In this paper we aim to show that phenomenal consciousness is realized by a particular level of brain operational organization and that understanding human consciousness requires a description of the laws of the immediately underlying neural collective phenomena, the nested hierarchy of electromagnetic fields of brain activity – operational architectonics. We argue that the subjective mental reality and the objective neurobiological reality, although seemingly worlds apart, are intimately connected along a unified metastable continuum and are both guided by the universal (...) laws of the physical world such as criticality, self-organization and emergence. (shrink)
Contemporary complexity theory has been instrumental in providing novel rigorous definitions for some classic philosophical concepts, including emergence. In an attempt to provide an account of emergence that is consistent with complexity and dynamical systems theory, several authors have turned to the notion of constraints on state transitions. Drawing on complexity theory directly, this paper builds on those accounts, further developing the constraint-based interpretation of emergence and arguing that such accounts recover many of the features of more traditional accounts. We (...) show that the constraint-based account of emergence also leads naturally into a meaningful definition of self-organization, another concept that has received increasing attention recently. Along the way, we distinguish between order and organization, two concepts which are frequently conflated. Finally, we consider possibilities for future research in the philosophy of complex systems, as well as applications of the distinctions made in this paper. (shrink)
The Darwinian concept of natural selection was conceived within a set of Newtonian background assumptions about systems dynamics. Mendelian genetics at first did not sit well with the gradualist assumptions of the Darwinian theory. Eventually, however, Mendelism and Darwinism were fused by reformulating natural selection in statistical terms. This reflected a shift to a more probabilistic set of background assumptions based upon Boltzmannian systems dynamics. Recent developments in molecular genetics and paleontology have put pressure on Darwinism once again. Current work (...) on self-organizing systems may provide a stimulus not only for increased problem solving within the Darwinian tradition, especially with respect to origins of life, developmental genetics, phylogenetic pattern, and energy-flow ecology, but for deeper understanding of the very phenomenon of natural selection itself. Since self-organizational phenomena depend deeply on stochastic processes, self-organizational systems dynamics advance the probability revolution. In our view, natural selection is an emergent phenomenon of physical and chemical selection. These developments suggest that natural selection may be grounded in physical law more deeply than is allowed by advocates of the autonomy of biology, while still making it possible to deny, with autonomists, that evolutionary explanations can be modeled in terms of a deductive relationship between laws and cases. We explore the relationship between, chance, self-organization, and selection as sources of order in biological systems in order to make these points. (shrink)
Recent work on self organization promises an explanation of complex order which is independent of adaptation. Self-organizing systems are complex systems of simple units, projecting order as a consequence of localized and generally nonlinear interactions between these units. Stuart Kauffman offers one variation on the theme of self-organization, offering what he calls a ``statistical mechanics'' for complex systems. This paper explores the explanatory strategies deployed in this ``statistical mechanics,'' initially focusing on the autonomy of statistical explanation as it applies (...) in evolutionary settings and then turning to Kauffman's analysis. Two primary morals emerge as a consequence of this examination: first, the view that adaptation and self-organization should be seen as competing theories or models is misleading and simplistic; and second, while we need a synthesis treating self-organization and adaptation as geared toward different problems, at different levels of organization, and deploying different methods, we do not yet have such a synthesis. (shrink)
There is presently considerable interest in the phenomenon of "self-organisation" in dynamical systems. The rough idea of self-organisation is that a structure appears "by itself in a dynamical system, with reasonably high probability, in a reasonably short time, with no help from a special initial state, or interaction with an external system. What is often missed, however, is that the standard evolutionary account of the origin of multi-cellular life fits this definition, so that higher living organisms are also products of (...) self-organisation. Very few kinds of object can selforganise, and the question of what such objects are like is a suitable mathematical problem. Extending the familiar notion of algorithmic complexity into the context of dynamical systems, we obtain a notion of "dynamical complexity". A simple theorem then shows that only objects of very low dynamical complexity can self organise, so that living organisms must be of low dynamical complexity. On the other hand, symmetry considerations suggest that living organisms are highly complex, relative to the dynamical laws, due to their large size and high degree of irregularity. In particular, it is shown that since dynamical laws operate locally, and do not vary across space and time, they cannot produce any specific large and irregular structure with high probability in a short time. These arguments suggest that standard evolutionary theories of the origin of higher organisms are incomplete. (shrink)
Historical aspects of the issue are also broached. Intuitions relative to self-organization can be found in the works of such key Western philosophical figures as Aristotle, Leibniz and Kant. Interacting with more recent authors and cybernetics, self-organization represents a notion in keeping with the modern world’s discovery of radical complexity. The themes of teleology and emergence are analyzed by philosophers of sciences with regards to the issues of modelization and scientific explanation. (publisher, edited).
A growing body of evidence in cognitive psychology and neuroscience suggests a deep interconnection between sensory-motor and language systems in the brain. Based on recent neurophysiological findings on the anatomo-functional organization of the fronto-parietal network, we present a computational model showing that language processing may have reused or co-developed organizing principles, functionality, and learning mechanisms typical of premotor circuit. The proposed model combines principles of Hebbian topological self-organization and prediction learning. Trained on sequences of either motor or linguistic units, (...) the network develops independent neuronal chains, formed by dedicated nodes encoding only context-specific stimuli. Moreover, neurons responding to the same stimulus or class of stimuli tend to cluster together to form topologically connected areas similar to those observed in the brain cortex. Simulations support a unitary explanatory framework reconciling neurophysiological motor data with established behavioral evidence on lexical acquisition, access, and recall. (shrink)
Four articles in this issue of topiCS (volume 4, issue 1) argue against a computational approach in cognitive science in favor of a dynamical approach. I concur that the computational approach faces some considerable explanatory challenges. Yet the dynamicists’ proposal that cognition is self-organized seems to only go so far in addressing these challenges. Take, for instance, the hypothesis that cognitive behavior emerges when brain and body (re-)configure to satisfy task and environmental constraints. It is known that for certain systems (...) of constraints, no procedure can exist (whether modular, local, centralized, or self-organized) that reliably finds the right configuration in a realistic amount of time. Hence, the dynamical approach still faces the challenge of explaining how self-organized constraint satisfaction can be achieved by human brains and bodies in real time. In this commentary, I propose a methodology that dynamicists can use to try to address this challenge. (shrink)
This paper approaches dreaming consciousness through an examination of the self-organizing properties of the sleeping brain. This view offers a step toward reconciliation between brain-based and content-based attempts to understand the nature of dreaming. Here it is argued that the brain can be understood as a complex self-organizing system that in dreaming responds to subtle influences such as residual feelings and memories. The hyper-responsiveness of the brain during dreaming is viewed in terms of the tendency of complex chaotic-like systems to (...) respond to small variations in initial conditions and to the amplification of subtle emotional and cognitive signals through the mechanism of stochastic resonance, all in combination with psychophysiological changes in the brain during both slow wave sleep and REM sleep dreaming. Such changes include the active inhibition of extroceptive stimulation and, especially in REM sleep, alterations in the brain's dominant neuromodulatory systems, bombardment of the visual cortex with bursts of PGO activity, increases in limbic system activity, and a reduction of activity in the prefrontal regions. (shrink)
The representation of knowledge in the law has basically followed a rule-based logical-symbolic paradigm. This paper aims to show how the modeling of legal knowledge can be re-examined using connectionist models, from the perspective of the theory of the dynamics of unstable systems and chaos. We begin by showing the nature of the paradigm shift from a rule-based approach to one based on dynamic structures and by discussing how this would translate into the field of theory of law. In order (...) to show the full potential of this new approach, we start from an experiment with NEUROLEX, in which a neural network was used to model a corpus of French Council of State decisions. We examine the implications of this experiment, especially those concerning the limits of the model used, and show that other connectionist models might correspond more adequately to the nature of legal knowledge. Finally, we propose another neural model which could show not only the rules which emerge from legal qualification (NEUROLEX's goal), but also the way in which a legal qualification process evolves from one concept to another. (shrink)
Most versions of the knowledge argument say that, since scientists observing my brain wouldn't know what my consciousness "is like," consciousness isn't describable as a physical process. Although this argument unwarrantedly equates the physical with the empirically observable, we can conclude, not that consciousness is nonphysical but that consciousness isn't identical with anything empirically observable. But what kind of mind&endash;body relation would render possible this empirical inaccessibility of consciousness? Even if multiple realizability may allow a distinction between consciousness and its (...) physical substrata, why does this distinction make consciousness empirically unobservable? The reason must be that the emotions motivating attention direction, partly constitutive of phenomenal states, are executed, not undergone by self-organizing processes actively appropriating and replacing needed physical substrata; we feel motivations by generating them. But all consciousness is motivated; visual cortex activation is unconscious of red unless the emotional limbic system and anterior cingulate motivatedly "look for" red. Experiencing entails executing motivations. Experimenters do know what subjects' brain events "are like" ---; but from the standpoint of the experimenter's motivational processes. (shrink)
Problem: Many disciplines talk about “ learning “, but since each of them relates this term to another domain of reference, each one selects, by this term, other phenomena that are then called “ learning.‘ Method: This article does not strive for a substantial definition of “ learning ‘ nor does it compete with psychological and pedagogical theories of learning, which are therefore not discussed. Instead I will analyse how we talk about learning and whether or not we might perhaps (...) improve the plausibility of this discourse by applying a crucial constructivist concept, namely self - organisation. The main idea of this article reads as follows: “ Learning ‘ serves as an explanatory model for the observation of a specific type of change that happens in terms of contingent self -alterations of self -organising systems. The changing system and the observer of this system are inseparably related to one another since there “is‘ no change without an observation. Thus, talking about learning means talking about the observer and his culture of observation, description and evaluation at the same time. Benefits: The results of my analysis of the learning discourse are neither meant to serve as how-to knowledge for ameliorating learning processes nor do I regard them as an elaborated or new theory of learning as some ideas developed in this paper have a long tradition. Instead they can contribute to a more complex observation of these processes, aiming at a second order observation of the complicated, since complementary, interrelations between the individual, the socio- cultural, the institutional, and the situational components of the domain called “ learning.‘ In other words, I try to demonstrate the plausibility of observing learning from the perspective of self - organisation. (shrink)
In this research we apply the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to study decisions related to information privacy protection. A TPB-based model was proposed to investigate whether organization-based self-esteem and perceived deindividuation can be employed to measure the strength of the perceived behavioral control construct. In addition, we examined if the addition of a causal path linking subjective norms to attitudes and another causal path linking organization-based self-esteem to subjective norms enhanced our research model's predicting power. Our study shows that (...) information systems (IS) professionals' intentions to protect personal information privacy are influenced by their attitudes, subjective norms, perceived deindividuation, and organization-based self-esteem. It further shows that attitudes are influenced by subjective norms, which, in turn, are influenced by organization-based self-esteem. (shrink)
Knowing only what is empirically knowable can't by itself entail knowledge of what consciousness "is like." But if dualism is to be avoided, the question arises: how can a process be completely empirically unobservable when all of its components are completely observable? The recently emerging theory of self-organization offers resources with which to resolve this problem: Consciousness can be an empirically unobservable process because the emotions motivating attention are experienced only from the perspective of the one whose phenomenal states (...) are executed by the self-organizing processes which themselves constitute the consciousness. I argue that a self-organizing process can differ from the sum of its (empirically observable) substrata because, rather than just being realized by them, it actively rearranges the background conditions under which alternative component causal sequences can realize the self-organizing pattern into the future. (shrink)
We describe a “centipede’s dilemma” that faces the sciences of human interaction. Research on human interaction has been involved in extensive theoretical debate, although the vast majority of research tends to focus on a small set of human behaviors, cognitive processes, and interactive contexts. The problem is that naturalistic human interaction must integrate all of these factors simultaneously, and grander theoretical mitigation cannot come only from focused experimental or computational agendas. We look to dynamical systems theory as a framework for (...) thinking about how these multiple behaviors, processes, and contexts can be integrated into a broader account of human interaction. By introducing and utilizing basic concepts of self-organization and synergy, we review empirical work that shows how human interaction is flexible and adaptive and structures itself incrementally during unfolding interactive tasks, such as conversation, or more focused goal-based contexts. We end on acknowledging that dynamical systems accounts are very short on concrete models, and we briefly describe ways that theoretical frameworks could be integrated, rather than endlessly disputed, to achieve some success on the centipede’s dilemma of human interaction. (shrink)
This article reviews the seven “visions” of evolution proposed by Depew and Weber , concluding that each posited relationship between natural selection and self-organization has suited different aims and approaches. In the second section of the article, we show that these seven viewpoints may be collapsed into three fundamentally different ones: natural selection drives evolution; self-organization drives evolution; and natural selection and self-organization are complementary aspects of the evolutionary process. We then argue that these three approaches are (...) not mutually exclusive, since each may apply to different stages of development of different systems. What emerges from our discussion is a more encompassing view: that self-organization proposes what natural selection disposes. (shrink)
The intuitive difference between a system that choreographs the motion of its parts in the service of goals of its own formulation and a system composed of a collection of parts doing their own thing without coordination has been shaken by now familiar examples of self-organization. There is a broad and growing presumption in parts of philosophy and across the sciences that the appearance of centralized information-processing and control in the service of system-wide goals is mere appearance, i.e., an (...) explanatory heuristic we have evolved to predict behavior, but one that will eventually get swept away in the advancing tide of self-organization. I argue that there is a distinction of central importance here, and that no adequate science of complex systems can dispense with it. (shrink)
Over the past decades, self-assembly has attracted a lot of research attention and transformed the relations between chemistry, materials science and biology. The paper explores the impact of the current interest in self-assembly techniques on the traditional debate over the nature of life. The first section describes three different research programs of self-assembly in nanotechnology in order to characterize their metaphysical implications: (1) Hybridization (using the building blocks of living systems for making devices and machines) ; (2) Biomimetics (making artifacts (...) mimicking nature); (3) Integration (a composite of the two previous strategies). The second section focused on the elusive boundary between self-assembly and self-organization tries to map out the various positions adopted by the promoters of self-assembly on the issue of vitalism. (shrink)
In their book, Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection, Depew and Weber argued for the need to address the relationship between self-organization and natural selection in evolutionary theory, and focused on seven “visions” for doing so. Recently, Batten et al. in a paper in this journal, entitled “Visions of evolution: self-organization proposes what natural selection disposes,” picked up the issue with the work of Depew and Weber as a starting point. While the efforts of (...) both sets of authors are to be commended, there are substantive errors in both the presentations of my work and of my work with colleagues that undermine theirs. My purpose here is to correct the errors in question, thereby removing the undermining effects and in so doing reassert the position my colleagues and I first advanced more than two decades ago, and that I still stand by and argue for today. The central points are as follows: Self-organization or spontaneous ordering is a process of selection; this selection process is governed by a “physical selection principle”; this principle is the law of maximum entropy production; and natural selection is a special case where the components are replicating. (shrink)
This article discusses the issue of social and cultural ‘autotranscendence’ - self-production, creativity - in the debates on self-organization. The point of departure is Cornelius Castoriadis’s idea of ‘self-creation’. First, a schisma between mechanical and ontological modeling is indicated and used to introduce the idea of a ‘creative organization’. This is further discussed in relation to Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s concept of social ‘autotranscendence’ by ‘complex methodological individualism’, with particular respect to the incomprehension of the social. Following Johann P. Arnason’s treatment (...) of the question of cultural articulation in Castoriadis, the article argues that the problem of autotranscendence presents a further problem of self-creation discernible in Castoriadis’s notions of phusis/nomos, living being/human, and constraint/magma. The article closes with a consideration of Duncan Watts, Alberto-László Barabási and Bernardo Huberman’s sketch of a network sociology. (shrink)
Here we discuss the challenge posed by self-organization to the Darwinian conception of evolution. As we point out, natural selection can only be the major creative agency in evolution if all or most of the adaptive complexity manifest in living organisms is built up over many generations by the cumulative selection of naturally occurring small, random mutations or variants, i.e., additive, incremental steps over an extended period of time. Biological self-organization—witnessed classically in the folding of a protein, or (...) in the formation of the cell membrane—is a fundamentally different means of generating complexity. We agree that self-organizing systems may be fine-tuned by selection and that self-organization may be therefore considered a complementary mechanism to natural selection as a causal agency in the evolution of life. But we argue that if self-organization proves to be a common mechanism for the generation of adaptive order from the molecular to the organismic level, then this will greatly undermine the Darwinian claim that natural selection is the major creative agency in evolution. We also point out that although complex self-organizing systems are easy to create in the electronic realm of cellular automata, to date translating in silico simulations into real material structures that self-organize into complex forms from local interactions between their constituents has not proved easy. This suggests that self-organizing systems analogous to those utilized by biological systems are at least rare and may indeed represent, as pre-Darwinists believed, a unique ascending hierarchy of natural forms. Such a unique adaptive hierarchy would pose another major challenge to the current Darwinian view of evolution, as it would mean the basic forms of life are necessary features of the order of nature and that the major pathways of evolution are determined by physical law, or more specifically by the self-organizing properties of biomatter, rather than natural selection. (shrink)
In 1900, the physicist Henri Bénard exhibited the spontaneous formation of cells in a layer of liquid heated from below. Six or seven decades later, drastic reinterpretations of this experiment formed an important component of ‘chaos theory’. This paper therefore is an attempt at writing the history of this experiment, its long neglect and its rediscovery. It examines Bénard’s experiments from three different perspectives. First, his results are viewed in the light of the relation between experimental and mathematical approaches in (...) fluid mechanics, leading to a re-examination of the long-term reception of Bénard’s results among fluid dynamicists up to the chaos craze, whereby the traditional emphasis placed on mathematical physics is counterbalanced by greater attention to experimental approaches. Second, we focus on Bénard’s own way of using his results as analogies that could help grasp something about the reason why inorganic matter may structure itself in ways reminiscent of living forms. This is shown to resonate strongly with Prigogine’s work in the 1960s and 1970s. Third, Bénard’s adoption of the cinematograph as his preferred experimental instrument is interpreted as having reinforced his long-misunderstood belief that he had exhibited a form of self-organization essential to the understanding of life.Keywords: Bénard cells; Henri Poincaré; Chaos; Fluid mechanics; Cinematograph; Self-organization. (shrink)
The paper draws a parallel between natural language symbols and the symbolic mode in living systems. The inextricability of symbols and the dynamics with which they are functionally related shows that much of their structuring is due to dynamics and self-organization. It is also stressed that important factors that determine the shape of language structure lie outside individual mind/brains and they draw on time-scales quite different from those of phenomenological experience. Analysis of language into units and subsystems is thus (...) not straightforward, since they show functionality on many levels and many time-scales. Finally it is recognized that, as a specific and specialized system of inter-individual coordination, natural language is many hierarchical levels away form simpler forms of information transmission in biological systems. (shrink)
The philosophical foundations of the theory of molecular self-organization (TMS) are reconstructed and compared with the explicit methodological statements made by occasions by its author(s). Special attention is paid to those philosophical fundamentals of TMS which can turn out helpful in answering the question evoking vivid discussions in the philosophy of nature of the recent decades: whether it is possible to search for a physico-chemical explanation of the genesis of life and at the same time defend its specific character. (...) In other words: do the latest findings in self-organization of prebiological molecules allow to overcome the traditional disjunction “either physics or evolution” and to replace it with the conjunction “physics and evolution”? (shrink)
Foremost among the tasks facing a semiotically-informed modeling of natural open systems is the recognition and representation of self-organization. This forces attention on process, time, and energetics to complement the conventional semiotic bias toward structure, space, and informatics. While self -organization might be captured in numerous operational idioms, we suggest that the fundamentally distinctive formal structures of (a) development (intrinsic predictability) and (b) evolution (unexpected change through change in contextual meaning) constitute thewarp and woof of virtually all observations on (...) systems undergoing change, and that, since these represent complementary orientations toward phenomena generally, interaction of these styles of change within systems can lead to generic models of enormous utility in many fields. (shrink)
Division of labor and its associated phenomena have been viewed as prime examples of group-level adaptations. However, the adaptations are the result of the process of evolution by natural selection and thus require that groups of insects once existed and competed for reproduction, some of which had a heritable division of labor while others did not. We present models, based on those of Kauffman (1984) that demonstrate how division of labor may occur spontaneously among groups of mutually tolerant individuals. We (...) propose that division of labor itself is not a product of natural selection but instead is a "typical" outcome of self organization. (shrink)
'Self organization' is a popular theme in current studies of human social activity, enterprises, and information technology (IT). This document introduces one well developed theory of self organization (autopoietic theory) and discusses its application to enterprises and their management.
This chapter describes the application of reduction concepts in emergence and self organization of complex dynamical system. Condition-dependent laws compress and dynamical equation sets provide implicit compressed representations even when most of that information is not explicitly available without decompression. And, paradoxically, there is still the determined march of fundamental analytical dynamics expanding its compression reach toward a Theory of Everything—even while the more rapidly expanding domain of complex systems dynamics confronts its assumptions and its monolithicity. Nor does science fall (...) apart into a disunified aggregate of particular cases since, with fundamental dynamics as a backbone, complex matching up of models across theoretical and empirical domains then articulates its model-structured skeleton. Discussion provides the delicately entwined dance of emergence and reduction providing constraints on compression that also permit its expansion. However, while the vision is not dead, it is currently substantially more complexly structured through model similarities and differences than that initially envisaged and individuals are left with deep questions about compression unresolved. (shrink)
(1993). Towards a theory of self‐organization of natural and Social systems: The theory of form. World Futures: Vol. 38, Theoretical Achievements and Practical Applications of General Evolutionary Theory, pp. 139-148.
QED is a fundamental microscopic theory satisfying all the conservation laws and discrete symmetries C, P, T. Yet, dissipative phenomena, organization, and self-organization occur even at this basic microscopic two-body level. How these processes come about and how they are described in QED is discussed. A possible new phase of QED due to self-energy effects leading to self-organization is predicted.
Recent neurophysiological observations are giving rise to the expectation that in the near future genuine biological experiments may contribute more than will premature speculations to the understanding of global and cognitive functions. The classical reflex principle — as the basis of neural functions — has to yield to new ideas, like autopoiesis and/or self-organization, as the basic paradigm in the framework of which the essence of the neural can be better understood. Neural activity starts in the very earliest stages (...) of development well before receptors and afferent input become functional. Under suitable conditions, both in nervous tissue cultures and in embryonic tissue recombination experiments, the conditions of such initial autopoietic activity can be studied. This paper tries to generalize this elementary concept for various neural centers, notably for the spinal segmental apparatus and the cerebral cortex. (shrink)