"Narratives and Transdisciplines for a Post-Industrial World", Timothy F. H. Allen, 49th Annual Meeting of the ISSS, Westin Cancun, July 2, 2005, 9:20 a.m.

Timothy F. H. Allen

49th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, Westin Cancun, July 2, 2005

These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (daviding@systemicbusiness.org) of the Systemic Business Community ( http://systemicbusiness.org ).

Introduction by Jennifer Wilby


Have been working with thermodynamics, agricultural economists

Attended SGSR meeting with Robert Rosen

We live in a time of radical reorganization

The hard part in science is working out the narratives

Technology changes the scale

e.g. computers: do things so much faster that you'll do them better

Remote sensing

The hard part is not doing computation

Scaling differences

e.g. community, look into organism (tree), which decays into an ecosystem (a log), which becomes a landscape (the upper surface of log), and population (of mosses on logs)


Scale has grain, extent, spatial size and natural frequence in time -- see Allen and Hoekstra (1992)

Look at ecology, as a transdiscipline, under a big scale change

Clements 1871-1945, biologist, was a Lamarckian (with Roscoe Pound)

Draves & Coates (2004) say in Nine Shift

1990 to 2020: the Internet is displacing the automobile

Clements and Cowles attempted to get an account of nature, before it went mechanistics

Rosen (2000): a system is complex when it can't be modelled

Rosen (2000) says can use narratives

e.g. Hamilton wrote a dictionary for Newtonian particles into Optical Geometry (c.f. voltage ~ water pressure)



The point of science is to improve narratives

Models give dynamic and structural qualitiy

True narratives:

Worster: the savages were noble, the world was pristine, and the white guys screwed it up

A piano falls on your head isn't a tragedy, isn't only unfortunate

Narratives feel ...


Ken Boulding: all prediction is, that nothing happens

Different semantic identities

Reductionism is dangerous

Physical system processes, with an actual external gradient

Aristotelian causality:

Final cause usually involves planning

(See animation!)

Problem: different causes come out of the fog

But it gets worse

Represent, Act, Transduce

Underlying essence, which is the essence

Simple planning, we can do that

Isn't all of this just a model

Narratives develop a commensurate experience, not of an external observer, but of a unifying observer-observation complexes

ISSS... Conferences... Cancun 2005