Nothing is completely irrelevant LO5823

Michael McMaster (
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 18:09:59 +0000

Replying to LO5662 --

Enrique insists that equilibrium is being sought by living systems.
I maintain that this approach will result in approaches to learning
that will be as ineffective as economics has been in a model which is
based on equilibrium.

Calling it "dynamic equilibrium" sounds to me like talking about
"moving standstills". Bringing two such terms together might be
useful on occasion but it suggests attempts to salvage what isn't
working by implying that dynamic and equilibrium can be had at the
same time in the same logical level.

One of the manifestations of this problem is that much of learning is
considered to be adjustment to external and is thus a relatively
small portion of the whole scale of possibility of learning. There
is generative, creative, innovative, environment impacting,
experimental, etc learning that is not seeking equilibrium nor is it
merely adapting to external changes.

The part of learning which is adjustment (adaptive) and learning by
experience in a small and, in my opinion, relatively trivial range of
the possibility.

The problem is *not* semantic. Your emphatic statement that "a
living system IS seeking equilibrium" does not allow for mere
interpretation difference.

The nature of change and permanence (of which "seeking equilibrium"
is a sub-set) was one of those posed in Greek times and which is
still central to Western thinking. One of the approaches from those
times is that "all is change" and all states of permanence are
illusions - possibly useful for our own purposes. (The other major
theme that "won" control of Western thinking and is part of the
classical science traditional that is being transformed is "the
essence of the universe is permanence and change is a temporary and
sometimes affair to that state.)

One of the manifestations of this idea of "equilibrium seeking" is
that we then continually look for, expect and want things to "settle
down". (as in, "When will they stop changing things?")

Dynamic equilibrium can be maintained if you change your perspective
in time, place, size, scope etc. so that there is relative stability
in one place or scale while others within or surrounding are
changing. This can be useful but it is moving logical or scale
levels that allows it. I suggest this has more power to consider
that the apparent equilibrium or unchanging phenomenon is generated
*from a particular perspective* by the different timings, phases or
cycles of change that are occurring at once.

Michael McMaster

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