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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
Table of Contents
Genesis Vision
Learning Planet
Organic Universe
Earth Life Emerge
Genesis Future
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

7. Systems History: Personal and Planetary Individuation

Krakauer, David, et al. An Inquiry into History, Big History, and Metahistory. Cliodynamics: Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History. 2/1, 2011. An introduction to a special issue in this journal founded by University of Connecticut historian Peter Turchin. A dozen papers are posted arising from Santa Fe Institute discussions on this large, ultra-complex realm by stellar authors such as Murray Gell-Mann, David Christian, Geoffrey West, John Gaddis, Fred Spier, and Geerat Vermeij. One might comment that their dense content affords its expansive subject, but still sans a sense of witnessing and engaging a greater reality unfolding via its own drive and destiny.

Krakauer, David, et al, eds. History, Big History, & Metahistory. Santa Fe: SFI Press, 2018. This inaugural volume for the Santa Fe Institute Press, which publishes SFI proceedings, conferences, meetings and events, is a good example of 21st century endeavors to reconceive all manner of natural and social phenomena by way of the latest complex network sciences. Along with Big History studies, chapters such as Murray Gell-Mann’s Regularities in Human Affairs, A Quantitative Theory for the History of Life & Society by Geoffrey West (see VI. H. 7) and Toward Cliodynamics: An Analytical, Predictive Science of History by Peter Turchin seek an implied presence of an independent mathematical basis, as long intimated, which underlies and constrains humanity’s seemingly chaotic course.

Kushwaha, Niraj and Edward Lee. Discovering the Mesoscale for Chains of Conflict.. PNAS Nexus. 2/7, 2023. Complexity Science Hub, Vienna theorists provide a detailed, insightful study about how even violent warfare can yet be found to hold to and reveal innate, common, regularities. Our final fate may depend on whether such Earthwise learnings can be realized and availed in time.

Conflicts, like many social processes, are related events that span multiple scales from the instantaneous to multi-year development, and in space, from one neighborhood to continents. We develop a method for extracting causally related chains of events that addresses armed violence. Our method explicitly accounts for an adjustable spatial and temporal scale of interaction for clustering individual events from a detailed data set, the Armed Conflict Event & Location Data Project. Thus, we show how a systematic, data-driven, and scalable procedure extracts social objects for study, providing a scope for scrutinizing and predicting conflict and other processes. (excerpt)

Our approach is inspired by advances in physics and biophysics relating to the analysis of multiple scales in cascades such as the propagation of stress in collapsing materials and neural activity in the brain . Our method is robust because it relies only on information about the presence or absence of conflict, introduces a distance-dependent measure of causal interaction incorporating uncertainties, and allows analyses to move between spatial and temporal scale. (1)

Kushwawa, Niraj and Edward Lee. Discovering the mesoscale for chains of conflict. PNAS Nexus. 2/7, 2023. In mid year, as violence rages, Complexity Science Hub, Vienna theorists achieve a deep, thorough analysis, which as the quotes note,shows a significant affinity with a self-organized criticality akin to neural dynamics and everywhere else. In regard, a robust mathematical basis is at last which at last could be availed to understand and mitigate.

Conflicts, like many social processes, are related events that span multiple scales in time, from the instantaneous to multi-year development, and in space, from one neighborhood to continents. Yet, there is little systematic work on connecting the multiple scales, causality between events, and measures of uncertainty. We develop a method for extracting related chains of events that addresses these limitations with armed conflict accounts for an adjustable spatial and temporal scale of interaction. With it, we discover a mesoscale ranging from a week to a few months and tens to hundreds of kilometers, where long-range correlations and nontrivial dynamics relating conflict events emerge. Importantly, clusters in the mesoscale, while extracted from conflict statistics, are identifiable with mechanism cited in field studies. Thus, we show how a systematic, data-driven, and scalable procedure extracts social objects for study,. (Excerpt)

We demonstrate here a systematic procedure that addresses these limitations by uncovering causal patterns from conflict statistics. Our approach is inspired by fundamental advances in physics and biophysics relating to the analysis of multiple scales in cascades such as the propagation of stress in collapsing materials and neural activity in the brain. Our approach is robust to errors because it relies only on information about the presence or absence of conflict, introduces a distance-dependent measure of causal interaction incorporating uncertainties, and allows analyses to move systematically between spatial and temporal scales

Labouvie-Vief, Gisella. Psyche and Eros. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. A psychologist celebrates an ancient humanist, mythic complementarity of psyche and eros. The course of history parallels that of individual growth as it proceeds from maternal immersion without a distinct identity to a male grasp for rational logic and power at the expense of organic meaning. Personal and historical development can best be understood as a sequential cycle of separation and reunion of gender archetypes. Our earthly future depends on their integral marriage.

The concept of an integration of logos and mythos, often personified by the image of the marriage of the masculine and feminine, thus offers an important new metaphor for the mind and its development. (14) The myth now continues with a series of trials Psyche must undergo, trials that require her to give up her notion of masculinity and femininity as hierarchical ordered realities and come to understand them as cooperatively engaged and mutually enriching and constitutive parts of the self and social reality. (18)

Manrique, Pedro, et al. Generalized Gelation Theory Describes Human Online Aggregation in Support of Extremism. arXiv:1712.06000. We note this latest entry by the University of Miami, Florida physicist group including Neil Johnson as an example of current abilities to link and root even such aberrant behaviors in natural nonlinear phenomena. Upon reflection, these studies and others (Turchin, et al) attest to a mathematical realm, heretofore unbeknownst, not quantified, long suspected, which seems to underlie, impel, and constrain our daily lives and polities for better or worse. Search arXiv for more recent papers such as Universality and Correlations in Individuals Wandering through an Online Extremist Space (1706.06627), and Multiscale Dynamical Network Mechanism Underlying Aging from Birth to Death (1706.00667, Zheng).

Though many aggregation theories exist for physical, chemical and biological systems, they do not account for the significant heterogeneity found, for example, in populations of living objects. This is unfortunate since understanding how heterogeneous individuals come together in support of an extremist cause, for example, represents an urgent societal problem. Here we develop such a theory and show that the intrinsic population heterogeneity can significantly delay the gel transition point and change the gel's growth rate. We apply our theory to examine how humans aggregate online in support of a particular extremist cause. We show that the theory provides an accurate description of the online extremist support for ISIS (so-called Islamic State) which started in late 2014. (1712.06000 Abstract)

The 'out of the blue' nature of recent terror attacks and the diversity of apparent motives, highlight the importance of understanding the online trajectories that individuals follow prior to developing high levels of extremist support. Here we show that the physics of stochastic walks, with and without temporal correlation, provides a unifying description of these online trajectories. Our unique dataset comprising all users of a global social media site, reveals universal characteristics in individuals' online lifetimes. Our accompanying theory generates analytical and numerical solutions that describe the characteristics shown by individuals that go on to develop high levels of extremist support, and those that do not. The existence of these temporal and also many-body correlations suggests that existing physics machinery can be used to quantify and perhaps mitigate the risk of future events. (1706.06627 Abstract)

Mathews, Freya. Moral Ambiguities in the Politics of Climate Change. Nanda, Ved, ed. Climate Change and Environmental Ethics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2011. Two decades after her visionary The Ecological Self, (search) the Australian ecophilosopher continues to meld “anthropocentric and biocentric” options in a viable, creative synthesis. Along with the quotes, she advises a “bio-synergy,” a “relational inter-functionality” of persons and planet, little self and Big self, as each engaged in a deep process of psychic individuation.

I would like to propose two ways – both holistic, but differently so – in which “nature” under its global aspect might be conceived. The first such way in which nature might be conceived is as a self-realizing or autopoetic system, defined not in terms of the elements that contingently constitute it, but in terms of its ends as an entity in its own right, which is to say, in terms of its status as an end-for-itself, and its disposition to navigate circumstances in such a way as to preserve its own identity as a living system through time and change. (48)

The second way in which nature under its global aspect might be (holistically) conceived is as a self-realizing or autopoietic system, yes, but one which is defined not merely in terms of its ends – the end of self-preservation – but also in terms of its specific pattern of organization, its pattern of self-structuration. The moral significance of nature under its global aspect, from this point of view, lies as much in this pattern of self-structuration as in its status as an end-for-itself. In protecting it, we would not only preserve its physical continuity through time and change, but its particular organizational integrity as well. (48-49)

In conclusion, I have argued that the way forward for bio-inclusive environmentalism in the era of climate change is not merely biophysical, in the Gaian-type sense, involving the engineering of the physical conditions requisite for life on the planet; not merely biomimetic, in some sense replicating, in our technologies, the patterns of organization characteristic of life; but bio-synergistic, in the sense of entering into active partnership with actual ecosystems to ensure both the regulation of the climate system and the sustainable provision of our own needs. (61)

McNeill, John R. and William H. The Human Web. New York: Norton, 2003. Son and father historians offer a succinct, birds-eye view of five millennia in terms of an increasing, thickening network of interactions, which now reaches global proportions. As a reflection, it is unsettling to recall the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as the original cradle of civilization where some 5,000 years later violent carnage rages. We publicly seem not a wit wiser.

In a succinct conclusion, William H. first notes the new evolutionary theory of life as the repetition of the same symbiotic pattern as bacteria formed into cells, cells into organisms and organisms into societies. He goes on to say that for a million years, the basic hominid group was 50 to 100 members. By these lights, the next stage ought to be founded on intentional, cellular ‘primary communities’ of similar size rather than sprawling cities.

The central argument of this book is that throughout their history humans used symbols to create webs that communicated agreed-upon meanings and so, as time went by, sustained cooperation and conflict among larger and larger groups of people. (323)

McNeill, William H. Passing Strange: The Convergence of Evolutionary Science with Scientific History. History and Theory. 40/1, 2001. The emertius University of Chicago historian and author proposes a novel integration of historical studies with an evolutionary cosmology arising from the physical, biological and complexity sciences. See also McNeill’s earlier paper “History and the Scientific Worldview.” History and Theory. 37/1, 1998.

Cosmic history, natural history, and human history have come together, willy nilly, into a single fabric. In short, a historical worldview of enormous scope and grandeur has engulfed the no less grand, but now parochial, Newtonian world machine. Moreover, it elevates human behavior into a significant part of the cosmic process, as the seventeenth-century worldview never managed to do. (5)

Modelski, George, et al, eds. Globalization as Evolutionary Process. London: Routledge, 2008. Proceedings of an International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis conference, held in Laxenburg, Austria, April 2006. Not yet seen, chapters such as “Is Globalization Self-organizing?” by Joachim Rennstich, and “From Ephemeralization and Stigmergy to the Global Brain” by Francis Heylighen, intrigue.

Morin, Edgar. Complex Thinking for a Complex World. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMGucd5vjfY&feature=relmfu. An extraordinary video posted October 27, 2012 on Complexity Digest by the esteemed 91 year old French philosopher and pioneer advocate of reconceiving a better, more viable earthwide culture and civilization by way of rightly understanding nature’s innately dynamic systems character.

Our world is at crisis. Global challenges abound. However, they have a "dark" and a "bright" side. The dark side is the imminent danger of the breakdown of interdependent societies with the perspective of extermination of civilized human life. The bright side marks a possible entrance to a new stage of evolution of humanity, to the self-organization of a humane world society. Cybernetics, systems research, the sciences of complexity -- all of them have the potential to endow the subjects of history with guidance and a means for mastering the current transformation.

Naccache, Albert. A Brief History of Evolution. History and Theory. 38/4, 1999. The author suggests that the emergence of earth life proceeds by “eight nested modes of evolution…from blue-green algae to our societies.” This scale then forms a framework for the rise of intensifying mental capacities lately reaching an “extrasomatic social memory.”

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