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ROBERT ROSEN AND GEORGE LAKOFF: THE ROLE OF CAUSALITY IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS Donald C Mikulecky Professor emeritus and Senior Fellow in the VCU Center for.

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Presentation on theme: "ROBERT ROSEN AND GEORGE LAKOFF: THE ROLE OF CAUSALITY IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS Donald C Mikulecky Professor emeritus and Senior Fellow in the VCU Center for."— Presentation transcript:

1 ROBERT ROSEN AND GEORGE LAKOFF: THE ROLE OF CAUSALITY IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS Donald C Mikulecky Professor emeritus and Senior Fellow in the VCU Center for the Study of Biological Complexity

2 ROBERT ROSEN STUDENT OF NICHOLAS RASHEVSKY WHO WAS THE FOUNDER OF THE MATHEMATICAL BIOLOGY PROGRAM AT CHICAGO. WROTE BOOKS ON NEURAL NETWORKS AND OTHER ASPECTS OF COMPLEXITY IN THE 1930S. WROTE ABOUT COMPLEXITY IN THE 1950S. AUTHOR OF MANY IMPORTANT BOOKS ON COMPLEXITY INCLUDING ANTICIPATORY SYSTEMS, LIFE ITSELF, AND ESSAYS ON LIFE ITSELF

3 GEORGE LAKOFF COGNITIVE LINGUISTISTICS DEVELOPED THE CONCEPT OF FRAMING MANY BOOKS USES COMPLEXITY THEORY IN A VERY EFFECTIVE WAY LOOKS AT CAUSALITY AS A CENTRAL ISSUE IN HIS ANALYSIS OF DIFFEREING WOLD VIEWS HIS WORK HAS A DIRECT BEARING ON COMPLEXITY SCIENCE

4 TWO OF LAKOFF’S RECENT BOOKS NEED OUR ATTENTION DON’T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT: KNOW YOUR VALUES AND FRAME THE DEBATE, CHELSEA GREEN, WHOSE FREEDOM: THE BATTLE OVER AMERICA’S MOST IMPORTANT IDEA, FARRAR,STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2006

5 WHAT IS “FRAMING THE QUESTION”?  BASED ON THE WORK OF GEORGE LAKOFF  COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS  FRAMES ARE THE MENTAL STRUCTURES THAT SHAPE THE WAY WE SEE THE WORLD  FACTS, DATA, MODELS, ETC. ONLY HAVE MEANING IN A CONTEXT  LEADS US TO A SCIENTIFIC APPLICATION OF FRAMING : ROSEN’S THEORY OF COMPLEXITY

6 THE MODELING RELATION: THE ESSENCE OF SCIENCE ALLOWS US TO ASSIGN MEANING TO THE WORLD AROUND US STANDS FOR OUR THINKING PROCESS CAUSALITY IN THE NATURAL SYSTEM IS DEALT WITH THROUGH IMPLICATION IN A FORMAL SYSTEM THERE IS AN ENCODING OF THE NATURAL SYSTEM INTO THE FORMAL SYSTEM AND A DECODING BACK WHEN IT ALL HANGS TOGETHER WE HAVE A MODEL

7 THE MODELING RELATION: A MODEL OF HOW WE MAKE MODELS, A SCIENCE OF FRAMING NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM ENCODING DECODING CAUSAL EVENT MANIPULATION

8 WE HAVE A USEFUL MODEL WHEN ARE SATISFACTORY WAYS OF “UNDERSTANDING” THE CHANGE IN THE WORLD “OUT THERE”

9 THE MODELING RELATION: A MODEL OF HOW WE MAKE MODELS NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM ENCODING DECODING CAUSAL EVENT IMPLICATION

10 MORE ON THE MODELING RELATION THE FORMAL SYSTEM DOES NOT INCLUDE INFORMATION ABOUT ENCODING AND/OR DECODING THEREFORE MODELING WILL ALWAYS BE AN ART ONLY IN THE NEWTONIAN PARADIGM DOES THE FORMAL SYSTEM BECOME THE NATURAL SYSTEM (ENCODING AND DECODING ARE AUTOMATIC) AND ALL THAT IS LEFT TO DO IS TO MEASURE THINGS

11 WHY IS “OBJECTIVITY” A MYTH? (OR: WHY IS SCIENCE A BELIEF STRUCTURE) THE FORMAL SYSTEM DOES NOT AND CAN NOT TELL US HOW TO ENCODE AND DECODE. (MODELING IS AN ART!) THE FORMAL SYSTEM DOES NOT AND CAN NOT TELL US WHEN THE MODEL WORKS, THAT IS A JUDGEMENT CALL EVEN IF OTHER FORMALISMS ARE ENLISTED TO HELP (FOR EXAMPLE: STATISTICS) MODELS EXIST IN A CONTEXT: A FRAME

12 WHY WHAT “TRADITIONAL SCIENCE” DID TO THE MODELING RELATION MADE THE PRESENT SITUATION INEVITABLE: WE ARE TOO AFRAID OF “BELIEFS” (SCEPTICISM IS “IN”) WE DEVELOPED THE MYTH OF “OBJECTIVITY”

13 Reductionism has framed complexity theory Rather than change methods we have the changed names for what we do The consequences are significant It is impossible for you to believe what is being taught in this lecture and to then simply add it to your repertoire The reason is that in order to see the world in a new way you have to step out of the traditional frame and into a new one. Once done, you can never go back. The ability to reframe a question is the basis for change and broadening of ideas.

14 WHAT “TRADITIONAL SCIENCE” DID TO FRAME THE MODELING RELATION NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM CAUSAL EVENT MANIPULATION

15 WHAT “TRADITIONAL SCIENCE” DID TO FRAME THE MODELING RELATION NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM NATURAL SYSTEM FORMAL SYSTEM MANIPULATION

16 WHY WHAT “TRADITIONAL SCIENCE” DID TO THE MODELING RELATION MADE THE PRESENT SITUATION INEVITABLE: WE MORE OR LESS FORGOT THAT THERE WAS AN ENCODING AND DECODING

17 WHY WHAT “TRADITIONAL SCIENCE” DID TO THE MODELING RELATION MADE THE PRESENT SITUATION INEVITABLE: IT FRAMED THE QUESTIN THE “REAL WORLD” REQUIRES MORE THAN ONE “FORMAL SYSTEM” TO MODEL IT (THERE IS NO “UNIVERSAL MODEL”)

18 Syntax vs Semantics The map is not the territory An equation is just an equation without interpretation This means we use formalisms in a context This context dependence also exists in nature This is one reason why there can never be a largest model

19 SOME CONSEQUENCES REDUCTIONISM DID SERIOUS DAMAGE TO THERMODYNAMICS THERMODYNAMICS IS MORE IN HARMONY WITH TOPOLOGICAL MATHEMATICS THAN IT IS WITH ANALYTICAL MATHEMATICS THUS TOPOLOGY AND NOT MOLECULAR STATISTICS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL TOOL

20 Context dependence necessarily introduces circularity A process happens in a context The process usually changes that context If the context changes the process usually changes as a result. Living systems are replete with examples of this

21 SELF-REFERENCE, CIRCULARITY AND THE GENOME REPLICATION TRANSCRIPTION

22 HOMEOSTASIS

23 CAN WE GET RID OF SELF-REFERENCE, THAT IS, CIRCULARITY? IT HAS BEEN TRIED IT FAILED THE ALTERNATIVE IS TO “GO AROUND” IT – THAT IS TO IGNORE CASES WHERE IT POPS UP WHAT IF IT IS VERY COMMON?

24 WHAT IS COMPLEXITY? TOO MANY DEFINITIONS, SOME CONFLICTING OFTEN INTERCHANGED WITH “COMPLICATED” HAS A REAL MEANING BUT AFTER THE QUESTION IS REFRAMED THAT MEANING ITSELF IS COMPLEX(THIS IS SELF-REFERENTIAL: HOW CAN WE DEFINE “COMPLEX” USING “COMPLEX”?)

25 ROSEN’S CONCEPT FOR COMPLEXITY: A NEW FRAME Complexity is the property of a real world system that is manifest in the inability of any one formalism being adequate to capture all its properties. It requires that we find distinctly different ways of interacting with systems. Distinctly different in the sense that when we make successful models, the formal systems needed to describe each distinct aspect are NOT derivable from each other

26 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)

27 COMPLEX SYSTEMS VS SIMPLE MECHANISMS COMPLEX NO LARGEST MODEL WHOLE MORE THAN SUM OF PARTS CAUSAL RELATIONS RICH AND INTERTWINED GENERIC ANALYTIC  SYNTHETIC NON-FRAGMENTABLE NON-COMPUTABLE REAL WORLD SIMPLE LARGEST MODEL WHOLE IS SUM OF PARTS CAUSAL RELATIONS DISTINCT N0N-GENERIC ANALYTIC = SYNTHETIC FRAGMENTABLE COMPUTABLE FORMAL SYSTEM

28 FRAMING THE QUESTION DON’T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT IMPOSSIBILITY OF AVOIDING THE FRAME IN SCIENCE THE DOMINANT FRAME IS REDUCTIONISM AND THE ASSOCIATED MECHANICAL THINKING THE DOMINANT MODERN MANIFESTATIONS INCLUDE MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND NONLINEAR DYNAMICS

29 AN EXAMPLE OF REFRAMING THE QUESTION IN SCIENCE TO GET AN ANSWER : THE WORK OF ROBERT ROSEN WHAT IS LIFE (SCHROEDINGER)? WHY IS AN ORGANISM DIFFERENT FROM A MACHINE?

30 LAKOFF ON CAUSALITY: TWO DISTINCT KINDS DIRECT CAUSATION (REDUCTIONISM) SYSTEMIC CAUSATION (COMPLEXITY)

31 ROSEN AND LAKOFF BOTH RECOGNIZED THAT DIRECT CAUSALITY WAS THE WAY REDUCTIONISTS SAW CAUSALITY DIRECT CAUSALITY IS THE SIMPLEST KIND SINGLE AGENT EXERTS FORCE ON SOMETHING AND IT CHANGES OR MOVES AS A RESULT NO INTERMEDIATE CAUSE NO MULTIPLE AGENTS

32 THE RELATIONAL APPROACH TO A COMPLEX REALITY FOCUS ON THE ORGANIZATION DEVELOP A SET OF FUNCTIONAL COMPONENTS WHICH CAPTURE THAT ORGANIZATION UTILIZE THE CAUSAL RELATIONS RESULTING FROM ANSWERING “WHY?”

33 FUNCTIONAL COMPONENTS MUST POSSESS ENOUGH IDENTITY TO BE CONSIDERED A “THING” MUST BE ABLE TO ACQUIRE PROPERTIES FROM LARGER SYSTEMS TO WHICH IT MAY BELONG ITS FORMAL IMAGE IS A MAPPING f: A -----> B THIS INTRODUCES A NEW KIND OF “DYNAMICS” : RELATIONAL

34 ROSEN USED ARISTOTLE TO INTRODUCE A FORM OF SYSTEMIC CAUSALITY THE FOUR BECAUSES: WHY A HOUSE? MATERIAL: THE STUFF IT’S MADE OF EFFICIENT: IT NEEDED A BUILDER FORMAL: THERE WAS A BLUEPRINT FINAL: IT HAS A PURPOSE

35 ROSEN’SRELATIONAL REPRESENTATION OF AN ORGANISM IS SYSTEMIC INVOLVES MAPPINGS METABOLISM IS f: A  B A REPRESENTS METABOLITES WHICH CAN ALSO EXCHANGE WITH THE ENVIRONMENT B REPRESENTS THE RESULTS OF METABOLISM f IS A MAPPING FROM A TO B MULTIPLE AND INTERMEDIATE CAUSES ARE MANDITORY

36 METABOLISM/REPAIR SYSTEMS BASED ON INPUT/OUTPUT REPRESENTATIONS OF SYSTEMS MORE ABSTRACT ALLOW CAUSALITY TO BE REPRESENTED LEAD TO NEW INFORMATION ARE BASED ON RECOGNITION THAT BUILDING UP AND TEARING DOWN ARE PART OF THE LIFE PROCESS

37 THE IMPORTANCE OF CATABOLISM AND ANABOLISM NO STRUCTURE IS PERMANENT ADAPTABILITY AND CHANGE INHERENT NEEDS SPECIAL TYPE OF ORGANIZATION IMPORTANT FOR UNDERSTANDING EVOLUTION, DEVELOPMENT, AND HEALING

38 THE CAUSAL RELATIONSHIPS A IS THE MATERIAL CAUSE OF B (DOTTED ARROW) f IS THE EFFICIENT CAUSE OF B OTHER COMPONENTS FOR REPAIR AND REPLICATION COME IN BECAUSE THESE COMPONENTS HAVE A FINITE LIFETIME: CATABOLISM AND ANABOLISM OR “TURNOVER”

39 f A B  ROSEN’S RELATIONAL MODEL OF THE ORGANISM

40 f  A B 

41 f A B 

42 f A B 

43 ORGANISMS ARE COMPLEX SYSTEMS ARE CLOSED TO EFFICIENT CAUSE ARE AUTOPOIETIC UNITIES

44 HUMAN BEHAVIOR IS COMPLEX WE CAN APPLY THESE IDEAS TO HUMAN BEHAVIOR WE HAVE ALREADY USED THESE IDEAS TO EXAMINE THE FRAMING OF THE SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSE BY REDUCTIONISTS WE CAN GO FURTHER AND IF WE DO THE RESULTS ARE VERY STRIKING

45 LAKOFF USES THESE IDEAS TO STUDY AMERICAN POLITICS HE FINDS THAT RADICAL CONSERVATIVES TEND TO RELY ONLY ON DIRECT CAUSALITY ON THE OTHER HAND PROGRESSIVES TEND TO RELY ON SYSTEMIC CAUSALITY HE TIES THIS IN WITH A MODEL OF THE COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR OF BOTH GROUPS

46 THE FAMILY AS A MODEL FOR SOCIETY THE STRICT FATHER FAMILY IS THE MODEL FOR RADICAL CONSERVATIVE BEHAVIOR THYE NURTURING MOTHER FAMILY IS THE MODEL FOR PROGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR THE TWO MODELS RESULT IN VERY DIFFERENT WORLD VIEWS AND EVEN THE DEFINITION OF WORDS LIKE “FREEDOM” ARE VERY DIFFERENT IN THE TWO WORLDVIEWS

47 THE CONSEQUENCES OF LAKOFF’S ANALYSIS ARE CONSISTENT WITH ROSEN’S VIEW OF SCIENCE REDUCTIONIST SCIENCE RELIES ON DIRECT CAUSALITY AS DOES RADICAL CONSERVATIVISM – THE TWO ARE ASPECTS OF A SINGLE WORLD VIEW COMPLEXITY SCIENCE POSES A THREAT TO THIS WORLDVIEW AS DOES PROGRESSIVE THINKING IN POLITICS

48 THIS REVEALS A GREAT DEAL ABOUT CONTROVERSIES INVOLVING SCIENCE AND RELIGION ROSEN SHOWED THAT REDUCTIONIST/MECHANIST THINKING RESULTED IN THE NEED FOR A GOD (MACHINES NEED AN INTELLEGENT DESIGNER COMPLEXITY THEORY SHOWS THAT ORGANISMS ARE DIFFERENT FROM MACHINES AND CLOSED TO EFFICIENT CAUSE (NO NEED FOR ANY OUTSIDE CAUSE)

49 PROBLEMS WITH THE USE OF DIRECT CAUSATION (REDUCTIONISM) INTELLEGENT DESIGN IS THE ONLY USE OF ANY IDEA FROM COMPLEXITY AND IT IS MISUSED (IRREDUCEABLE COMPLEXITY IMPLIES AN INTELLEGENT DESIGNER) DIRECT CAUSATION HAS ALMOST NO USE IN EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DIRECT CAUSATION HAS ALMOST NO USE IN CLIMATOLOGY SYSTEMIC CAUSALITY IS DISMISSED BY PROPONENTS OD DIRECT CAUSALITY REAL COMPLEX SYSTEMS REQUIRE SYSTEMIC CAUSATION AND CAN NOT BE EXPLAINED USING DIRECT CAUSATION UNLESS A DIETY OR SOME OTHER SUERNATURAL AGENT IS INVOKED

50 TOWARDS A HOLISTIC THEORY OF COMPLEX HUMAN BEHAVIOR SUCH A THEORY HAS TO REFRAME THE QUESTION FRAMED BY REDUCTIONISTS IN TERMS OF DIRECT CAUSATION IT MUST NOT PUT FORTH A SINGLE, LARGEST MODEL IF IT IS TO GO BEYOND THE MISTAKES SO DEEPLY ENTRENCHED BY REDUCTIONISM IT MUST BE BUILT ON CONCEPTS LIKE SYSTEMIC CAUSALITY, SELF REFERENCE, CONTEXT DEPENDENCE, AND THE OTHER ASPECTS OF COMPLEXITY THEORY PRESENTED BY LAKOFF AND ROSEN

51 New Book: Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life by: Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan, University of Chicago Press, 2005 THIS BOOK IS A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO HOW THERMODYNAMIC REASONING CAN BREAK OUT OF ITS REDUCTIONIST PRISON AND BEGIN TO BE USED IN THE STUDY OF COMPLEXITY SCIENCE IT ALSO GIVES INSIGHTS INTO MY ROLE IN THIS


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