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Forum Post: Systems Theory as a Means of Understanding our Predicament

Posted 12 years ago on Oct. 7, 2011, 7:59 p.m. EST by iseeamuse (155)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

In these precarious times we are faced with challenges that seem overwhelming, and without solution. Maybe all we need to do is change our minds about our situation. Maybe it's time for a new way of thinking things through.

This is a proposal for a collective brainstorm about Systems Theory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory

The Wikipedia article is maybe inaccessible to some, but at a glance it seems as though almost ANYTHING can be understood through systems theory. Unfortunately systems theory and systems thinking are new fields, without any connective philosophy. This is an attempt at creating an existential philosophy based on systems theory (Note: existential does not mean relating to Sartre's theories of Existentialism). The following is a subjective opinion, a personal presumption about how systems theory can be used to describe and define existence as a whole. It is in no way the dictation of a doctrine, or an attempt to create an ideology, just a suggested point of view. Please note, there are liberties taken in the re-definition of accepted scientific terms, and the expansion of certain theoretical fields of study. This is a personal philosophy, and an attempt to offer systems theory as a sort of combined art and science. At times many of the proposed ideas could be difficult to understand, and might be considered radical in the worlds of science, art and philosophy. Constructive criticism is welcome.

I - Systems theory can be possibly best understood as the study of the process of movement. It may be thought that the perceivable existence we live in (everything basically) is constantly moving internally and externally. If this is the case it can also be perceived that everything does so in various patterns or processes structured in a series of levels, and almost anything can be understood as some kind of system. 

Let's say that nothing happens without a cause, and everything has a defined duration of existence (beginning, middle and end). Let's say that the event of a thing happening is determined by the circumstances that preclude and exist around the creation and duration of any individual thing.

If this is the case, then it can be assumed that nothing happens or exists without a cause, and that everything is connected by one single cause (the Big Bang). That is the commonality of existence. Everything is moving at a relative rate, determined by a thing's governing circumstances. Movement is perceived as change, and all locally perceived changes determine a thing's relative rate of movement (time).

The governing circumstances of anything are those factors that determine what causes the creation of a system, how it moves, and how it is eventually destroyed. All individual systems (except for the perceivable whole, the universe) requires some sort of input and output and necessarily has some method of destruction, be it implosion, explosion or slow decay. These are "co-dependent, open systems." Existence itself is the only perceivable "independent, closed system."



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[-] 1 points by iseeamuse (155) 12 years ago

II – The following requires the incorporation of one basic proposal from existential phenomenology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existential_phenomenology): everything that is perceived internally and externally by any system is actually existent in our reality. Our perceived reality can therefore be thought of as having two harmonious aspects: external perception (objective), and internal perception (subjective).

External perception is that which can be perceived through the senses: our physical reality, the relation of matter to energy.

Internal perception is that which is perceived within any subjective system, through "internal senses" (thinking and feeling): our metaphysical reality. It can be thought that the metaphysical reality maintains an existential aspect of its own which can be called "conception," and can be defined as the relation of concepts to energy.

Energy can be redefined as the governing circumstance of movement in the system of existence. Energy is what connects the physical reality and the metaphysical reality.

To recap this line of thought: Existence has two sides (the physical and the metaphysical), and three aspects (matter, energy, and conception). All of these contribute to the "governing circumstances" of the system of existence. There are many more possible circumstances that govern our existence, but for the sake of staying on task, only a few more will be discussed.

III – If everything is caused, that means that nothing "just happens." Each cause can create a range of effects, and each effect is in itself a new cause. This is thought of as a "chain reaction, " and is due to the fact that movement only goes "forward." It is existentially impossible to travel backward in time. Existence is a massive chain reaction. If each cause is determined by its governing circumstances, then it is possible to tally up the circumstances and determine the likelihood that an event will occur. How? Value.

Value can be thought of as the total movement of a system throughout its duration. A system's value is directly related to the governing circumstances of any following or co-existent system. There are two kinds of value: qualitative and quantitative. Quality is a subjective valuation based on what another system might "think or feel" about it. Quantity is an objective valuation based on the measurable circumstances of a system. Quantity can be determined through arithmetic, quality cannot. They are two sides of the same coin, and all systems have both.

So, how does this determine the chances of the event of a new system? First start by determining quantity. Measure all of the quantifiable circumstances around a possible event, and determine how they relate. The second half is much harder, nearly impossible, because there is no way to absolutely measure quality. Quality is what creates the "uncertainty principle" of any event. The only real way to determine quality is to ask enough "people" what they think about a possible event. Quality is based on desire. Everything has desire.

It must be understood that anything is possible in the metaphysical reality, but only certain things are probable in the physical reality due to the governing circumstances of existence that control all events. So the likelihood of any event is really just a game of probability, where there is always some level of uncertainty from the subjective point of view. You can determine the chances, but the coin still has to be tossed before any outcome is certain.

The probability of an event becomes more uncertain as we draw closer to it. This is called the event horizon.

[-] 1 points by iseeamuse (155) 12 years ago

IV – In the physical reality there are only two kinds of systems known to us. Mechanistic and Organic.

A mechanistic system is one in which a resource or number of resources are input into the system and put through a process of change. At the end of the process the resources have been turned into a product, and there is a certain level of loss of resources. This loss is due to what we call entropy. The only known mechanistic systems are man-made.

An organic system is one in which a resource or number of resources are input into the system, and are utilized in the systems overall growth. After a time the system reaches a peak of growth and begins a decline. An individual system's "waste" is, more often than not, another system's necessary resource. This creates a balance in the overall system in which the two smaller systems belong. "Entropy" in an organic system can be understood as constant complexification within a system. It could be that this complexification is the cause of the decline in an organic system. Organic systems, as far as we know, are the only naturally occurring physical systems.

[-] 1 points by iseeamuse (155) 12 years ago

V – In the metaphysical reality there is potentially an infinite number of kinds of systems. It is maybe best to consider metaphysical systems as the ways that physical systems interrelate.

Some examples of metaphysical systems are: all forms of communication, interpersonal relationships, networks, hierarchies, democracies, dichotomies, trichotomies, etc.

VI – Those are the basics of this systemic existential philosophy. This is only the starting point for further debate, clarification, and definition. If generally accepted, this philosophy could have wide-ranging ramifications throughout society, possibly affecting everyone's way of life. If not, whatever. 

VII – What about that which does not move? Is there anything that does not move and has no beginning or end? Maybe Dark Matter? What if that's the "stuff" that existence exists within...
[-] 1 points by iseeamuse (155) 12 years ago

In conclusion, this philosophy could have the potential to influence and change the arts and sciences. It's applications and effects on psychology, medicine, industry, government, biology, physics, economy, etc are possibly enormous. Much study and deliberation is obviously needed, but hopefully this text can kick it off.

The topics presented, and the conclusions derived from them may be difficult for some people to understand. If you get it, please help to explain it to those who don't. This is a living document and should be shared and amended openly and publicly. The conclusions were determined through a study of science and spirituality as two halves of a whole, and through a countervailing process of induction deduction, and connection. Some influential texts and authors were: The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry, The Universe in a Single Atom by the Dalai Lama, the works of Willis Harman, the works of Buckminster Fuller, The Bible, The Baghavad Gita, The Tao Te Ching, and Wikipedia, among others.