Angus Jenkinson (2018-2.1, 15.09 BST)
There is a conference coming up of the Cybernetics and Systems Association and I have been thinking about an abstract for a paper. I have drafted the following (rather long
version) and thought it might be interesting to some of you and that you might have useful and interesting comments for me. Here it is
Framing Reality, Explanation and Design: towards a new concept for resolving world crises
Humanity is part of a shared world with limited resources. Considerable power is not only available to humans but unequally
distributed amongst them. It matters how the powerful understand their world and so conceive and design their ongoing research, technologies and actions, including intended remedial interventions. Therefore, scientists are one of the powerful groups. However,
the several apparent crises of the 21st century developed (at least significantly) as an outcome of â€˜framesâ€™ that remain common in scientific paradigms and principles. Despite some two centuries of criticism (Coleridge, Goethe, Whitehead, Peirce,
Bateson) several important interconnected newer paradigms have neither escaped their disciplinary silo nor even been broadly recognized within it. Other paradigms (hence frames) remain hangovers, even in scientific communities, of education and culture of
decades or centuries earlier. Together, there is a dysfunctional matrix of scientific orthodoxy that bleeds into management and political practices and policies. This paper argues that each of the following frames or paradigms is in fact questionable and
directly prejudicial to responding to the major crises of the century and beyond.
Reality is ultimately inaccessible and best understood by specialist models that represent aspects of their
appearances or effects. Complexity in particular always represents an ultimately unknowable unpredictable situation.
For both epistemological reliability and practical purposes contemporary scientific paradigms have tended
to emphasize models that use positivist (mathematical) distinctions, including particularly stochastic models; these devalue qualitative aspects in the formation of â€œsystemsâ€? models, descriptions, and designs. (One goal is to eliminate the bias of the observer.)
The paradigm that explanation of the organization of entities may be achieved by the domains of energy and
information, the former representing resource and the latter form. No other domains are required.
The assumption that all causality is not merely physically apparent in its effects but materially prior in
its action (anteactus); that is there is a prior material event that effects the new event by direct chain of material succession, whether linear or non-linear.
Moreover, all causal explanations can be reduced to interactions of their physically smallest materializing
occurrences (which may depend on interacting probability fields).
Entropy is the ultimate fact and the appearance of its negation occurs randomly.
Emergence is the (one and only) process by which higher order entities appear and is a concept of bottom-up
complex interaction processes. These may have simple principles that can be formulated post hoc as intelligent rules, but their development was a result of random variation combined with causal fitness-survival mechanisms.
Well supported alternatives
Ternary cybernetics implies the role of qualitative dimensions via imparity (Stewart, Whitehead, Weber, Varela,
Miller, Barfield). This leads to evaluations, goals, and designs that maintain or produce more resilient, respectful and valued outcomes (Royce).
Aspects of perceptual control theory (PCT, Powers) demonstrate, theoretically and empirically, how and why
all organisms, including social superorganisms, exhibit autonomous goal-directed behaviour control. Such behaviours cancel (conventionally accounted) external causal influence, so far as physically possible.
Meta-level cybernetic loops imply higher-order organization, not just â€˜emergenceâ€™ (Miller, Bateson, Steiner,
Varela). Frames are themselves part of this. Ideas emerge as virtual organizing factors (Bortoft, Miller). All â€˜situationsâ€™ can be treated as nested virtual multi-dimensional â€˜descriptive spacesâ€™ (Barfield and others). Social structures are instantiations
of ordering dynamics that materialize only in the dynamics of process, as temporally self-maintaining instantiations (Giddens, Luhmann, Varela).
The assumption of inaccessible realities is a frame not a fact. A hermeneutic reading translates limitations
into a matter of faculty not reality (Weigel, Barfield, Bateson, Bortoft, Miller, Steiner).
The appearance of autopoietic whole organization dynamics provides a window into nested and variational organization
and organisations, akin to musical themes and variations; this offers a paradigm for alternative concepts of â€œemergentâ€? or whole-order behaviour, as Goethe envisaged two centuries ago (Bortoft).
The cybernetics of â€˜organizationâ€™, autopoiesis, and â€˜socialâ€™ and natural ecosystems show that the â€œobserverâ€?
is a crucial interwoven aspect of reality at all levels of description and event influence (von UexkÃ¼ll, von Foerster, Brier, Bachelard, Miller). She is an actor in a double hermeneutic loop (Giddens, Miller, Peirce). The functioning of each and every â€˜observerâ€™
can be understood in terms of ternary, second-order, autonomously and qualitatively purposeful, and other realities (Maturana, Royce, Deleuze, Morin).
These are interwoven not separate paradigms (Ovid, Deleuze, Coleridge, Beuys, Steiner) of interwoven not separate
domains. They are nested aspects or details of a metalevel monist whole (Steiner). Each of these paradigms would develop further in a more conducive transdisciplinary framework.
Some practical consequences
New understanding and restating of â€œrational behaviourâ€?, influencing a variety of social sciences.
Root cause analysis is transferred into new and more effective forms of problem solving and organizational design. Other results of contemporary
complexity science are reinterpreted and remodelled.
New concepts of organization identity that support realization of potential.
The ability to design relatively simple effective interventions even in complex scenarios.
Tools to address the political complexity of (say) tax evasion or migrants.
Recognition that the ecological crisis is not a â€œglobal warming crisisâ€? and that the attempt to solve that goal as an isolated natural
phenomenon will be self-defeating on other grounds. The possibility, and potential for further development, of more effective ecosystem tools of enquiry and resolution.
Understanding and resolving such phenomena as the banking crisis of 2008.
Thanks for any comments