by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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Apologia: Attempts to delineate and pin down matters which were (initially) at the very edges of the writer’s perception, are not always compatible with clear easy reading for a broad audience. This document will eventually be revised or replaced with what a broader range of readership will find easily understandable. For now, it seems most important to get these perceptions and concepts into useful discussion and critical/creative attention. Thank you for bearing with this, and for your own crucial contributions to come.

A key understanding: Any continuing dynamic, of two or more elements interacting, over time necessarily conforms to the natural laws governing intermodulation.

What does this mean?

Consistent characteristics of intermodulation structure and behavior will necessarily describe the structure and behavior of any dynamic with several elements continuing to interact over an extended period of time. Note:

  • Interaction = system, by definition (all events are interactions, by definition, also!). All such events or interactions are examples of systems behavior and conform within the patterns of systems behavior.
  • Closely parallel streams of events interact; i.e., modulate each other; i.e., intermodulate and so behave in the patterns characteristically defined for the phenomena of intermodulation.
  • Intermodulation of two elements = predictable system behavior.
  • Intermodulation of three or more elements, as in astronomy’s classical 3-body problem, means “strange attractors” and behaviors which pattern out in ways best described by the mathematics of fractals.

Around this statement may be subsumed most, or perhaps even all, generalizations concerning extended relationships, including extended societal relationships.

Fractal pattern by Jacob Yerex
Fractal pattern by Jacob Yerex

For example, whatever consistencies of behavior exist in a given relationship, if you add a new element in that relationship, you get a whole fractal spray of new behavior—yet behavior which in some way continues to convey in some recognizable way the patterns of earlier behavior.

For another example, Arnold Toynbee observed, concerning a long-standing frontier between two or more societies, that the power advantage tends to drift to the weaker of the two over time. (See Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History. London: Oxford University Press, 1936-48.)

The fractal spray of patterned activities tends to fill in the hitherto unexpressed possibilities. Ecology observes similar relationships between competing species and between competing ecosystems. Biology observes a tendency between two or more conflicting species to equilibriate, in a varied habitat, at least, short of the point of extinction of the one, so that each of the species and their relationships tend to continue in action. Biology also observes that famous long-term progression of relationships, from predator-prey (and killer-disease/victim); to parasitical; to mutually advantaged symbiosis, the oldest example of which is in every one of our body’s cells as mitochondria.

All of this is driven, of course, by, among other things, the tendency of systems whose behaviors build advantage and/or a survivability margin to advance relative to those systems which do not. (Thus, between disasters, Earth’s ecosystems tend to become ever richer and more varied.)

Everything I’ve said in my book on general systems theory (Win Wenger, Ph.D., Toward A General Theory of Systems: One Man’s Window on Our Universe. Gaithersburg, MD: Library of the Republic of the Sciences, Project Renaissance, 1981) is subsumed under this discussion. Especially since, starting with chaos, I classified all types of systems according to their respective strategies, once formed, for resisting entropy (2nd Law of Thermodynamics — “entropy” — the tendency to be destroyed and their “elements returned to the soup”). Given available energy and sufficient scope and time, the elements of chaos or a chaotic situation necessarily tend to drift into or “clump up” in systems or relationships which, for one reason or another, are relatively longer lasting in duration.

The universe of sub-atomic particles described this negentropic path into order, long ago. The atomic, molecular and macroscopic universe is evolving along such a path now, with its “upper outcroppings” consisting of those complexly homeostatic forms best described as being “life” or “alive”—and whose “upper outcroppings” in turn may best be described as “intelligent”—and whose “upper outcroppings” may in turn perhaps be best described as “civilizations”—and whose “upper outcroppings,” in turn….?)

Nearly all long-lasting systems or dynamic arrangements, however arrived at, are complexly homeostatic because that is one of the very best effective strategies for avoiding for a while having one’s “elements returned to the soup.” Over sufficient time and scope, the elements of any chaos, as do the elements—or ingredients, if you prefer—of our present universe, cumulatively tend to drift into such longer-lasting systems/arrangements. Most of these are, by the efficacy of that strategy, complexly homeostatic.

This tendency is further and greatly amplified by some of those systems’ or arrangements’ having also hit upon the strategy of self-replication, vastly increasing the proportion of the universe which gets caught up in such arrangements.

Nearly all the longer-lasting among complexly homeostatic systems, surviving in a changing world, must by definition take in and incorporate into their own ongoing behaviors the feedbacks they receive from their behavior’s and presence’s effects on their surroundings. This by definition is psychology’s “law of effect,” so nearly all complexly homeostatic systems, living and non-living, are susceptible to “reinforcement.” The law of effect for animal behavior thus serves also as a law of all types of lifekind systems and of living and non-living systems. The prime law of animal behavior thus is a law of physics.

And, again by definition, it is the basis of unfolding Mandelbrot-like complexities and elaborations of fractal structure and behavior. (Complexly homeostatic systems incorporate a portion of their feedbacks into their own ongoing evolution, while remaining also recognizably themselves…)

More generally still, given the natural progression of arrangements (and/or systems) into arrangements of arrangements, systems of systems, and so on into ever more involved orders, we have the continuing propinquity of behaviors and streams of events which fulfill every definition for the conditions of intermodulation.

It is the writer’s contention that to pull together, into one conceptual frame and inquiry, all the observations made in various sciences and specialties regarding behaviors and/or events playing off one-another (i.e., intermodulation), from physical acoustics and holography and orbital mechanics in astronomy, and likewise from various of the life sciences and even from historical observations, will prove enormously productive of further understandings.

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