The Basic Scientific Concepts Involved
New knowledge of nature we have yet to comprehend
> Intro Summary 1 <
The related elements of a fundamentally mysterious "way that things happen--
> Liner and Nonlinear Dynamics: Changes that occur proportionally versus in disjunctive "leaps." Linear
dynamics produce proportionally consistent sequences of changes. Each
event is predictably determined by, or directly dependent upon,
preceding ones: "1, 2,
3." Nonlinear dynamics result in sudden, unpredictably disproportional
changes. Thus nonlinear changes cannot be accurately
predicted from preceding conditions: "1, 2, 5.". Nonlinear dynamics can
transformative effects that cannot be explained in strictly mechanical
terms of sequential cause and effect.
> Feedback Loops and Nonlinear Dynamics: Circuits of influence that modify each other unpredictably. When
the influences of multiple factors simultaneously and recursively feed back into each
other, the resulting influences become interdependently interactive. This interdependency can amplify the
disproportionally transformative changes of nonlinear dynamics.
> Chaos and Complexity: Unpredictable creation of order out of disorder.These
terms indicate scientifically defined dynamical conditions involving not only dependently linear changes, but
nonlinearity, interdependent feedback, and significant disorganization.
These dynamics can generate effects that are inconsistent with
preceding conditions, such as new forms of order from disorderly
Because these effects cannot be fully predicted or explained in
reference to the events that proceed them, they are termed "emergent".
> Emergent Properties: Effects that cannot be explained by preceding conditions.
These are the effects, forms, and functions that arise from the unpredictably
deterministic, disproportional changes of chaotic and complex dynamical
conditions, which cannot be fully explained in relation to the preceding factors and conditions from which they synergistically "emerge."
> Emergent Order Creation: Ordering that cannot be explained by preceding conditions. This term indicates the recognizable patterns of organization that are emergent properties of
chaotic and complex dynamics, which cannot be fully explained in mechanically causal terms.
> Self-Organizing Systems:
Systems that generate their own order autonomously. This is an emergent property of systems composed of
interdependently interacting parts, which generate and maintain their own
organized relationships: the output of the system creates order that cannot be understood in terms of inputs to the system.
> Autonomous System Networks:
A system's ability to self-regulate.
This is an emergent property of self-organizing systems in which the
synergistic interactions of their parts manifest the emergence of an
network. These networks are "something more than" the parts of the
system. Their capacity to autonomously maintain and adapt the forms and
of the system in a willful manner is an on-going improvisation that
emerges in response to changing conditions--as in the human body's
> Complex Adaptive Systems: A system's ability to change itself intentionally.
These are systems that not only generate their own organization and
operations but can adapt those to changes in their internal and
external environments, through the emergent autonomy of their
>Teleological Intentionality: Complex systems can act for future purposes.
When the emergent autonomy of a self-organizing, adaptive system
selectively to modify the forms and operations of its
system in ways that sustain it, it does so in reference not only to
past and present conditions, but to future possibilities. Thus it acts
intentionally, for the purpose
of preserving its system's sustainable existence teleologically in the
> Scalable Complexity and Network Autonomy: Adaptive systems can aggregate into larger ones. Increases
in the complexity of interdependent dynamical relationships can
"scale up" the emergent generation of new effects, including the capacity of
multiple system networks to self-organize and adapt intentionally,
creating meta-networks of many autonomous systems whose interactions generate collective self-organization, as
from species to ecologies, or human individuals to societies.
>Nature's Order is Autonomously Emergent: The order around us is intentional.
The order of the biosphere, from cells and microbes on up, derives from
these unpredictably deterministic dynamics and their emergently
self-organizing, autonomously intentional properties. The intentional autonomy we experience as humans is an effect of the same
complex dynamics that create the unpredictably emergent ordering of all natural
>Bi-dynamical Order Creation: The world is ordered by two different "ways that things happen".
Scientific method has revealed to modes of order creation. One is
determined by the predictably mechanistic, proportionally consistent,
sequentially dependent actions and reactions described by the laws of
physics. The other emerges from the disorderly, disproportional
"leaps" of nonlinear dynamics in the feedback loops of chaos and
complexity, through a synergy of interdependent interactions in which
events are ultimately not differentiable. One mode is predictably
determined, thus without intentional purpose. The other is
unpredictably self-determining and can manifest purposeful intention.
these phenomena is extensive and rapidly expanding. But
this very evidence also indicates that the dynamical events which
generate them are not fully accessible to our observation
and explanation. The laws of physics alone cannot account for them. On
the one hand, this recent scientific insight vastly expands our ability
to comprehend "how the world actually works." It also shows how our
attempts to control Nature are destroying its capacities to
autonomously create and maintain the bisophere we depend upon. But, on
another hand, it is utterly incomprehensible to our cultural definition
of reality. We do not know how to think what our own science has
So now what?!
The Relevance of the Science of Autonomous Systems to the Contemporary World
An Autonomous World We Can’t Control—
recent science of Nature’s complex adaptive
systems reveals how these are self-creating. They manifest through
self-organizing operational networks which intentionally animate them.
This network agency in natural systems creates most of the order around
us. The world, it turns out, is
ordered by autonomous networks we can’t control but can severely
disrupt by our own actions.
The Catastrophe of our Un-Scientific Modern Worldview— Ignorance of complex systems science blinds us to the suicidal effects
of our exploitation of natural systems. But our pragmatic obsession
with manipulation and control obstructs comprehension of this
science of the uncontrollably autonomous nature of Nature. Thus, despite our science, we
continue to act in ways that destroy the capacity of natural systems to
sustain themselves--and thus humans.
The Reality of Myth's Spiritual Symbolism--
Scientific models of Nature's self-animating systems, from cells to cities, reveal strangely
emergent creativity, fantastic interdependency, and hidden volition.
This view of reality as shaped by self-determining, intricately
interacting forces, is similar to that of ancient myth's spiritual
animation of matter. Complexity and systems science now show that mythic symbolism is a valid method for
perceiving "how the world actually works."
Our desperate need a New Worldview—
our suicidal behavior requires a
transformation in our cultural view of reality. That requires new
symbols and a new philosophical story of creation, one that foregrounds the
scientific evidence for autonomous agency and interdependency in
Nature. The new
science proves this necessity. But we cannot comprehend it without a
new, scientific, mythology. To fully "think like Nature acts" we must think symbolically.
> Intro Summary 2 <
The Spiritual Science of a Cultural Transformation
The New Science of Autonomous System Networks:
We now have factual scientific evidence for autonomously
self-organizing networks of that effectively animate Nature’s complex
systems. These networks create and maintain the order of systems ranging from individual
micro-organisms to species, ecologies, cities, and economies. In doing
so they produce causal effects that are termed emergent because these
are not fully explainable by the laws of physics alone. This is not the science we are taught in school.
The Reality of Spiritual Animation:
disproportionally emergent creativity and self-organization of
complex system networks correlate with the mysteriously causal
influences of mythology’s world-animating spiritual forces. The natural
forces of these autonomous networks,
recently described by scientific method, were once perceived by archaic
through the symbolism of myth's spiritual imagination. Myth and science
now agree: what we have
regarded as the machinery of life is, in fact, alive. By virtue of
these willful networks,
complex adaptive systems maintain and adapt themselves like organisms.
They do so thorough the same type of dynamic phenomena that generate
intelligence. Science now presents a "spiritual" worldview.
The Necessity of Mythic Imagination:
System network science
confronts us with aspects of how the world actually works that are
incomprehensible to our normative, mechanistic view of reality. The science of these
autonomously self-animating systems demonstrates that they exist, but
also that their operations are not fully describable, explainable, or predictable--due to the disorderly dynamics or their order creation. To
fully appreciate their influence in the world we require the mythic
imagination’s emotionally compelling symbolism of spiritual forces.
This imaginative modeling of an obscured aspect of reality is not the
same as religious belief. It is the imaginal experience of empirical phenomena.
Cultural Transformation: Our
control obsessed, manipulative behavior has disabled Nature's self-sustaining
networks, creating ecological destruction and chaotic climate change.
To survive we must shift from exploiting natural systems to
facilitating their autonomy
mutually enabling interdependency. That change requires not only a
scientific re-education but its elaboration through factual
symbolism--through a new, scientific
mythology. This transformation is not only practical in terms of our
survival, it also offers an enhanced sense of meaning and purpose for
> Intro Summary 3 <
Our New Knowledge, Its Old Version, and Our Catastrophic Ignorance of Both
The Catastrophe of Our Modern Worldview—
The behavior of our globalized economy is a disaster for the biosphere on which it depends
➢ Unrestrained industrialization, urbanization, consumption, economic expansion, and resulting pollution have
devastated ecological systems worldwide, marine and terrestrial
➢ This relentless exploitation is driving the earth’s 6th great mass extinction of species event
➢ Burning of carbon fuels has pushed the global climate systems into chaotic disruption
➢ Such manipulations of natural systems has caused
many civilizations to collapse in the past, but this time we
are debilitating the resilience of the entire biosphere
➢ Our existing political and social culture has proved incapable of addressing this crisis
An Autonomous World We Can’t Control—
The recent science of complex adaptive systems reveals the ignorance that blinds us
to the suicidal effects of our behavior
➢ Natural systems actually function in ways that can’t be fully modeled, explained, or controlled
➢ From ecologies to economies, they manifest unpredictably emergent properties
➢ These include their self-creating, self-organizing, adaptive operational networks
➢ Those operations create order from disorderly internal and external conditions
➢ They effectively act as autonomous individuals yet are fundamentally interdependent
➢ The biosphere is a network of such networks, all influencing and responding to each other
➢ Disruption of their self-organizing, interdependent operations can result in catastrophic failure
➢ Human behaviors are currently causing such disruption on a global scale
➢ Our hierarchical model of command and control, our
belief in mechanism and technological fixes are delusional
Our Desperate Need for a New Worldview—
Changing our suicidal behavior requites a cultural transformation
➢ To act in ways that support earth’s life systems we must understand how these "self-animate"
➢ Civilization can only be sustainable if its systems do not disable the autonomy of the biosphere
➢ That means shifting from manipulative exploitation
to facilitating interdependence, from power-over
Nature to reciprocal relationship with the rest of Life's systems--as a
community of “sentient beings”
➢ Such a change in behavior requires the new knowledge of systems science to guide us
➢ But such a profound cultural shift takes more than understanding this radical new science
➢ To effectively “move” us to a culture of correspondence with Nature’s autonomous systems, we need
emotionally compelling symbolism of how those systems act intentionally to shape and maintain life
➢ We need a “scientific mythology.”
The Reality of Spiritual Symbolism—
Scientific models of natural systems present a view of reality similar to that of ancient myth:
➢ Astonishingly, the new science of self-animating complex system networks resembles the worldview of myth
➢ The confounding complexity of these network dynamics is myth’s fantastic “other world”
➢ Unpredictably emergent system properties are represented by myth’s magical metamorphoses
➢ Autonomous system operation is symbolized by myth’s world-animating spirits and divinities
➢ System individuality is characterized by myth's
distinctive spirits of species, locales, and powers of Nature
➢ Myth models the effects of human disruption of autonomous systems as the of “anger” offended spirits
➢ Global systems failure is expressed in myth’s apocalyptic tales where even the gods perish
➢ Myth is our ancestors’ emotionally compelling counterpart of complex systems science
➢ It is now possible to correlate science and myth to
attain a more realistic worldview--to "think like Nature acts"