This novel approach to epistemological discourse explains the complex but crucial role that systematization plays-not just for the organization of what we know, but also for its validation. Cognitive Harmony argues for a new conception of the process philosophers generally call induction.
Relying on the root definition of harmony, a coherent unification of component parts (systemic integrity) in such a way that the final object can successfully accomplish what it was meant to do (evaluative positivity), Rescher discusses the role of harmony in cognitive contexts, the history of cognitive harmony, and the various features it has in producing human knowledge. The book ends on the issue of philosophy and the sort of harmony required of philosophical systems.
Complexity science transects many fields ranging from physics to economics to biology. Its focus is the study of systems of interacting factors, which has lately been extended to include behavior in human societies. In prehistoric societies, whether these agents are defined at the scale of individuals, groups, households, or villages all agents are connected in such a way that change in the actions of one affects many others.
Complex Systems and Archaeology presents a useful introduction to complexity theory followed by a series of case studies in which human societies and environments are viewed as open systems into and out of which matter or energy can flow. Examples of such systems include the introduction of new crops, the creation of new artifacts, or the flux of products in a market.
This volume will have important implications for how archaeologists understand the dynamics of culture change and how they think about chronological stages, unique events, and the role of human agents.
Using an energy systems language that combines energetics, kinetics, information, cybernetics, and simulation, Ecological and General Systems compares models of many fields of science, helping to derive general systems principles.
First published as Systems Ecology in 1983, Ecological and General Systems proposes principles of self-organization and the designs that prevail by maximizing power and efficiency. Comparisons to fifty other systems languages are provided. Innovative presentations are given on earth homeostasis (Gaia); the inadequacy of presenting equations without network relationships and energy constraints; the alternative interpretation of high entropy complexity as adaptive structure; basic equations of ecological economics; and the energy basis of scientific hierarchy.
Part I introduces energetics, hierarchy, and systems modeling. Part II features design elements: intersections, autocatalytic modules, loops, series, parallel elements, and webs. Part III includes embodied energy, spectra of energy quality, temperature, complexity, spatial distribution, and diversity. Part IV discusses production, consumption, ecosystems, succession, economic systems, anthropological models, urban and regional models, global biogeochemistry, and the universe.
Emerging in the 1940s, the first cybernetics—the study of communication and control systems—was mainstreamed under the names artificial intelligence and computer science and taken up by the social sciences, the humanities, and the creative arts. In Emergence and Embodiment, Bruce Clarke and Mark B. N. Hansen focus on cybernetic developments that stem from the second-order turn in the 1970s, when the cyberneticist Heinz von Foerster catalyzed new thinking about the cognitive implications of self-referential systems. The crucial shift he inspired was from first-order cybernetics’ attention to homeostasis as a mode of autonomous self-regulation in mechanical and informatic systems, to second-order concepts of self-organization and autopoiesis in embodied and metabiotic systems. The collection opens with an interview with von Foerster and then traces the lines of neocybernetic thought that have followed from his work.
In response to the apparent dissolution of boundaries at work in the contemporary technosciences of emergence, neocybernetics observes that cognitive systems are operationally bounded, semi-autonomous entities coupled with their environments and other systems. Second-order systems theory stresses the recursive complexities of observation, mediation, and communication. Focused on the neocybernetic contributions of von Foerster, Francisco Varela, and Niklas Luhmann, this collection advances theoretical debates about the cultural, philosophical, and literary uses of their ideas. In addition to the interview with von Foerster, Emergence and Embodiment includes essays by Varela and Luhmann. It engages with Humberto Maturana’s and Varela’s creation of the concept of autopoiesis, Varela’s later work on neurophenomenology, and Luhmann’s adaptations of autopoiesis to social systems theory. Taken together, these essays illuminate the shared commitments uniting the broader discourse of neocybernetics.
Contributors. Linda Brigham, Bruce Clarke, Mark B. N. Hansen, Edgar Landgraf, Ira Livingston, Niklas Luhmann, Hans-Georg Moeller, John Protevi, Michael Schiltz, Evan Thompson, Francisco J. Varela, Cary Wolfe
In recent decades, Susan Oyama and her colleagues in the burgeoning field of developmental systems theory have rejected the determinism inherent in the nature/nurture debate, arguing that behavior cannot be reduced to distinct biological or environmental causes. In Evolution’s Eye Oyama elaborates on her pioneering work on developmental systems by spelling out that work’s implications for the fields of evolutionary theory, developmental and social psychology, feminism, and epistemology. Her approach profoundly alters our understanding of the biological processes of development and evolution and the interrelationships between them. While acknowledging that, in an uncertain world, it is easy to “blame it on the genes,” Oyama claims that the renewed trend toward genetic determinism colors the way we think about everything from human evolution to sexual orientation and personal responsibility. She presents instead a view that focuses on how a wide variety of developmental factors interact in the multileveled developmental systems that give rise to organisms. Shifting attention away from genes and the environment as causes for behavior, she convincingly shows the benefits that come from thinking about life processes in terms of developmental systems that produce, sustain, and change living beings over both developmental and evolutionary time. Providing a genuine alternative to genetic and environmental determinism, as well as to unsuccessful compromises with which others have tried to replace them, Evolution’s Eye will fascinate students and scholars who work in the fields of evolution, psychology, human biology, and philosophy of science. Feminists and others who seek a more complex view of human nature will find her work especially congenial.
The papers collected in this volume exemplify some of the trends in current approaches to logic, language and computation. Written by authors with varied academic backgrounds, the contributions are intended for an interdisciplinary audience. The first part of this volume addresses issues relevant for multi-agent systems: reasoning with incomplete information, reasoning about knowledge and beliefs, and reasoning about games. Proofs as formal objects form the subject of Part II. Topics covered include: contributions on logical frameworks, linear logic, and different approaches to formalized reasoning. Part III focuses on representations and formal methods in linguistic theory, addressing the areas of comparative and temporal expressions, modal subordination, and compositionality.
A groundbreaking look at Gaia theory’s intersections with neocybernetic systems theory
Often seen as an outlier in science, Gaia has run a long and varied course since its formulation in the 1970s by atmospheric chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis. Gaian Systems is a pioneering exploration of the dynamic and complex evolution of Gaia’s many variants, with special attention to Margulis’s foundational role in these developments.
Bruce Clarke assesses the different dialects of systems theory brought to bear on Gaia discourse. Focusing in particular on Margulis’s work—including multiple pieces of her unpublished Gaia correspondence—he shows how her research and that of Lovelock was concurrent and conceptually parallel with the new discourse of self-referential systems that emerged within neocybernetic systems theory. The recent Gaia writings of Donna Haraway, Isabelle Stengers, and Bruno Latour contest its cybernetic status. Clarke engages Latour on the issue of Gaia’s systems description and extends his own systems-theoretical synthesis under what he terms “metabiotic Gaia.” This study illuminates current issues in neighboring theoretical conversations—from biopolitics and the immunitary paradigm to NASA astrobiology and the Anthropocene. Along the way, he points to science fiction as a vehicle of Gaian thought.
Delving into many issues not previously treated in accounts of Gaia, Gaian Systems describes the history of a theory that has the potential to help us survive an environmental crisis of our own making.