VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies
2. Complex Local and Global Societies
As the case with the field of psychology noted above, the growing application of nonlinear science to the multi-faceted subject of sociology has also led to the discernment of a common, innate mathematical basis. Rather than one random event after another sans any deeper context, a global science is able to perceive how complex dynamic systems similarly organize the shape and interaction of groups, assemblies, settlements and cities, from a few members to a metropolis. As introduced in Organic Societies earlier, such communities proceed to evolve toward an organism-like cognitive coherence. A premier distinction at best is a reciprocal symbiosis between free individual and supportive group. By these insights, as various papers report, from political elections, sporting events, social media, financial commerce, to migrations, and even battlefield chaos, can yet be found a constant mathematical format. And if this unbeknownst mathematical dimension might be revealed and availed, fed back from humankind to its peoples, a better, more peaceful world might accrue.
Abbott, Andrew. Chaos of Disciplines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. A sociologist contends that fractal self-similarity if seen as a branching dialectic is a good model to understand the dynamic behavior of both academia and society at large.
Agar, Michael. We Have Met the Other and We’re All Nonlinear: Ethnography as a Nonlinear Dynamic System. Complexity. 10/2, 2004, . A contribution, maybe even a manifesto, that wholly interconnected human societies can be at last understood in terms of iterative, recursive, fractally self-similar, complex adaptive systems.
Albrecht, Glenn. Directionality Theory: Neo-organicism and Dialectical Complexity. Democracy & Nature. 6/3, 2000. Since the demise of Marxism and because of the flaws in institutional democracy, a search is underway for a radical social alternative, in this instance sought in the nonlinear sciences.
The ancient idea that within life and the cosmos there might be fundamental ordering processes that provide a basis for directionality has received support from contemporary theorists of complex adaptive systems. Such support suggests, in line with the traditions of inner teleology of Aristotle and the dialectical traditions of Hegel and Bookchin, that spontaneous self-organization is an inherent property of many types of simple and complex systems. Such self-organization may be the product of ‘laws of order’ that operate beyond other known ordering factors such as natural selection and genetic inheritance. (409)
Amazeen, Poleminia. From Physics to Social Interactions: Scientific Unifications via Dynamics. Cognitive Systems Research. 52/640, 2018. In a section on Innovative Dynamical Approaches to Cognitive Systems, an Arizona State University psychologist contributes to rootings of our daily human behaviors and activities within a physical substrate by way of dynamical, self-similar complex systems. In this regard, as long intimated, our days and ways are exemplary manifestations of a deeper mathematical source. When then might we be able to say it is and must be genetic in kind?
The principle of dynamical similitude—the belief that the same behavior may be exhibited by very different systems—allows us to use mathematical models from physics to understand psychological phenomena. For example, the two-frequency resonance map can be used to make predictions about the performance of multifrequency ratios in physical, chemical, physiological and social behavior. An overview is provided of other methods, including mass-spring modeling and multifractal analysis, that have been applied successfully to psychological phenomena. A final demonstration of dynamical similitude comes from the use of the same multifractal method that was used to extract team-level experience from the neurophysiological data of individual team members to the analysis of a large scale economic phenomenon, the stock market index. (Abstract)
Arrow, Holly and K. L. Burns. Self-Organizing Culture. Schaller, Mark and Christian Crandall, eds. The Psychological Foundations of Culture. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2004. Social scientists are finding that dynamic complexity theories can explain how small groups can sustain an organic and cognitive coherence.
Ball, Philip. Critical Mass. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. The British science writer first provides a thorough history of attempts from Thomas Hobbes to George Zipf to divine a physics of human society. This project has lately been advanced by the application of statistical mechanics by the way of complexity and network theory. These methods can then discern in the many agent behavior of collective assemblies such as cities and stock markets the deep presence of a universal, self-organized, scale-free, power law emergence.
Barnett, William, et al, eds. Commerce, Complexity and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Nonlinear theories can explain a similar dynamic self-organization from ecological to economic systems
Baron, Reuben and Stephen Misovich. On the Relationship between Social and Cognitive Modes of Organization. Chaiken, Shelly and Yaacov Trope, eds. Dual-Process Theory in Social Psychology. New York: Guilford Press, 1999. This relationship occurs by means of viewing evolving societies as self-organizing complex adaptive systems.
In sum, we are….proposing that sociality and cognition mutually constrain each other in ways that are derivable from the principles of how complex, dynamic systems build higher-order levels of organization. (603)
Berscheid, Ellen. The Greening of Relationship Science. American Psychologist. 54/4, 1999. A proposal to move beyond studies of isolated individuals, a necessary phase but now past its prime, by admitting the importance of reciprocal dyadic affiliations between persons. Such a realization could transcend, Berscheid advises, the present gridlock political opposition between conservatives and liberals.
Blute, Marion. Darwinian Sociocultural Evolution: Solutions to Dilemmas in Cultural and Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. While an opening Preface entitled A Postmodern Metanarrative demurs that social science now rules out any overarching scenario, a University of Toronto philosopher presses on in search of an evolutionary context for this discipline, while tacitly holding to its prohibition. I have heard Professor Blute speak brilliantly at conferences, but as so many scholars today is compromised by an impoverishment that academia has cast upon itself.
Table of Contents: 1. Introduction; 2. History: where did something come from?; 3. Necessity: why did it evolve?; 4. Competition, conflict and cooperation: why and how do they interact socially?; 5. The ideal and the material: the role of memes in evolutionary social science; 6. Micro and macro I: the problem of agency; 7. Micro and macro II: the problem of subjectivity; 8. Micro and macro III: the evolution of complexity and the problem of social structure; 9. Evolutionism: the old, the new and the future of the social sciences.
Boehm, Christopher. What Makes Humans Economically Distinctive? Journal of Bioeconomics. 6/2, 2004. The noted anthropologist surveys great ape and early hominid hunter-gatherer societies and cultures and finds a common formation of egalitarian bands based on division of labor, a balance of communal property and individual shares (so an elite did not hog the game meat), and the suppression of alpha male behavior in favor of group survival. World civilization has strayed far from this leavening it is said, to its great detriment, and we would do well to learn from our ancestors.
Bohorquez, Juan, et al. Common Ecology Quantifies Human Insurgency. Nature. 462/911, 2009. University of Los Andes, Columbia, University of Miami, Cambridge University, and University of London, amazingly find that even the chaotic carnage of internecine conflicts, such as Iraq, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Peru, and onto “global terrorism,” can be seen to exhibit common nonlinear complex dynamics similar to everywhere else in nature and society. See also “Modellers Claim Wars are Predictable” in the same issue.
Many collective human activities, including violence, have been shown to exhibit universal patterns. The size distributions of casualties both in whole wars from 1816 to 1980 and terrorist attacks have separately been shown to follow approximate power-law distributions. However, the possibility of universal patterns ranging across wars in the size distribution or timing of within-conflict events has barely been explored. Here we show that the sizes and timing of violent events within different insurgent conflicts exhibit remarkable similarities. We propose a unified model of human insurgency that reproduces these commonalities, and explains conflict-specific variations quantitatively in terms of underlying rules of engagement. Our model treats each insurgent population as an ecology of dynamically evolving, self-organized groups following common decision-making processes. Our model is consistent with several recent hypotheses about modern insurgency, is robust to many generalizations, and establishes a quantitative connection between human insurgency, global terrorism and ecology. Its similarity to financial market models provides a surprising link between violent and non-violent forms of human behaviour. (Abstract)