abstracts

9.1 Otto Van Nieuwenhuijze:
"The Simplicity of Complexity"


There are many models which show that complexity is but a form of simplicity. This paper presents some of the many models available, with their relevance in social systems. 'Putting pieces of a puzzle together, to show the overall image of which they all carry a part'.

It also makes clear how it is the transcendental nature of such models which makes them so valuable in an interdisciplinary setting; and in environments separated by differences in paradigm. Which on the one hand makes clear why they are rarely fully understood, and on the other hand explains the difficulty for acceptance of such models. That they are very relevant is shown by a specific model: our human body.

It serves not only as a blueprint for system integrity (in the way the cells and DNA are always attuned to the whole), but also, inversely, for the way humans have a place in society.


Otto van Nieuwenhuijze, Govert Flinckstraat 144-II, 1072 EN Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email: 100517.1411@compuserve.com



9.2 Arne Kjellman:
"Is Reality Nothing Else but a Useful Model?"


The materialistic approach to postulate an "external world of things" which is independent of any observer is a daring hypothesis needless in a subject oriented approach. Starting off from the private knowledge of conscious experience we replace the notion of an "existing outside materialistic reality" by the hypothesis that there might be some "external common grounding", which suggests its "existence" by inferred "messages from outside". These messages "paints a private picture of the presumed outside world" - the private REALITY. In spite of this perceptual privacy different observers discover through communication that they can establish a correspondence between their subjective entities and reach a collective agreement on objective knowledge without any postulation of an "external world" in the physical materialistic sense.

Thus human consciousness becomes a private comprehension about "universe" - the priverse - which is the one and only center of perception and inner experience - we see by the mind and not by the eye. Inner reality becomes a model - which is projected outward onto the "outside world" - and the usefulness of this model is due to our extensive training and education.

In this monistic approach there is no matter nor mind - and in this setting it is pointless to assign states to the "objects of the world". Many terms lose their "inborn taste of objectivity"; they all reduce into collective common agreements where natural and social sciences conflate. Measurements, perceptual imprints and inner feelings are nothing more or less than subjective facts to be treated at the same level of experience - it is just the choice of concepts, tools and measuring sticks that make the difference.


Arne Kjellman, Department of Information Technology, Mid-Sweden University, xxx, S-851 70 Sundsvall, Sweden. Email: Arne.Kjellman@ite.mh.se



9.3 Bernard Scott:
"Simplifying the Complex: The Case for Cybernetics"


The power of cybernetics as a transdiscipline is that it abstracts, from the many domains it adumbrates, models of great generality. Such models serve several purposes: they bring order to the complex relations between disciplines; they provide useful tools for ordering the complexity within disciplines; they provide a "lingua franca" for interdisciplinary communication; they may also serve as powerful pedagogic and cultural tools for the transmission of key insights and understandings to succeeding generations. However, as noted by Immanuel Wallerstein (1997 and this conference), if a transdisciplinary approach is to make a real contribution in the natural and social sciences, it must be more than a list of similitudes. It must also be epistemologically sophisticated and well-grounded. Cybernetics, with its explicit distinction between first and second order forms, can claim, not only to satisfy this criterion, but also to be making significant contributions to epistemological debates. In this paper, I present examples of some "simple" cybernetic models, including (second-order) models of the modelling process itself. I argue that, whilst some of these models are extant in academia and becoming increasingly so, they could usefully be introduced into other educational curricula, as part of the "learning spirals" advocated by Jerome Bruner (1966, 1996). I cross-refer to Scott (this symposium), where I use simple cybernetic models of "information", "control" and "self-organisation" in my discussion of the role of HEI's in understanding and achieving sustainable development. Additional models discussed in this paper include "system emergence", "organisational closure" and "conversation".


Bernard C.E. Scott, Centre for Educational Technology and Development, Portland Building, De Monfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom. Email: bscott@dmu.ac.uk



9.4 Markus Schwaninger:
"Are Organizations Simply Too Complex To Be Understood? - The Simplicity of Complexity"


The endeavour to understand complex systems is a luxury which we cannot afford (claim by Ross Ashby). The answer to this argument depends on our concept of "understanding". If we conceive of "understand" as getting a grasp of all the details, Ashby was right. However, if the claim is one of getting deeper insight into the generative mechanisms which underly the autopoiesis of a social system, such a kind of "understanding" is not a luxury, but a must, if it is to survive and develop virtuously. System Methodology opens new paths to disclosing and shaping the causal structures which generate patterns of behaviour. This will be illustrated by means of experiments realized by the author. These experiments are based on both, the theory of Organizational Cybernetics and of System Dynamics.


Markus Schwaninger, Institut für Betreibswirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, Dufourstrasse 48, CH-9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland. Email: Markus.Schwaninger@ifb.unisg.ch



9.5 Michael Schreiber:
"Simple Roots of Complex Judgement"


Complexity of individual and collective judgement arises by conscious and non-conscious inclusion and exclusion of past and expected subjects, processes, names, values and contexts. The common root is simply the ability to distinguish between earlier and later links between names and what is meant by these distinctions. Linear, planar and spatial representations of transformations can be translated into each other by fractal projections retaining specific profiles of neighbourhood among categories and entities. Current prototypes include: www-search-engines, land-art-participation and portfolio-management. The basic tool for conflict-mediation can be explained with the watch at your wrist.


Michael Schreiber, Institut für Absatzwirtschaft und Marketing, University of Economics and Business Administration, Augasse 2-6, A-1090 Wien, Austria. Email: Michael.Schreiber@wu-wien.ac.at


9.6 Alexis V. Jdanko:
"Principles of Evolutionary Sociocybernetics: Theoretical and Methodological Analysis"


The paper discribes the most general ideas that characterize a version of sociocybernetics called by the author "evolutionary" which takes into consideration: first, the struggle of society against entropy; second, not only statics (structures and functions) of society, but also its dynamics, i.e. socioevolution conceived as anti-entropic development of society that makes it possible to understand better also the social statics from the same angle of fighting against entropy; and finally, not only humans (and other biological elements of society), but also technology as a necessary non-biological component and as a new means of society's struggle against entropy. This new theory demands to found any research in the social sciences on the general methodological principle: the most profound interpretation of any social phenomenon (at least, sufficiently essential) has to explain its direct or indirect role in the struggle of society (and of any its subsystems) against entropy. From this general principle may be inferred others, viz., first of all, an evolutionary (anti-statical) approach and, second, anti-anthropocentrism which negates an identification of society with humans, and vice versa, and social relationships with human relations. Hence, the subject of the paper predominantly of a theoretical and methodological character.


Alexis V. Jdanko, Etsel Street 6/1, Jerusalem 97854, Israel. Email: aljdanko@luckynet.co.il



9.7 Andris Buikis:
"The evolution of humanity from an element of biosphere to noosphere through dissipative structures"


The strategic questions of humanity's long-term evolution have been investigated in many ways throughout the 20th century. The well-known studies of "the Club of Rome" were devoted to the economic prospects of the evolution of humanity. They regarded the consequences of limitations in natural resources up to the middle of the 21th century.

The French scientist P. Teilhard de Chardin, as well as the Russian naturalist Vladimir Vernadsky, have analyzed the ultimate aim of the long-term evolution of humanity, in an abstract philosophical way.

Nowadays the condition of humanity can be characterized as a separate, comparatively autonomous, part of the biosphere. If we are evolving in a reasonable and right way, we could finally reach (as an ultimate aim), "the Omega Point". It is a condition of the Noosphere, in which collective understanding (consciousness) is in synthesis with Biosphere. It is in fact the result of that synthesis which forms the noosphere - a sphere of reason. However nothing is known (as yet) about how the transition to noosphere will proceed.

In this work, a possible way of evolution to the ultimate aim - the noosphere or omega-point - is analyzed. For this purpose we should use some notions on Synergy. It is well known that, as a result of the right activities, in open nonlinear systems, there may occur a very rapid evolution. Of importance is that this evolution proceeds in a bounded space region, with resultant objects called "Dissipative Structures".

Their formation presents a general property of the evolution of nonlinear systems, which does not depend on the peculiarities of the system. It cannot be doubted that the evolutionary process of humanity, or separate parts of it, must be related to this nonlinear processes. The regions of this structure where an accelerated evolutionary process occurs are logically termed "Nooms", by analogy with separate parts of biosphere - Bioms. So the Noosphere can be thought to be created as the result of a confluence of various forms of Nooms.


Andris Buikis, 1, Akademijas 1, Riga, LV 1524, Latvia. Email: buikis@latnet.lv



9.8 John Wood and Olu Taiwo:
"Regulating Feelings of Uncertainty in Public Performance"

This paper looks at uncertainty in public performance as a way to challenge popular assumptions about complexity and simplicity. It takes African traditions of music and dance as a reference point from which to examine performative conventions in Western theatre. It refers to practical experiments with the 'return beat' (Taiwo & Wood, 1997: Taiwo, 98) in which non-experts are asked to co-operate with others by clapping at a common tempo whilst trying to visualise the rhythm in their own way. These 'joint actions' (Shotter, 1993) are analysed using a reflexive model of perception (Velmans, 1990:98), and 'absorption' (Fried, 1987) to examine the interplay between singular and collective action (Nancy, 1996).

The paper shows how an experienced actor or dancer can regulate the complexity of theatrical illusion by focusing the audience's attention onto - or away from - scripted aspects of performance. Although unscripted improvisation can enliven a well-known repertoire it jeopardises its perceived simplicity. Any additional complexity increases the possibility of failure, and therefore must be regulated. Performers should 'surrender themselves' to feelings of nervousness so that they can fully experience the complexity of their feelings, out of which a renewed illusion of 'simplicity' can be shared.


John Wood, Department of Design Studies, Goldsmith's College, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, United Kingdom. Email: jwood@gold.ac.uk



9.9 Helene Shulman Lorenz (contributed paper):
"Simple Connective Strategies: Autopoietic Systems and Individual and Community Healing"


Autopoietic systems must negotiate difference and exchange of energies at the borders they create. At the level of communities, a whole range of connective strategies can be discerned, some of which lead to growth or regeneration and others to dissolution of social networks. If we knew the codes, could we participate more consciously? At the level of the individual, we could also rethink what has been called "mental illness" in the West as unconscious connective strategies. According to a World Health Organization study on schizophrenia in nine countries, as well as other sources, what is considered a chronic disease here is often cured completely in other environments. Could we learn more about the healing and survival of autopoietic systems from these sources? This would involve a new respect for and collaboration with cultures and healing systems historically colonized and deprivileged by Western knowledge systems.


Helene Shulman Lorenz, Int'l and Intercultural Studies, St. Lawrence University, Carnegie Hall, home: 6857 State Highway 56, Canton, NY 13617, home: Potsdam, NY 13676, USA. Email: HLOR@ccmaillink.stlawu.edu




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