An Idiosyncratic General Theory of Systems

© 1993 by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
<< Other Essays Index

Whether in physics, biology or social phenomena, there are only so many general types of strategy by means of which interactors and interaction-patterns or systems can seek to avoid having to return their elements to the soup (avoid radical entropization). These can include:

  1. Running away (from the factor threatening entropization). Ducking.
  2. Rigidity (including shielding).
  3. Redundancy (including defense-in-depth).
  4. Reproduction. Rabbitize more & more of you and only so many at a time will fall to the fox.
  5. Reduction. Simplify, lower your profile, streamline, have fewer working parts that can go wrong.
  6. Redirection. Divert the attack in another direction; mimic the predator or mimic very non-tasty prey. Lie/cheat/steal, pass the buck.
  7. Negative feedback — Basis of complex homeostasis-clearly the most successful strategy since found as a characteristic of every longer lasting system whether living, social or mechanical.
  8. Selection process — as successful a strategy on several levels. Develop the ability of a system to select a few most-suitable elements from a larger array for its sustenance & growth. Selection among systems in favor of those with superior strategies, superior organization.

Do any system-survival strategies fall outside of these eight classifications? Here might be the beginnings of a taxonomy, for the same reasons and with the same advantages and uses as the periodic table of the elements or an evolution-linked taxonomy of flora and fauna. Upon examining this taxonomy of systems some dynamics become apparent. For example #4 is not only a successful strategy, it is a prerequisite threshold in that once reproduction is happening, there is a radical increase in the number of systems among which the other strategies may be encountered or among which a literally evolutionary selection may act.

With # 8 stated, there emerges upon inspection a clear tendency, as evidenced both by the prevalence of holographic phenomena in nature reflecting the physics of interference patterns, and of fractile phenomena as per chaos theory, not only of chaos to clot up toward order, but of the substance of the universe to get more and more caught up in the iterations of increasingly complex relationships and sophisticated orders of relationship. 

This provides us a very optimistic perspective, but then we look at the history of 28 civilizations of record, at least 25 of which literally destroyed themselves. This brings us back to Sociotectonics as a working explanation, and also to the observation that most species simply settle down to one set of arrangements and so go extinct when nature jerks the rug from under (as sooner or later she always does!). This also leads us toward the observations below regarding the human survival role of the inconveniently exceptional gifted-the ones who never let us settle down to one set of comfortably specialized arrangements…

In both branches of sociotectonics, the Toynbee-related one and the Sorokin-related one, resistance to change builds up potential for the quakes. In the Toynbee-related model the acquired mass of a society as it grows through its successes, makes it take on the characteristics of continental mass and plates, and here most directly we propose that a close comparison of social theory with physical geology and tectonics will yield extensive useful information. In the Sorokin model, the boundaries of the plates are more a matter of rigidity than of mass, and the correlations of the societal system with physical plate tectonics may be somewhat less close though still illuminating.

This does not yet constitute an acceptance of the new Gowan/Jaccaci physics by this writer (Win Wenger), but it certainly does constitute an entertainment of the model. Synthesized with the classic laws of thermodynamics via Norbert Wiener’s recognition of structure and information as forms of energy and therefore subject to its laws, and this writer’s own work on the self-organizing nature of chaos, we certainly do see indicated a unity of domain which shows more than ever the conventional approach to teaching and learning not only profoundly anti-life but totally in the face of the nature of the universe itself.

— This constitutes one more stroke as THIS bit of self-organizing information seeks to swim expressively forward, growing by making sense through attempts at description. Now it’s your turn….

All types of energy may be ranged along this continuum between the two sets of descriptive laws. Each is governed by both sets of laws, but in varying proportions as indicated.Classical political science, economics, and psychology are based on scarcity only, even as are their respective definitions of “rationality.” 

That may be why the concepts of non-zero-sum games, including “Win/Win,” took so long to enter the culture and still have profound unrealized implications for all aspects of our life. 

Incidentally, the Utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, upon which all Western democracies are founded, also assumes that only scarcity pertains the vast historic creation of wealth has been a major philosophic embarrassment for Western democracy no less than for classical Marxism which we’ve seen so recently blow itself out of the water in such a spectacular fashion.

A Brief on Our Epistemological Differences at CPSI

The classical difference between the position of solipsism (our senses are the only reality we know) and of classical science (exterior reality is what matters and we’d best adjust our senses accordingly), here are seen not to be absolute differences. (一Even though in our Systems/Transformation base they sometimes sounded like absolute differences). Rather, they can be ranged along an epistemological continuum, which shows the argument to be over differences in mere degree as to how significant and interactive are our senses with some reality beyond them.

Range your own position along this continuum according to what you’ve found works for you, but give it some thought. A powerful case exists for our senses being the only reality we get to know — but clearly people get in trouble when they act on the idea that they can navigate by purely internal sense alone without reference to correction for external factors. Likewise, a powerful case exists for their being a reality beyond our senses; that both science and sanity are a matter of bringing our internal maps into closer correspondence with that external reality which they seek to be maps of. Yet yours truly has had to move to the right of that position, as shown, to accommodate the degree to which the territory, supposedly wholly independent of any of our maps thereof, can be affected by our maps. — Whether by structural resonance of some sort, or whether structural resemblance acts as antenna as regards some more fundamental forces and factors.

Incidentally, the emergence of “clean data processing,” a/k/a High Thinktank method, which makes it feasible to address any question or issue afresh without bias by expectations as to what we think the answer ought to be, has opened up a very wide window for further investigation both of epistemology (“What is truth and how do we find it?) and of all the other great issues and questions, in and out of the various branches of philosophy. 

Here are detailed accurate self-training in High Thinktank method.

IF there is a reality which is exterior to our conventional senses — a “territory” which our senses attempt to “map” —
* The map is NOT the territory.

Since no 2 things are entirely identical,
Our “maps” necessarily “err” or differ, to at least some degree, from the territories they seek to depict.

Our word for something, our picture or perception of something, our idea of or theory of something, even our feeling about something, is not that thing, the territory — it is only a map and so necessarily errs to at least some degree about that territory.

“Sanity,” no less than the goals of science, rests in accepting that error exists, in all instances, and working to improve the degree to which our maps approximate the territories they seek to depict.

To escape the confusion of maps of maps of maps: whenever possible, define actions or objects not in words but in terms of what you can point to root your maps closer to the territory!

— with apologies to Count Alfred Korzybsky, author of Science & Sanity: An Introduction to General Semantics. This misinterpretation is by Win Wenger.

<< Other Essays Index