|The Mexican sierra [fish] has "XVII-15-IX" spines in
the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted ... We could, if we wished, describe the
sierra thus: "D. XVII-15-IX; A. II-15-IX," but we could see the fish alive and
swimming, feel it plunge against the lines, drag it threshing over the rail, and even
finally eat it. And there is no reason why either approach should be inaccurate.
Spine-count description need not suffer because another approach is also used. Perhaps,
out of the two approaches we thought there might emerge a picture more complete and even
more accurate that either alone could produce.
-- John Steinbeck, novelist, with Edward Ricketts, marine biologist (1941)
Lively topical discussions open to all.
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Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens lost touch with reality while transforming the world
Written/Edited by: James A.
Coffman & Donald C. Mikulecky
2012, ISBN 9781938158049 (160 pages), Emergent Publications
The Global Economy that
sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result,
civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But
changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given
that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into
such a fix?
In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct.
This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse of civilization.
Coffman and Mikulecky take on the pillars of Enlightenment science—determinism, conservation and the continuum—and leave them in rubble. They see the scientific wisdom of the 20th Century departing ever further from reality, casting society into a breach of deep cognitive dissonance, a.k.a., insanity!
Robert E. Ulanowicz
Department of Biology, University of Florida
Hooked on growth and headed for collapse. It is a depressing story. But Coffman and Mikulecky offer hope in focusing on the rebirth that will follow. And more importantly, they provide the intellectual tools for comprehending the broad sweep of what is taking place. A 21st Century analysis for a 21st Century problem.
Science writer and author of Going Inside: A Tour Around a Single Moment of Consciousness
This is a very current critique. The authors assemble input from most of the unfolding perspectives in science—self-organization, complexity, development, emergence, Aristotelian causal analysis, and internalism/semiotics... to suggest ways of formulating our cultural and social problems in hopes of generating a rational standpoint for confronting them.
Professor Emeritus, Biology, City University of New York and Visiting Scientist in Biological Sciences Binghamton University
ORDER THE BOOK
A NEW CHAPTER:
0r view on line
A Whole NEW Volume full of new work by Rosen's Students, Colleagues, Critics and others
System Theory and Biocomplexity
(Commemorative Issue, Robert Rosen)
Chemistry and Biodiversity: Volume 4. Issue 10 October 2007
A NEW BOOK BY A. H. LOUIE:
MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF: A SYNTHETIC CONTINUATION IN RELATIONAL BIOLOGY
A. H. Louie’s More Than Life Itself is an exploratory journey in relational biology, a study of life in terms of the organization of entailment relations in living systems. This book represents a synergy of the mathematical theories of categories, lattices, and modelling, and the result is a synthetic biology that provides a characterization of life. Biology extends physics. Life is not a specialization of mechanism, but an expansive generalization of it. Organisms and machines share some common features, but organisms are not machines. Life is defined by a relational closure that places it beyond the reach of physicochemical and mechanistic dogma, outside the reductionistic universe, and into the realm of impredicativity. Function dictates structure. Complexity brings forth living beings.
NEW PHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR COGNITIVE SCIENCE
Stephen W. Kercel, University of New England
Journal of Mind and Behavior 29: 159-193 (2008)
TOPOLOGY AND LIFE REDUX: RELATIONAL DIAGRAMS OF LIVING SYSTEMS
A. H. Louie and Stephen W. Kercel
Axiomatics 17: 109-136 (2007)
Complexity Science as an Aspect of the Complexity of Science
in Worldviews, Science and Us
pp 30 - 53
Carlos Gershenson, Diedrik Aerts, and Bruce Edmonds, Editors
World Scientific 2007
The circle that never ends: Can complexity be made simple?
appearing in "Complexity in Chemistry, Biology, and Ecology", D. Bonchev and D. H. Rouvray, Eds., KLUWER Academic, New York, 2005.
REDUCTIONISM AND COMPLEXITY: CONTINUUM OR DICHOTOMY?
Download the ppt presentation
Don't look at the whole organism: Framing the question in science
Download the power point presentation
LINK TO VCU CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF BIOLOGICAL COMPLEXITY
LINK TO A NEW PAGE ON ROSEN
vcu | documents | links | help
We are a group of people who have been deeply influenced by the works of Robert Rosen* in theoretical biology, systems science and epistemology. Constructivism is a somewhat more familiar approach to those in the social sciences. Located at VCU we had discussions, graduate seminars, and honors modules focusing on Rosen's work in the main . This stage of activity has now become dormant with the retirement of Don Mikulecky. If we seek to explore these ideas further, it will be necessary to continue here in cyberspace or in the new Complexity Center at VCU. We hope to achieve synthesis wherever possible, and when necessary to become informed critics. As time has allowed us, we have begun to understand Rosen's work more thoroughly, and, in particular, his definition of complexity which is closely captured by the quote above. We now seek to move ahead and extend the horizons established by Rosen and others. We invite others to join us in this venture.
THE LIST AND THIS PAGE ARE CHANGING ONCE MORE:
The old "complexity list" was closed down in 2002. It has been replaced by another list more selectively focusing on carrying forward the work of Robert Rosen. We welcome list members comments, contributions, and suggestions. To join use Don Mikulecky's e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
To aid in understanding terminology used we are in the process of providing a Glossary of terms (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
This glossary is meant to be fluid, changing, and a reflection of the diverse views of our discussants.
DISCUSSION ARCHIVES(Old and NEW)
We send our discussions out over e-mail so that others, who are not here can join in. You will find Don Mikulecky's e-mail link email@example.com. if you wish to join. Some of the focus for our discussion has been the books listed below. As we have progressed we have gone deeper into the works of Robert Rosen and use those works as a source for our working definitions, etc. This means joining the list entails taking the trouble of trying to find out what the topic is and the terms being used are before joining in. Rosen's book "Life Itself" is a good way to begin. This can be followed up by the bibliography we supply here. The world is changing and we hope to change with it as well as change it. We invite anyone interested to join us. We caution you that this is not a chat forum and that discussions will often be at the level of graduate seminars previously taught at VCU.
See the new book by A. H. Louie:
MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF: A SYNTHETIC CONTINUATION IN RELATIONAL BIOLOGY
The Web Page for the
category theory mailing list moderated by Bob Rosebrugh ,
firstname.lastname@example.org of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Mount Allison
Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Eds.: G. Goos, J. Hartmanis, J. van Leeuwen. Vol. 953 1995. VII, 252 pp. Softcover $49.00 ISBN 3-540-60164-3
Papers on category theory
John Baez on Category Theory
John Baez Homepage
These sites do not neccessarily reflect our view of complexity, but do show the diversity of research on the subject.
We are located at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia, USA.
This page does not reflect an official position of Virginia Commonwealth University.
This site is maintained by D. C. Mikulecky and any questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com.
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