The Evidence for the Reality of Spiritual Animation in Nature--
and Its Necessarily Mytho-Logical Representation
> Full Extended Outline <
The Basics of a New Scientific Argument for Spiritual Animation in Nature
and Its Transformative Implications for Our Cultural Worldview
The ideas presented below are an attempt to elucidate the relevance of
the sciences of complex dynamics for our cultural worldview and how it
must change to become more factually realistic. For information on the
actual science from which these summaries and extrapolations are derived, please see the References Page
Science: Factual Description versus Conclusive Explanation in Materialistic Naturalism
Evidence: Quantifiable facts versus explanation
- Science is a methodology of empirical analysis and theoretical explanation, not a belief system
generates factual knowledge of Nature by
first observing a phenomenon then posing hypothetical concepts about it
that can be tested empirically for their accuracy--through
quantification, calculation, and experimentation. In this way it
provides descriptive evidence for "what is," and often a basis for
understanding "how it comes to be" or is caused.
- Such causal explanations for "how things come to be" arise from identifying
specific relationships between quantifiable factors acting upon each
other over time, revealing sequences of predictable events and changes.
- However, scientific method often produces factual
evidence for which no such causal explanation can be specified. Despite
the fact that it has led to the causal explanation of many aspects of
Nature, there is no basis in scientific method itself for assuming it
can fully explain the origins of all phenomena for which it can provide
factually valid description and testable evidence.
- Thus, to be genuinely scientific, naturalistic science, as verifiable factual
knowledge of natural phenomena, must acknowledge all the factual
evidence it reveals regardless of whether the causal actions involved
can be completely identified and explained.
- Validated evidence of phenomena that cannot be
fully explained in the predictably causal terms of the deterministic Laws of Physics is
nonetheless evidence of something real: just because a phenomena or event cannot be fully explained does not make it factually un-real.
is conceivable that aspects of Nature can be factually described by
scientific method yet be "beyond conclusive explanation" without being
"super-natural": science does not preclude the possibility of fundamental mystery in
Physics: Causal explanation has limits
science of physics provides factually verifiable descriptions,
explanations, and predictions for the properties of matter and energy.
- Yet, despite its profoundly accurate and useful causal explanations, it has produced no "unified theory of everything."
has proved particularly limited in explaining the operations of
biological life systems and the origins of their purposeful
behavior--such as human "free will."
- A belief that physics should
define and explain all
reality, in terms of predictably deterministic causes and effects,
creates resistance to factual evidence which suggests its mode of
causal explanation has limits—and there is such evidence. But this
evidence is at odds with our cultural definition of reality as phenomena that are
ultimately definable and explainable in terms of the deterministic Laws of Physics.
- Over recent decades, factual
evidence has been
accumulating that indicates there are indeed non-random, deterministic
events which, due to their intrinsically unpredictable dynamical
character, cannot be fully described or modeled--thus not fully explained.
- Such non-random events can
determine subsequent changes and effects in ways that are not
predictably causal but result in materially quantifiable, thus factual
effects. Such effects are particularly evident in the self-organization
and intentionally purposeful behaviors of living systems.
the laws of physics do not appear to be violated by this evidence for
unpredictably deterministic events, those laws cannot fully explain the
origins of all the quantifiable effects and changes resulting from such
events. We are confronted by evidence that compels us to reconsider our
cultural definition of "how things actually happen" in Nature.
Dynamics: From sequential progressions to concurrent Interactions and beyond comprehension
are the traits of action, change, and progression from one condition or
event to another. Dynamical descriptions describe the relationships
between succeeding events or changes.
- Science uses mathematical
analysis and modeling to differentiate linear from nonlinear
dynamical relationships between events. Linear dynamics generate
predictably consistent and proportional relationships between
succeeding events or conditions. Thus they are fully predictable. Nonlinear dynamics can produce
inconsistent and disproportional relationships between succeeding event
or conditions that are not fully predictable.
- Because the events of linear
dynamics occur as progressive, proportionally consistent, predictably
deterministic sequences, they are readily modeled, calculated, and
causally explained. Linear events are what
we can potentially manipulate and control in the world.
- Because the events of nonlinear dynamics can
occur disjunctively, as proportionally inconsistent and unpredictably
deterministic "jumps," the relationships between events are not readily
modeled, calculated, or explained. Thus nonlinear
events tend to be both unpredictable and
beyond direct control. Such dynamic relationships are not completely
accessible to examination by scientific method. But such events
are not accidents, not simply random. They
are deterministic despite their disproportional and unpredictable
- Nonlinear events can arise from many factors
and forces interacting concurrently, generating simultaneous influence on
each other, resulting in effects that are so difficult to
model they can be neither fully calculable nor causally explainable.
- The difference between how linear and
nonlinear dynamics create ordered states or relationships between
multiple factors is profound. Linear changes produce order that is
proportionally consistent with preceding states, as in 1, 2, 3, or 2 +
2 = 4. But nonlinear changes can result in order that is sequentially
inconsistent and disproportional, as in 1, 2, 5, or 2 + 2 = 5.
consistency of linear dynamics create
predictably orderly ordering that can readily be described in
mechanistic terms and potentially controlled. But
nonlinear ones can result in order emerging from disorder—a
paradoxical quality of order-creating anarchy that cannot be fully
in a mechanical manner and is impossible to directly manipulate. In the
strictest sense of cause and effect, nonlinear dynamics are
"disorderly" because they can generate disproportional effects in
- In recent decades scientific method has
provided startling new descriptions of how nonlinear dynamics shape the
world around us. While these insights provide greater understanding of
such dynamics, they also tend to emphasize their ultimately mysterious
origins and the impossibility of directly controlling them.
Emergence: The disjunctively determinsitic creativity of nonlinear dyamical relationships
- The unpredictable but non-random changes of nonlinear dynamics are involved
in the generation of many aspects of the world around us. They are
fundamental to the properties of most forms, ordering, and function in
the origins of some of the forms and qualities resulting from the
disjunctive changes of nonlinear dynamics cannot be fully specified as
consistent, strictly mechanistic sequences of causal events, these are
neither predictable by, nor fully explainable in terms of, the
deterministic laws of physics.
- Subsequently, such forms, and the
unexpected properties they often manifest, have come to be termed
"emergent." This term is used to indicate effects that arise through
the unpredictable changes associated with
the disjunctive relationships of nonlinear dynamics. Emergent
properties can usually be quantified but the disorderly process of
their creation cannot be fully examined and explained in the same
manner as can effects deriving from predictably
deterministic causal events. Thus emergence has a "disorderly" quality of creativity that appears to be beyond our complete analytical comprehension.
term "emergent properties" is used to
indicate effects that arise in this synergistic fashion. The properties
arise from the interaction of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen.
But the resulting properties are disproportional with, and not
predictable from, the properties of these two types of molecules
themselves. The characteristics of water are determined by synergistic
interactions occurring between those molecules, but not in a fully
explainable way. Thus there are aspects of water that are emergent
properties--meaning properties of fluidity as well as the static
immobility of ice. These properties can be factually described once
manifested but cannot be predicted from the
preceding conditions of the properties of oxygen and hydrogen molecules
whose synergistic interactions constitute the component parts of water.
- Emergent properties turn out to be pervasive
in natural phenomena, indicating that Nature's ordering derives, in
considerable degree, from the unpredictably deterministic yet
disorderly relationships of nonlinear dynamics.
Entropy: Emergence and exception to the Second Law of Thermodynamics
- Entropy is a term that represents a state of
non-differentiated relationships between aspects of matter and energy.
Maximum entropy is a condition of uniformity that has no differentiated concentrations
of organized relationships, thus has no potential for dynamical
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a
principle in physical science that describes the tendency of the entire
universe to organizationally degrade toward a condition of maximum
- This one-way process, which is referred to as
the origin of the "arrow of time," is understood to have been initiated
by a cosmos-creating "Big Bang" event, which resulted in uneven
distributions of matter and energy in space. These localized
discrepancies provided the impetus for more and less ordered local
conditions, creating concentrations of gravitational attraction, that in turn generated stars, planets, solar systems, and
The interactions of these differentiation are presumed to necessarily
dissipate over time until the universe becomes fully entropic or
- However, emergent phenomena, such as the
operations of biological systems, can actually increase the relative
degree of order in localized aspects of the universe, as on planet
earth. Indeed, they produce the most complex forms of order known to
- This localized increase of order within the
overall entropic trajectory of the universe (meaning it is deemed to
become progressively more entropic over time) has, thereby, an
anti-entropic quality, also refered to as negentropy.
- Emergence thus confronts us with an exception
to the otherwise seemingly absolute determination of the Second Law of
Thermodynamics. It results in increases of the amount of order in the
universe s well as the degree, by generating the most complex forms of
ordering that have been observed.
conundrum of new and more complex forms
of order creation involving nonlinear dynamics, occurring in evident
defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is a most basic aspect of
the emergence of order from disorder that characterizes the thus far
inexplicable self-creating, self-adapting character of living systems.
- Somehow, the overall entropic degrading of
order in the larger universe is enabling the emergence of increased and
vastly more complex localized forms of order, which include those of
subjectively self-conscious, willfully autonomous systems--such as
animals. These are verifiable facts for which physics has no satisfactory theoretical explanations.
Complexity: The Emergent Order Creation of Interdependent, Nonlinear Dynamical Relationships
Ordering Disorder: Where conflict and discontinuity generate accord and continuities
into nonlinear dynamics helped form
the scientific concepts of chaos and complexity. These are terms used
to indicate dynamical
conditions involving nonlinear relationships and disproportional
changes, within which orderly continuities can emerge from disorderly
in unpredictable but non-random ways. The creation of such order cannot
be reduced to
sequentially consistent, mechanical actions and reactions.
dynamical conditions often appear to be random. Yet they can
generate variably organized forms, such as whirlpools in turbulent
fluids, which express self-similar yet non-identical reiterations of
These emergent forms of order are derived primarily from the
interaction of dynamic activity with external factors, such as the
impetus of water flow encountering the constraining obstructions to it
created by static rocks in a river, resulting in the variable ordering
of a whirlpool.External factors "bend" the dynamic actions "back upon
themselves" to generate interactions that generate ordered pattern.
- Complex conditions have the additional quality of generating emergent order that somehow sustains itself,
such as in biological bodies. These forms of order derive from interactions that are more internal to the dynamic
activity--actions effect actions in ways that result in new order and
its continuation--resulting in what is describable as more overtly
self-sustaining self-organization.The dynamic interactions somehow generate ordered patterns and the capacity to sustain these without being compelled by external forces.
- The dynamics of mechanical systems can be
extremely complicated, such as a factory, airplane, or computer. But
the nonlinear dynamics of chaotic and complex dynamics produce relationships among factors that
are more than a merely complicated set of linearly consistent
And it is here that new and novel order emerges which appears to
diverge from the dis-ordering entropic trajectory of the universe, as
described by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
dynamical shift or boundary between complex and
chaotic conditions is described as “the edge of chaos.” This is a
condition in which complexity’s self-sustaining organization can
from, or disintegrate back into, the less ordered conditions of chaotic
dynamics. Complexity somehow scales up the erratic emergent order
generation of chaos to
a more sustainable level.
Self-Regulating Relationships: The emergence of self-organizing order from interdependency
- Complexity manifests at extreme levels of
connectivity and interdependence among interacting factors whose
dynamic effects "feed back" into each other in reciprocal cycles--as in
A effects B, B effects C, ad C effects A.Thus
complex dynamics can arise from even simple-seeming sets of factors and interactions if
these sufficiently modify each other—rather than merely “act upon” each
other in mechanical sequences.
- More extreme interdependence among factors can
produce a transitional state of instability, termed criticality,
because the existing order of dynamic activity reaches a “critical
state” in which it might either re-organize or collapse in a shift
toward chaotic dynamics. Criticality is a dynamical condition that
manifest the potential for unpredictable emergence of new forms that can be sustained by complex interdependency.
- Criticality can result in new types of
organized relations among interacting factors, a phenomenon termed
“self-organizing criticality”: extreme interdependence can generate
new, unexpected forms of organization and activity unpredictably—out of
significant disorder. In chaotic dynamics an example is a tornado.
- Complexity’s self-organizing can be thought of
as a spontaneous synchronizing of concurrent interactions that results
in new and self-sustaining ordering. In complex dynamics an example is
the spontaneous transformation of a basic biological stem cell into an different
type of cell with different properties and functions.
Inconsistent Continuities: The unique self-similarities of complexity's emergemt self-organizaiton
- Complexity's order producing
disorder is a kind of improvisation in each moment that allows for the
emergence of both relatively similar yet also suddenly different
versions of forms and functions.
- These dynamical qualities enable complexity to
create similar emergent forms, such as apples. But due to the
unpredictable nature of self-organizing criticality, even very similar
forms are infinitely variable: every apple's form is an emergent property of
complex dynamics. This is why no two apples--or people, or cities-- are the same.
Synergistic Mystery: Organization out of no where
- The disproportional “leaps” of emergent order
formation in complexity is empirically confirmed by quantifying the
difference in degree or type of organization that exists before and
after emergence: the specifiable forms, organization, and properties of
emergent order have no predictable basis in the forms and conditions
that preceding them.
- Due to the radical interdependency of
relationships among the highly interconnected factors involved in
complexity, this disproportional creation of emergent
properties--including that of self-sustaining ordering-- arise from an
synergy that cannot be specified as the "particular where" of preceding
factors that produce a linear sequence of events.
house is an emergent form of order because
there is nothing about the properties of materials used for its
construction that allows prediction of its ultimate organization. The
components of the house cannot “build it”—complexity is required, in
the form of human thoughts, plans, and interactions. Dynamic
relationships generate the ordering that is the house, with its
- Most significantly, it has become evident that
complexity's emergent creation of self-ordering order is the source of a high proportion
of the organization in the planetary biosphere.
Systems: Interactive Parts that can Become Self-ordering, Adaptive Wholes
Linear and Nonlinear: Types of system dynamics
- Systems are sets of component parts acting upon each
other through dynamical relationships to produce the operations or behavior of an identifiable whole,
whether as a clock or a forest ecology.
systems are dynamically linear and
mechanistic, thus manifest predictable activity, while others are more
nonlinear. The latter tend to be more emergently creative and complexly
self-sustaining, thus manifest more unpredictable activity.
- Complex systems are those that manifest
complexity’s disorderly ordering and emergent properties to generate sustained
self-organization of their forms and operations. Thus their relative
continuity is continually emerging with some variation over time,
rather than being a repetition of the same exact actions over and over
- Complex adaptive systems have a further
emergent property of being able to re-organize their forms and
operations in ways that make them adaptive to changes in their
- The interdependent interactivity of their
parts synchronically generates self-organizing operations. These emerge
from system dynamics which are in the potentially transformative state
of criticality, operating in nearly chaotic dynamics, or "at the edge
of chaos." Thus they ordering emerges from self-organizing criticality.
- Such system self-organization is maintained
through continual emergence of synchronized reciprocity among system
activities, rather than as a mechanistic repetition of the same exact
patterns. Thus system operations can be very similar but not exactly
the same moment to moment, indicating that a system is effectively
creating itself in each instant of time. It is ongoing
self-organization facilitates their capacity to re-order in adaptive
Self-Creation: The interdependent dynamics of system autonomy
- From cells to societies, this
self-organization involves the puroposeful interpretation of interactivity between
system parts, as well with its environment, as meaningful information
that enables the initiation of actions that regulate system activities.
- Complex adaptive systems not only act to
create and sustain, but also to adapt themselves to changing
environments in an evolutionary manner. However, this operational
adaptation, the evolutionary process actually involves purpose and even
intention: the system determines its adaptive re-organization in
response to its environment as a means of sustaining itself.
- Most natural systems, from cells to ecologies,
and even human systems like cities, are such self-organizing complex
adaptive systems that act autonomously to perpetuate their operations.
- In ways that elude analysis by conclusive
measurement and calculation, they generate self-organizing operational
networks for which there is no explicit material basis in the
properties of their component parts
- The easiest version of such systems to
visualize are “agent based systems,” such as ant colonies. Here the
system component parts are separate ants whose individual actions become
interactions that feedback into the collective system network. This
simultaneous interdependent interactity results emergent
self-organization of the whole colony, without there being any central
controller. What we call the “queen” only lays eggs. She has not
actual command and control influence on the colony. Thus a collective
mind manifests from simple behaviors of the ant agents that organizes
and re-directs to whole system without there being a central “brain.”
Such systems have been termed a “super organisms.”
Self-Regulation: System manipulation of complexity's dynamical relationships
Networks: Constellated Interactivity that can Think for Itself
- These peculiar traits of complex systems are
described as deriving from relative amounts of four factors of
relationship among their parts: connectivity, interdependence, and
diversity of system parts, along with a capacity to incorporate the
system’s history into its present operations. This latter aspect
constitutes a form of learning and memory that enable systems to adapt
to changing environmental factors by processing information about its
past in relation to its present conditions.
- Complexity’s self-organizing criticality
emerges at a particular but unpredictable threshold in system dynamics:
Too much or too little connectivity, interdependence, or diversity
among system parts can disable a system’s networked self-organization.
It is evident that some systems can regulate the proportional
relationships of these factors.
- Thus sustainability of complex systems, their
adaptive robustness over time, derives from self-regulating these four
factors. But this aspect of self-regulation is also an emergent
property of interdependent interactivity among largely
non-hierarchical, often redundant relationships between networked part.
It is how these parts are networked that enables a system to generate
its self-sustaining continuity and self-re-organizing adaptations.
Network Structure: Different types of connections have different relational effects
- System networks are understood as abstract
topologies, as if system components, the connections between these, and
the relationships among them constitute a kind of spatial landscape.
- Network structure is described in terms of
nodes, representing system parts, and links or pathways, meaning the
connections between parts across which actions and interactions move
between nodes, creating patterns of relationships. The totality of
these constitute the network of factors and relationships among them that enable a system to exist.
- Any distinct entity or event can be described
in terms of such a network of nodes, pathways of connections between
nodes, and the relationships established by those connections: a stone
is a network of specific molecules that constitute the material of the
stone and its particular properties, such as how hard, dense, or
brittle it is. A mechanical motor’s nodes are its parts that act upon
each other, creating pathways of relationship. A social group of humans
has person’s for nodes with pathways constituted by each person’s
behavioral interactions with other persons.
of network structure, the connectivity
among their parts, are distinguished as being centralized,
de-centralized, or distributed. These terms indicate a spectrum from
more hierarchically sequenced ordering to more a diffuse structure, the
distributed form, in which most parts are multiply connected to other
parts. Consequently, there are multiple pathways for interactions to
occur among them, and to do so in a more simultaneous manner. Networks
of complex systems tend toward the distributed topology of structure in
which relationships among parts become more interdependent.
structure often involves
some nodes having a greater number of links to other nodes than most. These are
called hubs because they often play a more significant role in
the system's processing of information that facilitates its emergent
- Different network structures, the arrangement
of its topology of nodes and links between parts, can create radically
different properties even when the parts are identical: carbon
molecules arranged in one network of relationships become soft graphite, the same
molecules arranged differently become hard diamonds; totalitarian
social system networks have different structural and relational characteristics than do
- However, the actual effects of networks do not
derive simply from their structural topology but also from the
activities that occur across the links. Plotting the topology of a
network as links and nodes does not necessarily reveal its ongoing, variable operations
and the resulting properties it manifests, making some networks extremely
difficult to fully describe.
- The structure and dynamic activity of networks
relates to their relative complexity. Complex systems manifest as
dynamically complex operational networks. These
are the type which can manifest the autonomous self-organization or
agency that guides system adaptation, in effect allowing them to "think for them selves."
Network Dynamics: Relational actions, interactions, and transformations
- Some networks are more dynamically active and
complex than others, ranging from the more static relationships of parts composing a
stone to the progressive sequences of linear actions in machinery, and
the pulsing flows of simultaneous, mutually modifying interactions
typical of self-organizing criticality in complex systems--such as
- Active systems. like machinery and social
groups, can be said to have operational networks. The system manifests
as the dynamical activity of the relationships between its
parts as the system changes over time. In complex systems, this
activity forms a variable constellation of interdependent interactions,
from which emerges network self-organization.
- The ever changing constellation of complex
network operations continually create and recreate their relationships
from feedback communicated across pathways among their nodes and
modules. This dynamically emergent network structure is distinct from
the specifiable properties of the system parts from which it emerges.
Network operations can often not be reduced to or understood by the
traits of the system parts whose interactions produce those operations.
- The actions and interactions between parts that are transmitted across network pathways are described as feedback
flows. These can be more dynamically linear or more nonlinear. Feedback impulses in complex networks can become mutually
modifying, amplifying the complexity of network dynamics and
facilitating the criticality associated with self-organization.
- Such networks manifest unpredictable but
characteristic behavior, individuality, and autonomy: even similarly
structured networks have identifiable behavioral character. Not all
individual human body networks operate their systems in exactly the same way and
respond differently to different stimuli. Thus what proves to be
sustainable ordering or adaptive change for one network is not
necessarily the same for another, even very similar network.
- Network operations can generate transformative
phase changes in their systems, as in when a fertilized embryo becomes
a fetus, a caterpillar a butterfly, a pride of lions adopt a new
hunting technique, or a society jumps from peace to warfare. These are
referred to as tipping points in a systems self-organization regime,
beyond which radical change becomes relatively inevitable. But the
instability of dynamical criticality involved can lead not only to
transformative system adaptation but also to degenerative collapse.
of feedback from particular factors
can disrupt the self-regulating operations emerging from a system's
self-organizing criticality, pushing a network into a tipping point.
Unlike more linear mechanical systems, complex ones, due to their
flexibility, tend to respond to disruptive feedback in a delayed
manner. But then when the tipping point is reached, network operations
can fragment and the system can become chaotic, loosing its capacity to
maintain relative continuity over time. Examples include the
discharge of green house gases into the atmosphere from human activity
which took decades to overtly alter the clilmate system.
Network Autonomy: The emergent agency of interdependency
- This constellation of synchronically
interactive, interdependent feedback among network nodes results in self-organization and adaptive
transformation of a system by generating an operational network which
effectively enables them to think for themselves, by making meaning
from feedback within their systems and from other external networks in
their surrounding environments, then responding by altering their own
network structures and thereby the properties of their systems. System
adaptation results through this meaning making information processing
that enables an operational network to act with autonomous agency in
re-organizing the system.
- The emergence of network autonomy and thus
agency in organizing or re-organizing its system derives from
significant disorder in its dynamical criticality. The uncertainty of
instability is essential to how this occurs. Too much regularity can
disable network self-organization and autonomy just as can too much
actions of complex system parts upon each
other produce networks with emergent properties. They have the
unpredictable and inexplicable capacity to autonomously regulate
overall operations of their systems. A complex network emerges from
collectively constellated, synchronic system activity that then in turn
acts to regulate that activity—system and network create each other
as reciprocal phenomena in a moment to moment improvisation. The
network organizes from feedback flows in the system then acts as an
agent to influence the system.
- Such self-organizing operations
system networks emerge from conditions of critically interdependent,
simultaneous flows of feedback transmitted between the parts of system.
Complex networks are continually active, turbulent, partly disorderly
constellations of interdependent interactivity—even when functioning to
maintain consistency in their system’s form and behavior.
most significantly, attempts to
control complex systems/networks, as humans often do through
technological manipulations of ecological environments or their own
societies, tend to produce unexpected and unpredictable network
reactions: the autonomy of complex network activity can be excited or
inhibited by external influences but not predictably controlled. This
knowledge derived from complexity science has profound implications.
Meta-Networks: A world made of networks of networks
scale up towards greater complexity
as the number of
localized areas of interdependency increase. Multiple networks, such as
multiple social groups or animal species, become connected to and
interact with each other to create ever larger meta-networks. These are
sometimes described as nested systems. Each human is a network of
complex networks, an entity composed of many sub-systems--including
discrete bacterial organisms living on and in the body. The overall
of the biosphere system manifests as such a fluctuating patchwork of
- When networks are networked into larger scales
of networks—as in from cells to bodies to minds or individual ants
interacting to create the "super-organism" of a colony—each level of
scale can retain significant autonomy, which, when linked with that of
others, plays a crucial role in enabling the emergence of a larger
scale autonomous network within which it is patch-worked or nested. Larger scale
network autonomy derives from interactions of smaller scale network
- Such aggregations are constituted by
communicative exchanges of feedback that each sub-network interprets
for its own purposes and which, collectively, can regulate the
behaviors of all component networks as a meta-network—such as the
individual agents of persons whose interactions generate the dynamic
structure of a larger social network in an ongoing synchronic
reciprocity. This is sometimes termed bottom-up order creation, as
opposed to top-down, hierarchical control operations.
- These patch-worked constellations of autonomous
networks process information and make decisions on multiple levels of
scale in ways that remain inexplicably emergent: the human
body/brain/mind system/network is the prime example, being regarded as
the most complex system in the known universe. But it appears to differ
from other complex systems/networks only in regard to the higher degree
of its dynamical complexity. The ways in which we think differ from how
other complex adaptive systems operate only in terms of relative complexity.
Network Immateriality: Operations that are not things
complex system parts and actions can be
quantified, their synergistically emergent network operations of
information processing are not fully accessible to exact measurement
and calculation. The way complex adaptive networks become aware of
their external environments and internal system operations, then
effectively decide how to adaptively re-organize these for the purpose
of sustaining their systems, is not specifiable.
- Thus complex network operations are not always
entirely identifiable in material terms, yet create the majority of
order and form in and around us, making them fundamentally mysterious
yet crucial to our understanding of how order and form are created in
Information: A Thing-less Thing that has Causal Effects in Complex Network Operations
Difference that Makes a Difference: Interpreting data as meaningful differentiation
- The notion of information includes physical data and abstract concepts or meanings
physical data, like temperature, and concepts, such as self versus
other, are the basis for making distinctions of difference
in the larger sense is
differentiation that is interpreted as meaningful. Even measurements of
weight and temperature only exist as meaningful information when
interpreted as such. Information in this sense requires some aspect of
interpretation of differences in data or concepts generates information
that is meaningful because it enables the interpreter to act in
response to the differences. Information
is difference that makes a difference in an interpreter's ability to
respond to phenomena that have been differentiated.
Networked Knowledge: Converting data into agency and memory
- Complex adaptive networks can
convert the data of
differences in interacting feedback flowing between system parts, as well as from their external
environments, into meaningful information about their systems and
environments. Networks can convert data into information and meaning
and use these to distinguish their systems from their environments.
- A network's interpretation of
differences within and outside its system as
meaningful information facilitate its emergent property of autonomous
self-organization and the resulting agency that enable it to influence
operations. Such interpretation of differences is essential to autonomous self-organization.
- By producing such
becomes part of their ongoing selective operational behaviors, complex
networks manifest a form of learning or memory about their past and
present conditions. This retained information facilitates the emergent
agency that allows them to influence their systems in adaptive ways.
From Abstraction to Action: Immaterial differentiation leads to purposeful material doing
- Information on this
level is abstract yet
contributes to system behaviors that result in physical events.
Information, as interpretations of difference that facilitate selective
network actions, can be a thing-less thing that has literal causal
effects—as in human thoughts—and it is intrinsic to complex network
- This informational content in complex
networks, derived from network processing of data that distinguishes
differences that are meaningful for the system, is “more than” the
system components. It cannot be explicitly identified in the material system.
- Genetic encoding of data
provides a form of physical memory about the past manifestations of a
biological body system. Though genetic encoding is often considered a
blue print for the operation of a biological body, this data only
becomes meaningful information when an active system generates an
emergent network capable of interpreting it in response to present
conditions in and outside its system. Indeed, genetic memory, as an encoded record like written human knowledge, is partly created by historical network operations in the past evolution of particular types of systems.
- Furthermore, the operational networks of
complex systems such as ecologies and societies process data into
information that influences the effective actions of their autonomous self-organization without
having direct access to such explicit, physically encoded genetic memory.
Causation: A Paradox of BI-Dynamical Order Creation--through two different ‘ways that things happen’
Causation as Constraint: What happens arises from restrictions
is familiar in the terms of "every action has an equal and opposite
reaction." In this view, effects derive dependently from
preceding conditions which cause the effects. Every event can be
identified as part of a sequence of measurable and proportionally
consistent changes in the conditions of matter and energy. That means
and effects propagate predictably across distinct instances of time in
a predictable manner: as in man
swings a hammer with X amount of energy or force, the hammer strikes a
nail, and the nail penetrates wood
in proportion to the force applied. The force of the man's muscles
moves the hammer which transmits the force to the nail which causes it to penetrate
- However, scientifically speaking, such events
and changes result not simply from the force applied in a given
instance but as the result of constraints imposed on what forms matter
and energy can take. The Laws of Physics are laws in the sense that
science has discovered inherent constraints that limit the possible
ways matter and energy can become arranged or ordered, thus the effects that can result from actions.
- How matter and energy take the
forms, have the
properties they have, and result in the actions or changes that we
observe, are predetermined by specifiable limitations that only allow
those events to occur. The
knowledge of physical science enables us to define and predict what we
call causes and effects with great precision because these are
dependent upon those constraints. Physical changes occur in
proportionally consistent ways that are dependent upon preceding
conditions--allowing us to engineer buildings and send rockets to the moon.
changes in matter and energy are always
consistently proportional, these are potentially predictable and even
controllable--because they are dependent upon the constraints of the
Laws of Physics. Thus how the ordering of things and events happens
should be definable and explainable in relation to the conditions that
proceed any changes.
Emergent Constraints: Confronting the unpredictable generation of new properties of order
- However, the scientific study of complexity and its emergent
properties confront us with
disproportional changes in how matter gets organized into some forms.
Such forms can have properties which are inconsistent with the proceeding
conditions and properties from which they emerge, thus they do not appear to be predetermined, making them unpredictable and not
- An example of such
in chemistry involves the properties of water. Water's properties of
fluidity and its capacity to exist as liquid, solid, or gas have no
specifiable basis in the properties of the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen
that constitute water molecules. The physical properties of these atoms
themselves do not change when bonded into a water molecule.Thus theses emergent properties must somehow derive from the interactions of
hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
- Though the properties of water molecules are
not predictable from those of the atoms composing them, and no sequence
of dependent changes has been
identified that explains how exactly this happens, water's
emergent properties do not violate the Laws of Physics. Nonetheless, such emergent properties are not random. They are determined in relation to some form of constraints. Thus
the new properties of water must derive from causal constraints that
are generated unpredictably by the complex interactions of the
properties of the atoms, rather than those of physical determinism
- A more tangible example of such emergence is
found in the properties of rope. Ropes with different properties, such
harder or softer, more rigid or more elastic, can be made from the same
physical material--such as the molecules of a particular plastic
polymer. These differing properties are not predictable from those of
the plastic molecules composing the base material. They emerge from the
different ways that material is ordered or organized into the rope--the
relationships of the molecules to each other and the ways the fibers
are formed and braided together. Something about those relationships
must constrain the potential emergence of new properties in ways that
determine them, though in an unpredictable manner.
Causation without "Cause": Confronting indeterminable creativity
- The science of complex systems and their
autonomous network operations provides even more confounding examples
of unpredictable but deterministically emergent properties. The
capacity of complex systems to
self-organize and adaptively re-self-organize through the autonomous
operations of their networks is disproportional to the
properties of the system components from which it arises. Such emergent
events cannot be shown to occur as deterministically dependent
sequences of change that are predictable from the constraints imposed
upon matter and energy as described by the Laws of physics.
forms and properties of complex systems
get significantly re-configured as a result of their own network
again, not in proportionally consistent ways. There is no way to
exactly where the new order comes from. We can measure its existence in
of how systems change as a result of self-organization. We can measure
the subsequent effects that its influence on other systems creates in
surrounding environments. When a pride of lions emergently adopt a new
hunting technique, other species alter their system behaviors. But we
cannot measure how these changes comes into being.
- How then can such emergent
events be described
in causal terms, if by causation we mean consistently proportional
changes that are commensurate with the predetermining Laws of
Physics? There is evidence of deterministic creativity, even
intentionally purposeful change, that alters the material world but has
not explicit "cause." Science is confronted with a blind spot it its
methodological capacity to fully analyze, thus explain, Nature.
Co-arising Order: From dependent to interdependent order creation
- From the perspective of the Laws of Physics,
particular the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the universe is inevitably
becoming less ordered, through the process of entropy. But complexity's
emergent ordering is anti-entropic. It continually creates more complex
order in infinitely variable ways. In terms of the complexity of order,
it has actually increased since the observable origins of the
universe--initially as increasing atomic forms of matter, then
molecular compounds of atoms, and recently on earth as the vastly more
complex emergent orderings of biological life.
- What can be scientifically
known about the
from which system self-organization arises is that these involve high
degrees of dynamical complexity. It appears to depend upon the
interactivity among system parts whose disorder and
instability generate dynamical criticality. Thus, at the least, we can
observe that the
autonomous agency of complex system networks emerges in part from
concurrently reciprocal interdependency of the properties and
activities of system parts.
- Statistically, this elaboration of order is not random, not accidental, it is determined by some constraints.
Regarding the universe as an historical development, it appears that
the elaborations of different atomic forms of matter enabled that of
more complex forms of emergent order and its new properties.
- That description allows us to speculate that
increased differentiation facilitated complexity's interdependent
interactions and that these impose different constraints on "how
things happen" than do those of physic's dependent constraints. In this
view, interdependency somehow allows for, or makes possible,
disjunctive changes in how prexisting properties of a system influence
each other to produce emergent ones.
- Thus there is evidence for a domain of order creation that is
peculiar to complexity’s critical levels of interactive
interdependency (self-organizing criticality), which manifests from constraints that are “in addition to” those of physics
- However, there also appears to be no intrinsic conflict
between these two ways that things happen, or take form. Complexity's
emergent properties do not appear to violate the constraints on matter
and energy described by the Laws of Physics. Thus
the emergent order creation would seem to be an emergent property of
complex dynamical relationships occurring between the predetermined
properties of matter and energy: predictably dependent and unpredictably interdependent are co-arising aspects of Nature.
Purposeful "Causing": The intentional changes of network autonomy
- The greatest conundrum, regarding the
evidence from physics that changes occur in a predictably
deterministic manner, proceeding along
identifiable sequences that, which indicates causation can have no intrinsic
purpose or intentionality--because all changes are dependently
constrained. The laws of physics
constrain changes in matter and energy to predetermined possibilities, thus all changes must be without purpose.
Nonetheless, the emergent networks of complex adaptive systems can be
shown factually to operate in an unpredictable yet deterministic and autonomous
manner--an activity that promotes the sustainability of their systems in a purposeful way.
- Thus emergent causation of complex system
networks is not evidently "lawful" in a in a predetermining way,
because it derives from the disorderly dynamics of concurrent
interdependence, whose synergistic actions cannot be
sequenced, yet determines particular, even intentional effects.
Further, these actions involve processing of data into abstract
meaningful information that is at least partly beyond quantification
calculation yet plays an effective role in the intentionally
selectively actions of self-organization that determine the future
forms of a a system's order. All of this is demonstrably
crucial to the purposeful self-sustainability of living systems--yet
these emergent properties co-arise with those of the deterministic Laws
A Bi-dynamical World View: Re-stating how dynamical relationships create reality
- Given these distinctions it appears there
dynamical modes of order creation, which we might distinguish as
producing dynamically dependent versus interdependent constraints on
the potential formation of forms and their properties:
1. Dependent Order Creation: The
sequentially progressive, proportionally consistent events that are the
entirely materialistic, quantifiable, and potentially controllable
conditions of causation associated with the deterministic Laws of
Physics constitute dependent dynamical order creation. This mode of
ordering is dependent in the sense that it is constrained by those
"laws," thus creates order in a predictably orderly manner.
Interdependent Order Creation: A
condition of concurrently simultaneous and interdependent events that
have proportionally inconsistent effects and can involve informational
network processing that does not appear to be entirely materialistic,
thus are not fully quantifiable nor directly controllable. This mode of
ordering is interdependent in the sense that it appears to derive from
mutually modifying interactions, rather than sequential actions and
reactions. This interdependency involves disorderly dynamics that
account for its unpredictability, making it disorderly ordering. Yet,
because it is deterministic rather than random,
it must derive from some constraints on what is possible. The conundrum
is that these constraints appear to not be "lawful" in the sense of the
constraints of physics. Rather, there must be something about the
criticality of interdependent interactivity that enables
the emergence of new order but does not exactly determine it. That
notion suggests that the interdependent mode is not strictly causal but a kind of enabling of emergent potential.
- This view of two modes of ordering can be described as bi-dynamical order
creation. Though the evidence is compelling, the concept is confounding
to our modernist cultural assumptions about scientific knowledge of
Nature. Physical constraints of order creation are not sufficient to
describe or explain what science can confirm about the creation of
order in dynamical complexity. Understandably, there is
profound resistence to this notion in the current culture of
physics-based science. Nonetheless, it is the quantitative methodology
of physics that has revealed this evidence.
- However, despite the paradox of bi-dynamical
order creation, these causal conditions are not
unrelated. It appears there is a threshold or “phase change” from
dependent to interdependent causal conditions: the laws of physics
constrain the properties of matter and energy in ways that make the
nonlinear dynamics of chaos possible, which make the self-organizing
of complexity possible.
- Critical levels of concurrent interdependency
among factors and parts (whose properties are definable by physics)
associate with the potential for complexity's synergistically emergent causation and
its emergent formation of complex networks, with their
self-animating operations—whose properties are not entirely definable
by physics but can, in turn, create unpredictable, even intentional
organizations of matter and energy—as in endlessly unique biological
bodies or minds.
- When the dependent dynamics of matter and
energy (governed entirely by the predictably causal constraints of the
Laws of Physics) become arranged in ways that facilitate sufficient
connectivity, diversity, and interdependency of factors, the causal
potential the interdependent dynamics of complexity’s unpredictably
emergent causation apparently becomes enabled—without violating the
Laws of Physics.
- Given the appropriate conditions,
pre-biotic autocatalyzing molecular sets emerge that structure
themselves as interdependently derived networks. These are a basis for
biotic networks that self-organize adaptively. That creates a basis for
the evolutionary speciation of biological life.
causal constraints appear to scale up
across a transformative threshold of interdependency among factors,
which enables the emergence of complexity’s interdependent
dynamics—including networks ranging range from simpler forms of
self-ordering in some molecular structures to more complex ones
involving the volitional action and intelligent consciousness intrinsic
- A further distinction between these two modes is that the
dependent ordering of physics shows no means of producing functions or
purposes. Being pre-determined, the ordering of the Laws of Physics are
universal. They do not predict any specific purposeful function. The
interdependent order creation of complexity does produce purpose.
Complex adaptive systems operate purposefully to sustain the
functionality of their own operations by self-organizing and
re-organizing those operations.
- This purposeful aspect of complex systems
involves an additional distinction of what these different modes of
order creation make possible involves the generation of meaningful
information. Complex adaptive networks manifest their capacity to
self-organize their systems through the interpretation of the data of
feedback as in some way meaningful about the system's operations. Such
networks act purposefully to maintain and adapt the functionality of
their systems. To do so they must process data into information.
order creation of physical determinism does not appear to provide for
this operation. It requires the emergent properties of complexity's
interdependent order creation.(Admittedly, technological devices that
are mechanical rather than complex systems can process data into
. However, such devices only exist because these are purposefully
created by the complex adaptive system networks of human minds.)
- In summary, the unpredictable yet deterministic emergent potential of interdependent order creation is evidently
dependent upon the predictability of physic’s sequentially dependent order creation--despite the former
involving the unpredictable instability or near anarchy of criticality’s
radical interdependence “at the edge of chaos.”
- Confronting the evidence for bi-dynamical
order creation is crucial to our understanding of reality because the
interdependent mode of complexity is clearly the
source of most of the complex organization that constitutes the forms
and activities of our selves and the biosphere we inhabit. We require a category of interdependent order creation to
account for the pervasive manifestation of purposeful function in
Self-Ordering System Networks and a “Ghost in the Machine” that “makes them alive”
Self-Animating Subjectivity: The self of self-organizing agency
- In discreet biological systems, genes
initial data memory of the system’s past organization. That data
becomes information when interpreted by the emergent network of each
adaptive body/mind system. Every individual plant and animal manifests
its own, partly
unique emergent operational network that generates and processes
information in a moment-to-moment, improvisational manner. Though this activity is guided by genetic data, it
is not a fully predictable, pre-programmed operation. It is this
emergent networking that makes creatures both unique and alive.
- But even networks in non-living systems like
economies can cause them to act as if alive by re-organizing their
relational structure, and thus system properties, in ways that adaptively promote
the sustainability of their operations.
- It is in this regard that autonomous system network self-organization constitutes what
has been termed "autopoiesis," or self-creation. By self-organizing in an
ongoing basis, a complex system is creating its own activity or
behavior. That operation is readily described as self-animation.
- Complex networks, by interpreting data as
meaningful information about their systems and environments, then
initiating actions in response to that information,
manifest traits of self-awareness. By differentiating their system
parts from each other, and these from its environment and other
systems, then acting in the interests of their own system’s continued
operation, complex networks are effectively behaving subjectively--as
Spiritual Impetus: The transformative "ghosts" of network autonomy
- This self-animating information processing
action initiation, that is not entirely accessible to definitive
description or physical
manipulation, has the individualized and volitional qualities
associated with the concepts of spirits and souls. These words indicate
a mental or psychic agency whose impetus animates material objects in a
- In responding to feedback within its system
and between that system and other systems, a network can re-configure
the structure and relationships of itself and its system, effectively
altering the properties of the overall system/network. Such activity conforms to the notion of spiritual animation.
- Further more, like the notion of
transformative spirits, network autonomy can select for behavior that
has fundamentally different properties. A
slime mold can operate as independent single cell
organisms that autonomously animate themselves as individual systems.
But these individuals can also collectively choose to aggregate and
become a multi-cellular organism
with radically different emergent properties—including the solving of
mazes to locate food sources. There is no evident basis in the
properties of individual slime mold cells that they can generate
this transformation. It is a "ghostly" agency of "spiritual"
self-animation that arises from self-awareness within an external
- There are “ghosts” in the physical
of complex adaptive systems that manifest in their operational
where complexity’s extreme scale of interdependency among factors
enables the interdependent dynamics of emergent causation. Further,
even complex systems that are not composed as discrete biological
bodies can self-organize, thus self-animate, thus generate spiritually
animating ghosts in their machinery. Subjectivity is an emergent effect of complex dynamics.
- Like the emergent effects of complexity's
interdependent dynamics in general, the capacity of this spiritually
animating impulse to generate subjective awareness out of meaningful
interpretation of data appears scalable. Greater dynamical
complexity in a system/network associates with more intelligent
subjective perception and creative adaptation--as from single cell
organisms to animals. Our human intelligence is but the most elaborate version of this dynamical effect in Nature.
Spiritual Form: The spiritually animated world of things
Network Soul: The Agency of Self-Animating System Networks Constitutes an Embodied Soul
- This phenomena of spiritual
animation by complex network autonomy is a fundamental source of much,
if not most, of the order we are and that constitutes our biosphere. A
vast array of things that seem to be "merely physical" are demonstrably emergent effects of
- A house constitutes a relatively static
network structure of physical properties. But a house is an emergent
form of order because it
cannot simply be caused by the physical properties of its component
parts—wood, stone, steel, glass, etc.. A house emerges from the complex
network of self-animating human minds that design and build it—its
physical form emerges
from the self-organizing complexity of that
information-processing network, which is its actual cause. A house is a
materialization of that complex network’s spiritual animation. This is
equally true of a hammer, a tree, and a termite mound.
view confronts us with a world of things
and events that, though describable in the dependently deterministic
terms of physics, have been organized by this spiritual animation of
network autonomy. It can thereby be said that these things have "in" or
"about" them an "echo" of the "ghostly" agency of the operations of
network autonomy. That makes them
materializations of spiritual animation. This is the fundamental
paradox of bi-dynamical order creation: we inhabit a material world
largely composed of forms, properties, and functions that derive
emergently from the spiritual impetus of network autonomy, which is
mysterious to the perspective of materialistic definition.
Materialized Spiritual Character: System/Network as individually physicalized agency
complex system is the physical basis of its emergent network’s
autonomously self-animating agency. That emergent network autonomy then
becomes a source of the system’s physical self-organization. Yet, though the
physical components and actions of the system can be specified and
quantified, the operations of its emergent network are not so
definable. Nonetheless, those operations are part of the overall system.
- The operational system, whether
a human body or a city, is the material expression of its
network’s information processing and volition that animate the system
by organizing its operations. That reciprocal process manifests as some
degree of subjective awareness in regard to how the network assesses
the conditions of its system in relation to its external environment of
other systems, and selectively responds by adapting system
operations for overall sustainability.
- Systems and their
operational networks are not the same exact phenomena, yet are not
entirely differentiable from each other, thus are mutually creative of
this subjective agency of spiritual self-animation that they collectively
manifest. Together they constitute the materially causal
expression of the network’s emergent property of self-creating impetus:
the agency of its spiritual animation
complex system, be it a person, a species, or a
forest, manifests individualized traits of its type of form and behavior.
These traits characterize the uniquely materialized or embodied
expression of its particular network subjectivity--the way it "thinks for
itself." The characteristic actions of that subjectivity or psychic mindfulness constitute the
embodiment of the network's animating agency in and as its system's operations--from which it arises and which it then animates in a
- In the traditional terms of spirituality, that
mutuality of physical system and ephemeral
subjective network operations has the animating qualities of a
"soul"--meaning the embodiment of a specific, individualized spiritual
character. The spiritual impetus of a network's animating agency,
arising from its qualities of subjectivity, becomes the specific "soul"
of its physical system--it is embodied in the system's forms,
behaviors, and properties that effect other systems in quantifiable
ways. Thus we can term it "network soul."
Archetypal Network Soul: The commonalities and uniqueness of embodied agency
- In the biosphere, these
individually embodied networks of
subjective agency manifest as innumerable smaller systems that are
parts of interconnected larger systems, in which they are interdependently nested or
patch-worked together. At every level of this meta-networking there is a quality of network
soul, such as emerges from individual animals
that collectively constitute the system of a species.
- A diversity of
many such species interact
to generate ecosystems, each with
its own distinct embodied subjective character or network soul, which likewise interact all the
way up to the biosphere.
- Each network soul can thus be thought of as
having archetypal traits to its character. Every species of birds has
traits of a basic originating “arche” of form and behavior that
identify the species as having bird-ness--such a beaks, wings,
feathers, etc. These identify the broadest archetypal character of networked bird
soul--of how the agency of spiritual animation creates the essential
traits of self-organized form and function in all birds.
- Yet each
differentiated by its own traits, manifesting a distinctive archetypal
version of the more universal one, from cranes to ostriches, and
each individual of a species
manifests a somewhat unique version of its particular species’
network character. There is a differentiated archetypal character of
network soul for bird-ness, for hawk-ness, and for any given hawk.
- At each level of differentiation among
archetypally related systems, a network soul is emergently embodied
that has the
particular traits of spiritual animation expressed by a particular
system. There is an archetypal network soul that makes a bird a bird, a
hawk and hawk-bird, or an individual hawk this particular hawk-bird.
biosphere is constituted by the vast interdependent interplay of
archetypally diversified network souls whose incalculable
interdependent interplay generates the moment-to-moment emergence of
its overall self-creating, self-regulating, self-animating autonomy
that it physically embodies as its collectively interdependent network soul. That
self-creating, self-regulating meta-system or super-organism has been
referred to as Anima Mundi, or world soul, and by the ancient Greeks as the goddess Gaia, a name for the earth as a spiritually
self-creating, self-animating entity.
NOTE: For information on the actual science from which these summaries
and extrapolations are derived, please see the References Page
The New Reality of Self-Animating Nature
The Mechanically Predictable The Spiritually Emergent
What we can Measure AND What we can only Imagine
Reality: Nature as Interplay of Mechanically Predictable and Emergently Spiritual Network Dynamics
A New World Ordering: Nature beyond mechanism
- The science of complex systems and their
networks provides a radically more dynamic and unpredictable view of
order formation in Nature than does physics alone. Most aspects of our selves and
environments have taken form not only within the mechanically causal constraints of
the Laws of Physics but also under the influence of complexity's unpredictably emergent order creation.
- The physical “machinery” of life is organized
and animated by complex system networks that emerge from the underlying laws of physics, but also constitute
an additional domain of order creation—that of spiritual animation
in complex networks.
- In this view of Nature, most form and
organization derive from the instability of complexity's self-organizing
criticality. Nature is not a “system in balanced equilibrium” but a
constantly variable set of interdependent relationships which generate
their relative continuities in large part from the partial instability
of systems operating “at the edge of chaos”: order emerges from
disorder and too much uniform system continuity can be as disabling to
system self-sustainability and adaptivity as can be too little.
is now evident that there is a general
impetus in Nature to form orderly patterns out of disorder, from
whirlpools in the
chaotic flow of a river to the self-organization of complex systems and
the self-animation of their autonomously intentional networks. And it
is the networking together these systems that compose a biosphere which
is its own
self-creating, self-maintaining entity. Yet this patchworked
interdependency orders itself which
improvisationally from moment to moment, out of the instability of
critical interdependency “at the edge of chaos.”
- Further, these causal dynamics cannot be
analytically de-composed as specific sequences, thus not fully measured
or explained, like those of mechanistic physics. They remain
effectively “invisible” to our logical understanding
- Nature creates its own basis, through the laws
of physics, for its emergent mode of order creation, through the nonlinear dynamics
of complexity, that give it the self-organizing / self-animating
capacity to create and regulate vast interdependent networks of
infinitely variable formal entities.
- Life is an inherently emergent potential of physics. It's
self-animating networks will
arise under the appropriate dynamical conditons. It is not an
accident. The physical constraints of our universe do not directly
cause it to emerge but do make it inevitable under certain conditions.
- The world of things, of matter, “this world,”
is also a world of autonomously creative, even volitional, network
souls—an “other world” of emergent causation, in which Nature
intentionally creates order and does so from a seeming anarchy of
Nature acts through the same self-animating network autonomy that we
humans do. Nature too, acts through subjectivity in its emergent
networks: life is psyche-logical.
- In short: The world is created through diverse, un-controlably interdependent impetus and willful agency moment by moment.
- The overall self-organization of
meta-networks, from ecologies and societies to the biosphere, emerges
as the interactions among the subsystems nested within them adapt to
each other in an on-going interplay, creating interdependent
relationships that act as constraints or “rules” which regulate their effects upon
each other. Large scale meta-network self-organization results from a sort of “game”
in which subsystems “make their moves” in a correspondent “dance” of
autonomous adaptation, involving competition that contributes to inter-system cooperation in larger scales of interdependency.
- The interdependency of volitionally
self-animating natural system networks is both internal and external:
each system arises from synchronic interdependency of its parts and is
in turn a part of larger interdependent networks, from micro organisms
to species and entire ecologies. This inter-system interdependency
means that disruption of one system’s autonomous self-organization can
potentially create disruption of self-regulation among other systems:
the decline of one species can cripple an entire ecology. The collapse
of one ecology, like the Amazon rain forest, can disrupt the entire
biosphere: biological and even geological systems are intimately
- An illustration of how crucial evolved
interdependency in meta-networks is to their sustainable
self-regulation is demonstrated by the introduction of what is termed
an “invasive species.” When a plant or animal species that has not been
part of the evolution of an existing regime of network interdependency
is introduced into it, that “alien” species can disable the
meta-network’s self-organization—an “alien” species can be a “free
agent” because its network characteristics are not integrated into the
overall reciprocity of the existing regime of interdependency: in
effect, it does not “play by the rules” of that network and can “game
the system” until other species adapt to its effects.
Confronting the Impossible: How does modern mentality make sense of emergence?
- But this new view is problematic: evidence for
bi-dynamical order creation, with its unpredictably deterministic emergence and a component of autonomous
self-organization, is fundamentally foreign to our common cultural sense of
reality. We have no category for its existence in our modernist concept of causation: it's just not possible.
- Nature’s complex systems are inherently
miraculous to the perspective of mechanistic causation, though the
reality of their self-animating emergent causation has been revealed by
the very scientific methods used to assert that reality is entirely
derived from the mechanics of the Laws of Physics, from which it
arises, but to which it cannot be reduced: Nature is fundamentally
- However, this self-animating
creativity, with its evident intentionality and successful generation
of our vast biosphere, does not conform to the concept of a
pre-determining “designer.” Though it manifests with reconizable
patterns, it does so through the unpredictable instability of dynamical
criticality. Thus it improvises itself in an
evolutionary manner in every moment, whether sustaining relatively
self-similar forms over time or metamorphing into new, more adaptive
ones. This order creation cannot proceed from a predetermined “plan,” orchestrated by an omnipotent "creator,"
because a pre-determined plan would be
non-adaptive to continual inter-system adaptation emerging from
criticality “at the edge of
- However, understanding the two-fold, bi-dynamical
aspect of Nature, with its radically reciprocal interdependencies,
requires more than analytical methods: we are confronted with aspects
that we can measure and others we can ultimately only speculatively imagine.
- We can only comprehend the seemingly separate
things and events of Nature as reciprocally interdependent networks,
manifesting with lesser or greater degrees of dynamical complexity,
that exist as parts of larger scale networked relationships, from atoms
on up to the biosphere—constituting an autonomously self-organizing
thus self-animating meta-network of dynamic networks acting in
synergistically simultaneous conversation with each other. This is how Nature actually acts to create itself.
the two-fold, bi-dynamical
aspect of Nature, with its radically reciprocal interdependencies,
requires more than analytical methods. We are confronted with aspects
that we can measure and something we cannot. Further, these two
different phenomena are indifferentiably confused as embodied network
souls and the spiritually ordered forms of what seem merely physical
things, like houses and hammers .
realistic understanding of the world
requires “knowledge of two worlds that are one”—a measurably
mechanical, dependently predictably domain and an immeasurably
interactive, unpredictably deterministic one. But that means somehow
perceiving the self-determining spiritual agency of emergent networks
that cannot be
fully measured, defined, predicted, or controlled. That means
representing Nature in terms of human psychology--as a field of
interdependent, significantly sentient, even intelligent systems.
- Why does this new view of how
its order matter to our contemporary society and economy? Broadly,
because it shows we do not understand how our own bodies, minds,
societies, and economies actually function—much less how Nature does.
Our culture has conditioned our perspective on reality such that we are
not capable of thinking like Nature acts.
- Most crucially, it reveals how
our technologically industrialized human systems do not act reciprocally
with those of Nature. Our massive disruptions of ecosystems and fossil
burning energy production have drastically disabled the self-creating,
self-regulating, adaptive autonomy of non-human systems. These human
behaviors evade the
mutually supportive, feedback-synchronized interdependence the
reciprocally networked systems of the biosphere. Network autonomy that does not act reciprocally with other
networks around it can disable the sustainability of the environment in
which it operates: that is what humans systems tend to do.
- We have pushed
and climate networks past their self-organizing operations “at the edge
of chaos” into fully chaotic dynamics, prompting runaway climate change
record-setting rates of the mass extinction of plant and animal
species. Our modern view of Nature is destroying the very basis of our
own existence. We must re-imagine how Nature acts if we are to think
and act in ways that are sustainable.
The Necessity of Mythic Imagination to Understanding Reality
How can we know self-determining natural processes that we can neither define nor predict?
Knowing: Perceiving Emergence and the Interdependent Dynamics of Its Complex Networks
From Reduction to the Irreducible: The quandary of knowing what cannot be measured or defined
- As modern people, we have come to regard true
knowledge as that which can be verified by scientific method with absolute certainty.
Scientific method, as a mode of knowing, relies on reducing phenomena
to discreet entities, quantifiable differences, and mathematically
calculable changes to verify evidence as empirically factual. Its
analytical procedure is intrinsically
rationalistic, seeking to separate conditions of composition and
events, then to sequence these in quantifiable progressions of change.
It is reflexively reductive and linear in its conceptual examination of
it is reasonable to conclude that this
method is not entirely adequate to describing and explaining complexity’s synergistic dynamics, within which
disproportionate transformation emerges from simultaneously interdependent
interactions--rather than as identifiable sequences having
consistent, thus predictable
outcomes. Complex dynamics are not reducible to specifiable facts of
sequential change. Rather, they appear to be fundamentally
- Nonetheless, it is this rationally analytical, empirically testable, reductive differentiation of
science that has revealed the existence of complexity's strange domain of
interdependent order creation--by quantifying its disproportionate
effects. Reductive scientific method provides the evidence for irreducible phenomena it cannot
fully describe and explain, which, thereby, appears to be factually mysterious—but now what?
Bi-Dynamical Knowing: The network dialectics of dependency and interdependency
we can know with certainty is what we can reduce to definitive
description, by discretely differentiating, quantifying, calculating,
and testing. What we can reliably predict are changes and events
pre-determined by the causal constraints described by the laws of
physics. Even random events manifest as probabilities that can be
calculated with astonishing predictive accuracy. This is reductive
knowledge of the effects of proportionally consistent, sequentially
we can neither know nor predict with certainty are the emergent changes
and effects of disproportionally inconsistent, interdependent dynamics.
the certain knowledge of dependent dynamics provides the factual
evidence for the existence of interdependency irreducible dynamics and
thereby demonstrates the importance of attempting to know about both.
word dialectics has been given two contrasting meanings that relate to
this bi-dynamical contrast. Its ancient Greek origins are from dialektike, translated
as the art or technique of debate, and is related to the back-and-forth
of dialog. In philosophical contexts, dialectical discourse
investigates the relationships of contradictions.
- In some instances it is understood as
discovering how contrasting or opposing concepts become resolved into a
new, unified, thus no longer conflicted, set of relationships. This
sense is sometimes represented by the phrase "thesis, antithesis,
synthesis," suggesting a sequential resolution of conflict. This sense
of process suggests the progressively sequenced changes of dependent
dynamics in which two or more factors are reduced to a single, definitively describable unity.
dialectical thought is also associated with
the notion that conflicting elements become interactive, giving rise to
a new set of relationships that have different meanings or
effects. That new condition exists because of on-going, unstable
tensions between the interacting aspects. In this sense there is no
reduction of conflict to a new unified, thus definable condition. Here,
dialectical discourse seeks knowledge of emergent interactions,
suggesting the sustained generative tension of the self-organizing
criticality that arises from interdependent dynamics.
- This contrast in how the "dialog" of order creation can be approached conceptually is useful in attempts to generate more realistic awareness of bi-dynamical reality.
It aids in differentiating how changes arise from relationships that
"converge" into a new, uniform state, through a dependently specifiable
"resolution", versus from a sustained but unstable set of continually
interacting, emergent relationships.
- We can thus pose a concept of network
dialectics, through which we seek to differentiate the dynamical
character of events and concepts in terms of how their network of
relationships are more predictably dependent or more unpredictably
interdependent, whether these resolve into a more mechanistically
unified condition or remain in a more complexly emergent activity of
this view, there are definably dependent,
mechanistically dialectical processes and also inherently
ambiguous, thus un-definably emergent dialectical relationships. These
can be thought of as synthetically conclusive, thus reductive, versus
synergistically relational, thus non-reductive. Further, these interact
in a meta-level dialectical interplay of synthetic fusion and
- This contrast of dialectical dynamics presents
a logical one between synthetic and synergistic reasoning. In this
sense, to rationalize is to generate definitive descriptions and
explanations through reductive synthesis. But how then to describe
reasoning that seeks to account for irreducibly interdependent
synergistic relationships? In view of the new scientific evidence, if
we are to be "ultimately logical" we must analyise in both dialectical
Neto-logical Knowing: Learning to think interdependency
Signification: Modeling interdependency and emergence through mental re-presentations
- How are we moderns to conceive the
ultimately irreducible dynamical domain of complex system networks,
with their dialectically unstable, betwixt-between nether-world of
instantaneously interacting feedback, often flowing between uncountable
nodes, along undefinable pathways, manifesting as a literally
invisible, ever-changing topology of mutually
modifying relationships--in which nearly everything is merging with
everything else in a disorderly confusion, yet generating
we are to represent complexity's emergent creativity (much less its
purposeful network autonomy), we will necessarily have to employ an
of understanding that can represent the paradoxical bi-dynamical
aspects of interdependency's disorderly order creation--which, from the
perspective of rationalistic material science, appear to be irrationally
- Such a mode of knowing must make sense of
Nature’s paradoxical incorporation of mechanistic and emergent
dynamics, its bi-dynamical traits of orderly and disorderly modes of
organization, with their physically objective as well as psychically
subjective factors. To do that, we must "go beyond" reduction and
mechanistic modeling to understand reality.
- We must somehow learn to “see” and experience
self and world as a networks of interdependent
networks, whose dynamics are both linearly dependent, or mechanistic,
and emergently synergistic, or chaotic and complex. We must perceive
and think "neto-logically." That requires a means of envisioning the
operations of spiritually animating networks, with their incalculable
interdependency and purposeful agency. We have to consciously think the
ways complex networks--thus
Nature--act. Such an orientation could be termed the bi-dynamical
vision of a
net-ological philosophy. But what does it take to "know the world" in
Re-Presenting Phenomena: Signifying differences makes knowing possible
- Our human cognition is an emergent property of complexity.
It arises from the same interdependent dynamics that enable other
complex adaptive system networks to interpret data about themselves and
their environments as meaningful information. This is how complex
systems/networks "know"--whether human or non-human--thereby
facilitating their self-organizing self-animation. Though just how this
occurs remains obscure, as humans, we have the capacity to directly observe aspects of it.
- Part of how our mental networks convert the
data of sensations and experience into meaningful information involves
registering "differences that make a difference." By
differentiating contrasts in the data, we can re-present the phenomena
of things and events to our cognitive awareness using signs that "stand
for" them and their relative differences--color, texture, size,
movement, effects, behaviors, etc..
signify these differentiations through the
signs of images, gestures, words, and numbers. These in turn facilitate
our modeling of self and world further by generating interpretations of
effects and relationships as abstract meanings--represented
through the significations of narratives, pictures, diagrams, concepts,
calculations, and theories. This general process of signifying
difference, then interpreting it as mental interpretations, represented
in further significations, is termed semiosis. It is this "making
of meaning" that makes knowing possible.
Pragmatic Signification: The reductive, linearly dynamical bias of human representation and interpretation
- These layers of signification enable us to model the
dynamical activity of how things happen in our selves and the world.
Since the primary function of a complex system's operational network is
to preserve its system's integrity, the
most elemental meaning for it to interpret from data is information
that will assist it to maintain that system. For animals, this primary
level of signification and interpretation must facilitate the practical
operations of finding food and shelter, avoiding injury, and often
- For humans, surviving and adapting involve an
exceptional degree of manipulative control of environments. We
don't just interact with our surroundings through our bodies, we do it
with tools and sophisticated concepts--through logical analysis and technology. To survive,
we must comprehend how things are composed and events happen, so that we can manipulate
them to our advantage.
- Thus, our signification of difference has a
bias toward identifying discreet entities and events as progressive
sequences, which we reflexively interpret in the pragmatic terms of
their linearly dynamical, thus predictable relationships. Our default
mode of making meaning is to reduce data to information that promotes
manipulation and control.
- As technologically industrial modern
humans, we have maximized this bias, becoming reflexively mechanistic
in our perspective. We tend to think about dialectical relationships
between conflicting factors only in terms of conclusive
resolution. We are "addicted" to definitive description and the
identification of opposed, either/or states of being. That is our
normatively reductive mode of representation and interpretation.
Signifying Complexity: Imaging interdpendency to enable its mental conception
- However, confronted with the scientific
evidence for the distinctive differences
between the predictably mechanistic causation of physics and the
unpredictable, volitional order creation of complex adaptive systems,
our pragmatic impulse to self-preservation demands we incorporate this
information into how we think and act. It is now obvious that we
require modes of signifying the profoundly different dynamical
conditions of complexity and how these generate most of the order in
the world--so that we can better adapt to them.
how are we to meaningfully signify nonlinearity, emergence, and the
autonomous agency of networks in non-human, even non-living
systems? How can our rationalized mentalities, obsessed with
mechanistic interpretation of data, meaningfully represent the profound
paradoxes of physical causation and
emergent order creation? How to relate these two ways that things happen, with their orderly and disorderly orderings, so
that both are comprehensibly valid?
language as a sign system is to
meaningfully signify both dynamical modalities, it must have different
modes for modeling these. But to do that it must
somehow create and then surpass basic logical rules for
sequentially dependent, rule-bound, thus pragmatically controllable,
ordering of the world. It must first represent ordering as predictably sequenced events, then as the
unpredictable, un-sequenceable, yet still deterministic
dynamical relationships that arise between differentiated parts and factors.
as mental network modeling that
interprets these different causal dynamics differently must involve a
paradoxical duality. It must produce modes of signifying that reduce
phenomena to definitive conditions and events which enable mechanical
modeling, but it must also must also produce modes that model
- To enable us to think bi-dynamically, thus
know Nature realistically and act in a self-sustaining manner, our
language has to signify paradoxically. It must enable us to think in
ways that are both reductively differentiating and relationally inclusive,
sequentially and interdependently dynamical, diachronic and synchronic,
proportional and disproportional, mechanistic and synergistic. These contrasts imply those of
denotative and connotative, literalistic and metaphoric, factual
and imaginal, rational and irrational.
- In essence, we must signify in ways that produce two, dynamically different, dialectically contrasting "states of mind."
The Problem of Minding the Irrational Inconsistency and Synergistic Simultaneity of Emergent Dynamics
Linear Mechanical Minding: The normative psychology of manipulation and control
our awareness is preoccupied with the
practical concerns of manipulating and controlling our environments,
our normative psychological “state of mind,” the logic of our psychic
mode for signifying, interpreting, and modeling the world around us, is dynamically linear and reductively mechanistic.
- Rational logic and the mechanistic causal
processes of deterministic physics confirm the accuracy of this normative thinking. We
rely on this aspect of scientific knowledge to improve our ability to control sequentially dependent events through engineering
in the predictably mechanistic terms
of distinct parts
acting in sequences with “beginnings, middles, and ends” is the
default philosophical perspective of secular modernity. Its
effectiveness promotes a
belief that all events are potentially predictable and thus
controllable--or else are random occurrences which we can know in terms
of probability. To this state of mind, events are either predictably
determinable or merely accidental.
scientific signification relies on
rational consistency, analytical reduction to definitive descriptions,
mathematical calculation, and the mechanistic assumptions of material
represent causal dynamics, it promotes a mental perspective on reality
that is inherently resistant to thinking in terms of the complexity's
disorderly, emergent dynamical phenomena. Though some of these dynamics
can be modeled mathematically, the resulting equations do not signify
the world the way we expect it to be: the implications of complex
are often confounding even to scientists.
- Though indispensable to human survival, this default of linearly
mechanical mentality is ultimately delusional. It restricts our
perception and conception of "how things actually happen" to only "half
Nonlinear Minding: The altered mental states of a neto-logical psychology
- To become aware of, and adapt to,
elusive but nonetheless causal aspects of reality requires a
distinctive psychological change. To think mechanistically but also
neto-logicically, we must shift from the "reality framing" of our
mentality to an “altered state of mind” that can meaningfully signify
the dynamical character of disorderly ordering, emergence, and network
this shift in awareness, and then correlating it with our
normative pragmatic mentality to facilitate a more complete
understanding of a bi-dynamical reality has two aspects. Firstly, we
must our get our
minds to model the
interdependency, synergistic simultaneity, and volitional agency of
emergent causation--we must somehow become able to "think in many
directions simultaneously," rather than only in rationalistic
sequences. Secondly, we must somehow model interdependency's
predictably dependent causation of mechanical physics.
- Changing our minds about how Nature acts to create its ordering requires
re-configuring our habitual mental networks in ways we cannot conceive
through pragmatic signification. We must re-signify emergence and
network autonomy in ways that make us intuitively ‘feel’ their fundamentally different dynamics.
- Thus, knowing bi-dynamical
knowing in two contrasting ways at once--in effect, as two different realities that are also one. We must somehow generate two
contrasting psycho-logical “states of mind-ing”, from differently
configured mental networks, one consistently
rational and analytic, one inconsistently correlative and intuitive. We
must generate two contrasting but related psychological
- This difficulty in knowing both
sides of a bi-dynamical reality is best illustrated by the challenge of
one’s self. Our body/brain/mind is a meta-network of
interdependently nested complex systems, composed of innumerable,
autonomous, interacting networks, from which emerges a mental or
network, from which emerges the conscious sense of a “me.” This
singular “I” is confronted with the conundrum of knowing and
representing its inherently conflicted, disorderly, multifarious,
and thereby emergent complexity as "a single entity." As
psychological study and therapeutic practice testify, the paradoxical
our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, our rational yet irrational
selves, cannot be analytically defined or logically summarized. To be a person is to be a plurality.
- Thus, to know one's self
adequately enough to have any remotely realistic "sense of self," one
must perceive and experience the psyche, the mental network, from which
self-awareness arises, as a paradoxically conflicted, met-networked,
ever emerging totality. A realistic sense of selfhood, of mind,
requires psychological theory that incorporates a neto-logical, thus
- Given our reflexively
mechanistic mentality, knowing one's bi-dynamical self, like knowing
Nature, requires a mode of signification that disrupts our habitual
perceptions and interpretations of reality. Normatively pragmatic signification and modeling are insufficient to representing even our selves to our selves. Thus
we must somehow represent self and world to our awareness in ways that
are un-realistic to our ordinary conception of reality.
- Ultimately, it is logically necessary to
provoke an altered state of minding that experiences the world not
simply as things and events, but as self-organizing contexts animated
by network autonomy. That means signifying in ways that represent not
only the synergistically interdependent dynamics of complexity but also
the subjective agency of self-animating networks, with their variably
configured archetypal character
or network souls. Our subjectivity must be enabled to experience its
own emergent autonomous agency in the non-human, even non-living
systems of Nature.
Modeling Interdependent Synergy, Its Emergent Properties, and Their Nonlinear Meanings Metaphorically
From Sign to Symbol: Signification as direct denotation and indirect connotation
- The terms sign and symbol are often used interchangeably to indicate the representation of one thing by another.
But these words are also differentiated through concepts of direct or
explicit denotation versus indirect or implicit connotation. In this
view, a sign "stands for" an explicitly definable meaning that it
directly denotes--there is an exact one-to-one relationship between a
sign and its meaning.
- Numbers are the best example: the sign "1" is
equivalent with the quantity of a single unit of something. Similarly,
the image of a red round circle with a diagonal slash across it conveys
the explicit meaning "no entry." Such signs "are what they say the are." They "reduce" to definitive meanings.
- In contrast, images and words can also imply additional meanings.
The word father explicitly denotes the meaning "man who is a parent."
That is its primary, "literal" definition. But it can also convey, or
imply, a sense of paternal protection and authority in a more indirect
- The term symbol is also often used to indicate
representations that convey meaning in a primarily indirect,
non-literal manner. This mode of conveying meaning relies on
comparative association, allegorical suggestion, or the conflation of dissimilar things and
meanings that do not "reduce" to an explicit meaning.
- By effectively violating the literal denotative
meanings of both words and visual signs, such symbolic representation can convey
implicit qualities that cannot be expressed in explicitly direct,
literal definitions. That makes it a kind of "irreducible" signification, which is more suitable to representing what cannot
be explicitly sequenced, measured, calculated, defined, or explained.
Metaphoric Modeling: Representing irreducible interdependencies through metamorphic transformation
- The term metaphor denotes this style of
indirect symbolic representation that deliberately violates
the logical realism of ordinary language usage. Metaphors conflate
separate things and categories. The phrase “John is a wolf” creates a
metaphor of a man-wolf, which signifies by way of a category
conflation, in which two literally different types of things (with all
their contrasting qualities) are bound in an ambiguous dialectical
tension--which is illogical but can be meaningful. The meaning is "irreducible" to a singular status.
- This metaphoric conflation is a kind of
metamorphosis, in which unlike forms and signs are transformed into
"some thing else" that is and is not their differences. Such signs
appear inaccurate, imprecise, even delusional to a strictly logical
state of mind. Yet it is a mode of signification found commonly in
everyday speech. Its pervasive use indicates it can be interpreted as a
meaningful abstraction of information about differences. But rather
than generating its meaning from rational analysis, it does so by way
of a more intuitive mental processing that depends upon disruptive,
- The symbol is constituted as an inclusive
constellation of disparate things, qualities, or relationships that are
understood by intuiting these as an
interdependent whole. A man-wolf is both man and wolf and also neither
one. It is this conflicted interdependency of the symbolizing metaphor,
the tension of its dialectical ambiguity, that generates its abstract yet
ultimately unresolved or indefinite meaning.
- Metaphoric symbolism enhances the
sense of signification that represents things, events, and meanings
that are not being literally described. Metaphoric symbols are
significations that intentionally “are not what the symbol
itself represents”--that is how they "make" meaningful information. A "man-wolf" is not "a thing" in a literal sense.
- The functional communication of such
signification is to somehow characterize qualities of a thing, event,
or meaning by indirect references that deliberately violate ordinarily
literal or logical categories. The imprecision and inaccuracy of
metaphoric symbolism gives it an unstable ambiguity that is evidently
essential to its mode of representing what is not explicitly
represented--suggesting that it cannot be literally described.
- This indirect representation of symbolic
metaphors and allegories to represent what a thing or event is like
without defining its traits in literal or mechanical terms. In this
way, symbols can
reveal aspects of reality that cannot be literally described, defined,
or fully explained.
- The contradictory or pragmatically
unrealistic sets of associations presented by metamorphic metaphors
present us with dynamically nonlinear, infinitely interdependent
relationships as constellated wholes. Our minds must try to "take them in" as a somehow unitary thing or event.
- Every static visual image is
intrinsically such a nonlinear networked constellation. It cannot be
reduced to any logical sequence, hierarchy, or central point. The
various aspects or
parts of an image, and the relationships between these, appear
at once, not in explicit hierarchic sequences of presentation. Any
image, indeed any object, is an intrinsically interdependent network of
concurrent relationships among its elements. But our
attitudes tend to “read” or interpret these in a sequenced
manner--despite the fact that the symbol has not such intrinsic
hierarchy of progressively logical meaning.
overtly metaphoric symbolism that conflates ordinary categorical
distinctions, such as a painting of a dress with human breasts, a
sculpture of an upside down building, or a poem about the house of the
heart, assists in disrupting
this reflexive mode of interpreting.
- Overtly thinking in terms of metaphoric
symbolism provides a way of maintaining awareness that one is
attempting to know what cannot be literally defined and explicitly signified. This mental
maneuver is enhanced by the use of “imaginary things,” such as with the
“The Dragons of War.”
- This symbolic imagination is
representing the “meaning fullness” of the nonlinear dynamics of
simultaneous interaction and the disproportional creativity of
emergent phenomena and networks. It can model their seemingly anarchic
disorderly ordering by presenting us
with constellations of associations that imply the
interdependency of their networked relationships. Thinking in terms of
dragons of war alerts us to the creaturely behavior of the emergent
network autonomy that arises from warfare as a set of interacting autonomous systems.
there is a more generally iconic aspect of symbolic constellation. The
black and white teardrop shapes within the circle of a Yin Yang symbol
modles differences that are interactively interdependent. Such modeling
suggests how “two things are also
one thing," as their synergistic interplay gives rise to an emergent
network. These schematic symbols have a close resemblance to the
diagrams used in complexity science to represent complexity's
recursive, emergently self-ordering dynamics
- Such symbols with
no linear sequence of logic or action, no “beginning, middle, or end,”
stimulate a mental experience that models the infinitely
instantaneous reciprocal interaction of a complex network's “wholeness"
that is “more than the sum of its parts."
- These nonlinear relationships model what “happens all at once” by
signifying in a manner that represents such a way of happening. Such
dynamical simultaneity, which is
paradoxical to our ordinarily practical categories of definition and
perspective on cause and effect, can re-configure our own mental
networks of understanding.
- Narrative stories that involve unrealistic
elements, transformative events, and illogical sequences have a similar
effect. These aspects disrupt our mechanistic expectations of how
things happen in ways that function as symbols of complexity's confounding dynamics.
- Such logically paradoxical
representation is essential in forming meaningful information about
events that cannot be modeled in exact terms or logically progressive
sequences. The meaning of interdependent causation emerges from the
constellated, seemingly illogical references of dialectically ambiguous symbolic association.
The meaning is more in the "how" of the representation than in the
"what" of it--"in" or "of" its paradoxically indirect references, more than its
literal appearances or overt sequences--which, in such a context, can become ultimately interdependent as
- In general then, the irreducible dialectical ambiguities of metaphoric symbolic modeling provide
a way of altering our habitually mechanistic state of mind, or
psychological attitude, so that we can perceive what seem extra-ordinary, even ephemeral aspects of reality and meaning.
- This effort to represent what cannot be
literally described, through paradoxically interdependent, ambiguously
signifying symbolism, is essential to revealing the existence of
The Network Aesthetics of Art: Making the invisible activity of interdependency more tangible
Myth: The Psyche-Logical Art of Imagining Emergence and Its Spiritually Animating Network Autonomy
notion of “art,” as a category of human expression, is associated with the
metaphorically symbolic mode of signifying meaning. Artistic representation in
general is regarded as different than ordinary, pragmatic
signification. It is understood as "being about" some relatively extra-ordinary aspects of
the ordinary world.
- Though more realistic styles of painting
and language signify in a relatively normative, literally pragmatic
manner, when approach as art even these
expressions can become metaphorical symbols with implicit allegorical meanings.
fantastic, surreal, or abstract style in
painting and literature signify in the more overtly metaphorically
symbolic mode by depicting, combining, and situating aspects of
ordinary reality in
peculiar ways that further emphasize an indirect, implicit
signification of meanings. Such images and language overtly "signal"
that their signification is not reducible to explicit signs they
employ--colors, forms, or words.
- But in both the relatively
realistic and the overtly metaphoric styles as--whether as painting,
performance, poetry, prose, or even photography--artistic expression is
concerned with aspects of reality and meaning that are elusive, even
incomprehensible, to our ordinary mentalities. The forms and styles of
poetic language exist for the purpose of implying meanings that cannot
be expressed in ordinary, pragmatic prose.
an intrinsically metaphoric mode or representation, practiced to act in
contrast with our pragmatic mode, art appears to have as its
epistemological purpose the signification of complexity. It is a
universal aspect of human culture that serves to stimulate awareness of
of emergent order creation. It prompts a mental experience of and
complex networks are operating
"under the surface" of ordinary reality bymaking these more overtly
effectively "visible" through an extra-ordinary mode of signification.
- Art is regarded as an aesthetic mode of
knowing because it stimulates an experience that is in some way about
"beauty" and "pleasure." Viewed dynamically, it helps us
see, experience, and comprehend the world
differently by stimulating a sensory-based experience of
interdependencies mysterious generation of form, order, identity, and
meaning. The practice of stimulating this "altered state" of
experiencing how things "are and manifest" could be termed the
signification of network
aesthetics--the "beauty" of which can involve both pleasant and
- The style of an impressionistic painting
defuses normally distinct forms and boundaries, blurring sharp
distinctions between things to suggest that each is an interplay of
elements (color, form, and light) and all are interactive in the larger network of a figure or
landscape. A cubist
portrait can abstract and jumble human features in ways that
symbolically model the
underlying disorderly ordering and emergent, dynamically conflicted
character of the network
soul of a person. A fully abstract image or sculpture redirects our
figurative understanding to the most basic aspects of form, color, and
contrast in space and time. There is a sense that such elemental
abstraction is the most overtly focused upon the interdependency of
- The interpretation of art is a particularly various and
contentious field of human thought. Works of art can prompt radically
different sensings of meaning to different people, or even the same
person at different times. These can be
paradoxical as well, as in a conflicted sense of peacefulness and
foreboding. This quality further emphasizes the role of dialectical ambiguity,
tension, and interdependence in what artistic expression serves to represent about
- Further, art involves careful
selections on the part of the
artist about what expressive style, material, and overt subject matter
will constitute the most apt metaphoric conflation for symbolizing what
is not being literally described. There is a question of precision and
accuracy involved in composing the inaccurate ambiguity of the
metaphor. What is made literally "visible," and how, whether as image,
object, or language, is crucial to art's representation of the
- In this regard, the metaphoric forms and styles of artworks, in and of themselves, can be understood as directly representing
what they are meant to signify--the nonlinear, interdependent emergence
of phenomena and their necessarily irreducible meanings.
- How artistic symbolism "makes sense" then,
might best be understood as occurring through an experience of
paradoxical interplay. Confronted
with non-ordinary styles and metaphoric, metamorphic forms of
representation, logical analysis is deferred and our mental operations
are thrown into a more anarchic chaos of associative efforts, from
which novel sets of associations can emerge. That people
often have potent emotional and physical responses to artworks emphasizes their disruption of ordinary states of mind.
- In these regards, art acts psycho-logically to alter our
normative state of consciousness, to re-orient our awareness of reality
toward its inherent complexity, and thereby generate intuited meaning that practical
perspectives and logical analysis cannot fully appreciate. In
these ways, art aids in perceiving the extra-ordinary aspects of
bi-dynamical order creation and provides a way of directly sensing the emergent
networks of complexity.
What is Myth: Artful imagination of revealing complexity and its numinous network agency
representation is "artful" in the sense
of art presented above--the purpose of its style of symbolic
signification is to reveal to our awareness dynamical complexity that
ordinary perception ignores.
- But it can be understood more specifically as
artistic expression which is primarily concerned with signifying the
ordinarily incomprehensible effects of emergent order creation and
autonomous network agency. Thus myth is the art of "making visible" or
tangible complexity's role in "how things happen" as "magical" events and spiritual animation.
- As such, it constitutes a
particular epistemological method of gaining complex dynamical
knowledge. To accomplish this purpose, it must overtly violate our
ordinary pragmatic sense of reality. By employing the most overtly
metaphorically metamorphic modes of
symbolization the art of myth seeks to reconfigure reality--through
disruptive "acts of imagination."
- Mythic representation is psychological in two
regards. Firstly it is a method of altering our habitual mental mode of
modeling dynamical events--our psycho-logical attitude toward reality.
Secondly, it is psychological in its representation of the subjective
aspect of complex network autonomy as spiritual agents that act
intentionally to emergently alter the order of their systems and
thereby exert influences that have material causal consequences.
- This representation of subjective agency in
Nature appears to derive from a reflexive human intuition of mind or
intentionality in natural phenomena. That has been called a sense of
the numinous or numinosity--words that derive from the Latin numen translated as "divine power."
Mythic Imagination: Our innate metaphoric epistemology of complexity and its subjective spiritual agency
known pre-modern cultures produced
artistic expressions in the sense described above--meaning images,
stories, and concepts that are not literalistic representations of
ordinary reality. There are numerous examples of sophisticated artistic
technique used by paleolithic painters and sculptors dating back 40,000
years. But their
works are rarely literalistic in the sense of photographs or
contemporary biological illustrations. Despite evidence that even
paleolithic artists were capable of such realistic painting, the images
found are often stylistically expressive and abstract, sometimes even
geometric in style. Modern viewers of these images often recount an
aesthetic experience of awe and beauty similar to modern art.
- Thus we can consider that these expressions
were created to signify in a metaphorically symbolic rather than primarily
literalistic manner. That is, they were meant to represent something
more than the literal physical traits and mechanistic actions of the
objects or animals suggested by the images. Their purpose seems to
involve representation of some phenomena or meaning that we moderns
would consider extra-ordinary, something about how things are and
happen that is not overtly visible or logical to ordinary pragmatic
- From paleolithic style hunter-gatherer
cultures that survived into modernity, anthropologists have learned
that their artistic imagery is similar to the evidence of prehistoric
ones, involving stylized figures and fully abstract forms with no
obvious corollaries to literal things. In addition, the
oral traditions of contemporary hunter-gatherers involve an emphasis
upon unrealistic events, fanciful creatures, and metamorphic transformations.
- Evidence from the historical cultures of civilization, dating back
over 5,000 years, shows similar style and subject matter. Written texts
enable us to know that this mode of representation is overtly concerned
with spiritual agents, gods and goddesses, that have a fundamental
role in creating and ordering the ordinary world. The general term for
this human mode of expression is mythology.
- Comparative study reveals vast variation and
yet frequent commonalities across the many mythological cultural
traditions of the past. What is most uniform about cultural mythologies
that their subject matter is permeated with unrealistic or magical
events and spiritual agents. Thus their non-naturalistic style of
representation and subject matter appears to be fundamentally
symbolic--to be about something more or other than what the images and
stories directly present.
archaic peoples, the fantastic events, characters, and
of mythical imagination appear to constitute representation of what
they consider actual
phenomena. Yet their use of this mode of representing reality does not
prevent them from also perceiving what we mechanistic moderns call
deterministic cause and effect. Their long-term survival attests to the
effectiveness of their ability to represent the predictable effects of
the laws of physics and pragmatically manipulate of their environments.
But unlike moderns, when questioned about their seemingly
indiscriminate mixing of
these two modes of signification, they appear to regard them as
complimentary, or "reasonable" rather than logically contradictory.
pervasive human propensity for
mythological representation of overtly unrealistic or magical events,
metamorphic transformations, and immaterial spiritual agents is
considered here to be response to the intuitive sensing of numinosity
or intentional agency in Nature. Human experience must have shown this
awareness to have practical value, giving rise to the representational
style of a "mythic imagination." This term
is meant to suggest there is a specific function of human imagining
that generates metaphorically symbolic representations of ordinarily
illogical aspects of reality.
- Thus we can say that the "logic of myth"
extra-ordinary that can only be imagined--or formed as a mental image
that is not a direct representation of directly observable reality. Myth is "logically illogical."
- The evidence for mythological
expressions as a
universal feature of pre-modern and pre-historical cultures suggests
that it is not only an innate aspect of human imagination, but that it
served some adaptive purpose in sustaining the operations of human
societies within the natural systems of their environments. Mythic
imagination must have been a way of knowing, an epistemology for
- Given its artistic modality, the usefulness of the knowledge it
was used to generate must have involved awareness of complexity and the
agency of network autonomy--symbolized as ordinarily un-realistic
events and ethereal spiritual agents.
Mythic Modeling: Metaphors of emergence and the archetypal psychology of network subjectivity
the style and subjects of
appear irrational, often literally impossible, and thus unrealistic to
mentality, myth has been classified as “un-truth” and falsehood. It has
even been described as the "bad science" or pre-modern people
attempting to model and explain natural phenomena.
- However, the recent science of complexity enables us to consider myth as a mental mode of modeling complexity's
interdependence, emergence, and system self-animation. Amazingly, this view allows myth to become a
comprehensible method for knowing something real.
- The psychologically disruptive influence myth's extra-ordinary imagination exerts on our habitually pragmatic awareness, by contradicting our normal assumptions about how the world works (or how
Nature acts), has a scientific purpose.
acts, metamorphic transformations, and hybridized creatures can now be
understood as metaphors for emergent order creation.
- Myth's spiritual
unpredictably autonomous and emergently creative, manifesting diverse
behaviors. These model the archetypal range or potential of how a
complex network's animating impetus can create emergent properties and
self-organization in complex systems.
- The diversity of their character and behavior
differentiate the distinctive ways such networks create types of form
and organization, their characteristically creative tendencies. Myth is
a mode of “seeing” the archetypal modalities of autonomous agency, or network soul,
"in action" as these shape the behaviors of complex systems and their networks.
differences are termed archetypal
because each represents a basic type of system network configuration
which animates the world (an archetype) but which does so in novel
and unpredictable ways, while also remaining recognizably
characteristic. Thus we can think of spirits and divinities as
archetypal animators of Nature--as psychological portraits of the
diverse aspects of subjective network autonomy manifesting in complex
- Archetypal traits of
characteristic network behaviors are
symbolized by imagining these as particular “personifications,” or the
personalities of spiritual agents. As the "persons" of network
subjectivity, they make the spiritually animating activity of networks
- A god like Ares personifies the archetypal range of actions and
effects likely to emerge from the autonomous agency of complex
networks involving aggression and warfare. A god like Apollo personifies
the more uniformly linear and proportional creativity of
self-organizing networks, while his half-brother, Dionysus, models the
more disproportional, nonlinear, radically transformative aspects of emergent dynamics. The
latter type has many variations, such as the indigenous American cultural
figure of Coyote, whose behavior is socially improper yet emergently
creative of phenomena essential to culture.
imagination "figures" the interactions and
interdependencies of these personified archetypal animators with
relationships between spirits or gods--generating knowledge that models
how types of networks influence each other. The on-going love affair
of the violently aggressive Ares and Aphrodite, goddess of love and
sex, reveals the unexpected correspondences that can emerge between
such seemingly antithetical spiritual impulses--or network souls.
- The magical and metamorphic acts of spirits
and divinities in suggest the pervasive role of emergent creativity in
Nature, as well as how it derives from certain types of network
autonomy, symbolized by the metaphors of personification.
- In these ways, myth provides representation of
the range of behaviors that characterize the manifestations of
network self-organization or “spiritual animation” as their types of
“personality,” constituting an archetypal psychology of complex
network subjectivity, or network soul, in both human and non-human networks.
- In these ways, mythic metaphors prompt a more
conscious relationship with the reality of complexity, emergent order
creation, and its self-animating system networks. Engaging this
symbolism can thus be though of as a "spiritual practice"--as a way of
attending to Nature's inherent spiritual animation.
Myth's Other World: The bi-dynamical interplay of This World and The Other
- Mythic narratives
(including what are called fairy tales) function as representations of bi-dynamical
reality by juxtaposing familiar sequential causation of predictably dependent dynamics with complexity’s
“magical” emergence and autonomous system subjectivity. As a worldview, this conjunction provides a
“illogically logical” representation of the interplay of both aspects
of dynamical reality: myth must appear paradoxical and even “un-real”
to perform its realistic functions as an imaginal epistemology of "how Nature acts."
- This double aspect of
causal dynamics is expressed in the mythic notion of "this world” and
“the other world,” identified by in more modern terms as profane and sacred. Though often regarded as an antithetical
duality, these were more of a “non-dual continuity” to
archaic peoples—who tended to experience all aspects of the world as somehow
subjectively “alive,” emanating a numinous aura of intentionality
mythical symbolism can be regarded as an
imaginary modeling of this paradox of a “bi-dynamical” reality, our
pragmatic modernist mentality can also be viewed as “imaging” the world
as purely mechanistic. From the perspective of network science, mythic
mentality is actually more dynamically inclusive, and thus arguably
more realistic, than exclusively pragmatic thinking
classic motif of the mythic hero’s
journey, from the “ordinary world” into an “other world” of mythical
adventures, engages human emotions that promote intuitive understanding
of the underlying activity of the ever present but seemingly
preposterous creativity of emergence and spiritual animation—awareness
through which one can psychologically “enter into” a dynamically
complex "state of mind”
- For archaic and pre-modern humans, the
paradoxical logic of myth’s “two worlds” of causal dynamics provided an
emotionally compelling provocation to become aware of, and act in
relationship with, the self-animating forces of natural systems as
actual, if “ethereal,” aspects of reality: mythic imagination is a
means of prompting an “altered state of consciousness” appropriate to
experiencing Nature’s intrinsic “spiritual animation”—an experience of
intentionality in natural phenomena termed “numinosity”
Mytho-Logos: The empirically paradoxical logic of mythic mindfulness
- Myth was once regarded as “sacred” because
stories, magical characters, and symbols represented the
originating, life-giving, world-ordering spiritual impetus in Nature. These symbols can now be
understood scientifically as imaginal encounters with emergent order formation
and the pervasive creativity of autonomous network animation that is
beyond mechanical explanation and manipulative control.
- Thus there exists an empirically logical
basis for generating such symbols to provide experience of a
profound mystery that gives life greater meaning--that of autonomous network self-animation--to which humans
must accommodate their behavior in order to survive sustainably.
- This spiritual animation that renders the
world sacred can thus be understood as Nature’s
capacity to scale up the predictably deterministic causality of
physics' dependently deterministic order creation to
the unpredictable, interdependently deterministic order creation of
self-animating networks. Mythically, these can be understood as the
mechanistically profane and complexly sacred dynamics of bi-dynamical
science of complexity is the rational
corroboration of the irrational symbolism of myth. Both serve to “make
visible” the ultimately invisible dynamics of emergence and self-organizing networks.
But the mythic mode operates on a more emotionally experiential level to intuitively alter our psychic logic about reality.
- Mythic "mindfulness" models the dynamical
paradox of science: the world is created emergently by disorderly
ordering that arises from the un-controlably interdependent
interactions of willful subjective agency moment to moment.
- A genuinely mythic cultural worldview situates
normatively pragmatic logic- (the profane domain of order creation)
within a symbolically spiritual one (the sacred domain of complexity).
enabled encounters with this two-fold world of orderly and disorderly
order creation transgress the control obsessed preoccupations of
mechanistic rationality and its linearly logical thinking.
- Mythic imagination's use of
symbolism, to signify in ways that scientific and ordinary language usage
cannot, relies on fundamental, irresolvable logical paradox. This world
and the other are represented as interdependent. Ordinary and
extra-ordinary seeming aspects of dynamical reality, of how things happen, are
encountered as co-existent, making the world logically illogical.
- This disjunctive psychological
experience, when embraced as such, can transform how we know and
understand through a kind of psycho-dynamic leap, in which we partly
dissociate from our ordinary sense of self and reality.
- This paradoxical reality is confounding to
our modern mentalities, which are conditioned to categorized in
opposites like true or false, real or unreal, orderly or disorderly, good or bad. Mythic knowing is both and neither of
these opposites. Thus myths are often described as “stories that are
but are true.”
Mytho-Logical Embodiment: Engaging the paradox of bi-dynamical science as psycho-somatic experience
- It is the embrace of this paradox, as a
psychically embodied or psycho-somatic experience, that makes myth a compelling way of
knowing bi-dynamical reality. However, to be effective, its irrational
ordinary and extra-ordinary reality
require a kind of surrender--what is often termed a "suspension of
disbelief." We have to allow our whole being to be "projected"
into the imaginal experience of myth's logical paradox so that we
"embody it psycho-dynamically."
- Our human capacity for this psycho-physical
imaginal experience is still evident in people's aesthetic involvement
in entertainments such as novels and movies, especially those with so-called
super-natural or fantasy themes. In a mythical culture, however, this
experience is not simply an entertaining diversion but an encounter
with an genuinely magical and spiritual aspect of reality.
- The effectiveness of such imaginal experience
likely derives in part from an unconscious sense of "being
mirrored." One intuitively identifies with protagonists caught up in the emergent magical
events and actions of archetypal spiritual agents, gods, and goddesses
in the mythic adventures.
- That is, one's own "internal" complexity--the
synergistic, autonomously self-animating meta-network of networks that
emergently generate one's multifarious psycho-physical being--is
experienced "out there," through the paradoxical dynamics of mythic
symbolism. The mythic drama is one's own. Modern people still have such
experience, but lack a basis for embracing it as being "realistic."
Mythic Ritual: Symbolic Action that Embodies the Strange Dynamics of Emergent Meaning
Religion: Orthodoxy and the Literalistic Normalizing of Mythic Imagination's Metaphoric Representation
- The cultural evolution of myth's imaginal engagement with complexity might well have
originated as actions rather than stories and concepts about specific
animating spirits. The overt embodiment of symbolic acts associated
with the term ritual--as gestures, song, dance, and performances--can
have profound effects on our psychological states. Ritual actions can
mind’s imaginal encounter with myth’s paradoxical world of the
co-existent operations of linear and nonlinear, dependent and
interdependent dynamics, by enhancing an embodied experience of their contrasting traits.
overt symbolic action is, by definition, somehow more
than practical or normative behavior. By engaging the body in
metaphoric signification, its paradoxical way of making meaning becomes
physically reinforced as experience. One makes gestures that are not
about practical, mechanistic manipulations of predictable events.
This can promote the metamorphosis
our conscious mentality from preoccupation with linearly logical
engagement with the simultaneous synergy of interdependency, its
network autonomy, and emergent
- Ritual behaviors involve organized contexts
and actions that “structure” a “betwixt and between” status, in which
ordinary reality is “suspended,” allowing for experiential encounters
with the anarchic, “anti-structural” dynamics of complexity and its
emergent creativity. Ritual orders a context for encounters with disorderly ordering.
- Thus ritual gestures
understandable as mythologically symbolic metaphors, functioning to
promote an emotionally compelling shift from the ordinary pragmatic
state of consciousness to one that can “make meaning” of myth’s magical
other world of complexity and its personified spiritual animation.
- Such practices often involve the imaginal
“granting” of subjective status to non-human aspects of Nature, such as
landscapes or rivers, and even seemingly inanimate objects, such stones, as a
means of experiencing the numinous operations of spiritually animating networks.
- This psychological
transformation of ordinary things into sentient beings, utilized by
all archaic cultures, has a practical purpose. It can
assist humans in adapting their behavior to the intrinsic role of
network autonomy in ordering reality by making it more tangible, more
- At its most basic level, ritual induces our
symbolic imagination to prompt an extra-ordinary experience that
“initiates” our sense of reality and identity into relationship with
complexity’s mysteriously “invisible forces”
mythic symbols in general, ritualized behaviors do not function by
inducing belief in what is being symbolized as ordinarily actual or
literally real. To be effective, both mental and physical symbolism
must produce a sense of mystery, not objective fact. This mystical
attitude of mythic imagination can be distinguished from that of literalistic
Mythic Reduction: The conflation of symbolic metaphors with definitive facts
term religion can be used to distinguish
between the mythic imagination’s metaphoric modeling of spiritual
animation and the conversion of such symbolism into a
literalistic description of reality--as a basis for an orthodox belief
Whereas mythic symbolism is intrinsically paradoxical and ambiguous
about its meaning, as "stories that are not real but are true,"
religious belief tends to interpret myth's metaphors as factual
descriptions of literal acts and events.
- This literalistic interpretation of myth's
imaginal models of complexity changes their mode of representation,
reducing its indirect symbolism to direct signification. Its metaphors
are then understood as if these described actual things and the
mechanistic dynamics of ordinarily definable events--despite their
magical and spiritual imagery.
- When mythic symbolism is
interpreted in this way, through our normative, mechanistic mentality, as historical
fact, it loses its capacity to model the literally un-definable
dynamics of emergent causation and self-organizing network autonomy. This literalizing can
be called idolatry, meaning an attitude that mistakes a metaphoric
representation for what it symbolizes.
the mythic symbolism of any “holy
scripture” as literal truth or historical event renders it a "pragmatic
fact." That "fact" can then be used to justify the
ultimate truth of an orthodox doctrine. Literalizing myth's "sacred
symbolism" of complexity's mysteriously creative dynamics gives the
impression of ultimate and final knowledge of Nature. Claiming such
knowledge is useful in justifying the authority of social
institutions, with their political control and economic power.
- By obscuring their symbolic modeling, the
literalizing of myth's metaphors debilitates their potential to
generate paradoxical psychological experience of bi-dynamical reality.
It confuses their reference to the undefinable dynamics of emergence
and its spiritual
animation with social claims to absolute definitions
of reality--which have no factual basis for defining those complex
of “making sacrifice to the
gods” can function as ritualized symbols that acknowledge the
essential interdependence between complex
system networks that collectively compose a larger network (such as a
local ecology, a city, or the biosphere). Making offerings and
sacrifices to spiritual animators can be a symbolic act of
participation in this interplay, in which every system must
“give something up” to help facilitate the other systems upon which its
own existence depends.
- However, this same notion can also be used to
members of a society to sacrifice to a literalized god whose function
is primarily a justification for the political power of a
hierarchically structured institution or
state. In that case, the symbolic gestures of mythic imagination are
subordinated to the control-3ewobsessed
mentality of social domination.
Keeping "The Spirit": Maintaining myth's metaphoric representations as knowledge of complexity
- Literalizing mythic metaphors
is promoted by the reflexively reductive interpretation of pragmatic
perspectives. But it becomes part of an orthodox religious belief
system it can be particularly obstructive to appreciating how such
metaphors model complexity.
mythical symbolism can promote awareness of complex network's spiritual
animation, organized religion readily becomes concerned with
establishing authority over how such symbolism is interpreted.
- In this regard, orthodox religion can be
an institutionalized condition of spirituality. It is the realm of
culture where relationship with the mythical modeling of spiritual
animation becomes entangled in
the power structures of social hierarchy. In that context, mythic
attention to the
self-animating, thus spiritual, thus sacred, dynamics of complexity
becomes subordinated to society's reflexive preoccupation with
the “profane dynamics" of pragmatic political and economic control.
- To retain mythical representation of
complexity as spiritually animating “sacred dynamics,” religious
traditions and practices must maintain a sense of how their symbolism
provides overtly metaphoric models of a fundamentally mysterious aspect of
reality. It is to this end that spiritual traditions often caution that "god is beyond definition and understanding."
mythic symbolism must be employed to generate experience of “sacred
real, but also fundamentally mystical, thus not ultimately definable.
Only in this way can the notion of "the spirit" be maintained as a
dynamical metaphor for something real yet intrinsically mysterious.
- To serve that epistemological purpose, rreligious practices must facilitate the “surrender” of our control-obsessed normative
mentality to the reality of Nature’s bi-dynamical order creation, with its radically interdependent,
mysteriously self-animating networking of innumerable, every fluctuating networks.
Gods that Are and Are Not: The necessarily imaginal reality of divine dynamical agents beyond belief
- From the perspective of the new science, there now exists a reasonable basis for modeling the archetypal tendencies of emergent
network creativity as “divine agents” of “sacred
dynamics,” as “gods and goddesses” whose willful agency is an inherent influence in generating, sustaining,
transforming, and destroying all the forms of our biosphere.
- The paradoxical conundrum of these
metaphors for Nature’s purposeful network autonomy is that they do represent empirical
evidence from scientific fact about the dynamics of reality--but they
do so through the overtly nonlinear, interdependent dynamics of their ordinarily un-realistic mode of signification. Their "factual accuracy" arises from their indirect mode of representation--not as literal description with its denotative meaning. They constitute "acts of imaginal reality." Myths are indeed "stories that are not real but are true."
"literal belief" becomes a tricky issue: if we believe that the symbols
of “the gods” are literal things, we obscure
their function as intuitions of the mystery of emergent network
animation. If we dismiss them as the delusional fantasy, as un-realistic imagination that has no
relation to factual evidence, then we obstruct our access to mythical knowledge
- It is more apt to regard such symbols as psychological experience of how the network numinosity somehow animates
world in various characteristic ways—experience that enables us to know it exists and to know that
actual operations remain un-believable to our
pragmatic mentalities. To know mythically we must neither believe nor
dis-believe--at least in the literalistic terms of our reflexively
mechanistic perspective on causation.
Divine Improvisation: On-going emergent creativity is not singular, omnipotent spiritual control
science does not confirm the reality of a specifiable, spiritually creative personality
“at work in the world"--as in an omnipotent creator god. Rather, it provides evidence for creativity
acts intentionally through spontaneous improvisation,
emergently arising in an on-going, unpredictable manner from the
vast interplay of interdependent networks. This is perhaps the most
confounding paradox of complexity. It generates willful network
behavior that shapes the material world for future purposes yet does so
through the unpredictable, unstable dynamics of self-organizing
criticality. It is this very moment-to-moment adaptivity that allows it to adapt to continually changing conditions.
It cannot "do what it does" by proceeding along a consistent, pre-established trajectory
toward a specific concluding status.
- This is definitely not evidence
for a singular,
all-knowing creator god who “designs” and “engineers” the universe
according to a predetermined plan--much less
one whose intentions we can define. But it does provide empirical
references for deciding which religious notions symbolize the "divine
dynamical agents" of
complexity in ways that are more or less appropriate to the scientific
Posing a variety of different spirits and gods interacting
spontaneously to animate the ordering of the world appears the more
accurate way to model of the science.
Science as Religion: Dogmatic belief is neither dynamicaly spiritual nor scientifically logical
modern conflict between religion and
science exemplifies how reductive representations of reality become the dogmatic
idols of belief in an incontrovertible, absolute truth--and how that "truth" is used to assert social power.
- Such a
belief can take the form of asserting the absolute truth of a literalized god and historically
religious scripture. But it can also arise from a dogmatic assertion
drawn from scientific evidence. Some have posed the mechanistic laws of
physics as the only valid description of, thus the absolute truth about,
reality. Such a view proscribes what scientific method can reveal and becomes a de facto doctrine of belief.
- Both the religious reduction of myth and science-based claims to ultimate knowledge of nature generate
dogmas that obstruct awareness of the ultimately un-definable order
creation of complexity,
emergence, and autonomous networks. Both lead to struggles over
who has the authority to define what is "right" to think and how to behave.
- Myth and
science, as descriptions of dynamical phenomena, are not fundamentally
in conflict. It is dogmatic beliefs in the institutionalized aspects of
scientific culture that are "at war." That struggle has nothing to do
with either mythical spirituality or the knowledge provided by rigorous
antipathy of “believers” in the absolute
truth of mechanistic science toward religion can be understood
historically in relation
to the intellectual response of European culture to the religious wars
of the 16th and 17th centuries—along with more recent violence
associated with religious fundamentalism. The horrors of violence
justified by competing religious claims to absolute truth were a
primary impetus to the scientific pursuit of an objective, empirically
validated description of natural phenomena. But the reaction of
scientific materialists against religion has itself become reductively
- However, with the advent of
science, it is now intellectually dishonest to use science to
deny the reality of emergent order creation and network autonomy, thus
the aptness of mythic symbolism as dynamical modeling of
spiritually animating networks. Similarly, it has become factually illogical for religious believers to
assert literal definitions of the spiritual animation evidenced by the pervasive but ultimately
inaccessible phenomena of complexity.
The Cultural Transformation of a Scientific Mythology
Science and Culture: Constituting a new metaphysically philosophical yet science-based worldview
- The above overview of new perspectives on the
dynamics of order creation, and their implications for what we
currently do not comprehend about how order is created, compel us to re-evaluate our cultural sense of reality.
means reconfiguring how we base or
worldview on scientific evidence--because that evidence has changed so
dramatically by revealing emergence and autonomous network agency. We
are now confronted by a factual basis for a mystical aspect of Nature.
- At the same time, this new knowledge demonstrates that scientific understanding of "the nature
of Nature" is necessarily limited--in its own terms.
effect, the old notion of metaphysics, as "the
science of things transcending what is physical," with its philosophical investigations of
"what ultimately exists and what is it like", and inquiry into
"categories of being," have been revived by evidence for bi-dynamical
order creation and become relevant to composing a genuinely science
- This development does not logically suggest
that science is now
irrelevant. Indeed, it is more essential than ever, as it has revealed
dynamics of order creation that our previous concept of scientific fact
omitted. Because of sceintific method, we now have knowledge of
phenomena about which we have been devastatingly ignorant.
- The crucial point here is that we can now
combine science and philosophy in a new way. Knowledge about complexity
can guide philosophy in ways that physics alone could not. Our
philosophical speculations can assist in conceiving what the new
science reveals but cannot definitively explain. Indeed, it can now be
seen that much of historical philosophy has grappled with ideas that
represent the strange dynamics of complexity.
- Incorporating the new science into our cultural worldview requires that we re-evaluate our sense of what there is to
know, what we can know about it with any certainty, and how we can gain
useful understanding about what cannot be known with certainty.
- This is not simply an arcane academic concern.
It has profound importance for how we all think and thus act--if we are
to think and act in any adequately realistic manner. Our entire culture
must undergo a radical re-education if it is to generate a society
capable of interacting sustainably with the natural systems upon which
- Such a philosophical cultural re-orientation will necessarily involve some form of scientifically mytho-logical thought.
Scientific Mythology: The Practical Role of Metaphoric Symbolism in Scientific Understanding
Mythical Science: Confronting scientifically valid mystery in Nature
it or not, our reductive scientific method has produced a "scientific
revelation." That is to say, in a manner similar to myth, science has
revealed that there is indeed subjective, willful agency that shapes
the world in profound but ultimately undefinable ways.
- The first difficulty we face in incorporating this
knowledge of complexity into our worldview concerns the existing
"culture of science." We have all been conditioned by the cultural
belief that mechanical physics is the ultimate description of reality.
Mystery, in this view, is only an as yet unsolved problem of
identifying predictably deterministic factors. Ultimately, all aspects of Nature "should be" definable.
- Practicing scientists and scientific educators
work in institutions which reflexively reinforce this assumption. Thus
any notion of mythical, metaphysical, or mystical science is a
culturally forbidden topic. Giving credence to such ideas could readily
damage one's reputation and put one's employment at risk
- Nonetheless, there is a growing number of
researchers who have bravely begun to write and speak about the ever
expanding evidence for, and implications of, complexity's mysterious
emergent creativity and self-organizing systems.
- The "official culture" of science is
understandably resistant to these ventures and seems likely to remain
that way for some time. However, the knowledge becoming available
through the more accessible writings of complexity scientists gives the
average individual the opportunity to begin to make his or her own
- Thus it seems possible that a cultural shift
in how we understand dynamical phenomena, or "how the world actually
works," might arise outside of the academic domains of
- Such a shift is essential to understanding
both the astonishing extent as well as the limits of scientific insight
into complexity. It is from that awareness that the dynamical modeling
of mythical symbolism can be appreciated as of practical value in
comprehending the scientific evidence.
- Just what forms a more overtly symbolic
expression of the new scientific facts might take is difficult to guess. But it
can at least begin with a re-assessment of this function in traditional
myth and contemporary art.
Scientific Myth-ing: Re-contexting metaphoric symbolism as factually valid dynamical modeling
- How then does the mytho-logical imagination become scientific?
- It is now possible to re-read art,
literature, and mythology from the perspective of complexity science
in ways that will radically alter their role in our practical
understanding of reality. Given the limits scientific method has
imposed upon its ability to describe and explain complexity, modeling
it through metaphoric symbolism has become an essential compliment to
comprehending the scientific facts.
the science goes further by providing a
new empirical basis for evaluating how accurately mythic symbolism
represents the scientific
evidence, as well as a guide for interpreting the meanings of such
symbolism. The empirical evidence helps differentiate when mythical
imagination is being used to represent the interdependent order
creation of Nature and when it is being used merely as entertainment that does not fundamentally challenge our mechanistic fantasy of a controllable reality, or
to justify socially constructed concepts that actually function as
oppositional and hierarchical manipulations of social systems.
this way the
science restrains the tendency of social power structures to literalize
as ordinary facts that support dogmatic orthodoxy, whether overtly
religious or secular, that can be used to justify and impose social
Secular states and religious institutions alike are top-down control
systems whose network autonomies are reflexively prone to enhancing
their power by any and all means.
- In turn, a mytho-logical perspective assists
in restraining our modernist tendency to assume that scientific
representations of natural phenomena are, in fact, complete definitions
that are the same as those phenomena, rather than significations that
“stand for” reality.
- By metaphorically representing the archetypal
character of the creative tendencies of scientific complexity's autonomously self-animating
networks—as personified tendencies of emergent ordering's spiritual animation—a scientific
mythology enables us to engage these as the subjective, intentional
operations that they evidently are. By doing so in ways scientific
language cannot, mythic metaphors provide the symbolic form of an archetypal
network psychology that elaborates the scientific evidence in more tangible, emotionally compelling ways.
- This effort constitutes a re-invention of
mythic imagination. It not only draws upon the symbolism of pre-modern
mythological traditions to illustrate network dynamics, it provides the
basis for a contemporary imaginal practice that functions as realistic knowing within scientifically secular cultural.
- Rigorously correlated, science and myth can
re-educate our simplisitically mechanistic cultural mentality by providing a more empirically
complete and accessible portrayal of the role of emergent
causation and its spiritual animation play in our selves and the world we
inhabit. This cross-referencing can generate a “network gnosis” through which we “see” the world
as bi-dynamically interdependent relationships that can scale up into
subjective intentionality across the vast array of reciprocally interacting systems that constitute the biosphere.
- This correlation can also reveal that conflict
between reductive fundamentalism in religion and science, between theists and atheists, is
actually a dogmatic competition for possessing the definition of absolute truth: a presumption that is neither scientifically
nor mythically logical
Factual Imagination : The analytical method of scientific mythologizing
Cultural Transformation: Creating sustainable social systems through scientific mythology
- The basic insights of complexity science can
be used as a frame for engaging the archetypal psychology and
metaphoric modeling ofmythic imagination to explore the emergent properties and network autonomy in any given context.
- By beginning with a general analysis of the
network relationships composing a set of factors or events, a
scientifically derived assessment can be amplified through a seriies of
mytho-logically derived elaborations.
- This process generates an analysis of network
properties that can then be examined for their archetypal traits. The
archetypal traits can then be psychologically characterized. These
elaborations of the network analysis can then be modeled using the
motifs, narratives, and personifications of generated by mythic
- All these aspects can then be considered in
regard to how the subject being examined actually comes into being and
operates in complex, un-controlable ways. That provides a more
realistic dynamicalperspective on it and how it might be influenced.
Culture after Complexity: The new basis for social systems that reciprocate with natural ones
- The new science of autonomous systems reveals
how their networks interact interdependently to emergently generate the
collective self-regulation of the biosphere.
- This knowledge poses a very different view of
how social systems need to function if they are to support that
biospheric self-regulation, upon which we depend. Complexity
science provides new ways to understand how various
configurations of social systems and their emergent networks tend to
generate effects. Social and economic networks composed around
hierarchical, top-down command and control structures, as well as
independently competitive individualism, tend to produce un-sustainably
re-configuration of our modernist
worldview that a scientific mythology can initiate has profound
for how we understand our societies, economies, and political
systems. By revealing how these are expressions of intentional networks
with archetypal character, or network soul, it cautions us about the
limits of our control over even our own systems. At the same time, it
shows how we can interact more realistically with this willful
character in both human and non-human networks.
- But to make this change in our approach to our
own systems, thus ourselves, requires a change in our cultural
worldview: social systems arise from cultural networks of knowledge and
- The issues involved with such a potential change can be illustrated with
some mytho-logical reflection on the character of civilization as a
particular type of network autonomy, or network soul.
Out of Control: Civilization as a mythically monstrous network of non-reciprocal exploitation
- The insights provided by complex systems
science shows how industrial civilization’s manipulative exploitation
has devastated the resilience of natural systems by disrupting their
self-animating, thus self-sustaining networks, and thereby their
mutually enabling, reciprocating interdependency
and archaeological studies
indicate that humans evolved to live in small communal groups of around
20 to 50 individuals, prior to the advent of large scale agriculture
the urbanization it enabled. The subsequent emergence of civilization’s
mass societies generated social systems that restrict interdependent
reciprocity within them as well as between them and their natural environments.
- The resulting hierarchical forms
of top-down, command and control network structures and mechanistic
pre-occupation with technological means of manipulation obstruct the
ability of civilized systems to operate sustainably within those of the
biosphere. They become
isolated from, thus unresponsive to, thus destructively exploitative of
- These traits of civilized networks are
archetypally reductive in their view of the world, regarding it as
things that can be defined, calculated, controlled and manipulated.
They tend to produce "instrumental behavior" that reflexively seeks to
"use" things and events to control other things and events.Technology is a formalized expression of this "instrumentalism."
- The structure of most governmental,
corporate systems manifest this type of network character. Regardless
of the values used to justify them, their network configuration
functions to concentrate controlling power rather
than facilitate meta-system interdependency within societies and with
- The destructive effects of civilization on
biospheric networks derive from exploitative, control obsessed,
hierarchical characteristics of its network structures and their
operations. The way they are structured causes them to “think and act”
in such a manner, regardless of how we might want them to act. Civilized networks are also expressions of complex adaptive
systems--they have "minds of their own" that we fail to recognize.
- The effects of the
contemporary economies exemplifies how a subsystem’s autonomy can act
as an alien species within civilization, one that exploits the larger
system in which it
operates, by evading integration into that meta-network’s evolved
of synchronic mutual reciprocity. This "taking without giving," by
profiting without actually making anything useful, disrupts the larger
self-regulation. Such network behavior can be thought of as a
- In mythological perspective, these network
character traits can be termed "monstrous" or a "monstrosity." The word
monster carries meanings such as a large and frightening creature,
often with an insatiable appetite or unrestrained violence, an
unfeeling or treacherous person, and something malformed or
mutated. Stories about monsters typically reveal how their excess
leads to their destruction.
- The word derives from the Latin monstrum, translated
as portent or warning. Thus a monster, or monstrosity, is an indicator,
or a symptom of something that is "out of balance with" or disruptive
to the usual "Nature of things." These archetypal characterizations
represent the effects of civilized networks' compulsive, ultimately
self-destructive pursuit of control over and exploitation of other systems.
Manipulative Restraint: Constraining the excesses of our techno-logical network soul
- Because of its amplification of human
manipulative power, technology is intrinsically dangerous because it
both isolates human systems from immediate interdependency with each
other and from responsive participation in the feedback networks of
non-human ones. Yet technology is an autonomous network in its
own right and must be regarded as an "alien" or invasive species that can only be
brought into reciprocal relations with natural systems by the influence
of other human networks.
- The perspective of mechanistic science is well
suited to the impulse to manipulate and control systems, both human and
non-human. It assists social, economic, political,and technological
elites in promoting the idea that they can assert command and control
over society and Nature, thus justifying their disproportional share of
wealth and power. But network science shows this claim to be a
dangerous delusion that unleashes networks like technology in ways that disable both human and
- There are no technological fixes for
civilization’s current existential dilemma because it is the very
effects of our control-seeking technological manipulation of natural
systems that has created it. Our technological mode of adapting
environments to our desires makes us an invasive species that is alien
to the evolved regime of synchronically reciprocal meta-network
interdependency in every ecological system on the planet. Civilization
always “games” ecological networks by not becoming integrated into
their mutually beneficial reciprocity, but instead competes
un-co-operatively, acting like an un-integrated predator--what
mythology represents as a monster.
Sustainable Societies: Bringing Human Systems into Reciprocal Relations with Nature
- To create sustainable societies, to survive
the ecological devastations and chaotic climate change our disruption
of other biospheric networks has created, we must restructure our
human networks. These most be reconfigured to facilitate the operation and interdependency of
Nature’s autonomous systems rather than exploit them without regard for
the consequences. Our social, political, and economic systems must be
radically re-structured. That means manipulating our systems to make
them less manipulative, and controlling our impulse to control our
environments in ways that disable their self-regulation
the exploitive character of
hierarchic civilized systems not only disables non-human systems, it is
crippling to those of our contemporary societies and economy--creating
inequality, unemployment, and events such as the financial crisis of
2008. We know not
what we do—to ourselves or the biosphere—because we do not know how the
strange dynamical properties of our own autonomous networks, much less
those of Nature, actually function. For all our wealth and power, our
science and technology, we do not understand how Nature acts.
- Sustainable societies must be
non-hierarchical, distributed network structures, with more horizontal
and less vertical feedback flows. These changes will enable them to act
adaptively through autonomous agency at all levels of scale, from
families to local communities, and on up to governments, and to do so
conversation with” the “creaturely” realm of non-human yet autonomously
self animating Nature.
- To make
the meta-network of civilization more
sustainable we must come to know it, and its sub-networks (social,
economic, political) as “creaturely” entities in them selves, with
their own emergent
autonomous agency of spiritual animation, their particularized network
which arise from the behaviors of the human agents that constitute them
and are then in turn influenced by them. Civilization, like Nature, is
a mytho-logical realm of archetypal characters. Thus attempts to
re-adapt it requires symbolizing it thusly—regarding human systems as
mere mechanisms is a delusional as regarding Nature as purely physical.
- A crucial aspect of this
re-networking is localizing network interdependency. Only if the
operations of human systems
are fully connected to those of their local environments can they
experience the immediacy of their communal interdependency with the
non-human. The operational organization of sustainable societies
necessarily derives from localized integration with non-human, natural
systems. Industrial civilization has obliterated this localized
integration of human and non-human systems.
- Society must be communal because Nature is
communal, with all reciprocally interdependent with all. Adaptive meta-system
sustainability can only emerge “from the bottom up,” from subsystem
interdependency with an unimpeded flow of feedback—it cannot be engineered or controlled from the top-down.
- Social and financial inequality
inhibit flows of feedback and thus the interdependency of humans
systems, so genuine democracy and communal reciprocity are essential,
while command and control networks must be minimized as these obstruct
feedback between systems, debilitating the resilient autonomy of the
systems they manipulate. The top-down controlling impulse of elite
social and economic subsystems are intrinsically disruptive of overall
meta-system sustainability. Where there are network aspects that
provide system direction these must function primarily to promote
inter-system networking, not exploitation.
- Creating sustainable and equitable societies
means we must be consciously suspicious of our reflexive human
tendencies to manipulate, exploit, and dominate other networks, both
those of people as well as the non-human. This self-awareness requires
the cultural incorporation of both complexity science and its
elaboration by myth's archetypal psychology of network autonomy, with
personifications of the variable configurations of spiritually
animating network soul in both human and non-human systems.
Dual Ethics: The Sustainability of Nature's Wild Ethos and The Un-sustainablity of Civilization's Tame One
of social morality based upon
egalitarian ethics regard every person or group of persons as of
intrinsic and equal value. Thus each should be engaged with empathy,
respect, and fairness. This ethical view expresses awareness of the
importance of each
person as an autonomous, subjective network that interacts with others
to form the larger networked meta-system of societies:
the individuality of network soul is a foremost value in such an ethos.
- This egalitarian rule of ethical interaction
has become a
basic tenant of so-called civilized behavior in modern urbanized mass
societies. However, the actual behavior of civilizations
expresses a very different ethos. They can only exist through the
forced domestication or taming of plants, animals, and environments.
They are effectively "at odds" with the natural systems they exploit to
derive the energy and resources required to sustain their often
- Further, whatever their stated purposes, the
institutions of state, religious, and corporate power, and the
socio-economic elites who benefit disproportionally from these, can
exist only by imposing manipulative control over social systems.
Whatever ideals they are expected to serve, the performative ethics
they manifest emphasize subordination of individual citizens to their
power, above all else. The implicit first order function of law
enforcement systems in civilized societies is to preserve existing
social, economic, and political power structures.
- In both its external and internal aspects,
this hierarchical relationship of control that characterizes
civilization's network autonomy constitutes a domesticated or tame
ethics of domination. It constitutes the underlying ethos of civilization, in which the dominance of hierarchical network soul is the foremost value: no hierarchy = no civilization.
The emergence of pluralistic secular societies and democratic political
systems have not changed this underlying ethos--as testified to by the
contemporary disparity between rich and poor, the disparity between
public opinions and government actions, and the ever-accelerating pace of ecological devastation.
contrast between the standards for
behavior inferred by egalitarian ethics and the actual primacy of
hierarchical control systems appears to be an unresolvable paradox of
civilization. It indicates the conflicted co-existence of two aspects
of network autonomy in the meta-network of civilized societies--one
which seeks cooperative equality and one which emphasizes competitive
struggle for disproportionate power and privilege. Even the most
egalitarian civilized societies manifest the ethos of domination toward
- Though hierarchical control systems often
justify their dominion as being necessary for the existence of
egalitarian social behaviors, their network configuration is
intrinsically prone to acting in service to its own promotion despite
such stated purposes. That is the character of its network autonomy. This social competition for dominance and disproportionate advantage has been defended as a "law of Nature."
- Indeed, Nature on the larger scale, as seen
complex systems science, does manifests a similar conflict between
cooperative facilitation and competitive struggle among its systems.
However, the ubiquity of interdependent reciprocity among natural
systems tends to limit the degree of advantage one system can gain over
others. Plant and animal species co-evolve as ever-interacting parts of a meta-system.
- Changes in one system's behavior acts as
feedback that concurrently triggers changes in others. This on-going
instantaneous interplay activates the self-regulating adaptive
operations of the environmental meta-system they collectively generate,
and that imposes limits on the behaviors of all. No one species becomes
capable of forcing another under its direct control.
- Though we tend to regard predators like lions
as "the kings of the jungle," they are in fact nor more in control of
their environments than are the animals they prey upon. Each must
contribute to as much as they benefit from their environments, or their
behavior disrupts the basis of their own existence. The actual "law of
Nature" is reciprocal interdependency, not hierarchical domination.
Competition is subordinated to collective adaptation by the reciprocal
flows of feedback between the sub-systems of an environmental
meta-system. That rule of reciprocity we could call the ethos of Nature, or wild ethics.
- Civilization, as a system structured around
technologically leveraged environmental manipulation and exploitation,
abrogates this rule of wild ethics. Through mechanistic leverage,
amplified by centralized organization and industrial technology,
civilized systems evade
feedback from non-human systems. They violate the rule of reciprocity
that limits the power of natural systems over each other by evading
natural feedback flows. They take far more from than the mutually
interdependent operations of their environments than they give back.
Historically, all have done this until their effects on the natural
systems they exploit attain a
catastrophic level of meta-system environmental disruption, leading to
the collapse of civilized systems.
- Civilized human systems thus
systems” that act without regard for the effects their exercise of
network autonomy has upon that of other systems: civilizations compete
with Nature in a non-co-operative manner by refusing to subordinate
human behaviors to the “greater good” of a mutually self-sustaining
“creaturely” biosphere. In this regard, from a mythological
perspective, they are "monsters"--creatures of network autonomy whose
behavior is "out of proportion" to other systems, that take without
giving back, thus have a destructive impact on other systems.
- Science, technology, and engineering cannot
solve the dilemma of civilization's exploitation of natural systems.
Carbon-free renewable energy sources would diminish carbon dioxide
emissions but will also accelerate the development of industrial
civilization's consumer societies that are the primary disrupter of
conflict of civilization's exploitative ethos of domesticating
dominance and Nature's wild one of interdependency is intrinsic.
Indeed, it is an enlarged version of the impact that the most basic
technologies of non-agrarian, hunter-gatherer societies can have on
natural systems. Even they can over-exploit their environments in ways
that endanger their own existence.
- Thus to be sustainable, civilization would have to
impose upon itself the rule of wild ethics, which is to say, “do unto other
systems in ways that facilitate their interdependent co-operation (upon
which one’s own system depends) as they do unto you.”
wild ethics there can be no viable
context for tame ethics. Its is for this reason that
the stimuli of mythic imagination and ritual appear as adaptive
behaviors in human societies. By imagining the interdependency of
human and non-human network autonomy, humans are more likely to act
with restraint in how they manipulate natural systems.
sustain our human systems we must make
significant sacrifices of our interests and appetites. We must act in
ways that "give back" to non-human systems so sustain their network
autonomies so that
our human ones can prosper. We must continually struggle to surrender
arrogant sense of superiority and privilege our technological
capacities tend to foster.
- We are, in deed, “the Fallen”: through our
technological civil-izing we became “creatures of control” whose
systems operate “at odds” with the rest of life. We have “fallen out of
conversation” with the reciprocity of Nature and committed “the sin” of
non-co-operation with non-human systems, which now threatens a
- Yet most astonishingly, it is as secular
pragmatists, whose scientific pursuit of “final
knowledge” that we hope would grant us “control over everything,” that
unexpectedly re-discovered the ancient wisdom of the mythic imagination.
It is this new, unexpected knowledge of complexity science that
redemption from the ethics of domination.
Going Beyond Belief: Myth-ing the reality of unbelievable science to enable a cultural transformation
- Obviously, the most important part of a
practical education now is a worldview-changing understanding of the
science of complex systems and their self-animating networks.
the science alone will not change our
network structures. As constituted, our cultural mentality cannot think
its way out of its mechanistic preoccupation. Without the corrective
perspective of myth, we will reflexively attempt to engineer our way
out of civilization's dilemma
because we are addicted to technological control. More of the same
behavior will not alter our conditions.
- What is required is an adequately motivating
cultural mentality the emerges from an emotionally compelling,
intuitively meaningful symbolism that links the scientific knowledge
with our intrinsic mythological imagination—a scientific mythology that
produces a network gnosis of a spiritually animated reality, a cultural reconfiguration that
brings us back into the community of natural network subjectivity.
- What we need is not literalistic religious
doctrine and belief but symbolic experience that transforms our
psychological state of mind, using shared stories, images, and ritual
practices (linked to network science) to make the realities of
emergent, spiritually animating networks meaningfully tangible—and
cultural life more vibrantly connected to the rest of Life.
- Thus the practical cultural transformation to
sustainable societies implied by complex systems science is a
mytho-logical one that re-establishes interdependent relationships
between civilized human systems and the subjective operations of those
of “the rest of Nature.” It is once again practical to imagine aspects
of reality that cannot be fully defined or explained.
mythic traditions have stories of a
distant past in which humans and animals “spoke the same language,” but
that humans somehow lost the ability to communicate directly with the
those non-human networks. The loss of that shared language in these
stories indicates the break of reciprocity that occured when humans
evolved as a technologically manipulative species. Without a mythic
imagination we have no way
to bring our awareness “back into the conversation” with other natural
systems that can maintain our own sustainability.
astonishingly, such changes constitute a
“return of the sacred” within a scientifically secular society. The
archaic sense of sacredness derived from knowing that non-human systems
are also effectively living spirits, whose emergent reciprocity make the world a
interdependent relationships, upon which human life depends.
Sustainable human systems require this sense of numionus mystery in
Nature to restrain our technologically manipulative behavior.
Full Enlightenment Education: The trans-disciplinarity of teaching ourselves to think bi-dynamical reality
- Re-educating ourselves to incorporate
complexity science into our worldview can be understood as the
fulfillment of the intellectual Enlightenment of the 18th century. That
impulse toward rational, scientific realism first led us to our
materialistic, physics-based worldview. But the same impulse has
proceeded beyond that perspective to reveal the utterly unexpected,
logically paradoxical knowledge of bi-dynamical order creation, which
appears illogical to our current assumptions about reality.
is no longer logical or realistic to teach people to have ultimate
faith in reductive definitions, predictive certainty, or conclusive
knowledge about "how the world works." Like it or not, this is where
the Enlightenment quest to know the world in factual terms has led us.
- However, to remain current with these
scientific insights, we must confront the problem of teaching them
through social and educational systems presently incapable of incorporating the concepts complexity and their implications.
- Modernist obsession with predictably
deterministic dynamics and order creation led to a separation of what
was once a metaphysical continuum of knowledge (known as "natural
philosophy") into two opposed categories. The so-called "hard
sciences," based on quantifiable facts and predictably deterministic
proofs, came to be regarded as more realistic than what are termed "the
Humanities": philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and the
these latter areas of thought have actually been grappling with the
effects of complexity far longer than has science. They have already
explored its paradoxical logic in a variety of conceptual and
metaphoric ways. From the dialectical thought of Hegel, Schopenhauer's
as will," concepts of a pluralistic psyche in the depth
psychology of Freud and Jung, and modern art's disruptions of pragmatic
signification and its interpretation, to the revelations of paradoxical
contradictions in linear logic by such as Derrida and other
"postmodern" thinkers, there exists a myriad of insights into the
actual complexity of reality. There is much in the domains of the
Humanities that is mytho-logical.
the perspectives of complexity and
network science, much of this reasoning done in the humanities, which
has thus far been deemed un-scientific, now has an empirical basis.
There now exists a scientific perspective that can re-unite our
fields in a trans-disciplinary manner, by providing a
more-than-mechanistic dynamical philosophy that confirms the empirical
accuracy of complexity modeling in non-quantitative knowledge fields .
- It is now obvious that a full appreciation of
the implications of the new science and its bi-dynamical order creation
requires a trans-disciplinary application that reveals its many
corollaries in other disciplines of thought.
- Thus the fullness of an Enlightenment derived
education must transgress the limitations of our reflexively
materialistic, mechanistic worldview and the institutions constituted
upon it. Such a re-education will take us closer to "reality"--but
necessarily farther away from certainty, universal truths, and the
expectation of control.