Principle of Relationship,
by T. Mandel:
A system itself is different from an element because systemic inquiry studies how elements act together-it studies their relationships. It is these relationships which have emergent properties which are then experienced as the whole. The whole is our experience of the emergent properties of relationships, much like information on this page is found in how the black and white are put together, and not that information is black or white. Thus what constitutes a system are the particular relationships such as interaction, organization, feedback, and so on.
Classical (reductionistic) science studied objects (see Peirce) subjectively isolated (see Whorf) as an elemental entity (thing). Following Heraclitus, many system scientists focus on relationships, see Charles Francois proposal for a theory of connections.
A system itself is different from an element, a thing, in the sense systemic inquiry studies how elements act together-it studies their relationships, how things work together. It is these relationships which have the emergent properties which are then experienced as the wholes we observe. The whole, then, is our experience of the emergent properties of relationships, much like information on this page is found in how the black and white are put together, and not that information “is” black or white. Thus what constitutes a system, as we experience it, are the particular relationships such as interaction, organization, feedback, and so on. Classical (reductionistic) science studied objects (see Peirce) subjectively isolated (see Whorf) as an elemental entity (See Korzybski). see Charles Francois proposal for a theory of connections.Systemics also is very old, with roots far deeper than the cybernetic (feedback) science it came (blossomed) into modern vogue through. Let us be clear, while the science of systems evolved one aspect (slice) at a time - the underlying notion of wholism, the basic idea of a system, on the other hand, can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history. Following Heraclitus, Empedocles, Lao Tzu, many system scientists focus on relationships,
Systemics is not a new development or logical consequence of an old science. It is a new way of looking at old science, a new research paradigm. Systemic science therefore does not invalidate old science, rather it attempts to integrate it. In order to do accomplish this systemic inquiry, from the ontological (fundamental) perspective, it is necessary that all viewpoints are assumed valid. This is because first if all all viewpoints are under consideration sooner or later.The systemic (holistic systems) approach is first of all, and necessarily so, multi-perspectual. So we take into consideration what is known as analytic and synthetic thought. We consider both the parts and the wholes. What is “new” is that we (can) do this by considering the relationships common to both parts and wholes
What I have just said is a general statement. If I say the same thing in specific terms, I would be saying that “clapping of two hands is how all systems work.” This is untrue. But in one general sense, it is true.
Perhaps one of the more significant validations is the role of philosophy (the general) and science (the particular). Systemics embraces both as a complementary pair. This redefinition of philosophy as a complementary to science is new, and bears repeating; Philosophy is the study of general principles and science is the study of specific applications of those principles. The boundary between them is based of the principle of verification,
Ontologically, conceptual knowledge can be assigned to four perspectual levels as a fourfold archetypal scheme: 1) The object, (Monism) 2) Distinct objects (Dualism) 3) Their relationships (Relationalism) 4) And all of the above as a Whole (Wholism).
Classical science has as its emphasis the Object. Systemics, on the other hand, has as its emphasis the Relationships - how objects interact to form emergent wholes. Bertalanffy says, “Compared to the analytical procedure of classical science with resolution into component elements and one-way or linear causality as basic category, the investigation of organized wholes of many variables requires new categories of interaction, transaction, organization, teleology…”
There are (extraordinary) features about systems that can play an important role in research: first is the observation that properties of the whole cannot be discovered by an analysis of the constituent parts. This is in effect saying that any analysis of just parts will not lead to any knowledge about what they do as relational components in a system. Very little can be learned about depth of vision from the analysis of one eye. Bertalanffy says: “The meaning of the somewhat mystical expression, “The whole is more that the sum of its parts” is simply that constitutive characteristics are not explainable from the characteristics of the isolated parts. ”
The second extraordinary is emergence. Emergence is difficult to explain to many, so in simple geometrical terms, picture a single point drawn on a sheet of paper. We can assign the value of location to any point we draw. By simply adding a second point on the paper, a new feature, the line, emerges. Now we can assign a value of distance between the two points. Similarly, a third point gives us area and a fourth gives us volume. In each case something new emerged that cannot be found in the previous state. The emergent relationships between relationals are experienced by an observer as a new whole e.g, the emergent relationship between gases is experienced by us as liquidity.
Relationships are of a different categorical level from objects. In short, objects are nouns (identity) , while relationships are verbs (action). This new emphasis on relationships requires a new language not at all unlike switching from noun to verbs. (Adding a gerund to a noun makes it a verbing.) Korzybski calls for a “non-elemental” language based on structure. Unfortunately. little has been done toward a relational language in spite of WIttgenstein?'s Contextuallity, Whorf's Linguistic Relativity and Bohm's Relational rheomodes. Perhaps I should have mentioned this in the beginning, but all of this writing is a map which is “not the territory”. It is how I drew it, not what it is like. This is true for everyone, our language is elemental, so we have learned to think elementally, in terms of separate things. As if everything is separate from each other. But reality is relational, and we shouldn't get the two mixed up. “Do not mistake the pointing finger for the moon,” Zen says. (Just this bit alone constitutes a major paradigm shift…)Having said that, systems are capable of working with many kinds of specific relationships. The primary relationship is organization. A collection is not systemic. A collection of batteries, light bulbs and wire does not make a flashlight. Only when they are organized in the correct way (put together) does the flashlight work. (Hmmm, What is the MCL [Mechanical Correlate of Light] in the flashlight? )There are other aspects such as process, the flow of electrons in a flashlight for one example. The process is necessary because systems interact, and it is this interaction over time that is described by a process. We turn the light off by breaking the process, the flow, the circuit. Relationships can also be described in terms of information, again, in the sense that information is presented as a process flow as opposed to “bits of information”. Systemically it is mutual informing rather than “a bit of information”. The difference between our conceptual systems and the natural systems, the map and the territory, is most evident when we examine how a natural system works, and compare this to our conceptual representations, it is evident that we are selecting rather than describing. Conceptual systems are created by forming boundaries (ironic because forming boundaries got us into a mess to begin with…), like the skin on our body. By forming this skin, systems therefore can be open or closed to the environment. Inert matter could be considered closed systems, while living matter is open. The obvious point is that open systems cannot be taken alone. Gaia, as a system, includes the sun, right? In general, systems reside within an environment. Development is both hierarchal and holoarchal, vertical and horizontal. (A radically new development bears repeating here, the discovery of the ZPE, aka “negative energy”, enables a vertical hierarchy with a nearly infinite ground, AND a holoarchy that non-locally interconnects.) As Erwin Laszlo writes in his latest book, “space does not separate us, it joins us.” A reference is sometimes necessary to consider internal or external relationships in relation to the observer. This is because there are subjective and objective perspectives. A subjective perspective is an abstraction of an objective reality. It is necessary to know that our statements of objective reality is more like a selection, if you will, which we subjectively make according to the assumptions we have formed, or have not formed. Whorf tells us that our language determines to a significant degree what our assumptions will be, and further that identical data presented to various researchers will produce different conclusions depending on the assumptions dictated by our language. Language is a tool, meant to be used (not used by) and the kind of language determines what sort of tool we are using. Systemic inquiry deals with qualities as opposed to quantity. Mathematical formulations are certainly desirable, but the mathematics of systemics may be extraordinary too. Ordinarily, one plus one equals two. But in a systemic world, one plus one equals one. Or eleven. To formally express this requires a new mathematics. (see Group theory) Point is that mathematics is also a language, and what sort of mathematics is being used determines what and what cannot be said by that mathematics. Complexity in a system is a matter of viewpoint. Again a new perspective is at work. just as important is simplicity. Indeed. complexity is relative-complementary to simplicity. Steward and Cohen propose a development that goes like so - from simplicity to complexity to simplexity to complicity (note the spelling). Picture the evolution of an embryo. The process of differentiation/integration develops from simple to complex and back to simple, but now part of something else acting complex. Murrray Gell-Mann, co-founder of the Sante Fe Institute has created a new science he calls Plectics, the study of the simple and complex. Systems do not necessarily unite. In most cases the interaction is integration. Compare epoxy with concrete. Epoxy unifies parts A and B. Concrete integrates parts A and B. (Note) Because the domain of conceptual systems is so vast, applicable from the atomic systems (e.g., carbon cycle) to literature as a system, a great deal of knowledge is relevant. So much so that I have given up trying to compile it (An excellent compilation of three thousand terms by Charles Francois was recently published as the International Encyclopedia of Systemics and Cybernetics) and have instead turned to models - perhaps the new language of systemics. But most interesting of all is the possibility that there is a general scheme which nature has been working with. If nature operates according to a single principle, then this principle would be interpenetrative. It is likely that nature “began” as a simple act, the simplest action, and has reiterated that same principle up till now. We would therefore be able to find it in all aspects of reality. Bertalanffy thinks so, enough to quote Nicholas of Cusa citing the coincidentia oppositorum., but Bertalanffy wonders if this is an artifact of our languageing or does in fact have a metaphysical reality. Salk thinks so, He says, “In order to understand anything we must have a sense of the fundamental connections which form the backdrop of all experience.”