From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 5:51:14 PM
Subject: Re: Modeling Emergent Structure
I agree, Czeslaw.
I remember the interesting work done by Peter Allen on demographics, while at Brussels and part of Prigogine's team. Even at that statistical level findings were swamped by observer distinctions.
The very unique aspect of SB's work was that he took out of scientific findings notions that he integrated into his own conceptual framework as a MODEL. He cross-referenced (if you like, reality-checked) with other, diverse fields, including non-equilibrium thermodynamics. His value was to reduce key insights from various fields, to a level of granularity
that fitted the human social scale.
The use of scientific models developed and applied in their own domain of reality, has to be handled impeccably and rigorously, and a whole series of issues concerning metaphors and so on addressed.
Reaching out for a 'new' model, may often deflect attention from the fact that one is perhaps not understanding existing models properly - or testing them to their conclusion. I would certainly not say that VSM has been tested to any sort of conclusion,
On 9 Dec 2008, at 21:52, Czeslaw Mesjasz wrote:
> Dear All,
> I am currently working on a book about the links between various areas of
> "systems approach", or whatever we may call it, and broadly
> defined security. So I also had to read something on applications
> of thermodynamic models in social sciences.
> As to avoid any misunderstandings, I graduated in physics and
> management. I am a kind of "former physicist" but it helps me in
> uderstanding the sense of the problems. In case of difficulties, I can
> always ask my Colleagues who are physicists.
> Applications of thermodynamics in studying society is a very
> well-known issue. All depends how we define social system.
> If we use "tangible models", thus attempts to find entropy, equilibrium,
> no-equilibrium, dissipative structures, etc. can bring some results.
> The main problem is that broadly understood "social systems" are mental
> and linguistic constructs. So we are affected by the participant-observer
> Thus we enter the applications of metaphors and/or analogies,
> or, in other words, linguistic variables. In my approach I prefer a
> moderate version of constructivism.
> In such case writing that a social system is in a
> state is but another narrative which could be affected by reification of
> In my opinion such a "scientistic" language has been immensely abused by
> social scientists who do not know physics and by people coming from "hard
> science", who some day discover that their models can be used for
> studying, or sometimes, even saving, society/humanity.
> I have even a hypothesis that using in social studies such terms as chaos,
> complexity, turbulence affects the minds at archetypical/subconscious
> level. It's my simplified explanation why studies referring to those
> ideas attract so much attention.
> It's a very old problem although not so trivial.
> For example, one of the challenges of modern economic thought is to
> assess to what extent economic ideas drawing on 18th and 19th century
(equilibrium, stability, etc.), could be applied in modern economic
> theory and practice.
> I am sorry, but I cannot get involved too often in the discussion. I am
> busy writing about some of the issues discussed here.
> Regards, Czeslaw Mesjasz
> Assoc. Prof. dr hab. Czesław Mesjasz
> Cracow University of Economics
> 31-510 Krakow
> ul. Rakowicka 27
> Tel: +48-12-293-56-19; Fax: +48-12-293-50-67
> e-mail: [log in to unmask]
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html