A little bit about the connection between systemic thinking and autopoiesis

I came across a curious book - “The Art of Systems Thinking” by D. O`Connor and I. McDermott (M., 2006). To start a conversation, here is a quote from it:
“Systems thinking teaches us modesty. We quickly begin to understand that the world is more complicated than any computer. Our conscious mind is not able to understand and see everything, even if it relies on the computational capabilities of the most advanced machines ...

But we can change our thinking, starting from ourselves as part of the system, from our mental models, constantly take into account the time factor, learn to realize that we cannot avoid the consequences of our own actions. Changing thinking, we change our behavior in the loop of reinforcing feedback, and this, in turn, changes our thinking. We will never know everything about everything, but our knowledge should be enough for life. ”

I will comment, push off from this fragment.

1. I strongly advise you to read it, although I doubt the usefulness of this activity. In my previous publication, I explained why (section “On the differences between a priori and a posteriori estimates”). The problem is always that for someone who is already “inside” (in this case, he owns the systems thinking), the description is of no value. Because he does not need a description, he already has a) practical knowledge and b) may simply “look around”. Worst of all, the description does not make sense for people who are "outside". Since they do not have practical experience of existence in such a quality and simply do not understand what they mean. In other expressions, they do not have an existential context into which one can put readable and yet abstract speculative knowledge. Usually they are much more interested in how to get to this cherished area, how to get there. And descriptions of local inhabitants about how great everything is - frankly besyat. Feeling weak-minded from an untouchable caste ...

2. Then, about modesty and inability to see and understand everything. This is very true and deep, you can write a book on this topic. Here I want to talk about the consequence of this statement.

In Soviet times, confidence in the future, limitless optimism in terms of the knowability of objective reality were cultivated (ridiculous, but its fundamental inexhaustibility was recognized) and curiosity in the style “I want to know everything!”. I see no point in discussing here and now whether it was right or not. In this text I speak from the point of view of a separate individual, and not a social system (society). So, from the point of view of “modesty and inability” (as well as the probabilistic nature of our existence, as mentioned in the above publication) all these statements are incorrect.

What conclusions follow for this particular person from this statement? I will list the most critical ones:

Then I deliberately say explicit sedition, and without going into explanations (otherwise there is not enough space): this means that I personally do not need to know how the Universe was formed, when life appeared on Earth, what was first - a chicken or an egg, how many angels fits on a needle tip, etc., etc. I emphasize that with sedition it may be perceived by other people - I myself have been living for a long time in accordance with this statement. An important clarification - the refusal to focus attention and spend life on such issues should not be emotional.

The relationship is built according to the principle “it does not affect my life in any way (more precisely, I cannot see and evaluate this influence in any way accessible to me), so I am simply indifferent.” If such questions are interesting to someone, it is their business, what to spend their lives on. I just notice in passing that - from my personal point of view - such a waste of resources is inefficient.

3. Then, the authors mention the most important entity - the “mental model”. On this topic, you can also write a book (and not one). In this case, it is important to realize that all our “knowledge”, all our ideas about life are lined up in the form of these very mental models. Suffice it to recall how we are confused by questions like "Call a random number." In the presence of a developed ability for self-reflection, it is easy enough to feel how we are "stomming" from the need to be illogical, from the requirement to be fundamentally outside of any context. It stomps precisely because we are comfortable within our mental models. Naturally, each person has a different set and quality of these models. In this, people are different (among other things).

4. Then the authors talk about the inevitable consequences of their own actions. I formulate this fundamental axiom in other words: “You have to pay for everything in this life.” It is important to understand that all this is serious and without any hussars. No, just talking about the fact that if you estimate the size of the reckoning for the desired pleasure and have the opportunity (well, or suppose that you have) to pay, then you can quite afford this pleasure. At the same time, when payment comes, it is precisely the fact that the decision was weighed, deliberately and consciously made that helps to experience some discomfort. Those. we are not “roasted peck roasted in temechko” - no, we just pay for what we signed first. (You can further develop the topic of responsibility - but this is beyond the scope of this text.)

The most important thing here: never allow even the thought that there is a pure "freebie." And develop the ability to realistically assess the value of fees for pleasure. I spoke about the importance of assessing the likelihood of the onset of completely adverse consequences in the previous article.

5. Finally, the authors' key message is about a feedback loop that changes our thinking. For a person who has been engaged in research for a long time, this is an endless banality. Although in principle the most important thing (it is banal for those who are already "inside").

I remember, the chief asked me how to choose the conditions of the first experience in the framework of a specific scientific work on the project. I tried to remember all sorts of clever words - but the boss was categorically: “The conditions of the first experience are always chosen at random” (some prefer the option of “scientific spear” - but I don’t understand why “to overwrite” important words in such a context, science is not good at all here) .

Now I want to remind an episode from the series “17 Moments of Spring”, where “Papa Muller” and his old friend are investigating the shooting at the orphanage. He speaks there about the actions of a professional and layman.

For us, this is a critically important remark, because the search for truth is impossible without a professional researcher who analyzes the feedback of the first experience, delivered - let me remind you - using a spear method. If in the feedback loop amateur (novice, amateur, amateur) - then maybe anything but the correct result. But it is much more important that professionals come to the same conclusion (in the study of the same case, object, phenomenon), starting from arbitrary experiments. (I will note in brackets that in this I see one of the most important proofs of the existence of objective reality.)

If you think about it, you will understand that the whole so-called. science is a collection of artifacts that have been repeatedly and independently reproduced by various researchers. Those. the criterion of the existing being of the phenomenon / phenomenon being investigated is the reproducibility of the result by another person elsewhere. But now the opposite result is more important for us - if you yourself get let already known (not you, you acted independently), but the “correct” result, then perhaps you are a professional.

6. Well and about change of thinking in a feedback loop. This is exactly the moment that made me take up this article. I believe that the authors were a little scared (in the sense of striving for truth) and did not dare to make a final conclusion. Limited to intermediate.

But this intermediate conclusion is very important. The process of processing, analyzing feedback is infinitely important in that in the course of this process we (the subject of knowledge) change. Many people like the optimistic word “we are developing”, but I prefer a neat “evolve” (that is, it’s far from a fact that the “+” sign, it requires a separate analysis).

Please note that the inclusion in the knowledge chain in an unpredictable manner of a changing “black box” immediately makes the whole situation fundamentally irrational.

The authors' cowardice is due to the fact that science fundamentally does not deal with irrational entities or processes. Therefore, they preferred to soften the wording in order not to overstep the limits of scientific political correctness.

But we are not about science, but about real life. And we will not invent artificial restrictions. On the contrary, we push off from this conclusion. Assume that the same project is independently performed by 2 different people in different places. They put the first experiments at random and then analyze the feedback. They grope for correlations, formulate preliminary hypotheses, make adjustments, set new experience and get the next batch of feedback. This is the usual way of scientific (and not only) research. But - as everyone knows - one of the scientists gets the desired result, executes the project and, it is possible, grows into a recognized researcher. And another wanders in 3 pines and floods the project.

It is clear that the difference is only in individuals. People are different. This implies the most important conclusion: in order to become a professional in the face of uncertainty, chaos and other “delights” of real life, you need to improve your own personality (I prefer and will continue to use the term “Self”, understood as the entire set of phenomena, entities, processes and fields generated in a living human body, i.e. this is an extremely broad interpretation of the human psychic sphere). In other terms, professional, “creative” and, even more so, the creator is distinguished by the highest level of development of the Self. And here I am not talking about all aspects - but only about those that are necessary to achieve the goal formulated above at the beginning of this paragraph.

The idea is that the ability to put forward hypotheses and effectively correct the sequence of experiments leading to the successful completion of a task is based on a key skill. On the ability to create a mental model of the process / object under study on the basis of not only incomplete, but simply from nuggets of data (a significant part of which is unreliable).

I usually call this type of mental model a “picture”. And usually I cite as an example the puzzle assembly process (this is where the term “picture” comes from). When we have a lot of small fragments of a single image - and they need to be placed in the right places. In fact, assembling a puzzle is babbling in terms of complexity compared to real-world tasks. Exactly for 3 reasons: a) we firmly believe that we have all the pieces of the picture; b) there are definitely no foreign fragments in the hill; c) the final picture itself is known to us (it is printed on the package).

In life, we never have all the pieces (if we fantasize and imagine that we managed to collect everything, it will only mean that we are hopelessly late, the task is no longer relevant). Worse, among the fragments, the part is obviously "not from here." Those. we assumed that he (the fragment) could be relevant to the case and put it in a handful. But then you still need to make sure that this was the correct assignment. And finally, the most important thing is the overall picture. At the beginning of any research it is never there.

The central point of systems thinking is not the ability to process feedback. The main thing is the ability to quickly draw, complete, synthesize a picture based on the minimum set of its fragments (of course, one of the components of this skill is the ability to find, select exactly those fragments that are necessary for this picture). The point is that the mental model allows you to make a sensible choice of the next step. As long as we have a model, there is no picture, working out feedback does little, we are forced to sort out the options stupidly.

By the way, the authors of the aforementioned book quite correctly indicate that in our culture people are more or less well taught to analyze. And analysts of all stripes are held in high esteem. The problem is that we are almost not taught to synthesize, to build mental models based on incomplete data.

And here we come to the central point of this essay. It is obvious that the ability to quickly (that is, based on incomplete data) to synthesize useful pictures is a property of the Self, a property of the individual. Moreover, effectively learning to do this is much more difficult than teaching analysis. As we say, "to break - not to build."

We must pay tribute to the authors of the aforementioned book, they still had the courage to briefly mention autopoiesis. More precisely, about the theory put forward by U. Maturano and F. Varela in the late 60s of the last century. Having a little penetrated into their ideas, I was glad to see that they almost completely repeat my own, which were invented independently of them 20 years ago. Although, of course, they went (and went) further. For what a lot of criticism. But now we do not consider the philosophical and religious aspects of these assumptions. In this context, it is important to us that I quote Wikipedia :

“According to the theory of U. Maturana and F. Varela, living beings are distinguished by an“ autopoietic organization, ”that is, the ability to reproduce themselves — to be produced, to“ build ”themselves: the autopoietic system, as it were,“ pulls itself out by the hair, ”creating its own components. Autopoietic systems are systems that, a) as unities, are defined as networks for the production of components that recursively, through their interactions, generate and implement a network that produces them; and b) constitute, in the space of their existence, the boundaries of these networks as components that participate in the implementation of the network. Thus, a cell produces components of its membrane, without which the cell could neither exist nor produce these components. ”

Finally, I will quote the authors of the theory proper: “... in our book we intended to show, through a careful analysis of the phenomenon of cognition and our actions resulting from it, that all cognitive experience involves the cognizer on a personal level is rooted in its biological structure. Therefore, the experience of gaining confidence is an individual phenomenon. This experience is blind to the cognitive acts of other individuals, and therefore lonely, isolated and, as we will see, can only be overcome in the world that we create together with other people. ”

Obviously, the “experience of gaining confidence” is the development of the Self about which I spoke above. And it is exactly how to launch and maintain such processes in their head that their book “The Tree of Knowledge” cited in the previous paragraph is devoted (Moscow: Progress-Tradition, 2001).

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/407423/

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