to have a healthy future? Are the real issues for education school vouchers versus public schools? Or do we need a fundamental reexamination of how we teach, what we learn, and our learning environment if today's and tomorrow's children are to successfully live and work in our rapidly changing world?
Darwin's Lost Theory:
the New Grounding for a Scientific Revolution
Center for Partnership Studies
This paper reports the reconstruction of the long ignored "second half" or human level completion for Darwin's theory of evolution. Pursuing the striking contradictions between what has been attributed to Darwin by his neo-Darwinian and sociobiological heirs and what he actually said, in the long unpublished private notebooks and in neglected parts of The Decent of Man it uncovers a three-level theory of the moral agent that foreshadows the emergence of 20th century social science and the late 20th century rise of the fields of systems science and humanistic psychology. Implications for use of this new theory for the grounding of a 21st scientific revolution across all fields are considered.
Technology and Social Systems: a Widening Chasm
70 Wheatherstone Court
Lake Oswego, OR 97035 USA
This talk examines two aspects of an increasing mismatch that should be of serious concern to systems practitioners: (1) systems thinkers versus" the rest of us", (2) technological versus social system rates of change. With regard to (1), for example, overselling afflicted systems analysts in the 1960s and complexity scientists a generation later. The multiple perspective concept clearly exhibits the limits of the science/engineering paradigms and provides one means to bridge this chasm. As for mismatch (2), the rapid progress of communications and computer technology is leading us into the 21st century with 19th century systems of governance. The gap between rich and poor is widening dramatically, even as networking links the insulated "haves" across the global village. This mismatch suggests: (a) slowing the pace of technology, and/or (b) accelerating the pace of societal change. We note that the private sector is showing the way in restructuring its organizational forms to reduce the mismatch. Self-reorganization of governance systems remains a severe challenge.