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View Diary: ACM: Can the human mind comprehend today's world? A challenge to all who engage in politics (208 comments)

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  •  The whole is more than the sum of its (2+ / 0-)
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    Free Jazz at High Noon, JesseCW

    parts.  Systems theory

    Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems in general, with the goal of elucidating principles that can be applied to all types of systems at all nesting levels in all fields of research.[citation needed] The term does not yet have a well-established, precise meaning, but systems theory can reasonably be considered a specialization of systems thinking, a generalization of systems science, a systems approach. The term originates from Bertalanffy's general system theory (GST) and is used in later efforts in other fields, such as the action theory of Talcott Parsons[1] and the social systems theory of Niklas Luhmann.[2]
    In this context the word systems is used to refer specifically to self-regulating systems, i.e. that are self-correcting through feedback. Self-regulating systems are found in nature, including the physiological systems of our body, in local and global ecosystems, and in climate—and in human learning processes
     Our work on relational systems theory goes well beyond this  here is our latest book:Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:17:04 PM PDT

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    •  A car engine is more... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky

      ...than throwing every piece of it into a pile.  But how would that be even controversial?

      What would Mothra do?

      by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:20:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (3+ / 0-)
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        Another Grizzle, Kombema, JesseCW

        How do you compare a car engine made to last as it is as long as possible with a living cell which is made to teaqr itself down and rebuld continuously?

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:25:22 PM PDT

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        •  Apples and oranges. (1+ / 0-)
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          Diane Gee

          They are different concepts that just have different functions.

          What would Mothra do?

          by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:35:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They're still systems, which can be "closed" (5+ / 0-)

            at a relative level (not requiring significant input from the outside) or open, and simple (like a virus) or complex (like a planet). A machine is a comparatively more closed system, but even that eventually requires outside input (energy, human intervention, etc.) in most cases.

            Complex open systems are far more able to operate with the loss of some components. You can't take a gear out of a car or watch and hope for it to keep working. If humans (or all mammals, or all the ice, all trees, etc.) vanished overnight, the Earth system would continue functioning. Just not like it did before.

            "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

            by Kombema on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:12:06 PM PDT

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            •  The only closed systems are in a lab (0+ / 0-)

              and that closure is a temporary approximation

              Organisms are different from machines in that they can repair themselves. This is, in part, due to catabolism and anabolism.  The constant break down and repair.  This is why we think ecosystems are also a form of organism and ultimately Gaia.

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:16:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  From a reductionist view, (6+ / 0-)

        you should be able to peel anything apart into its individual parts, and by understanding how those parts work in relative isolation, be able to predict exactly what will happen if you put them together in a set way.   Computer programming is built this way - you take a rigidly constrained and constructed language, and build pieces that you know exactly how they work, and can then use and re-use them in many ways to achieve 'different' ends.

        The problem with the real world is that there are pretty much always far more variables than you can account for, and their 'balance' is in constant flux as they interact.  The human body has a wonderful array of feedback set-ups to address issues of blood pH, blood volume, internal temperature, and so on.  And they all interact with one another, sometimes reinforcing the actions of another part of the system, sometimes damping them down.  Despite knowing how each individual piece of the system works in a generic way, you can't predict exactly how a given person's body will work to achieve the desired homeostasis.

        Likewise, we 'know' how various meteorologic phenomenon work, but can't accurately predict weather over any length at all.

        •  Agreed. But I don't see... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lehman scott

          ...what the controversy is.

          What would Mothra do?

          by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:37:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, it depends, I suppose. (3+ / 0-)

            Let's say you're talking about how humans behave.  Now in my viewpoint, a human is a human, no matter what environment you place him or her in.  He or she has emotions, thoughts, desires.

            But in our modern environment, we put that person into a 'role', such as teacher or student, and then consider it the most normal thing in the world to expect them to suddenly lose certain of those human attributes, to the point at which we actively punish, even criminalize, normal human behaviours that occur between two people simply because they happen to be taking part in specific roles at the time.

            I had a photography teacher back in high school who fell in love with a student.  They ended up married with several kids, but today he would be considered some sort of pervert, probably even a sexual offender.

            Because we societally created the role concepts and assigned them attributes, we seem to assume that we can, in a reductionist way, basically isolate specific behaviours.  But human interactions are part of a larger social interaction system, so those placed in such roles are constantly under the stress of balancing being a normal human being vs the expectations placed upon them to wall off much of how they think, feel, or behave to meet the societally acceptable definition of their roles.  Some succeed, some fail spectacularly.

            To a reductionist mindset, the expectation is that we can reduce humans down to the smaller roles we've created for them during specific timeframes.  A systems person is going to expect problems within the system from the start, because you're trying to short circuit the larger system as it exists.  No matter how harsh the penalties imposed, you simply can't guarantee that people will behave as the construct says they will in such a relationship.

            One 'controversy', therefore, is that using systems theory, many of our existing societal constructs are pretty much expected to fail over time, because they rely on attempts to reduce and limit behaviours to specific 'approved' patterns, rather than seeking to integrate and understand why the 'unapproved' behaviours occur, and alter other inputs to create feedbacks that acknowledge their existence, but incentivize different paths of action.

            But that's not a happy thought to reductionists, who want to make everything simple - good and bad, law and lawbreakers, economic 'success' or 'failure'.

            •  I think... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              don mikulecky

              ...analysis and integration are both necessary in obtaining knowledge.  There is no conflict between them.

              What would Mothra do?

              by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:20:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  nor is that the point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SpecialKinFlag, northsylvania

                we only understand through our models.  The thing about reductionist models is that analytic models always equal synthetic models.  In complex systems theory this is never true.

                An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:24:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Analytic and synthetic... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  lehman scott

                  Are you a Kantian in epistemology?  We can't ever know reality?

                  What if our models are flawed?

                  You raise many more questions than you answer.

                  What would Mothra do?

                  by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:48:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  all models are flawed (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lehman scott

                    because they are limited

                    we have a new paradigm and a new epistemology

                    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                    by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:51:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What is the new paradigm? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      don mikulecky, lehman scott

                      And what is the new epistemology?

                      What would Mothra do?

                      by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:59:30 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  you want it in a word or a sentence? (0+ / 0-)

                        Is that a serious question?  if so here's our book:   Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

                        The Global Economy that sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result, civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into such a fix? In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct. This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse of civilization.

                        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                        by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 06:03:29 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  To be honest (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dov12348, lehman scott, Diane Gee

                I see them as being complementary to a large extent as well.  But many people prefer to cling to a more one-dimensional view, as you can easily see by turning on C-Span at any given moment of Congressional coverage.  

                •  You can see them as you wish (0+ / 0-)

                  the statements I made about the differences between analytic models and synthetic models have rigorous expression in category theory and these results are myriad in the literature.  Why do  you use the title "Dr"?  It is a bit misleading when you discuss at the level you do.

                  An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 05:34:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I use the title Dr because I have a doctorate in (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lehman scott, Diane Gee

                    one of those reductionist sciences you so dislike.  I'm not a philosopher, nor have I spent any time studying the specific literature you have, because I don't use it on a day to day basis.  My work does not require me to read up on 'category theory', and I did not make any refutation about your statement on analytic and synthetic models, just a very general and vague statement on how I tend to use systems and reductionist viewpoints for my day to day needs.

                    If I had realized you only were looking for scholars in your chosen topic of content to comment, I wouldn't have bothered to say anything, and since you don't seem to approve of anything I've said to date, I'll stop polluting your comment thread.

                  •  Unnecessarily nasty comment. (0+ / 0-)

                    What would Mothra do?

                    by dov12348 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 06:06:01 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  The reductionist dogma (0+ / 0-)

          I challenge you to use physiology and anatomy to create a living cell.  Sorry  you have it wrong.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:37:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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