On Mon, 25 Mar 1996 JOHNWFIELD@aol.com wrote:
> The normal way in which any linguistic human communication is made more
> precise is to bring it into correspondence with an underlying formalism of
> some kind.
[...snip...]
> Today, we find that people are beginning to study complexity. There are
> basically four competing formalisms that promoters of viewpoints towards
> complexity are using (knowingly or unknowingly). Three of these share a
> common point of view towards complexity: COMPLEXITY IS A PROPERTY OF WHAT
> IS BEING OBSERVED BY AN OBSERVER.
>
> The three groups that profess that view, and which promote ideas about
> complexity that correspond to three underlying formalisms are:
>
> o SYSTEMS DYNAMICS, the underlying formalism being ordinary, linear
> differential equations
John, not to sharpshoot, but system dyanmics models are not limited to
linear relationships. The field, and the supporting software, allow
equations of the form: "derrivative of one variable = arbitrary function
of other variables".
> o CHAOS THEORY, the underlying formalism being ordinary, nonlinear
> differential equations
>
> o ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS THEORY, the underlying formalism being partial
> differential equations of the type that describe gaseous diffusion
[...more snip...]
> The remaining, fourth school of thought, is the one that I have been
> working on for almost 30 years. With this school, the Peircean view of
> complexity is:
>
> COMPLEXITY IS IN THE MIND OF THE OBSERVER, WHO WOULD PREFER TO PASS IT OFF
> ON WHAT IS BEING OBSERVED, RATHER THAN SEE IT AS A HUMAN DEFECT, TRACEABLE
> TO HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY.
>
> With this latter point of view, the underlying formalism for getting out
> of the difficulties brought about by complexity is formal logic--the same
> formalism that underlies the other three--and which is, therefore, much
> more fundamental than those others.
>
> With this point of view, the attack on complexity demands attention to
> learning
Let me replay what I think you are saying... That the relationships that
govern are what they are, regardless of whether they seem clear or complex
to us. That it's our human limits (e.g. we can only deal with 7 things in
a list, or x number of relationships at a time) which make things
"complex" to us. That logic (formal analysis of these relationships) can
extract clarity from many nasty-looking networks. For example, when a
"complex" decision tree with no clear choice is turned into an easy choice
by statistical decision theory. Or when a "mess" (a la Ackoff) is reduced
to a critical problem because most of the "problems" flow from one or a
few things way upstream (I'm thinking of the problematiques you describe
in your _Handbook of Interactive Management_.)
I've been reading some Peirce lately and it is fantastically interesting
although slow going.
I'm also a regular practitioner of systems thinking (as described by
Senge)... I'm wondering why you don't consider the systems dynamics
approach as a different kind of "formal analysis of relationships" and
having therefore much in common with "formal logic" in it's ability to
resolve "complexity." I do see system dynamics in this way; if I'm
misunderstanding what you mean by "formal logic" perhaps you can help me
clarify that.
And yes, these systems of thought do tend to become "world views" for the
people who practice them. Especially for the people who proselytize them.
I have a lot of experience seeing pretty clever people with a tool in
search of a problem.
A nice layout of the different computer modeling paradigms is in Chapt 2
of _The Electronic Oracle_ by D.H. (Donella) Meadows and J.M. Robinson,
John Wiley & Sons, 1985. Dana Meadows was a principal author of _Limits
to Growth_ and _Beyond the Limits_.
>From the point of view of an analyst with broad technical skills, I think
things are a bit different... That the analyst should use whatever tool
fits the situation. If a suitable view of the situation can be addressed
with formal logic, then fine. If it requires ordinary non-linear
differential equations, that's fine too. The tools we know shape our view
of the problems we see. I want to have a broad range in my toolkit.
Or, am I misunderstanding you?
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