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I have spent quite a few diaries reviewing ideas from Robert Rosens books Anticipatory Systems, Life Itself, and Essays on Life Itself as well as his student, A. Louie's book More than Life Itself.  The purpose, in the main, was to establish another way of looking at the world.  I started the series by going back to Robert Hutchins ideas about the way knowledge should be organized.  He had the idea that severing the links between interacting systems of thought in order to neatly package it was a big mistake.  If you want to follow the links back to that diary, the last one was:Reading Ramblings: Relational models and causality.  Let me review some basic ideas.  We established that in the complex real world the idea that one model of the natural world, Cartesian reductionist science, could capture it for us was wrong and this error sitts at the root of problems in our thinking.  This is a big claim.  It goes to foundations of everything we do and especially our political activities.  Read on below and I will begin to explain why.  This is a deep matter and it can only be approached in small steps so it is going to take some time.

If you8 read back through the series you will see that the central theme to where science fell short of a complete description of the complex world is in ignoring the lesson from Goedel.  No system of thought can be simultaneously complete and consistent.  Goedel's proof is in the domain of Number theory in mathematics.  Rosen extends it to all of natural science and now I want to extend it to the whole idea of world views and, in particular, how world views are so intimately a part of our political life.  I will say from the start that politics, when isolated from the way it connects up with the other aspects of our world view, becomes an unrealistic exercise in competitive dogmas and wordsmanship and not much more.  In reality politics is something that is tied to every aspect of life.  Just read the incomplete list of possible tags offered every diary writer and you then get an idea of what I mean.

So how do we approach a model of the world that attempts to reconstruct humpty dumpty after all these great minds have made him into a lot of little disconnected pieces?  If you were with me as we set the stage for this adventure you know that we do not do it by putting the pieces back together again.

Instead we construct "relational' models that relate the original complex systems different aspects not by looking at its parts but by looking at something else.  We look at its functional components and how they relate causally.  We look at why things happen the way we do.   I'm going to repeat a question that must have been asked here thousands of times in many different ways:  "Why do people vote against their self interest?"  This can be closely related to the question of whether the 99% is just a mere statistic and nothing else or if there is such an entity that has not become united in any way.

How do you answer this kind of question?  Does it have answer?  And if it does what are we doing to act on that answer.  Be careful for I am laying a trap.  Clearly if this is easy all states are blue and we win by a landslide.  Worldviews are elusive.  If you engage a person who votes for people who rob him of his wages and uses our collective  resources to foster their self interest at the expense of his, there has to be a catch somewhere.  Especially when it happens over and over again.

In the next diary I am going to begin to try to unravel this.  Let me prepare you by having you imagine a self organism system made up of economic, political, religious, scientific, technological, esthetic, communication, health related and other functional components.  Put them down on paper if you like.  Then draw lines linking the pairs that have interaction.  OK if you do that in your mind or on paper you quickly get a picture that ought to give you reason to feel humble.  That is a mere shadow of the system we are trying to deal with.  Another exercise that can be very helpful is to list the labels we use when we break this system down into parts to study it.  There are lots of revealing things you can do with such a list.  One is to try to pick out entries that depend on your particular world view.   Another is to try to recreate the list from the perspective of someone with a distinctly different worldview.  Here' a harder one.  can you identify insights that might have been lost about the relationships in the first diagram that came about by simply making such a list?  This is the flavor of what a relational approach to the world is meant to rectify.  Stay tuned.  

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 09:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Systems Thinking and Anti-Capitalist Chat.


A systems view of politics

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