The Order of Time

Carlo Rovelli, Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-141-98496-4

In the universe there is the possibility of time and space. Masses of bodies modify the structure of the possible space and time between them: closer to a mass there is less time. dpb: if this concerns how much time passes, then does this mean that the grain of the structure of time is finer closer to a mass than further removed? And does that mean that closer to a mass more steps are needed compared to farther away? Time is different at every locus: it is relative and it has no unity.


In the laws of physics there is no inherent difference between past and future. Why is the past so different from the future to us? Based on Carnots proposition, Clausius posits that, if everything else remains equal, heat cannot pass from a cold body to a hot one. Rovelli writes: ‘This is the only basic law of physics that distinguishes the past from the future‘. None of the others do so’ Not Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Heisenberg, Dirac, Schrodinger or elementary particle scientists. But dpb: is this indeed the only asymmetry known to physics? Or the only time related one?

The link between time and heat is fundamental: ‘In every sequence of events that becomes absurd if projected backwards, there is something that is heating up‘ (p 23). This means it is the only irreversible one, all the others are reversible. dpb: Is it conceivable that irreversible change occurs without something heating up? Chaos theory teaches us that even deterministic systems can produce irreversible unpredictability. If a system has started to reverse its behavior at some point it is likely to deviate from its trajectory back to the beginning of the observation in unpredictable ways, and hence to be irreversible. Another source of irreversibility is complexity, especially life, because what higher level of organization emerges will resist reversal to a previous, less organized state. Take e.g an autopoietic system that seeks to maintain its operational closure and its present organization (configuration). It will last longer than expected (Schrodinger).

Clausius formulated the 2nd law, namely dS=>0, implying that heat never passes from cold to hot bodies. But e.g. Popper (??) argues that heat gets passed from colder to warmer bodies all the time and that entropy is not homogeneous over different locations and is a stochastic parameter. Boltzmann: entropy production is growing disorder into less particular less special situations. dpb: to what is the order and its decrease attributed when entropy increases? Or in other words: what are these situations and what are their changes?

Take the example of sunlight, a source of low entropic energy, cast on a stone. The atoms that compose the stone are agitated by the high-grade energy of the sunlight. Caused by the agitation the atoms heat up and the temperature of the entire stone rises. The amount of energy carried by the stone increases with what was carried by the sunlight. However, that energy dissipates and becomes less special, aka less capable of work: entropy is produced. At night, when the air cools, the heat carried by the stone (or rather by its agitated atoms) is transferred to the atoms of the air surrounding it. They become agitated and the energy of the atoms in the stone is transferred to the atoms in the air. Entropy is produced and the energy carried in the agitated air atoms is capable of still less work, becoming even less special.

dpb: Take the example when the atoms composing a cat are agitated when sunlight is cast on the cat. The cat is a self-referencing (autopoietic) system which is organized such that its body temperature is kept in bounds such that it keeps functioning. The temperature of the entire cat rises, until the cat reacts by taking physiological measures to cool its body sweating through its soles. The molecules in the surrounding soil and air are agitated, heating it. Entropy is produced and the same amount of energy as initially input by the sunlight into the atoms of the cat is capable of ever less work, entering a less special state.

dpb: The state of a system becomes less special when entropy is produced: the system becomes less ordered, aka less organized, and the ignorance of the observer regarding the likelihood of future states increases. The stone and the cat are defined by us as we observe the processes and their relations taking place within their physical boundaries. But they are determined by their organization as a stone and a cat respectively. The incoming sun(light) and the atoms composing the air are external.

dpb: Thus, entropy is produced regardless of the level of organization of the discussed systems. While they produce entropy their organizations don’t change: the organization of the stone and the cat remain the same. What does it mean to say that the level of organization decreases when entropy is produced but the organization of the stone and the cat remain the same?

However, the amount of uncertainty regarding the future states – in phase space – of these systems increases. This explains the production of entropy in an existing system. If an organism emerges – appears for the first time – the order of what are (post-hoc) its components increases into their organization as the observed system, but the entropy increases nonetheless. The appearance of organisms does not reverse entropy production!

Increasing (dis)order is on account of the observer. When entropy is maximum all the possible next states are equally special, it is observed. The notion of particularity only comes to be if we see things in a blurred and approximate way. dpb: the states become less particular from the perspective of someone taking a blurred view. Does blurred mean that e.g. a person cannot distinguish atoms? Can there also be a relation between blurring and emergence, because observing an emerged system we are incapable to reduce its behavior at the larger scale to that of its components at the smaller scale?

According to Rovelli, blurring means that we are incapable of seeing the microscopic level where there is no difference between past and present, and between cause and effect. An observer is required for that! There is a loss of direction, because there is no intrinsic difference between past and future.

Time passes more slowly for what moves. dpb: I understand this effect in the same way as (potential) time slows down closer to a mass. The dimensions of the squares (grains) of the grid onto which time is canvassed become smaller on the topology closer to a mass and at high relative speed.

There is no single or absolute time and every point in space has a proper time. ‘Now’ is meaningless, because there is no present anywhere corresponding to any other. The question of the present of the universe is therefore improper. The temporal structure of the universe can be said to be made of partially ordered cones. Each approximate generation roughly followed by another. The structure of space-time is not stratified but scattered, and without common direction (wobbly). There is no universal present.

Aristotle suggests that time is the measure of change. He includes the thinking of change as change also measured as time. Newton suggests that even if nothing happens, time (of some kind) still passes. Leibniz defends the former idea that time results from counting of events, but the latter has caught on and is the more widely accepted. Until the end of the 19th century every place had its proper time, only later local time was replaced with global time schedules. This is less removed from the notion of relativity of time than the wide spread absolute interpretations.

dpb: events are grained or quanted into the space-time grid that of potential space and time. A thing is required to occupy space and time. When closer to a mass or moving, the time grid particular to it is finer grained and the thing is therefore observed to move slower.

Aristotle suggests that the position of a thing in space and time is identified by what surrounds it. There is no ‘empty’ space or time. dpb: this connects with the idea of a rhizome spanning up its own dimensions plus the ones required to describe it by the observer.

What does it mean when space and time can be void i.e nothing is there as Newton suggests? Not even electromagnetic fields or other things imperceptible to people. Einstein suggest that time and space are like canvasses on which reality (substances) comes to exist as fields. Gravity, one of these fields, determines the topology of space-time. Space-time is the gravitational field. dpb: Time and space are not absolute but relative, suggesting they interpenetratingly depend on adjacent elements. It means that space and time remain potential until something occupies them. Is it fair to say that they substantiate from a potential (virtual;) to the real, or that they become?

If we move on to consider quantum properties of space and of time, then in addition to individualized, localized and independent as previously described, time is also distributed. This leads to the aspects pf granularity, indeterminacy, and relativity which further break down our understanding of time.

Quantum effects occur at Planck time scales of 10E-44. Below that there is no time. Also time assumes only special discrete values: most times do not exist. Hence time is not continuous but granular, leapfrogging from one to another instance separated by intermittencies at the Planck scale.

Time is indeterminate: it is in a superposition and its present state is unknown. Something may take place before and after something else does. It is resolved at an interaction. The only point where it becomes concrete is in the relation with the ones it interacts with. Instead of uniformly for the rest of the universe. In this view, the world is made up of events not things. This takes place in a disorderly way as processes. Events are short-lived, and things persist.

The notion of the event as the basic unity of reality fits well with how we experience the world, because it is spatially and temporally delimited. Objects in this view are long events. In this sense time equals happening.

Thus, the idea of presentism, that reality moves from one present to the next no longer works. The world is not a single linear succession of presents. The opposite idea of eternalism (block universe), that past, present and future are equally real means that change is an illusion realistically can’t be true. The point is that the present develops in a disorderly distributed and indeterminate  way. But our grammar isn’t suitable: ‘In the world there is change, there is a temporal structure of relations between events that is anything but illusory’ (p 100).

We do not need the time variable to describe the world, but the variables that describe it, and how they change relative to each other. If a number of these relations are established then we might say when an event takes place: ‘.. what the relations are between these variables’ (p 103). dpb: or in other words these are differences (relations) between two series of differences (variables), aka assemblages. The differences should have the adjective comparable to indicate the potential of correlations between correlations.

Fields become manifest in granular form. The grains are not immersed in space but they form it, its structure is granular. Spatiality is the web of interactions between these grains. They exist only during those interactions. The latter are the happening of the world, the development of reality.

‘Time emerges from a world without time, ..’ (p 117). dpb: will this be the link to blurring and approximation Rovelli mentions early on in the text as an insight of Boltzmann?

The conventional view is that time determines energy determines macro state. An opposing view is that the macro state determines energy determines time, whereby the macro state equals the blurred view of systems and their behavior. Or in other words: time becomes determined because / as an effect of the blurring, namely the incompleteness of the description of the corresponding micro-states. dpb: Rovelli refers to this notion as thermal time, because it corresponds to the probabilistic notion of entropy at the macro scale.

Measurement of speed and position of a particle are non-commutative. The order of the interactions (measuring) matter causing a primitive form of time to develop. Time developing in changing macro states (thermal) and time developing in changing quantum states (quantum) are very similar. Rovelli suggests that this is the time we know, whereby quantum indeterminacy and the large quantities of particles cause the blurring. Time is ignorance. dpb: There are a number of examples of emergence in physical systems and I was hoping there was expressed a stronger connection link to emergence &c.

So, again: what is blurring? We, and every physical system, interact with a limited number of other systems. We interact with them through only a limited number of variables (aka correlations, assemblages). The configurations we do not notice seem to be equivalent to us. Thus our – and other physical systems’ – vision of the world is blurred.

Thus, blurring is the pivot of the theory of Boltzmann: entropy is the number of configurations of a system we are not aware of. This can of course vary per observed system as well as per observing system, because what is not visible for one can be visible for another. Blurring is not only mental, because interactions with the micro-systems exist. Entropy is relative to the observer aka the one interacting with the system in hand, like speed a property of the object relative to others.

The entropy of the world depends on its configuration as well as on our (or in general physical systems’) blurring of them. This depends on which variables of the world – our part of the world – we interact with.

Thus, the seemingly low entropy in the far past may be a result of the limited set of variables we interacted with and our blurring of them. Our interactions are limited to a small number of macroscopic variables. The microscopic  configurations are blurred. Since we are responsible for that, with the supposed low entropy as a result. In this view the arrow of time is not universal but it depends on the physical system doing the viewing, us in this case, from our ‘special corner’ of the universe.

Indexicality refers to words which assume a different meaning depending on their use. dpb: like a variable? Indexing makes the perspective of its use explicit. It is not possible to say anything from outside the world. Existence takes place from within (so as the map is useful if we know our position versus it). Thus, time is not external to us (or any physical system) but we are situated within it, seeing time from the inside.

Any energy goes to thermal energy. Low entropy goes to high: production. Without entropy there is no past and no future. dpb: this is becoming a sort of blind spot! Entropy production is increasing disorder. But evolution of organisms increases order by way of organization while entropy is still produced. What is the subject of entropy? The relevant one is the change of order in phase space (not real space). Even though there are temporary pockets of order in the grand scheme (e.g of evolution), the very grand scheme is of increasing disorder.

The past leaves traces in the future. CR suggests that this is because of low entropy into he past, because there is nothing else to separate the past from the future. dpb: blind spot. Common causes in the past of current phenomena point at low entropy in the past, because of the increasing improbability of their occurring together? ‘In a state of thermal equilibrium, or in a purely mechanical system, there isn’t a direction to time identified by causality‘ (p 146). dpb: but it isn’t just causality but irreversibility.

Time is related to us. What are we? We are not individual entities, but relational identities. What produces this:1) point of view 2) in connection with the working of our brain, we categorize vis-a-vis other humans (the reflection of us we get back from our kind) 3) memory links our histories through narratives.

The mind can see traces of the past left in the brain. But threading them as an interpretation of the flow of time is an internal process of the mind. It is integral to the mind. The mind constitutes (a representation of) time through the retention of traces on the brain of past events (Husserl).

Time opens up our limited access to the world. Time, then, is the form in which we beings whose brains are made up essentially of memory and foresight interact with the world: it is the source of our identity‘ (p 164).

How Did I get Here?

During my public defence the questions was raised at what point I got interested in complexity science. I answered that this happened in my first job, and that my introduction to chaos theory had led up to it. The writings of Gleick (1988) about how deterministic (non-stochastic) systems can generate randomness showed that simple systems are already capable of generating a mess! Come to think of it, that encounter with chaos was in turn made possible by my university study, financial economics.

To my mind the economic models I was taught seemed unduly neat. Left to themselves systems (many things interacting) were assumed to automatically and stabilise and settle into an equilibrium. A perfect version is assumed to be immanent to them. In this view variation can only originate from external influences keeping them away from this immanent propensity to become perfect. Mitigation of the impact of such variations allows a system to reach its ideal. One example is provided by markets, which ‘perform’ best when equilibrated because left unrestricted, helping distribute utility freely and fairly.

In another example of this essentialist stance the firm is viewed first as an imperfect version of its ideal ‘urtype’ (ia Mintzberg 1993), next that it is possible shed the variation from its current make-up (messy) to achieve that ideal, and last that individual persons are capable of getting firms from here to there. To me this perspective, although corrected for strong assumptions like bounded rationality, intentionality and perfect information, and solidly mathematicized, remained uncomfortable, perhaps because the firms (and the people) I knew were nothing like that.

That said, also from the discipline of economics and business and management science emerged sub-disciplines like evolutionary economics (e.g. Nelson & Winter, 1982), systems views on the firm (e.g. Boulding, 1956), industrial ecology, capability theory (e.g. Pitelis & Teece, 2009). However, deep-seated axioms such as human teleology (intrinsic intentionalism), individualism, essentialism, and anthropomorphism (people-centeredness) are foundational even for those scientific endeavours. In order to enable further advancement, I believe these axioms need further revision.

To my mind chaos theory paved a path enabling presupposition of irregularity and variation, instead of equilibrium and stability. That endowed me with an intuition for non-equilibrium systems, at best temporarily stable, and generating novelty. Call me nerdy but I still believe this is cool! Ever since I tend to gravitate towards such systems by that intuition. In the final stages of my studies I took a math course in chaos modelling resulting in a thesis about chaotic behavior on the currency markets.

And the day after defending my master thesis I met a cool retail strategy consulting boutique and got a combined consulting and research position. We focused on theorising, modelling and advising of retail companies as complex systems. There, among the first books I got to read were Waldrop (1992), Kauffman (1993), and Holland (1982) and early publications of the Santa Fe Institute. Chaos theory got me the job, where I was then immersed in complexity. Complex systems generate novel orderly behavior from chaos. Thereby they add a level to chaotic systems, which create novelty as random behavior.

Complex system can show emergent behavior, or self-organisation, depending on your perspective. As a multitude they can generate behavior of which their component parts (or processes) are individually incapable. Or in other words, that global behavior is not immanent in the components: the human body is an organisation of molecules, but that organisation is not immanent in those molecules. I find this general notion so intriguing today, that I ended up doing a PhD on the topic, 30 years after having been introduced to chaos theory. The topic is the view that the firm is an emergent phenomenon: multitudes of people showing organised behavior which is not imminent in them.

Open-Ended Intelligence

Weinbaum, D.R. (Weaver) . Doctoral Thesis . 2017

..an alternative metaphysics is proposed, on that is replaces the individual as the primary metaphysical element with individuation as a primary metaphysical process and consequently makes difference primal to identity. This paradigmatic shift, it is shown, is the key to going beyond representation and understanding thought and cognition as open-ended, creative processes of self-organization. These formative processes are of a universal scope and precede any kind of representable object, agency, or relation. Specifically they precede the subject-object dichotomy’ [p iii].

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Setting the stage

.. an unsupported thought, i.e. a thought which is nowhere supported, a thought unsupported by sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or mind-objects. ..’ [Excerpt from the Diamond Sutra, translated from Sanskrit by Edward Conze, p 1]. ‘.. nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution (Dobzhansky 1973). Following this line of thought, cognition and other mental activities are certainly no exception, they make sense only in the light of evolution’ [p 2]. Cognition is a fundamental concept that extends evolution and applies to general systems. DPB: this reminds me of the concept of natural computation, but I am beginning to think that cognition is better suited, because it a more complex concept that encompasses more, probably including computation, perhaps something like ‘computation of a rule in an environment based on perceptions’. But then again: if the thought is unsupported there is no environment, no perception and no rule (and hence only the computation is left). But If understood as the processing of information then computation sells short the aspect of newness of the unsupported thought. ‘There is an obvious and strange loop (Hofstadter, 2013) here: the cognitive thinking agent trying to make sense of these same sense-making processes that bring forth both her as a subject and the objects of her observation while these are being brought forth’ [p 2]. DPB: this reminds me of the concept of interpenetration / structural coupling. But that concept in my memory seems to relate to the orientation of the development of existing objects and not to becoming objects. But there also seems not to be an objection to equaling structural coupling and this, however it is called. Darwinism is packaged in a conventional story also. Dozhansky’s statement above can also be understood as: life is the medium that makes evolution possible. There is not much sense in a static concept of life but there is sense in a life that develops itself beyond its own limitations: ‘Evolution does not strip life and existence of meaning; it is, on the contrary, a prime facilitator of meaning and value’ [p 3]. An important argument of the narrative of Darwinism is the survival of the fittest; the argument here is that this has lead to (or at least reinforced) the propensity of people to think in terms of things instead of processes, being instead of becoming, identity instead of difference. Given that starting point it is difficult to see the life as the self-preserving process and as the self-overcoming open-ended evolutionary processes. The point of view here is that life does not have a single purpose, but many, not one goal but many, and a forteriori that these can in principle not be known in advance because they are subject to an ongoing process of becoming: ‘This is why life as such is open-ended’ [p 4]. Only openness and multiplicity can avoid the dialectical Aristotelian excluded middle. Thought must supposedly be supported from a priori given perceptual or conceptual but definite objects, and their relations. Assuming this then supported thought is only possible after distinctions and boundaries are put forth that identify the elementary objects and relations. Then a step in the research is required to get from bounded objects to boundary forming processes: ‘.. cognition .. designates a dynamic meeting point between the known and the unknown, between order and non-order, between sense and non-sense and between the formed, and therefore existing, and the unformed and therefore not yet existing’ [p 5]. The term ‘meeting point’ can be replaced with ‘event’ in the sense of ‘happening of significance’, an event of making sense. This is the primary actor on the stage so set. ‘As I initially stage cognition as an ‘event of significance’ involving both the formed and the not-yet formed, the known and the unknown, and involving at once both the formation and the dissolution of order, here is the proper point to note one of the most significant, if not the most significant, characteristics of complex phenomena, that is self-organization. In its deepest sense .. , an ‘event of significance’ is an event where organization becomes – comes into being – that is, where no thing of its kind was there before and no thing other than itself brought it forth, like a hand holding a pencil, drawing its own contour in the very moment of drawing’ (emphasis of the author) [p 7]. DPB: Escher. Ideas are considered immanent to configurations and systems and are considered not to presuppose transcendental thinking subject, and hence organization is immanent to actual systems and actual interactions. ‘A thinking subject is itself such an actual system with interactions and organization that allow thinking to take place. I go yet further and argue that systems in general, by the mere fact of being organized can be said to think the Idea(s) immanent in their organizationindependently of an observing subject’ [p 8]. Thinking and being are inseparable. DPB: this seems akin to Wolfram’s idea of computational processes in nature: every process is computation. ‘I wish to further claim that no organization makes sense other than as a self-organization – an organization that brings itself into being on account of the individual interactions it organizes or coheres into a whole’ [p 9]. DPB: ‘to cohere something’ is a verb! Nobody else will do your organizing for you, the neighbors can go but as far as to irritate you into organizing yourself in this way or that: every organization is autopoietic. No: the author believes that self-organization is metaphysical: it is symmetry breaking and it is a result of attractions and repulsions and as a consequence some possible states are more likely to follow the present one than others. In addition to that, feedback leads to self-organization. 

1.2 On the Method

Interdisciplinary research is difficult to ground in the traditional scientific organization and funding. Systems theory allows for a method that is useful and recognizable also in traditional scientific disciplines. However, it has been found to be overly abstract and difficult to nuance to the science at hand and hence, in the shape of systems science it has become tailored to the needs of various disciplines and integrated into them, losing its generality. And as a consequence systems theory has not fulfilled the promise to become a universal interdisciplinary science, dissolving boundaries between sciences. Important in this research is the breaking with the classical object-oriented ontology to adopt a broad view. This means a focus on the periphery instead of the middle, dissolve instead of establish and sharpen boundaries, not to abstract, generalize, reify, unificate, but instead to highlight the unique, diverse and concrete. ‘Broad observation seeks to find connections and relations not on the basis of similarity but rather on the basis of difference’ [p 13]. It does not leave the outliers out of sight, and it realizes that the regular can emerge because of the existence of the irregular. The vague and the incoherent are not the negation of the concrete and the coherent but as a phase preceding it and giving rise to it: ‘In short, broad observation is a perspective that tries to capture not only the product but the productive’ [p 14]. Its pursuit is to improve the focus of the observation, and to dissolve the boundaries between disciplines. The main elements of the method are: 1. reflexivity as a property that describes the relations between observers and systems, namely the role of the observer when constructing a system 2. confluence of philosophy and science: science originates in philosophy until it became a different paradigm: ‘The problem, it seems, .. deeper conceptual barriers in how general intelligence is understood. My investigation targeted at complex creative processes such as cognition, evolution and self-organization aims to find ways to overcome these barriers. It is here that I find the scientific method in its narrow positivist sense too limited. Where the nature of distinction-making is under investigation, and where the complex relations of observer-phenomena are considered, the conceptual ground of the scientific paradigm naturally comes under scrutiny, and particularly the apparent alienation that emerged between science and philosophy. This is why I found it reasonable if not necessary to develop my thinking as a ground of confluence where science and philosophy meet and dynamically redraw their boundaries and relations’ [p 15] 3. Affirmative reasoning: a manner by which forces or influences relate, interact or even engage in a struggle or conflict without resorting to the negative: ‘The interrelations between ideas can be readily understood in terms of forces because what is significant about ideas is their impact on other ideas, on the formation of concepts, on the development of lines of thought through the consecutive selection of other ideas, and of course on eventual actions. Affirmation therefore is the manner by which relations between ideas can be examined in terms of their differences and how such differences are asserted without exclusion or negation’ [p 16]. DPB: this reminds me of the relations within a memeplex and they can have different relations with different strengths and how they are not necessarily dialectic but can (come to) have every size and shape. In a dialectic approach the negation becomes part of the identity of the other. As a non-trivial example: the selection as a part of Darwinian evolution is an affirmative mechanism: there is no negation of that which is not selected. 4. Significance before truth: investigating thought requires reasoning, but reasoning concerns methods for thought. An a priori truth must be assumed that supplies criteria for the method of reasoning to make valid distinctions. ‘Formally, reasoning is a method of establishing the truth or falsity of propositions. But propositions or statements of fact, whether objective or subjective, are already products of some prior mental process. Moreover, how can the necessary criterion of truth be given or assumed to exist prior to thought itself?’ [p 17]. When investigating thought itself, these criteria can be be presupposed, nor even thought itself: the question is where to start if so little can be used. Affirmative reasoning provides a start because no criterion for truth is presupposed, its starting point assumes much less: ‘Instead, affirmative reasoning attempts to map the significance of an idea in relation to other ideas from multiple perspectives. Treating ideas as forces, influences or intensities allows them to be related and connected even before their truthfulness or falsity is determinable or relevant. Significance as a guide to reasoning that comes prior to truth and does not have to presuppose it is therefore found to be an important methodical aid in this research’ [p 17]. DPB: this reminds me of the just-so stories in the sense that nothing can be a priori excluded as an idea with validity. Its validity is however limited to that of the other ideas in its neighborhood in the eye of the beholder at that point: that is the significance of the idea. 5. Cross-discipline knowledge mobility: knowledge can be applied across disciplinary boundaries: context-independent learning. 6. Collaboration: a discussion between representatives from different scientific disciplines already provides the envisioned broad vision: enjoy the differences!

1.3 A short overview of the thesis

Part 1

In Search of the Origin of Thought

Chapter 2

The Image of Thought

2.1 What everyone knows…

How does thought begin. A beginning must imply a limit or a borderline between thought and something which preceded thought but is other than thought’ [p 25]. How does one bring into thought something that is not thought; how can this above limit be crossed, or what are the conditions for thought to arise? Can a world prior to thought even exist? If it exists only in the thinkers mind then that is a paradox, because the existence of a thought-free world is now conditions of thought and a thinker. DPB: but is it necessary an entire world that is required for this? Can’t it be that prior to thought there is merely information processing and that once it crosses a certain threshold its designation changes to thought (as a stage in the development of a strand of information)? Common sense is often invoked as ‘the image of thought’: thought as its own singular precondition (I think (therefore) I am): everyone is assumed to know what it means to think. This image has also become connected with morality: the nature of thinking is good, the thinker is of good will, the relation between thought and truth is positive. It is connected with evolution because reasoning reflects the pursuit of the organism to survive in its environment: had thought been a bad thing the thinker would not survive. But the reasoning for survival precedes any other kind of reasoning and thought. But is it aimed at existing, conservative, preferring stability over change, purpose rather than open-ended, the image of thought is a utilitarian argument, but for which there is no natural reason.

2.2 The Image of Thought

Thought in this sense is a mere representation of the real to the Self, or conversely: representation transcends the dichotomy mind-nature. We can only operationally work with representations: pure ideas and things-in-themselves are unreachable ideals and they do not exist in an operational sense: ‘In a certain sense the subject-object dichotomy is an artifact of representation: it is the representation itself which creates a distinction between ‘inside self’ and ‘outside world’ [Heylighen doctoral thesis 1990, p 27]. The mediating function of representation is a central feature of the image of thought: thinking as representation. ‘There is indeed a model, in effect: that of recognition. Recognition may be defined by the harmonious exercise of all the faculties upon a supposed same object: the same object may be seen, touched, remembered, imagined or conceived…An object is recognized, however, when one faculty locates it as identical to that of another, or rather when all the faculties together relate their given and relate themselves to a form of identity in the object. Recognition thus relies upon a subjective principle of collaboration of the faculties for ‘everybody’ – in other words, a common sense [….] it is the common sense become philosophical’ [Deleuze, 1994, p 133, p 27]. Common sense is used in the sense of the faculties concerted as well as what it means to think common to all thinkers. The underlying idea is that if thought does not lead to truth then how can distinctions be made, categories be formed, identities be established, and hence how could thought proceed at all?

2.3 Critique of the Image of Thought

What is wrong with the claim that, for anything to be, it must be capable of being recognized [through representation] (Williams, 2003, p. 120)?” [p 29]. Deleuze critiques that the image of thought can only constitute ‘an ideal orthodoxy’ and by that philosophy can not complete its program to break with doxa; he points at the weakness of recognition as a model of thought, namely its banality: Deleuze refuses to believe that when we are recognizing we are thinking: as if thought could have been an act of extrapolating from everyday facts and as if more compromising adventures should not be sought. DPB: If the choices are: there is some pattern to talk about, whether virtual or real, or there isn’t. The can thinking also not be defined as the recognition of the fact that there is a pattern, and to verify whether it is a known patten, and if it is known then to recollect its name, and if there is no name that belongs to it then to describe it, and if it cannot be described in known words then to find words to circumscribe what it is that struck the eye, or whatever the things that it wasn’t (well, I can say with certainty that at least it wasn’t milk) or other means to communicate it to others. Because if thinking cannot have anything to do with recognition, then all that can be left is that thinking is processing those phenomena that are without pattern at all. But that is not what a (thinking) brain is about, it is there to make sense of whatever there is in the environment. ‘This text distinguishes two kinds of things: those which do not disturb thought and (as Plato will later say) those which force us to think. The first are objects of recognition: thought and all its faculties may be fully employed therein, thought may busy itself thereby, but such employment and such activity have nothing to do with thinking. Thought is thereby filled with no more than an image of itself, one in which it recognizes itself the more it recognizes things: this is a finger, this a table, Good Morning Theaetetus (Deleuze, 1994, p. 138)’ [p 30]. DPB: I am sure of Deleuzes’ position here: he seems to be thinking of known stuff only, not of pattern in general. The core critique of an image of thought as representations is its supposition of identity; it supposes three kinds of stable identity: 1. identity of objects of the world 2. the identity of objects of thought (concepts and categories for representing the world or self-reflecting objects of thought) and 3. the identity of thinking subjects coordinating the various operations of representation (and 4. the representation operation is presupposed also). Now it is assumed that these stable relations exist between the objects of the world and objects of thought representing them and to operate in the same manner in all instances of representation for all thinking subjects whatsoever [p 30]. This is what Deleuze means when he says that thought is filled with an image of itself. ‘Identities are ultimately stable entities; they cannot be anything but themselves’ [p 31]. The excluded middle claims that an object cannot have and not have some property; identities are stable elements that ‘are given to logical reasoning and consistent linguistic manipulation. The model of recognition as the image of thought is confined only to such self-identical elements and excludes everything else’ [p 31]. DPB: if the system consists of a finite number of defined objects and logical relations then this is not an open-ended but a confined system. All change can only exist if it complies with the conditions of the system’s elements. The concept of difference is central in Deleuze’s metaphysical thought and it is pivotal in how he sees (the beginning of) thought; difference precedes identity. These differences are harbingers (voorbode) of the new and the new has the power of the beginning: ‘The new, with its power of beginning and beginning again, remains forever new, just as the established was always established from the outset, even if a certain amount of empirical time was necessary for this to be recognized. What becomes established with the new is precisely not the new. For the new – in other words, difference – calls forth forces in thought which are not the forces of recognition, today or tomorrow, but the powers of a completely other model, from an unrecognized and unrecognizable terra incognita. What forces does this new bring to bear upon thought, from what central bad nature and ill will does it spring, from what central ungrounding which strips thought of its ‘innateness’, and treats it every time as something which has not always existed, but begins, forced and under constraint?’ (Deleuze, 1994, p 136) [p 31]. DPB: but this is recognition in its strongest form, the simple recognition of a thing one has seen before or one can easily reassemble and I agree that that sells the concept of thought short. Can the concept of recognition not be treated as a way of waking up to something that might hold important information for the system’s future? I reckon Deleuze will generate the same outcome: that it is difference that generates the new and that thinking the new cannot be explained by regurgitating (even if logically) the existing. To recognize means here that the image of the thing must first be cleansed of aberration before it can be recognized; in that sense the image of thought is dogmatic and there there is no room for deviance. But: ‘It is easy to accept, almost intuitively given, that any representation is always partial and that any object, person, relation or state of affairs contains hidden potentials of change that are never captured by any of its representations’ [p 32].

2.4 Thought sans image

This is the concept as it was described by the diamond sutra. The destruction of the image of thought amounts to: 1. abandonment of the idea that each of the functions is fit for its function (they are involuntary adventures) and 2. giving up the idea that common sense integrates the operation of the various faculties into a single representation (this is a discordant and unharmonious activity). ‘Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon. It may be grasped in a range of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering. In whichever tone, its primary characteristic is that it can only be sensed. [ .. ] It is not a quality but a sign. [..] It is not the given but that by which the given is given. It is therefore in a certain sense the imperceptible [insensible]. (Deleuze, 1994, pp. 139-40)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 34]. DPB: this reminds me of the signals in the autopoietic sense: they can only irritate the other persons exposed to it into a change. ‘The world, the object of thought and thinker are brought forth in thinking and there are no a priori categories that delineate what constitutes an ‘object’, a ‘world’ or a ‘thinker’. Thinking sans image is a pure becoming and, as will be further argued in chapter 6, all becoming is thinking. This is why the ‘encounter’ is, metaphysically speaking, fundamental’ [p 35]. DPB: as in my Logistical model, as the encounter occurs, the behavior and the meme are produced: the communication and the mind are damaged. DPB: people process information and it is called thinking. Firms process information and I don want to call that thinking because I want a good long distance between the processing of information by people that lends them their autonomy and the processing of information by firms that lends them theirs. The processing of information might in either case indeed be the same natural process and hence of the same order. But the audience is so much used to reading thinking as ‘thinking by people’ that it will not help the case of developing ideas of firms operating at a different scale such that their behavior develops independently of what interests the people associated with them.

Chapter 3

Thought and the Idea of Virtuality

The fundamental encounter is ‘the event of cognition that brings forth the recognizable products of thought as its products’ [p 37]. The ideas in this chapter are based on Bergson’s ideas about the virtual and the actual dimensions of thought: this sheds light on the concept of thought sans image and reframe thought from a cognitive-psychological process to a metaphysical process.

3.1 Bergson’s method of intuition

1. Relative knowing arises from the relation between an object of knowledge and a knowing agency. This is adopted by adopting a particular perspective on the object and it is therefore partial; this is associated with the image of thought as it starts from the idea of a separation between subject and object (Bergson: analysis). 2. Absolute knowing is acquired under circumstances where the subject and the object are not separated; no particular perspective is possible or required and the knowledge is absolute (Bergson: intuition): ‘By intuition is meant the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known, that is, to elements common both to it and other objects. To analyze, therefore, is to express a thing as a function of something other than itself (Bergson, 1946, pp. 7-8)’ [p 37-8]. This is very similar to the model of analysis shown earlier: ‘Analysis as a method of knowing facilitates all object-oriented mediated thinking, all conceptual thinking and by implication everything expressible in language’ [p 38]. Without language nothing gets done. Intuition finds its grounding in the way a person knows her state of consciousness: ‘It is true that no image can reproduce exactly the original feeling I have of the flow of my own conscious life. But it is not even necessary that I should attempt to render it. If a man is incapable of getting for himself the intuition of the constitutive duration of his own being, nothing will ever give it to him, concepts no more than images (Bergson, 1946, pp. 15-16). Heterogeneity, indivisibility (non-reduction) and mobility (“[I]n the human soul there are only processes.” (Bergson, 2001, p 131): these are the elements of thought prior to any representation or conceptualization. In other words, intuition by which one’s inner life captured transports us beyond the realm of representation and into the realm of thought sans image’ [p 38]. DPB: But hold on, this is about human thought alone! What about the ‘thinking’ processes in nature and in fact any process of becoming? Bergson treats intuition as a all encompassing method of knowing, but up to now it seems to be confined to the states of mind. How is ‘intellectual sympathy’ to be deployed beyond these the conscious states.

3.2 Bergson’s metaphysics

3.2.1 Bergson’s cognitive theory

Proposition 1. I-O model, where the rules lodged in the brain represent the interests of the body. Simple systems react automatically on the external impressions (automatically meaning governed by the rules of physics). Cognitively able bodies select which impressions they react to, namely the ones that serve their interests as they are represented by the rules in their brains. Those are selected by their perception, and hence the sole function of perception is action and it has no function to accumulate knowledge: ‘The brain appears to us to be an instrument of analysis in regard to the movement received and an instrument of selection[/determination] in regard to the action executed’ [p 40]. The fundamental difference between the simple bodies and the able bodies is that the latter experience a difference between the reception of an impression and the execution of the corresponding action, where an appropriate response is selected: perception and action are adaptively filtered: ‘Whatever belongs to action defines the present moment and is actual. Perception though being an aspect of action precedes action and in this sense is not actual’ (emphasis of the author) [p 40]. DPB: this reminds of Francis’ action ontology. 

Proposition 2. the agent’s memory is the whole of the gap between perception and action. This memory is its past experience. It is recruited (nice!) to participate in the formulation of action. This called recollection. DPB: the memory of a complex system is the configuration of its parts as a result of its past experience. That configuration and the properties of the parts and hence the relations between them, determine its memory and they determine what it is (identity) and they determine what is can do (domain of actions). I agree with No 2! ‘In other words, the whole of memory – the agent’s past – becomes actualized (i.e. involved in action) at every present moment’ (emphasis by the author) [p 41]. Perception and memory are intuitions: an unmediated rendering of matter and memory: ’It is indisputable that the basis of real, and so to speak instantaneous, intuition, on which our perception of the external world [matter in space] is developed, is a small matter compared with all that memory adds to it. Just because the recollection of earlier analogous intuitions is more useful than the [present] intuition [given in perception] itself, being bound up in memory with the whole series of subsequent events and capable thereby of throwing a better light on our decision, it supplants the real intuition of which the office is then merely we shall prove it later – to call up the recollection, to give it a body, to render it active and thereby actual’ (Bergson 1991, p. 66)’ [p 41]. DPB: this reminds me of computation in nature: there is no formal architecture to it, its design is its past experience, it is called upon by its immediate perception; and when called upon it associates ‘to the best of its knowledge’ with the patterns from the past it has in store and that it recognizes; this is how I have understood it from Spinoza. Perception is matter, recollection is memory.

3.2.2 Duration and Materiality

Bergson maintains that the memory is not encoded on the brain. Memory is the past per se; he terms it duration; it is independent of (spacebound) matter; the past is not a sequence of presents, but past as duration and present coexist, they are contemporaneous. DPB: I agree, the past is rewritten all the time, in fact at each perception, and hence it is as current as the present. Bergson argues that it must be contemporaneous else it could not be invoked to determine present action. A small fraction of duration is invoked at each perception and the other part of the iceberg is called a virtual state: not partaking in determining present action and therefore not actual. The virtual is formless, as in of unspecified form, without design, of infinite inseparable forms, indivisible and heterogeneous. This is how it works: ‘The images, episodes, and movie-like depictions as well as any other distinct mental formations such as concepts, structures, etc. that appear in one’s mind are extracts already bought from duration (the virtual dimension) into the actual dimension by the operation of recollection’ [p 42]. These are mental states occurring in the present. Just as perception is relevant material state in space, so recollection presents a relevant state of affairs in duration, memory dimension. Perception according to Bergson coordinates so seamless with recollection that it is impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends: ‘that makes the present act itself out and pass into the past. .. the present is not, it is pure becoming, while the past does not cease to be. It is, though it remains useless and inactive (Deleuze, 1991, p. 55)’ [p 43]. DPB: I agree. This is important also. Action is becoming, leading to the present: what is perceived and with the causally sterile virtual. ‘This progressive movement from the causally sterile virtual into the actual is termed becoming or actualization (determination of action DPB)’ [p 43]. Cognition in this sense is the fundamental encounter at the event of the virtual becoming actual; the synthesis of perception and recollection, of matter and memory, a metaphysical transformation immanent in every moment.

Notes

Bergson makes a distinction between recognition of objects and recognition of a pattern, namely a formative process involving the entire duration, bringing forth a mental object from a an unformed mental state. DPB: this last one is what is recognizing of an unknown (unfamiliar) pattern: this can be seen as ‘to make sense of’. 

3.3 The Features of Duration-Space Duality

How thing and states differ and how they compare to each other. All differences appear as differences in space (quantitative: more or less, extended bodies) or differences in duration (qualitative: kinds, unextended bodies). In the traditional approach this seemed a psychological-cognitive feature, but it goes deeper and quantitative and qualitative turn out to be extremes of the same metaphysical continuum.

3.3.1 Quantity and Space

A body can be said to be contained in another body, or a body can be said to contain more elements than another, and so their relation is determined by a difference of size. If physical space is the feature of the extensity of physical bodies then space itself is abstract; all spaces are particular cases of it; space can be filled with abstract bodies. Additional features: homogeneity, immobility, simultaneity, distinctiveness, divisibility, discrete multiplicities, and in addition: 1. ‘.. extended bodies in space are conceived by the mind as unities and multiplicities. .. It is the projection in space in thought that transports a body from intuition to analysis’ [pp. 47-8]. 2. ‘.. it is possible by means of symbolic representation to project into space and bring into quantitative relations aspects of the mind that are essentially not extended’ [p 48]. 3. ‘.. time in its conventional use is a measure and therefore is a spatial dimension with all the features mentioned above. Changes in mental states that are essentially qualitative can be projected into time and by that gain temporal extensity (e.g., yesterday I was sad, but today I am happy, it has been a trying period etc.) – the extent of the time they last’ [p 49].

3.3.2 Quality and Duration

Intensity concerns the unextended: it is the essential property of anything given in quality, the equivalent of extensity. It is assigned to mental states and it expresses the magnitude with which the state is experienced. According to Bergson a multiplicity of unextended bodies cannot be measured: qualitative changes (changes of intensity) form an independent metaphysical dimension, namely duration. This can be illustrated by two aspects of the movement of a body through space: the physical trajectory, and the sense of motion or mobility: ‘.. the successive positions of the moving body really do occupy space, but that the process by which it passes from one position to the other, a process which occupies duration and which has no reality except for a conscious spectator, eludes space. We have to do here not with an object, but with a progress: motion, in so far as it is a passage from one point to another, is a mental synthesis, a psychic and therefore unextended process. .. This is just the idea of motion which we form when we think of it by itself, when, so to speak, from motion we extract mobility. (Bergson, 2001, pp. 110-11)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 50]. What takes place in duration is synthesis in progress: mobility is grasped at once and it endures in one’s mind as an undivided mental state, while its nature is the change, not the distinct positions but the succession. Characteristic features of duration are: heterogeneity, mobility, succession, non-distinctiveness, indivisibility, qualitative multiplicities (interpenetrating heterogeneous states), no negation (duration is indivisible and hence it cannot contain negation). Duration is the past or memory, but it is not organized as a sequence of distinct causally related events: it is not history. History is a projection of immobilized moments in a spatial-like dimension of time. Duration represented as cone-shaped, where the tip is the present where duration together with the immediate perception actualizes the moment. The base of the cone represents all the past moments in their distinct form, without interpenetration. Between the tip and the base all these moments exist on an infinite number of planes but each with a different degree of interpenetration of the moments: each has a different degree of contraction or compression of states, images, episodes and events: a unity of duration or virtual coexistence. The entire cone is mobile and as the tip actualizes all the contemporaneous planes are affected. ‘It (duration) is no other than the incessant mobility of the virtual. Its heterogeneity is far from random disorder, but neither is it order as yet. Now one can better appreciate the significance of the idea of reality as a metaphysical meeting point between the virtual and the actual. This meeting point is an essential aspect of the event of cognition that brings forth image out of image-less, sense out of nonsense, and form out of formlessness, or in short, gives birth to concrete thought forms by crossing the apparent impasse between thought sans image and thought as representation’ [p 54].

3.3.3 Quality-Quantity, Duration-Space, Virtual-Actual

These are the facets of reality in the Bergson metaphysics, each a duality. Duration is added to space: a mobile, irreducible and qualitative dimension accessible only by intuition. These two dimensions permeate each other ongoing in consciousness: ‘Sometimes thought is flowing without image and more than anything else it is felt as pure qualitative movement. At other times it progresses in distinct consecutive steps, each immobilized, conceptualized and recognized and by that separated from all the rest. It all has to do with the degree by which the moments endure in each other, to which degree the past encroaches on the present and to what extent the present melts into the the past as it passes’ [p 55]. Quality emerges from sensations, ‘trillions of vibrations onto a receptive surface’, and hence it is contracted quantity. The notion of contracting allows to go beyond the duality quality-quantity and to pass from one to the other ongoing so as to dissolve the dualism.

3.4 A Metaphysics of Change and Self-Organization

Up to this point duration and the virtual presupposed a cognitively able agent. In this section this presupposition is further investigated so as to develop space and duration (from psychological states of perception and recollection) to metaphysical dimensions. Now Bergsonian thought can become a paradign of complexity thinking.

3.4.1 Extensity and Divisibility Revisited

But now suppose that this homogeneous space is not logically anterior, but posterior to material things and to the pure knowledge which we can have of them; suppose that extensity is prior to space; suppose that homogeneous space concerns our action and only our action, being like an infinitely fine network which we stretch beneath material continuity in order to render ourselves masters of it, to decompose it according to the plan of activities and our needs. Then, not only has our hypothesis the advantage of bringing us into harmony with science, which shows us each thing exercising an influence on all the others and, consequently, occupying, in a certain sense, the whole of the extended. [..] [I]f we suppose an extended continuum, and, in this continuum, the center of real action which is represented by our body, its activity will appear to illuminate all those parts of matter with which at each successive moment it can deal. The same needs, the same power of action, which have delimited our body in matter, will also carve out distinct bodies in the surrounding medium. {DPB: the structure of space is determined by the things in it: extensity is prior to space. Then space exists only for us to make sense of the universe, we defined it. This conforms to science, because it explains why everything exercises influences on everything else. If our body is at the center of action, then its activity illuminates everything it influences and everything that is influenced by it. Their actions will distinguish all the bodies in the medium. And continues:} Everything will happen as if we allowed to filter through us that action of external things which is real [i.e., applies to interactions with the rest of the universe], in order to arrest and retain that which is virtual: this virtual action of things upon our body and of our body upon things is our perception itself (Bergson, 1991, pp. 231-2)’ [pp. 56-7]. DPB: this reminds me of the idea that a body is essentially constituted (or designed) by its organization; and this claims that that organization results from the influence of the powers of the bodies in the environment. And hence that that organization is the virtual that is the memory of thís body as a consequence of thóse experiences. That memorized experience is perception. Extensity is metaphysical, divisibility and measurement is posterior to it: space belongs to representation. The metaphysical dimensions (continua) are extensity and intensity. They are similar but extensity is homogeneous and intensity is heterogeneous. ‘The actual is what is brought to action in material continuity where space as divisibility is only stretched by the mind beneath this material continuity in order to divide it and immobilize that which it has divided’ [p 57]. But why does extended matter appear to perception as distinct bodies? If the knowledge we gain is given by intuition then it is absolute and it cannot be conditioned by the perceiver. This is resolved as follows: 1. extensity captured by intuition is a virtual continuum (like duration it is undivided, indistinct and not yet formed) 2. perception is a process analogous to recollection: from a virtual extensity it brings into form (determines) only the aspects of materiality relevant to the actions of the cognitive agent: ‘In other words, it is the process of perception that conditions what initially is not’ [p 57]. DPB: this reminds me of the idea that recognition can also imply that a pattern is perceived without a name (for the time being unless it is not a dangerous pattern). 

3.4.2 Mobility First

Extensity and duration are extremes of one continuum. The other continuum in Bergsonian metaphysics is mobility; he criticizes the opposite namely essentialism (variation is an expression of what is invariable). But ‘Immobility arises from division and representation and is secondary. It is always preceded by mobility, but mobility is preceded by nothing. Static objects, ideas, concepts and relations are thus only superficial constructs. Underneath appearances, in their metaphysical nature, they are mobile’ [p 58]. The event of cognition is now not only the meeting point of the virtual and the actual, but also the meeting point of the mobile and the immobile. The virtual and the actual are mobile: immobilizing the virtual unrealized yet already recognized possibilities are conceived. The event of cognition is characterized by movement from mobile to immobile (and vv) and from virtual to actual (and vv).Mobility is the mark of thought sans image, unsupported thought.

3.4.3 Everything Endures

Duration – one’s own and others’ – as a dimension is accessible to intuition. Is it accessible for conscious agents alone, or for all bodies? The answer lies in the more complex hypothesis of metaphysical self-organization.

3.4.4 Metaphysical Self-organization

This answers the questions in which sense duration is metaphysical and how this theory brings forth distinct things from a continuum. The non-separation (or unity) of duration and extensity is assumed. 1. Self-organization: an inherent tendency engendering a productive process 2. A plurality of durations: when things separate and no longer permeate each other their duration separates also and diverges into a plurality of durations: a present passes into each actor’s ‘private’ duration 3. Degrees of duration and separation: a thing can endure to the extend that its duration can contract and dynamically interact with its actuality. As universal duration diverges the things that emerge do not entirely endure in each other but are not entirely separate: things reflect the whole of duration but to varying and limited extends, neither unity nor separation can be said to be absolute 4. Universal perception: the perception of a thing of some other thing singles out the possible modes of interaction between them: ‘Similar to how perception makes extended things more or less distinct for a cognitive agent in a manner that serves its tendencies, so all extended things perceive other such things as more or less distinct according to their own unique enduring tendencies. Universal perception is virtual. .. This can be read to mean that in pure perception (without the intervention of memory) the mind of the perceiver extends itself into the things being perceived. Touching the reality of an object from within by placing one’s mind in it, is what Bergson calls intellectual sympathy. Inn being perceived, therefore, extended material things partake in a mind, but the mind they partake in is not entirely theirs. The crucial point here is that at the instance of perception, this mind is not entirely the perceiver’s either; it is shared among all received things at that moment. Ultimately, the mind manifesting as intuition at every moment does not strictly belong to any single thing yet it partakes in all things perceived by each other’ (emphasis of the author) [pp. 64-5]. DPB: this reminds of the logistical model where the mind takes note of the communication as well as the communication takes note of the mind it deals with at that time. Interesting here is that the perceptions are connected and that a perception of one is added to the other and the universal perception, a kind of a bubble. Stable objects, states, relations arise because their interactions become limited, their repertoire of activities becomes mutually constrained [p 65]. DPB: this reminds of the structural coupling (Luhmann) and mutual orientation (Maturana and Varela). 5. Cognitively able embodied agents: living systems are only special cases in the continua: ‘Inasmuch as symbolic representation is available to such systems, it serves in both immobilizing the flow of actual activities and forming concrete memories out of a mobile duration. Cognitive agents endowed with such linguistic and concept forming capabilities as means of immobilization are therefore powerful catalysts of self-organization in that they bring forth a world of objects, states and relations’ [p 65]. 6. Beyond realism and idealism: realism presupposes observer-independent existence, but: the hypothesis of metaphysical self-organization states that: ‘under the condition of mobility and heterogeneity, everything observes and is being observed, everything perceives and is being perceived and consequently everything endures in everything else (to various degrees)’ [p 66]. idealism states that everything endures only as an immobile idea accessible only to a limited set of presupposed cognitively able agents, but: ‘ideas are always secondary products of fundamental mobility’ [p 66].

Summary

Metaphysical self-organization means that the metaphysical continuum spontaneously manifests objects, states ad relations with various degrees of mobility and immobility. This tendency engenders a productive process that brings forth objects, states and relations. This brings forth a 3-d kind of multiplicity (quantity/ space, quality/duration) that is discrete and qualitative. ‘All things, whether conscious or not, partake in a distributed mind (in the sense explained above) which is neither entirely unified, nor entirely plural, neither universal nor localized. This is virtual co-existence. The event of cognition and metaphysical self-organization are complementary descriptions. While the first term highlights a metaphysical meeting point (virtual-actual, mobile-immobile), the second term highlights its fundamental mobility and flow (“a living and therefore still moving eternity”)’[p 66].

Chapter 4: Deleuze’s Nomad Reality

The basis for this chapter is Deleuze’s work on the nature of reality, rooted in Bergsonian metaphysics. It is characterized by: 1. mobility and difference rather than stable entities (Bergson mobility, Deleuze nomad: introduction of the concepts of difference and repetition), 2. thought beyond the human condition (Bergson no, Deleuze yes, not assuming a thinking agent not the human way of thought) and 3. thinking as a process of creation rather than discovery of what exists (philosophical innovations). ‘The virtual is not opposed to the real but to the actual. .. Indeed, the virtual must be defined as strictly a part of the – as though the object had one part of itself in the virtual into which it plunged as though into an objective dimension’ (Deleuze, 1994, pp. 209-210)’ [p 68]. The virtual dimension to Deleuze is as real as the actual dimension. Bergsonian picture of the structure of duration was the (vague) description of the cone. Deleuze pictures the virtual’s structure detailed: differences, variations, relations of variations. The virtual dimension means what happens moment by moment, but it is causally sterile: ‘It is not the virtual aspect of an object that causes actual change, but rather actual change that selectively expresses (individuates) virtual tendencies. The actual dimension of reality is a universe of interconnected and interacting individuals affecting and being affected by each other. That reality is both actual and virtual means that difference and change are inherent in every aspect of it’ [p 68]. Stability and identity are only superficial, the real is always in flux, always different from itself, hence a nomad reality. ‘The virtual and the actual dimensions do not constitute a dualism; they incessantly penetrate, reconfigure and reflect each other’ [p 68]. This is Deleuze’s fundamental reality. 

4.1 Difference and Repetition

4.1.1 The Concept of Difference

In the traditional view the concept of difference in itself is understood as: separation, negation. In Deleuze’s view it is understood as radically connecting and confirming. Conventionally ‘difference in itself’ means that something is not the same as something already known or what sets two things apart in some aspect that are the same in other aspects. These are now differentiated and made distinct, but:’ Things that share nothing in common can hardly be said to differ in any sense. They are just incomparable. .., difference is a relation of exteriority between things that are laid out as partially or wholly distinct (but sharing some space where they are made comparable). More formally: the very notion of difference is bi-lateral: if A is different from B in some sense X, necessarily B is different from A in the same sense’ [p 69]. The ‘in itself’ of ‘difference in itself’ is a relation of interiority and does not presuppose anything. Duration means that all of the past endures in the present and the present passes its changes to all of the past: this is exactly this, that a relation of interior difference exists when something changes but endures in the change and is inseparable from it (emphasis of DPB) [p 69]. ‘Difference is this state in which determination takes the form of unilateral distinction (Deleuze, 1994, p 28)’ [p 70]. This difference as a unilateral determination follows from a struggle between a will to remain indistinct and a will to differ, and by that create. These wills are interior to each other and therefore inseparable. The part that cannot separate itself from the other part must be indistinguishable in itself and not only in relation to the recent determination: ‘It must not contain distinct separable parts’ [p 70]. A kind of a priori inherent mobility is a condition for this unilateral determination. This means that the ‘espousing part’ already has innumerable unilateral distinctions or differences in itself. The reasoning is this: if there is even one unilateral determination then determination is possible; But if it is possible, then it was always possible lest difference in itself would not exist, or it would originate in a mysterious cause that suddenly renders the impossible possible; but that mysterious cause would itself have to have a cause. Given that determination was always possible now all such differences must coexist at once: ‘Difference in itself, therefore, is inherently multiple where each difference implies a multiplicity of differences, each of which in turn implies another multiplicity ad infinitum. Since each difference is a unique determination (incomparable to any other), all multiplicities are also heterogeneous’ [p 70]. In this way difference is generative that unfolds infinite variety. ‘What we have at hand is a description of a vast plane of pure differences without anything concrete to be different from. There is some resemblance with Bergsonian virtual duration, it is barer and vaster: barer because difference in itself is neither qualitative nor extensive, vaster because Bergson’s duration is populated only with what has already happened in the past, while difference in itself involves determinations that never reached actualization. The logic of difference is to do with determination, the indeterminate is indifferent. Equivocal means that identity is metaphysical, univocal means that as far as things exist, they exist in the same sense: ‘There has only been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal (Deleuze 1994, p. 35). And he clarifies: “In effect, the essential in univocity is not that Being is said in a single and same sense, but that it is said, in a single and same sense, of all its individuating differences or intrinsic modalities. Being is the same for all these modalities, but these modalities are not the same. ..” (Deleuze, 1994, p. 37)’ [p 72]. The understanding of being is shifted from equivocal to univocal. Being includes individuating differences, but it does not provide an overarching unifying principle for them, and hence univocal being stands at the basis of multiplicity. ‘The individuating differences Deleuze mentions here are those unilateral determinations that eventually bring forth concrete forms out of the indifferent (though we do not know at this stage how). With this move of shifting from equivocal to univocal understanding, Deleuze effectively replaces identity with difference as primary metaphysical element and subordinates everything to difference’ [p 72]. The metaphysical structure is summarized as: ‘If individuation does not take place either by form or by matter, neither qualitatively nor extensionally, this is not only because it differs in kind but because it is already presupposed by the forms, matters and extensive parts (Deleuze, 1994, p. 38)’ [p 73]. Difference in itself as a field of individuation is virtual, it is not active and not a difference from anything actual or within a representation, but ‘It (individuation) exists as an element of pure change and its relations to the actual are yet to be clarified’ [p 73].

4.1.2 Repetition…Repetition…

Difference and repetition are the building blocks of Deleuze’s metaphysics. 

Passive synthesis – Repetition for itself

Traditionally the concept of generality derives from a resemblance between things; establishing resemblance means to define the identity from which they derive. Generality therefore derives from identity, where differences are secondary; repetition as generality means reappearance of the same but with insignificant differences; resemblance allows substitution. Repeating as per Deleuze is in relation to something unique, singular and irreplaceable; in conventional thinking resemblance between instances of repetition makes repetition matter, Deleuze focuses on the differences between the instances: ‘For there to be repetition, instances of the repetition must differ from each other (e.g. in place, time, or other details). Repetition therefore cannot be rooted in the identity of the terms. It is differences synthesized together and not the points of similarity that makes repetition matter (Williamson, 2003, chap. 2)’ [p 75]. The condition for repetition is not in the repeating instances because they have no a priori relation between them; repetition cannot take place within the instances, and as a consequence they are external and they must be for something; repetition must have a space or a background where it takes place; an instance of repetition appears and others endure (endure as do multiplicities). ‘It (passive synthesis) is a constitution of instances, singular and unique, into another instance that contains them. Within this new instance the composed instances hold a relation of interiority. It is only on account of their endurance within each other that repetition is said to be’ [p 75]. It is similar to how movement is a synthesis of consecutive locations in space. In repetition the instances are synthesized, they are passive because not external action is required, it is not for anything else, but for itself: it is its own background; as such passive synthesis constitutes time itself. 

Systems of Signs

Repetitions can be open-ended or enclosed within each other, they can consist of the repeating of a sequence of a sequence. Signs are products of passive synthesis; every instance of a sign is a unique individual: ‘There is no a priori principle of of resemblance to make the instances of a sign comparable. In other words, comparability is the effect of repetition and not its condition. Signs at any level participate in other syntheses, passive or active, and form complex hierarchical and recursive structures. Such structures compose actual reality’ [pp. 77-8]. DPB: all this revolves around the patterning and self-organization. Reality is constituted in the repetition of individual instances and how apparently stable behaviors (or even objects and their boundaries) are relations between repeating patterns of change. Recognition in representation is a repetition. 

Repetition and Difference

Repetition is based on the synthesis of different instances not derived from a prior identity; actual repetition always hides a virtual repetition. Difference in itself is intrinsically multiple, and hence difference in itself repeats. It repeats not for something external to it but for itself in itself; passive synthesis can clarify this inner repetition: differences as unilateral determinations are synthesized together to form compound differences; differences can be composed from an ordinal series of other differences preserving the unilateral property: ‘Every consecutive term in the sequence is a difference that determines something not yet determined in the previous term and as the sequence proceeds, each term endures in the following one’ [p 79]. ‘In summary: repetition and difference thus redefined provide the corner stones of a nomad reality that does not require any reference to identifiable metaphysical elements’ [p 80].

4.2 The Structure of the Virtual

Articulation of the structure of the virtual leads up to a description of the architecture of change, difference. Each determination in a series of differences (being a series of consecutive determinations) is a selective event: it introduces a reduction in the variety of determinations that can follow it; in this way it breaks the symmetry of the indifference (namely absolute disorder) preceding it, lest the indifferent remain indifferent and determination come from indifference. The effect of a determination must be to make a difference. 

4.2.1 Intensities

Bergson associates intensity with qualitative differences (opposed to quantitative differences). Deleuze constructs the virtual aspect of reality from metaphysical elements: ‘Even though such elements are immanent in the actual manifestations that express them, they remain entirely outside of the realm of sensible manifestation’ [p 81]. DPB: this reminds me of the existence of memes. They can become manifest when they assist the mind with thought processes (the expression is a (memory of a) thought) and they can also become manifest as a cultural expression (the expression is a church). A meme can be known by deriving it through the tracing it back from its expressions: the memory of a thought and the cultural expression respectively. But never are the memes themselves available to the senses. The way people’s thoughts are constructed is not observable to them and we can only guess after the meaning of a church building. Can both these manifestations be said to be recorded on a medium stigmergically: as a tool for thought is it recorded as memories of thoughts in human minds and as a church they are recorded in the physical environment of people (and other species). ‘For Deleuze both the extensive and the qualitative belong to the actual aspect of reality while intensive differences or intensities in short are virtual’ [p 81]. DPB: I find this confusing: my understanding is that the extensive is measured quantitatively and the intensive is measured qualitatively. But Bergson had already tried to reconcile the duality by using the concept of contractions in duration, Deleuze says: ‘Difference is a matter of degree only within the extensity in which it is explicated; it is a matter of kind only with regard to the quality which covers it within that extensity. Between the two [i.e. the difference in degree and difference in kind in actuality] are all the degrees of difference beneath the two [ in the virtual dimension beneath what is sensible] lies the entire nature of difference – in other words, the intensive. Differences of degree are only the lowest degree of difference , and differences in kind are the highest for of difference (Deleuze, 1994, p. 239)’ [p 82]. DPB: this makes sense. Now difference becomes metaphysical instead of a duality. Now intensity brings forth both extensity and quality, but this is not a ground for their unification; intensity is different in itself and it is not a place to answer these kinds of questions. ‘For Deleuze, intensity can initially be understood as a term reflecting the dramatization of difference. Every difference implies a certain differentiating force that operates within the indifferent and brings forth a determination – a departure from what is, a becoming. All change (difference) is related to power (intensity). All differences, therefore, are intensities. Inasmuch as difference is a virtual relation, so is intensity. The force implied in intensity is a power relation associated with difference. Intensities only interact with other intensities (similar to Nietzschean forces), creating complex configurations. As such they do not cause actual effects’ [p 82]. ‘Intensities are differences that affect other differences and introduce change within change’ [p 83]. DPB: this reminds me of amplification: the intensity is difference embodied, and it is difference in itself; the dramatization can be a form of amplification. The amplification is indeed an effect resulting from the interpenetration of the environment and intensity. Intensity is a relation between series that is bi-directional but not necessarily symmetrical: ‘.. the communication or correlation between the two series is already an effect because the series of second order differences is the one from which the two other originate and is ‘hidden’ beneath them’ [p 83]. DPB: some billiards ball has hit another and now there is a regularity, and if either of the balls hit another, there is more regularity. That primal regularity is the mother of the other regularities. Laying eyes on the others, one can ask where they come from and the answer is the first one, common to both. But this is a physical and concrete system with causal relations and the relations of intensities are non-causal, only difference to difference. ‘As we will see apparent causes are only secondary effects. The whole dynamics can be described in terms of relations of pure differences that are expressed by how the walking body and ground body affect and are being affected by each other. The resemblance and implied identity that can be derived in actuality all originate from a series of differences that precedes them’ [p 83]. DPB: first there is a difference and then there is action which will after the fact turn out to have had a cause. The significance of intensity is 1. organizing element concerning complex systems with differential relations and 2. as a mediating element between the virtual and the actual that is expressed by actual forces that bring forth extensive and qualitative changes; ‘.. inasmuch as differences are expressed by form, intensity is expressed by force. Actual intensities are driving actual processes of change and tend to cancel in the process’ [p 84]. DPB: expression of memes.

4.2.2 Multiplicities

Bergson identified the quantitative multiplicity to describe space and the qualitative multiplicity to describe duration. Deleuze sometimes refers to multiplicity as variety and it is similar to Bergson’s qualitative multiplicity, but Deleuze’s version is not qualitative: it is not sensed but pure difference. Difference in itself implies multiplicity. The ground from which differential determinations arise endures in them. ‘Through repetition differences develop into series of differences, each of such series is a multiplicity. Moreover, every single difference can also have an indefinitely fine structure of differences in itself. This gives rise to an indefinitely complex and interconnected architecture – a multiplicity of multiplicities. Multiplicities are fully interconnected and because of their interconnectedness, no part of the virtual is excluded or separate from any other part. In this sense the virtual as a vast multiplicity is a pure interiority; it has no exteriority but the actual. Consequently, the virtual does not give rise to relations of negation or opposition – it is purely affirmative’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 84]. Multiplicity replaces the metaphysics of Essences (essence as the element of identity is replaced with multiplicity as an element of difference) and Ideas (Deleuze claims that the virtual is the realm of ideas but redefined to mobile virtual multiplicities). 

4.2.3 Ideas in the Wild

How do progressive determinations bring about actual determinations. ‘Deleuze seeks for a structure which accounts for determinable differences to be determined while remaining indeterminate (Williams, 2003, pp. 138-140)’ [ p 86]. DPB: this riddle is the outcome of a nested function (or perhaps of the halting problem / Entscheidungsproblem). Ideas in the Deleuzian sense are synthesized from differences and relations between differences.

4.2.3.1 Ideas are Problems

Conventionally, to have an idea is to be able to represent it in terms of appropriate thought forms. For Deleuze, to have an Idea about something is to infer a problem to which that something is a solution’ [p 86]. Ideas have no identity, but are only a stage facilitating the activity of determination and its products (identities as specific solutions). DPB: is it possible that Deleuzes’ Ideas are some kind of meme?

4.2.3.2 Ideas are Multiplicities

Ideas are like differential equations as they draw relations not between variables, but between differentials of variables or differences. .. differences reciprocally determine each other in their relations but without ever having to actually determine final values to variables’ [p 87]. An idea is not a multiplicity as such but an n-dimensional system of variables with relations between the differential elements of these variables; three conditions on the emergence of an idea: 1. an idea is a virtual element without an a priori identity, 2. the elements of an idea are only reciprocally determined via their relations, and 3. a differential relation must be actualized in diverse relationships at the same time. The virtual underlies the actual aspect of reality and it is intrinsic to it. 

4.2.3.3 Singularities and Significance

As virtual constructs Ideas are never overt. They always hide beneath their manifestations and their structure can only be inferred from their manifestations’ [p 89]. DPB: If Deleuzes Ideas are not memes, then they are very similar, the what are they! Singularities are features of the relation between the differences that constitute an Idea. The features become prominent in the process of actualization to also substantiate in the actual systems. Differences can reciprocally determine each other and they can have some kind of behavior on some part of their domains, but if some other part of the domain is reached then they can exhibit some other behavior: the point of change of kind of relation of their behavior is defined as a singularity. This definition of Ideas as distributions of singularities at relative positions on a topological landscape affirms change &c. In this formulation the concept of an Idea can combine the concreteness of determination and the universality of indetermination: ‘On the one hand, Ideas are immanent in actual manifestations. If there are no manifestations, there is no way to conceive of an Idea. To conceive of an Idea is to bring it into being – to actualize and express it. Yet, Ideas remain universal because they can be expressed in an indefinite number of different ways. Actual expressions are solutions that point back to the problems (Ideas) they solve, but they never exhaust the problem’ [p 91]. This construction of Ideas replaces the Aristotelian essences in thought.

4.2.3.4 The Plane, Adjunct Fields, Assemblages

All Ideas in the virtual are interwoven together into a construct named the plane of consistency (Deleuze, Guattari, 1987; Parr, 2010). .. It (the word plane DPB) is rather understood under the principle of univocity, namely, that metaphysically speaking there are no hierarchies of being among Ideas, though there are structural hierarchies expressed in actuality. Every Idea can envelop or be enveloped in other Ideas in various configurations. The word consistency indicates that Ideas are interconnected and have no relations of contradiction or negativity among them’ (emphasis of the author) [p 92]. DPB: this reminds me of the landscape of Jobs, where memes influence minds and they influence Luhmannian communications. There is a plane of the mind and there is a plane off the communication and there are the memes in between them. In the concept of the Idea there is a plane of Ideas and it influences the mind and the communications. The adjunct fields of an Idea draw a contour as an associating network that influences how the actualization of the Idea takes place; it is one Idea and all the Ideas that connect to it. DPB: is this not a memeplex, is an example of this not the RC church? The virtual dimension of reality is internally fully connected and so all the Ideas can be said to participate in every state of affairs. Yet in actualization some Ideas are highlighted and others disappear from view, obscuring them. That process of highlighting and obscuring belongs to processes of observing, actualized processes. How this comes to be depends on the assemblages, the way individual people connect and interact and how th underlying Ideas are associated among them. DPB: that is my population and the thing they discuss the discourse or the memeplex.

4.3 Individuals – Nomad Structures

The subject of this section is the structure of the virtual aspect of reality: the virtual is pure structure, the actual is where the change is actualized. Individuals such as objects, concepts, thoughts, sensations, processes, organisms, relations are the elements of actual reality: ‘They are not beings but rather becomings; they exist not as what they are but as what they continually become – carriers of difference. Critically, individuals are the determinations and the expressions of Ideas’ [p 94]. DPB: interestingly my monads are an anagram of the letters of the word nomads; nomad is undoubtedly the more suitable word for the concept of a becoming entity, because monad is so laden with Leibnizian meaning (i.e. essentialism) that it can only be used with some possibly misplaced irony. Individuals are the expressions of Ideas: that I can imagine, given that the Idea is the resultant of the forces exerted on something (e.g. a meme), it can motivate someone to express itself in the shape of an individual. Individuals are the determinants of Ideas: individuals determine Ideas: what does this mean? Individuals form the environment for processes and so they provide the input to the I-O systems that they are and in that sense they determine the Ideas. For Deleuze individuals are not the derivatives of more general categories or hierarchies but bottom-up creations: small differences in the driving elements (gene frequencies in populations, temperature differences driving phase transitions, chemical gradients that drive embryonic development) form individuals. ‘Individuals are always expressions of the whole of the realm of Ideas. By highlighting certain Ideas and obscuring others, an individual manifests an asymmetry of expression, that is, an asymmetry in the clarity and the coherency of expression. This is how individuals acquire identity and manifest a unique perspective of each individual on the whole. The unique identity and asymmetric perspective of each individual always involves the assemblage it forms by interacting with other individuals’ [pp. 94-5]. DPB: an assemblage is the domain of interactions from autopoietic theory. On the landscape of activities it is the subset of those activities that the individual can engage in, its repertoire. ‘Expressing virtual intensities, individuals are intrinsically mobile (nomad) entities. The identity and perspective they manifest are fleeting and only apparent (in the sense of being secondary to the metaphysical element of difference). Individuals are inseparable from a process of individuation that brings them forth’ [p 95]. DPB: here are memes, nomads, and individuation in one context. Individuals are the loci of individuation.

Chapter 5: Individuation

Being>> Becoming, Identity>>Difference, Object>>Process, Individual>>Individuation. This chapter is about the genesis of individuals in a Deleuzian metaphysical system.

5.1 Simondon’s Theory of Individuation

5.1.1 Being and its Genesis

Simondon’s point of departure is a critique on two existing views on the reality of being. In the substantialist view there is no genesis and being is uncreated. The hylomorphic approach means that form is impressed on matter. Both assume a process of individuation prior to the existence of the individual and a complete individual is presupposed. Reverse engineering the concept of individuation from the starting point, it now needs a principle to attain the individual in the end. If there is a principle of individuation, it has to be the unfoldment of one individual into another. Simondon’s intention is to reverse the relation from individuals changing into their next version to: ‘The individual would then be grasped as a relative reality, a certain phase of being that supposes a preindividual reality, and that, even after individuation, does not exist on its own, because individuation does not exhaust with one stroke the potentials of preindividual reality (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ [p 98]. The conditions for a process of individuation to precede any individual are: 1. there is a preindividual reality or a field of individuation which is not preceded by any individual 2. individuation does not stop and 3. (as per Deleuze’s unilateral determinations) Simondon argues that individuation cannot bring forth individuals in a vacuum and instead produce a partitioned existence of individual and background. To fulfill these condtions a new metaphysical systems is required where no individuation is already encoded (does this mean presupposed?).

5.1.2 Being and Becoming

Simondon’s innovation is that individuation takes place within being: ‘It designates a becoming within being – not a specific becoming but the becoming of being as such. .. “Individuation is thus considered as the only ontogenesis, insofar as it is an operation of the complete being. Individuation must therefore be considered as a partial and relative resolution that occurs in a system that contains potentials and encloses a certain incompatibility in relation to itself – an incompatibility made of forces of tension as well as of the impossibility of an interaction between the extreme terms of the dimensions (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 98]. DPB: this reminds me of the argument of ‘l’englobement du contraire’ of Luhmann: the distinction is made in the thing in itself, in this case the being ‘englobes’ the becoming. Also it reminds me of the balancing between attractors and repellers that are the results of the forces and incompatibilities between different dimensions within the system. 

5.1.3 The Process of Individuation

Individuation is a process that brings forth individuals. DPB: and so logically it can only be known afterwards whether something was a process of individuation or another kind of a process? Simondon borrows the framework of dynamic systems theory, namely far from equilibrium systems. Individuation is a result from tensions in the system in problematic situations. DPB: this reminds of the situation where there is damage to the system, namely a radical change in the environment – outside of the domain of interactions of the system – causing a dramatic change internal to it. The text says: ‘The problematic situation, that is, any situation where incompatibilities between elements invite resolution through change, is the model ground for individuating processes’ [p 100]. DPB: the difference between this quote and my interpretation is that the source of the trouble in my view is injected from outside elements and in the quote the origin is in the elements of the system, internal to it. This reminds me of the Spinozian discussions that there is no source of change within anyone, it is always from outside the person. There is no a priori principle along which individuation takes place: if so it must be the bringing forth of a principle of individuation for application in specific situations is what it does.

5.1.3.1 Metastability

Being is metastable and not stable. It contains a transformative potential that is actualized in a continuous process of individuation. Individuating of systems occurs through interactions between systems and environment. But it is a metaphysical element included in being, and hence Simondon includes in the individuating being both the individual and its environment. ‘The metastable being is not determined a priori but rather individuates along with its structures in a sequence of transitions. Metastability does therefore not mean multiple points of stability, but rather a developing topographic configuration of such points. Clearly, this description resonates with Deleuzes’ description of Ideas’ [p 102]. DPB: this has to do with the affect of singularities on the shape of the topological landscape. ‘Relations, for Simondon, individuate as an intrinsic part of being and are not considered to exist outside of being or between things. .. intensities in the Deleuzian scheme seem to be the virtual counterpart to Simondon’s individuating relations’ [p 102].

5.1.3.2 Transduction

This is the term Simondon uses for the process of individuation; the concept is similar to the concept of the process self-organization; the difference is that self-organization describes convergence of trajectories towards attractors in a configured state-space of a system, while transduction does not assume such a priori configuration. Self-organization is relevant in the light of its product (final state), organization. ‘By transduction we mean an operation – physical, biological, mental, social – by which an activity propagates itself from one element to the next, within a given domain, and founds this propagation on a structuration of the domain that is realized from place to place: each area of the constituted structure serves as the principle and the model for the next area, as a primer for its constitution, to the extent that the modification expands progressively at the same time as the structuring operation’ (Simondon, 2009, p. 11)’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 103]. DPB: this is at the core, the crux: it is the propagation of a structure AND of an activity, or perhaps the other way around, as the structure must be in place to enable the propagation of the activity to take place; this interplay between structure and operation is also the innovation. But how is this different from my earlier understanding of individuation? That, I guess, was still founded on objects, namely the selection of some objects out of a multitude over others. This was in my perception driven by attractors and repellers such that a structure would appear. The selection would be based on their apparent behavior which was more suitable in those circumstances than other kinds of behavior. Transduction says that at some state there is a particular probability distribution for the configuration goes to some next state; that is so because of the possible operations it can perform in that present state. At that new state the configuration has changed and the operations it can do now are different from those at the former state and can be represented in some new probability distribution for the state after that. When it moves to the next state the configuration will again have changed &c. All this reminds me of natural computation: at every state the configuration changes and the possible computations the new system can do will have changed: some state will become much more likely and others will be limited or impossible to reach. As a consequence the configuration will tend to some and move away from other species of states. But in addition transduction moves from area to area within the system (in Dutch this concept is referred to with the verb ‘olievlekken’): ‘Each structure in the series constrains the operations that can immediately follow. Each operation constrains the transformation of the current structure into a new one’ [p 103]. I guess that this ‘olievlek’ mechanism can be explained using autopoietic orientation: when the neighboring system presently starts to show behavior strictly limited to some specific domain of interactions, it is not possible for an agent to any longer to exhibit behavior towards that neighbor that is outside of that domain, lest the communication stops. Each intermediary state is a partial resolution for the release of the internal tensions but drives the system away from stability as other tensions are not yet released or newly introduced. But this process can be represented as an I-O rule system, where the rules are rewritten as the system operates. ‘The progress of transduction circumvents the need for an overarching principle of individuation in that each transition is in fact a local determination that need not depend on structures or operations beyond the immediate one’ [p 104]. DPB: but bear in mind that these local determinations emerge as autonomous behavior of the system, namely a firm. This is at the heart of my attempt to explain things using natural computation and game theory and information processing and cultural computation &c. In addition it is completely ‘just-so’: every snippet of information that sounds appealing to the rest of the memeplex can and will be used (against you). 

5.1.3.3 Information

Simondon’s understanding of information is different from Shannon’s reproduction of messages between sender and receiver: ‘Information has to do with relations, but with formative relations and not with already formed ones. Information is a process of establishing communication where initially there is none: “.. it is the signification that will emerge when an operation of individuation will discover the dimension according to which two disparate realities may become a system. […] [Information] is that by which the incompatibility of the non-resolved system becomes an organizing dimension in the resolution; […] “(Simondon, 2009, pp. 9-10). .. Communication is established in the individuation of signification – the means of exchanging meaning’ (emphasis of the author) [p 104]. DPB: Information is a Process! The significations and the manner in which they are carried among the individuated elements of the system (body gestures, chemical reactions, utterances &c) are inseparable. DPB: I agree because it is not generally understood by a Dutch host when, however well intended, a Chinese person burps a compliment for the supper served to her and a measure of offense might even be taken; however, when expressed verbally the compliment stands a much better chance of being appreciated by the Dutch host. Conversely the Chinese person might take offense when the Dutch host debits her vision on humanitarian issues even when expressed verbally. Language in this sense is not a message passing protocol but an individuating medium: ‘Language is an individuating process, not because it facilitates communication using already individuated messages, but primarily because it establishes communication in situations of incompatibility and disparateness. This is done by continually individuating signification within language’ [p 105]. DPB: this means the redistribution of meaning to utterances, deframing and reframing of meaning as per Luhmann.

5.1.3.4 Levels of Individuation

5.2 Deleuze’s Synthesis of the Sensible

In Deleuzian metaphysics individuation must explain how virtual differences account for actual processes and events. It must explain how the world of actual individuals corresponds with the virtual world of Ideas. The difficulty is that the virtual aspect of reality is pure structure and hence static, and causally sterile. Virtual existence is atemporal and Deleuze’s individuation extends between the temporal and the atemporal: time itself individuates. But the actual is fully conditioned by the virtual.

5.2.1 Transcendental versus Causal Explanations

Logically causal relations are necessary but not sufficient: in practical terms they explain a habit or a repetition for Y to be exist because of the existence of X, but in fact the causes are indefinite. They do not explain anything creative, unique or irregular. Deleuze does not subscribe to causal relations, but instead finds the sufficient reason for everything that actually exists in its corresponding virtual aspect (namely in the intensive differences). DPB: this reminds me of Rodin‘s testament: once the (Deleuzian) Idea exists, then, apart from the particular practicalities of its production, the expression that corresponds to the (Deleuzian) Idea also exists. I find it difficult to remember how the Deleuzian virtual is distinct from the Bergsonian. ‘.. the elements of the actual are individuals, each unique and singular. Individuals cannot be caused in the conventional sense because they are never the same, while the principle of causation is grounded in the repetition of the same (habits). A causative explanation, therefore, cannot be based on singular cases. Since individuals are always different, they cannot causally explain one another. This is why if we consider an actuality made of individuals, causative explanations are necessarily mere superficial generalizations achieved only by averaging differences out and positing sameness prior to repetition’ [p 106]. DPB: this explains why the state of the art is that causal relations cannot explain anything new, and hence that determinism does not explain anything new. Intensive differences are the sufficient reason for the actual, but the virtual does not cause the actual either: ‘Actual individuals are expressionsof virtual differences immanent in them. Virtual differences can never be sensed directly, they can only be expressed’ (emphasis of the author) [p 107]. DPB: Ideas are omnipresent and memes are a special case of them. Reality has dimensions of exteriority (actual) and interiority (virtual). Expression is the exteriority of things, the way they appear, how they affect, and are affected by, other things. Virtual Ideas belong to the interiority of things, their ‘in itself’ dimension: ‘In this sense, expression is nothing but the exteriorization of interiority’ [p 107]. DPB: the basis for the logistical model. To explain the actual in terms of expression renders it transcendental because the sufficient reason for everything now is not directly accessible. ‘Everything experienced, sensed and observed is never entirely what it is. It is merely an expression of something which has indefinitely many other expressions depending on circumstances. Expressions are intrinsically incomplete and impermanent, being the fabric of nomad reality. In other words, individuals possess depth – a virtual depth of what they can become. It is indeed the Idea that determines what the body can do, but the Idea is inexhaustible in terms of its manners of expression. In this sense existence is open-ended; things have an inexhaustible and largely unpredictable variety of expressions depending on their interactions. They can mean very different things under different circumstances’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 109]. DPB: this reminds of Luhmannian deframing and reframing constructivism (?).

5.2.2 The Synthesis of the Sensible

Deleuze hypothesizes a connection between thought and the genesis taking place between the virtual and the actual aspects of reality. The meaning of thought is a metaphysical event beyond the human condition. ‘The sensible or that which is given to sensation is the counterpart of expression. If the expression of X is how it can affect other actualities, the sensibility of X is how it can be affected by other actualities. Expression is therefore the sensible for the other (not for itself). The whole schema of individuation can be concisely and elegantly put as follows: “The real individual is set in motion by sensation, expresses Ideas, falls into actual identity. It is a take on the whole of Ideas, bringing some into greater clarity, throwing others into obscurity. The real individual is driven by sensations that signify a reconfiguration of intensities, a change in which intensities envelop others and which are enveloped (DPB: the terms of the enveloping series are contracted into the enveloping series). It is the site of creation, movement in Ideas and a reconfiguration of intensities expressed in the destruction of the identity of an actual thing and the formation of new identities“ (Williams, 2003, p. 185)’ [pp. 109-10]. Sensations move individuals to express certain Ideas. DPB: this is close to SSP and to my Logistical model where people are motivated to give expression to their ideas by external signals and based on their ‘rule set’; that must then logically be the virtual. Ideas are expressed that from time to time gain identity by becoming temporarily stable. 

5.3 Metaphysical Self-Organization Revisited

Assuming ontogenesis instead of ontology (process instead of object) an hypothesis is needed to explain the existence of identities, as they are no longer metaphysically explained. In a mobile reality all objects are impermanent because the processes that produce them never cease, and hence the question is relevant why there is order at all: disorder>>order>>disorder. DPB: this reminds me of my section on disorder and how it is produced and what it means to have order from disorder. Organization does not have its own sufficient reasons; it has to come from the fundamental mobile reality it presupposes: ‘Self-organization therefore is the feature of chaos (or indifference) that precedes organization and not organization itself. In its metaphysical sense, self-organization comes only to clarify that there is no element or principle transcendent to reality that imposes organization (e.g. a godly principle). It is reality that organizes, in itself and for itself’ [p 114]. DPB: this reminds me of the difficulty to generate really random numbers: real randomness is hard to come by. It further reminds me of the figure Zeus in the dialogues: he can see others only if they are organized. If they are not organized and they are random, they have no identity distinguishing them from their background and Zeus cannot see them. If they are organized and they are not random then Zeus can see them. But if he names them then he sees them even if they are random. Deleuze’s schema for stable structures is that the formula for determination claims indifference to be determinable and how differences as events of unilateral determination bring forth structure expressed in actual stable organizations. But for difference to be a sufficient reason for stability and the emergence of identities repetition (and orders of repetition) are required. ‘Ideas as multiplicities bring forth in their individuation a multiplicity of unique individuals. The internal repetition in the Idea (its multiple nature) is expressed in the external repetition of individuals and forms populations of individuals (see 8.1 ahead)’ [p 114-5]. DPB: this is a description of the variation in the instances of a meme, analogous to the multiplicity of the instances of similar organisms in a population is said to be their species, and given that the concept of a meme can be the same as the concept of an Idea. It is not (yet) equal to the description of a memeplex. Individuation of the virtual brings about order because it is a symmetry breaking event, expressing some Ideas while obscuring others. It is therefore a creative and destructive process. ‘As already hinted, self-organization in the metaphysical sense is responsible for space, time, all the sensible qualities and of course natural laws’ [p 115]. Many of these appear to be eternal invariants but none of them can be proven to be. Conventionally self-organization is understood as attractors as self-identical states in the systems dynamics and the reduction of the of the system’s degrees of freedom as it self-organizes: ‘Instead, self-organization, as the ontogenetic process it is, and as a process of progressive determination, is not necessarily characterized by movement towards stability, invariance and identity. Such movements are merely passing phases’ [p 116]. DPB: but an attractor can be the expression of the behavior of the elements of the system, no?! 

5.4 Conclusing Notes on Deleuze’s metaphysics

5.4.1 Every Thing Thinks

Every body, every thing, thinks and is a thought to the extent that, reduced to its intensive reasons, it expresses an Idea the actualization of which it determines (emphasis of Weaver). However, the thinker himself makes his individual differences from all manner of things: it is in this sense that he is laden with stones and diamonds, plants’ and even animals’[i.e., all the Ideas it connects to but are obscured in the immediate expression]. The thinker, undoubtedly the thinker of eternal return, is the individual, the universal individual.”(Deleuze, 1994, p. 254)’ [p 116-7]. DPB: this is the clearest explanation so far of thinking as a process I have been calling natural computation. Ideas are a more general form of memes, in that Ideas are the basis for everything and memes only for human thought.

5.4.2. The event of cognition

Assuming that thinking is a foundational formative process driven by intensities, then the meaning of cognition changes also. Recognition is related to the image of thought and is a process of discovery but cognition is related to thought sans image and is related to creation. ‘Thought and cognition in the very broad sense presented here are almost synonymous and interchangeable. Thought extends far beyond what we conventionally consider mental activity taking place in brains. Cognition does not involve specific sensory faculties, only interaction and affect (the sensible)’ [p 117]. DPB: lovely, this means that I could change computation (this is too close to computational science suggesting an overly mechanical approach) for thought but also thought (this is too etymologically entwined with human brain activity) for cognition. Simple systems can be characterized by their relations of exteriority, with little interiority, their Ideas are distinct, they can be easily decomposed in their components, they tend to stability. Complex systems are characterized by their relations of exteriority but their relations of interiority too (which can only be inferred), their Ideas are less distinct and they can only be decomposed into their components with more effort, because their past endures in them, they do not tend to stability. For simple systems thought and cognition are the same thing. For complex systems it makes sense to make this distinction: ‘.. to separate the regime of more or less immediate interactions from another, interior and only implicit regime of ongoing transformation. When we represent a system we exteriorize it and by applying symbolic representation to its interiority it becomes simultaneously more simplified and accessible and less realistic. Representation turns thought from productive to cognition and from nomadic to sedentary. Notably, it might be a matter of a single interaction with an additional element that may turn a simple system into a complex one and vice versa. In summary, from a metaphysical perspective, the differentiation between thought and cognition carries no consequence and is therefore context dependent’ [p 118]. DPB: hmmm what to make of that. I better ask Weaver first.

5.4.3 Influence on human thought

Chapter 6: From Difference to Thought

Any metaphysical investigation cannot be validated. This statement makes sense if a truth or a plausibility value can be assigned to the outcome. But truth is hardly the point because a metaphysical hypothesis sets out to enhance the knowledge of reality. A metaphysical set of axioma’s influences one’s thought and experiences, and hence one’s interactions with their environment. The value of such theory is to allow one to think about reality in novel ways. A core belief of the author is that as living beings, our encounter with reality is experimental, and in the same vein philosophy and metaphysics are thought experiments. In the theory presented here the very notion of truth undergoes individuation – the idea that truth precedes its discovery is rooted in identity based metaphysics. ‘It [this theory] need only make enough sense (i.e., to be disturbing enough) as to introduce a minute shift – a difference from that which is obvious and given in conventional thinking’ [p 122]. DPB: this reminds me of Marta saying that if it has a name it is probably dangerous. And I like this idea that the theory should only male enough sense that it disturbs the audience. ‘Cognition and thought in their metaphysical sense are used interchangeably. All cognitive activities are forms of thinking, and thinking as individuation – the bringing forth of sensible individuals – is cognitive activity. Thought and cognition are nevertheless differentiated depending on the more context in which they are applied, as explained in chapter 5’ [p 122].

6.1 / 6.5 Regurgitation for later use

Part II Individuation, Cognition and Interaction

Prologue

The objective of this part is to establish a connection between individuation, cognition (as pe the idea of the cognitive event), and open-ended intelligence.

Chapter 7: A Systemic Concept of Cognition

Conventionally considered to belong to the living. A deep connection exists between life and mind (Thompson) and between life and cognition (Maturana and Varela). At present work is in progress to extend cognition to systems beyond the living. In the existing theories for different fields of research cognition is characterized based on properties of those systems. But: ‘In this chapter, I will argue that if the etymological root and core of meaning of cognition – cognoscere – to get to know, is to be taken to its limits, there is a deeper and more fundamental sense of cognition which is to do with the individuation of systems and the knowledge creation that precedes fully individuated organizations and is instrumental to their becoming. This sense of cognition underlies all forms of organization’ (emphasis of the author) [p 139]. DPB: I agree, there is no escaping from this, given that the metaphysics is in order (as per the above). I like the etymological approach because it often sheds a surprisingly old new light on concepts worn out through overuse. 

7.1 The Enactive Theory of Cognition

7.1.1 A Brief Historical Context

The cognitivist hypothesis (cognitivism) takes the computer as the metaphor. There is a resemblance between this model and the image of thought: the cognitive system forms a model of an a priori existing world, the world must contain discrete and predictable identities and their relations. Connectionism uses the organic brain as the core metaphor. There are no explicit rules, no symbols and no central control. An important difference is that the connectionist model (contrary to the cognitivist model) allows no internal models of the environment in the system, there is no sense of representation. But still it cannot escape completely the issue of representation, as it replaces a reductionist representation with a holistic one. The cognitivist model has a connection with logic: it can be reasoned about. But: ‘Cognitivism and connectionism left unquestioned the relation between the cognitive processes and the real world. As a result, their models of cognition were disembodied and abstract. […] The mind and the world were thus treated as separate and independent of each other, with the outside world mirrored by a representational model inside the head’ (Thompson, 2007, p. 10) [p 142]. Embodied dynamicism sees cognition as a process taking place in the world, with the world, instead of about the world but isolated from it: ‘Put otherwise, cognition is produced in te coupling between an embodied and situated mind and the world’ [p 143].

7.1.2 Preliminary Ideas

Enactive cognition is introduced by Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1992. ‘In its most fundamental sense enactive cognition is the hypothesis that cognition is the product of activity and more specifically of the activity of a cognitive agent in the world’ [p 143]. The question is how cognition is embedded in a world that itself is a product of cognition. DPB: first there is activity in the world by cognitive agents and then that activity produces cognition.

7.1.3 What is Enactive Cognition?

Most concisely, cognition is an embodied action that enacts – brings forth a world, where enaction means a history of structural coupling between the cognitive agent and its milieu’ [p 145]. DPB: but this is a different interpretation than I have used. The meaning I assign to it is to ‘act out’ something motivated by a meme, and to give expression to it. From the quote it means to act out the rules based on a history of structural coupling between the agent and elements in its environment. The coupling can be described as perception that itself is guided by outcomes of previous perceptions. That perspective is wider and so I agree. In the course of these processes, cognitive structures emerge. In enaction perception means the guiding of the activities of the perceiving agent in its local situation. The local situation changes as a result of the agent’s actions and therefore the world as it is perceived can not be assumed (pre)given and independent of the perceiver’s actions. The reference point is called the embodiment and it is the set of relations linking the perceiver’s perceptions to her activities. Embodiment, namely embodied interaction, rather than a (model of a) (pre)given world determines the activities of the perceiver, how it affects and how it is affected by its milieu. In this theory the mind and the world are inseparable. Cognition takes place not inside the agent, but between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupling, the monads and the landscape of Jobs: ‘The agent and its milieu are “bound together in reciprocal specification and selection” (Varela, Thompson and Rosch, 1992, p. 174)’ [p 145]. Enactive cognition is a coordinated dance between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupled dancing landscapes of Kauffman, but these related to fitness landscapes while the subject here is the interaction between agents and their environment, which is closer to a kind of adaptation. ‘Behaviour – the form of the dance – consists of the recurrent patterns that appear within an ongoing unfoldment of intertwined causes and effects’ [p 145]. The system (or agent) decides which elements from its milieu it will be sensitive. ‘The product of cognition is an environment which is neither an a priori given observer-independent world nor a construction or projection of the cognitive agent’s mind. The environment is first and foremost an ongoing joint actualization, inseparable from the enactive agent or its milieu’ [p 146]. DPB: this is an important quote, because it ties the concept of enactive cognition to the development of reality (actualization, namely through the actual and the virtual) as per the previous chapters. Enactive cognition is rooted in the interactions of its agent, and hence it is ontogenetic, not ontological.

7.1.4 Embodiment

Embodiment in the context of enactive cognition is a compound of three sets: a set of sensors (and sensory processes), a set of actuators (and motor processes) and a set of structures that link and cohere between perceptual events in the first set to action events in the second. It is the specifics of these three sets that are determined by the history of structural coupling between the agent and its milieu. All three sets are self-updating in the course of the ongoing structural coupling with the agent’s milieu as the embodiment of the agent is integral to the milieu that can be sensed acted upon. This means that the agent’s embodiment and its milieu are described within the same descriptive domain so their interactions can be described within that same domain too’ [p 147]. DPB: this reminds of natural computation. The last sentence reminds of autopoiesis. This can be the foundation of my computational section. I must research how these processes can produce the concrete behavior of a firm. I use now autopoiesis as well as games, but it is not conclusive. Cognitive agents are self-individuating in the context of their embodiment. DPB: this fits with self-organization and with transduction. 

7.1.5 Autonomy

The idea of autonomy has its roots in the theory of autopoiesis. This theory defines living systems as capable of self-producing and self-maintaining. ‘Autonomy is a more general concept that captures two related properties. The first is self-individuation, that is, the capacity of a system to distinguish itself from its milieu, the second is the capacity of the system to specify its own laws and norms applied in its interactions with the rest of the world’ [p 148]. This means in practical terms that the system can install some laws that increase the probability for some course of action to take if some input is perceived from the milieu. Not all of the actions are directed all of the time with complete certainty. The tree sets (actuators, sensors, relations) are not arbitrary, but self-individuating and capable of acting based on its own norms, that are established by these self-individuating processes. Central to the establishment of autonomy is the concept of operational closure. DPB: see also the article of Francis about the mathematical formulation of this, in summary: ‘The set (P) is said to be operationally closed if and only if the operation of each process in P is a) a condition for the operation of one or more other processes in P and b) is conditioned by the operation of one or more processes in P (..)’ [p 148].Operational closure does not mean that the system depends on the processes in P alone, it can also depend on processes outside of it and conversely operations within the closure can be a necessary condition for processes outside of P. This mutuality can be seen as a form of organizational coherence that distinguishes P from its background: ‘Therefore, operational closure can be said to realize a self-individuating entity, or in other words, it produces and maintains its own identity’ [ p 149]. A stronger kind of autonomy is precarious autonomy, where the operationally closed organization is not only a condition for the entire system itself, but also for the systems it encloses. ‘In a precarious autonomous system, the closure as a whole operates against the otherwise natural tendency of component processes to degenerate’ [p 149]. The system now produces its own preconditions: ‘[a] precarious autonomous system, at whatever level, intervenes in its own substrate in order to sustain a form which is made out of components that paradoxically provide the very tendencies towards the dissolution of the same form’ [p 149]. DPB: the departments of a firm appear not to be precarious, or at least not all of them; however, reformulated as a function, they might be. The precariousness of identity is instrumental in the establishment of norms and the regulation of such norms. An additional property of an autonomous system is operational coherence: each process in the closure is only viable if conditioned and facilitated by interactions with other processes in the closure. This is an emergent property of the system. 

7.1. Structural Coupling and Natural Drift

Structural coupling describes the interactions of a cognitive agent with its milieu: agents are coupled when they have a history of reciprocal perturbations of their structures. This should be treated in an autopoietic sense. The nature of the perturbation are therefore not necessarily instructive as to the nature of the change of the structure they trigger. It is possible that a perturbation from the milieu causes a change in a system, which then in turn cause a change in the milieu &c. When these kinds of interactions become recurrent the systems are said to be structurally coupled. Enactive cognition is realized as a structural coupling between an agent and its milieu. ‘A cognitive agent is an embodied autonomous system that dynamically maintains its identity. This self-individuating activity does not take place in a vacuum but rather by an ongoing engagement with a milieu with which the agent exchanges perturbations’ [p 151]. The system may undergo structural changes, but its autopoietic organization must remain intact; all the structures mapped to that organization are the system’s viability set (DiPaolo, 2009, pp. 8-9) [p 151]. DPB: Maturana and Varela use the concept of structure and the concept of organization, but they do not use the concept of the set of all structures that belong to the system’s organization, all the shapes it can take such that its identity is maintained. ‘The perceptually guided actions that constitute enactive cognition are directed towards increasing the probability of perturbations that trigger structural transformations that are well within the system’s viability set and avoiding perturbations that trigger structural transformations that lead out of the system’s viability set as well as decreasing the probability of the future occurrence of such perturbations’ [p 151]. DPB: the difference with Maturana and Varela is the focus on structure instead of organization. This exact same statement could be made using the organization, without making use of the concept of viability set. I reckon it is a useful concept, however, because I have included the various shapes a firm can take without losing its identity in my Logistical Model (rather unelegantly). But I wasn’t aware of the concept of viability set at the time. Only on account of (the maintaining of) autonomy do particular perturbations gain preference over others, significance, in relation to the system’s state of affairs. Inasmuch as perception can be guided by action, can it be positioned vis-a-vis the milieu so as to better inform future actions based on the immediate as well as tendencies. This means that the effect of action must be gauged such that its effect becomes clear and that action can be taken to improve it. Now the agent’s actions are guided perception and by anticipation and hence the use of the concept of enacted cognition. The guiding principle is often assumed to be fitness, but this cannot explain the vast number of traits in the vast number of organisms and how perceptory systems could possibly keep track of the enormous variety of traits of the elements in systems’ milieus and to assign a fitness to each. An alternative for fitness is the concept of natural drift: ‘to switch from a prescriptive logic to a proscriptive one, that is, from the idea that what is not allowed is forbidden to what is not forbidden is allowed. In the context of evolution this shift means that we remove selection as a prescriptive process that guides and instructs in the task of improving fitness. IN contrast, in a proscriptive context natural selection can be seen to operate, but in a modified sense: selection discards what is not compatible with survival and reproduction. Organisms and the population offer variety; natural selection guarantees only that what ensues satisfies the two basic constraints of survival and reproduction. This proscriptive orientation shifts our attention to the tremendous diversity of biological structures at all levels (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 195)’ [p 153]. DPB: this is very important, I have this somewhere, but I can’t remember if I have ever heard these terms of proscriptive and natural drift before. Evolutionary processes can now be satisficing: they can make do with whatever is available and endlessly vary with them so as to storm local maxima. In the light of the above many elements of systems are under-determined by the conditions of their milieus; there is a vast space of variability for individuation to take place: ‘Evolution (and likewise cognition) as natural drift is a process taking place within an history of structural coupling and where structures drift within their viability set while being pruned from time to time to select out trajectories that are not viable’ [p 153]. Through structural coupling cognitive agents and their milieus progressively determine each other’s behavior and realize their ongoing individuation.

7.2. Sense-making and Boundary Formation

7.2.1 A World Unto Itself

Cognition is not about acquiring and processing information in an objective way as it is understood by computation. Instead cognition creates information rather than only manipulate it; the information it creates has an intrinsic significance: ‘it is information about something for somebody’ [p 155]. To makes sense can be seen as adaptivity, given that it includes both immediate and temporized changes; but it is not enough if the changes are within the viability set, the system must also monitor whether tendencies in the milieu are such that their perturbations can be expected to induce structural changes that lead the system away from the boundaries of its viability set. Now the system can regulate its structural coupling and modify potentially harmful trajectories into beneficial ones. DiPaolo 2009 argues that the existence of these mechanisms is a hallmark of sense-making activities, and hence cognitive agency. This kind of regulation can be explained in terms of cybernetic regulations based on self-created norms (Ashby 1960). 

7.2.2 Sense-Making sans Maker

The concept of enactive cognition is rooted in the theory of autopoiesis. Autopoiesis provides an account for what systems are, but not how they become. DPB: they are assumed to not be work in progress &c. This has dissipated into enactive cognition theory also and hence it provides no foundation for the formative aspect of sense-making. And so it is not possible to explain sense-making as preceding autonomy based on the state of the art in this realm. This problem can be attacked shifting from the logic of individuals to the logic of individuation: autonomous entities are self-individuating; it is not self-individuated as per the literature, because once an identity is attained, it will have to be maintained by itself. ‘Self-individuating, we argue, has a wider sense, describing a system capable not only of maintaining identity but also of undergoing transformations of identity without without losing its overall coherence and integrity’ [p 157]. DPB: this train of thought reminds me of the evolution of a horse, the ancestors of which were not vegetarians. If an identity is roughly a description of ‘how a system survives’ then what it eats surely is an aspect of its identity. In the light of this the identity of a horse has changed from a system that survives as a carnivore to a system that survives as a vegan, however inefficient its metabolism for the processing of vegetables compared for instance to that of a cow. ‘If we assign this extended meaning to autonomy, inevitably sense-making becomes a formative process. It is not merely the activity of maintaining an already existing identity but rather a transformative process of an identity continuously in the making. Once enactive cognition is acknowledged as formative it can be thought of as consisting of two interwoven aspects: the bringing forth of a world and the bringing forth (individuation) of identity. We associate the latter with cognitive development’ [p 157]. DPB: an identity develops as a contour distinct from its background and in the interaction that background develops as distinct from the contour; both ge ever closer and closer to their perfection but never quite reach it as their environments change continually: this is as close to monads as it can get, and the big win is that it is now embedded in this philosophy. ‘Sense-making is a process where identity and its generated norms – the norms that cast significance on the world – may undergo transformations. It is as if sense-making turns upon the sense-maker itself, i.e., it can differ from itself in the course of sense-making’ [p 157]. DPB: this is the lizard-glass experiment, the sense-maker perceives an echo of its actions back via its milieu. They are variations now included in the signals received back and in those variations are the properties, the identity of the individuals in the environment mirrored. The statement quoted above confirms this: when the echo of the signals emitted change then it time for the system to change its behavior and its identity, and hence to transform the way it makes sense, and hence to transform its structure. Business as usual while the shop is under construction. The only ground is metastable ground: ‘From a history of structural coupling (given past experience) one can only infer invariance but never establish it logically’ [p 157]. 

7.2.3 Boundary Formation

A boundary is a topological analogue of a distinction: for instance a distinction between a subset with some property and one without it. This is related to the concept of an individual: ‘In as far as an individual entity is distinguished from its milieu in any arbitrary fashion, there exists a property space where both the individual entity and its milieu can be represented as separated by a boundary. Extending the analogy, the idea of boundary formation intuitively corresponds to individuation’ [p 158]. The hinge is in the boundary left implicit in the definition of structural coupling: if there is to be mutual perturbation between two systems then a boundary is supposed. Prior to its existence there is no history of recurring perturbations and once they are there, then the boundary must also be there and individuation is realized. ‘It is proposed here that the meaning of sense-making that comes prior to self-individuated entities is the process of boundary formation, that is, the spontaneous emergence of a system-milieu distinction in a network P of interacting processes’ [p 158]. This boundary is intrinsic to the network and not imposed by the observer. DPB: I agree and I find this important and I reckon this is a process of self-organization. Once the boundary is there processes can either cross it, or they can be such that they don’t cross it, and hence the formation of the boundary casts a significance over the network, a primitive event of sense-making. ‘What such spontaneous sense-making allows is the consideration of structural coupling prior to autonomy and independently of an observer external to the network’ [p 159]. DPB: this reminds me of the event where a firm is established. This above theory has to explain how the memeplex is configured such that it is coherent and it motivates people to show coherent behavior such that a firm now exists. The individuating of processes can be recursive: first a distinction occurs resulting in individuated processes which in turn make further distinctions and lead to further individuations and individuals. 

7.2.4 Fluid Identities

Fluid identities is an extension of the idea of enactive cognition by replacing the notion of the individual with individuation. By definition a precarious autonomous structure requires operational closure in place during structural coupling: it needs its operational coherence maintained in the course of structural coupling: ‘.. the very property of closure must be maintained but it does not necessarily mean that it is exactly the same closure that is maintained all along’ (emphasis of the author) [p 160]. Operational closure is conditioned by the dependencies among the elements and their system; the identity of the system is a product of the observer, not the origin of the closure. While the autonomy of the system is uninterrupted, the transformation is not merely structural: the identity, the norms (the organization) and its viability set have changed. DPB: this is an important extension of my theory: what happens when the organization changes outside of the domain but closure, autonomy and identity remain uninterrupted. I had assumed that once it is tweaked outside of the domain of interactions, it is destroys, but is not necessarily so, given that the system is sufficiently sophisticated to comply and given enough time. Precarious autonomy is maintained globally (across the series), but not locally (in intermittent parts of the series), because particular processes cease to contribute at some point. ‘Fluid identity is the only proper description for a continuously individuating autonomous agent’ [p 161]. DPB: MONAD. That we describe the world in terms of stable entities is habit. ‘The movement between phases (DPB: subsequent events in a series) has no particular direction. Processes of integration and dissolution of individuals at multiple scales follow each other as cognition unfolds’ [pp. 161-2].

7.3 Cognition and Systems

The enaction of cognition is the system-theoretic counterpart of the metaphysical event of cognition. Cognition and sense-making are significant for thinking of complex systems. An extension of the existing approach to self-organization and cybernetics is the formative evolutionary aspect of boundary formation and transformation of identity. The very notion of a system already presupposes a somewhat stable contraption, but given these above considerations, the question what the concept of a system is becomes relevant. The nature of the boundaries between the system and the observer are investigated in second-order cybernetics (Heylighen & Joslyn 2001, and von Foerster 2007). In the light of the above, in the course of their structural coupling, in a process of mutual sense-making, not only the system and its milieu, but also the observer transform, perturbed by changes in the behavior of the others. In this process there may be phases of higher and of lower coherence: the system and the observer are more, or less, capable of making sense of the behavior of the other. But in that case the understanding of the observer, and the behavior that ensues itself, becomes a factor in the coherence of the system. This is especially apparent in social systems, and proverbial. DPB: the system reacts to the observer and vice versa, an example is the El Farol problem. The extended version of the enacted cognition goes further: ‘Actual reality turns out to be a matter of distinctions, boundaries, interactions across boundaries, the recurrence of patterns of such interactions, and the consequent individuation of processes and entities undergoing phases of stability and non-stability. In short, an ongoing event of cognition – sense-making sans maker’ [p 163]. In addition, in the extended notion of enacted cognition, the notion of perception can be abstracted to anything that can affect a system and action can be abstracted to anything that can affect something else; using the terminology of Part I these are equivalent to sensibility and expression respectively. 

Chapter 8 The Distributed Nature of Cognition

Cognition, like evolution, is a network of interacting processes that has no center. Also analogous to evolution is that cognition is distributed, which becomes apparent in the requirement of operational closure. 

8.1 Population Thinking and Individuation

Population thinking is related to evolution theory and the Aristotelian concept of species. A species present a set of common essential properties shared by all the members; in this way it is a pre-existing identity that precedes its members. Variation is mostly insignificant if it is within the norms of the specified properties. The species is the ontological category and the reality of the individuals is grounded in the species. The apparent variation is limited. The Aristotelian and Platonian metaphysics put identity first and variation second. But evolution theory puts variation first. ‘With evolution theory, the idea of a species as a natural type was replaced by the idea of a species as a population. This replacement has a metaphysical significance: unique individuals are the real ontological elements while a species is reduced to a status of a reification characterized by statistically derived properties’ [p 168]. DPB: Well explained: I explain some of this in my thesis (I think in search for a definition of the subject of evolution), maybe this is a useful quote. Thinking in terms of individuals and differences as metaphysical elements naturally invites population thinking. Population thinking explains phenomena from the perspective of a collection of individuals and the behavior they collectively bring forth. Which individuals belong to a population is contextual and depends on their properties vis a vis the other members of the population and vis a vis the context. When interactions between the members of the population are introduced then: 1. individuals can further individuate (adapt, evolve, coordinate, &c.) 2. through recurrent interactions with other individuals new individuals can form through structural coupling 3. the population becomes a complex adaptive system possibly with emergent properties making it a distinct individual in itself. DPB: this helps to clarify how a human organization can emerge from a multitude of people. Apparently in the above case, the population has already a set of different and / or the same properties turning them into a population; and based on those they develop into a distinct individual. I am not so taken with the concept of a population as used here: I would rather state that a population is that set of individuals which is included by a particular set of behaviors exhibited (and that contributes to the behavior of the collective as an individual), as a consequence of particular properties of the individuals. The reproduction of the (biological) individuals is the major operation driving the individuation of the species: organisms are genetically coupled over generations and through internal selection (reproduction) and external selection (natural selection) that phenotypic traits become stabilized in the population forming a species as an individual with observable distinctive characteristics. ‘Such bodies operate cognitively in the world thus bringing forth their own environment, albeit at scales of space and time different than those of the individual organisms that constitute them’ [p 169]. DPB: this reminds me of the discussion about time with Marta. ‘The existence of a species as an autonomous individual is therefore a precarious one’ [p 169]. DPB: this isn’t very well explained in the text but it is relevant. If a system is precarious the parts contribute to the autopoiesis of the whole but not the other way around; in order to maintain its autopoiesis, the whole must provide the sufficient conditions for the parts also. The conditions for the individual parts are not necessarily aligned and hence the precariousness: the whole is like the Chinese guy simultaneously turning a multitude of plates on sticks, but knowing that if one falls and damages his existence will be damaged also. Moreover, in the case of a precarious system relations exist between the plates also, further adding to the complexity of the system. The theory of enactive cognition and its extension to systemic cognition fit into population thinking: the formation of boundaries and closures, and structural coupling can be explained in terms of populations. 

8.2 Assemblage Theory

Populations are considered fields of individuation. Assemblage theory focuses on the interactions and processes taking place between the individuals. ‘Individuals are metastable constructions that consist of other individuals. We term such constructions assemblages. Assemblages are individuals in the making that can be found at diverse states of consolidation and coherence’ [p 171]. DPB: why is it so important to distinguish between fully individuated individuals and still individuating individuals and individuating not-quite-individuals and freshly started individuating populations (or assemblages)? There is no inherent difference between them, apart from the level of individuation and hence how easy they are to spot, how easy they are to recognize, or perhaps that cognition (as opposed to recognition is required to distinguish them from their milieu, perhaps they are more responsible as individuals. Systems are seen as firm, assemblages lack the integrity and identity. ‘In first approximation an assemblage is a network of interacting heterogeneous individuals that brings forth an individuating yet not necessarily fully individuated entity. From a complementary perspective it is a network of interactions that brings forth distinctions and boundaries, e.g., the interactions that maintain a closure’ [p 171]. DPB: this reminds me of the populations proposed in the Logistic Model, the discourse is their Luhmannian communication, the population includes the individuals that express that communication, and hence, who carry the memeplex. The elements of an assemblage are characterized by: 1. identifying properties that define them as they are subject to their own individuation 2. capacities to interact: to affect and be affected by others. Within an assemblage the interactions can lead to recurrence and coupling and hence to individuation of the assemblage. DPB: But the assemblage is the individual, or rather a kind of a pre-individual, recognizable because of its contour in the context of the wider field of individuals, or rather their behaviors. No, the text is correct: ‘In such cases (of coordinated interactivity or communication) disparity is at least partially and temporarily resolved and they are said to form an assemblage’ [p 172]. Contrary to systems, assemblages do not necessarily have the organization that identifies them. DPB: they are in a pre-autopoietic stage, where there is no overarching organiatrion coordinating their autopoietic behavior. This is a very useful subject. I must integrate this into my Logistical Model where populations are discussed. And I must check how I have used the term ensemble somewhere. This also is relevant for the landscape of Jobs. ‘When an observer observes something for the first time with little or no reference in previous experience, observer and observed form an assemblage. .. As some specific interactions become recurrent and coordinated (while others cease), the initial disparity of elements is being resolved and coherent relations between observer and observed are established as they co-determine (individuate) each other. Such processes constitute what was described in chapter 7 as the enaction of a world, and can also be understood as the individuation of knowledge. Knowledge is established and becomes representable only when the formed assemblage reaches a threshold of coherency and stability’ [pp. 172-3]. So knowledge is produced by the observer and the observed, once they have become coupled ‘It is part of the world brought forth’ [p 173]. The elements of an assemblage play a material role (relevant for the assemblage’s structure) and an expressive role (relevant as to how it affects and is affected (by) others). In assemblage theory the production of expressions through combinations of signs or codes is called coding (DeLanda, 2006, pp. 14-15). 

8.3 The Stratification of Cognition

Metaphysically individuals have the same status, but in populations structural hierarchies exist. This section is about the stratification leading to those hierarchies. Recurrent interactions in a large and heterogeneous population P can lead to the emergence of a sub-population P’ and, given the latter is also large and heterogeneous, recurrent interactions can give rise to sub-strata P’’, &c. The probability for sufficient interaction between individuals to take place must be high enough for another stratum can to emerge (territorialization and deterritorializational processes). For these interactions to take place, given a sufficient stability of the individuals in the population, their frequency must be sufficiently high, and their accessibility must be sufficient. Whether strata develop depends on the properties of the individuals and the statistical properties of the population. When compound individuals form in large enough numbers they condition the interactions of their components, further determinations in the process of individuation of the compounds. DPB: this happens anyway, why must their relative numbers in the population be sufficiently high for this mechanism to be effective? And also: must some antagonist of the compound also be available in sufficiently high numbers for its individuation to occur? In a general population different compound individuals form with variations in stability, frequency and accessibility; these variations have a top-down influence on the production processes of the individuals in the population. If a majority of elements in a population becomes bound to a set of compound individuals they lose their independent individuality, they undergo deterritorialization, to dissolve into new individuals that are elements of a new population on a new stratum. Now that some critical elements have become bound to some of the compound individuals, the production of other kinds of compound individuals also involving those elements, becomes less probable. DPB: this reminds me of corporate takeover processes. The cause of territorialization is recurrent patterns: I wonder if that is what the M&A consultants do: to instill recurrent behavior into the involved firms. Is this indeed a parallel? And if so then, given the limited value generating capabilities of M&A, which are the properties of the firms involved that are affected by this individuating process? ‘Consequently, the probability distribution of formative processes affects the population in such a way that certain constructs become much more probable while other become much less. In a broader view this would mean that certain trajectories of future development of higher strata are being eliminated while other trajectories are reinforced. This is how a stratum can exert selective influences, both on lower and higher strata’ [p 177]. DPB: this reminds me of attractors and repellers viz the Oudemans’ restriction of possible future states. Interactions at a higher producing strata are more complex and constrained than processes at lower producing strata; the emergence of a new stratum involves constraints and territorializations not only of the individual but also of their interactions. DPB: this reminds me of precarious organizations: at a higher level the regulation of the components that are not themselves autonomous, becomes more complicated, because true overall coordination is required without the components ‘taking care of themselves’. When a new stratum emerges the individuals engage in interactions that territorialize each other; these processes affect the individuation processes at substrata and superstrata. DPB: but is this something else then autopoietic orienting? ‘The idea of systemic cognition (DPB: I thought it should say the idea of enacted cognition) suggests that individuals have an intrinsic granularity, that is, an intrinsic substratum of elements and interactions that constitute them and in which the history of the elements’ structural coupling is expressed. Stratification is a process of systemic cognition which drives from the individuals of the substratum and their capacities for interaction’ [p 177]. Cognitive structures are brought forth as a new stratum. not in isolation but in (from) a milieu of other members of their population. It is a distributed process without a center and without an a priori guiding principle. ‘As observers we can always identify a different stratum of interaction as interesting or relevant but these identifications are observer-dependent objectifications (DPB: reifications) and not objective in any absolute sense. In comparison, the intrinsic granularity of individuals is a consequence of a history of coupling. It is no in any way more objective or logically necessary but rather reflects a contingent development with intrinsic significance’ [p 178]. DPB: there is no bias of the observer involved.

8.4 Coding, Representation and Stratification

Following the ideas developed in 8.2-8.3, a coding system is a language-like formal system with a finite set of symbols (signs) and a finite set of syntactic rules that specify how compound individuals are produced, that is, how expression is generated from structure in assemblages of elements’ [p 178]. Coding systems are themselves individuated systems that combinatorially produce expressions based on combinations of elements using their rules; they represent a stratum of individual elements and their interactions; they constitute a ground for further individuation; though finite (DPB: is it?) coding systems are a source of rich and complex populations of interacting individuals; examples are: the atoms and their rules governing chemical reactions, DNA sequences encoding proteins, all spoken languages, Turing machines &c; some coding systems notably languages can recursively produce other coding systems. DPB: this reminds me of natural computing. Another example, at the basis of acquiring knowledge, is the production of theories and models by observers to explain reality; knowledge individuates as hypotheses in the course of interactions between the observer and the observed; the individuality of observer and observed is consolidated in observation. ‘The concept of representation and thought as representation can be understood in terms of coding systems. A thought (in the broad sense we mean in this work) is supported in as far as it can be described within at least one coding system. .. Certain thoughts can be given finite descriptions. Other thoughts can only be given infinite descriptions but still with finite sets of elements and combinatorial rules. .. But there are those thoughts that are entirely unsupported because no coding mechanism exists for them as yet’ [p 179]. DPB: I am not sure that an unsupported thought (thought sans image) requires a system without a mechanism, namely elements or rules, because I believe it is possible to generate newness with existing given non-random rules. The behavior ensuing from such a system exhibits unpredictable and potentially new (and even new to the world, namely sans image) behavior: ‘Perhaps the most interesting case is the individuation of coding mechanisms themselves. What is special about such mechanisms is a finite and (relatively) stable set of elements and rules that gives rise to indefinite proliferation of expressions. The individuation of such mechanisms involves therefore the reduction from infinite to finite of the number of involved individuals and their possible interactions. Both reductions have to do with the limiting difference, which is synonymous with limiting determinability (see 4.1.1)’ [p 179]. 

8.5 Individuation and Information Integration

8.6 Contingency and Innovation

Random processes are crucial to make sense out of nonsense and order from non-order. A tendency to organize is behind the metaphysical principle of self-organization. In contrast the second law of thermodynamics states that systems tend to increase their entropy up to its maximum: equal probability for every possible state and hence no organization. However, maximum entropy requires a closed system, and therefore that difference must be bound, for which there is no good enough reason on a universal scale. 

8.6.1 Unbound Expression

In the metaphysical perspective developed in part I, difference is an unbound source of Ideas. But Ideas are only considered on account of having individual actual expressions. And expression is a combinatorial process of “articulation of the diverse as such” [p 188]. The question is whether the diversity offered by expression is boundless. This is answered to some extent by the exponential character of combinatorial production as a basis for the individuation of new individuals. But individuality alone does not translate into significance: every snowflake is a unique individual but every one expresses the same Idea. The remainder must be explained by the production of Ideas never expressed before: ‘This can be put more precisely in terms of the relations between the material and expressive aspects of assemblages. The material aspect of an assemblage (see 8.2) corresponds to the kinds of element and their interactions that constitute the assemblage as individuating structure (we will use the term structure from here on to indicate the material aspect). Combinatorial production is structural. .. The expressive aspect is the sense an assemblage makes as a whole to all other individuals in its milieu. It is how it affects them and actually forces them to sense by merely existing. Sense, therefore, is multiple because it is inherently a product of multiple perspectives, that is, of an indefinite number of perspectives of all other individuals. .. As the expression of an assemblage depends on both its structure and its milieu, and as we are specifically interested in the relations between the structural and the expressive aspects of assemblages, we will neutralize the contribution of the milieu to the richness of expression by assuming for this discussion that it remains constant’ [p 188]. DPB: this reminds of Wolfram: randomness at the initial conditions, injected from outside, or generated by the system: here it is assumed that no randomness is injected. The relation between structure and expression cannot be assumed to be isomorphic: depending on the other individuals the expression can be different and different structures can turn out to have the same expression. To treat these processes as computation is a simplifying metaphor [p 189]. Wolfram: principle of computational equivalence: ‘In the terminology of assemblage theory, if this hypothesis is correct(and it seems that it is), relatively simple assemblages may produce arbitrarily complex expressions (that it, if they are not found to have trivially simple expression)’ [p 190]. DPB: tadaa! An addition is the computation of equivalent sophistication means that given a non obviously simple set of rules, a computation will follow, that, given time, will end up having the same computational sophistication as all other processes in nature. For assemblage theory this means that the variety of the expressions I not bound to the variety of the structures that produce them.

8.6.2 Innovation in Populations of Complex Individuals

8.6.3 Innovation Spaces

Chapter 9 Interactions

9.1 Understanding Interaction

By interaction we mean a sequence of actions exchanged among agents that is initiated by an agent and unfolds in a chain of effects that returns, eventually, to affect its point of origination through at least one path’ [p 199]. DPB: it might not be initiated by the agent, but outside of the system. If it is only one agent affecting the other then, or there is only one event, is it an interaction? If the initial action is misunderstood by the other agent, can it still be called an interaction? Agents connected along a closed path of activation necessarily interact; on such a path random activities may self-organize. If an assemblage individuates too fast, it may damage some function and die, and if it individuates too slow it will petrify and die.

9.2 Complex Adaptive Systems

A CAS is a heterogeneous population of interacting distributed and asynchronous agents: they are adapting their behavior to circumstances that change because of the behavior of other agents. A CAS is not a system in the classical sense because no goal or central principle of controller is assumed; the properties of the agents are variable and can be unpredictable. The general characteristics of CAS are agents’ properties such as connectivity, distributiveness, population size, heterogeneity, &c. In Holland’s model they are I-O systems (classifier systems). CAS are fields of individuation. 

9.3 Reciprocal Selection and Determination

In evolutionary dynamics, adaptation means the modification of structure and behavior so as to increase the probability of procreation (survival); fitness thus increases. A similar reasoning is deployed above (ch 7) to connect cognition to adaptive behavior in order to maintain the system’s autonomy. Such activities take place in the context of the system’s milieu and across its boundaries with it. No boundary then nothing to maintain. ‘Operating towards its continuation the agent’s activities must therefore consist of selection. First, selecting out all the non-relevant perturbations and second, biasing the effects of external perturbations towards increased fitness. .. for this scenario to make any sense at all and for the agent to have any chance to persist, it must be engaging in inteactions with its mileu. Interactions that allow it to correlate actions to their consequences. Furthermore, its future selections must, at least to some extent, be informed by the consequences of past selections’ [p 202]. DPB: a practical explanation of this mechanism. 

9.4 Cybernetics – The science of Interaction

Cybernetics is about interaction and communication. ‘It was already argued that if there is something rather than nothing (and without presuming the first) it is only on account of interactions’ [p 218]. ‘From this perspective, the most inclusive definition of cybernetics is the science of becoming through interactions’ [p 218]. 

9.5 The Open-Ended intelligence of CAS

So the answer to the question: How can we generate intelligence synthetically? is as follows. Take dynamic system whose laws are unchanging and single-valued, and whose size is so large that after it has gone to an equilibrium that involves only a small fraction of its total states [i.e., the variety remaining after achieving equilibrium], this small fraction is still large enough to allow room for a good deal of change and behavior. Let is go on for a long enough time to get to such an equilibrium. Then examine the equilibrium in detail. You will find that the states or forms in being are peculiarly able to survive against the changes induced by the laws. Split the equilibrium in two, call one part “organism” and the other part “environment”: you will find that this “organism” is peculiarly able to survive against the disturbances from this “environment”. The degree of adaptation and complexity that this organism can develop is bounded only by the size of the whole dynamic system and by the time over which it is allowed to progress towards equilibrium. Thus, as I said, every isolated determinate dynamic system will develop organisms that are adapted to their environments. There is thus no difficulty in principle, in developing synthetic organisms as complex or as intelligent as we please” (Ashby 1962)’ [p 227]. DPB: I like the imperative language, the clarity of it, and the advice.

Chapter 16 Conclusion

Open-ended intelligence means that (virtual) difference is the sufficient reason of all there is. All there is exists as a limit on the unfoldment of difference. Therefore difference itself is self-limiting and by that brings forth actual expression, objects, subjects, relations, concepts, images, ideas, systems and potentialities. Open ended intelligence is presented here via overlapping concepts: individuation, becoming, self-organization, thought sans image, cognition, and sense-making, each highlighting an aspect that is not given to definition. ‘The most significant innovation [of enactive cognition] is that since representations no longer play a central role, the role of the environment as a source of input recedes into the background. It now enters in explanations only on those occasions when systems undergo breakdowns or suffer events that cannot be satisfied by their structures. Accordingly, intelligence shifts from being the capacity to solve a problem to the capacity to enter into a shared world of significance (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 207)’ [p 426]. Weinbaum critiques that to share significance is nobody’s capacity, because the process that enables it precedes both the object and the subject. 

16.1 Horizons of Open-Ended Intelligence

16.1.2.2 Beyond Darwinism

Darwinism can explain smooth development but not the disruptions such as radical innovations. Niche construction is the shaping of the environment as a result of the activities of the system itself, that are of course a result of the shape of the (previous) environment, &c. And so the effect on the system is only partly genetic (memetic) and also depends on the Input from the environment. Niche construction is a process of individuation that involves parties with metastable identities. The concept of systemic / enactive cognition also captures niche construction. 

5.1.1 Being and its Genesis

Simondon’s point of departure is a critique on two existing views on the reality of being. In the substantialist view there is no genesis and being is uncreated. The hylomorphic approach means that form is impressed on matter. Both assume a process of individuation prior to the existence of the individual and a complete individual is presupposed. Reverse engineering the concept of individuation from the starting point, it now needs a principle to attain the individual in the end. If there is a principle of individuation, it has to be the unfoldment of one individual into another. Simondon’s intention is to reverse the relation from individuals changing into their next version to: ‘The individual would then be grasped as a relative reality, a certain phase of being that supposes a preindividual reality, and that, even after individuation, does not exist on its own, because individuation does not exhaust with one stroke the potentials of preindividual reality (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ [p 98]. The conditions for a process of individuation to precede any individual are: 1. there is a preindividual reality or a field of individuation which is not preceded by any individual 2. individuation does not stop and 3. (as per Deleuze’s unilateral determinations) Simondon argues that individuation cannot bring forth individuals in a vacuum and instead produce a partitioned existence of individual and background. To fulfill these condtions a new metaphysical systems is required where no individuation is already encoded (does this mean presupposed?).

5.1.2 Being and Becoming

Simondon’s innovation is that individuation takes place within being: ‘It designates a becoming within being – not a specific becoming but the becoming of being as such. .. “Individuation is thus considered as the only ontogenesis, insofar as it is an operation of the complete being. Individuation must therefore be considered as a partial and relative resolution that occurs in a system that contains potentials and encloses a certain incompatibility in relation to itself – an incompatibility made of forces of tension as well as of the impossibility of an interaction between the extreme terms of the dimensions (Simondon, 2009, p. 5)’ (emphasis of the author) [p 98]. DPB: this reminds me of the argument of ‘l’englobement du contraire’ of Luhmann: the distinction is made in the thing in itself, in this case the being ‘englobes’ the becoming. Also it reminds me of the balancing between attractors and repellers that are the results of the forces and incompatibilities between different dimensions within the system. 

5.1.3 The Process of Individuation

Individuation is a process that brings forth individuals. DPB: and so logically it can only be known afterwards whether something was a process of individuation or another kind of a process? Simondon borrows the framework of dynamic systems theory, namely far from equilibrium systems. Individuation is a result from tensions in the system in problematic situations. DPB: this reminds of the situation where there is damage to the system, namely a radical change in the environment – outside of the domain of interactions of the system – causing a dramatic change internal to it. The text says: ‘The problematic situation, that is, any situation where incompatibilities between elements invite resolution through change, is the model ground for individuating processes’ [p 100]. DPB: the difference between this quote and my interpretation is that the source of the trouble in my view is injected from outside elements and in the quote the origin is in the elements of the system, internal to it. This reminds me of the Spinozian discussions that there is no source of change within anyone, it is always from outside the person. There is no a priori principle along which individuation takes place: if so it must be the bringing forth of a principle of individuation for application in specific situations is what it does.

5.1.3.1 Metastability

Being is metastable and not stable. It contains a transformative potential that is actualized in a continuous process of individuation. Individuating of systems occurs through interactions between systems and environment. But it is a metaphysical element included in being, and hence Simondon includes in the individuating being both the individual and its environment. ‘The metastable being is not determined a priori but rather individuates along with its structures in a sequence of transitions. Metastability does therefore not mean multiple points of stability, but rather a developing topographic configuration of such points. Clearly, this description resonates with Deleuzes’ description of Ideas’ [p 102]. DPB: this has to do with the affect of singularities on the shape of the topological landscape. ‘Relations, for Simondon, individuate as an intrinsic part of being and are not considered to exist outside of being or between things. .. intensities in the Deleuzian scheme seem to be the virtual counterpart to Simondon’s individuating relations’ [p 102].

5.1.3.2 Transduction

This is the term Simondon uses for the process of individuation; the concept is similar to the concept of the process self-organization; the difference is that self-organization describes convergence of trajectories towards attractors in a configured state-space of a system, while transduction does not assume such a priori configuration. Self-organization is relevant in the light of its product (final state), organization. ‘By transduction we mean an operation – physical, biological, mental, social – by which an activity propagates itself from one element to the next, within a given domain, and founds this propagation on a structuration of the domain that is realized from place to place: each area of the constituted structure serves as the principle and the model for the next area, as a primer for its constitution, to the extent that the modification expands progressively at the same time as the structuring operation’ (Simondon, 2009, p. 11)’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 103]. DPB: this is at the core, the crux: it is the propagation of a structure AND of an activity, or perhaps the other way around, as the structure must be in place to enable the propagation of the activity to take place; this interplay between structure and operation is also the innovation. But how is this different from my earlier understanding of individuation? That, I guess, was still founded on objects, namely the selection of some objects out of a multitude over others. This was in my perception driven by attractors and repellers such that a structure would appear. The selection would be based on their apparent behavior which was more suitable in those circumstances than other kinds of behavior. Transduction says that at some state there is a particular probability distribution for the configuration goes to some next state; that is so because of the possible operations it can perform in that present state. At that new state the configuration has changed and the operations it can do now are different from those at the former state and can be represented in some new probability distribution for the state after that. When it moves to the next state the configuration will again have changed &c. All this reminds me of natural computation: at every state the configuration changes and the possible computations the new system can do will have changed: some state will become much more likely and others will be limited or impossible to reach. As a consequence the configuration will tend to some and move away from other species of states. But in addition transduction moves from area to area within the system (in Dutch this concept is referred to with the verb ‘olievlekken’): ‘Each structure in the series constrains the operations that can immediately follow. Each operation constrains the transformation of the current structure into a new one’ [p 103]. I guess that this ‘olievlek’ mechanism can be explained using autopoietic orientation: when the neighboring system presently starts to show behavior strictly limited to some specific domain of interactions, it is not possible for an agent to any longer to exhibit behavior towards that neighbor that is outside of that domain, lest the communication stops. Each intermediary state is a partial resolution for the release of the internal tensions but drives the system away from stability as other tensions are not yet released or newly introduced. But this process can be represented as an I-O rule system, where the rules are rewritten as the system operates. ‘The progress of transduction circumvents the need for an overarching principle of individuation in that each transition is in fact a local determination that need not depend on structures or operations beyond the immediate one’ [p 104]. DPB: but bear in mind that these local determinations emerge as autonomous behavior of the system, namely a firm. This is at the heart of my attempt to explain things using natural computation and game theory and information processing and cultural computation &c. In addition it is completely ‘just-so’: every snippet of information that sounds appealing to the rest of the memeplex can and will be used (against you). 

5.1.3.3 Information

Simondon’s understanding of information is different from Shannon’s reproduction of messages between sender and receiver: ‘Information has to do with relations, but with formative relations and not with already formed ones. Information is a process of establishing communication where initially there is none: “.. it is the signification that will emerge when an operation of individuation will discover the dimension according to which two disparate realities may become a system. […] [Information] is that by which the incompatibility of the non-resolved system becomes an organizing dimension in the resolution; […] “(Simondon, 2009, pp. 9-10). .. Communication is established in the individuation of signification – the means of exchanging meaning’ (emphasis of the author) [p 104]. DPB: Information is a Process! The significations and the manner in which they are carried among the individuated elements of the system (body gestures, chemical reactions, utterances &c) are inseparable. DPB: I agree because it is not generally understood by a Dutch host when, however well intended, a Chinese person burps a compliment for the supper served to her and a measure of offense might even be taken; however, when expressed verbally the compliment stands a much better chance of being appreciated by the Dutch host. Conversely the Chinese person might take offense when the Dutch host debits her vision on humanitarian issues even when expressed verbally. Language in this sense is not a message passing protocol but an individuating medium: ‘Language is an individuating process, not because it facilitates communication using already individuated messages, but primarily because it establishes communication in situations of incompatibility and disparateness. This is done by continually individuating signification within language’ [p 105]. DPB: this means the redistribution of meaning to utterances, deframing and reframing of meaning as per Luhmann.

5.1.3.4 Levels of Individuation

5.2 Deleuze’s Synthesis of the Sensible

In Deleuzian metaphysics individuation must explain how virtual differences account for actual processes and events. It must explain how the world of actual individuals corresponds with the virtual world of Ideas. The difficulty is that the virtual aspect of reality is pure structure and hence static, and causally sterile. Virtual existence is atemporal and Deleuze’s individuation extends between the temporal and the atemporal: time itself individuates. But the actual is fully conditioned by the virtual.

5.2.1 Transcendental versus Causal Explanations

Logically causal relations are necessary but not sufficient: in practical terms they explain a habit or a repetition for Y to be exist because of the existence of X, but in fact the causes are indefinite. They do not explain anything creative, unique or irregular. Deleuze does not subscribe to causal relations, but instead finds the sufficient reason for everything that actually exists in its corresponding virtual aspect (namely in the intensive differences). DPB: this reminds me of Rodin‘s testament: once the (Deleuzian) Idea exists, then, apart from the particular practicalities of its production, the expression that corresponds to the (Deleuzian) Idea also exists. I find it difficult to remember how the Deleuzian virtual is distinct from the Bergsonian. ‘.. the elements of the actual are individuals, each unique and singular. Individuals cannot be caused in the conventional sense because they are never the same, while the principle of causation is grounded in the repetition of the same (habits). A causative explanation, therefore, cannot be based on singular cases. Since individuals are always different, they cannot causally explain one another. This is why if we consider an actuality made of individuals, causative explanations are necessarily mere superficial generalizations achieved only by averaging differences out and positing sameness prior to repetition’ [p 106]. DPB: this explains why the state of the art is that causal relations cannot explain anything new, and hence that determinism does not explain anything new. Intensive differences are the sufficient reason for the actual, but the virtual does not cause the actual either: ‘Actual individuals are expressionsof virtual differences immanent in them. Virtual differences can never be sensed directly, they can only be expressed’ (emphasis of the author) [p 107]. DPB: Ideas are omnipresent and memes are a special case of them. Reality has dimensions of exteriority (actual) and interiority (virtual). Expression is the exteriority of things, the way they appear, how they affect, and are affected by, other things. Virtual Ideas belong to the interiority of things, their ‘in itself’ dimension: ‘In this sense, expression is nothing but the exteriorization of interiority’ [p 107]. DPB: the basis for the logistical model. To explain the actual in terms of expression renders it transcendental because the sufficient reason for everything now is not directly accessible. ‘Everything experienced, sensed and observed is never entirely what it is. It is merely an expression of something which has indefinitely many other expressions depending on circumstances. Expressions are intrinsically incomplete and impermanent, being the fabric of nomad reality. In other words, individuals possess depth – a virtual depth of what they can become. It is indeed the Idea that determines what the body can do, but the Idea is inexhaustible in terms of its manners of expression. In this sense existence is open-ended; things have an inexhaustible and largely unpredictable variety of expressions depending on their interactions. They can mean very different things under different circumstances’ (emphasis of DPB) [p 109]. DPB: this reminds of Luhmannian deframing and reframing constructivism (?).

5.2.2 The Synthesis of the Sensible

Deleuze hypothesizes a connection between thought and the genesis taking place between the virtual and the actual aspects of reality. The meaning of thought is a metaphysical event beyond the human condition. ‘The sensible or that which is given to sensation is the counterpart of expression. If the expression of X is how it can affect other actualities, the sensibility of X is how it can be affected by other actualities. Expression is therefore the sensible for the other (not for itself). The whole schema of individuation can be concisely and elegantly put as follows: “The real individual is set in motion by sensation, expresses Ideas, falls into actual identity. It is a take on the whole of Ideas, bringing some into greater clarity, throwing others into obscurity. The real individual is driven by sensations that signify a reconfiguration of intensities, a change in which intensities envelop others and which are enveloped (DPB: the terms of the enveloping series are contracted into the enveloping series). It is the site of creation, movement in Ideas and a reconfiguration of intensities expressed in the destruction of the identity of an actual thing and the formation of new identities“ (Williams, 2003, p. 185)’ [pp. 109-10]. Sensations move individuals to express certain Ideas. DPB: this is close to SSP and to my Logistical model where people are motivated to give expression to their ideas by external signals and based on their ‘rule set’; that must then logically be the virtual. Ideas are expressed that from time to time gain identity by becoming temporarily stable. 

5.3 Metaphysical Self-Organization Revisited

Assuming ontogenesis instead of ontology (process instead of object) an hypothesis is needed to explain the existence of identities, as they are no longer metaphysically explained. In a mobile reality all objects are impermanent because the processes that produce them never cease, and hence the question is relevant why there is order at all: disorder>>order>>disorder. DPB: this reminds me of my section on disorder and how it is produced and what it means to have order from disorder. Organization does not have its own sufficient reasons; it has to come from the fundamental mobile reality it presupposes: ‘Self-organization therefore is the feature of chaos (or indifference) that precedes organization and not organization itself. In its metaphysical sense, self-organization comes only to clarify that there is no element or principle transcendent to reality that imposes organization (e.g. a godly principle). It is reality that organizes, in itself and for itself’ [p 114]. DPB: this reminds me of the difficulty to generate really random numbers: real randomness is hard to come by. It further reminds me of the figure Zeus in the dialogues: he can see others only if they are organized. If they are not organized and they are random, they have no identity distinguishing them from their background and Zeus cannot see them. If they are organized and they are not random then Zeus can see them. But if he names them then he sees them even if they are random. Deleuze’s schema for stable structures is that the formula for determination claims indifference to be determinable and how differences as events of unilateral determination bring forth structure expressed in actual stable organizations. But for difference to be a sufficient reason for stability and the emergence of identities repetition (and orders of repetition) are required. ‘Ideas as multiplicities bring forth in their individuation a multiplicity of unique individuals. The internal repetition in the Idea (its multiple nature) is expressed in the external repetition of individuals and forms populations of individuals (see 8.1 ahead)’ [p 114-5]. DPB: this is a description of the variation in the instances of a meme, analogous to the multiplicity of the instances of similar organisms in a population is said to be their species, and given that the concept of a meme can be the same as the concept of an Idea. It is not (yet) equal to the description of a memeplex. Individuation of the virtual brings about order because it is a symmetry breaking event, expressing some Ideas while obscuring others. It is therefore a creative and destructive process. ‘As already hinted, self-organization in the metaphysical sense is responsible for space, time, all the sensible qualities and of course natural laws’ [p 115]. Many of these appear to be eternal invariants but none of them can be proven to be. Conventionally self-organization is understood as attractors as self-identical states in the systems dynamics and the reduction of the of the system’s degrees of freedom as it self-organizes: ‘Instead, self-organization, as the ontogenetic process it is, and as a process of progressive determination, is not necessarily characterized by movement towards stability, invariance and identity. Such movements are merely passing phases’ [p 116]. DPB: but an attractor can be the expression of the behavior of the elements of the system, no?! 

5.4 Conclusing Notes on Deleuze’s metaphysics

5.4.1 Every Thing Thinks

Every body, every thing, thinks and is a thought to the extent that, reduced to its intensive reasons, it expresses an Idea the actualization of which it determines (emphasis of Weaver). However, the thinker himself makes his individual differences from all manner of things: it is in this sense that he is laden with stones and diamonds, plants’ and even animals’[i.e., all the Ideas it connects to but are obscured in the immediate expression]. The thinker, undoubtedly the thinker of eternal return, is the individual, the universal individual.”(Deleuze, 1994, p. 254)’ [p 116-7]. DPB: this is the clearest explanation so far of thinking as a process I have been calling natural computation. Ideas are a more general form of memes, in that Ideas are the basis for everything and memes only for human thought.

5.4.2. The event of cognition

Assuming that thinking is a foundational formative process driven by intensities, then the meaning of cognition changes also. Recognition is related to the image of thought and is a process of discovery but cognition is related to thought sans image and is related to creation. ‘Thought and cognition in the very broad sense presented here are almost synonymous and interchangeable. Thought extends far beyond what we conventionally consider mental activity taking place in brains. Cognition does not involve specific sensory faculties, only interaction and affect (the sensible)’ [p 117]. DPB: lovely, this means that I could change computation (this is too close to computational science suggesting an overly mechanical approach) for thought but also thought (this is too etymologically entwined with human brain activity) for cognition. Simple systems can be characterized by their relations of exteriority, with little interiority, their Ideas are distinct, they can be easily decomposed in their components, they tend to stability. Complex systems are characterized by their relations of exteriority but their relations of interiority too (which can only be inferred), their Ideas are less distinct and they can only be decomposed into their components with more effort, because their past endures in them, they do not tend to stability. For simple systems thought and cognition are the same thing. For complex systems it makes sense to make this distinction: ‘.. to separate the regime of more or less immediate interactions from another, interior and only implicit regime of ongoing transformation. When we represent a system we exteriorize it and by applying symbolic representation to its interiority it becomes simultaneously more simplified and accessible and less realistic. Representation turns thought from productive to cognition and from nomadic to sedentary. Notably, it might be a matter of a single interaction with an additional element that may turn a simple system into a complex one and vice versa. In summary, from a metaphysical perspective, the differentiation between thought and cognition carries no consequence and is therefore context dependent’ [p 118]. DPB: hmmm what to make of that. I better ask Weaver first.

5.4.3 Influence on human thought

Chapter 6: From Difference to Thought

Any metaphysical investigation cannot be validated. This statement makes sense if a truth or a plausibility value can be assigned to the outcome. But truth is hardly the point because a metaphysical hypothesis sets out to enhance the knowledge of reality. A metaphysical set of axioma’s influences one’s thought and experiences, and hence one’s interactions with their environment. The value of such theory is to allow one to think about reality in novel ways. A core belief of the author is that as living beings, our encounter with reality is experimental, and in the same vein philosophy and metaphysics are thought experiments. In the theory presented here the very notion of truth undergoes individuation – the idea that truth precedes its discovery is rooted in identity based metaphysics. ‘It [this theory] need only make enough sense (i.e., to be disturbing enough) as to introduce a minute shift – a difference from that which is obvious and given in conventional thinking’ [p 122]. DPB: this reminds me of Marta saying that if it has a name it is probably dangerous. And I like this idea that the theory should only male enough sense that it disturbs the audience. ‘Cognition and thought in their metaphysical sense are used interchangeably. All cognitive activities are forms of thinking, and thinking as individuation – the bringing forth of sensible individuals – is cognitive activity. Thought and cognition are nevertheless differentiated depending on the more context in which they are applied, as explained in chapter 5’ [p 122].

6.1 / 6.5 Regurgitation for later use

Part II Individuation, Cognition and Interaction

Prologue

The objective of this part is to establish a connection between individuation, cognition (as pe the idea of the cognitive event), and open-ended intelligence.

Chapter 7: A Systemic Concept of Cognition

Conventionally considered to belong to the living. A deep connection exists between life and mind (Thompson) and between life and cognition (Maturana and Varela). At present work is in progress to extend cognition to systems beyond the living. In the existing theories for different fields of research cognition is characterized based on properties of those systems. But: ‘In this chapter, I will argue that if the etymological root and core of meaning of cognition – cognoscere – to get to know, is to be taken to its limits, there is a deeper and more fundamental sense of cognition which is to do with the individuation of systems and the knowledge creation that precedes fully individuated organizations and is instrumental to their becoming. This sense of cognition underlies all forms of organization’ (emphasis of the author) [p 139]. DPB: I agree, there is no escaping from this, given that the metaphysics is in order (as per the above). I like the etymological approach because it often sheds a surprisingly old new light on concepts worn out through overuse. 

7.1 The Enactive Theory of Cognition

7.1.1 A Brief Historical Context

The cognitivist hypothesis (cognitivism) takes the computer as the metaphor. There is a resemblance between this model and the image of thought: the cognitive system forms a model of an a priori existing world, the world must contain discrete and predictable identities and their relations. Connectionism uses the organic brain as the core metaphor. There are no explicit rules, no symbols and no central control. An important difference is that the connectionist model (contrary to the cognitivist model) allows no internal models of the environment in the system, there is no sense of representation. But still it cannot escape completely the issue of representation, as it replaces a reductionist representation with a holistic one. The cognitivist model has a connection with logic: it can be reasoned about. But: ‘Cognitivism and connectionism left unquestioned the relation between the cognitive processes and the real world. As a result, their models of cognition were disembodied and abstract. […] The mind and the world were thus treated as separate and independent of each other, with the outside world mirrored by a representational model inside the head’ (Thompson, 2007, p. 10) [p 142]. Embodied dynamicism sees cognition as a process taking place in the world, with the world, instead of about the world but isolated from it: ‘Put otherwise, cognition is produced in te coupling between an embodied and situated mind and the world’ [p 143].

7.1.2 Preliminary Ideas

Enactive cognition is introduced by Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1992. ‘In its most fundamental sense enactive cognition is the hypothesis that cognition is the product of activity and more specifically of the activity of a cognitive agent in the world’ [p 143]. The question is how cognition is embedded in a world that itself is a product of cognition. DPB: first there is activity in the world by cognitive agents and then that activity produces cognition.

7.1.3 What is Enactive Cognition?

Most concisely, cognition is an embodied action that enacts – brings forth a world, where enaction means a history of structural coupling between the cognitive agent and its milieu’ [p 145]. DPB: but this is a different interpretation than I have used. The meaning I assign to it is to ‘act out’ something motivated by a meme, and to give expression to it. From the quote it means to act out the rules based on a history of structural coupling between the agent and elements in its environment. The coupling can be described as perception that itself is guided by outcomes of previous perceptions. That perspective is wider and so I agree. In the course of these processes, cognitive structures emerge. In enaction perception means the guiding of the activities of the perceiving agent in its local situation. The local situation changes as a result of the agent’s actions and therefore the world as it is perceived can not be assumed (pre)given and independent of the perceiver’s actions. The reference point is called the embodiment and it is the set of relations linking the perceiver’s perceptions to her activities. Embodiment, namely embodied interaction, rather than a (model of a) (pre)given world determines the activities of the perceiver, how it affects and how it is affected by its milieu. In this theory the mind and the world are inseparable. Cognition takes place not inside the agent, but between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupling, the monads and the landscape of Jobs: ‘The agent and its milieu are “bound together in reciprocal specification and selection” (Varela, Thompson and Rosch, 1992, p. 174)’ [p 145]. Enactive cognition is a coordinated dance between the agent and its milieu. DPB: this reminds me of the coupled dancing landscapes of Kauffman, but these related to fitness landscapes while the subject here is the interaction between agents and their environment, which is closer to a kind of adaptation. ‘Behaviour – the form of the dance – consists of the recurrent patterns that appear within an ongoing unfoldment of intertwined causes and effects’ [p 145]. The system (or agent) decides which elements from its milieu it will be sensitive. ‘The product of cognition is an environment which is neither an a priori given observer-independent world nor a construction or projection of the cognitive agent’s mind. The environment is first and foremost an ongoing joint actualization, inseparable from the enactive agent or its milieu’ [p 146]. DPB: this is an important quote, because it ties the concept of enactive cognition to the development of reality (actualization, namely through the actual and the virtual) as per the previous chapters. Enactive cognition is rooted in the interactions of its agent, and hence it is ontogenetic, not ontological.

7.1.4 Embodiment

Embodiment in the context of enactive cognition is a compound of three sets: a set of sensors (and sensory processes), a set of actuators (and motor processes) and a set of structures that link and cohere between perceptual events in the first set to action events in the second. It is the specifics of these three sets that are determined by the history of structural coupling between the agent and its milieu. All three sets are self-updating in the course of the ongoing structural coupling with the agent’s milieu as the embodiment of the agent is integral to the milieu that can be sensed acted upon. This means that the agent’s embodiment and its milieu are described within the same descriptive domain so their interactions can be described within that same domain too’ [p 147]. DPB: this reminds of natural computation. The last sentence reminds of autopoiesis. This can be the foundation of my computational section. I must research how these processes can produce the concrete behavior of a firm. I use now autopoiesis as well as games, but it is not conclusive. Cognitive agents are self-individuating in the context of their embodiment. DPB: this fits with self-organization and with transduction. 

7.1.5 Autonomy

The idea of autonomy has its roots in the theory of autopoiesis. This theory defines living systems as capable of self-producing and self-maintaining. ‘Autonomy is a more general concept that captures two related properties. The first is self-individuation, that is, the capacity of a system to distinguish itself from its milieu, the second is the capacity of the system to specify its own laws and norms applied in its interactions with the rest of the world’ [p 148]. This means in practical terms that the system can install some laws that increase the probability for some course of action to take if some input is perceived from the milieu. Not all of the actions are directed all of the time with complete certainty. The tree sets (actuators, sensors, relations) are not arbitrary, but self-individuating and capable of acting based on its own norms, that are established by these self-individuating processes. Central to the establishment of autonomy is the concept of operational closure. DPB: see also the article of Francis about the mathematical formulation of this, in summary: ‘The set (P) is said to be operationally closed if and only if the operation of each process in P is a) a condition for the operation of one or more other processes in P and b) is conditioned by the operation of one or more processes in P (..)’ [p 148].Operational closure does not mean that the system depends on the processes in P alone, it can also depend on processes outside of it and conversely operations within the closure can be a necessary condition for processes outside of P. This mutuality can be seen as a form of organizational coherence that distinguishes P from its background: ‘Therefore, operational closure can be said to realize a self-individuating entity, or in other words, it produces and maintains its own identity’ [ p 149]. A stronger kind of autonomy is precarious autonomy, where the operationally closed organization is not only a condition for the entire system itself, but also for the systems it encloses. ‘In a precarious autonomous system, the closure as a whole operates against the otherwise natural tendency of component processes to degenerate’ [p 149]. The system now produces its own preconditions: ‘[a] precarious autonomous system, at whatever level, intervenes in its own substrate in order to sustain a form which is made out of components that paradoxically provide the very tendencies towards the dissolution of the same form’ [p 149]. DPB: the departments of a firm appear not to be precarious, or at least not all of them; however, reformulated as a function, they might be. The precariousness of identity is instrumental in the establishment of norms and the regulation of such norms. An additional property of an autonomous system is operational coherence: each process in the closure is only viable if conditioned and facilitated by interactions with other processes in the closure. This is an emergent property of the system. 

7.1. Structural Coupling and Natural Drift

Structural coupling describes the interactions of a cognitive agent with its milieu: agents are coupled when they have a history of reciprocal perturbations of their structures. This should be treated in an autopoietic sense. The nature of the perturbation are therefore not necessarily instructive as to the nature of the change of the structure they trigger. It is possible that a perturbation from the milieu causes a change in a system, which then in turn cause a change in the milieu &c. When these kinds of interactions become recurrent the systems are said to be structurally coupled. Enactive cognition is realized as a structural coupling between an agent and its milieu. ‘A cognitive agent is an embodied autonomous system that dynamically maintains its identity. This self-individuating activity does not take place in a vacuum but rather by an ongoing engagement with a milieu with which the agent exchanges perturbations’ [p 151]. The system may undergo structural changes, but its autopoietic organization must remain intact; all the structures mapped to that organization are the system’s viability set (DiPaolo, 2009, pp. 8-9) [p 151]. DPB: Maturana and Varela use the concept of structure and the concept of organization, but they do not use the concept of the set of all structures that belong to the system’s organization, all the shapes it can take such that its identity is maintained. ‘The perceptually guided actions that constitute enactive cognition are directed towards increasing the probability of perturbations that trigger structural transformations that are well within the system’s viability set and avoiding perturbations that trigger structural transformations that lead out of the system’s viability set as well as decreasing the probability of the future occurrence of such perturbations’ [p 151]. DPB: the difference with Maturana and Varela is the focus on structure instead of organization. This exact same statement could be made using the organization, without making use of the concept of viability set. I reckon it is a useful concept, however, because I have included the various shapes a firm can take without losing its identity in my Logistical Model (rather unelegantly). But I wasn’t aware of the concept of viability set at the time. Only on account of (the maintaining of) autonomy do particular perturbations gain preference over others, significance, in relation to the system’s state of affairs. Inasmuch as perception can be guided by action, can it be positioned vis-a-vis the milieu so as to better inform future actions based on the immediate as well as tendencies. This means that the effect of action must be gauged such that its effect becomes clear and that action can be taken to improve it. Now the agent’s actions are guided perception and by anticipation and hence the use of the concept of enacted cognition. The guiding principle is often assumed to be fitness, but this cannot explain the vast number of traits in the vast number of organisms and how perceptory systems could possibly keep track of the enormous variety of traits of the elements in systems’ milieus and to assign a fitness to each. An alternative for fitness is the concept of natural drift: ‘to switch from a prescriptive logic to a proscriptive one, that is, from the idea that what is not allowed is forbidden to what is not forbidden is allowed. In the context of evolution this shift means that we remove selection as a prescriptive process that guides and instructs in the task of improving fitness. IN contrast, in a proscriptive context natural selection can be seen to operate, but in a modified sense: selection discards what is not compatible with survival and reproduction. Organisms and the population offer variety; natural selection guarantees only that what ensues satisfies the two basic constraints of survival and reproduction. This proscriptive orientation shifts our attention to the tremendous diversity of biological structures at all levels (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 195)’ [p 153]. DPB: this is very important, I have this somewhere, but I can’t remember if I have ever heard these terms of proscriptive and natural drift before. Evolutionary processes can now be satisficing: they can make do with whatever is available and endlessly vary with them so as to storm local maxima. In the light of the above many elements of systems are under-determined by the conditions of their milieus; there is a vast space of variability for individuation to take place: ‘Evolution (and likewise cognition) as natural drift is a process taking place within an history of structural coupling and where structures drift within their viability set while being pruned from time to time to select out trajectories that are not viable’ [p 153]. Through structural coupling cognitive agents and their milieus progressively determine each other’s behavior and realize their ongoing individuation.

7.2. Sense-making and Boundary Formation

7.2.1 A World Unto Itself

Cognition is not about acquiring and processing information in an objective way as it is understood by computation. Instead cognition creates information rather than only manipulate it; the information it creates has an intrinsic significance: ‘it is information about something for somebody’ [p 155]. To makes sense can be seen as adaptivity, given that it includes both immediate and temporized changes; but it is not enough if the changes are within the viability set, the system must also monitor whether tendencies in the milieu are such that their perturbations can be expected to induce structural changes that lead the system away from the boundaries of its viability set. Now the system can regulate its structural coupling and modify potentially harmful trajectories into beneficial ones. DiPaolo 2009 argues that the existence of these mechanisms is a hallmark of sense-making activities, and hence cognitive agency. This kind of regulation can be explained in terms of cybernetic regulations based on self-created norms (Ashby 1960). 

7.2.2 Sense-Making sans Maker

The concept of enactive cognition is rooted in the theory of autopoiesis. Autopoiesis provides an account for what systems are, but not how they become. DPB: they are assumed to not be work in progress &c. This has dissipated into enactive cognition theory also and hence it provides no foundation for the formative aspect of sense-making. And so it is not possible to explain sense-making as preceding autonomy based on the state of the art in this realm. This problem can be attacked shifting from the logic of individuals to the logic of individuation: autonomous entities are self-individuating; it is not self-individuated as per the literature, because once an identity is attained, it will have to be maintained by itself. ‘Self-individuating, we argue, has a wider sense, describing a system capable not only of maintaining identity but also of undergoing transformations of identity without without losing its overall coherence and integrity’ [p 157]. DPB: this train of thought reminds me of the evolution of a horse, the ancestors of which were not vegetarians. If an identity is roughly a description of ‘how a system survives’ then what it eats surely is an aspect of its identity. In the light of this the identity of a horse has changed from a system that survives as a carnivore to a system that survives as a vegan, however inefficient its metabolism for the processing of vegetables compared for instance to that of a cow. ‘If we assign this extended meaning to autonomy, inevitably sense-making becomes a formative process. It is not merely the activity of maintaining an already existing identity but rather a transformative process of an identity continuously in the making. Once enactive cognition is acknowledged as formative it can be thought of as consisting of two interwoven aspects: the bringing forth of a world and the bringing forth (individuation) of identity. We associate the latter with cognitive development’ [p 157]. DPB: an identity develops as a contour distinct from its background and in the interaction that background develops as distinct from the contour; both ge ever closer and closer to their perfection but never quite reach it as their environments change continually: this is as close to monads as it can get, and the big win is that it is now embedded in this philosophy. ‘Sense-making is a process where identity and its generated norms – the norms that cast significance on the world – may undergo transformations. It is as if sense-making turns upon the sense-maker itself, i.e., it can differ from itself in the course of sense-making’ [p 157]. DPB: this is the lizard-glass experiment, the sense-maker perceives an echo of its actions back via its milieu. They are variations now included in the signals received back and in those variations are the properties, the identity of the individuals in the environment mirrored. The statement quoted above confirms this: when the echo of the signals emitted change then it time for the system to change its behavior and its identity, and hence to transform the way it makes sense, and hence to transform its structure. Business as usual while the shop is under construction. The only ground is metastable ground: ‘From a history of structural coupling (given past experience) one can only infer invariance but never establish it logically’ [p 157]. 

7.2.3 Boundary Formation

A boundary is a topological analogue of a distinction: for instance a distinction between a subset with some property and one without it. This is related to the concept of an individual: ‘In as far as an individual entity is distinguished from its milieu in any arbitrary fashion, there exists a property space where both the individual entity and its milieu can be represented as separated by a boundary. Extending the analogy, the idea of boundary formation intuitively corresponds to individuation’ [p 158]. The hinge is in the boundary left implicit in the definition of structural coupling: if there is to be mutual perturbation between two systems then a boundary is supposed. Prior to its existence there is no history of recurring perturbations and once they are there, then the boundary must also be there and individuation is realized. ‘It is proposed here that the meaning of sense-making that comes prior to self-individuated entities is the process of boundary formation, that is, the spontaneous emergence of a system-milieu distinction in a network P of interacting processes’ [p 158]. This boundary is intrinsic to the network and not imposed by the observer. DPB: I agree and I find this important and I reckon this is a process of self-organization. Once the boundary is there processes can either cross it, or they can be such that they don’t cross it, and hence the formation of the boundary casts a significance over the network, a primitive event of sense-making. ‘What such spontaneous sense-making allows is the consideration of structural coupling prior to autonomy and independently of an observer external to the network’ [p 159]. DPB: this reminds me of the event where a firm is established. This above theory has to explain how the memeplex is configured such that it is coherent and it motivates people to show coherent behavior such that a firm now exists. The individuating of processes can be recursive: first a distinction occurs resulting in individuated processes which in turn make further distinctions and lead to further individuations and individuals. 

7.2.4 Fluid Identities

Fluid identities is an extension of the idea of enactive cognition by replacing the notion of the individual with individuation. By definition a precarious autonomous structure requires operational closure in place during structural coupling: it needs its operational coherence maintained in the course of structural coupling: ‘.. the very property of closure must be maintained but it does not necessarily mean that it is exactly the same closure that is maintained all along’ (emphasis of the author) [p 160]. Operational closure is conditioned by the dependencies among the elements and their system; the identity of the system is a product of the observer, not the origin of the closure. While the autonomy of the system is uninterrupted, the transformation is not merely structural: the identity, the norms (the organization) and its viability set have changed. DPB: this is an important extension of my theory: what happens when the organization changes outside of the domain but closure, autonomy and identity remain uninterrupted. I had assumed that once it is tweaked outside of the domain of interactions, it is destroys, but is not necessarily so, given that the system is sufficiently sophisticated to comply and given enough time. Precarious autonomy is maintained globally (across the series), but not locally (in intermittent parts of the series), because particular processes cease to contribute at some point. ‘Fluid identity is the only proper description for a continuously individuating autonomous agent’ [p 161]. DPB: MONAD. That we describe the world in terms of stable entities is habit. ‘The movement between phases (DPB: subsequent events in a series) has no particular direction. Processes of integration and dissolution of individuals at multiple scales follow each other as cognition unfolds’ [pp. 161-2].

7.3 Cognition and Systems

The enaction of cognition is the system-theoretic counterpart of the metaphysical event of cognition. Cognition and sense-making are significant for thinking of complex systems. An extension of the existing approach to self-organization and cybernetics is the formative evolutionary aspect of boundary formation and transformation of identity. The very notion of a system already presupposes a somewhat stable contraption, but given these above considerations, the question what the concept of a system is becomes relevant. The nature of the boundaries between the system and the observer are investigated in second-order cybernetics (Heylighen & Joslyn 2001, and von Foerster 2007). In the light of the above, in the course of their structural coupling, in a process of mutual sense-making, not only the system and its milieu, but also the observer transform, perturbed by changes in the behavior of the others. In this process there may be phases of higher and of lower coherence: the system and the observer are more, or less, capable of making sense of the behavior of the other. But in that case the understanding of the observer, and the behavior that ensues itself, becomes a factor in the coherence of the system. This is especially apparent in social systems, and proverbial. DPB: the system reacts to the observer and vice versa, an example is the El Farol problem. The extended version of the enacted cognition goes further: ‘Actual reality turns out to be a matter of distinctions, boundaries, interactions across boundaries, the recurrence of patterns of such interactions, and the consequent individuation of processes and entities undergoing phases of stability and non-stability. In short, an ongoing event of cognition – sense-making sans maker’ [p 163]. In addition, in the extended notion of enacted cognition, the notion of perception can be abstracted to anything that can affect a system and action can be abstracted to anything that can affect something else; using the terminology of Part I these are equivalent to sensibility and expression respectively. 

Chapter 8 The Distributed Nature of Cognition

Cognition, like evolution, is a network of interacting processes that has no center. Also analogous to evolution is that cognition is distributed, which becomes apparent in the requirement of operational closure. 

8.1 Population Thinking and Individuation

Population thinking is related to evolution theory and the Aristotelian concept of species. A species present a set of common essential properties shared by all the members; in this way it is a pre-existing identity that precedes its members. Variation is mostly insignificant if it is within the norms of the specified properties. The species is the ontological category and the reality of the individuals is grounded in the species. The apparent variation is limited. The Aristotelian and Platonian metaphysics put identity first and variation second. But evolution theory puts variation first. ‘With evolution theory, the idea of a species as a natural type was replaced by the idea of a species as a population. This replacement has a metaphysical significance: unique individuals are the real ontological elements while a species is reduced to a status of a reification characterized by statistically derived properties’ [p 168]. DPB: Well explained: I explain some of this in my thesis (I think in search for a definition of the subject of evolution), maybe this is a useful quote. Thinking in terms of individuals and differences as metaphysical elements naturally invites population thinking. Population thinking explains phenomena from the perspective of a collection of individuals and the behavior they collectively bring forth. Which individuals belong to a population is contextual and depends on their properties vis a vis the other members of the population and vis a vis the context. When interactions between the members of the population are introduced then: 1. individuals can further individuate (adapt, evolve, coordinate, &c.) 2. through recurrent interactions with other individuals new individuals can form through structural coupling 3. the population becomes a complex adaptive system possibly with emergent properties making it a distinct individual in itself. DPB: this helps to clarify how a human organization can emerge from a multitude of people. Apparently in the above case, the population has already a set of different and / or the same properties turning them into a population; and based on those they develop into a distinct individual. I am not so taken with the concept of a population as used here: I would rather state that a population is that set of individuals which is included by a particular set of behaviors exhibited (and that contributes to the behavior of the collective as an individual), as a consequence of particular properties of the individuals. The reproduction of the (biological) individuals is the major operation driving the individuation of the species: organisms are genetically coupled over generations and through internal selection (reproduction) and external selection (natural selection) that phenotypic traits become stabilized in the population forming a species as an individual with observable distinctive characteristics. ‘Such bodies operate cognitively in the world thus bringing forth their own environment, albeit at scales of space and time different than those of the individual organisms that constitute them’ [p 169]. DPB: this reminds me of the discussion about time with Marta. ‘The existence of a species as an autonomous individual is therefore a precarious one’ [p 169]. DPB: this isn’t very well explained in the text but it is relevant. If a system is precarious the parts contribute to the autopoiesis of the whole but not the other way around; in order to maintain its autopoiesis, the whole must provide the sufficient conditions for the parts also. The conditions for the individual parts are not necessarily aligned and hence the precariousness: the whole is like the Chinese guy simultaneously turning a multitude of plates on sticks, but knowing that if one falls and damages his existence will be damaged also. Moreover, in the case of a precarious system relations exist between the plates also, further adding to the complexity of the system. The theory of enactive cognition and its extension to systemic cognition fit into population thinking: the formation of boundaries and closures, and structural coupling can be explained in terms of populations. 

8.2 Assemblage Theory

Populations are considered fields of individuation. Assemblage theory focuses on the interactions and processes taking place between the individuals. ‘Individuals are metastable constructions that consist of other individuals. We term such constructions assemblages. Assemblages are individuals in the making that can be found at diverse states of consolidation and coherence’ [p 171]. DPB: why is it so important to distinguish between fully individuated individuals and still individuating individuals and individuating not-quite-individuals and freshly started individuating populations (or assemblages)? There is no inherent difference between them, apart from the level of individuation and hence how easy they are to spot, how easy they are to recognize, or perhaps that cognition (as opposed to recognition is required to distinguish them from their milieu, perhaps they are more responsible as individuals. Systems are seen as firm, assemblages lack the integrity and identity. ‘In first approximation an assemblage is a network of interacting heterogeneous individuals that brings forth an individuating yet not necessarily fully individuated entity. From a complementary perspective it is a network of interactions that brings forth distinctions and boundaries, e.g., the interactions that maintain a closure’ [p 171]. DPB: this reminds me of the populations proposed in the Logistic Model, the discourse is their Luhmannian communication, the population includes the individuals that express that communication, and hence, who carry the memeplex. The elements of an assemblage are characterized by: 1. identifying properties that define them as they are subject to their own individuation 2. capacities to interact: to affect and be affected by others. Within an assemblage the interactions can lead to recurrence and coupling and hence to individuation of the assemblage. DPB: But the assemblage is the individual, or rather a kind of a pre-individual, recognizable because of its contour in the context of the wider field of individuals, or rather their behaviors. No, the text is correct: ‘In such cases (of coordinated interactivity or communication) disparity is at least partially and temporarily resolved and they are said to form an assemblage’ [p 172]. Contrary to systems, assemblages do not necessarily have the organization that identifies them. DPB: they are in a pre-autopoietic stage, where there is no overarching organiatrion coordinating their autopoietic behavior. This is a very useful subject. I must integrate this into my Logistical Model where populations are discussed. And I must check how I have used the term ensemble somewhere. This also is relevant for the landscape of Jobs. ‘When an observer observes something for the first time with little or no reference in previous experience, observer and observed form an assemblage. .. As some specific interactions become recurrent and coordinated (while others cease), the initial disparity of elements is being resolved and coherent relations between observer and observed are established as they co-determine (individuate) each other. Such processes constitute what was described in chapter 7 as the enaction of a world, and can also be understood as the individuation of knowledge. Knowledge is established and becomes representable only when the formed assemblage reaches a threshold of coherency and stability’ [pp. 172-3]. So knowledge is produced by the observer and the observed, once they have become coupled ‘It is part of the world brought forth’ [p 173]. The elements of an assemblage play a material role (relevant for the assemblage’s structure) and an expressive role (relevant as to how it affects and is affected (by) others). In assemblage theory the production of expressions through combinations of signs or codes is called coding (DeLanda, 2006, pp. 14-15). 

8.3 The Stratification of Cognition

Metaphysically individuals have the same status, but in populations structural hierarchies exist. This section is about the stratification leading to those hierarchies. Recurrent interactions in a large and heterogeneous population P can lead to the emergence of a sub-population P’ and, given the latter is also large and heterogeneous, recurrent interactions can give rise to sub-strata P’’, &c. The probability for sufficient interaction between individuals to take place must be high enough for another stratum can to emerge (territorialization and deterritorializational processes). For these interactions to take place, given a sufficient stability of the individuals in the population, their frequency must be sufficiently high, and their accessibility must be sufficient. Whether strata develop depends on the properties of the individuals and the statistical properties of the population. When compound individuals form in large enough numbers they condition the interactions of their components, further determinations in the process of individuation of the compounds. DPB: this happens anyway, why must their relative numbers in the population be sufficiently high for this mechanism to be effective? And also: must some antagonist of the compound also be available in sufficiently high numbers for its individuation to occur? In a general population different compound individuals form with variations in stability, frequency and accessibility; these variations have a top-down influence on the production processes of the individuals in the population. If a majority of elements in a population becomes bound to a set of compound individuals they lose their independent individuality, they undergo deterritorialization, to dissolve into new individuals that are elements of a new population on a new stratum. Now that some critical elements have become bound to some of the compound individuals, the production of other kinds of compound individuals also involving those elements, becomes less probable. DPB: this reminds me of corporate takeover processes. The cause of territorialization is recurrent patterns: I wonder if that is what the M&A consultants do: to instill recurrent behavior into the involved firms. Is this indeed a parallel? And if so then, given the limited value generating capabilities of M&A, which are the properties of the firms involved that are affected by this individuating process? ‘Consequently, the probability distribution of formative processes affects the population in such a way that certain constructs become much more probable while other become much less. In a broader view this would mean that certain trajectories of future development of higher strata are being eliminated while other trajectories are reinforced. This is how a stratum can exert selective influences, both on lower and higher strata’ [p 177]. DPB: this reminds me of attractors and repellers viz the Oudemans’ restriction of possible future states. Interactions at a higher producing strata are more complex and constrained than processes at lower producing strata; the emergence of a new stratum involves constraints and territorializations not only of the individual but also of their interactions. DPB: this reminds me of precarious organizations: at a higher level the regulation of the components that are not themselves autonomous, becomes more complicated, because true overall coordination is required without the components ‘taking care of themselves’. When a new stratum emerges the individuals engage in interactions that territorialize each other; these processes affect the individuation processes at substrata and superstrata. DPB: but is this something else then autopoietic orienting? ‘The idea of systemic cognition (DPB: I thought it should say the idea of enacted cognition) suggests that individuals have an intrinsic granularity, that is, an intrinsic substratum of elements and interactions that constitute them and in which the history of the elements’ structural coupling is expressed. Stratification is a process of systemic cognition which drives from the individuals of the substratum and their capacities for interaction’ [p 177]. Cognitive structures are brought forth as a new stratum. not in isolation but in (from) a milieu of other members of their population. It is a distributed process without a center and without an a priori guiding principle. ‘As observers we can always identify a different stratum of interaction as interesting or relevant but these identifications are observer-dependent objectifications (DPB: reifications) and not objective in any absolute sense. In comparison, the intrinsic granularity of individuals is a consequence of a history of coupling. It is no in any way more objective or logically necessary but rather reflects a contingent development with intrinsic significance’ [p 178]. DPB: there is no bias of the observer involved.

8.4 Coding, Representation and Stratification

Following the ideas developed in 8.2-8.3, a coding system is a language-like formal system with a finite set of symbols (signs) and a finite set of syntactic rules that specify how compound individuals are produced, that is, how expression is generated from structure in assemblages of elements’ [p 178]. Coding systems are themselves individuated systems that combinatorially produce expressions based on combinations of elements using their rules; they represent a stratum of individual elements and their interactions; they constitute a ground for further individuation; though finite (DPB: is it?) coding systems are a source of rich and complex populations of interacting individuals; examples are: the atoms and their rules governing chemical reactions, DNA sequences encoding proteins, all spoken languages, Turing machines &c; some coding systems notably languages can recursively produce other coding systems. DPB: this reminds me of natural computing. Another example, at the basis of acquiring knowledge, is the production of theories and models by observers to explain reality; knowledge individuates as hypotheses in the course of interactions between the observer and the observed; the individuality of observer and observed is consolidated in observation. ‘The concept of representation and thought as representation can be understood in terms of coding systems. A thought (in the broad sense we mean in this work) is supported in as far as it can be described within at least one coding system. .. Certain thoughts can be given finite descriptions. Other thoughts can only be given infinite descriptions but still with finite sets of elements and combinatorial rules. .. But there are those thoughts that are entirely unsupported because no coding mechanism exists for them as yet’ [p 179]. DPB: I am not sure that an unsupported thought (thought sans image) requires a system without a mechanism, namely elements or rules, because I believe it is possible to generate newness with existing given non-random rules. The behavior ensuing from such a system exhibits unpredictable and potentially new (and even new to the world, namely sans image) behavior: ‘Perhaps the most interesting case is the individuation of coding mechanisms themselves. What is special about such mechanisms is a finite and (relatively) stable set of elements and rules that gives rise to indefinite proliferation of expressions. The individuation of such mechanisms involves therefore the reduction from infinite to finite of the number of involved individuals and their possible interactions. Both reductions have to do with the limiting difference, which is synonymous with limiting determinability (see 4.1.1)’ [p 179]. 

8.5 Individuation and Information Integration

8.6 Contingency and Innovation

Random processes are crucial to make sense out of nonsense and order from non-order. A tendency to organize is behind the metaphysical principle of self-organization. In contrast the second law of thermodynamics states that systems tend to increase their entropy up to its maximum: equal probability for every possible state and hence no organization. However, maximum entropy requires a closed system, and therefore that difference must be bound, for which there is no good enough reason on a universal scale. 

8.6.1 Unbound Expression

In the metaphysical perspective developed in part I, difference is an unbound source of Ideas. But Ideas are only considered on account of having individual actual expressions. And expression is a combinatorial process of “articulation of the diverse as such” [p 188]. The question is whether the diversity offered by expression is boundless. This is answered to some extent by the exponential character of combinatorial production as a basis for the individuation of new individuals. But individuality alone does not translate into significance: every snowflake is a unique individual but every one expresses the same Idea. The remainder must be explained by the production of Ideas never expressed before: ‘This can be put more precisely in terms of the relations between the material and expressive aspects of assemblages. The material aspect of an assemblage (see 8.2) corresponds to the kinds of element and their interactions that constitute the assemblage as individuating structure (we will use the term structure from here on to indicate the material aspect). Combinatorial production is structural. .. The expressive aspect is the sense an assemblage makes as a whole to all other individuals in its milieu. It is how it affects them and actually forces them to sense by merely existing. Sense, therefore, is multiple because it is inherently a product of multiple perspectives, that is, of an indefinite number of perspectives of all other individuals. .. As the expression of an assemblage depends on both its structure and its milieu, and as we are specifically interested in the relations between the structural and the expressive aspects of assemblages, we will neutralize the contribution of the milieu to the richness of expression by assuming for this discussion that it remains constant’ [p 188]. DPB: this reminds of Wolfram: randomness at the initial conditions, injected from outside, or generated by the system: here it is assumed that no randomness is injected. The relation between structure and expression cannot be assumed to be isomorphic: depending on the other individuals the expression can be different and different structures can turn out to have the same expression. To treat these processes as computation is a simplifying metaphor [p 189]. Wolfram: principle of computational equivalence: ‘In the terminology of assemblage theory, if this hypothesis is correct(and it seems that it is), relatively simple assemblages may produce arbitrarily complex expressions (that it, if they are not found to have trivially simple expression)’ [p 190]. DPB: tadaa! An addition is the computation of equivalent sophistication means that given a non obviously simple set of rules, a computation will follow, that, given time, will end up having the same computational sophistication as all other processes in nature. For assemblage theory this means that the variety of the expressions I not bound to the variety of the structures that produce them.

8.6.2 Innovation in Populations of Complex Individuals

8.6.3 Innovation Spaces

Chapter 9 Interactions

9.1 Understanding Interaction

By interaction we mean a sequence of actions exchanged among agents that is initiated by an agent and unfolds in a chain of effects that returns, eventually, to affect its point of origination through at least one path’ [p 199]. DPB: it might not be initiated by the agent, but outside of the system. If it is only one agent affecting the other then, or there is only one event, is it an interaction? If the initial action is misunderstood by the other agent, can it still be called an interaction? Agents connected along a closed path of activation necessarily interact; on such a path random activities may self-organize. If an assemblage individuates too fast, it may damage some function and die, and if it individuates too slow it will petrify and die.

9.2 Complex Adaptive Systems

A CAS is a heterogeneous population of interacting distributed and asynchronous agents: they are adapting their behavior to circumstances that change because of the behavior of other agents. A CAS is not a system in the classical sense because no goal or central principle of controller is assumed; the properties of the agents are variable and can be unpredictable. The general characteristics of CAS are agents’ properties such as connectivity, distributiveness, population size, heterogeneity, &c. In Holland’s model they are I-O systems (classifier systems). CAS are fields of individuation. 

9.3 Reciprocal Selection and Determination

In evolutionary dynamics, adaptation means the modification of structure and behavior so as to increase the probability of procreation (survival); fitness thus increases. A similar reasoning is deployed above (ch 7) to connect cognition to adaptive behavior in order to maintain the system’s autonomy. Such activities take place in the context of the system’s milieu and across its boundaries with it. No boundary then nothing to maintain. ‘Operating towards its continuation the agent’s activities must therefore consist of selection. First, selecting out all the non-relevant perturbations and second, biasing the effects of external perturbations towards increased fitness. .. for this scenario to make any sense at all and for the agent to have any chance to persist, it must be engaging in inteactions with its mileu. Interactions that allow it to correlate actions to their consequences. Furthermore, its future selections must, at least to some extent, be informed by the consequences of past selections’ [p 202]. DPB: a practical explanation of this mechanism. 

9.4 Cybernetics – The science of Interaction

Cybernetics is about interaction and communication. ‘It was already argued that if there is something rather than nothing (and without presuming the first) it is only on account of interactions’ [p 218]. ‘From this perspective, the most inclusive definition of cybernetics is the science of becoming through interactions’ [p 218]. 

9.5 The Open-Ended intelligence of CAS

So the answer to the question: How can we generate intelligence synthetically? is as follows. Take dynamic system whose laws are unchanging and single-valued, and whose size is so large that after it has gone to an equilibrium that involves only a small fraction of its total states [i.e., the variety remaining after achieving equilibrium], this small fraction is still large enough to allow room for a good deal of change and behavior. Let is go on for a long enough time to get to such an equilibrium. Then examine the equilibrium in detail. You will find that the states or forms in being are peculiarly able to survive against the changes induced by the laws. Split the equilibrium in two, call one part “organism” and the other part “environment”: you will find that this “organism” is peculiarly able to survive against the disturbances from this “environment”. The degree of adaptation and complexity that this organism can develop is bounded only by the size of the whole dynamic system and by the time over which it is allowed to progress towards equilibrium. Thus, as I said, every isolated determinate dynamic system will develop organisms that are adapted to their environments. There is thus no difficulty in principle, in developing synthetic organisms as complex or as intelligent as we please” (Ashby 1962)’ [p 227]. DPB: I like the imperative language, the clarity of it, and the advice.

Chapter 16 Conclusion

Open-ended intelligence means that (virtual) difference is the sufficient reason of all there is. All there is exists as a limit on the unfoldment of difference. Therefore difference itself is self-limiting and by that brings forth actual expression, objects, subjects, relations, concepts, images, ideas, systems and potentialities. Open ended intelligence is presented here via overlapping concepts: individuation, becoming, self-organization, thought sans image, cognition, and sense-making, each highlighting an aspect that is not given to definition. ‘The most significant innovation [of enactive cognition] is that since representations no longer play a central role, the role of the environment as a source of input recedes into the background. It now enters in explanations only on those occasions when systems undergo breakdowns or suffer events that cannot be satisfied by their structures. Accordingly, intelligence shifts from being the capacity to solve a problem to the capacity to enter into a shared world of significance (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1992, p. 207)’ [p 426]. Weinbaum critiques that to share significance is nobody’s capacity, because the process that enables it precedes both the object and the subject. 

16.1 Horizons of Open-Ended Intelligence

16.1.2.2 Beyond Darwinism

Darwinism can explain smooth development but not the disruptions such as radical innovations. Niche construction is the shaping of the environment as a result of the activities of the system itself, that are of course a result of the shape of the (previous) environment, &c. And so the effect on the system is only partly genetic (memetic) and also depends on the Input from the environment. Niche construction is a process of individuation that involves parties with metastable identities. The concept of systemic / enactive cognition also captures niche construction. 

PhD Thesis abstract: The Firm as an Emergent Phenomenon

What everybody knows a firm kind of looks like

The firm is widely assumed to be our instrument: you acquire your branded products and services from one, you are employed by one, or it generates a return on your savings.

Just ask yourself this: what have you done without any involvement of a firm today? This week? Ever? Most likely a firm was involved in many of your actions. You are only fully autonomous when you can decide on your every action, including whatever contributed or led up to it. It is safe to assume that firms are not just ubiquitous but powerful too.

A firm is believed to come to an end when it goes bankrupt. However, evidence suggests they end because they cease to be autonomous, often as a result of a corporate transaction. But that means that a firm is an autonomous entity and not, as it is commonly assumed, a malleable instrument of people.

So, what is the nature of a firm, and what this means for the relation to the people involved with it? My study delivers a conceptual framework for a theory of the firm from a critique on these common beliefs, building on the thought that a firm is an autonomous behavioral system.

I propose that a firm is a complex of ideas which is dynamic, distributed over the minds of the people associated with it, motivating them to act coherently on its behalf, with the end in mind to maintain its own existence.

Magrathea

Magrathea, in de URL van deze site, is een fictieve planeet uit Douglas Adams’ trilogie ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. Het is een mega-grote werkplaats waar andere planeten worden gebouwd.

Je kunt uit een catalogus bestellen, bijvoorbeeld een massief gouden planeet of volledig bekleed met bont van een kleur van je voorkeur. Of met een maximale lengte van de kustlijn en een overal permanent sub-tropisch klimaat inclusief altijd ondergaande zon. Maar een klant met visie bestelt haar planeet op maat. Ook de aarde is op bestelling geproduceerd op Magrathea, om te functioneren als een supercomputer met de opdracht om te berekenen wat de betekenis is van ‘Life, The Universe and Everything’.

Het implementeren van zo’n planeet gaat als volgt: de planeet is gebouwd (Design Award voor de Noorse fjorden!), alle levensvormen zijn erop gezet met de opdracht het langer vol te houden dan iemand voor mogelijk zou hebben kunnen houden (vrij naar Erwin Schrodinger). De aarde met alle organismen erop co-evolueert zichzelf in zijn omgeving en levert ‘en passant’ de antwoorden op die vraag. De aarde is in het verhaal de computer!

Co-Mutiny

Een muiterij is een opstand van soldaten of van schepelingen, bijvoorbeeld bekend van de ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’. Een Community is een groep mensen met eenzelfde interesse, en Co-Mutiny is hun (verhaspelde) samentrekking. Ontwikkeling op bijna alle vlakken gaat zo snel dat traditionele – tayloriaanse – organisaties problemen ondervinden om producten te bieden die aansluiten op de vragen van de omgeving. Om mee te kunnen komen en voorop te gaan lopen in die ontwikkelingen is het nodig die traditionele organisatie te doorbreken: disruptie. Tot zo ver geen nieuws.

Die term disruptie wordt gebruikt voor de notie dat een nieuwe technologie (of praktijk) ingezet kan worden om een voortbrengingsketen te structureel veranderen. Het is niet alleen op technologie van toepassing maar op de hele manier waarop we zaken doen. En het is wat ondernemers graag willen: een disruptie in een voortbrengingsketen, het liefst met een monopolistische situatie en bijbehorende revenuen tot gevolg.

Maar zo’n disruptie, een radicale verandering en juist gekant tegen wat nu ‘goed’, namelijk vertrouwd is, is dus per definitie fout. Je moet vandaag dus een fout maken om het goed van morgen in te luiden. Is er in jouw keten niet zo’n disruptie mogelijk? Kan je jouw bedrijf zo positioneren dat je er een structurele verandering tot stand brengt? En stel dat zo’n positie bestaat in die keten, welke is dat? Zo’n herpositionering is mogelijk ‘levensbedreigend’ voor je bedrijf. Rechtvaardigt die wens dat je die stap neemt? En wat is daarvoor nodig?

Wat nodig is voor een disruptie is te herkennen wat je denkpatroon is, waar je vertrouwd mee bent. En om daar dan fel commentaar op te mobiliseren. Dat is niet eenvoudig, omdat dat ‘goed’ en ‘fout’ een sociale karakter hebben. Je keert je meteen tegen wat iedereen ‘weet’, wat ‘altijd werkt’. Daar is niet 1 maar een hele ‘bende’ autonome denkers en doeners voor nodig. Mensen die, binnen een bedrijf, maar ieder in hun eigen omgeving de beste oplossing verzinnen voor hun lokale problemen. Het geheel van die lokale oplossingen op basis van hun autonoom handelen leidt tot een adaptief robuuste organisatie met alleen lokale en tijdelijke hiërarchie.

De taken van je lijnmanagement worden omgebouwd tot het bereiken van lokale oplossingen voor niet-structurele globale problemen. Zoals het vinden van die nieuwe disruptieve positie in de keten. En een nieuwe, en weer opnieuw.. Als een dynamische real-time bottom-up strategie ontwikkeling. En de grote vraag is hoe je dat kunt bereiken via dagelijkse innovaties (mini-revoluties) en zonder all-out muiterij. Daar is eerst een disruptie in je eigen organisatie voor nodig, en een nieuwe, en weer opnieuw… Vandaar Co-Mutiny: de oplossingen kmen uit de lokale tijdelijke communities waar jij de randvoorwaarden stuurt en de onderneming blijft bloeien.

Skyhooks

Een lijnvliegtuig nadert het circuit om te landen. De luchtverkeersleiding verzoekt de piloot om 20 minuten te ‘holden’ en dan opnieuw contact op te nemen. Als de piloot dan opnieuw contact opneemt krijgt hij hetzelfde verzoek, weer 20 minuten. Na het derde verzoek begint hij bezorgd te worden en antwoordt met: ‘Sir, I like to remind you that there are no skyhooks attached to this aircraft’.

Het punt van de piloot is dat er, behalve het vliegtuig met brandstof in de lucht, de passagiers en de bemanning, niets anders is dat het boven houdt. Vertaald naar het grote plaatje is dat voor hemel, aarde en alles daartussen dezelfde natuurwetten gelden, de filosofische houding van naturalisme. Er is dus geen speciale status voor dieren, mensen, of, wat dat betreft, voor bedrijven.

Een complicerende factor is wel dat we lang nog niet alles weten van die wetten. En als we dat wel zouden weten dan stuiten we op de limieten van het reductionisme: de natuurwetten gaan ons niet helpen een nieuwe secretaresse te kiezen. Daarnaast kunnen niet-lineaire verbanden roet in het voorspellen gooien: deterministische regels kunnen random uitkomsten opleveren. Bovendien gaan de meeste dingen complex gedrag vertonen als ze met meer zijn: een enkel watermolecuul is bijvoorbeeld niet nat.

Om de natuur van een bedrijf te kennen is moet je je realiseren dat alles onderhevig is aan de naturwetten, dat een bedrijf een samenstel van dingen is (mensen of eigenlijk hun ideeën) die zijn eigen dynamiek oplevert en dat random gedrag onderdeel van je uitleg moet zijn.

Patterns of Life

Varela F. J. . Patterns of Life: Intertwining identity and cognition . 1997 . Brain Cognition 34: 72–87. Available at http://cepa.info/2010

1. Building artificial living beings/objects as a proof for competing claims about different aspects of life and different levels of the living organization. This is the same motivation of artificial intelligence in regards to cognitive science. It is indeed an innovation in science, since physics relied principally on prediction for proof and validation. In these cases we also have validation by construction, quite a different matter.

I have promised that the theory is explicit: the model does as the subject does. This quote from the introduction of the article deals with the same idea: to prove aspects of life by constructing it artificially. That means, like in the case of the firm that one develops a model that shows the behavior of the thing. When this is sufficiently recognized then it must be a firm. This train of thought reminds me of that of Wolfam who considers behavior of a system interesting if it produces interesting pictures, a visual check. This is sufficient because the processes at the basis o our powers of perception are the same as those that generate the behavior in focus.

2. The Autonomy Viewpoint

Proposition 1: Organisms are fundamentally a process of constitution of an identity.

(a) By identity I intend here a unitary quality, a coherence of some kind. It is not meant as a static structural description (it is a process), nor as carrying a mentalistic or psychological connotations (it is identity in a generalized not a personalistic sense).

(b) The nature of this process is always one of a operational closure (Varela, 1979), that is, a circular reflexive interlinking process, whose primary effect is its own production.

(c) It is this operational closure which gives rise to an emergent or global coherence, without the need of a “central controller,” hence the identity I have in mind here is nonsubstantially localized, and yet perfectly able to generate interactions.

(d) An essential key here is, of course, what we have recently learned about “emergent” properties in various complex systems.

(e) Different organisms differ in the kinds of multifarious identity mechanisms they have, due to their unique evolutionary pathways.

One side of the coin is the identity as a kind of coherence emerged from the multitude that is now itself capable of interacting.

Proposition 2: The organism’s emergent identity gives, logically and mechanistically, the point of reference for a domain of interactions.

(a) The living identities are produced by some manner of closure, but what is produced is an emerging interactive level. The interactions have relevance and consequences for the unitary identity, although mechanistically all interactions occur both at component level and unity’s level.

(b) The configurations of a level of interaction for the entire unit creates a perspective from which an interaction can occur. In other words, this is the source for informational, intentional, or semantic values to all living organisms.

(c) This entails that living systems bring forth significance: organisms are autonomous, not heteronomously directed.

The identity determines (is the reference for) which interactions the unity can do.

P1 and P2 say that the identity of an organismic unity ensures that it can both cognize and be cognized.

More precisely defined: An autopoietic system is organized (defined as unity) as a network of processes of production (synthesis and destruction) of components such that these components: (i) continuously regenerate and realize the network that produces them, and (ii) constitute the system as a distinguishable unity in the domain in which they exist.’

The system is a network of processes of production of components that reproduce the network and constitute the system as a distinguishable unity. AP captures processes that generate the identity of the living and makes a distinction possible from non-living: self-produced identity. It will keep in play as long as it can remain operationally closed. All of the above is tricky because it is only about biology.

Second, I take here the view that reproduction is not intrinsic to the minimal logic of the living. Reproduction must be considered as an added complexification superimposed on a more basic identity, that of an autopoietic unity, a complexification which is necessary due to the constraints of the early conditions on a turbulent planet. It is here where particular molecular classes play a key role, such as nucleic acids. Reproduction is essential for the longterm viability of the living, but only when there is an identity can a unit reproduce. In this sense, identity has logical and ontological priority over reproduction, although not historical precedence.’

Can this be an argument to counter the distinction between biological systems and social systems? Because an important comment always is that the ss cannot reproduce because they have no means to reproduce.

For as long as it exists, the autopoietic organization remains invariant. In other words, one way to spotlight the specificity of autopoiesis is to think of it self-referentially as that organization which maintains the very organization itself as an invariant.’

It is in fact the organization itself that is invariant because it manages to keep itself invariant. That which keeps your cells into your body and that which keeps individual persons showing coherent behavior. Add to that, also not new: ‘Every class of entities has an identity which is peculiar to them; the uniqueness of the living resides in the kind of organization it has.’ Waarom een bakker nooit een goede slager wordt.

Now, the history of biology is, of course, marred by the traditional opposition between the mechanist/reductionists on the one hand and holist/vitalists on the other, a heritage from the biological problem-space of the 19th century. One of the specific contributions of the study of self-organizing mechanisms – of which autopoiesis is a specific instance – is that the traditional opposition between the component elements and the global properties disappears. In the simple example of the cellular automaton illustrated above, it is precisely the reciprocal causality between the local rules of interactions (i.e., the components rules, which are akin to chemical interactions) and the global properties of the entity (i.e., its topological demarcation affecting diffusion and creating local conditions for reaction) which is in evidence. It appears to me that this reciprocal causality does much to evacuate the mechanist/vitalist opposition and allows us to move into a more productive phase of identifying various modes of self-organization where the local and the global are braided together explicitly through this reciprocal causality. Autopoiesis is a prime example of such dialectics between the local component levels and the global whole, linked together in reciprocal relation through the requirement of constitution of an entity that self-separates from its background. In this sense, autopoiesis as the characterization of the basic pattern of the living does not fall into the traditional extremes of either vitalism or reductionism.’

This explains the micro-to-macro aspect of the autopoiesis theory. And theref roe the diffusion of the distinction between the components and the newly emerging unity from the networks of processes.

It is ex-hypothesis evident that an autopoietic system depends on its physicochemical mileu for its conservation as a separate entity, otherwise it would dissolve back into it. Whence the intriguing paradox proper to an autonomous identity: the living system must distinguish itself from its environment, while at the same time maintaining its coupling; this linkage cannot be detached since it is against this very environment from which the organism arises, comes forth.

I have used the formula of Ashby to show that an a is required to do the calculations and that a is not part of S. And so I concluded that a, if it cannot be part of S, can only be a part of the environment, and so the system in focus exists distinct from its environment yet maintaining its coupling.

In defining what it is as unity, in the very same movement it defines what remains exterior to it, that is to say, its surrounding environment. A closer examination also makes it evident that this exteriorization can only be understood, so to speak, from the “inside”: the autopoietic unity creates a perspective from which the exterior is one, which cannot be confused with the physical surroundings as they appear to us as observers, the land of physical and chemical laws simpliciter, devoid of such perspectivism.’

The system creates its own (not to be confused with ours) perspective on its environment. The fundamental difference is that, different from the environment, the system is active.

However, on the other hand the sucrose gradient and flagellar beat are interesting to analyze only because the entire bacteria points to such items as relevant: their specific significance as components of feeding behavior is only possible by the presence and perspective of the bacteria as a totality. Remove the bacteria as a unit, and all correlations between gradients and hydrodynamic properties be’

How can this be translated to the case of a firm? What does the behavior of a firm point at? And if the firm weren’t there (were removed from the scene) then what would their environment return to? This is in fact a question that might belong to the proof of existence of the firm. The answer would be of the category of: If the firm were removed from the scene then the people included by its ideas would return to their normal non firm-induced behavior and as a consequence the firm would no longer be recognized as a firm.

I believe that this truly dialectical relationship is a key point. In fact, it might appear as so obvious that we do not appreciate its deep ramifications. I mean the important distinction between the environment of the living system as it appears to an observer and without reference to the autonomous unity – which we shall call hereafter simply the environment – and the environment for the system, which is defined in the same movement that gave rise to its identity and that only exists in that mutual definition – hereinafter the system’s world.

I call the environment as it is perceived by us the observer the environment of the system. And I call the part of that environment which is relevant for the system its milieu. The formulation for the environment must change to the environment with the definition that part of the world that us the observer perceives as a possibly relevant background for the system?? But this implies that the milieu is not a subset of the environment, it can be a different set. Varela calls our world in which we perceive the system’s existence the environment and and the system’s environment he calls its world.

The difference between environment and world is the surplus of signification which haunts the understanding of the living and of cognition, and which is at the root of how a self becomes one.’

‘Its world is where a system becomes and it begets its identity. Once it has become a unity then it internally develops a significance concerning its world that is in a surplus over what we can tell about it: ‘There is no food significance in sucrose except when a bacteria swims upgradient and its metabolism uses the molecule in a way that allows its identity to continue’.

What the autopoietic system does – due to its very mode of identity – is to constantly confront the

encounters (perturbations, shocks, coupling) with its environment and treat them from a perspective

which is not intrinsic to the encounters themselves.

I must try to adapt this to the making of distinctions and then the erasing of them. But that seems to be very close to the adaptation processes: once a distinction is made then how does the organism ensure that it cannot damage it? It can only make itself and so it makes itself so that it is not damaged. If this is a temporary thing of its present AP organization it is adaptation and if its operational closure changes then it is accommodation: ‘If we invert our perspective, this constant bringing forth of signification is what we may describe as a permanent lack in the living: it is constantly bringing forth a signification that is missing, not pregiven or pre-existent.’

The source for this world-making is always the breakdowns in autopoiesis, be they minor, like changes in concentration of some metabolite, or major, like disruption of the boundary. Due to the nature of autopoiesis itself – illustrated in the membrane repair of the minimal simulated example above – every breakdown can be seen as the initiation of an action on what is missing on the part of the system so that identity might be maintained.’

This I know but it is well-written in the sense of the breakdown of AP.

In brief, this permanent, relentless action on what is lacking becomes, from the observer side, the ongoing cognitive activity of the system, which is the basis for the incommensurable difference between the environment within which the system is observed and the world within which the system operates. This cognitive activity is paradoxical at its very root. On the one hand the action that brings forth a world is an attempt to reestablish a coupling with an environment which defies the internal coherence through encounters and perturbations. However, such actions, at the same time, demarcate and separate the system from that environment, giving rise to a distinct world.

Quote this! How adaptation and accommodation erase the differences with the environment. Very important contribution to that part of the actual business processes.

In brief, the term cognitive has two constitutive dimensions: first its coupling dimension, that is, a

link with its environment allowing for its continuity as individual entity; second its interpretative

dimension, that is, the surplus of significance a physical interaction acquires due to the perspective provided by the global action of the organism.

How do I understand this?

It introduces an explicit alternative to the dominant computationalist tradition in the study of cognitive properties for which the central idea is that of processing an external information successively elaborated to reconstitute a centralized representation. This fundamental paradigm of the digital computer program will not do for biology, nor for AI. I have raised this point to caution the reader against the force of many years of dominance of computationalism and the consequent tendency to identify the cognitive self with some computer program or high level computational description. This will not do. The cognitive self is its own implementation: its history and its action are of one piece.

This is an important argument against the use of computationalism as a framework of theorizing. But I’m not using computation in this sense, but in the sense of Wolfram and Dodig (I remember?). The system is its history and its capabilities at the present point. It is what it is capable of. It is not a set of rules inscribed in it, it is its rules.

Ordinary life is necessarily one of situated, embodied agents, continually coming up with what to do faced with ongoing parallel activities in their various perceptuomotor systems. This continual redefinition of what to do is not at all like a plan, stored in a repertoire of potential alternatives, but enormously dependent on contingency, improvisation, and more flexible than planning. Situatedness means that a cognitive entity has – by defini-tion – a perspective. This means that it is not related to its environment “objectively,” that is independently of the system’s location, heading, attitudes, and history. Instead, it relates to it in relation to the perspective established by the constantly emerging properties of the agent itself and in terms of the role such running redefinition plays in the system’s entire coherence.

This can be a useful addition in the part of the nomads. Situated as a perspective of the system which is different from an objective perspective. An ongoing instantaneous plan of what to do which seems to be intentional, given the situation of its environment at that point.

However, this coupling is possible only if the encounters are embraced from the perspective of the system itself. This amounts, quite specifically, to elaborating an interpretation relative to this perspective. Whatever is encountered must be valued one way or another – like, dislike, ignore – and acted on some way or another – attraction, rejection, neutrality. This basic assessment is inseparable from the way in which the coupling event encounters a functioning precept–motor unit, and it gives rise to an intention that unique quality of living cognition.’

I like this one for the reference to the perception (Like&c.) as well as the reference to the action (Attraction&c.).

Against Identity

Deleuze, G. . Difference and Repetition (transl. Patton, P.) . Columbia University Press . 1994 (1968) . ISBN 978-0-231-08159-7

Introduction

A general idea is a particular idea in itself, given that each can be replaced with one that resembles it – in relation to a given word. When exchange is the criterion for generality then theft and gift are the criteria for repetition. DPB Note that generality and repetition are opposed. Repetition interiorizes and reverses itself: the event of the fall of the Bastille repeats n Federation days. Generality opposes this as the universality of the singular. Generality belongs to the order of laws, law determining the resemblance of its subjects. Law shows how repetition remains impossible for its subjects, the particulars. A law compels its subjects to illustrate it. A perseveration (volharding DPB) is not a repetition. A constant in a law is a variable in a more general law. Repetition is against the law, as per the similar form and equivalent content of it. ‘If repetition exists it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, an instanteneity opposed to variation and an eternity opposed to permanence’ {pp. 2-3}. Repetition occurs only in the passage from order of generality to another as if underneath or between two generalities. DPB: Wolframian ‘interesting behavior’. Repetition is the thought of the future: eternity belonging to one time, the infinite belonging to an instant. ‘They (Kierkegaard and Nietzsche) want to put metaphysics in motion, in action. They want to make it act, and make it carry out immediate acts’ {p 8}. A new representation is not enough, because that is already mediation. ‘Rather, it is a question of producing within the work a movement capable of affecting the mind outside of all representation; it is a question of making movement itself a work, without interposition; of substituting direct signs for mediate representations; of inventing vibrations, rotations, whirlings, gravitations, dances or leaps which directly touch the mind’ {p 8}. DPB I like to think that this is the description of computation I like, and the promse I made to model the firm explicitly and not some representative form of it: not the representation of the thing but the thing itself.

Infinite comprehension makes possible remembering and recognition. The relation of the concept to its object is called representation, under these two aspects of memory and self-consciousness. ‘According to the principle of sufficient reason there is always one concept per particular thing. According to the reciprocal principle of the identity of indiscernibles, there is one and only one thing per concept’ {p 12}. DPB: the first one means that each thing can belong to one concept alone, lest it is not that thing. The second one means that if two things are between them indiscernible then they must logically belong to the same concept. Three ways are discussed by which concepts can become blocked, namely they can remain in play unchanged. Firstly, in regard the blocking of a concept, there is logical blockage, predicates determine the blockage of a concept. DPB: this means that conditions regulate access of a thing to a concept. It must remain fixed in the concept but transposed in the thing (a person is a different animal than a horse): ‘This is why the comprehension of the concept is infinite; having become other in the thing, the predicate is like the object of another predicate in the concept’ {p 12}. DPB: this reminds me of the existence of connotations: the idea can be anything, but they are particulars belonging to a generality. In its real use the comprehension extends to infinity but in its logical use there is an artificial blockage. Because of this difference (reaching infinity) of the concept, no individual (fully) corresponds. And thus it allows the greatest possible space for resemblances to be captured. A second kind of the blockage of a concept is a natural blockage of the concept: when a concept with finite comprehension is put in a particular space and time forcibly. The difference between the comprehension imposed on it and the weak demanded comprehension is infinite. This saldo is a ‘discrete extension’: belonging to an identical concept and the same singularity in existence (twins). The difference of this natural blockage with a logical blockage is that this is a true repetition instead of a resemblance in thought. Generality designates logical power to concepts and repetition which testifies to their powerlessness and real limits’ {cf. P 13}. ‘Repetition is the pure fact of a concept with finite comprehension being forced to pass as such into existence .. ‘ {p 13 emphasis DPB}. The comprehension of a concept cannot be infinite because it is defined by a finite number of words. Repetition appears as difference without a concept (see above: transfer from one concept to the next). A third kind of blockage of a concept concerns freedom: the less one remembers and the less one is conscious of remembering one’s past, the more one repeats it. And so the credo is to work and remember through the memory in order not to repeat it {cf p 15}. ‘Self-consciousness in recognition appears as the faculty of the future or the function of the future, the function of the new’ {p 15}. DPB this is illustrated by the Bastille and the entailing annual celebrations. GD: there is a reverse relation between repetition and remembering (being aware, being conscious, comprehending) because it takes place for a lack of memory and when memory is there, one can be conscious of the repetition, it is recognized and the repetition can be stopped. Until that point all the milieu and the system is set to repeat. It is not a representation but an inherent enactment of what is required without the knowledge of the repetition. When recognition takes place then representation and repetition face each other and merge, but they remain at different levels (what is and what is represented as a reflection). In sum the three kinds of natural blockage are the discrete (nominal concepts of logic and representation and thus delineated), the alienated (concepts of nature because concepts of nature are naturally devoid of memory, alienated and outside of themselves??) and the repressed (concepts of freedom, psychoanalytic limitations through repression). ‘Repetition thus appears as a difference, but a difference absolutely without concept; in this sense, an indifferent difference’ {p 15 emphasis DPB}. DPB this means different but not comparable, because it is a difference such that there is no concept (yet) to compare to what is perceived . The comparison can yet be made when there is a concept. In that case there is recognition and (if there is a memory &c.) it can turn out to have been a repetition. Psychologically death can be the source of repetition. ‘The disguise and the variations, the masks and the costumes, do not come ‘over and above’: they are, on the contrary, the internal genetic elements of repetition itself, its integral and constituent parts’ {p 17}. DPB how must this be understood? Apparently the change comes in a disguise: they appear to be a kind of a symptom of the former system behavior, but they are in fact the symptom of its repetition, and therefore intrinsically different. While they appear to be the same (prior and post the repetition taking place), they are in fact disguised and intrinsically different. Now the variations are the tools of the repetition to disguise itself. And because they are not properties known they are a disguise of the old thing up to the point that the new situation is recognized. ‘Repetition is truly that which disguises itself in constituting itself, that which constitutes itself only by disguising itself’ {p 17} DPB this is the same in other words. But with an emphasis on the disguise being a tool for the introduction (induction) of the repetition. Apparently the mind ‘wants’ to be be ‘fooled’ by the appearances of the system. But the repetition cannot be derived directly from the disguise. Its source is disguising and disguised. ‘In short, repetition is in its essence symbolic; symbols or simulacra are the letter of repetition itself. Difference is included in repetition by way of disguise and by the order of the symbol’ {p17}. DPB therefore variation is not from without but intrinsic to repetition. It is not a deviation from the representation to be corrected but an intrinsic element of repetition. This reminds me of the relation between the rules of the system on a micro-scale and the behavior of that system on a macro-scale and the impossibility to translate the one into the other. ‘The variations express, rather, the differential mechanisms which belong to the essence and origin of that which is repeated’ {p 17}. The repetition is the mask. Because the repeated is different in kind from the represented, the repeated cannot be represented. The idea of a death instinct must be seen in the light of three paradoxical and complementary requirements: 1) given repetition an original and positive principle 2) given repetition an autonomous disguising power 3) an immanent meaning related to terror as well as movement of selection and freedom.

Our problem concerns the essence of repetition. It is a question of knowing why repetition cannot be explained by the form of identity in concepts or representations; in what sense it demands a superior ‘positive’ principle’ {p 19 emphasis DPB}. It is not about the making of a series of exact copies time and again, but the artist will inject disequilibrium, an instability: an element of one instance is combined with another element of a following one: ‘ .. a dissymmetry or gap, which disappears only in the overall effect’ {p 19}. DPB this is the relation between the idea and the meme. Every idea is a bit different but in the overall picture they are sufficiently the same to be considered one and every instance a variation of them (in object essentialism). But the real issue is how the cause can have less symmetry than the effect. Else causality would be a simple conjecture always. A signal is a system with orders of disparate size. A sign is what happens in the system, an effect with two aspects: 1) in one it expresses productive dissymmetry 2) in the other it cancels it?? ‘The sign is not entirely of the order of the symbol; nevertheless, it makes way for it by implying an internal difference (while leaving the conditions of its reproduction still external)’ {p 20}. DPB This reminds me of Luhmannian double contingency, and also of the ‘versions’ of some thing that become something, which are parents nor children, and then at some point become a parent. Also, this points at a positive causality where differences and variation are immanent: the effect can be more symmetrical than the cause. DPB This means an increase of order from one ‘generation’ to the next. In a dynamic order there is no representative concept, nor any figure represented in a pre-existing space. ‘There is an Idea and a pure dynamism which creates a corresponding space’ {p 20 emphasis DPB}. DPB This is the essence of computation as I see it – and I believe also Wolfram suspects it, and Dennett glimpses it. Not the computation as in a representation of the moves of the behavior of a system, but what actually takes place to get a system from a state to the next. The behavior that results from it is called the space which the systems assumes. ‘The network is like a fabric stretched upon a framework, ‘but the outline, the principal rhythm of that framework, is almost always a theme independent of the network’ {p 21}. DPB Laying the groundwork of scales. The rhythm is different while the other is founded on the one. GD Cadence-repetition is a regular division of time, but a period exists only insofar as it is determined by a tonic accent, commanded by intensities. DPB Does this mean counting events? And what does the second part mean? But cadence is the envelope and the relation between rhythms and therefore we should distinguish the two: the first one the appearance of the first one. Is it the identity of the nominal concept which explains the repetition of a word? Consider this illustration: ‘Take the example of rhyme: it is indeed verbal repetition, but repetition which includes the difference between two words and inscribes that difference at the heart of a poetic Idea, in a space which it determines’ {p 21 emphasis DPB}. DPB I like the illustration of the Idea here: this is indeed what the meme is to the idea: what the rhyming words have not in common but over and above the total of their individual meanings. What is more they together determine the space which they occupy – nothing else does this. The repetition of a word is treated as ‘generalized rhyme’, not as ‘restricted repetition’ {p 21}. ‘This generalisation can proceed in two ways: either a word taken in two senses ensures a resemblance or a paradoxical identity between the two senses; or a word taken in one sense exercises an attractive force on its neighbours, communicating an extraordinary gravity to them until one of the neighbouring words takes up the baton and becomes in turn a centre of repetition’ {p 22}. DPB I guess I am over eager but this phrase seems to point at connotations: the sense one word takes because the other word is in its vicinity. Reproduction of the Same is not a motor for bodily movements DPB I assume 1) the Same is an instance of (a quality of, a property of?) the resemblance (GD it is a representation!), and 2) that repetition in the biological sphere refers to adaptation and accommodation. Imitation involves a difference between inside and outside. Learning does not occur in the relation between representation and action, but in the relation between sign and response. DPB a representation of what some thing is and the action and the response resulting from the sign. Maybe this means that the system does what it can only do and it is not the representation that is relevant for the behavior of the system. A sign involves heterogeneity in three ways: 1) in the object which bears or emits it representing two different realities 2) in themselves because it envelops another object within the limits of the one bearing it, ‘..and incarnates a natural or spiritual power (an Idea)’ and 3) in the response they elicit because the movement of the response does not ‘resemble’ that of the sign. DPB what does this mean? Maybe this points to the concept that systems can only instigate action internally. ‘When a body combines some of its own distinctive points with those of a wave, it espouses the principle of a repetition which is no longer that of the Same, but involves the Other – involves difference through the repetitive space thereby constituted’ {p 23}. DPB I believe this describes a Monad in a Nomad reality. ‘Signs are the true elements of theatre. They testify to the spiritual and natural powers which act beneath the words, gestures, characters and objects represented. They signify repetition as real movement, in opposition to representation which is a false movement of the abstract’ {p 23}. DPB Signs signify repetition. An Idea incarnates a natural power. What is the relation between an Idea and a Sign? A meme is a sign or a representation? An Idea is all that a sign could potentially Importantly ideas belong to operations of systems and I am using ideas as literal ideas in people’s minds. But they are the drivers of the ideas in people’s minds and I need to explain this different application, because it is bound to confuse the reader. GD What is the Self of repetition? Repetition is difference without a concept in two forms: 1) the difference is external to the concept and it is a difference between objects represented by the same concept 2) the difference is internal to the Idea and it ‘.. unfolds as pure movement, creative of a dynamic space and time which correspond to the Idea. The first repetition is repetition of the Same, explained by the identity of the concept or representation; the second includes difference, and includes itself in the alterity of the Idea, in the heterogeneity of an ‘a-presentation’’ {p 24}. DPB this seems to point at the establishing of repetition from the interaction between the interior and the exterior. ‘One is revolving the other evolving. One involves equality, commensurability, and symmetry; the other is grounded in inequality, incommensurability and dissymmetry. .. The two repetitions are not independent. One is the singular subject, the interiority and the heart of the other, the depths of the other. The other is only the external envelope, the abstract effect. The repetition of dissymmetry is hidden within symmetrical ensembles or effects; a repetition of distinctive points underneath that of ordinary points; and everywhere the Other in the repetition of the Same. This is the secret, the most profound repetition: it alone provides the principle of the other one, the reason for the blockage of concepts ’ {p 24}. DPB I have made a big point in pointing out that there is a difference between the operations of the system and what it expresses. In addition, to complicate things further, it is the people which belong to the system that do the expressing. And so the operations of the system work independently from the behavior that this (social) system exhibits.

GD A distinction was made between generality and repetition, and a distinction was made between repetition external to the concept and repetition internal to the Idea. The relation between these is that the consequences of the first are unfolded in the second. Because if repetition is devoid of an interior then how can a concept be naturally blocked allowing repetition which has nothing to do with a generality to appear (DPB It seems to imply that complexity and emergence can come from this kind of repetition). And when we do have the interior of repetition we are capable of understanding the outer repetition (as a cover) but also recapture the order of generality. DPB This refers to relations such as between the population of individuals that are of one species and the differences between the generations of them and between the position of one of the individuals and the populations of later generations. And that there can be generalities between the individuals of a multitude but that cannot account for the emergent behavior, meaning the inherent immanent variation to be generated by them. In other words it sees that there is a immanent balancing power of variation and generalization. The laws are inferior to the singularities, ‘..which weave their repetitions in the depths of the Earth and the Heart, where laws do not yet exist. The interior of repetition is always affected by an order of difference: it is only to the extent that something is linked to a repetition of an order other than its own that the repetition appears external and bare, and the thing itself subject to the categories of generality. It is the inadequation between difference and repetition which gives rise to the order of generality’ {p 25 emphasis DPB}. DPB Only in relation to something else and different does the repetition become obvious and generalizable. How does this relate to the perception of the observer? Every thing is different. But why do we feel the problem is ill defined as long as there is no principium individuationis for each? ‘It is because a difference can be internal, yet not conceptual (as the paradox of symmetrical objects shows). A dynamic space must be defined from the point of view of an observer tied to that space (DPB defining that space as per its niche?), not from a external position’ {p 26}. DPB but this is related to the observer: whatever she is able to perceive is the language available for her to express her perceptions in: that aspect of the thing which strikes her senses and induced her to express herself about it. So the concept is capable of not being capable to cover a difference. And this is what Maturana & Varela mean when they write about the only thing happening happens for the observer: ‘.. there is a step-by-step, internal, dynamic construction of space which must precede the ‘representation’ of the whole as a form of exteriority’ {p 26}. DPB what happens in the multitude is a different thing from what an observer can observe happening in it. And also the systems makes its own space, the space it is in is constructed by the systems itself, it tensions its space. Two questions: ‘.. what is the concept of difference – one which is not reducible to simple conceptual difference but demands its own Idea, its own singularity at the level of Ideas? ‘.. what is the essence of repetition – one which is not reducible to difference without concept, and cannot be confuse with the apparent character of objects represented by the concept, but bears witness to singularity as a power of Ideas?’ {p 27}.

Chapter I – Difference in Itself

Two aspects of indifference are 1) undifferenciated (differences becoming), nothingness, indeterminate in which everything is dissolved and 2) a white nothingness, a once more calm surface upon which float unconnected determinations. The indeterminate is indifferent but the unconnected determinations are indifferent too. Is difference the intermediate between these two extremes or is it the only extreme? ‘Difference is the state in which one can speak of determination as such’ {p 28 emphasis DPB}. DPB if there is a difference then that is it, all the rest follows from that, that is differenciation, difference becoming. ‘That a difference should be between two things is empirical and the determinations are extrinsic. However, instead of something distinguished from something else, imagine something which distinguishes itself – and yet that from which it distinguishes itself does not distinguish itself from it’ {p 28 emphasis DPB}. DPB The starting point is the difference, not the things it differs from, or between. ‘Difference is this state in which determination takes the form of unilateral distinction’ {p 28}. DPB: one event takes place ‘bij de gratie van’ een ander event, maar op zichzelf staand. Bijvoorbeeld bliksem bestaat alleen in de context van andere omstandigheden, maar als het ontstaat dan bestaat het alleen gecontrasteerd daartegen. GD describes it as a cruel monstrosity. ‘We must therefore say that difference is made, or makes itself, as in the expression ‘to make the difference’ {p 28}. DPB this is a difference from nothing = difference. Differenciation is the becoming of a difference. The 4 aspects of reason in regards its role as a medium for representation: 1) identity = the form of the undetermined concept 2) analogy = the relation between the determinable concepts 3) opposition = relation between determinations within concepts 4) resemblance = in the determined object of the concept itself. If the difference leaves its cave to ‘make the difference’, it changes its meaning (from being a monster) and becomes the selective test to find out which differences may be inscribed in the concept. Two things differ when they are other, not in themselves but in something else and therefore when they also agree in something else. ‘The greatest difference is always an opposition, but of all the forms of opposition which is the most perfect, the most complete, that which ‘agrees’ best?’ {p 30 emphasis DPB} GD explains that this describes its impossibility as per its negation, or where it begins or ceases to exist. ‘Contraries in this case are modifications which affect a subject with respect to its genus. .. contrariety in the genus is the perfect and maximal difference and contrariety in the genus is specific difference’ {p 30}. In all other cases it is irrelevant as a difference: specific difference is a quality of the essence itself, it is synthetic (determination of species is composition) and added to the genus. Genera tend to remain the same in themselves while becoming other in the differences which divide them. The determination of species carries within itself the genus and all the intermediary differences. Differences are linked with differences across levels of division, like a transport of difference. ‘In this manner, therefore, the determination of species ensures coherence and continuity in the comprehension of the concept’ {p 31}. DPB this is a useful idea in regards the way that ideas and memes remain in play to keep ideas afloat also when their environment of other ideas change. In sum, specific difference is the greatest difference in a relative sense. DPB I understand singularity to be an invariant point in phase space. Perhaps the rules of the system do not apply for it (mathematical meaning) or the behavior of the system at those points is unpredictable (saddle points). But to identify a system and to represent it, the singluarities are required and they are invariably there, so they should remain in the boundaries of the system, namely its phase space. As a consequence specific difference never goes as far as to represent a universal concept (namely an Idea) ‘.. encompassing all the singularities and turnings of difference, but rather refers to a particular moment in which difference is merely reconciled with the concept in general’ {p 32}. ‘Difference can be no more than a predicate in the comprehension of a concept’ {p 32}. Judgement establishes the relation between a concept and the terms or the subjects to which it is affirmed. It has the faculty of distribution, the partition of concepts through common sense, and hierarchisation, the measuring of subjects through good sense. Analogy is the essence of judgement, via the analogy of the identity of concepts, and therefore generic or categorial difference, any more than specific difference, can deliver a proper concept of difference. ‘.., Difference appears only as a reflexive concept’ {p 34}. And it ceases to be only to become catastrophic. ‘As a concept of reflection, difference testifies to its full submission to all the requirements of representation, which becomes thereby ‘organic representation’ {p 34}. DPB I believe this refers to the thought that a difference can only exist per se, and as a representation all the involved objects should be present and in that sense they do then materialize the difference in their present configuration. ‘But does not difference as catastrophy precisely bear witness to a irreducible ground which continues to act under the apparent equilibrium of organic representation?’ {p 35}. DPB the series is continually about to break up forever on the brink of collapse but it is represented by an organic form and, according to Schoedinger, sticks around for longer than expected.

There has only ever been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal’ {p 35}. Gilles Deleuze borrowed the doctrine of ontological univocity from Scotus.{4} He claimed that being is univocal, i.e., that all of its senses are affirmed in one voice. Important: Deleuze adapts the doctrine of univocity to claim that being is, univocally, difference. The model of judgement can be replaced with that of proposition as a complex entity: sense (what is expressed), designated (what expresses itself), and expressors or designators (numerical modes, differential factors characterising the elements which were endowed with sense and designation). One ontological being can be referred to by several distinct senses. This allows the observer to treat the senses as analogues and the unity of being as an analogy. The ontological proposition: that which is designated ontologically is the same for qualitatively distinct senses, but also the sense is ontologically the same for individuating modes, for distinct expressors. ‘ ..the ontological proposition involves a circulation of this kind (expression as a whole)’ {p 36}. DPB I believe this is the same thing as the double contingency of Luhmann and my one hand clapping. ‘In effect, the essential in univocity is not that Being is said in a single and same sense, but that it is said, in a single and same sense, of all its individuating differences or intrinsic modalities’ {p 36 emphasis of the author}. Being is the same for each, but the modalities are not the same. The essence of univocal being is that individuating differences are included while these do not have the same essence and do not change the essence of being. DPB all the glimpses into the being are the same, while the glimpses are not the same. The glimpses are part of the construction of the being but they do not change it, like white is constructed of other colors. The voice of being includes all its modes: ‘Being is said in a single and and same sense of everything of which it is said, but that of which it is said differs: it is said of difference itself’ {p 36}. There are two kinds of distributions: 1) logos: the dividing up of what is distributed as per a particular and fixed determinations assimilated to properties or limited territories within representation and 2) nomadic, without property enclosure or measure. This is not a division of what is distributed but a division among those who divide themselves in an open space, without (clear) limits. The persons (?) are positioned here and there such as to occupy the largest possible space. It seems to be a space, a rule of play, the occupying itself. One is the division of the distribution of an existing space, the other the defining of the space by being distributed in it. Things become distributed across the entire extensity of a univocal and undistributed Being. DPB this reminds me of a kind of a sorting mechanism based on attraction and repulsion (restriction) but very light and such that they intrinsically assume a position in a vast space that is inescapable. This is not the distribution of things such as required by representation, but all things are divided up within being in the univocity of simple presence: ‘Here, limit {peras} no longer refers to what maintains the thing under a law, nor to what delimits or separates it from other things. On the contrary, it refers to that on the basis of which it is deployed and deploys all its powers; hubris ceases to be simply condemnable and the smallest becomes equivalent to the largest once it is not separated from what it can do. This enveloping measure is the same for all things ..’ {p 37 emphasis of the author}. DPB the limit sits in what the whole of the restrictions of the thing can do. It seems to me that the phrase ‘what it can do’ above is the same as computation. An arrangement of things can do something and when it is left unrestricted it is limited by what it can do only. Wolfram puts on top of that the computation of equivalent sophistication. When it is (indeed) restricted it can develop into something the sophistication of the computation of which is comparable to that of the other things in its universe with which it coexists (and codevelops, or rather it co-computes. This is the same thing as the compartmentalization which is brought about by the attractor in a phase space. It can work the same on everything and once it takes effect the effort it makes effortlessly equals that of moving a mountain in a day. That is the hierarchy and not whether things anticipating in it are larger or smaller none of them participate in being more or less: ’Univocal Being is at one and the same time nomadic distribution and crowned anarchy’ {p 37}. Is a reconciliation possible between analogy and univocity? ‘For analogy, as we have seen, rests essentially upon a certain complicity between generic and specific differences (despite their difference in kind): being cannot be supposed a common genus without destroying the reason for which it was supposed thus; that is, the possibility of being for specific differences… It is not, therefore, surprising that from the standpoint of analogy, everything happens in the middle regions of genus and species in terms of mediation and generality – identity of the concept in general and analogy of the most general concepts’ {p 38}. DPB so the answer is No? But univocity is essentially and immediately related to individuating factors, namely that which acts within them as a transcendental principle (and not constituted by the experience of the individual). ‘We must show not only how individuating difference differs in kind from specific difference, but primarily and above all how individuation properly precedes matter and form, species and parts, and every other element of the constituted individual’ {p 38 emphasis of the author}. DPB individuation is the primate principle to precede all else. What is it? ‘With univocity, however, it is not the differences which are and must be: it is being which is Difference, in the sense that it is said of difference’ {p 39}. DPB Difference is the essence of being. What does the last bit mean? ‘Moreover, it is not we who are univocal in a Being which is not; it is we and our individuality which remains equivocal in and for a univocal Being’ {p 39}. DPB This is about the voices contributing to the univocality, inside it and outside of it, that affirm it as a being. I believe that Vid are usually univocal but sometimes they can’t help themselves and the equivocal shimmers through. ‘If it is true that distinction in general relates being to difference, formal distinction (DPB grounded in being or the object, but not necessarily numerical) and modal distinction (DPB relation between being or the attributes on one hand and their intensive variations on the other) are two types under which univocal being is related, by itself, to difference in itself’ {p 40 emphasis DPB}. Following Spinoza, univocal is not neutral or indifferent but an object of pure affirmation (bevestiging), identical with unique, universal and infinite. DPB Everything is different and therefore the difference takes center stage, instead of the things and heir predicates. Real distinctions are never numerical but only formal, and numerical distinctions are never real but only modal (intrinsic modes of the unique substance and its attributes). Modes are determined as degrees of power and a single obligation, namely ‘.. to deploy all their power or their being to within the limit itself’ {p 40}. ‘Any hierarchy or pre-eminence is denied in so far as substance is equally designated by all the attributes in accordance with their essence, and equally expressed by all the modes in accordance with their degree of power’ {p 40}. DPB a cosmology which extends itself in and forms and defines the space it exists in and that exists in it and because of it. Substance appears independent of modes, but modes depend on substance. Nietzschian returning (eternal return) is the being of becoming. The becoming of itself. ‘Returning is thus the only identity, but identity as a secondary power; the identity of difference, the identical which belongs to the different, or turns around the different’ {p 41}. DPB this is a pivot of the text so far and a bridgehead to the concept of repetition it seems, and indeed: ‘Such an identity, produced by difference, is determined as ‘repetition’. Repetition in the eternal return, therefore, consists in conceiving the same on the basis of the different. However, .. it carries out a practical selection among differences according o their capacity to produce – that is, to return or to pass the test of the eternal return’ {p 41 emphasis DPB}. DPB that is it: repetition is driven by difference! It is not the whole or the same which returns or the prior identity: ‘Only the extreme forms return – those which, large or mall, are deployed within the limit and extend to the limit of their power, transforming themselves and changing one into another’ {p 41}. DPB the transformation is from within and originates in the differences taking effect to the limit. ‘It is the being-equal of all that is unequal and has been able to fully realise its inequality’ {p 41}. The Overman is defined as the superior of everything that ‘is’. ‘In all these respects, eternal return is the univocity of being, the effective realisation of that univocity’ {p 41}. ‘The wheel in the eternal return is at once both production of repetition on the basis of difference and selection of difference on the basis of repetition’ {p 42 emphasis DPB}. DPB This seems to me to be the first step to define individuation.

The signification of the very notion of limit changes completely: it no longer refers to the limits of finite representation, but in the contrary to the womb in which finite determination never ceases to be born and to disappear, to be enveloped and deployed within orgiastic representation’ {p 43}. DPB This was noted before, namely that the system tensions the space it is in and it is not a kind of a boundary that keeps it within particular limits, but the ‘ends of its wits’ do. In the infinite do the differences appear and disappear (evanescence). And so the limits are local but they are originated from the global, namely the infinite, where the differences are made that determine the limits. DPB this resonates with me because it reminds me of the origination of ideas for a firm in wider society. And also it originates from chaos theory, where small differences can lead to large ones, that can lead to minor changes in turn, and conversely a large change may well disappear out completely as if dampened. ’In short, orgiastic representation has the ground as its principle and the infinite as its element, by contrast with organic representation which retains form as its principle and the finite as its element. It is the infinite which renders determination conceivable and selectable: difference thus appears as the orgiastic representation of determination and no longer as its organic representation’ {p 42 Emphasis DPB}. DPB this explains Malthus for populations. And Darwin for species: the absolute worst are selected away and leave over the generations, an exploded and limited group of individuals hardened by selective forces. They explode orgiastically to then be restricted into an organic form, but now it has to exist there. ‘..better by saying the infinite of that finite determination itself, by representing it not as having vanished and disappeared but as vanishing and on the point of disappearing, thus as also being engendered in the inifinite’ {pp. 43-4 emphasis of the author}. How should contrariety be defined in terms of difference? ‘It is true that contrariety represents only the movement of interiority in the infinite. This movement allows indifference to subsist, since each determination, in so far as it contains the other, is independent of the other as though of a relation with the outside. Each contrary must further expel its other, therefore expel itself, and become the other it expels. Such is the movement of contradiction as it constitutes the true pulsation of the infinite, the movement of exteriority or real objectivation’ {pp. 44-5 emphasis DPB}. DPB this is a (preliminary) description of a monad in a nomad environment. Some thing must be able to distinguish some thing else and therefore some of the other thing must be in itself and by expelling the other it must expel itself too and therefore become the other. But the same holds true for the other, who is in the process of expelling this thing in focus. ‘For it is not the same manner that the positive and the negative are the Same: the negative is now at once both the becoming of the positive when the positive is denied, and the return of the positive when it denies or excludes itself. No doubt each of the contraries determined as positive and negative was already contradiction, ‘But the Positive is only implicitly this contradiction, whereas the negative is the contradiction posited..’. Difference finds its own concept in the posited contradiction: it is here that it becomes pure, intrinsic, essential, qualitative, synthetic and productive; here that it no longer allows indifference to subsist. To maintain or to raise contradiction is the selective test which ‘makes’ the difference (between the effectively real and the passing or contingent phenomenon)’ {p 45 emphasis of the author}. DPB whence the asymmetry? Is it like stable and unstable: if stable is the same as positive it persists and if negative is unstable it will not persist and therefore become positive and persist in that way and as such. But negative can in this view become positive. The other way around is also possible but is not so likely because it will disappear before it has become well-established. Positive exists because it can be absent. Negative is when the positive is absent and therefore as a concept it is posited. ‘This procedure of the infinitely small, which maintains the distinction between essences (to the extent that one plays the role of inessential to the other), is quite different to contradiction. We should therefor give it a special name, that of ‘vice-diction’’ {p 46 emphasis DPB}. DPB this describes how in the infinitely small the exchange between the thing and the environment that co-defines it takes place, while one of the things plays the role of the inessential. As a consequence: ‘The inessential includes the essential in the case, whereas the essential contains the inessential in essence’ {p 46}.

It is in this sense that ( .. ) the inheritance of predicates in each subject supposes the compossibility of the world expressed by all these subjects: God did not create Adam as a sinner, but rather the world in which Adam sinned’ {p 48 emphasis DPB}. DPB Alchian: the environment complexifies such that the firm can only be adopted and then adapt to the circumstance. The concept of compossibility appears to be the same thing as the dimensioning of the universe of a thing by the thing. The thing by its properties tensions it and in that way it constructs its cosmology and what it can do as per its cosmology is its niche (M&V). ‘Finite difference is determined in a monad as that part of the world clearly expressed, infinitely small difference as the confused ground which underpins that clarity. In these two ways, orgiastic representation mediates determination and makes it a concept of difference by assigning it a ‘reason’’ {p 48}. DPB This describes the relation between the infinitely small and the finite as the basis for difference. Grounding is a topic in metaphysics. One thing is sometimes said to “ground” another when the first in some way accounts for the being of the second. ‘The point is that in the last resort infinite representation does not free itself from the principle of identity as a presupposition of representation’ {p 49 emphasis of the author}. DPB an identity is required for there to be something to represent: if there is no identity then there is nothing to represent.

There is a crucial experience of difference and a corresponding experiment: every time we find ourselves confronted or bound by a limitation or an opposition, we should ask what such a situation presupposes. It presupposes a swarm of differences, a pluralism of free, wild or untamed differences; a properly differentiated and original space and time; all of which persist alongside the simplifications of limitation an opposition’ {p 50 emphasis DPB}. DPB there are many different ways in which things can be different and therefore the presupposition has to be that the space where this takes place is much differentiated. ‘In any case, what is missing is the original, intensive depth which is the matrix of the entire space and the first affirmation of difference: here, that which only afterwards appears as linear imitation and flat opposition lives and simmers in the form of free differences’ {pp. 50-1}. DPB this is what ‘brings the differences to life’. ‘Everywhere, the depth of difference is primary’ {p 51}. Its depth is not an added dimension but immanent in the difference itself. ‘The misfortune in speaking is not speaking, but in the speaking for others or representing something’ {p 52}. DPB This is the central point about the univocity and the equivocity. ‘This is what the philosophy of difference refuses: omnis determinatio negatio … We refuse the general alternative propose by infinite representation: the indeterminate, the indifferent, the undifferentiated or a difference already determined as negation, implying and enveloping the negative (by the same token, we also refuse the particular alternative: negative of limitation or negative of opposition). In its essence, difference is the object of affirmation or affirmation itself’ {p 52}. DPB There is the risk of confusion of this theory with that of the beautiful soul: all nice differences but reconcilable and without teeth, namely wrought through bloody conflict and not a justice of the peace on the battle field without a sense of cruelty and a taste for destruction. ‘The reprises or repetitions of the dialectic express only the conservation of the whole, all the forms and all the moments, in a gigantic Memory. Infinite representation is a memory which conserves. In this case, repetition is no more than a conservatory, a power of memory itself. .. According to the other conception, difference is primary: it affirms difference and distance. Difference is light, aerial and affirmative. To affirm is not to bear but, on the contrary, to discharge and to lighten’ {pp. 53-4}. DPB Where do we go with this? It reminds me of the number theory of Wolfram: to treat numbers as a thing in itself and then to find the patterns when they are developed through operations. Then patterns appear in a literal (non-representational) sense are as seldom as in every other process in nature. It is very rare when there is not such a difference aka the normal is when the numbers – and therefore every process in nature – is different from every other. ‘The most profound difference in kind is between the average forms and the extreme forms (new values): the extreme is not reached by carrying the average forms to infinity or by using their opposition in the finite to affirm their identity in the infinite’ {p 54}. DPB The operation of normalization (or averaging) of the differences changes in some way the quality of what the difference ‘an sich’ is. And therefore selection procedures using this operation cannot work in regards the preservation of differences. ‘The extreme is not the identity of the opposites, but rather the univocity of the different; the superior form is not the infinite, but rather the eternal formlessness of the eternal return itself, throughout its metamorphoses and transformations. Eternal return ‘makes’ the difference because it creates the superior form. Eternal return employs negation like a Nachfolge and invents a new formula for the negation of the negation: everything which can be denied is and must be denied. The genius of eternal return lies not in memory but in waste, in active forgetting’ {p 55, emphasis of the author}. DPB the primate is with the difference itself. In eternity. Resulting in the ‘gift of’ eternal return. This enables the superior form. Its importance is not the memory building up but instead in the forgetting. Everything else follows. Why is the crux in the forgetting? It makes something new from the existing situation, thereby forgetting the existing situation. But the chances that the existing situation will ever develop again are vanishingly small, and therefore also effectively forgotten. DPB This is how it should be: memory is the (unintentional) result. Of all the tacks it could have takes this is what it turned out to be. But the leading principle is eternal return that leads it to what it has actually become. ‘For if eternal return is a circle then Difference is at the centre and the Same is only on the periphery: it is a constantly decentered, continually tortuous circle which revolves only around the unequal’ {p 55 emphasis DPB}. DPB sic. ‘.. difference is affirmation. This proposition, however, means many things: that difference is an object of affirmation; that affirmation itself is multiple; that it is creation but also that it must be created, as affirming difference, as being difference in itself. It is not negative which is the motor’ {p 55}. DPB representation mediates but does not motivate. ‘Movement, for its part, implies a plurality of centres, a superposition of perspectives, a tangle of points of view, a coexistence of moments which essentially distort representation..’ {p 56 emphasis DPB}. DPB From the differences and their perspectives, not from negativity and negation, comes movement. ‘Each point of view must itself be the object, or the object must belong to the point of view’ {p 56}. DPB this resembles a lot the view of Luhmann and that of M&V that the only thing moving is the observer. ‘Difference must become the element, the ultimate unity; it must therefore refer to other differences which never identify it but rather differenciate it. Each term of a series, being already a difference, must be put into a variable relation with other terms, thereby constituting other series devoid of centre and convergence’ {p 56}. DPB this is the hard part in practical terms. But consider the case of biological evolution: there exist a series of genetic instances and there eist a series of phenomenologcal instances. These are two semi-connected planes tha can move independently from the other in principle, with the exception of the one generating the other and the other selecting (being the basis for selection of) the other. And the same mechanism I have in mind for the planes of memes (or Ideas) and their realizations. If ideas are at the centre of my theory then how am I going to make the relation between ideas and the differences referred to here? Just thinking ahead: if an idea is an answer to a question then they are different and only expressable in terms of other answers to questions.. ‘It is in difference that movement is produced as an ‘effect’, that phenomena flash their meaning like signs’ {p57}. DPB we appear to be moving towards the end of the first act: difference is the source of movement. ‘Each difference passes through all the others; it must ‘will’ itself or find itself through all the others. That is why eternal return does not appear second or come after, but is already present in every metamorphosis, contemporaneous with that which it causes to return’ {p 57}. DPB This is the necessary connection between difference and eternal return. ‘The world is neither finite nor infinite as representation would have it: it is completed and unlimited’ {p 57}. DPB so far the center stage for difference. CUT!

The Idea is not yet the concept of an object which submits the world to the requirements of representation, but rather a brute presence which can be invoked in the world only in function of that which is which is not representable in things. The Idea has therefore not yet chosen to relate difference to the identity of a concept in general: it has not given up hope of finding a pure concept of difference in itself’ {p 59 emphasis DPB}. DPB this is important here because this is the first mention of the Idea and its relation with the difference. ‘..the dialectic of difference has its own method – division – but this operates without mediation, without middle term or reason; it acts in the immediate and is inspired by the Ideas rather than by the requirements of a concept in general’ {p 59}. DPB my understanding here is the Wolfram conception of computation: not a representation of what takes place but what is taking place. This resonates with the example of the limitation of operations on numbers in the memory of a practical computer. Now the number changes through the design of the computer, and not because of the requirements of the natural process which it represents. In the physical reality such limitations can exist too, but they are then part of the process by which the natural process comes about and not because of the computation of the representation. This is very important because of my promise to design an explicit model of human organization and the firm. Not implicit as in a representation of what we can understand in some respect, but how it occurs in the real. Also it is a bit of an open door statement about the difference between the multitude living up to ‘what is is for’ versus to show that it satisfies the requirements of the concept that it happened to be assigned to. But beware : ‘Division is not the inverse of a ‘generalization’; it is not a determination of a species. It is in no way a method of determining species, but one of selection. It is not a question of dividing a determinate genus into definite species, but of dividing a confused species into pure lines of descent, or of selecting a pure line from material which is not’ {pp. 59-60} DPB this is the discussion about the existence of a species and whether it can come to be through division. It can’t, because the conditions of its operation must be actively and exactly specified for the concept or the category to be definable. ‘Difference is not between species, between two determinations of a genus, but entirely on one side, within the chosen line of descent: there are no longer contraries within a single genus, but pure and impure, good and bad, authentic and inauthentic, in a mixture which gives rise to a larger species’ {p 60}. DPB difference is the basic unity. It is a thing in itself and therefore not a relative thing. It does exist however because things are different. But the things which are different are not of the category species and difference is therefore not relative between species. ‘Thus in accordance with the oldest tradition, the circular myth is indeed the story-repetition of a foundation. Division demands such a foundation as the ground capable of making the difference. Conversely, the foundation demands division as the state of difference in that which must be grounded’ {p 62}. DPB this is the connection in a traditional sense between the practice of repetition of an event, and difference, and, conversely between the practice of division and repetition. ‘Perhaps, however, we have reasons to say both that there is non-being and that the negative is illusory. .. In this relation, being is difference itself. Being is also non-being, but non-being is not the being of the negative; rather it is the being of the problematic, the being of problem and question. Difference is not the negative; on the contrary, non-being is Difference: heteron, not enantion’ {p 63 emphasis of the author, emphasis in bold DPB}. ‘.. taken in its strictest sense, eternal return means that each thing exists only in returning, copy of an infinity of copies which allows neither original nor origin to subsist. That is why the eternal return is called ‘parodic’: it qualifies as simulacrum that which it causes to be (and to return). When eternal return is the power of (formless) Being, the simulacrum is the true character or form of the ‘being’ – of that which is. When the identity of things dissolves, being escapes to attain univocity, and begins to revolve around the different. That which is or returns has no prior constituted identity: things are reduced to the difference which fragments them, and to all the differences which are implicated in it and through which they pass’ {p 67 emphasis DPB}. ‘For eternal return, affirmed in all its power, allows no installation of a foundation-ground. .. It makes us party to a universal ungrounding. By ‘ungrounding’ we should understand the freedom of the non-mediated ground, the discovery of a ground behind every other ground, the relation between the groundless and the ungrounded, the immediate reflection of the formless and the superior form which constitutes the eternal return. Every thing, animal or being assumes the status of simulacrum..’ {p 67}. DPB This is the essence of the structure and process discussion: the adoption of the unicity of difference implies the acceptance of this in-between (or on-its-way) where structure = form. ‘The fault of representation lies in not going beyond the form of identity, in relation to the object seen and the seeing subject. Identity is no less conserved in each component representation than in the whole of infinite representation as such’ {p 68}. DPB This seems related to the common mistake in assuming that anything else but the focus of the observer is responsible for change. GD refers a lot to modern art to indicate that representation is to be abandoned: ‘It is not enough to multiply perspectives in order to establish perspectivism. To every perspective or point of view there must correspond an autonomous work with its own self-sufficient sense: what matters is the divergence of series, the decentering of circles, ‘monstrosity’. The totality of circles and series is thus a formless ungrounded chaos which has no law other than its own repetition, its own reproduction in the development of that which diverges and decentres’ {p 69}. DPB this seems to make a reference possible to autopoiesis and the creation of chaos from deterministic terms as per chaos theory. ‘Everything has become simulacrum, for by simulacrum we should not understand a simple imitation bu rather the act by which the very idea of a model or privileged position is challenged or overturned. The simulacrum is the instance which includes a difference within itself, such as (at least) two divergent series on which it plays, all resemblance abolished so that one can no longer point to the existence of an original and a copy’ {p 69}.

Chapter II Repetition for Itself

Repetition changes not the object repeated but the mind of the observer {cf Hume}. The principle of discontinuity or instanteneity in repetition: for repetition to take place one instance (of it?) has to disappear for another to appear. But how can it occur when it disappears? It has no in-itself. But if there is AB AB AB A, then when the mind sees A what is new is the expectation of B to occur also. Therefore is not repetition a product of the mind: does the paradox of repetition not only sit in the change or difference that is introduced into the mind, that the mind draws from repetition? Hume argues that identical and similar cases are grounded in the imagination: when perturbed it retains one case when another appears. ‘When A appears we expect B to appear with a force corresponding to the qualitative impression of all the contracted ABs. This is by no means a memory, nor indeed an operation of the understanding: contraction is not a matter of reflection’ {p 70}. DPB this is how I have modeled the mechanism of reinforcement in NetLogo. The AB is a flash, a sign across a system. If the AB is the sign, then the A (by itself) when unrepeated, is an aberration to the pattern. According to GD to notice it is not an operation of memory nor of understanding nor does it require reflection. But then what is left: is it an operation of pure perception? ‘Properly speaking: it forms a synthesis of time. A succession of instants does not constitute time any more than it causes it to disappear; it indicates only its constantly aborted moment of birth. Time is constituted only in the originary synthesis which operates on the repetition of instants. This synthesis contracts the successive independent instants into one another, thereby constituting the lived, or living, present. It is in this present that time is deployed. To it belong the past and the future: the past in so far as the preceding instants are retained in the contraction; the future because its expectation is anticipated in this same contraction. The past and the future do not designate instants distinct from a supposed present instant, but rather the dimensions of the {resent itself in so far as it is a contraction of instants’ {pp. 70-1}. DPB The retaining of past instants appears to be memory of some kind. Those past instances ‘contract’ into one another to constitute the present. This reminds me of neural networks, which retain ’impressions’ of events also, but they ‘flatten’ them into an algorithm, but they can reproduce (future) events with great depth and detail. That derivative depth and detail is said to be ‘contracted’ into the retaining system’s present. And the anticipation of future events is also contracted to form the present. But these are different (anticipatory) events, which intertwine with the past events to form the present. I reckon the sequence whereby they are contracted in the present bears consequences for the structuring of the present. This rendering of time is relevant for my ‘frivolity on time’: time is a construct for people to deal with the present: the present only exists as a contraction of future and past events and this ‘produces’ the present.

This is how time is perceived: while constructing the present! But it doesn’t take place as such and instead it is a representation. ‘The present does not have to go outside itself in order to pass from past to future. Rather, the living present goes from the past to the future which it constitutes in time, which is to say also from the particular to the general: from the particulars which it envelops by contraction to the general which it develops in the field of its expectation (the difference produced in the mind is generality itself in so far as it firms a living rule for the future). In any case, this synthesis must be given a name: passive synthesis’ {p 71 emphasis of DPB}. DPB this is a kind of a ‘levar o cabo’ mechanism, whereby the present is constructed from the past and the conditions of the anticipations of the future drawn from the present and into the present. To come from particulars (juist die) to the general (zo een) is also to come from many details to a population, from which statistical anticipations can be derived. ‘Although it is constructive, it is not, for all that, active. It is not carried out by the mind, but occurs in the mind which contemplates, prior to all memory and all reflection’ {p 71 emphasis of the author}. DPB This is a kind of passive perception (onwillekeurige involuntary function) and it is not an act which is continually conscious, but rather an involuntary act which happens regardless whether one is or isn’t conscious. I remember this somewhat esoteric illustration of dolphins swimming partly above and partly under the surface of the water to represent the thoughts occurring partly conscious and partly not conscious. And so time is a function of perception and specific for human beings. ‘Time is subjective, but in relation to the subjectivity of a passive subject. Passive synthesis or contraction is essentially asymmetrical: it goes from the past to the future in the present, thus from the particular to the general, thereby imparting direction to the arrow of time’ {p 71 emphasis of DPB}. DPB the arrow of time is informed about the direction it is supposed to take because of the flow from particular to general? I think I understand this: it is impossible to go back from general to particular and that is why the arrow of time is directed towards irreversibility! Once the shit (as a statistical substance which is constructed from particular elements) is out of the horse, then in the future it is increasingly difficult to put it back into the horse. When the particulars of the past are stored in a temporary space (not memory) it is not the past, but a reflexive past, a representation of it. DPB Whatever it is that people do with the the events they encounter. GD The future is now correlated and also not the immediate anticipated future but a reflexive representation of it. DPB In sum: By constructing a past from particulars and, constructing a future generated using generalities from the past, people construct a present. The constitution of repetition implies 3 instances: 1) in-itself causing it to disappear as it appears 2) for itself of the passive synthesis and 3) for-us reflected representation of active synthesis (eg voluntary memory). An analogous problem is of clock strokes: each is independent but together they are apart from memory contracted into ‘an internal qualitative impression within this living present or passive synthesis which is duration’ {p 72}. DPB = computation. ‘Difference therefore appears to abandon its first figure of generality and to be distributed in the repeating particular, but in such a way as to give rise to new living generalities’ {p 72}. DPB I thought we had already abandoned that figure of generality because that belongs to representation?! ‘We are made of contracted water, earth, light and air – not merely prior to the recognition or representation of these, but prior to their being sensed. Every organism, in its receptive and perceptual elements, but also in its viscera, is a sum of contractions, of retentions and expactations’ {p 73}. DPB Wolfram says that people’s perception is constituted from the same stuff as what they are trying to perceive with their powers of perception. And so computation is the rearranging of the elements of the configuration leading to that perception, not the representation of it or of them. ‘Each contraction, each passive synthesis (DPB eg involuntary perception), constitutes a sign which is interpreted or deployed in active synthesis. The signs by which an animal ‘senses’ the presence of water do not resemble the elements which its thirsty organism lacks’ {p 73 emphasis of DPB}. DPB so the faculties of the organism to find water are operational on a different scale (whole organism) than the faculties that lack water (cells). This is a good description of the micro- to macro problem. This is exactly why whatever is of interest to a population is not necessarily of interest to one of its members. The big thing is to find out their relation: what are the lacking elements and what are the signs, and, analogous, what are the lacking elements in the population and what are the signs of a solution the firm recognizes?

Is it through acting that we acquire habits or through contemplating? The established train of thought in psychology is that the self cannot contemplate itself, but this is not the question: ‘The question is whether or not the self itself is a contemplation, whether it is not in itself a contemplation, and whether we can learn, form behaviour and form ourselves other than through contemplation’ {p 73}. DPB In other words this suggests that there is no self if there is no contemplation. This reminds me of the thought about the consciousness as the traveling dolphins: sometime above (conscious) and sometimes below (unconscious) water, but continually going. A person is continually learning and forming behavior even when not contemplating, namely conscious of itself. ‘Habit draws something new from repetition – namely, difference (in the first instance understood as generality). In essence, habit is contraction’ {p 73}. DPB Contraction is the forming of the past and the future into the present. From these contractions habits are formed, or perhaps the other way around: from habits a contraction is formed, namely a pattern that can now be stored for later use and without further consideration (GD refers to the verb ‘to contract a habit’). But if I remember it correctly the contraction is not a conscious act. That is a given, but the forming of a habit can be even if the contraction that results from it is not. Contraction is to be understood as the fusion of successive tick-tocks in a contemplative soul, not the tick, opposed by the tock as a dilating or relaxing part. Passive synthesis is of this last kind: we expect it to last and we expect to perceive a tock after the tick, ‘.. a perpetuation of our case’ {p 74}. Habit is a contraction not because it is an instantaneous action which combines with another to form an element of repetition, but because it is a fusion of that repetition into the contemplating mind: ‘.. but a contemplative soul whose entire function is to contract a habit’ {p 74}. DPB this is about the fact that a human has a brain: had there been no pattern then there would’ve been no requirement for it. But what is the connection between the concept of a pattern as I often use it and the contraction as it is used here? The entire ‘practice’ of contracting is meant to deal with the changes in the environment. The mind does it through the recognizing of patterns or even the contracting of habits. These are patterns of behavior intended to maintain oneself in the future. ‘We do not contemplate ourselves, but we exist only in contemplating – that is to say: in contacting that from which we come’ {p 74}. To contemplate is to draw something from something else, and in order to get a picture of ourselves we must contemplate something else. There is not continuity apart form habit, from thousands of component habits. ‘It is easy to multiply reasons which make habit independent of repetition: to act is never to repeat, whether it be an action in process or an action already completed. As we have seen, action has, rather, the particular as its variable and generality as its element. However, while generality may well be quite different from repetition, it nevertheless refers to repetition as the hidden basis on which it is constructed. Action is constituted, in the order of generality and in the fields of variables which correspond to it, only by the contraction of elements of repetition. This contraction, however, takes place not in the action itself, but in a contemplative self which doubles the agent’ {p 75 emphasis of DPB}. DPB this statement reminds me of the relation between ideas and memes. But it refers to action also. What does it mean? Contraction is constituted from elements of repetition. Thisbelongs to the system, not to representation. Imaginary repetition is not a false repetition which stands in for the absent true repetition: true repetition takes place in imagination. Between a repetition which never ceases to unravel itself and a repetition which is deployed and conserved for us in the space of representation, there was difference, the for-itself of repetition, the imaginary. Difference inhabits repetition’ {p 76 emphasis of DPB}. DPB Difference lives in repetition. 1) difference allows us to pass from one order of repetition to another – from the instantaneous repetition to the actively represented through the intermediary of passive synthesis (capability to notice things while not focusing on them) and 2) to pass from one order of repetition to another and from one generality to another within the passive syntheses themselves (chickens head pulsate cardiacally and are synthesized perceptionally with grain). ‘In every way, material or bare repetition, so-called repetition of the same, is like a skin which unravels, the external husk of a kernel of difference and more complicated internal repetitions. Difference lies between two repetitions’ {p 76 emphasis of the author}. DPB this is the first explanation of the relation between difference and repetition. It is a difference between different kinds of repetitions, ‘.. repetition is a differenciator of difference’ {p 76}. DPB Important! The differences emerge from two or more sequences of differences, each a series constituting repetitions, and also different between them. Therefore a difference of differences. To differenciate means the becoming of difference. To differenciate differences is differences of differences which become.

Regarding time: ‘The synthesis of time constitutes the present in time. It is not that the present is a dimension of time: the present alone exists. Rather, synthesis constitutes time as a living present, and the past and the future as dimensions of this present. This synthesis is nonetheless intertemporal, which means that this present passes. .. It necessarily forms a present which may be exhausted and which passes, a present of a certain duration which varies according to the species, the individuals, the organisms and the parts of organisms under consideration’ {pp. 76-7}. DPB This is important, this I believe. Time is a construct of people. It is given by passive synthesis, not a conscious effort to link the events in them and around them to themselves, but it is instead unconscious. ‘The duration of an organism’s present, or of its various presents, will vary according to the natural contractile range of its contemplative souls’ {p 77}. DPB formula is a bit esoteric for me, but the concept is that the system’s hardware determines its contracting capabilities. Note the plural of the final word souls: this reminds me of the instances of the mind written about by Luhmann. But I seem to remember that he wrote about instances of minds not souls. ‘More precisely, need marks the limits of the variable present. The present extends between two eruptions of need, and coincides with the duration of a contemplation. The repetition of need, and of everything which depends upon it, expresses the time which belongs to the synthesis of time, the intratemporal character of that synthesis’ {p 77 emphasis of the author}. DPB Can I use this to underpin the idea of distinctions and erasing of them to define cognition such that firms react to difference to make a distinction and erase it (fulfillment of orders). In other words in this context they satisfy a need, or perhaps it is better to say they satisfy a lack of something in themselves. And time depends on that process. ‘Signs as we have defined them – as habitudes or contractions referring to one another – always belong to the present’ {p 77 emphasis of the author}. ‘Need expresses the openness of a question before it expresses the non-being or the absence of a response. To contemplate is to question. .. ‘What difference is there…?’ This is the question the contemplative soul puts to repetition, and to which it draws a response from repetition’ {p 78}. ‘These thousands of habits of which we are composed – these contractions, contemplations, pretensions, presumptions, satisfactions, fatigues; these variable presents – thus form the basic domain of passive synthesis. The passive self is not defined simply by receptivity – that is, by means of the capacity to experience sensations – but by virtue of he contractile contemplation which constitutes the organism itself before it constitutes the sensations. This self, therefore, is by no means simple: it is not enough to relativise or pluralise the self, all the while retaining for it s a simple attenuated form’ {p 78}. Selves are the product of contemplation: ‘ .. whenever a contracting machine capable of drawing a difference from repetition functions somewhere’ {pp. 78-9}. DPB what does this mean for the contemplation of a social system? And more specific can I use this to model the firm in general? Namely as a machine for the identification of differences and then to erase them. In principle this is a general machine and it is tweaked for the occasion, depending on the initial ideas pertaining to it when it is founded.

The first synthesis of time constitutes time as a present that passes: ‘Time does not escape the present, but the present does not stop moving by leaps and bounds which encroach upon one another. This is the paradox of the present: to constitute time while passing in the time constituted. We cannot avoid the necessary conclusion – that there must be another time in which the first synthesis of time can occur. This refers us to a second synthesis’ {p 79 emphasis of the author}. Why does the present pass or why is it not coextensive with time? The first synthesis, of habit, is the foundation of time, but we must distinguish the foundation (how something is established and possesses the soil) from the ground (measures the possessor and the soil against the other). ‘Habit is the foundation of time, the moving soil occupied by the passing present. The claim of the present is precisely that it passes. However, it is what causes the present to pass, that to which the present and habit belong, which must be considered the ground of time. It is memory that grounds time (emphasis of DPB). .. Habit is the originary synthesis of time, which constitutes the life of the passing present; Memory is the fundamental synthesis of time which constitutes the being of the past (that which causes the present to pass). At first sight, it is as if the past were trapped between two presents: the one which it has been and the one in relation to which it is past. The past is not the former present itself but the element in which we focus upon the latter. Particularly, therefore, now belongs to that on which we focus – in other words, to that which ‘has been’; whereas the past itself, the ‘was’, is by nature general’ {pp. 79-80 emphasis DPB}. DPB this reminds me of the focus of the observer of Luhmann and the observer of M&V.

The retention of habit is the state of successive habits contracted in a present present (sic). These instants formed a particularity, while the present itself (open to the future as per expectation) constitutes the general. The reproduction involved in memory is in the past (understood as the mediation of presents) which becomes general while the (present as well as former) present becomes particular. The former present finds itself represented in the present one {cf. P 80}. ‘The limits of this representation or reproduction are in fact determined by the variable relations of resemblance and contiguity (nabijheid DPB) known as forms of association. In order to be represented the former presence must be broken up into partially simultaneous presents with very different durations which are then contiguous with one another and even at the limit, contiguous with the present present’ {p 80}. DPB this resembles the movement from state to state. It reminds of computation a la Wolfram. And it reminds of the connotations. But this is compartmentalized into elements that each makes transfer from state to state wile they are contiguous in some way. ‘Now the former present cannot be represented in the present one without the present one itself being represented in that representation. .. not only to represent something but also to represent its own representativity. The present and former presents are not, therefore, like two successive instants on the line of time; rather, the present one necessarily contains an extra dimension in which it represents the former and also represents itself. The present present is treated not as the future object of a memory but as that which reflects itself at the same time as it forms the memory of the former present’ {p 80}. DPB a comparison is possible between the two, but beneath that is the computation taking place, whereby the memory of the system is all that it can do and the present is what it does. Active synthesis has correlative (non-symmetrical) aspects: reproduction and reflection, remembrance and recognition, memory and understanding. DPB these remind me of the two hands clapping: what is expressed is also perceived&c. ‘The past does not cause one present to pass without calling forth another, but itself neither passes nor comes forth. For this reason the past, far from being a dimension of time, is the synthesis of all time of which the present and the future are only dimensions. We cannot say that it was. It no longer exists, it does not exist, but it insists, it consists, it is. It insists with the former present, it consists with the new or present present. It is the in-itself of time as the final ground of the passage of time. In this sense it forms a pure, general, a priori element of all time’ {p 82 emphasis of the author}. DPB What does this mean: it does not connect with the idea that the present is squeezed in between the past and the future. Instead the past does not exist but as a version of a former presence stored in memory. ‘There is thus a substantial temporal element (the Past which was never present) playing the role of ground. This is not itself represented. It is always the former or the present present which is represented’ {p 82}. The difference between the material repetition 1) and the spiritual repetition 2) is: 1) is a succession of independent elements or instants and 2) is a repetition of the Whole on diverse co-existing levels. DPB 1) I understand but 2) is a meme? 1) and 2) have a different relation to difference itself. Difference is drawn from 1) and it is included in 2), 1) is bare, 2) is clothed, 1) is a repetition of parts, 2) of the whole, 1) involves succession 2) coexistence, 1) is actual 2) is virtual, 1) is horizontal 2) is vertical. DPB: does this comply with my understanding that the actual is what something presently is (or rather what it is in surrounded with in te sense of condtioned by factors external to it) and the virtual is everything it possibly could be in reality?In consequence, the difference between presents themselves is that between the two repetitions: that of the elementary instants from which difference is subtracted, and that of the levels of the whole in which difference is included’ {p 84}. DPB is this what actually occurs and what is represented to us respectively? NO: ‘Neither of these two repetitions is, strictly speaking, representable’ {p 84}. Material repetition comes undone even as it occurs and can be represented only by the active synthesis. Spiritual repetition unfolds in the being in itself of the past, whereas representation concerns only presents resulting from active synthesis, subordinating all repetition. DPB I don’t understand this. Maybe a little regarding the active synthesis: the one deals with it online real-time, the other represents it. And also: the one repetition takes plae in the system I focus and the other one takes place in the mind of the one who focuses. ‘The passive syntheses are obviously sub-representative’ {p 84}. But how can we penetrate the in-itself of the past without reducing it to the former present that it was, or to the present present to which it is past? The answer is reminiscence (Proust). Two presents telescoped together: the former present that it was, and the present present that it could be. Former presents may be represented beyond forgetting by active synthesis. ‘If there is an in-itself of the past, then reminiscence is its noumenon or the thought with which it is invested. Reminiscence does not simply refer us back from a present present to former ones, .. The present exists, but the past alone insists and provides the element in which the present passes and successive presents are telescoped’ {p 85}.

The past is repetition by default, and it prepares this other repetition constituted by the metamorphosis in the present. Historians sometimes look for empirical correspondences between the present and the past, but however rich it may be, this network of historical correspondences between the present and the past involves repetition only by analogy or similitude. In truth the past is in itself repetition, as is the present, but they are repetition in two different modes which repeat each other. Repetition is never a historical fact, but rather the historical condition under which something new is effectively produced’ {p 90 emphasis of DPB}. DPB The past is by definition a repetition. It prepares the ground for the other repetition, namely through habits does it enable anticipation and therefore the constitution of the future, at least that future component of the present. ‘Repetition is a condition of action before it is a concept of reflection’ {p 90 emphasis of the author}. DPB This is important because it points at the mechanic character of the dynamics of a system, including a system involving people. Actions are performed based on the perception of past actions and then the consequences are perceived passively and / or actively and reflected upon to anticipate what’s up and design new actions. ‘.. expelling the agent and the condition in the name of the work or product; making repetition, not that from which one ‘draws off’ a difference, nor that which includes difference as a variant, but making it the thought and the production of the ‘absolutely different’; making it so that repetition is, for itself, difference in itself’ {p 94}. DPB ever closer to the machine of Ashby.

Biopsychic life implies a field of individuation in which differences in intensity are distributed here and there in the form of excitations. The quantitative and qualitative process of the resolution of such differences is what we call pleasure. A totality of this kind – a mobile distribution of differences and local resolutions within an intensive field – corresponds to what Freud called the Id, or at least the primary layer of the Id. The word ‘id’ {ça} in this sense is not only a pronoun referring to some formidable unknown, but also an adverb referring to a mobile place, a ‘here and there’ {ça et là} of excitations and resolutions’ {p 96}. DPB This reminds me of the distinctions and the resolutions of my thesis. In the above terms: differences in intensity exist and they have the form of excitations. Pleasure means that existing differences are resolved qualitatively and quantitatively because they are effaced such that they are resolved. The idea of pleasure obtained and the idea of pleasure to be obtained can only act under the presumption that there is a past and a future, pleasure as such is presupposed. But habit, as a passive binding synthesis presupposes the pleasure principle. ‘When pleasure acquires the dignity of a principle, then an only then does the idea of pleasure act in accordance with that principle, in memory or in projects. Pleasure then exceeds its own instanteneity in order to assume the allure of satisfaction in general..’ {p 97}. DPB This is the relation between the difference emerging and the difference cancellation: important, because why does the firm bother at all to make any distinction in the first place and then go through the trouble of erasing it? But if it can be said to experience pleasure from the erasure then what is that pleasure in (terms of the) cosmology of a firm? Maybe this is a part of the answer: ‘The repetition of an excitation has as its true object the elevation of the passive synthesis to a power which implies the pleasure principle along with its future and past applications. Repetition in habit or the passive synthesis of binding is thus ‘beyond’ the principle’ {p 98 emphasis of DPB}. DPB an eye is not ‘for’ something, it is there because there was the continual excitation of light on a part of the body. But now that it is there it serves the pleasure principle in the sense that the organism lives longer &c. The operation of seeing is independent of the pleasure principle: it was established regardless the chances of obtaining pleasure from it and its operation is passive and therefore not intentional.

Virtual objects belong essentially to the past’ {p 101}. DPB I believe this refers to the finite number of ideas that compose an Idea: when an idea is launched then it becomes part of the set of all ideas: the Idea. But it is regurgitated (as part of the Same?), it is extended with each time an idea is launched in the present and therefore it belongs to the past: ‘The virtual object is not a former present, since the quality of the present and the modality of its passing here affect exclusively the series of the real as this is constituted by active synthesis. However, the pure past as it was defined above does qualify the virtual object; that is, the past as contemporaneous with its own present, as pre-existing the passing present and as that which causes the present to pass. Virtual objects are shreds of pure past. .. Although it is deducted from the present real object, the virtual object differs from it in kind: not only does it lack something in relation to the real object from which it is subtracted, it lacks something in itself, since it is always half of itself, the other half being different as well as absent. This absence, as we shall see, is the opposite of a negative. Eternal half of itself, it is where it is only on condition that it is not where it should be. It is where we find it only on condition that we search for it where it is not. It is at once not possessed by those who have it and had by those who do not possess it. It is always a ‘was’’ {pp. 101-2 emphasis of the author}. DPB this is descriptive of a meme. GD The model is considered to be realist because everything happens between presents. It is materialist because ‘brute, automatic repetition is presupposed’. ‘It is individualist, subjective, solipsistic or monadic because both the former present – in other words, the repeated or disguised element – and the new present – in other words, the present terms of the disguised repetition – are considered to be only the conscious or unconscious, latent or manifest, repressed or repressing representations of the subject. The whole theory of repetition is thereby subordinated to the requirements of simple representation, from the standpoint of its realism, materialism and subjectivism. Repetition is subjected to a principle of identity in the former present and a rule of resemblance in the present one’ {p 104 emphasis of the author, emphasis in bold of DPB}. DPB Important because it is explained how two presents coexist, namely in the sense of a repetition and a framing thereof in present terms. However, while it may seem that the two presents are successive, at a variable distance apart in the series of reals, in fact they form, rather, two real series which coexist in relation to a virtual object of another kind, one which constantly circulates and is displaced in them (even if the characters, the subjects which give rise to the positions, the terms and the relations of each series, remain, for their part, temporarily distinct). Repetition is constituted not from one present to another, but between the two coexistent series that these presents form in function of the virtual object (object = x)’ {pp. 104-5 emphasis of DPB}. DPB this reminds me of the double planes of cultural evolution analogous to the genotype phenotype and the memeplex-and-realization proposition. What happens is that there is a past that gets transformed into the present and there is a present that functions as a frame, I presume this is the actual. These are two series generated independently and where they connect a new repetitin is constituted.

Consider the statements 1) only that which is alike differs and 2) only differences are alike. 1) resemblance as a condition for difference and therefore an identical concept for both. This means that they differ on condition they are alike and an analogy of both the differing things to the concept. Finally their difference is reduced to an opposition determined by these three moments. 2) resemblance, identity, analogy and opposition are mere effects, namely products of a primary difference or -system of differences. According to the 2) the difference must immediately relate the differing terms to one another. Difference must be articulation and connection in itself: ’.. it (difference DPB) must relate different to different without any mediation whatsoever by the identical, the similar, the analogous or the opposed. There must be a differenciation of difference, an in-itself which is like a differenciator, a Sich-unterscheidende, by virtue of which the different is gathered all at once rather than represented on condition of a prior resemblance, identity, analogy or opposition’ {p 117 emphasis of the author, emphasis in bold of DPB}. Are 1) and 2) the same or are they applicable to different systems and incompatible between them? Under the same conditions does difference fall under the categories of representation. Under what conditions does difference develop this in-itself as a ‘differenciator’ and gather a different outside representation? 1) organization into a system of two or more series each defined by the differences between its terms. Important summary of differenciation: Differences between the series are connected by communication of some kind between them, constituting differences between differences. These second-order differences play the role of differenciator relating the first-order differences to the second-order ones. ‘This state of affairs is adequately expressed by certain physical concepts: coupling between heterogeneous systems, from which is derived an internal resonance within the systems, and from which in turn is derived a forced movement the amplitude of which exceeds that of the basic series themselves. The nature of these elements whose value is determined at once both by their difference in the series to which they belong, and by the difference of their difference from one series to another, can be determined: these are intensities, the peculiarity of intensities being to be constituted by a difference which itself refers to other differences (E-E’ where E refers to e-e’ and e to ɛ-ɛ’ …)’ {p 117 emphasis of the author}. Examples are: words in aesthetic systems and concepts in philosophical systems. When communication between heterogeneous series is established then something passes between borders and ‘flashes occur’. What ensures this communication between the series? ‘Given two heterogeneous series, two series of differences, the precursor plays he part of he differenciator of these differences. In this manner, by virtue of its own power, it puts them into immediate relation to one another: it is the in-itself of difference or the differently different’ – in other words, difference in the second degree, the self-different which relates different to different by itself’ {p 119}. This difference in itself or difference which relates heterogeneous systems is the disparate. ‘We have seen that small and large apply badly to difference, because they judge it according to the criteria of the Same and similar. If difference is related to its differenciator, and if we refrain from attributing to the differenciator an identity that it cannot and does not have, the the difference will be small or large according to its possibilities of fractionation – that is, according to the displacements and the disguise of the differenciator’ {p 120}. Differences large or small can not claim resemblance and the relaxation of it respectively. ‘Resemblance is in any case an effect, a functional product, an external result – an illusion which appears once the agent arrogates to itself an identity that it laced. The important thing is not that the difference be small or large, and ultimately always small in relation to a greater resemblance. The important thing, for the in-itself, is that the difference, whether small or large, be internal’ {pp. 120-1 emphasis in bold of DPB}. Difference is the kernel of the system.In playing this role (of precursor DPB) it (Language DPB) differenciates the differences between the different things spoken of, relating these immediately to one another in series which it causes to resonate’ {p 121}. DPB this reminds me of the propensity of a system to define its cosmology and he topology of its space from within through internal resonances, and the explanation here is that this occurs through the differences of differences within series, in this case in different series of language as it is used. ‘What takes place in the system between resonating series under the influence of the dark precursor is called ‘epiphany’’ {p 121}. ‘The trinity complication-explication-implication accounts for the totality of the system – in other words, the chaos which contains all, the divergent series which lead out and back in, and the differenciator which relates them one to another. Each series explicates or develops itself, but in its difference from the other series, which it implicates and which implicate it, which it envelops and which envelop it; in this chaos which complicates everything. The totality of the system, the unity of the divergent series as such, correspnds to the objectivity of a ‘problem’’ {pp. 123-4 emphasis of the author, emphasis in bold of DPB}. DPB This is an explanation of my concept of the monads and perhaps even the nomad reality of Weaver (are we getting there). ‘The essential point is the simultaneity and contemporaneity of all the divergent series, the fact that all coexist. From the point of view of the presents which pass in representation, the series are certainly successive, one ‘before’ and the other ‘after’. It is from this point of view that the second is said to resemble the first. However, this no longer applies from the point of view of the chaos which contains them, ..’ {p 124 emphasis of the author}. When two series coexist they unfold simultaneously and they are equal, then the differences between the two are equal. However small the differences are the one is not a model for the other the other not a copy of the one. Resemblance and identity are functional effects of that difference which is originary with the system. The systems coexist independent of any resemblance. ‘It is under this aspect, without doubt, that the eternal return is revealed as the groundless ‘law’ of this system. The eternal return does not cause the same and the similar to return, but is itself derived from a world of pure difference. .. The eternal return has no other sense but this: the absence of any assignable origin – in other words, the assignation of difference as the origin, which then relates different to different in order to make it (or them) return as such’ {p 124}. ‘Repetition is no more the permanence of the One, than the resemblance of the many. The subject of the eternal return is not the same but the different, not the similar but the dissimilar, not the one but the many, not necessity but chance’ {p 126 emphasis in bold of DPB}. The same and the similar are effects of the operations of the eternal return.

Chapter III The Image of thought

GD to philosophize involves to refer all presuppositions to the empirical self. And in that sense it is both objective and subjective, to start with what everyone knows, pre-conceptually and pre-philosophically. ‘The philosopher takes the side of the idiot, as though of a man without presuppositions’ {p 130 emphasis of DPB}. DPB Important, mention in the introduction: This is applicable also to my approach of economic thinking. No presupposed ideas should be required to explain why and how firms exist. My explanation, namely my theory should be explained in terms of the empirical self of the envisioned audience. ‘Many people have an interest in saying that everybody knows ‘this’, that everybody recognizes this, or that nobody can deny it. (They triumph easily so long as no surly interlocutor appears to reply that he does not wish to be so represented, and that he denies or does not recognize those who speak in his name.)’ {p 131}.

GD Conceptual philosophical thought presupposes a pre-philosophical and natural image of thought borrowed from common sense. According to this image thought has an affinity with the true. In terms of it, everyone is supposed to know what it means to think. This image prejudges everything. But it is not a natural given: ‘’Everybody’ knows very well that in fact men think rarely, and more often under the impulse of a shock than in the excitement of a taste for thinking’ {p 132}. DPB Nice for the introduction. Also interesting that this is the only condition from which to develop this philosophy: to appeal to a general lack of something! But they claim a lack of every other element of cognition, namely hearing, memory &c. but never a lack of capabilities to think. Something is recognized ’when all the faculties (perceiving, memory, imagination, understanding DPB) together relate their given and relate themselves to a form of identity in the object’ {p 133}. DPB How can this image of thought be overturned as a pure act of recognition? Importantly: the faculties are a kind of an overlay over themselves and they have a connection between themselves, but they are not a kind of a Cartesian function as such. ‘Such is the world of representation in general. We said above that representation was defined by certain elements: identity with regard to concepts, opposition with regard to the determination of concepts, analogy with regard to judgment, resemblance with regard to objects’ {p 137 emphasis of the author}.

Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. .. In whichever tone, its primary characteristic is that it can only be sensed. In this sense it is opposed to recognition. In recognition, the sensible is not at all that which can only be sensed, but that which bears directly upon the senses in an object which can be recalled, imagined or conceived’ {p 139 emphasis of DPB}. GD The sensible can be attained via the senses, or not through the senses, but through other faculties. The sensible presupposes the use of the senses and the exercise of the other faculties in a common sense. ‘The object of encounter, on the other hand, really gives rise to sensibility with regard to a given sense’ {p 139}. DPB Important: thinking is induced in an encounter by something that can be sensed. It is opposed to recognition whereby the induction takes place by a sensibility which bears upon the senses through recalling, imagination or conception. ‘Our concern here is not to establish such a doctrine of the faculties. We seek only to determine the nature of its requirements. In this regard, the Platonic determinations cannot be satisfactory. For it is not figures already mediated and related to representation that are capable of carrying the faculties to their respective limits but, on the contrary, free or untamed states of difference in itself; not qualitative opposition within the sensible, but an element which is in itself difference, and creates at once both the quality in the sensible and the transcendent exercise within sensibility. This element is intensity, understood as pure difference in itself, as that which is at once both imperceptible for empirical sensibility which grasps intensity only already covered or mediated by the quality to it gives rise, and at the same time that which can be perceived only from the point of view of a transcendental sensibility which apprehends it immediately in the encounter’ {p 144 emphasis in bold of DPB}. DPB this grasps the essence of the difference between the ‘states of difference in itself’ and ‘instances of difference related to representation’ in the sense that they are perceived through the senses.

GD There is something which is communicated between the faculties. But it is metamorphosed and does not form a common sense. There are in this sense Ideas which traverse all the faculties but which are the object of none in particular. ‘Perhaps, in effect, as we shall see, it will be necessary to reserve the name of Ideas not for pure cogitanda but rather for those instances which go from sensibility to thought and from thought to sensibility, capable of engendering in each case, according to their own order, the limit- or transcendent-object of each faculty.. Ideas are problems, but problems only furnish the conditions under which the faculties attain their superior exercise. Considered in this light, Ideas, far from having as their milieu a good sense or a common sense, refer to a para-sense which determines only the communication between disjointed faculties’ {p 146 emphasis of the author}. DPB Important. Where does an Idea exist. Like the meme it exists in the ‘space’ between having been perceived and having been expressed. GD inserts thinking.

Chapter IV Ideas and the Synthesis of Difference

Ideas are problematic. Problems are Ideas. DPB Answers to questions are ideas. ‘Ideas have legitimate uses only in relation to concepts of the understanding; but conversely, the concepts of the understanding find the ground of their (maximum) full experimental use only in the degree to which they are related to problematic Ideas: either by being arranged upon lines which converge upon an ideal focus which lies outside the bounds of experience, or by being conceived on the basis of a common horizon which embraces them all. Such focal points or horizons are Ideas – in other words, problems as such – whose nature is at once both immanent and transcendent’ {pp. 168-9 emphasis in bold of DPB}. DPB if something is immanent (transfer to a next state originates in them) and transcendent (they are superior to the transfer such enabling a focus). I am looking for this relation between ideas and memes. If Ideas are memes, then memes are both immanent (inducing the next state) and transcendent (allowing a focus): change originates from them (possible) and they are above change (possible). GD An object outside experience is represented in a problematic form: problems are the real objects of Ideas. DPB if an idea is an answer to a problem (represented with a question), then an Idea is all the possible answers to that problem. There is one problem and all these answers have it as their object. ‘The object of an Idea, Kant reminds us, is neither fiction nor hypothesis nor object of reason: it is an object which can be neither given nor known, but must be represented without being able to be directly determined. Kant likes to say that problematic Ideas are both objective and undetermined’ {p 169}. DPB but what is the substance of an Idea? How can a river have an Idea and social system have an Idea too? But then again, what is the difference between them in principle? Maybe there is a misunderstanding in regard the use of the word idea, because if an idea is an instance of a meme, then what is the relation between an idea as it is used here and the idea in that former sense?

The undetermined is positive and it acts like a focus or a horizon within perception. ‘In effect, the undetermined object, or object as it exists in the Idea, allows us to represent other objects (those of experience) which it endows with a maximum of systematic unity’ {p 169 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This explains how the suspected object of the Idea is also suspected to be / become an object of experience. Now it is possible that something from experience is recognized as an object of an Idea such that it is likened to a unity. ‘In this manner, however, the undetermined is only the first objective moment of the Idea. For on the other hand, the object of the Idea becomes indirectly determined: it is determined by analogy with those objects of experience upon which it confers unity, but which in return offer it a determination ‘analogous’ to the relations it entertains with them. Finally, the object of the Idea carries with it the ideal of a complete and infinite determination, since it ensures a specification of the concepts of the understanding, by means of which the latter comprise more and more differences on the basis of a properly infinite field of continuity’ {p 169 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This is akin to my encounter and the Luhmann event where the mind meets the meme through the experiences which I have coined realizations, namely the expressions and perceptions during the encounter (Luhmann event). Now the Idea (or its object) is likened to the experience at some level of detail. Both as a consequence are affected by / in the event. The quote also describes how this takes place: as a pursuit of a complete determination of the understanding for reasons of the infinity of the continuity (the understanding is expanded through the realization that there are ever more more differences). ‘Ideas, therefore, present three moments: undetermined with regard to their object, determinable with regard to the objects of their experience, and bearing the ideal of an infinite determination with regards to concepts of the understanding’ {p 169 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This resonates with me because of the process of the hands clapping where the mind is influenced by the encounters with memes. But in addition this describes how the pump works: why do they ‘want to’ enter encounters time and again. GD likens the Idea to dx. DPB my understanding is that many dx make up an x and therefore it is x which should be likened to the Idea. But dx only is something in relation to x and when related they add up to zero. I am not clear about this. ‘Ideas are concrete universals in which extension and comprehension go together – not only because they included variety or multiplicity in themselves, but because they include singularity in all its varieties. They subsume the distribution of distinctive or singular points; their distinctive character – in other words, the distinctiveness of Ideas – consists precisely in the distribution of the ordinary and the distinctive, the singular and the regular, and in the extension of the singular across regular points into the vicinity of another singularity. There is no abstract universal beyond the individual or beyond the particular and the general; it is singularity in itself which is ‘pre-individual’ {p 176 emphasis of DPB}. DPB The first sentence refers to both the meme and the mind. Or rather it refers to the encounter, where the extension and the comprehension are shaped. The Ideas include singularity in all its varieties. Singularities stretch up to the vicinity of the next one. There is no abstract of them but it is the singularity itself that is pre-individual.

The central question here is whether infinite is real of fictive. ‘That is why the metaphysical question was announced from the outset: why is it that, from a technical point of view, the differentials are negligible and must disappear in the result? It is obvious that to invoke here the infinitely small, and the infinitely small magnitude of the error (if there is ‘error’), is completely lacking in sense and prejudges infinite representation’ {p 177 emphasis of DPB}. DPB I believe this is what chaos theory has taught us (or what it has confirmed) and also it is confirmed by Wolfram: that the differentials or any numbers assigned to real things) are irrelevant for the processes. It is a mere ranking for human consumption. To treat the differentials in calculus as they are treated is required to enable the identification of optima, not because they are pertinent to the system under review (DPB my words, this is a common mistake in economics also). ‘In short, the complete determination of a problem is inseparable from the existence, the number and the distribution of the determinant points which precisely provide its conditions (one singular point gives rise to two condition equations). However, it then becomes more and more difficult to speak of error or the compensation of errors. .. They (the condition equations DPB) are constitutive of the problem and of its synthesis’ {p 177 emphasis of the author}. DPB This reminds me of the meme and the realization as an Idea in an actual (the ensemble of the problem and its conditions). The point is that there is no such thing as a thing and therefore not a variation from its ideal and therefore not an error. ‘However, the problematic element, with its extra-propositional character, does not fall within representation. Neither particular nor general, neither finite nor infinite, it is the object of the Idea as a universal. This differential element is the play of difference as such, which can neither be mediated by representation nor subordinated to the identity of the concept’ {p 178}. DPB Re problematic: see the first sentence of the summary of this chapter. Three aspects of a problem are: 1) it is different in kind from a solution 2) it is transcendant in relation to the solutions it engenders (find the problem which belongs to these questions is akin to a problem of mathematical integration) and 3) it is immanent in the solutions which cover it. Every problem is dialectical (there are no non-dialectical problems, by positing the question a distinction is automatically made) and every solution is mathematical (or economic, &c): ‘Problems are always dialectical: the dialectic has no other sense, nor do problems have another sense’ {p 179 emphasis of the author}. The discipline does provide solutions to problems but also ‘.. the expressions of the problems relative to the field of solvability which they define’ {p 179}. DPB Why would this possibly be important? I reckon it is because of the way that firms develop solutions to the problems with which they find themselves confronted. They are in fact solution machines for the problems assigned to them. DPB Possibly important as a matter of introduction to the final chapters where distinctions are discussed.

Ideas are multiplicities: every idea is a multiplicity or a variety. In this Riemannian usage of the word ‘multiplicity’ (taken up by Husserl, and again by Bergson, the utmost importance must be attached to the substantive form: multplicity must not designate a combination of the many and the one, but rather an organisation belonging to the many as such, which has no need whatsoever of unity in order to form a system’ {p 182}. DPB see explanation from Wikipedia: The philosopher Jonathan Roffe describes Deleuze’s concept of Multiplicity as follows: “A multiplicity is, in the most basic sense, a complex structure that does not reference a prior unity. Multiplicities are not parts of a greater whole that have been fragmented, and they cannot be considered manifold expressions of a single concept or transcendent unity. On these grounds, Deleuze opposes the dyad One/Many, in all of its forms, with multiplicity. Further, he insists that the crucial point is to consider multiplicity in its substantive form – a multiplicity – rather than as an adjective – as multiplicity of something. Everything for Deleuze is a multiplicity in this fashion.”Deleuze argues in his commentary Bergsonism (1966) that the notion of multiplicity forms a central part of Bergson’s critique of philosophical negativity and the dialectical method. The theory of multiplicities, he explains, must be distinguished from traditional philosophical problems of “the One and the Multiple.”{4} By opposing “the One and the Multiple,” dialectical philosophy claims “to reconstruct the real,” but this claim is false, Bergson argues, since it “involves abstract concepts that are much too general.”{5}

Instead of referring to “the Multiple in general”, Bergson’s theory of multiplicities distinguishes between two types of multiplicity: continuous multiplicities and discrete multiplicities (a distinction that he developed from Riemann).{6} The features of this distinction may be tabulated as follows:

Continuous multiplicities Discrete multiplicities
differences in kind differences in degree
divides only by changing in kind divides without changing in kind
non-numerical – qualitative numerical – quantitative
differences are virtual differences are actual
continuous discontinuous
qualitative discrimination quantitative differentiation
succession simultaneity
fusion juxtaposition
organization order
subjective – subject objective – object
duration space

Wikipedia June 2019

So in other words a multiplicity is a multitude with a measure of organization (coherence) but without an identity. But that is also how I have used it, namely to explain what takes place in a multitude of ideas when there is not yet an autopoietic system in place. ‘’Multiplicity’, which replaced the one no less than the multiple, is the true substantive, substance itself. The variable multiplicity is the how many, the how and each of the cases. Everything is a multiplicity in so far as it incarnates an Idea. .. Instead of the enormous opposition between the one and the many, there is only the variety of multiplicity – in other words, difference’ {p 182 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This means that every system is one on the condition that it can do something. I have to amend this in the text, that an autopoietic system is a multiplicity too, but one of a kind. As per the autopoiesis it has an additional design condition. ‘An Idea is an n-dimensional, continuous, defined multiplicity.Colour – or rather, the Idea of colour – is a three-dimensional multiplicity. By dimensions we mean the variables or co-ordinates upon which a phenomenon depends; by continuity, we mean the set of relations between changes in these variables – for example, a quadratic form of he differentials of the co-ordinates; by definition we mean the elements reciprocally determined by these relations, elements which cannot change unless the multiplicity changes its order and its metric’ {p 182 emphasis of DPB}. DPB I have written how I understand dimensions: I remember that it is something like this: what is comparable between the properties of different elements or components. I do not agree with the continuous in a mathematical sense, because I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a continuous form. GD The conditions for the emergence of an Idea are: 1) the elements of the multiplicity must have neither sensible form nor conceptual signification, nor, therefore, any assignable function 2) The elements must be determined reciprocally namely by reciprocal relations that alllow no independence to exist and 3) a differential relation must be actualized in diverse spatio-temporal relationships at the same time. ‘The Idea is thus defined as a structure. A structure or an Idea is a ‘complex theme’, an internal multiplicity – in other words, a system of multiple, non-localisable connections between differential elements which is incarnated in real relations and actual terms. In this sense, we see no difficulty in reconciling genesis and structure’ {p 183 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This is very important, because this is at the heart of the emergence of a firm as a firm. This is called structuralism. The text goes on as follows: It is sufficient to understand that the genesis takes place in time not between one actual term, however small, and another actual term, but between the virtual and its actualization – in other words, it goes from the structure to its incarnation, from the conditions of a problem to the cases of solution, from the differential elements and their ideal connections to actual terms and diverse real relations which constitute at each moment the actuality of time’ {p 183 emphasis of DPB}. DPB Important! This is a description of how I understand individuation. This genesis is static, it is passive synthesis.

First example:-

Second example: the organism as biological Idea. ‘Nevertheless, chromosomes appear as loci; in other words, not simple as places in space but as complexes of relations of proximity; genes express differential elements which also characterise an organism in a global manner, and play the role of distinctive points in a double process of reciprocal and complete determination; the double aspect of genes involves commanding several characteristics at once, and acting only in relation to other genes; the whole constitutes a virtuality, a potentiality; and this structure is incarnated in actual organisms, as much from the point of view of the determination of their species as from that of the differenciation of their parts, according to comparative speeds or slowness which measure the movement of actualisation’ {p 185 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This words well how an organism is an instance, an example of an organism, which occupies a part, a compartment in the space of all possible solutions, a station at the pivot of an out of equilibrium network. That particular solution that has become that organism, which tensions the space of its compartment (can we say its niche?) and in doing so it tensions the space of all possible solutions in regards organisms. But as yet it is unclear which instances of particular species are to be expected, and how many are at all possible. And in particular that is unknown, because the sequence determines what can come after. Each of the strands that have become a particular organism is sensitively dependent on (initial or at least external) conditions, and as a consequence when something changes somewhere then a species that could have followed the one just gone extinct will now never be possible and a range of new organisms (designs) has become possible with the extinction of that one. In this same sense, and somewhat confusingly, the meme is an Idea also. It is a bit confusing because it involved ideas in a more literal sense, while in the above example it is the Idea of a physical solution.

Third example: Are there social Ideas, in a Marxist sense? ‘The social Idea is the element of quantitability, qualitability and potentiality of societies. It expresses a system of multiple ideal connections, or differential relations between differential elements: these include relations of production and property relations which are established not between concrete individuals but between atomic bearers of labour-power or representatives of property. The economic instance is constituted by such a social multiplicity – in other words, by the varieties of these differential relations’ {p 186}. DPB This quote GD suggests to tension the economic sphere as per the dimensions of a number of parameters assigned to the ‘bearers of..’ as their incarnation. This is very interesting, because GD sees people ‘as a species’ as the composing elements. They contribute to the economic system as per their neutral contribution and that determines those dimensions. The number of dimensions is small and limited. The ideas are considered to be separated from the individual people bearing them. The identity of the people is not considered to be relevant (atomic bearers). ‘In short, the economic is the social dialectic itself – in other words, the totality of the problems posed to a given society, or the synthetic and problematising field of that society. In all rigour, there are only economic social problems, even though the solutions may be juridical, political or ideological, and the problems may be expressed in these fields of resolvability’ {p 186}. DPB Important (though doubtfully quotable) and indirect. The point is that the economic system is seen as a social dialectic. I wonder if this means a system as such, because the final sentence mentions resolvability. And so is it a dialectic system resolving problems?

Ideas are complexes of coexistence. In a certain sense all Ideas coexist, but they do so at points, on the edges, and under glimmerings which never have the uniformity of a natural light. On each occasion, obscurities and zones of shadow correspond to their distinction. Ideas are distinguished from one another, but not all in the same manner as forms and the terms in which these are incarnated. They are objectively made and unmade according to the conditions which determine their fluent synthesis. This is because they combine the greatest power of being differentiated with an inability to be differenciated. Ideas are varieties which include in themselves sub-varieties’ {pp. 186-7 emphasis of the author}. DPB Important The concept of an Idea is not (or not only) the same as the concept of an idea as it is used everyday. It can be anything including any process. But it seems that the concept points at the ‘mechanics’ of these things and processes, not their representation. They are ‘complexes of coexistence’ which means that they start where another begins. I guess this takes a while, and on some occasions it never happens and there is always a fibrillation. Anyhow, the locus where one begns and the other ends s at the point where attractions and repulsions take their influence. And also that they develop in the context of others. But that does not mean the same as the taking effect of their forms, I take it that this means their behavior. They have no overlappings, but they touch where they have, or seems to have (it is not clear), common points. They are distinct but not in the same way as they are said to be distinct, namely in a linguistic sense. They are made to what they are (if they are) by the conditions they pose to one another. They tension the space they occupy and in that sense they differentiate, but they do not differenciate, namely make new differences, become by themselves different. This bit is difficult to understand, unless it is taken into account that they require an observer to differenciate (them). Can it be that such newness is in the eye of the observer and it did not pre-exist because the observer was not present? Consider the example of the liver fluke: from the perspectves of the individual hsts it is less strange that this contraption comes together than it is for the (human) observer to whom this solution appears to be a very unlikely coincidence. Ideas are an sich varieties which have in them sub-varieties (is this the same as to say that they have sub-Ideas in them?). That implies that Ideas are not just memes but that they are memeplexes too. The answer may be here, important: ’We can distinguish three dimensions of variety. In the first, vertical dimension we can distinguish ordinal varieties according to the nature of the elements and the differential relations: for example, mathematical, mathematico-physical, chemical, biological, sociological and linguistic Ideas.. … Each level implies differentials of a different dialectical ‘order’, but the elements of one order can pass over into those of another under new relations, either by being dissolved in the larger superior order or by being reflected in the inferior order. In the second, horizontal dimension we can distinguish characteristic varieties corresponding to the degrees of a differential relation within a given order, and to the distribution of singular points for each degree (such as the equation for conic sections, which gives according to the case an ellipse, a hyperbola, a parabola or a straight line; or the varieties of animal ordered from the point of view of unity of composition; or the varieties of language ordered from the point of view of their phonological system). Finally, in depth we can distinguish axiomatic varieties which determine a common axiom for differential relations of a different order, on condition that this axiom itself coincides with a third-order differential relation (for example, the addition of real numbers and the composition of displacements; or, in an altogether different domain, the weaving speech practiced by the Griaule Dogons). Ideas and the distinctions between Ideas are inseparable from their types of varieties, and from the manner in which each type enters into the others. We propose the term ‘perplication to designate this distinctive and coexistent state of Ideas’ {p 187 emphasis of the author, emphais in bold of DPB}. DPB There are three kinds of varieties: vertical, horizontal and in depth, which are always there and their particular combination is inseparable from the Idea and its distinctions. This means that there is no inherent difference between memes and memeplexes, but their elements can pass over between orders (I guess of observation), such as memes passing over from one social system, say efficiency objectives from business economics to another, say efficient spending of tax money as an agenda item in politics, and they are characterized by their differential relations within an order, meaning that they have a different relation between them and that I have tried to solve using the concept of connotations. The third one I find difficult to understand: a common axiom in vigor on different orders: that means that there are common properties on different order, but that is the same as to say that an organism has the same properties as the molecule. ‘Ideas are by no means essences. In so far as they are the object of Ideas, problems belong on the side of events, affections, or accidents rather than on that of theorematic essences. Ideas are developed in the auxiliaries and the adjunct fields by which their synthetic power is measured. Consequently, the domain of Ideas is that of the inessential’ {p 187 emphasis of DPB}. DPB Their variety can change and therefore they are not essential and therefore they are inessential, a mobile scatter of Ideas with varying relations between them and between orders and axioms. Important: but isn’t the axiom determined by the observer and is this therefore not the crux of the fact that the Idea is subject to the focus of the observer? ‘In this sense, it is correct to represent a double series of events which develop on two planes, echoing without resembling each other: real events on the level of the engendered solutions, and ideal events embedded in the conditions of the problem, like the acts – or, rather, the dreams – of the gods who double our history. The ideal series enjoys the the double property of transcendence and immanence in relation to the real’ {pp.188-9 emhasis of DPB}. DPB These are like my two planes of development: one of the realization of memes and one of the development of memes themselves. The realization is the real and the memes are the virtual (GD calls it ideal, but what he means is all the real potential in the virtual). The final sentence is about their relation: the ideal is transcendent in the sense that it is everything that the system could possibly be (but never is, because it is not as such and because it changes all the time) and it is is immanent to the real because it is the fountain of possibilities for it: some of the possibilities are selected and most are not. ‘For this reason, the procedure capable of following and describing multiplicities and themes, the procedure of vice-diction, is more important than that of contradiction, which purports to determine essences and preserve their simplicity. It will be said that the essence is by nature the most ‘important’ thing. This, however, is precisely what is at issue: whether the notions of importance and non-importance are not precisely notions which concern events or accidents, and are much more ‘important’ within accidents than the crude opposition between essence and accident itself. The problem of thought is tied not to essences but to the evaluation of what is important and what not, to the distribution of singular and regular, distinctive and ordinary points, which takes place entirely within the inessential or within the description of a multiplicity, in relation to the ideal events which constitute the conditions of a ‘problem’. To have an Idea means no more than this, and erroneousness or stupidity is defined above all by its perpetual confusion with regard to the important and the unimportant, the ordinary and the singular’ {pp. 189-90 emphasis of the author, emphasis in bold of DPB}. DPB There is no ‘important’ thing. Nothing is important. It is just Ideas developing themselves in the intermediacy of the real. It is, however, and important issue for those who want to stay alive: now they must make sense of what might be dangerous to them and express themselves accordingly in order to protect themselves. ‘Vice-diction has two procedures which intervene both in the determination of the conditions of the problem and in the correlative genesis of cases of solution: these are, in the first case, the specification of adjunct fields and, in the second, the condensation of singularities’ {p 190 emphasis of the author}. 1) identification of the conditions through the identification fragments of ideal past or future events which render the problem solvable and 2) establish the modality by which they are connected to the initial field.

There is no more opposition between event and structure or sense and structure than there is between structure and genesis. Structures include as many ideal events as they do varieties of relations and singular points, which intersect with the real events they determine. Those systems of differential elements and relations which we call structures are also senses from a genetic point of view, with regard to the actual terms and relations in which they are incarnated. The true opposition lies somewhere else: between Idea (structure-event-sense) and representation. With representation, concepts are like possibilities, but the subject of representation still determines the object as really conforming to the object, as an essence’ {p 191}. DPB I have quoted this for the potential relevance of the definition of the term structure and how it relates to representation. It resonates with me because of the promise I made to deliver an explicit model of the firm. GD Representation is knowledge realized through recognition by the one who thinks. ‘The virtuality of the Idea has nothing to do with possibility. Multiplicity tolerates no dependence on the identical in the subject or in the object. The events and singularities of the Idea do not allow any positing of an essence as ‘what the thing is’’ {p 191}. DPB Important I find the first sentence disconcerting because I have used it in the text as precisely that: all that it could possibly be. But I believe the term possibility is used in a different (and possibly the correct) way here: it means that a multiplicity is any one/many that shows some kind of behavior and it should not depend on either the object nor the subject to identify the identical in the other. Instead there is some recognition of the one in the other based on what they both can do, not what either ‘is’. In other words the possibility should not be used in a statistical sense, namely one of the options known prior to the experiment. The final outcome is open ended and the real cannot be known in advance, while yet it is immanent in the ideal, given a particular environment.

What is the difference between a problem and a question? ‘ .. questions express the relation between problems and the imperatives from which they proceed’ {p 197 emphasis of the author}. DPB Of all the possible influences, the imperatives are the ones that drive the behavior that has attracted the focus of the observer. This is the formulation of the problem in general and the expression of that problem in terms of the motivators in the focus of the observer is the question (is this the case?). Kant. … He defined an imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. ‘It is rather a question of the throw of the dice, of the whole sky as open space and of throwing as the only rule. The singular points are on the die; the questions are the dice themselves; the imperative is to throw. Ideas are the problematic combinations which result from the throws’ {p 198}. DPB Important the final sentence suggests that the Idea is the total of the outcomes based on that particular arrangement. Not all the possible outcomes (as I suggest in my text), but the ones that have actually come out. No, it can also mean the ones that have come out plus the ones that will come out in the future. That implies all the possible outcomes, many of which will not in actuality take place. But is this the same as to say all the possible? ‘.. ;each throw of the dice affirms the whole of chance each time. The repetition of throws is not subject to the persistence of the same hypothesis, nor to the identity of a constant rule. The most difficult thing is to make chance an object of affirmation, but it is the sense of the imperative and the questions that it launches. .. Chance is arbitrary only in so far as it is not affirmed or not sufficiently affirmed, in so far as it is distributed within a space, a number and under rules destined to avert it’ {p 198 emphasis of the author}. DPB I am trying to get a fix on the Idea. ‘What does it mean, therefore, to affirm the whole of chance, every time, in a single time? This affirmation takes place to the degree that the disparates which emanate from a throw begin to resonate, thereby forming a problem. The whole of chance is then indeed in each throw, even though this be partial, and it is there in a single time even though the combination produced is the object of a progressive determination. The throw of the dice carries out the calculation of problems’ {p 198}. DPB Important here is the connection between the source of repetition and the difference, as per the Idea, namely the Difference, is conceived in every event of the throwing of a die. This is how the circular relation is made between the imperatives and the problems which follow from them: ‘Resonance constitutes the truth of a problem as such, in which the imperative is tested, even though the problem itself is born of the imperative. Once chance is affirmed, all arbitrariness is abolished every time’ {p 198}. DPB important perhaps also, it seems, because of the role of resonance. And then a further conditioning vis a vis thought: ‘Consequently, far from being the properties or attributes of a thinking substance, the Ideas which derive from imperatives enter and leave only by that fracture in the I, which means that another always thinks in me, another who must also be thought. Theft is primary in thought’ {pp. 199-200}. Every thing has its beginning in a question, but the question itself cannot be said to begin. Might the question, along with the imperative which it expresses, have no other origin than repetition?’ {p 200}.There are, nevertheless several throws of the dice: the throw of the dice is repeated. Each, however, takes the chance all at once, and instead of having the different, or different combinations, result from the Same, has the same, or the repetition, result from the Different. In this sense, the repetition which is consubstantial with the question is at the source of the ‘perplication’ of Ideas. The differential of the Idea is itself inseparable from the process of repetition which defined the throw of the dice’ {pp. 200-1}.

Ideas contain all the varieties of differential relations and all the distributions of singular points coexisting in diverse orders ‘perplicated’ in one another. When the virtual content of an Idea is actualised, the varieties of relation are incarnated in distinct species while the singular points which correspond to the values of one variety are incarnated in the distinct parts characteristic of this or that species’ {p 206}. DPB Important! From this description I understand that the Idea is all that an arrangement of something can be. The examples are: the Idea of color is like white light that contains all the possible colors, white noise that contains all possible sounds, white language, white society. This is much like my understanding of a meme. ‘Thus, with actualisation, a new type of specific and partitive distinction takes the place of the fluent ideal distinctions. We call the determination of the virtual content of an Idea differentiation; we call the actualisation of that virtuality into species and distinguished parts differenciation. It is always in relation to a differentiated problem or to the differentiated conditions of a problem that a differenciation of species and parts is carried out, as though it corresponded to the cases of solution of the problem. It is always a problematic field which conditions a differenciation within the milieu in which it is carnated’ {pp. 206-7 emphasis of DPB}. DPB Very important! This is how GD explains the relation between the Idea and its actualisation, namely the meme and its realization. The determination is the T and the actualisation is the C. The problem is first Td before it can be Cd. The C is conditioned by a problematic field in the milieu of its carnation. GD there is no negation: first there is a process of determination of the elements and their relations, pure positive, then there is a process of affirmation also pure positive. DPB This resonates with me, because the conditioning is a positive process, where some elements and their relations (differences between multiple differentiated processes) are conditioned through restrictions, but these restrictions are attractions and repulsions and therefore positive. Hence there is no negation. GD negation only exists in the representation, the primary is always with difference and differenciation. {cf 207}.

GD Using the concept of the virtual avoided to enter in a vagueness of a notion closer to the undetermined than the determined. DPB The use of the concept of the virtual enables us to deal with things that are not fully determined. Why are they not fully determined? Because nothing ever is, and it cannot be because it nothing is essential. Therefore there is always something of the environment in the observed thing. ‘The virtual is not opposed to the real but to the actual. The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual. .. Indeed, the virtual must be defined as strictly a part of the real object – as though the object had one part of itself in the virtual into which it plunged as though into an objective dimension’ {pp. 208-9 emphasis of the author}. DPB This explains how the virtual is not a statistical space, but instead all the outcomes are possible. ‘The reality of the virtual consists of the differential elements and relations along with the singular points which correspond to them. ‘The reality of the virtual is structure. We must avoid giving the elements and relations which form a structure an actuality which they do not have, and withdrawing from them a reality which they have. We have seen that a double process of reciprocal determination and complete determination defined that reality: far from being undetermined, the virtual is completely determined’ {p 209}. DPB the virtual offers a determined state, then the actual conditions that to render one of them real. But the statement above explains that the elements and relations are not actual but real. Is this what Marta said that I mistook? The actual is determined only by outside factors. So the virtual is in the structure of the system, the outside conditions to affirm it such that they become real. ‘Whereas differentiation determines the virtual content of the Idea as problem, differenciation expresses the actualisation of this virtual and the constitution of solutions (by logical integrations)’ {p 209 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This explains the workings of the virtual and the actual through processes of differentiation and differenciation. This is the pump. ‘For the nature of the virtual is such that, for it, to be actualised is to be differenciated. Each differenciation is a local integration or a local solution which then connects with others in the overall solution or the global integration. This is how, in the case of the organic, the process of actualisation appears simultaneously as the local differenciation of parts, the global formation of an internal milieu, and the solution of a problem posed within the field of constitution of an organism. An organism is nothing if not the solution to a problem, as are each of its differenciated organs, such as the eye which solves a light ‘problem’; but nothing within the organism, no organ, would be differenciated without the internal milieu endowed with a general effectivity or integrating power of regulation’ {p 211 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This is very important. This quote explains how local integration and global solution go hand in hand in an internal milieu. It resonates with me because of the notion of nesting. In this case various nested systems can coexist and become integrated and further differenciate in the context of one another. They are each others’ environments (milieux). In fact the quote says that development of differences – or becoming of differences (differenciation) – takes place in the fringes of the virtual and the actual of each of those integrated systems which is affected by a change to them.

The only danger in all this is that the virtual could be confused with the possible. The possible is opposed to the real; the process undergone by the possible is therefore a ‘realization’. By contrast, the virtual is not opposed to the real; it possesses a full reality by itself. The process it undergoes is that of actualisation’ {p 211 emphasis DPB}. DPB Very important This is a possible mistake in my thesis compared to how it is explained here. Because I have used the virtual as all the possible outcomes and it is the opposition of the all the actuals. This problem is more urgent because I have called this process realization. Which following this GD statement (warning) is wrong. The process described here is different: the virtual generates and offers possible outcomes, all of them real, and not restricted in themselves (I understand that). The former actual (which can only be particulars of the environment of the thing in focus) then restricts it to the real that it becomes/will become. It was a field of real and it will remain real. This is the same as the a variable of Ashby which regulates the workings of the system, which can only be external to the system in focus, it is the definition of Ashby’s machine. It is the production of existence, it is where the space of the system is tensioned up through actualisation: The virtual, by contrast, is the characteristic state of Ideas: it is on the basis of its reality that existence is produced, in accordance with a time and a space immanent in the Idea. Secondly, the possible and the virtual are further distinguished by the fact that one refers to the form of identity in the concept, whereas the other designates a pure multiplicity in the Idea which radically excludes the identical as a prior condition. Finally, to the extent that the possible is open to ‘realisation’, it is understood as an image of the real, while the real is supposed to resemble the possible. That is why it is difficult to understand what existence adds to the concept when all it does is double like with like (DPB When is intended as the suggestion what if). Such is the defect of the possible: a defect which serves to condemn it as produced after the fact, as retroactively fabricated in the image of what resembles it’ {pp. 211-2 emphasis of DPB}. DPB Important This is the solution to that misunderstanding: the possible is known afterwards only when one can do the statistics and determine what was possible before the dice were thrown such that the outcome was to become clear and the calculation was to be done. ‘Actual terms never resemble the singularities they incarnate. In this sense, actualisation or differenciation is always a genuine creation’ {p 212}. DPB This is the formula.

How does actualisation occur in things themselves? Why is differenciation at once both composition and determination of qualities, organisation and determination of species?’ {p 214}. ‘The entire world is an egg. The double differenciation of species and parts always presupposes spatio-temporal dynamisms. Take a division into 24 cellular elements endowed with similar characteristics: nothing yet tells us the dynamic process by which it was obtained – 2 x 12, (2 x 2) + (2 x 10), or (2 x 4) + (2 x 8)…? .. Thus, in the case of fishing: entrap the prey or strike it, strike it from top to bottom or from bottom to top. It is the dynamic processes which determine the actualisation of Ideas’ {p 216}. DPB This is an interesting / useful illustration. ‘The world is an egg, but the egg itself is a theatre: a staged theatre in which the roles dominate the actors, the spaces dominate the roles, and the Ideas dominate the spaces. Furthermore, by virtue of the complexity of Ideas and their relations with other Ideas, the spatial dramatisation is played out on several levels: in the constitution of an internal space, but also in the manner in which that space extends into the external extensity, occupying a region of it’ {p 216 emphasis of DPB}. DPB This is my monadic concept where everything depends on everything else in the milieu. What resonates also is, again, the integration of systems into one another, whereby each tensions up its own space and at once the space that the whole integrated thing takes up. ‘Everything is even more complicated when we consider that the internal space is itself made up of multiple spaces which must be locally integrated and connected, and that this connection, which may be achieved in many ways, pushes the object or living being to its own limits, all in contact with the exterior; and that this relation with the exterior, and with other things and living beings, implies in turn connections and global integrations which differ in kind from the preceding. Everywhere a staging at several levels’ {p 217 emphasis of DPB}. DPB the monad in the nomad. GD says that the wider spheres gather time for the components to tension their space before time arrives at their sphere. In this way a connection is established between the wider spheres and the narrower ones because now the wider sphere differenciates because of the changes in the narrower one, and changes its space, whereby also the narrower sphere must change.

Chapter V Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible

The world ‘happens’ while God calculates; if the calculation were exact, there would be no world. The world can be regarded as a ‘remainder’, and the real in the world in terms of fractional or even incommensurable numbers. Every phenomenon refers to an inequality by which it is conditioned. Every diversity and every change refers to a difference which is its sufficient reason’ {p 222}. DPB This first statement resembles determinism but for a lack of exact calculations. But I don’t believe I believe this, because God’s calculations are precise. They couldn’t be more precise in fact. It is not imprecision that generates a world, and that renders the world a remainder. Lest the remark were intended differently, namely that there is no room for egalization and that new differences are generates time and again and that that is the source for difference and new difference. And in turn that that these new differences are the source for the existence of the world.

Every phenomenon flashes in a signal-sign system. In so far as a system is constituted or bounded by at least two heterogeneous series, two disparate orders capable of entering into communication, we call it a signal. The phenomenon that flashes across this system, bringing about the communication between disparate series, is a sign’ {p 222 emphasis of DPB}. DPB important signs because I use signs also, although I have to step up the precision of my terminology. GD ‘We call this state of infinitely doubled difference which resonates to infinity disparity. Disparity – in other words, difference or intensity (difference of intensity) – is the sufficient reason of all phenomena, the condition of that which appears. .. The reason of the sensible, of the condition of that which appears, is not space and time, but the Unequal in itself, disparateness as it is determined and comprised in difference of intensity, in intensity as difference’ {p 222 emphasis of the author}. DPB The doubled difference refers to the 2 it takes to tango, the double contingency of Luhmann. But GD explains here that difference of intensity, Unequal in itself, is a sufficient reason for the sensible to exist.

Intensity is difference, but this difference tends to deny or cancel itself out in extensity and underneath quality. It is true that qualities are signs which flash across the interval of a difference. In s o doing, however, they measure the time of an equalisation – in other words, the time taken by the difference to cancel itself out in the extensity in which it is distributed’ {p 223}. DPB Important Intensity is a particular kind of difference. Quality is the representation of an intensity. But this kind of difference cancels itself out in extensity, namely through (what I call) its expressions. The phrase underneath quality means that it cancels out not in plain sight but underneath it, in the system, where it is not sensible. This resonates because of its application to the canceling out of the differences that firms cognize in their environment. There are differences taking place in the firm, they are canceled out though the interactions in its environment and underneath particular qualities of the firm sensed (in the eye of) its stakeholders. ‘It is indeed in this manner that the principle of causality finds in the signaling process its categorical physical determination: intensity defines an objective sense for a series of irreversible states which pass, like an ‘arrow of time’, from more to less differenciated, from a productive to a reduced difference, and ultimately to a cancelled difference’ {p 223}. DPB Important elaboration of the process where the difference is canceled out through the extensity. But also it is a philosophical description of entropy production and the direction of time. Difference is the reason for change only to the extent that the change is required to cancel out the difference {cf. P 223}. GD Good sense distributes things: on the one hand and on the other hand, the final compensation and homogenization: ‘Good sense is by nature esschatological, the prophet of a final compensation and homogenization. .. Good sense is the ideology of the middle classes who recognize themselves in equality as an abstract product. It dreams less of acting than of constituting a natural milieu, the element of an action which passes from more to less differenciated: for example, the good sense of eighteenth century political economy which saw in the commercial classes the natural compensation for the extremes, and in the prosperity of commerce the mechanical process of the equalization of portions. It therefore dreams less of acting than of foreseeing, and of allowing free rein to action which goes from the unpredictable to the predictable (from the production of differences to their reduction. Neither contemplative nor active, it is prescient. .. Good sense does not negate difference: on the contrary, it recognizes difference just enough to affirm that it negates itself, given sufficient extensity and time’ {p 225}. DPB Very Important! Good sense is the concept that explains the canceling out of difference via the extensity of the system I a process of balancing. This concept I can use as a relativation of the positioning of market thinking and the invisible hand as the new providence, and the industrialisation of distribution of wealth in society (equalisation of portions). Good sense is based upon a synthesis of time, in particular the one which we have determined as the first synthesis, that of habit. Good sense is only good because it is wedded to the sense of time associated with that synthesis’ {p 225}. DPB I don’t really believe in the validity of the concept of time, other than for human consumption. But this notion of time can be replaced as a notion of clicks as a concept of a change of state of some thing relative to another thing. But if time is associated with habit it is also associated with repetition and therefore a irreducible order and that makes it ok. GD The past is very improbable (removed from its essences by lots of variation). The future is probable and cancels out difference (variation) and is therefore good. It is also therefore predictable. ‘Objects are divided up in and by fields of individuation, as are Selves’ {p 226}. DPB This is Wolfram rephrased, namely that our powers of perception are generated by the same processes as the processes in nature we are trying to perceive. ‘Good sense, therefore, has two definitions, one objective and one subjective, which correspond to those of common sense: a rule of universal distribution and a rule of universally distributed. Good sense and common sense each refer to the other, each reflect the other and constitute one half of the orthodoxy’ {p 226}. DPB Good sense does the distributing and common sense is what something can do once the distribution has taken place.

GD Difference is inexplicable. It is explicated, but in systems where it is cancelled. This means that it is essentially implicated, its being is implication (involve, entangle // entangle, mix up // tempt, entice). ‘Difference of intensity is cancelled or tends to be cancelled in this system, but it creates this system by explicating itself’ {p 228}. DPB The being of difference is implication and it is canceled by explication. This resonates with me and I have visualized it in a picture of the mixing currents. GD Quality has the double aspect of a sign: 1) referral to an implicated order of constitutive differences and 2) cancel out the differences in the extended order of constitutive differences in which they are explicated. DPB This is an important argument for the double layer memeplex-and-realization, where the memeplex is 1) and the realization is 2). ‘This is also why causality finds in signalling at once both an origin and an orientation or destination, where the destination in a sense denies the origin. .. (examples removed DPB) .. The vanishing of differences is precisely inseparable from an ‘effect’ of which we are victims. Difference in the form of intensity remains implicate in itself, while it is cancelled by being explicated in extensity’ {p 228}. DPB Important! The explicitized effects of change brought about by implicit differences change the difference while the intensities per se remain implicit? This says that the differences are a kind of a packaging which is removed in extensities but the contents of which, its intensities, remain implicit nonetheless. GD It is unnecessary to imagine extensive mechanisms for the restoration of differences {cf. P 228}. DPB I can use this to point at the impossibility of changing the operations of a firm: ‘For difference has never ceased to be in itself, to be implicated in itself even while it is explicate outside itself’ {p 228}. GD The paradox of entropy is that it is an extensive factor, but an extension (or explication) which is implicated as such in intensity. It has the function of making possible the movement by which the implicated explicates itself. Intensity has three characteristics: 1) Intensive quantity includes the unequal in itself, a difference in quantity which cannot be cancelled out: ‘Intensity is the uncancellable in difference of quantity, but this difference of quantity is cancelled by extension, extension being precisely the process by which intensive difference is turned inside out and distributed in such a way as to be dispelled, compensated, equalised and suppressed in the extensity which it creates’ {p 233}. 2) Intensity affirms difference, making difference an object of affirmation. 3) includes the other two: an implicated, enveloped or ‘embryonised’ quantity. Intensity is implicating and implicated in itself, where implication is understood as a perfectly determined form of being: ‘Within intensity, we call that which is really implicated and enveloping difference; and we call that which is really implicated or enveloped distance’ {p 237 emphasis of the author}. DPB If something is implicated and it envelops something else it is difference (different from that), if it is enveloped it is distance (distant from that). When we say that the eternal return is not the return of the Same, or of the Similar or the Equal, we mean that it does not presuppose any identity. On the contrary, it is said of a world without identity, without resemblance or equality. It is said of a world the very ground of which is difference, in which everything rests upon disparities, upon differences of differences which reverberate to infinity (the world of intensity). The eternal return is itself the Identical, the similar and the equal, but it presupposes nothing of itself in that of which it is said’ {p 241 emphasis of the author}. DPB This seems the same as Wolfram suggesting that the universe is a CA. This is a description of the great miracle: when everything is fluid anf unequal then why are there any coherences anyhow?

It is because nothing is equal, because everything bathes in its difference, its dissimilarity and its inequality, even within itself, that everything returns – or rather, that everything does not return. What does not return is that which denies eternal return, that which does not pass the test. It is quality and extensity which doe not return, in so far as within them difference, the condition of eternal return, is cancelled. So too the negative, in so far as difference is thereby inverted and cancelled. So too the identical, the similar, in so far as these constitute the forms of indifference’ {p 243 emphasis of DPB}. DPB But is remains in play as long as it does generate difference. And it can have as we learned from chaos theory.

A whole flow of exchange occurs between intensity and Ideas, as though between two corresponding figures of difference. Ideas are problematic or ‘perplexed’ virtual multiplicities, made up of relations between differential elements. Intensities are implicated multiplicities, ‘implexes’, made up of relations between asymmetrical elements which direct the course of actualisation of Ideas and determine the cases of solution for problems’ {p 244 emphasis of DPB}. DPB VOILA!.‘How is the Idea determined to incarnate itself in differenciated qualities and differenciated extensities? What determines the relations coexisting with the Idea to differenciate themselves in qualities and extensities? The answer lies precisely in the intensive quantities. Intensity is the determinant in the process of actualisation. It is intensity which dramatises. It is intensity which is immediately expresses in the basic spatio-temporal dynamisms and determines an ‘indistinct’ differential relation in the Idea to incarnate itself in a distinct quality and a distinguished extensity. .. However, it remains literally true that intensity creates the qualities and extensities in which it explicates itself, because these quelities and extensities do not in any way resemble the ideal relations which are actualised within them: differenciation implies the creation of the lines along which it operates’ {p 245 emphasis of the author, emphasis in bold of DPB}. DPB GD uses the concept of dramatise to explain the existence or formation of an egg as a stage for the world to develop. This is related to the question about the connotations: how are they determined? And then it goes on to make the connection with individuation. Finally! ‘How does intensity fill this determinant role? In itself, it must be no less independent of the differenciation than of the explication which proceeds from it. It is independent of the explication by virtue of the order of implication which defines it. It is independent of differenciation by virtue of its own essential process. The essential process of intensive quantities is individuation. Intensity is individuating, and intensive quantities are individuating factors. Individuals are signal-sign systems’ {p 246 emphasis of DPB}. ‘Individuation emerges like the act of solving such a problem (the appearance of an ‘objective’ problematic field DPB), or, – what amounts to the same thing – like the actualisation of a potential and the establishing of communication between disparates. The act of individuation consists not in suppressing the problem, but in integrating the elements of the disparateness into a state of coupling which ensures its internal resonance. The individual thus finds itself attached to a pre-individual half which is not the impersonal in it so much as the reservoir of its singularities.’ {p 246 emphasis of DPB}. ‘Individuation is the act by which intensity determines differential relations to become actualised, along the lines of differenciation and within the qualities and extensities it creates’ {p 246}. The pre-individual singularities are unaware of the individual. GD Individuation precedes differenciation and every differenciation presupposes a prior intense field of individuation. ‘As a result they (differential relations DPB) then form the quality, number, species and parts of an individual in short, its generality’ {p 247 emphasis of DPB}. ‘All differences are borne by individuals, but but they are not all individual differences’ {p 247}. DPB Important This is the basis for the idea that memes are dispersed throughout society, and they do not only belong to the firm. This is also the idea that individuation is a kind of behavioral identity.

Intensity or difference in itself thus expresses differential relations and their corresponding distinctive points. It introduces a new type of distinction into these relations and between Ideas a new type of distinction’ {p 252}. GD Ideas and relations are more than coexistent distinct and they enter states of simultaneity and succession. But intensities are implicated in one another, are enveloping an enveloped such that each expresses the changing totality of Ideas namely the ensemble of differential relations. ‘Individuality is not a characteristic of the Self but, on the contrary, forms and sustains the system of the dissolved Self’ {p 254}. DPB Important, because this conversely opens the possibility that a firm has an individuality. It can have a system that is a dissolved Self which sustains the individuality. But what means the individuality of a firm?

GD The more complex a system, the more values peculiar to implication (involvement, entanglement, confusion DPB) appear within it. Their presence allows a judgement of the system’s complexity. The values of implication are centres of envelopment. The function of these centres is defined in these ways: ‘First, to the extent that the individuating factors form a kind of noumenon of the phenomenon, we claim that the noumenon tends to appear as such in complex systems, that it finds it own phenomenon in the centres of development. Second, to the extent that sense is tied to the Ideas which are incarnated and to the individuations which determine that incarnation, we claim that these centres are expressive, or that they reveal sense. Finally, to the extent that every phenomenon finds its reason in a difference of intensity which frames it, as though this constituted the boundaries between which it flashes, we claim that complex systems increasingly tend to interiorize their constitutive differences: the centres of envelopment carry out this interiorisation of the individuating factors. The more the difference on which the system depends is interiorised in the phenomenon, the more repetition finds itself interior, the less it depends upon external conditions which are supposed to ensure the reproduction of the ‘same’ differences’ {p 256}. DPB description of complex systems.

Speaking of evolution necessarily leads us to psychic systems. For each type of system, we must ask what pertains to Ideas and what pertains to implication-individuation and explication-differenciation respectively’ {p 256}. DPB I think this summarizes the whole text so far. Check against these terms! GD I is the psychic determination of species (eg human being as a species), Self is the psychic organization. The Self and the I explicate each other throughout the history of the Cogito {cf. P 257}. ‘Individuation is mobile, strangely supple, fortuitous and endowed with fringes and margins; all because the intensities which contribute to it communicate with each other, envelop other intensities and are in turn enveloped. /moet dit erbij?/ The individual is far from indivisable, never ceasing to divide and change its nature. It is not a Self with regard to what it expresses, for it expresses Ideas in the form of internal multiplicities, made up of differential relations and distinctive points or pre-individual singularities. Nor is it an I with regard to its expressive character, for here again it forms a multiplicity of actualisation, as though it were a condensation of distinctive points or an open collection of intensities’ {pp. 257-8}. GD It is an error to look at this lack of determination and relativity as incompleteness of individuality or interrupted individuation. ‘It is Ideas which lead us from the fractured I to the dissolved Self. As we have seen, what swarms around the edges of the fracture are Ideas in the form of problems – in other words, in the form of multiplicities made up of differential relations and variations of relations, distinctive points and transformations of points. These Ideas, however, are expressed in individuating factors, in the implicated world of intensive quantities which constitute the universal concrete individuality of the thinker or the system of the dissolved Self’ {p 259}.

Death is inscribed in the I and the Self, like the cancellation of difference in a system of explication, or the degradation which compensates for the processes of differenciation’ {p 259}. DPB Important: the cancellation of the differences in a business process every time a product is sold and paid, or a loan is taken and repaid or an effort was made and salary received, &c. But also it is relevant for the firm ceasing to exist: an inherent immanent end of the difference. ‘Every death is double, and represents the cancellation of large differences in extension as well as the liberation and swarming of little differences in intensity’ {p 259}. DPB This is emergence and its opposite (inmergence?). DPB Important. This is useful for the explanation of a death that is not necessarily a thermodynamic death, or it is not explained in thermodynamic terms. Instead it is about the macro- to micro, the degradation of a unit a its scale to smaller unities different from it at smaller scales. ‘Desired from within, death always comes from without in a passive and accidental form‘ {p 259}. ‘On the one hand, it is a ‘de-differenciation’ which compensates for the differenciations of the I and the Self in an overall system which renders these uniform; on the other hand, it is a matter of individuation, a protest by the individual which has never recognized itself within the limits of the Self and the I, even when these are universal’ {p 259}.

Conclusion

Difference is only thinkable when tamed with the four collars of representation: identity in he concept, opposition in the predicate, analogy in judgement, and resemblance in perception. ‘Every other difference, every difference which is not rooted in this way, is an unbounded, uncoordinated and inorganic difference; too large or too small, not only to be thought but to exist’ {p 262}. DPB but these are requirements of representation, not of what is. And small or large differences are irrelevant from the perspective of them. Why are they out of bounds for an existence? ‘Ceasing to be thought, difference is dissipated in non-being. From this it is concluded that difference in itself remains condemned and must atone or be redeemed under the auspices of a reason which renders it livable and thinkable, and makes it the object of an organic representation’ {p 262}. DPB Difference in itself can only be when it is thought. Else it enters the sphere of non-being. Difference in itself must adapt such that it can become the object of the organic.

Luhmann Explained

Luhmann Explained (from Souls to Systems) . Hans-Georg Moeller . Open Court Publishing Company (Carus Publishing) . 2006 . ISBN13 978-0-8126-9598-4 . ISBN10 0-8126-9598-4

Preface

Luhmann’s basic claim is that society does not comprise of humans. This goes against the common opinion (conventional wisdom) that the individual is the pivot and society is civil; this is often seen as scandalous and antihumanistic. However, the objective of this book is to show that Luhmann’s theory explains the current reality well. Human beings are in this way denied a central role in society, but not because of a lack of respect for their material being, but because they are such a complex ‘assemblage’ that they are difficult to understand in terms of a single concept: ‘Luhmann’s theory should be read, I believe, not as a denial of human experience, but as an attempt to sort out and do justice to the extreme multiplicity, or, to put it more dramatically, the existential division of such experiences

[p ix]

. The project of modernity can be seen as attempt to reunite the Cartesian split between body and mind; Luhmann gives up this experiment and grants every aspect of human experience its own right of existence; in this sense he is more postmodern (whatever this may mean) than modern; but his ‘antihumanism’ is not a replacement of ‘human nature’ with systems. ‘Social systems theory does not describe reality as it “essentially” is, but as what it has actually become – and it could have come out otherwise’ [p x]. And he points out how unlikely the current outcome is: it is not in any way necessary: the strange functionings we are all part of are transitory and temporary, and not ‘essential’ nor ‘substantial’(DPB: I have used the word ‘substantial’ many times to point at the ‘organization’ of a firm, or the body of an organism &c.).

Introduction

The present book will highlight its (Luhmann’s social theory) unique relevance in regard to current social and political issues’ [p xi].

Part I

A New Way of Thinking about Society

1. What Is Social Systems Theory?

(a) Systems Theory

There are more complaints about being treated as a number. Economically all that matters is money. Politically there is perceived a lack of true democracy, in the sense of rule by the people. Organizations and multinational corps via political parties taking their donations gain influence over governments and out of the hands of citizens. Technology and mass media occupy more of people’s space and time; people feel marginalized bu sophisticated machines. Bio-engineering reduces the importance of people’s reproductive faculties and further dehumanizes them. People feel a need for ethics (professional, religious) to come to the aid of human values. Paradoxically all of the above developments are received with enthusiasm also: the end of deceases, the increase of intellect and the realization of human potential and, lastly (by the development of the markets) the increase of prosperity and freedom for all. These positive, optimistic and negative, pessimistic outlooks can be found in the same person; perhaps this is because both feelings are “humanist”. But the gap between present day society and what is conceived as a “human” world is large; pessimistic people may have a nostalgic inclination to change the world back to a more human version; optimistic people may want to change the attitude. The task of Social Systems Theory is do away with the traditional view of a human society that is used as a reference by both: society can no longer be understood as a human one, but it does not blame society (as the cultural pessimists do). ‘.. nor does it celebrate the dehumanization of the humane as the greatest human perfection’[p 5]. The starting point of social systems theory is that society cannot be analyzed on the basis that it is humane, or that it is an assembly of people. This seems odd, perhaps because we are used to traditional / Old European descriptions of society (a group of people with a common way of life) instead of our current actual experiences. This started with Plato and did not change much thereafter: a group model and communication between human beings, an anthropocentric approach to society. The change from the human centered approach to the social systems approach is to describe actions of people not as human interaction in the context of a community but as events in a function system (democratic, economic, mass media). From this follows a basic assumption: ‘human beings do not and cannot communicate – only communication can’ [p 6]. The change is that society is not described on the basis of its members (people or a community) but based on its events (what actually happens). The events are political, economic, and mass media communication: language is not a necessary requirement, ballots, money &c. can do the job (although language and semiotics have influenced social systems theory). But do these events not invariably point at one single member (e.g. vote, transaction, mass media consumption)? Physically yes, but individual people can take part in a number of communications simultaneously; these communications are handled by ‘instances of them’: therefore the nexus of communication cannot be the individual person. Their mental individuality is preserved because people mentally switch up and down between communications, but the individual communications do not and separate streams occur flawlessly and seamlessly. From the perspective of the communications the individuals are not an integrated part of the events of communication. In this sense people are an external condition for communication and not an internal sine qua non for it. When people talk then communication communicates: they can connect their communication to the communication of others but not themselves to the others themselves. Social systems theory distinguishes systems of communication (social systems), systems of life (organisms, brains), and systems of consciousness (minds); each of them is in the environment of the others; each of them is individual (human body, mind, communication) and singular (national economies are parts of the ‘economy’). Individuality is now a systemic individuality: people can be part of (are divided in) segments (namely one body, one mind, one or more communication system(s)) that form separate individualities. Neither of the individuals can claim to be the ‘essential’ element or the ‘true’ individual aspect of a human being: these systems are not in a hierarchical relation and hence they cannot exert control over the other: what aspect do you perceive if you ‘see’ that person over there? ‘Once more: this by no means denies that the human being has a body and a mind outside of communication – it is rather to absolutely confirm this, and to say that human beings exist as much bodily as they exist mentally and socially – but rather that none of these three realms can claim to include the other two. .. While minds, bodies, and communications can be “individual”, a human being cannot. The “human being” does not exist as a singular entity. According to systems theory, the traditional notion of the “human being” is a simplification of the actual complexity of human existence’ [pp. 10-11]. DPB: tnhis reminds me of the discussion with ML about the ‘role’ of people and her question: What kind of entities are your people: psychological, or social? Though people are referred to as unity’s or individuals who are supposed to communicate; but neither bodies nor minds can communicate; what is uttered is different from what is perceived: ‘Communication systems and mental systems are operationally separate. The “human being” can be reduced to neither one of them. Thus, social systems theory holds it that if “we” want to understand how society functions or operates, we cannot reduce it to such an extremely broad and “metasocial” notion as that of the “human being”’ [p 11]. Social systems theory tries to explain the growth of a social system using the same systems and concepts as biological organisms: ‘Systems theory diverges from such classical models (demiurge, first moves, creator god) and replaces the notion of external agency or “input” with the notion of self-construction. Reality is no longer a created one (neither a created one nor a created one) but a constructivist complexity. Every system produces itself and thereby its own reality. The world ceases to be a general “unit” or “oneness”. Reality is not an all-embracing whole of many parts, it is rather a variety of self-producing systemic realities, each of which forms the environment of all the others. There is no common “world” in reality, because reality is in each instance an effect of “individual” systemic autopoiesis. Reality is transformed from created oneness to constructed difference

[pp. 13 – 14]

. Varela describes: ‘This is the core of autonomy. This is also exactly what is meant by operational closure. My shortest definition is: The results of systemic operations are once more systemic operations. This is the case in many areas. (Biological) autopoiesis is only one example. Other examples are language, and, possibly, families, firms, etc. (1997, 148-9)

[p 14]

. Varela strongly suspects that autopoiesis is not merely a biological process but that it has a more wide meaning. Living systems each produce their systemic reality; what happens in their environment can produce a response but only in the boundaries and operational means of the system: There is neither a direct input nor an immediate output. ‘Social systems theory borrows not only the concept of autopoiesis from biological systems theory, but also the concept of operational closure. The theory views social systems as “operationally closed” because, like biological systems, they are self-producing “organisms” of communication that consist of the connecting of system-internal communication with system-internal communication’ [p 15]. Once established, the autopoietic system can only proceed by its own operational means: ‘It cannot import other means without losing its systemic integrity and its “membrane” and thus its reality’ [p 15]. The introduction of the concepts of autopoiesis and operational closure into the social theory entails a paradigm shift: ‘.. (assuming operational closure and autopoiesis) .. it also breaks with the epistemology of the ontological tradition that assumed that something of the environment enters the understanding and that the environment is represented, mirrored, imitated, or simulated within a cognizing system. In this respect, the radicalism of the new approach can hardly be underestimated (Varela 2002a, 114)’ [p 16]. DPB: this is I think exactly what I have tried to explain. And what John Holland has tried to model. I think what is meant in the above is that there is no mapping in the sense of a logical connection (as a map, a mirror image, imitation or simulation) between the reality (outside) and the cognitive system (inside); the boundary distinguishes what gets computed inside the system and what occurs outside. But the quote above means that anything goes in regards to the rules defining the anticipatory powers of the cognitive system concerning the uncertainties offered by the environment. ‘How a system is real depends on its own self-production, and how it perceives the reality of its environment also depends on its self-production. By constructing itself as a system, a system also constructs its understanding of the environment. And thus, a systemic world cannot suppose any singular, common environment for all systems that can somehow be “represented” within any system. Every system exists by differentiation and thus is different from other systems and has a different environment. Reality becomes a multitude of system-environment constructions that a re in each case unique’ [ p 16]. DPB: this last part is very important because it explains how systems namely firms are never twice the same. Operational closure means that systems can be open to one another, but not operationally so. Biological operations in a cell are only open to other biological operations, psychological operations in a mind only to other psychological operations in that mind and communicative operations only open to communicative operations in that system: ‘If you want to formulate it radically, you may say that cognition is only possible because there are no relation, no operative relations to the environment’ [p 17, Luhmann Theories of Distinction, p 93]. The question: Who sees the environment more correctly? has hence become obsolete in systems theory. Autopoietic systems (body, mind, communication) are operationally closed and thus open towards each other. They are also structurally coupled: communication can only occur where there is a body and a mind; a mind can only exist if there is a body. This dependency is called a structural coupling: ‘One cannot imagine that a consciousness could have evolved without communication. Similarly, one cannot imagine that there would be meaningful communication without consciousness. There must have been a kind of coordination, that, because it relates to the different forms of autopoiesis, lead, on the one hand, to an increase of complexity within the realm of possible mental contents and, on the other hand, within the realm of social communication. It seems to me that this mechanism of coupling is language (Luhmann Theories of Distinction, p 122)’ [p 19]. Structural coupling means that systems shape each others’ environments such that they both depend on the other for the continuation of their autopoiesis and this results in an increase of their structural complexity. ‘The structural coupling between the brain as a living system, the mind as a psychic system, and society as a communication system seems to be of a specific structure with the mind somehow in-between the two other systems. .. It seems that the mind is some kind of filter between the brain, on the one hand, and communication, on the other

[p 20]

. DPB: this reminds me of the idea that if the environment of some system were fully random than o brain (or mind) would have been required. The brain (an d the mind) serve to identify and make sense of and deal with (anticipate) patterns in the environment. And hence the development of cognition develops with the development of the pattern in the environment that is also a developing cognitive entity. They are both individuating as cognitive and thinking entities using each other as ‘practice material’.

(b) Social Systems

Social systems theory recognizes psychic and biological systems as their environment; it uses terminology from biology; but social systems do not really ‘live’, they do communicate. Society is metaphorically described as an ‘organism’ and in terms of ‘consciousness’. Social systems theory rejects the idea that society has a biological or a psychic grounding: life and consciousness are not a part of society and they operate outside society’s ‘boundary’ or ‘membrane’; communication has its own autopoiesis; society does not consist of human bodies or minds, but of communication events (money, language, gestures, &c.). ‘Orderly communication, in which we can first expect to be understood by others and second to understand them, emerges from double contingency. Not anything, but any communication goes on, but it goes on only if and when it is able to establish some kind of order, when the problem of double contingency on both sides of the “understanding” of that communication is solved. Communication that is not mutually understood will not continue’ [p 22]. DPB: this is exactly what I have tried to model in my Logistical Model: the party at either ‘end’ of the communication must perceive the utterance for it to become part of the communication. But what the perceived utterance in fact ‘is’ is unimportant: it is defined as a communication by the fact that it is being uttered and it is being perceived, and hence by the fact that the communication is not ended by a lack of either. This is also exemplified by an economic transaction: only if the buyer buys whatever is on offer is the transaction complete and the communication continues uninterrupted. Communication is then a unity of announcement, information and understanding (Mitteilung, Information, und Verstehen): ‘Communication only continues and grows if it establishes certain patterns that allow for it to continue in that certain way along with that certain order. All emerging patterns of communication (of announcement, information, understanding) – or social order – can be explained as a solution to the problem of double contingency. What is communicated and how it is communicated is totally contingent: there is no basic a priori condition for communication’ [p 23]. DPB: I have situated these communication events in situations. What I have left implicit is that the communication ‘wants’ to proceed one more event (and one more) and whatever is expressed only has the function as a stepping stone onto the next unknown event that bears some relation to the current, but is oblivious to the next: it is a road to nowhere. The equation of AIU (MIV) should only lead to the next event in a chain of events that only afterwards becomes clear, and no more is required of this threesome. ‘Once communication goes on, however, how it goes on is contingent upon these patterns that have been established’ [p 23]. DPB: this reminds again of Oudemans’ restrictions: at every state there are attractors and repellers for the next possible states. Once a system has developed an economy then that pattern is binding and it is only possible ‘.. to communicate economically by communicating economically. Nobody can buy anything with noneconomic communication’ [p 23]. In social systems theory these patterns of communication constitute society: ‘Society consists of social systems, of certain communicational “organisms” that emerged and have established their own specific types of operations’ [p 23]. DPB: interestingly the claim that these patterns áre social systems is left unsaid / implicit. I have claimed this on the basis of memetics: that these are selfish. Now I need to rephrase that into a claim that includes communication, social systems and taking into account individuation. The question is to what extent I can keep the memes alive? And to what extent I will need them, because to an increasing extent I feel that they are a kind of a support mechanism to explain and connect expression and perception (in my model); perhaps it is the same as communication as is it intended by Luhmann? Luhmann calls the individual communication systems function systems. DPB: I think Heylighen calls them aspect systems, which I prefer, because a function system is too intentional a term and aspect is more neutral. I also am not sure that they are really different (as in separable) systems: I am rather fond of the idea that a landscape of Jobs (are these the same as communication events?) exist where all kinds of ideas are undergoing operations. These can be part of more than one system: to which system they are decided to belong depends only on the observer: she decides which aspect system this specific Job belongs to. Now it gets tangled up if the aspect or function systems are called subsystems of society: ‘They are “subsystems” of society. Each function system has its own social perspective and creates its own social reality. They are all, so to speak “subrealities” of a general social reality. Still, they are not, strictly speaking, “parts” of a “whole”: society does not become less “whole” when a system ceases to function and it does not become more “whole” when a new on emerges’ [p 24]. DPB: it does makes sense if they, as they develop, also their reality develops with them as a proper cognitive system. But the “subsystems” are not integrated to form some kind of a super-system. In this sense society consist only of subsystems without a hierarchical relation between them or between them and a super-system. Now each of the function systems observes the other subsystems from its own perspective, unmediated. The function systems communicate based on their “codes”, namely the distinctions that identify them; these codes are further detailed in “programs”. DPB: but isn’t this upside down: form a body of details there emerges a distinction? Or is the distinction at the basis of all of the detail that specifies a subsystem? For the legal subsystem, the code is legal/illegal, and what is the distinction at the basis of the economy: economically true of false: ‘bought and sold’? The function systems procreate their own functioning and their own social function (‘Funktion’); the function of a social system can also be distinguished for its efficacy (‘Leistung’), namely how it contributes to the other social systems. ‘Modern function systems have developed into communicational “organisms that communicate with more effective and diverse tools than simply language. They have developed their own media. A medium is, simply put, that which can take on form in communication, and in the case of many function systems these media are called by Luhmann (on the basis of Talcott Parson’s terminology) “symbolically generalized communication media” (symbolisch generalisierte Kommunikationsmedien)’[p 26]. For example it is difficult to buy something or to serve a punishment with pure language, and hence additional measures are required: media. Media are capable of increasing the inequalities between the function systems if the symbolic expression of the one performs better than the set of the other: ‘Society does not expand lie leavening; it does not symmetrically grow in size, complexity, and differentiation as supposed by the nineteenth-century theories of progress (which could suppose this because they understood society as merely an economic system). Modern society rather increases the complexity of some systems and lets others wither. (The Society of Society 1997a, 391-92)’ [p 28] (bronverwijzing lijkt niet te kloppen). DPB: the medium is no part of my model, but it should be. This looks a lot like the medium of Heylighen, namely the Stigmergic medium in which the organisms exist and use it as an externalized memory. But also: why is language a medium and not just another evolving social system that has connections with other such function systems; in that sense it could have a role like some of the others (economy, science, religion &c) touching on more than one other function system? The media contribute to the dynamics of their systems. Communication systems have no ‘essence’, there is no natural order, nor unchanging stability: ‘All systems continue their autopoiesis, and thus they all “develop”. It seems that a central aspect of this development, especially in the conditions of a modern society, is the adequacy and efficacy of a system’s symbolically generated communication medium. These media seem to be decisive factors when it comes to gaining “social space” [ p 28]. Awkward media such as faith experience stiff competition with power or money or legislation, and hence contribute to the marginalization of ‘its’ function system. Function systems do not ‘cover’ the whole of society; some events do not fit in any one of them; for the formation of these trivial or temporary system-environment distinctions emerge: for that to happen it suffices that there is a double contingency. ‘In the terminology of social systems theory such short-lived “anarchic” social systems that do not fit into any of the established functional realms can be called “interactions” (Interaktionen). Interactions typically operate on a “face-to-face” level and presuppose physical presence (see Baraldi, Corsi, and Esposito 1997, 82-85) [p 30]. DPB: I have called the changing of a meme a Situation and on completion of the changing of memes I have called an Interaction; no physical presence is required, it can even be the result of a broadcast or an old newspaper article or a post on-line, whatever. As it seems to be intended here it is a waste bin of emerging distinctions such that they die out because the communication ceases to continue, similar to mine; what is different they should not match any of the existing ‘grand’ systems and apparently have no room to exist: ‘A casual conversation in the elevator begins and ends physical presence. Once the two people are back in their offices, they will continue to communicate in the function systems of law (if they are lawyers) or in the function systems of education or science (if they are professors). There they will communicate in a more systemic manner’ [p 30]. Luhmann calls these interactions ‘function-free’: I find this to be too serious (re just-so stories) and also it smells of reduction: now that we know that these sub systems exist we can start laying stuff on them / conversations in elevators are not systemic, but this depends on the view of the observer. ‘While interactions are the communicational sea on which the function systems float, there is another type of social system that is more closely intertwined with the function systems. This type of social system is small-scale in comparison with social subsystems, but large-scale in comparison with interactions – it is the increasingly important “organizations” (Organisationen)’ [p 31]. DPB: why is this another type? Can’t this just be the same type? They have developed along with the development of communicational subsystems of society: Politics>parties, Education> Schools, Economy> firms, Legal>courts, &c. Organizations are not necessarily confined to one subsystem and vice versa. ‘A central characteristic of organizations is membership. Organizations include people by accepting them into themselves. In order to enter a university, a sanatorium, or Al Qaeda, one has to somehow qualify for membership, for instance, by grades, a diagnosis, or a common enemy’ [p 31]. ‘Organizations can also be called “systems of decision”. What an organization does depends on its decisions. Their communicative life is mainly one of decisions. .. And the decisions of an organization are typically made in the context of further decisions. The autopoiesis of an organization thus becomes an autopoiesis of decisions – one decision generates endless decision-making (just think of serving on a university committee or making a managerial decision in a company). Luhmann says in regard to organizations: “As a result there comes into being an autopoietic system that is characterized by a specific form of operations: it produces decisions by decisions. Behavior is communicated as decision making’ [pp. 31-32]. DPB: an important intermezzo here is that the communication maintain itself autopoietically and so it has to keep going. That in itself is sufficient to not break the chain of communications, of decision making, and keep the organization intact and going. The importance of organizations increases as well as their power, as they occupy more and more ‘communicative space’ within various function systems. The entities (patterns) that can be distinguished are: functional systems, organizations and interactions; another might be social / protest movements.

Society is operationally closed from biology and psychology. And in the same way functional systems are closed from one another in their intrasocial environment. And if society is functionally differentiated then the functional communications cannot just connect to any other communications, but rather to their ‘own’ functional ‘strand’ (e.g. economic communications to economic communications &c.); per subsystem can autopoiesis only be maintained by communications of the same subsystem. By virtue of their codes, functions, media &c, have social subsystems come differentiated into systems with incompatible discourses: a quote from the Bible can in general no longer counter a scientific argument, one cannot represent oneself in a court of law. ‘In a modern society, attempts to reject functional differentiation are not easily accepted nor are the likely to succeed. .. The conditions of functional differentiation do not favor attempts to merge operations of different systems or attempts to steer the operations of one system by operations of another

[p 33]

. One example in between is of a religious politician participating in two functional systems: too fundamentalist or too political. A second example is the failure of the communist system in eastern Europe: the economic communication still functioned as such and political communication as such, but they could not be made to overcome their operational closure and connect between them. The economy could only avail of political data; the same can occur in religious states, where the political system can only have religious information about itself. In both cases the autopoiesis of the economic and the political system respectively are not maintained or with difficulty. ‘It may be important to note that neither social systems theory in general nor Luhmann in particular intends the theory of the operational closure of functional systems to speak in support of a “market economy” or capitalist propaganda that hails the beneficial effects of a “free” economy’ [p 35]. But functional systems cannot control one another. DPB: but they can integrate other autopoietic systems or they ‘interpenetrate’ one another in a kind of a co-evolving, lizard-glass sense. ‘Moreover, like communist politics, capitalist democracies tend to deny the systemic gap between the economy and politics. They create the illusion that political communication about the matters actually “helps” the economy. Like communist regimes, democratic regimes counterfactually pretend that their political communication about the economy actually somehow “steers” economic development’ [p 35]. But although the function systems are operationally closed they are capable to influence each other; the function systems are each other’s environment; they are closed and separated from the environment by a membrane (boundary) distinguishing them from it; and because they are distinct from their environment they can self-reference as well as hetero-reference.; anything can be religious, legal, economic, political, scientific &c and in addition any of them them can be about any of the others. ‘Operational closure does not prevent other-reference (hetero-reference); it is rather a condition for “making sense” of the other systems’ [p 37]. DPB: Heylighen talks about sensemaking a lot (which articles?). I like it because it reminds me of ‘distinction of patterns / pattern (re)cognition’. Social subsystems can enter into ‘structural coupling’: their autopoiesis is operationally closed yet in contact with the other system, in the case of the economic and political systems: ‘The coupling between politics and economy is primarily established through taxes and tariffs. This does not alter the fact that all monetary dispositions are carried out as payments within the economy. The disposition can, however, be conditioned politically and in this case it will not be oriented to profit-making. For which purposes a nation’s budget is used then becomes a political issue, and when much (or little) money is available, this will irritate the political system. Still, the spending of money itself is subject to the market rules of the economic system (nothing becomes more or less expensive because it is paid for with tax money) and it has significant consequences for the structural development of the economy when the state quota of the money flow increases (The Society of Society 1997a, 781)’ [p 37]. DPB: had er meer van verwacht, beetje vaag verhaal van Luhmann hierboven, zie beter dit: ‘Systems such as politics and the economy can be “connected” in such a way that the operations of one system more or less continually “aim” at the operations of the other system’ [p 37]. Structural coupling in this sense does not violate the operational closure but it makes particular interrelations between the autopoietic processes. DPB: Is this not what Maturana calls ‘orienting’? ‘Structural coupling establishes specific mechanisms of irritation between systems and forces different systems to continuously resonate with each other. The two concepts of irritation and resonance are used by social systems theory to explain how operationally closed systems “interact”’[p 38]. This is fully in line with the arguments of the autopoietic theory.

In the case of “extra-social” coupling between communication and psychic systems, the common medium of language provides for the structural coupling between individual minds and society. This structural coupling allows for both systems to develop a higher complexity. People will accordingly develop mental structures that match the complexity of their society. The growth of social complexity is structurally coupled with the increasing mental complexity of the environment of society’ [p 38]. And this goes for any possible combination between social systems and the psyche. DPB: this is important because the minds of the people working at some firm will develop in terms of structural complexity contingent on the complexity of the firms the are employed by. In this sense subsystems cannot directly steer one another but via stable links they can irritate one another into the exhibition of a specific kind of behavior. It is not automatic that when a system irritates another it will itself not be irritated also by the changed behavior of the other system:’That social systems are interrelated primarily through structural coupling means that no system can dominate another; no system can exert influence without itself being influenced’ [p 39]. DPB: pure autopoietic theory. But this will have to be a very important part of my thesis: how firms react to outside irritations, to internal changes &c. ‘Systems theory is a theory of contingency, not one of liberty’ [p 39-40]. And importantly (even if only for my understanding of the coherence of the whole theory: ‘Systems theory describes society not on the basis of an underlying unity but on the basis of difference. Society is not made up of small units that constitute larger units, it is rather based on differences that constitute more differences. System theory is a “theory of distinction” (see Luhmann 2002b). Luhmann says: “The thesis was that a system is not a unit, but a difference, and that one thus ends up with the problem that one has to imagine the unity of a difference (2002b, 91). Society is not a unity – it is a difference, consisting of differences. Systems theory is, strictly speaking, not a theory of systems, but of system-environment distinctions’[p 40]. This difference is the core of the social systems theory, not some essential thing at the core: ‘A social system is what it is, not by virtue of its inner structure, but by how it distinguishes itself from its environment’ [ pp. 40-41].

(c) History

Luhmann claims that there are four main types of social differentiation: Segments (descent), Stratified (caste, class), Functional (different roles of individuals in (functional) subsystems), Center-Periphery (core group vs others). ‘Looking back in history, and also at non-European societies, Luhmann discerns four types of social differentiationbut he does not claim that this list is complete or indicative of any general law behind social evolution. Social evolution does not “progress” to “better” kinds of differentiation; and the fact that certain types of stratification are sometimes replaced by others does not mean that the earlier types are inferior to the later ones’ [p 41]. The existence of hybrids is more the rules than the exception; DPB: this presupposes the existence of essences in regards of these differentiations. The primacy of differentiation means that one group can regulate the application of another group. ‘The function systems are what they are by being “equally” distinct from one another. Of course, this does not mean that subsystems are totally “independent” of each other. Structural couplings still tie systems together, but the function systems do not gain their identity by being a certain element within an established order of rank’ [p 46]. DPB: but this remark is redundant, because never is anything ‘established’ and hence never is anything an element in an order of rank. I find that the faintest inkling of essentialism pervades the theory here. Conversely the differentiation in society and more specifically the individual’s position in it determines ‘who she is’: e.g. an aristocrat at all times. In a functionally differentiated system a person cannot locate herself wholly in one of the subsystems, nor even identify herself primarily with one of the subsystems: ‘She cannot carry one systemic identity into another: The differentiation of one subsystem into one particular function means that this function has priority for this system (and only for this system) and gains precedence over all other functions for it. Only in this sense, one can speak of functional primacy (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 747-48)’ [p 48]. And in addition can a subsystem only operate on the basis of its own function only: ‘Every function system can only perform its own function. No one can in the event of a crisis or on a continuing or supplementary basis sit in for another one .. (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 763)’ [p 48]. And in a situation of functional differentiation a society is not free of class distinctions: ‘Functional differentiation does not mean that a society is free of class-distinctions (and neither that society is without center/periphery distinctions), it simply means that class (or center/periphery distinctions) are no longer equivalent with social order’ [p 49]. ‘Humans are no more equal today than they were in the Middle-Ages – but social systems are. Since society does not consist of human beings but of social systems, an absence of a systemic hierarchy cannot be equated with an absence of a hierarchy among people. Under the conditions of functional differentiation the inequality among people no longer corresponds to the inequality of social strata’ [p 49]. Functional differentiation has begun to take place after the Middle-Ages (sixteenth to eighteenth century) and it still does, at an ever more intense rate. Postmodernism is an attempt to explain this intensification that, however, takes place within the same ‘domain’, but in a more modern form, and hence it is de facto a description of modernity: ‘Functional differentiation has developed from humble beginnings to into a grand structure, a giant social “organism” of global scale and extreme functional intensity’ [p 50]. Modernity and postmodernity are attempts to describe society by defining its semantics: ‘The jargon of both academic and common speech are expressions of the semantics of a society. Both represent the “sense” a society ascribes to itself and to the issues it deals with. Obviously these semantics change’[p 51]. DPB: I find this interesting because it the refers to the sense-making of systems by ‘wording’ it, or rather by expressing the pattern they seem to perceive and translating the patterns for others to see also, even far befor ethey are actually named and incorporated into the society’ s jargon, and reserached by the academia and injected into its jargon &c. ‘Social systems theory has, of course, a semantics too – a semantics that describes society and its structures. This semantics tends to be retrospective: “The structural change of society is beyond the observation and description of its contemporaries. Only after it has been completed and it becomes practically irreversible, semantics takes on the task to describe what now becomes visible”(Luhmann 1989, 8). It is exactly this task that social systems theory takes on’ [p 52]. DPB: this reminds me of hyperobjects. It is impossible for any one individual, not for any organization smaller than the whole to distinguish the behavior of the subsystem from the background.

(d) Globalization

Given that society is no longer differentiated regionally: the functions transcend geographical borders and they are global; only the political subsystem is tied to a geographical location. The possibility of an integration or a aggregate of the functional systems was lost when the concept of God was lost on humanity: that was the last entity where the functions could have been dissolved into a larger whole: ‘Global society consists of a plurality of systems that are both universal and particular (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 930-31). Global society exists as a multiplicity of functional subsystems, but it does not exist as a multiplicity of societies. .. There is no seconf global (DPB functional) system – and if there was, it could not be communicated with. The global system is one system but, again, it is not a harmonious whole. .. The global system consists of subsystems of communication, not of people. Taking part in its operations provides inclusion in a system’ [p 54]. DPB: this reminds me of the Jobs: applied to that concept, the above implies that once the people are involved or engaged with some set of ideas then they are included into it and their identity comes to depend on it. But this depends on the sphere of the ideas, namely to which functional system the ideas themselves belong. If a Job has an economic signature then the person engaged inn the Job, with regards to the economic function, is engaged with such and so specific economic idea (or rather an event). When she engages with an idea in the political sphere then she is included in that idea. And as a consequence the identity of the person is a ‘patchwork’ of the ideas from the different but otherwise between them equally important functional systems. And an important effect of the globalization of the systemic functions is that: ‘The emergence of all kinds of regional separatism and “fundamentalism” can well be explained as an effect of the globalization of functional differentiation. Th expansion of political, economic, and other social structures meets with all kinds of regional peculiarities and resistance. Function systems “neglect” regional, religious, or cultural identities’ [p 57]. In this sense fundamentalism is a “demonstration of non-irritability”: ‘These movements display a pose of immunity against the effects of functional globalization’ [p 58]. But the effect is exactly the opposite: ‘Once more – functional globalization allows every Muslim to be a Muslim and every Serb to be a Serb, but only as long as they accept that their religion or ethnicity is ultimately neglected by the function systems’ [p 58]. But the people belonging to these factions won’t easily relinquish that and: ‘On the one hand, one can ask: how do you expect operationally closed function systems not to neglect race, religion , and region? And, on the other hand, one can ask: how do you expect “fundamentalists” not to neglect the systems of law, politics, and education? And: how else can their neglect be demonstrated than by sabotaging the function systems? Sabotage is the neglect practiced by those neglected by “globalization” [p 59]. In addition to neglect and counter-neglect social exclusion is produced: ‘ .. And this would mean that some human beings will be persons and others only individuals; that some are included into functions systems for (successful or unsuccessful) careers and others are excluded from these systems, remaining bodies that try to survive the next day… (Luhmann 1997b, 12) [p 59]. Function systems aim at all inclusion (of human beings); they neglect other social systems apart from the other function systems, which they have to deal with an the basis of equality. ‘While the function systems are, in principle, all-inclusive – and while this all-inclusiveness of globalization is celebrated by “rightist” propagandists and demanded by “leftist” critics (who are not against globalization as such, but only an evil and unjust globalization) – they produce, in fact mass-exclusion. .. The exclusion from one system, for instance, the exclusion from the economy because of a lack of money, easily leads to exclusion from other systems’ [p 61]. DPB: this reminds of the ‘cabin in Alaska’ example, where one goes off-grid to leave all function system, but to what extent is it possible to leave them all? So the statement above is that if one is excluded of one the relation with the others is damaged also; if one wants to leave them all, then what happens? The point is that although in principle there is no limit to be fee and equal in the function systems, in practice it is easy to end up with less money or power than others and as a consequence to be excluded from that system and, as a consequence of that to be excluded from other function systems too. ‘It seems as if functional differentiation produces massive social exclusion that reduces the lives of many people to a purely bodily existence that is primarily concerned with bare physical survival. .. Functional differentiation cannot simply be steered or changed by good intentions. Society is much too complex and polycentric for such illusions. No person can steer a society of autopoietic function systems. Systems steer themselves’ (Luhmann 1997c) [pp. 62-63].

2. What Is Real?

(a) Making Sense, Making Reality

Psychic systems and social systems share language as a medium; they also share the “universal medium (Universalmedium)” “sense (Sinn)”. The definition of “sense” from the Oxford English Dictionary (on-line March 2018) is: “a feeling that something is the case”, and more specifically: “a keen intuitive awareness of or sensitivity to the presence or importance of something”. ‘Society and minds are continuously “making sense” – they are “sense-constituting systems (sinnkonstituerende Systeme)”. Minds make sense of the world and themselves, and so do social systems. What we think and perceive has a certain sense – and even if it is nonsense, it is not non-sense. Making nonsense is also making sense’ [p 65]. DPB: the definition from the March 2018 on-line Oxford English Dictionary of ‘to make sense’ is ‘be intelligible (“able to be understood, comprehensible”), justifiable (“be a good reason for”), or practicable (“able to be done or put into practice successfully, able to be used, useful”)’, for example ‘it makes sense to start saving early for higher education’, ‘the policy made economic sense’. The phrase or term sense-making makes it possible to categorize minds and social systems into the same category; the concept is different from concepts such as cognition, thinking, anticipating &c, which are often associated with activity of individual people, but not with social systems. ‘We cannot think and perceive without operating on the basis of sense’ [p 65]. DPB: first there is sense; and once there is sense, then, on the basis of that, there can be thinking and perception! DPB: this reminds me of the attribution of connotations to ideas; in that way the ideas are in a way embedded in the world-view of the individual; very colloquially speaking it is said that ‘they are assigned a place’; is this the same as being ‘framed’ in the sense that an idea is put into some context of other ideas and compared to that and, even if temporarily, its relations to these other ideas are fixed; this fixation can be undone and replaced by another, but this gets increasingly difficult if the entire thing of ideas and-cum-relations, namely idea_embedded, becomes more familiar for the individual; this happens in the Jobs. ‘In an analogous fashion, communication makes sense, too. If communication takes place – as the unity of announcement, information, and understanding – then sense is produced. As with minds, even nonsensical communication makes some sense. If tis does not make sense then commmunication ceases to be communication’ [p 65]. DPB: this is the definition of communication: it lasts while the exchange of signs continues and so if it stops because the signs no longer make sense (they are now mere signals) then there is no longer communication, and hence it stops to exist. ‘making sense couples minds and communication at an even more general or “universal”level: communication makes sense, and this sense irritates minds and makes them think. Conversely, what we think makes sense, and communication resonates with the sense produced in our minds. If communication processes complex sense, our minds will be forced to cope with this complexity and to therefore increase the complexity of their sense-making’ [p 65]. DPB: this reminds me in a visual sense of throwing paint onto something unknown so as to make sense of it by by distinguishing its contours and perhaps even pry some reaction loose from it, if one is so lucky; the paint being the ideas attempting to make sense out of the bloody thing; once the paint sticks and the thing is cladded in color then a pattern appears that can now be named &c.; this is the function if you like of the just-so stories representing the ideas thrown at the thing, that by their color explain what the thing is, but only for their part. The above quote of Luhmann also reminds me of my Jobs: this is the linking pin between the workings of memes, namely in their environment of memeplexes and memes external to those, and, on the other hand, of the structures of the mind with which these memeplexes interact; these I have referred to as Jobs: the nexus of exchange between individual people’s minds and memes. That is what I believe Luhmann describes here. Not only the mind, but communications systems can be intentional; both create a reality based on a distinction between themselves and the external world and a relation between them: ‘Mental and communication systems create a reality by locating themselves within a “horizon of sense”. Sense, and the sense-horizon, is the “product of the operations that use sense – and by no means a quality of the world thanks to a creation, a donation, or an origin” (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 44, referring to Deleuze 1969)’ [p 66]. DPB: sense in this way produces sense and a sense-horizon; before sense there was nothing; the amount of sense in the world increases, but related to what? Psychic and communications systems create a framework using the medium of sense, and locate themselves in it; and hence do we, by making sense of the world, make sense of ourselves, and so does communication [p 66]: ‘This is similar to a ship that finds its position and direction by locating itself within the horizon of the sea. Of course, this horizon continuously changes. Through its motion, the ship continuously relocates itself within a horizon and thus has the horizon change with it. The horizon – the ship’s environment – is a direct product of the ship’s own operations, of its own movements. Sense is therefore technically defined by Luhmann .. first as the “unity of the difference between the actual and the possible” ( Baraldi, Corsi, Esposito 1997, 170-3). .. A ship locates itself within its horizon – but thereby realizes that it can move. The ship is not bound only by its actual location; its horizon is a horizon of possibilities. It could also be elsewhere. Sense-making is this interplay between the actual and the possible. What we think makes sense within a horizon of possibilities. Without a context of sense, thoughts cannot make sense. Similarly, communication without a context without a context of sense cannot make sense. Our minds and communications operate within a sense-horizon like a ship operates on a body of water. These operations take place on the basis of a distinctiion between what is actual and what is possible. Secondly, and in connection with the previous definition, sens can also be defined in terms of the distinction self-reference / other-reference: cit. ..’ [pp. 66-7]. There is a distinction between the sense-maker and that which makes sense for the sense-maker; this is the distinction between the ship and the horizon; ‘It makes sense / to me’; the two distinguishing but interconnected dimensions are actual / possible and self / other. ‘And this last distinction is somehow “reflected” within the system itself. Sense-making systems make sense by making sense of the difference between themselves and their environment, by making sense of the difference the “it” that makes sense and the “I” that makes that sense. By making this distinction, the system makes a re-entry. It re-enters the distinction it just made’ [p 67]. The system can now reflect on itself in its environment and it can even reflect on itself as an environment for itself (the self as an it and a self):’The difference system / environment occurs twice: as the difference produced by the system and as the difference observed within the system (The Society of Society 1997a, 45). Autopoietic and sense-constituting systems construct themselves and their horizon though their own operations. Making sense is equivalent to making reality, both self-referential and other-referential. By distinguishing itself from its environment a system establishes itself and the world around it’ [p 68]. DPB: I think this is an important quote. It reminds me of individuation: while the system is in the process of making sense of the world it is itself becoming (becoming more coherent) and in so doing they can make more sense to other systems. A summary of Luhmann’s constructivist theory of reality is: ‘If one accepts this theoretical disposition, one can neither assume that there exists a world at hand (vorhanden) consisting of things, substances, and ideas, nor can one designate their entirety (universitas rerum) with the concept of a “world”. For sense-systems the world is not a giant mechanism that produces states out of states and thus determines the systems themselves. The world is rather an immeasurable potential for surprises, it is virtual information that needs systems to produce information, or more precisely; to ascribe to selected information the sense of being information (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 46)’ [p 68]. DPB: he world is not a vat of things and relations that need only to be explored (nothing is ’vorhanden’, at hand); instead: ‘According to systems theory, the sense and essence of the world do not precede the being of systems: the being of systems rather precedes the sense and essence of the world – to put it in Sartrean terms. The world’s sense and essence is what the autopoietic, sense-processing systems make it to be’ [pp. 68-9]. Not the world determines what makes sense, but the systems determine what does, thereby determining its reality: ‘Sense can only be processed when the world is regarded as information’ [p 69]. Sense-making, observation, and production of information are cognitive tools of both psychic and communications systems. Observe = produce cognition = produce reality. ‘That reality results from cognitive construction, that is results from observation, does, of course, not make it less real – a reality constructed by observation is not less real than one that is “at hand” prior to observation. It just make reality different, more complex and plural’ [p 69]. So as reality emerges when observed by an observer, the observer emerges when observing the observed: ‘The cognition of the world not only constructs observed, it also constructs the observer. The observer may observe operations – but at the same time is also an operation: “other than as an observation the observer cannot exist. The observer is a formation that constitutes itself by linking operations to each other (Luhmann 2002a, 143)’ [p 70]. DPB: this reminds of the concept Marta uses for memes in the conception of a Luhmannian universe: that which remains the same in a flow / a sequence of differences. ‘”The question how systems are able to produce cognition within an environment can then be reformulated as the question how systems can uncouple themselves from their environment” (1988b, Cognition as Construction, 13)’ [p 71]. In this way uncoupling between system and environment establishes their distinction, and hence paves the way for cognition, and hence for the possibility of reality.

(b) Second-Order Cybernetics

Reality is a cognitive construct associated with observation: as a consequence descriptions of reality are descriptions of observation. Observation is an integral part of reality; there is no place where all that is real is located and observation is no longer simple, namely a generating element of reality. The focus is now on the observing of observing of reality and not simply on observing of reality alone. That is second-order observing, also second-order cybernetics. ‘Second-order cybernetics is concerned with the reality-construction of observing systems – and here the expression “observing systems” has a double meaning: second-order cybernetics observes systems that are themselves systems of observation, it is observing systems that are observing systems. When second-order cybernetics uses the expression “observing systems”, the term “systems” is grammatically both an object and a subject

[p 71]

. DPB: and so the observing systems are observed; they observe because they are observed. Systems in the theory of second-order cybernetics are autologically and paradoxically included in it: ‘The subjective and the objective sides of the observation become equally valid and mutually constitutive’ [p 71]. DPB: if there is no observation, there is no second-order observation, there is no distinction, there is no cognition and there is no reality. Only from the first observation could there have been reality. Only from the first observing (spotting?) of the emergence of a firm does it exist in reality. Observation is a formal term: ‘..“First of all, something that causes problems over and over again has to be pointed out. One can say it a hundred times without avail. The observer is not necessarily a psychic system, not necessarily consciousness. The observer is defined purely formally: to distinguish and to indicate. A communication can do this too” (Distinctions 2002a, 147)’ [p 72]. The second-order observation is a first-order observation of a first-order observation simultaneous; complexity of observation of reality is gained, but at the loss of ontological certainty about it. Higher level observations cannot transcend this pattern, they remain first-order observations of fist-order observations of &c. ‘.. every observation, regardless of order, has its so-called blind spot: .. When handling a distinction you always have a blind spot or invisibility in your back. You cannot observe yourself as the one who handles a distinction, instead you have to make yourself invisible when you want to observe. .. The observer has to make him/herself invisible as the element of the distinction between the observer and the observed(Luhmann Distinctions 2002a, 147)

[pp. 73-4]

. As an illustration: the second-order observer can observe that the first-order observer cannot observe herself as the second-order observer can; the first-order observer sees what’s in front but not what is behind her back; the blind spot signifies her particular perspective; when she turns around to look, there is a new blind spot behind her. But this is true for all observers: every one has a blind spot, and hence every observation creates a blind spot, and hence reality depends on blind spots [p 74]. ‘Social systems observe – and thereby, of course, construct reality – by observing how others observe. Functional differentiation plus second-order observations are two main characteristics of the present’ [p 76]. An important example of this is the interplay between politics and the mass-media, another is the interplay between science and the mass-media in the sense of publications.

3 What Happens to the Human Being?

(a) Beyond Humanism

The “humanist” concept of the human being will vanish [Michel Foucault, Les mots et les choses, final paragraph]; human beings are not the oldest nor the most constant that human knowledge has dealt with: ‘Antropocentrism is by no means a given in the enterprise of understanding and cognition’ [p 79]. The social systems theory of Luhmann is in this same sense non-anthropocentristic: not to erase the human being, but to go beyond the conceptual limits of the overly human approach popular for a few centuries. Traditional humanism is too simplistic to explain the complexity of reality. Luhmann explains the notion of a human being in three autopoietic realms: biological, psychic and social (see chapter 1). ‘Various traditional philosophies then discussed the so-called mind-body problem – how a singular entity could consist of two parts. Social systems theory does not offer a new and easy solution to this problem, it rather suggests that “human reality” is even more complex: we do not only have to deal with the mind and the body – we also have to take into account communication. And in the face of such multiplicity it might be wise to give up the attempt still to “singularize” the human being

[p 80]

. None of these three systems is shown to be dominant and social systems theory does not attribute essences or cruces to one: ‘And since the human being cannot be essentially defined, it does not make a lot of sense to use it as a starting point for a theory. This is the reason why social systems theory tries to wipe out the humanists’ one-dimensional portrayal of the human being and replace it with a more complex model of reality’ [p 81]. The social systems theory identifies the three autopoietic and operationally closed systems, such that the mind is the interface between reality and the communications system: ‘No “outside” information can enter communication without first being processed by the mind’ [p 81]. In regard to the meaning of the three realms for social systems theory is the relation mind-communication more relevant than the relation body-mind: ‘Minds and society depend on and independent of the other. They depend on the other’s existence for the continuation of their own autopoiesis, while, because of their operational closure, they are independent as no direct determination or interference is possible. ‘They (the two systems) can only actualize and specify their own structures and thus ca only change themselves. They use each other for reciprocal irritation of these structural changes. Systems of communication can only be stimulated by systems of the mind, and these in turn are extremely attracted to what is conspicuously communicated by language (DPB: ‘via’ would have the term of my choice here). My argument is as follows: the independence of each closed system is a requirement for structural complementarity, that is, for the reciprocal initiation (but not determination) of the actualized choice of structure (Luhmann 1994a ?? p 380)’ [p 82].

(b) Problems of Identity

Minds and society (communication) are structurally coupled. Therefore they co-evolve. This is possible because they exist in the common media of language and sense. This conception leads to a specific conception of the human identity or individuality: attaining a human identity requires co-evolution involving operations of the mind and of communications; and hence can that process be described from the perspective of the autopoiesis of the one or that of the other: there is no singular view. Identity and individuality are not singular objects, but they exist in both the mind and in society. ‘In the case of the mental systems, individuality identity emerges as a result of self-socialization; in the case of social systems, individuality, and identity are part of an important semantics of the self-description of society and are connected to the inclusion of “persons” in society. .. “the autopoietic system of society that operates on the basis of communication makes its own complexity available for the construction of psychic systems”; and conversely, inclusion means that “an autopoietic psychic system that operates on the basis of consciousness makes its own complexity available for the construction of social systems” (Luhmann 1989 Ecological Communication, 162)

[p 83]

. DPB: this is the explanation of Jobs: I had explained the fluidity (complexity) of memes or memeplexes that fall as a mist over the landscape of individuals and shaping them, but I had not at the time (I think) explained that the individual people on the landscape of people are more than neutral substrate, but they are themselves shaped by the ongoing influence of the communication taking place in society. At a later stage I have explained this, namely in the Theory and also in the Logistic Model, where through the operations people are familiarized with the ideas they encounter in society and the more frequent the encounters, or the more their connotations suit the existing structure of their minds as it has developed as a result of the previous encounters, the more the people become familiar with them and the easier they will reproduce them. Every mind is unique and in that way each mind will resonate in their unique way with their environments and especially with their social environments with which they are structurally coupled (Parson: they interpenetrate). ‘Mental systems autopoietically develop themselves and can only develop an understanding or consciousness of themselves by way of self-socialization’ [p 83]. DPB: the mind is damaged by the encounters with (principally) the social system and vice versa. The point above is that the mind is closed and perceives only vague signals for them to interpret as signs with a meaning; only they can damage themselves based on the signals they perceive from the social systems they have encounters with; Luhmann calls this phenomenon self-socialization; ‘socialization is a “do-it-yourself” project’ [p 83]. DPB: I reckon the concept of autopoiesis has not fully permeated throughout my thesis, and as a consequence I don’t believe that the signals / signs dichotomy has been sufficiently incorporated; there might still be (will surely be) traces of penetration of signals from external sources as signs into the mind. How the consciousness of an individual is structured is in the end decided by the consciousness of the individual; ‘.. mental structures are “the result of an individual system history” of the mind (Luhmann Theories of Distinction 2002a 137)

[p 84]

. But the psychic system is operationally fully independent and cognitively fully dependent: ‘The language and the sense (Sinn) of individuality link or couple our perceptions of our individualities to society. Each individual consciousness has its own particular systemic history, its own individual mindset – but in each case this history and resulting mindset are informed by the available “cultural supply” (Luhmann 2002a Theories of Distinction, 137)’ [p 84]. And vice versa do individual minds damage the social systems around them: ‘On the other hand, communication systems ascribe individuality to “persons”. This is how they are able to resonate with the psychic complexiity in their environment. .. Inclusion is the term for the manner in which social systems can recognize persons. By inclusion, social systems assign persons with a social position so that there is a framework “in which they can act in conformity with expectations, or, to put it more romantically,: in which they can feel at home as individuals” (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 621). Successful inclusion takes place when society is able to prepare molds for “individuals” to fit in’ [p 84]. How social inclusion develops depends on the evolution of the differentiation of social systems: social evolution and the unfolding of history result in a variation of the “cultural supply”. Human individuality is a product of semantics and language that couple psychic and social systems. In a stratified society (up to appr. 18th century) the stratum (family, household &c.) is the social locality where an individual becomes an individual, including rank and attributes ‘.. “in the sense of its socially respected characteristics”’ [p 86]. In a stratified society socialization takes place within the house where one’s social life is, resulting in a fixed, inviolable, and hence an indivisible social status (ref. literal meaning of individual), but not yet a uniqueness: the individual was shaped by birth and divine creation, but not yet original as differentiated from all the other individuals thus positioned. When the stratified societal structure came to change into a functional structure, the direct inclusion of old was replaced by a form of exclusion: ‘The “general” was no longer outside of the individual and inside society and religion, but was moved into the individual itself. .. Individuality no longer means indivisibility, but uniqueness. The individual is now supposed to be an individual by being different from all others – by being a “subject”’ [p 87]. As from this point on the individual is expected to identify itself in regard to its individuality and this means: ‘ “.. in regard to that which distinguishes itself from everybody else. Self-observations and self-descriptions can no longer (and if still, then only externally) rely on social positions, affiliations, inclusions” (Luhmann Ecological Communication . 1989, 215)’ [p87]. Functional differentiation for an individual means differentiation into the various subsystems of society; their boundaries mark the social differentiation; the individual cannot be entirely at home with any of them: ‘Whatever the individual makes of himself and however society contributes to this: it has its standpoint in itself and outside of society. The formula “subject” symbolizes nothing else. Thereby the individual is external to all function systems. It can no longer participate (Luhmann Ecological Communication 1989, 212)’ [p 88]. The individual has now left society but it can partially re-enter, namely with particular roles. This is problematic, because 1. by being unique individuals cannot be unique and 2. by characterizing one as not x, one has to choose what one is from a source of not x, that is socially accepted and general, and hence not unique and 3. it is no longer possible to be an ‘in-dividual’, in the sense of an indivisible entity, because one is party to multiple function systems; one risks to fall apart into multiple selves. To overcome this risk the subjective individual has the choice to become an homme copie, an “imitational person.” ‘“This means: to admit from the first the failure of the programme of individuality and to establish one’s principle of life on the opposite> To be able to be different then means: to be just like someone else” (Luhmann 1989 Ecological Communication, 221). In living a “copied existence,” one borrows one’s originality from others. Just like in the world of fashion, one becomes special by copying what others present as being special

[p 89]

. This programme of individuality may lead to a multiple self or an imitational person. But this is due to the multiplicity if the functional systems (differentiation) and the difficulties to choose one’s role from them: father or employee &c. ‘If, in accordance with the semantics of modern society we become persons by being subjects that take on a variety of functions, what does this mean in “real life?”

[p 91]

. We go through careers, assume positions and develop a history with each of the functions we are active in; to state one’s class does not suffice and one has to explain one’s history and ensuing position in each functional system (married twice, children, successful politician, not particularly wealthy, terrible cook &c). ‘And what is above all decisive is that in modern society the career (..) has advanced to become the most important mechanism for the integration of individuals and society (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 742)’ [p 92]. The concept of a career is wide (all function systems) and deep (an unsuccessful career counts also). But although careers can be based on psychic characteristics, they are social and not psychic: they connect people to society, but they do not necessarily connect people to themselves; that is a job for subjectivity, namely how people select their partial identities from what is available. ‘The semantics of subjectivity – that flourished after the American and French revolutions – allows the retaining of some self-respect. It is a fine addition to the structural reality of the functional differentiation and supplies us with dignity’ [p 95]. Social systems theory does not see communication as a result of human action (contrary to theories of action), but instead it sees human action as a result of communication: ‘.. ; and it (DPB: social systems theory) describes “human action” as designated by communication systems’ [p 97].

4. What Can Be Done?

(a) Limits of Activism and the Conformism of Protest

Social systems theory does not deny the impact of social theory and social activism; the impact as in the case of Marxism can be immense: ‘But it does not believe that such an impact can be predicted or decided by a theory or the political groups that claim to represent it. In a society based on functional differentiation, social developments cannot be imposed by one system on another. Society as a whole cannot be directed. Function systems are operationally closed and function autopoietically’ [p 101]. DPB: and the same holds true for the economy and for organizations, see ch 1 above. They in other words cannot be changed by people, with regards to movements with an objective to make changes to society: ‘Society is addressed “as if it was not a system”(Luhmann 1986a Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy, 20), as if it could be generally changed if only people would start to think and act better. Luhmann sees a role of systems theory in “disciplining the accusations towards the address of society” (Luhmann 1986a Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy, 20). The accusations against society are, according to Luhmann, based oon an inadequate understanding of how society functions, of how society can change itself, and of how the own social nature of the activist movement itself’ [p 102]. Concerning the Green movement in Germany, in summary: proposed changes in function systems result in changes in the function systems themselves and not necessarily in the ecology. So called protest movements do not oppose society, but they contribute to its functional differentiation by increasing its complexity and so they they are in accord with it: ‘Modern “protest” movements are possibly among the best adapted and systemically conformist developments in society’ [p 108].

(b) Negative Ethics

Movements frequently use a type of communication called moral discourse; this usually indicates the existence of a conflict; under normal circumstances function systems do not require this mode. Luhmann sees this as an ethical task, ethics being treated as the reflection on morality: his ethics aim at explaining morality from the nonmoral perspective of society (hence the negative ethics in the title). Luhmann states that the religious paradigm is lost, academic ethics have failed and he is skeptical with regards to the finding of new a paradigmatic ethics; he states that philosophy should stop looking for “the” reasons for ethics: ‘He says: “Ethics can’t provide reasons for morality. It finds morality to be there, and then it is confronted with the problems that result from this finding” (1989 Ecological Communication, 360)’ [p 111]. But it is possible to provide a theory that describes how a morality works within a functionally differentiated society. Morality is associated with social and hence communicative operations; in that light morality must be seen as ‘a specific type of communications for processing information on esteem of disesteem’ [p 111]; esteem is similar to approval (distribution of some achievement in a limited context such as sport) but extended to the entire person; it distributes esteem or disesteem among persons in the sense of systems theory in the function systems: all other function systems can add moral code (good / bad) to their operations: a moral code can be attributed to the concrete operations of a particular system. Used in this way a moral code polarizes; it also suffers of ‘l’englobement du contraire’, or the ‘interdiction of self-exemption’: once the distinction is made, one identifies oneself with the positive side of it. ‘One should, Luhmann says, be very cautious with morality and “only touch it with the most sterile instruments’, since it is a “highly contagious substance” that easily infects communication (Luhmann Ecological Communication 1989, 359)’ [p 113]. Systems theory can say: there can be no ethical propositions, positive ethics cannot be expressed, what is good shows itself as good in practice, and there is no correspondence between good theory and good practice. The exercise to identify a positive ethics in the sense of a rational and universal morality has turned out futile. ‘Ethics could rather concentrate on studying the empirical communicative effects of moral discourse in society under the conditions of functional differentiation’ [p 114]. If it is used in broadcasts and performances it should be supplemented with a warning like: ‘This product is full of morality and may therefore lead to unwanted communicative overengagement, possibly resulting in damage to both personal and social health’ [p 114].

(c) Subtle Subversion

Society cannot be steered by people, moral discourse does not change it; society changes itself autopoietically. Social systems theory is itself a social system (within the science function system) and so it itself can only change itself autopoietically. ‘Like any other scientific theory, social systems theory also somehow “makes a difference” but is can only do so immediately within science because it has to wait for its irritation to change the science system and its social environment, namely, the other function systems’ [p 115]. DPB: above all this reminds me of the billiards game ‘tien over rood’ where points can be scored either by playing the white ball at the targeted ball via a third ball in between, or via the side of the table. Anyhow there can unsurprisingly not be direct influence on society. And equally impossible is it to steer in a direct sense the behavior of an organization such as a firm. But the above quote says something about the success in terms of the changes that a theory for firms that is based on these theories (or that isn’t based on them for that matter) can be expected to bring about. This expectation has to be modest: the best it can do is to stir the minds of scientists (or other readers), who then in turn stir the minds (or irritate as Luhmann formulates it) of the people that carry the meme (or are, as per Luhmann, included in the communication of) the other function systems and of subsystems such as organizations including firms. ‘With social systems theory, like with all other communication, society is no longer exactly what it was before, but how society resonates with social systems theory (DPB: or any theory) is eventually up to society – and not to this theory’ [p 115]. And so social systems theory is skeptical about the expected results of its explanations but it can hope to clarify some facts better such that the behavior of society can be better understood by those associated with it: ‘It tries to enlighten society .. about the limits of rationality in a society of function systems’ [p 115]. This expression is modest and it shows that other attempts are prone to pompousness; Luhmann hopes for more, namely that the discomfort the theory produces will have disruptive effects. Humanist semantics still shows a blind faith in our nonhumanist society. DPB: this I like: ‘Society tends to comfort itself – and this self-comfort is supported by critical theories and protest movements – that while some aspects are not “humanist” enough, it could make itself more human, if only, for instance, the right policies were adopted’ [p 116]. DPB: but imagine what a load of spare time virtually everyone would have if these half-baked attempts at improving society were abandoned. Where this theory truly challenges the existing semantics at its foundations, the cries for more democracy, emancipation, human rights &c. only confirm the existing traditional and rather hopeless semantics. If society is indeed structured in function systems then people cannot rule and cannot be free, and hence democracy and liberation are meaningless concepts. ‘Social systems theory is quite radical in its distrust of these traditional semantics that are shared by the political system, by the mass media, by education, by protest movements, and so on. And its effects will be discomforting if it is able to irritate society so much that these semantics lose their credibility. It is potentially more subversive than many of the current protest or human rights movements regarding the distrust it has of the currently dominant social self-descriptions’ [p 117].

PART III Mass Media

5 The Mass Media as a System

This less traditional subject of his theory exemplifies the nontraditional and “radical” character of his thought. While there is no hierarchy or domination between systems, Luhmann concedes that there appears to be an “unequal growth of function systems” (1997a Society of Society?, 391). Some systems can gain ground in some state (of them and of the other function systems) while others may lose relevance to even fade away completely; the present state of the mass media is of the category rising star. It emerged with the emergence of speech, writing, printing press and its distribution accelerated with the emergence of radio, TV, and internet. It is well suited to demonstrate the modern aspects of the social systems theory: ‘..its nonhuman, global, polycontextural, and radically constructivist features. In addition to this, the mass media may demonstrate more drastically than any other systems a certain facet in the meaninglessness of contemporary sense-production’ [p 122]. DPB: this means that sense is being made of patterns perceived by the communication systems, but there is no meaning in the sense that is made. But to make sense is a double concept (it makes sense to me): the thing observed makes no sense or I am not able to make sense of that thing I am observing. DPB: it was / is not my intention to read all of this. The relevance of the concept for my research is in the way that the function systems are spread over the population to include human beings in their ranks. Because only with the messages of the evangelies of the capitalist system (the belief in the idea of progress) can individuals be included in the ranks and hence be motivated to behave such that this kind of economy appears with this kind of firms as a part of it. And so I will start to read Part III, but I may not complete it ad refer to it for further reference. ‘Luhmann defines the mass media as follows: “the term ‘mass media’ includes all those institutions of society which make use of copying technologies to disseminate communication” (Luhmann 2000a The Reality of the Mass Media, 2)

[p 122]

. DPB: this definition to an increasing extent includes corporations, because newspapers and websites use their disseminations via press releases often without further research or critical questions; this makes the firm effectively inclusive to (member of) the function system of the mass media. An essential element, however, is a lack of interaction among those co-present can take place between the sender and the receivers; interaction cannot take place because of the interposition of technology. DPB: this reminds me of the concept of coevalness, whereby human beings are denied a common experience, and hence a distance exists between the observer and the observed that itself becomes a difference and is treated as a difference of their time-lines. Also it reminds me of the way that interactions take place in my Logistical Model: I have treated direct communications and other kinds such as written or recorded in the same way: they can all have some effect on the participants and in this way they can manage to make changes to the memes in people’s minds. I have assumed that there is no fundamental difference: they are all signals entering (or not) the mind of the person to there be assigned a meaning (or not) through associations with other ideas. Luhmann makes a distinction between private communications (one-on-one e-mail &c.) and public communications (visiting a publicly accessible website &c.). But the fact that there is technology in between the sender and the receiver is no reason for Luhmann to decry the inauthenticity of these communications (like Heidegger and Baudrillard apparently do); rather the technology now enables the copying of information on a large scale without the need for physical presence or contact; this separation makes it impossible to centrally coordinate the transmission (at a presentation I can leave something out that I didn’t want a particular person to hear or I can overrule him by e.g. shooting him, but in a mass communication I cannot). Luhmann does not ascribe specific importance to the particular technologies involved: the technology is merely the environment of the communication, not the beast itself: ‘Technological developments therefore cannot produce revolutions in communication’[p 124]. DPB: but I would argue that they could accelerate revolutions in other function systems: revolutions can only be brought about by the function systems themselves, but irritations can occur at a larger scale and more frequently. Mass media make communication global. ‘Like all other function systems – but even more noticeably – the mass media system is, in principle, laid out for all-inclusion and does not recognize geographical borders. It is everywhere at all times’ [p 125]. If mass media is to be understood as a function system it must have a code: in this case it is information / noninformation: information is what it selects to broadcast, noninformation is what it selects not to. Mass media observes its intrasocial environment and constructs information by selecting and producing it. The information is public to all, it is general even if it is restricted for some, it is fully open to those for whom it is not (rated movies). Mass media information is not specific information, ‘.. rather about that “which is known to be known”, it is about that “one has to assume that everyone knows (or that not knowing would entail a loss of face and is therefore not admitted to)” (Luhmann 2000a The Reality of the Mass Media, 20)’ [p 126]. Mass media in this sense constitutes what we know about the world in which we live, and specifically our society. The ‘mass’ refers to the multiplicity of included others we share the information shared by the mass media with: ‘If we had only private or professional knowledge, it would be difficult to talk to a stranger about our common reality. Thanks to the mass media, we share a world’ [p 126]. DPB: and this information that is shared with the mass of others includes information about commonly held beliefs; this includes the idea of progress and people’s belief in it. And hence the mass media play a role in the constitution of the idea and the keeping up / fresh / remembered of the rules (memes), the ‘required’ motivations and the proper enactment if those rules. The relation to time is: ‘Information cannot be repeated; as soon as it becomes an event, it becomes non-information. .. If information is used as a code, this means that the operations in the system are constantly and inevitably transforming information to non-information. The crossing of the boundary from value to opposing value occurs automatically with the very autopoiesis of the system (Luhmann 2000a The Reality of the Mass Media, 19-20)’ [p 127]. And as a consequence this transition puts time pressure on the system. DPB: the surprise is taken out, the randomness reduced, the order increased, organization irreversibly increased, time flows in the direction of the increase of irreversibility. Once the information is divulged by the mass media, everyone will irreversibly know about it, and as a consequence time in practical terms flows in the direction of the release of new information. This mode of operation is specific for mass media as a function system: no other is known to transitions its one side to its other irreversibly (apart from some cases in the economic realm maybe: once paid, something immediately becomes unpaid for the next owner). The issue is maybe not that the system experiences pressure of time, but that time is created there; in terms of counting of events: the events in the mass media are many and of a high frequency compared to other function systems and as a consequence from those other systems time may seem to pass fast in the world. In special cases, such as advertising, repetition is in order, because it just shows how important this product is to show people it time and again. Roles of news, entertainment and advertising: ‘self-organization of folly’, ‘to provide people with no taste with taste’, and ‘the stabilization of a relation of redundancy and variety in everyday culture (Luhmann The Reality of the Mass Media2000a, 50)

[p 131]

. This appears to be a also the description of the role of the mass media in general as a function system: to in fact supply society with norms and choices. ‘Advertising is thus crucial for establishing our society as “a kind of best of all possible worlds with as much order as necessary and as much freedom as possible. Advertising makes this order known and enforces it” (Luhmann The Reality of the Mass Media2000a, 50)

[p 131]

. Another function (apart from the one mentioned above) of the mass media is: ‘.. the impact on social dynamics, the speeding up of time. Luhmann says: “It might be said, then, that the mass media keep society on its toes. They generate a constantly renewed willingness to be prepared for surprises, disruptions even. In this respect, the mass media “fit” the accelerated auto-dynamic of other function systems such as the economy, science, and politics, which constantly confront society with new problems” (Luhmann The Reality of the Mass Media2002a, 22). The mass media system accelerates the speed of society by continuously providing new irritations. It provides new information – and then converts the same information to noninformation

[pp. 134-5]

. The systems provides two timelines: one in the future where new information is uncovered and another in the past where obsoleteness is produced. DPB: I am not sure that these are two timelines, perhaps it functions like a kind of a metabolism, first selecting and producing new information and then digesting it (chewing it up) to give it over to obsoleteness. ‘By producing new information, the mass media system also produces old noninformation. The other function systems cannot ignore this production of time

[p 135]

. ‘Luhmann suggests that the mass media can be ascribed the general function of providing society with a universally available memory. And by memory he means, more specifically, the generation of familiarity and its variation from moment to moment (Luhmann The Reality of the Mass Media2002a, 101)’ [p 135]. DPB: familiarity is a term I have also used but in a more narrow perspective, namely to explain how a person can ‘get used’ to particular signals and record them in her memory in association with other such ideas; but always as a matter of repetition of information, perhaps together with the association powers with others: ‘The memory is for Luhmann never a storehouse or stock, it is, quite to the contrary, a continuously operating production of actuality

[p 135]

. DPB: this is exactly how I have modeled it in the Logistical model: in situation (bad name?) and interactions, memes are adapted and they are recorded in memory of persons as per their familiarization; in this way their memory is continuously changing and never the same! More than just memorizing events, the mass media is capable of forgetting of not only what they didn’t select in the first place, but also of what they have selected but have now converted to the other side of noninformation; as a consequence the mass media constructs memory largely through forgetting and not through recollection. ‘By the mass media, society is informed about itself in a general way, a universally valid reality is constructed’ [ p 136]. This is a distinction from the individual realities of all the function systems, but in a general way of memorizing, a kind of a background reality and also not all of reality is comprise in there, not is it based on consensus. The medium that the mass media deal with and produce is the public opinion; this means a set of nonconsensual and nonpersonal data or ratings; it is not a shared or agreed opinion or an opinion of “the people”. The mass media system is concerned with its autopoiesis, the continuation of its operations by providing connectivity; ‘The medium of public opinion is very efficient in this respect. It never grows tired; you can always connect it with itself. A poll can be done and redone – it is usually slightly different the next day, and even if it is the same as yesterday, this is still information! Today’s public opinion is the basis tomorrow’s and the continuation of yesterday’s: “The respectively current public opinion … is as the result of previous communication the condition ofor future communication” (Luhmann The Society of Society 1997a, 1104)’ [p 138]. DPB: this reminds me of the concept of individuation: there is sufficient similarity in the differences to be comparable and there is sufficient difference in the similarity to be in a state of forever becoming. Luhmann is aware of this because he refers to Deleuze (see far above). ‘Public opinion is, after all this, neither the mere fashion of opinions as it was believed in the seventeenth century nor is it the medium of rational enlightenment or the “puissance invisible” which were expected in the eighteenth century to leave tradition behind. It is the medium of the self-description and the world-description of modern society. It is the “Holy Spirit” of the system, the communicative availability of the results of communication (Luhmann 1997a The Society of Society, 1108)

[p 138]

. Public opinion is a communicative medium becomes possible through the development of the mass media into an autopoietic global function system. With the production of a memory, there arise the need for a “currency”. The memory must take shape, it must assume a form. It is the medium for general reality to manifest itself. Public opinion is this communicative medium that is produced within the mass media system. It is the ‘stuff’ of society’s general self-descriptions; it is the basis for tomorrow’s reality: ‘With public opinion, mass communication can revolve around itself and continue its on-going self-reproduction. Public opinion transforms itself in eternal spirals’ [pp. 138-9].

6 Beyond Manipulation

7 The Reality of Mass Media

There is not such thing as a reality; reality is not distorted by the mass media; mass media instead construct reality; how do the mass media construct reality? DPB: this is potentially a useful concept also for the how the of a firm constructs its reality. The people associated with the firm are the producers and the users of information concerning the firm. This reminds me of the section in the manuscript that describes and illustrates the corporate discussions: from which leased car to choose up until the quality of the salad bar and who is dating whom. This is the reality of a firm under permanent construction! It is impossible to give a full account of anything, just as it is impossible to make a one-on-one map of a geographical area. An account is a structured de-complexified reduction of reality: ‘A structured and nonchaotic reality is based on the reduction of complexity, on selection, on systemic observation. Memory is based on forgetting. A coherent reality – be it the reality of a life or a war – can only be constructed from a certain perspective and this perspective has to be itself highly structured in order to be able to present a well-structured picture

[p 150]

. DPB: this reminds of the remark of Wolfram that the processes in nature that create reality should be just about as complex as the processes that have produced our powers of perception enabling us to make sense of those processes in nature. It also reminds of the law of requisite variety: the complexity of the controller must be similar to the complexity of the process it controls. The question is: how do the mass media, or in fact how do all observing systems(!!!), construct reality? : ‘And the question must “autologically” take into account that its answer will itself be a construction / observation

[p 150]

. But mass media does not construct all of reality: ‘The mass media construct a “public” reality. But this reality is not more or less real than the reality constructions of other observing systems’ [ p 150]. DPB: this information processing is all there is; the mass media attempt to embrace all of the world’s events, the function systems process the information produced in there and firms process information produced there. ‘The Reality of the Mass Media’ (title of Luhmann’s book) is grammatically ambiguous and this reflects the “operational constructivism” that underlies the systemic concept of reality: ‘The (mass, brackets DPB) media are the grammatical subject and object of this expression. If the mass media are the grammatical object, then reality is the subject, and thus the reality of the mass media is simply the reality that they “objectively” constitute. As a grammatical subject, the mass media “subjectively” produce a reality – they present us with with a reality that is their production or “object”. What is meant by the expression in the first sense are the operations proper to the media: the broadcasting and printing as it is performed (Luhmann The Reality of the Mass Media 2000a, 3). What is meant in the second sense is the reality that “appears to them, or through them to others, to be reality” (Luhmann The Reality of the Mass Media 2000a, 4)’ [p 151]. For the first approach above, first-order observation is enough, as if we were dealing with facts. For the second approach, a second-order observation is required. DPB: All the ‘ingredients’ I use in the Logistical Model are presented here also: is the concept of reality relevant for my subject at all?: ‘We must observe the mass media as an observing system that produces both its own reality and the reality of what it observes by its observations’ [p 151]. DPB this reminds me of the operators epsilon and beta and the question of they are one and the same: ‘Construction of reality always implies the reality of construction’ [p 151]. DPB this approach integrates the notions of construction and reality and that seems to me to be the same as the reciprocity of the operation of one system (say the mind, or communication) that expresses something and the operation of another system (say communication, or the mind) of making sense of the same thing. The belief in progress associated wit the capitalism or market economy infuses continuous change into the communication of the mass media, and hence no stability. This kind of construction/observation ongoing presents society with a new reality as opposed to a former version of reality: ‘With different types of construction, different realities emerge’ [p 152]. Examples are a religious, capitalist, traditional &c. construction leading to different realities.

8 Individuality and Freedom

Individuality is an important element in social reality constructed by the mass media. Events and communication are attributed to individual agency. ‘The construct of the “cognitively more or less informed, competent, morally responsible human being” helps the function system of the mass media constantly to irritate itself with regard to its biological and psychic human environment ( Luhmann 2000a The Reality of the Mass Media, 74)

[p 158]

. But human being are too systematically split (re functional differentiated systems) to be presented as one individual. But through structural couplings with other function systems as well as with the human mind system, by presenting persons as individual agents, they give the minds something to think about, namely about social inclusion and self-socialization. The persons appearing in the mass media increase the complexity of social and psychic systems. Luhmann uses terminology from psychology to explain structural coupling between the mind and the mass media, especially the notion s of schema and script: ‘Schemata allow for cognitive selection. With their help, cognition can both sort out what it takes note of and what is does not. They provide a framework with which information can be categorized and ordered. These schemata are not fixed, they can be varied and altered, they are not so much readymade images but patterns for the construction of images. .. Schemata are not the storehouse of cognitive impressions, but rather the cognitive tools for the production of information (DPB: tools for thought) – and thus for the performance of cognitive autopoiesis. Luhmann assumes that “the structural coupling of mass media communication and psychically reliable simplifications uses, and indeed generates, such schemata. The process is a circular one. The mass media value comprehensibility. But comprehensibility is best guaranteed by the schemata which the media themselves have already generated” (Luhmann 2000a The Reality of the Mass Media, 100)’ [pp. 158-9]. Minds and communication are coupled by meaning and language, in addition minds and mass media are coupled by cognitive schemata [p 152]. DPB: the concept of schemata reminds me of the concept of memes, the tools for thought; I believe that they are not only relevant in the sphere of the mass media or their interface with the mind, but have a wider application, for instance in the way people think about economic issues. ‘Schemata are rather the “thermostats” that link the mind and the mass media together’ [p 159]. DPB: they are at the same location as my operators E and B. And indeed via familiarization, they can become a mold of association that are used for decisions in the future. I find the thermostat comparison strange because they can only give a reading and not an action. Is that the intention here? ‘In order to be a modern personality we have to have a personality that goes beyond our functional identities. .. one has to be something “unique” as well. One has to have an identity, a history. One has to be as special and unique as everyone else is. The mass media display all these uniformly unique characters – and the mind resonates with these schemata. And in turn, of course, the mass media resonate with the mental individuality schemata. .. Luhmann explains: “When individuals look at media as text or as image, they are outside; when they experience their results within themselves they are inside. They ghave to oscillate between outside and inside. .. For the one position is only possible thanks to the other – and vice versa”(Luhmann 2000a The Reality of the Mass Media, 115). When structurally coupled with the mass society through the mass media – we are both inside and outside of society. The schemata have these two extremes – our psychic existence outside of society and our social existence within it’ [p 160]. DPB: this last part outside / inside reminds me a lot of the Logistical Model in regards to the making sens of the environment and then influencing the environment with the amendments of memes &c.

Part III: Philosophical Contexts

This section is a short summary of the main influencers of the work of Luhmann: Kant, Hegel, Husserl and Marx, according to Habermas and also according to the number of references in his texts. Mueller finds the work of Luhmann closest to the work of Hegel (influenced by it or borrowed from it, although he doesn’t admit it); and as such it is more of a philosophy of consciousness than a philosophy of social systems.

Kant

Radical constructivism, however, begins with the empirical assertion: Cognition is only possible because it has no access to the reality external to it. A brain, for instance, can only produce information because it is coded indifferently in regard to its environment, i.e. it operates enclosed within the recursive network of its own operations. Similarly one would have to say: Communication systems (social systems) are only able to produce information because the environment does not interrupt them. And following all this, the same should be self-evident with respect to the classical “seat” (subject) of epistemology: to consciousness. (Luhmann Cognition as Construction 1988, 8-9)’ [pp. 167-8]. Luhmann’s system theory is rooted in Kantian epistemology: What is cognition and how does it operate? But if cognition is a matter of consciousness then how can it relate to what it recognizes? Kant no longer occupies himself with the general structure of the world, but with the structure of cognition and how it operates and conceives of a world. And as a consequence, to understand reality we must first understand cognition. This idea introduces constructivism into epistemology. According to Kan, the realization of reality is an effect of cognitive construction but it makes sense to assume that the world still is as it is and the transcendental structure of cognition is relevant. Luhmann radicalizes this by assuming that reality consists of its own realization (over and above the idea that the realization of reality is a way of relating to reality). ‘Cognition is no longer simply a way of relating understandingly to a reality. Here reality emerges as cognition’ [p 168]. Cognition is however not seen as ideal or the self-realization of a higher consciousness, but instead it has no “essence”: ‘It can operate, for instance, ”materially” in the form of biological life, mentally in the form of thoughts, or socially in the form of communication’ [p 169]. There is no rule for how this can come about: ‘Cognitive systems establish themselves by operational closure. By differentiating themselves operationally, they construct themselves by establishing a difference between themselves and their environment. Cognition is based on the establishment of this difference – it does not happen in spite of this difference, but because of it’ [p 169]. DPB: this is a connection with the concept of individuation, where a shape or a contour is distinguished from a scatter of possible enemies (or food, or spouses) and that process of distinction (while being distinguished) is the process of cognition and it also is the process of individuation. As it comes to individuate, it comes to cognize. And this can only take place because a distinction is made between self and the environment, and hence because the system is operationally closed. And this process has been called “thinking” and I am also fond of the term “computation” in this sphere, meaning the processing of information. In the context of my research it means the processing of the information belonging to the social system, namely communication, and the processing of information belonging to the psychic system, namely belonging to the mind. These systems are operationally closed, and hence closed to the exchange of information by one another, but yet they influence the other indirectly. Differences of Luhmannian and Kantian theory: 1. Cognition can take any operational mode and hence is not an act of consciousness 2. Cognition constructs itself empirically in a different way from process to process, and there is no a priori transcendental structure of cognition 3. No complete description of all cognitive processes is possible because they evolve and hence new modes emerge 4. Reality is not singular but instead a complex multiplicity of system / environment constellations 5. A description of reality is itself a contingent construction within a system / environment relation [pp. 169-170]. With regards to the subject /object distinction (and its replacement with system / environment): ‘The subject “constructs” reality by transcendental unification through self-reference. The system does this by differentiation. The conceptual framework of system / environment is not only radically constructivist but also radically differentialist”’ [ p 170]. Consciously cognizing subjects are replaced with systems of observation that make distinctions (‘make splits’) into the world constituting a multiplicity of system / environment relations. In addition to the abolishing of the subject as an element of pure reason as above, Luhmann also criticizes its use for ethics and social theory: ‘The term “subject” does not designate a substance that, by its pure being, shoulders everything else, the subject is rather self-referentiality itself as the foundation of cognition and action. .. ‘ [pp. 170-171]. In other words: subjectivism should also not be use in social studies. DPB: the approach of Luhmann reminds me of my Logistical Model namely there is no subject, but a mutual evolution of the thought processes and the individuation processes. This comes about via the temporary existence of a connection between psychic and communication systems. Their connection, a Job or a Bubble, is the ‘owner’ of the operators that make the self- end hetero references, because only if the utterance was sent and received is it ain fact a communication and can it damage the mind such that the mind can damage the communication. What bothers me is Husserl’s concept of intersubjectivity, it sounds good, why can it not work? And also: it was mentioned in relation to the concept of coevalness.

Hegel

Hegel imports concepts of consciousness into social theory, ‘.., Luhmann rejects any general type of cognition for systemic autopoiesis – it may be consciousness, but is can also be communication, life, or perhaps, something else’ [p 173]. Luhmann’s shift from subject to system implies a shift from unity to multiplicity and from identity to difference (also compared to Hegel). Luhmann claims that his theory is able to include itself within itself. There is some level of self-inclusion in Hegel’s theory when the subject becomes fully self-reflective: ‘But Hegel, at least in Luhmann’s view, forgot to include himself, the perspective of the theory of subjectivity, into the story. He failed to take into account that the epistemologist is himself within the labyrinth of cognition. Hegel .. did not really achieve an “autological” theory of observation’ [ p 175]. ‘Luhmann’s theory is a “supertheory” because it fully includes itself within itself. But this self-inclusion leads to the breakdown of any declarations of finality, completion, or foundationalism’ [p 175].

Marx

Luhmann agrees with Marx that Hegel’s focus on consciousness such that social structures can be emancipated from being mere effects of spirituality. He, like Marx, believes that society has its own forces, that cannot be seen as a function of nonsocial forces; but he finds that Marx does not distantiate himself sufficiently from the same one-sidedness as Hegel, but with a focus on modes of production instead of a focus on consciousness. So as Hegel identified consciousness as the basis principle of all society, so Marx identified modes of production; and so both can be seen as fundamentalists or ontologists; both have not been able to introduce difference into their theories; and in the same way as Hegel, Marx has also not been able to include self-reflectivity into his theory autologically: ‘”Marx himself, however, seems to have been unable, just as Hegel, to account for his own theory within his own theory” (Luhmann 1997a Social Theory, 1080, n. 350) ’[p 177]. Neither theory was in this sense really a supertheory. Luhmann found Marx’s insight groundbreaking that the economy is not some law of nature but a social construct; in this way he could introduce the constructivist ideas already present in Kant and Hegel, into his theory of social construction: ‘With Marx, it became possible to conceive of society as an autopoietic, self-constructing mechanism that operated on its own accord, rather than under the unchangeable laws of some trans-social realm’ [p 178]. Marx was focused on the economy; this denies the influence that the function systems can have on one another; and so social theory had to be broadened to other areas also. In addition Luhmann does not agree with the “humanist upholstery” that Marx applied to his theory. ‘There is a thorough discomfort about normativity and morality in Luhmann that are, for him, not only simple-minded, but may quickly lead to intellectual and, more dangerously, social totalitarianism’ [p 180].

Husserl

Luhmann explicitly takes over structural and methodological aspect of cognitive and constructivist theory as well as Husserl’s terminology to use for his own conceptual apparatus. Husserl had already detected some principal features of autopoiesis, but failing to appreciate it, because of his epistemological idealism: ’Luhmann therefore wants to apply Husserl’s terminology not in explaining only the “characteristics of consciousness”, but also for “the emergence of order in general” (Luhmann Modern Sciences and Phenomenology (Die neuzeiten Wissenschaften und die Phänomenologie) 1996b, 50)’ [p 182]. He is interested in how the cognitive construction functions amongst other nonconscious systems, particularly social systems, namely society; he is interested in the ‘making sense’ of systems and rejects the ‘transcendental subject’. Luhmann translates Husserl’s terminology into systems language: ‘Intention is nothing but the positing of a difference’ (Luhmann 1996b Modern Sciences and Phenomenology (Die neuzeiten Wissenschaften und die Phänomenologie), 31)’

[p 182]

. No longer a mental interest, ‘Intention’ is now a primal operation. DPB: this reminds me of the description of Oudemans: at some state there is a difference and then that state determines which attraction or repulsion there is to establish the next state. Based on and because of its intentionality can a system make a distinction and differentiate between itself and its environment; a cognizing system can differentiate between itself (its operations) and that which it cognizes outside of itself: ‘Intentionality paves the way for a distinction between a system and its environment. Only through this difference can a system identify itself by distinguishing itself from what it observes’ [p 183]. This difference between self-reference and other-reference establishes the membrane, namely the boundary between the system and the environment. And this holds not only for conscious systems but for all self-referential systems, including social systems. In a likewise manner Luhmann defines sense as the unity of the difference between actuality and possibility to be applied to all sense-processing systems. Sense emerges in a context, it needs a horizon and it is always connected to something else that makes sense; the circular closure appearing as the ultimate horizon of everything connected is the world. According to Luhmann it is not possible for something nonsocial such as minds (or humans) to form the social and as a consequence he rejects Husserl’s intersubjectivity (see remark above, this is why, it is easy).

Habermas

14 Postmodernity, Deconstruction and Techno-Theory

Luhmann was mainly interested in post-modernism (at least the movement) when it indicated a loss of trust in the traditional (modern) self-descriptions; the overturn of modernity is not a structural but a semantic turn. A concise description of post-modernity is: ‘..renunciation of claims to unity and transition towards radically differentialist concepts (1997a The Society of Society, 555)’ [p 194]. Through deconstruction as a second-order observation Luhmann connects his theory with Derrida’s (and de Man) theories of deconstruction. ‘Luhmann finds that deconstruction recommends “the reading of forms as differences, to look at distinctions without the hope of regaining unit at a higher (or later) level”, and it “is deconstruction of the ‘is’ and not the ‘is not’”, because it deconstructs the assumption of presence, of any stable relation between presence and absence, or even the very distinction between presence and absence” (1993a, Deconstruction as Second-Order Observing, 766)’ [p 195]. All statements of an ‘is’ are based on distinctions and, as a consequence, presence is a construct of differentiation; it never actually gains self-identity; every presence if the result of an observation that is different from it; deconstruction can observe the observation that observes the presence; it observes (as per a second-order observation) the construction of the ‘is’, and hence the deconstruction of this construction. Any deconstruction can be the subject of further deconstruction (it applies to itself) and there can be no final unity that does away with difference. Luhmann refers to Deleuze’s concept of ‘sens’ as an antecedent for his use of ‘Sinn’ (at the expense of Husserl).

15 Conclusion: From Metanarrative to Supertheory

So as for Hegel, religion was a thing of the past, so for Luhmann philosophy was a thing of the past also. Religion (and philosophy respectively) were in waiting to be ‘sublation’ (‘Aufhebung’). Luhmann did not consider himself a philosopher but a social scientist; he in fact tried to elevate the entire project of philosophy. ‘A supertheory reflects on the fact that that it and its validity are its own product – and is therefore absolutely contingent. What a supertheory says has to make general sense to it. But this sense itself is not general, it is contingent upon the theory that is constructing this horizon of sense in the first place. A supertheory is a theoretical endeavor, and there is nothing more to it. What it says is relevant only theoretically, only within its confinements. .. Supertheory does little outside of theory. With supertheory, the world does not become morally better, more rational, or spiritually complete. It only becomes more distinct’ [p 201].

Appendix A: The Society of Society

Pages 24-35 from Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft (Frankfurt/Main Suhrkamp 1997), translation by Hans-Georg Mueller.

In the current conception of society the assumptions are found that societies: 1. consist of concrete human beings and their relations 2. are constituted or integrated by consensus between human beings, their correspondence of their opinions and complementarity of their goals 3. are regional and territorially limited units 4. can be observed from outside. PS: that there was a problem with this was clear in sociology from the start, Durkheim says: ‘la société n’est pas une simple somme d’individus, mais le système formé par leur association représente une réalité spécifique qui a ses charactères propres’ (Durkheim, 1927, Les règles de la méthode sociologique, 8th edition, 127). PPS: even today many researchers refer to the human being as the basic unit for society. The assumptions above (1 / 3) prevent the definition of the object of society: ‘Instead, the relation between the individual and society now becomes a problem. .., obviously not everything that individualizes human beings (if anything) belongs to society. Society does not weigh exactly as much as as all human beings together, and its weight also does not change with every birth and every death’ [p 231]. It is not consensus that keeps society together: ‘This body of teaching, however, collapses when one asks more persistently how consensus, in a psychologically realizable sense, should be possible at all, and also how a sufficiently harmonized direction of coordinated expectations should be attained in this way’ [p 232]. DPB: this is exactly the crux: what is the organization that turns out to form a society by the coherence of the behavior that people appear to exhibit?

Appendix B: Cognition as Construction

Erkenntnis als Konstruktion (Bentelli Bern, 1988), translation Hans-Georg Mueller.

Distrust an assertion if it is amplified: why radical constructivism? ‘No matter if one preferred solutions of transcendental theory or dialectics, the problem was: how is cognition possible in spite of having no independent access to reality outside of it. Radical constructivism, however, begins with the empirical assertion: cognition is only possible because it has no access to reality outside of it’ [p 242]. The mind and communication can produce information because they are operationally closed: ‘Similarly one would have to say: communication systems (social systems) are only able to produce information because the environment does not interrupt them. And following all this, the same should be self-evident with respect to the classical “seat” (subject) of epistemology: to consciousness’ [pp. 242-3]. DPB: the above reminds me of a definition of information stating that the more surprise/newness it holds the more information it contains; the limit sits at randomness, which holds the most surprise (the information has no pattern, it is irreducible). Suppose that systems produce information while they are cognizing and suppose that more information is produced if the difference between the system’s states and the systems in the environment is larger. Difference between consecutive states of (behavior of) self or between self and the systems in the environment supposes comparability (the relation is less than random), and hence difference supposes a minimum of similarity between states of one system as cognized from another system. If there is too much difference for the systems to be comparable, then, as a consequence, individuation is impossible (a connection does not occur). If a change takes place in the environment (of the observed system), then an increase of difference is induced, and hence an increase of the amount of information produced by the system while it is making sense of the change in the environment; eventually the changes occurring and hence the amount of information can get so big that all similarity is lost and there is no longer a difference; and this represents again randomness. Rephrase: the information in the system and the behavior of the environment is unclear. ‘Constructivism could achieve a novelty effect if it would pursue the question of how uncoupling (in other words: indifference, closure) is possible

[p 243]

. DPB: interesting choice of words. The distinction between the system and the environment can cater for uncoupling by closure in the light of the differentiation of systems and it can cater for observation of observing systems (2nd order cybernetics).

II

It is (perhaps naively) assumed that all cognizing systems are real systems. In light of the above, the question how systems can cognize can be reformulated to how can they uncouple themselves from their environment. Self-isolation does not imply freedom of choice of operations, the opposite is the case, namely a coercion. Closure is only possible as an effect of the operations of the system itself and by the production of its own operations ‘within the network of their recursive anticipations and recourses’ [p 245]. This ‘going on’ is called autopoiesis by Maturana and other things by other philosophers: ‘Systems theory, however, makes it possible to formulate the result with particular clarity. No system can operate outside of its own borders, and neither can a cognizing system’ [p 245]. Luhmann assumes a concept of observation based on distinction and indication: cognition is manufactured by the operations of observation and recording of observations (descriptions), including the observation of observations and the description of descriptions. A distinction is made and an indication is made accordingly. ‘Everything that can be observed is the observer’s own accomplishment (Eigenleistung), including the observation of observers. Thus there is nothing in the environment that corresponds to cognition, since everything that corresponds to cognition is dependent on distinctions within which cognition indicates something as this and not that. .. There is not even an environment in the environment .. The distinction between system and environment is itself an operation that guides cognition. This course of reflection does not allow for any conclusions in regard to the irreality of the environment. It also does not allow for the conclusion that nothing exists besides the cognizing system. .. Indications such as “reality”(matter, ultimate reality) or “world” are, for cognition, themselves based on distinctions. They formulate the unity of that which is distinguished by a distinction – or, if you wish, their spirit’ [pp. 246-7].

II

An operative epistemology conceives of cognition as a kind of operation it can distinguish from other operations. As an operation, cognition happens or not depending on whether the autopoiesis of the system can be continued with such operation or not. The most important consequence of this approach is that it makes no difference whether cognition produces truth or errors’ [pp. 247-8]. DPB: this reminds me of the definition of communication (Luhmann, Logistical Model). Many authors find that it is intentional, I find it must be just-so. This statement above allows for cognition to ‘work with’ just-so stories; it produces whatever, not necessarily truth alone. Neither consciousness systems nor communications systems are divided into (or work in some other way with) true/false distinctions. Initially an autopoietic system works indifferently in regard to a true/false divide and now a binary code can be imposed: but who does the imposing? An observer observes A (distinguishes A from something else) , but he must observe other observers to find out whether it is true that A is. As long as epistemology relates itself to the concept of autopoiesis to explain cognition, it can claim for itself the status of external observer, given that it admits it is itself ruled by the same physical/chemical/biological/psychological conditions as the conditions it observes. [p 250]. DPB: this is my claim to lead my arguments back to laws of physics! I have no possibility to do that extensively, but now I can refer to this claim here! But: it changes with the sociological concept of cognition because there is only one society, only one comprehensive system of communication. Now there is no escaping (to another system) and the observer is trapped in the same system as the observed. DPB: this is why I am not particularly taken with the idea of communication as one system, divided into the functional systems; I find this is artificial. Anything individuating can become a system with some density and there is no need for an ultimate unity of communication, or is there? In the above (Luhmann) system all externalization can only be explained as a system differentiation: ‘Only with the sociology of cognition does a radical, self-inclusive constructivism become possible’ [p 250].

IV

The radical in radical constructivism can only be explained historically. The role of distinctions could only be played by religion: ’God is beyond all distinctions, .. In him, everything that transcends distinctness coincides insofar as it transcends distinctness – i.e., that which cannot be conceived as greater, as smaller, as quicker, as slower (coincidentia oppositorum)

[p 251]

. Everything else stems from a ‘contract’ with God, and hence is is distinguishable, and, in doing so, God makes himself comprehensible (in his incomprehensibility); ‘and that truth, although finally incomprehensible, consists for human beings in the correspondence of their distinctions with those of things’ [p 251]. DPB: God made the distinctions in this way and human beings can learn them by heart. To know God in his incomprehensibility, one had to observe his doings directly but in addition observe his observers, the devil as a first source of critique, and his self-observation also: ‘The escape route came fatally close to the assumption that God needed creation and the damnation of the devil in order to be able to observe himself, and it lead to writings that Nicolaus (Cusanus) believed unprepared minds with their weak eyes had better not read’ [p 251]. As a consequence the partner for radical constructivism is not traditional epistemology, but traditional theology.

V

One would now like to know how distinguishing and indicating is possible as a unitary but two-component operation’ [p 252]. DPB: this question reminds me of the problem of the ‘principal’ of the operator working between the psychic system and the communication system in the Logistical Model. ‘This leads one to the already anticipated insight that strongly limiting conditions have to be contributing’ [p 252]. DPB: what does this mean to say? Does this refer to that issue with the owner of the operators, namely that if and only if something is uttered as well as perceived by human beings can it be (become) part of the realm of communications? And conversely does it mean to say that if and only if it is perceived and (re-)uttered by human beings can it become part of their minds? ‘What presumably plays a role is that it is just about possible – at least in the realm of the sense operations of consciousness and communication – to view a twoness as a oneness, or, put differently; to see contrasts’ [p 251]. DPB: This supposedly means that if and only if the uttered thing and the perceived thing, up to that point two things, become one thing from there on. But what is meant with the seeing of contrast? If time is taken into account and if the system is complex, then sensitive dependence on initial conditions plays a role in its oscillations (between operations E and B to and between mind and communication). ‘This also, of course, presupposes the uncoupling of the system, namely, its own time (Eigenzeit) for its own operations while there is doubtless a simultaneous environment

[p 252]

. DPB: this reminds me of my position with regards to time as the counting of events. Events are the differences between the system and the environment, as far as they go noticed by the system, and hence they are irreversible, because they cannot become ‘unnoticed’. Time is a result of the counting of the events and not an independent parameter. Luhmann sees time differently, namely an Eigenzeit, time of the thing itself and perhaps even time of the environment where things run simultaneously. This position makes me think of the role of the operations inside the system in the production of irreversibility and hence of the production of time: this is different from the difference in the unfolding of events in adjacent systems. ‘This refers again to the necessity of memory, namely, on the one hand, to an ongoing consistency check along with the activation of the respectively appropriate structures, and, on the other hand, to a schema of observation that interprets occurring inconsistencies as distinctions in time or space and thus stretches them apart’ [p 252]. This leads to an ever more detailed specification of unlikely but necessary (Luhmann says possible) evolutionary processes that produce cognition. The environment presents to a system contrasts from its changes as persistent and hence allows for repetition (while the corresponding identifications are of course up to the system); the identification is a condition of the identification of the being and not of the being itself; the cognizing system can deal with the object (tolerating the observation) even if that has changed. ‘And, even more astonishingly, the cognizing system can, insofar as it has language, use constant terms to indicate something that is conceived as inconstant – for instance, the word “motion” to indicate motions. In other words, it does not have to simulate the changeable through its own change’ [p 253]. The hypothesis now emerges that ‘the differentiating of a cognizing system in any case leads to situations that are ordered simultaneously but no longer rhythmically synchronic with the environment; and this can only be achieved when there are also discontinuities in the environment from which the system can distinguish its own operations’ [p 253]. DPB: each system clicks away according to its own operations and as a consequence there are differences between the systems; these differences are not necessarily congruent synchronic because they only depend on the operations of the individual systems themselves; their behavior is of course conditional to of the irritations that they are dealt out by their neighboring systems. In addition the differences in the reality conditions of the reality perceptions: cognizing systems can compare the signs reaching them from different sources such as sound and visible location in such a way that they can make distinctions and identifications. ‘Cognition is therefore not possible in a “random” environment, but only in one that is suitable for cognition. This, however, does not justify assuming any “adaptation” of cognition to reality’ [p 255].

VI

There are at least some clues indicating that a reality that remained unknown, if it was totally entropic, would not enable cognition to take place’ [p 255]. But cognition itself cannot by itself bring this distinction because it would paradoxically have to be part of its own exteriority. DPB: this is the problem with the operators E and B between perception and behavior also: to whom do they belong, of what are they a part? Cognition is internal and does not know anything external to it that would correspond to itself: cognition does not have a model of the outside world that maps the world to its own operations. ‘We wish, without making a definite decision, to suggest three further concepts, which may very remotely resemble the teaching of the trinity. We wish to speak of the world in order to indicate the unity of the difference between system and environment. We wish to speak of reality in order to indicate the unity of the difference between cognition and object. We wish to speak of sense in order to indicate the unity of the difference between actuality and possibility’ [p 256]. The negation of the world lies in the world, the negation of reality is a real operator and the negation of sense makes no sense if it makes no sense. Luhmann goes on to state that cognition is an extremely unlikely type of operation, but I believe the contrary is true: this is very common and not unlikely at all, because every multiplicity of things from ‘the beginning of times’ has no other option than to make do with whatever else there is, by making sense of it, and such that from an early form of cognition it develop to what it is now, &c. ‘Additionally, it has to be noted that the aforementioned distinctions system/environment, cognition/object, and actuality/possibility display an obvious asymmetry. There is connectivity only on one of their sides; and they allow re-entry only on one side in the sense of Spencer Brown’s logic, i.e. re-entry of the distinction into what is distinguished. In this way the world can only be a concept for orientation within the system, a concept that re-enters the difference between system and environment into the system. In this way the difference between cognition and object is a distinction that is immanent to cognition; and the assumption that reality has to be something that entails both sides is, correspondingly, based on the very practice of cognition. And finally, in this way the difference between actuality and possibility only makes sense if it is practiced in actu, i.e., if the momentarily practiced operation refers to a horizon of other possibilities (and here it does not matter if these are real possibilities or possibilities that are only thought of or that can be only fictionally imagined)’ [p 257].

VII

One has to distinguish between psychic and social systems, between actually operating consciousness and communication. Both systems can make use of language to articulate thought as well as communication. For both systems a build-up of complexity to the degree we are familiar with becomes possible only through language. Both systems, however, operate as closed systems under entirely separate operational (autopoietic) and structural conditions. There is not the slightest operational overlap, because the recursive networking with other operations of the respective system imposes entirely different conditions of connectivity on everything that functions as an elementary operation within a system’ [p 258]. DPB: Luhmann designates a special position to language as a go-between for social systems and psyche ‘It is no system at all. Its efficacy lies in the structural coupling between consciousness and communication’ [pp. 258-9]; I find this artificial and I believe language is one of the social systems, evolving in an environment of peers, of which the closest (most frequently dealt with) are the mind and communication. ‘Language keeps its central function with respect to the ongoing structural coupling of psychic and communicative operations. It fascinates consciousness. .. During communication, one can also rely on the notation capability of psychic systems, on their memory’ [p 259]. DPB: this is not a very strong quote; there is more, but it appears descriptive and it does not exactly pinpoint how language is exactly that different from another social system, but has its own special position. ‘All these considerations demonstrate the importance of a structural coupling between psychic and social systems that is compatible with gains in complexity. It can only be explained by language’ [p 259]. DPB: I am not convinced it can only be explained by language; (the generative rules of) processes in nature including the processes of the mind and the processes that generate language are sufficiently complex to explain the gains in complexity of their respective (and coupled) behavior.

Appendix C: Beyond Barbarism

Niklas Luhmann Gesellschaftsstruktur und Semantik. Studien zur Wissenssoziologie der Modernen Gesellschaft, vol. 4 (Frankfurt/mAIN: Suhrkamp, 1999), 138-50), translated by Hans-Georg Mueller.

Should old ‘word-shells’ be discarded? Barbarian &c. are used to express disgust and to lend objectivity to the expression. Savages experience the world in a sensual way (as a variety of the diverse), barbarians have subscribed to reason; they grant primacy to reason over variety and individuality of all the phenomena. ‘Barbarians are those who have only one iron left in the fireplace’ [p 261].

II

III

Moreover, the absorption-system of the old-style corporations no longer exists, instead there are modern organizations based on membership decisions, that is to say on the inclusion of few members and the exclusion of all others’ [p 265]. As opposed to these membership organizations of corporations, the function systems (politics, religion, economy, science, law &c.) are in principle open to all.

IV

Barbarism has thus disappeared. ‘Culture is initially simply a doubling of all artifacts, including texts. Besides their immediate usage, artifacts gain a second meaning as documents of a culture. Pots are on the one side pots, but on the other side they are also signs of a specific culture that distinguishes itself by its kind of pots from another culture. And what is true for pots is also true for religions’ [p 268]. DPB: this reminds me first of the ‘other meaning’ of culture, similar to the chapter 14 of the management handbook. This illustration of the concept of culture can be connected with my use of Cargo religions such as John Frum &c. Also this is a way for behavior (and the memes that are at their foundation) to discriminate between them as a matter of Darwinian variation (or perhaps rather to enable selection to take place: now there is something to choose from). How can there be inclusion of there is no exclusion?

V

In modern supply-society, freedom is not restricted by coercion, but rather structured by supply in such a way that the enacting of freedom can no longer be attributed to the self-realization of the individual. One buys for a good price, watches the advertised films, chooses a religion or not as one likes – just like the others. Even God is a supply-God. He offers, and the model is of course Pascal’s wager, his love so impressively and so independent of moral judgments that the refusal would be meaningless or, theologically speaking, would fulfill the definition of sin. This demonstrates that culture and social conditions have made the enacting of freedom so asymmetrical that the individual is only left with meaningless decisions – or with protests that do not change anything’ [p 271].

Glossary of Terms

Blind spot (Blinder Fleck): when we observe something we establish a point of view, there is thus something else behind our back we cannot see. Cognition presupposes conditions that cannot be themselves cognized. The world cannot be seen as a whole, seeing is determined by nonseeing.

Connectivity: ‘Connectivity of operations is the for the self-establishment of an autopoietic system. Operations of the same kind have to be capable of connecting to each other so that a network of operations arises. In communication systems, communication has to be able to be continued. If not, the system stops reproducing itself and thus ceases to exist’ [p 217].

Constructivism: all cognition is construction. This term can be contrasted with realism, namely that reality is as it is and it can be represented as such. Constructivism means that “reality” is produced by construction by the observer.

Contingency: this means that things could have been different. Observations and distinctions, cognitions and selections are contingent: they are not dictated by human nature, but by (social) evolutionary processes and so they could have been different. The function systems are a result of distinctions but these in turn have evolved and have no essence.

Environment: that in which a systems exists other than itself: complementary with the term system. But an environment is specific for thát system and so there are as many environments as there are systems.

Information: 1. one of the moments or “selections” that constitute communication and 2. information/noninformation is the basic code of the mass-media.

Irritation: orignaly Irritation, meaning distraction to perturb, perhaps better translated as perturbation. This term is used to avoid deterministic cause-effect sequences.

Observation: an act of distinction and indication.

Operation: ‘Operations are what systems consist of; operating is what systems do. Different types of systems consist of different types of operations’ [p 223]. ‘Operational closure goes along with cognitive openness. By being operationally closed and differentiated from its environment, a system can have cognition of its environment. Once a system has reached operational closure, it can observe the environment in its own terms’ [p 223].

Re-entry: the re-entry of a distinction into what is distinguished.

Self-reference and Other-reference: ‘A system that has distinguished between itself and its environment and, by way of re-entry, has copied this distinction into itself, can, quite naturally, distinguish between itself and its environment. It can therefore refer to itself or to its environment when communicating (if it is a communications system)’ [p 224].

Semantics: this is the term for the specific ways in which society produces meaning or how it makes sense of things.

Structural coupling: this term (Maturana) is used in later work to replace interpenetration (Parsons).

Unmarked space: like the term ‘blind spot’ (Spencer Brown) this term also expresses the idea that when something is observed something else remains unobserved. In order to focus, other things have to be left out of sight.