Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2009, Brisbane, Australia, Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

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GETTING (EMPIRICALLY) BACK TO(WARDS) (PRE-)(EXISTENTIAL) BASICS

Ron Cottam, Willy Ranson, Roger Vounckx

Abstract


Hierarchical systems are understandably of great interest because of the apparent difficulty in understanding them. They are, by their very nature, the result of some kind of evolution, whether of themselves or of some precursor or template. In many ways their developments parallel the evolution of organisms, in their environmental sensitivity and their existential dependence on some kind of relative cost function. Natural evolution is notorious for scavenging earlier evolved characteristics in its search for survivalist advantage, and consequently a current hierarchical instantiation may be far from its evolutionary template, and may consequently be inadvertently driven to extinction. A major source of this estrangement derives from a primary support for the establishment of hierarchy: the belief that formal fractionation of a large group of elements can lead to stronger cohesion and a more unified purpose. But where does this apparent contradiction come from? How is it that we can believe that the best way to unify a system is by splitting it up? In this paper we address the appearance of this phenomenon in the natural world, and relate its implementation to examples from many domains of systemic study.

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