THE PRIMER PROJECT
A Special Integration Group (SIG) of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
originally SGSR, Society for General Systems Research.
SYSTEMIC INQUIRY AND INTEGRATION
An activity of the Primer Group
THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL ELECTRONIC SEMINAR
ON WHOLENESS 2000
Compiled by Thomas Mandel
adapted from "The
...an inquiry into the dynamics of wholeness as an all-pervasive
principle, by its nature... will demand obtaining as synoptic
and inclusive a perspective as possible. one that comprehends
to some measure the multi-formed and multi-dimensional nature
- ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD
"While each scientific theory selects out and
abstracts from the world's complexity a peculiar set of relations,
philosophy cannot favor any particular region of human enterprise.
Through conceptual experimentation it must construct a consistency
that can accommodate all dimensions of experience, whether they
belong to physics, physiology, psychology, biology, ethics, etc.."
Science is the tool of the Western mind and with it more
doors can be opened than with bare hands. It is part and
parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when
it holds that the understanding given by it is the only
kind there is.
"Out of what is in itselt and indistinguishable,
swarming continuum, devoid of distinction (sunyata), or emphasis,
our senses make for us, by attending to this motion and ignoring
that, a world full of contrasts, of sharp accents, of abrupt changes,
of picturesque light and shade. Helmholtz salys that we notice
only those sensations which are signs to us of things. But what
are things? Nothing, as we shall abundantly see, but special groups
of sensible qualities, which happen practically or aesthetically
to interest us, to which we therefore give substantive names,
and which we exalt to this exclusive status of independence and
"Every individual is at once the beneficiary
and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been
born - the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the
accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in
so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness
is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality,
so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words
for actual things." [TDOP Huxley 23]
"Indeed, to some extent it has always been
necessary and proper for man, in his thinking, to divide things
up, if we tried to deal with the whole of reality at once, we
would be swamped. However when this mode of thought is applied
more broadly to man's notion of himself and the whole world in
which he lives, (i.e. in his world-view) then man ceases to regard
the resultant divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins
to see and experience himself and this world as actually constituted
of separately existing fragments. What is needed is a relativistic
theory, to give up altogether the notion that the world is constituted
of basic objects or building blocks. Rather one has to view the
world in terms of universal flux of events and processes."
Bergson was also aware of the spurios reality of
"things" because, - as he himself pointed out - thought
creates things by slicing up reality into small bits that it can
easily grasp. Thus when you are think-ing you are thing-ing. Thought
does not report things, it distorts reality to create things,
and, as Bergson noted, "In so doing it allows what is the
very essence of the real to escape." Thus to the extent we
actually imagine a world of discrete and separate things, conceptions
have become perceptions, and we have in this manner populated
our universe with nothing but ghosts. Therefore the Madhyamika
declares that Reality, besides being void of conceptual elaboration,
is likewise Void of separate things.The doctrine of mutual interpenetration
and mutual identification of the Dharmadhatu represents man's
highest attempt to put into words that non-dual experience of
Reality which itself remains wordless, ineffable, unspeakable,
that nameless nothingness. The Dharmadhatu is not entirely foreign
to Western thought, for something very similar to it is seen emerging
in modern Systems Theory, in Gestalt psychology, and in the organismic
philosophy of Whitehead. As a matter of fact, Western science
as a whole is moving very rapidly towards a Dharmadhatu view of
the cosmos, as biophysicist Ludwig von Bertalanffy states: "We
may state as a characteristic of modern sciece that the scheme
of isolable units acting in one-way-causality has proved to be
insufficient. Hence the appearence, in all fields of science,
of notions like wholeness, holistic, organismic, gestalt, etc,
which signify that in the last resort, we must think in terms
of systems of elements in mutual interaction."
THE JOYOUS COSMOLOGY
"The principle is that all dualities and opposites are not
disjoined but polar. They do not confront eachother from afar,
they expoliate from a common center. Ordinary thinking conceals
polarity and relativity because it employs terms and terminals,
the poles, neglecting what lies inbetween them. The difference
of front to back, to be or not to be, hides their unity and mutuality."
to the philosophy of Zen, we are too much a slave to the conventional
way of thinking. which is dualistic through and through. No "interpenetration"
is allowed, there takes place no fusing of opposites in our everyday
logic. What belongs to God is not of this world, and what is of
this world is incompatible with the divine. Black is not white,
and white is not black. Tiger is tiger, and cat is cat, and they
will never be one. Water flows, a mountain towers. This is the
way things or ideas go in this universe of the senses and syllogisms.
Zen, however, upsets this scheme of thought and substitutes a
new one in which there exists no logic, no dualistic arrangement
of ideas. We believe in dualism chiefly because of our traditional
training. Whether ideas really correspond to facts is another
matter requiring a special investigation. Ordinarily we do not
inquire into the matter, we just accept what is instilled into
our minds; for to accept is more convenient and practical, and
life is to a certain extent, though not in reality, made thereby
easier. We are in nature conservatives, not because we are lazy,
but because we like repose and peace, even superficially. But
the time comes when traditional logic holds true no more, for
we begin to feel contradictions and splits and consequently spiritual
anguish. We lose trustful repose which we experienced when we
blindly followed the traditional ways of thinking. Eckhart says
that we are all seeking repose whether consciously or not just
as the stone cannot cease moving until it touches the earth. Evidently
the repose we seemed to enjoy before we were awakened to the contradictions
involved in our logic was not the real one, the stone has kept
moving down toward the ground. Where then is the ground of non-dualism
on which the soul can be really and truthfully tranquil and blessed?
To quote Echart again, "Simple people conceive that we are
to see God as if He stood on that side and we on this. It is not
so; God and I are one in the act of my perceiving Him." In
this absolute oneness of things Zen establishes the foundations
of its philosophy. The idea of absolute oneness is not the exclusive
possesion of Zen. There are other religious and philosophies that
preach the same doctrine. If Zen, like other monisms or theisms,
merely laid down this principle and did not have anythng specifically
to be known as Zen, it would have long ceased to exist as such.
But there is in Zen something unique which makes up its life and
justifies its claim to be the most precious heritage of Eastern
culture. The following "Mondo" or dialogue (literally
questioning and answering) will give us a glimsp into the ways
of Zen, A monk asked Joshu, one of the greatest masters in China,
"What is the ultimate word of Truth?" Instead of giving
him any specific answer he made a simple response saying, "Yes."
The monk who naturally failed to see any sense in this kind of
response asked for a second time, and to this the Master roared
back. "I am not deaf!" See how irrelevantly (shall I
say) the all-important problem of absolute oneness or of the ultimate
reason is treated here! But this is characteristic of Zen, this
is where Zen transcends logic and overrides the tyranny and misrepresentation
of ideas. As I have said before, Zen mistrusts the intellect,
does not rely upon traditional and dualistic methods of reasoning,
and handles problems after its own original manners....To understand
all this, it is necessary that we should acquire a "third
eye", as they say, and learn to look at things from a new
point of view."
HOW BIG IS OUR UMBRELLA?
And when we pause from all this research, and put theory temporarily
to rest, and when we relax into the primordial ground of our own
intrinsic awareness, what will we find therein? When the joy of
the robin sings on a clear morning dawn, where is our consciousness
then? When the sunlight beams from the glory of a snow-capped
mountain, where is consciousness then? In the place that time
forgot, in this eternal moment without date or duration, in the
secret cave of the heart where time touches eternity and space
cries out for infinity, when the raindrop pulses on the temple
roof, and announces the beauty of the divine with every single
beat, when the moonlight reflects in a simple dewdrop to remind
us who and what we are, and when in the entire universe there
is nothing but the sound of a lonely waterfall somewhere in the
mists, gently calling your name-where is consciousness then?
"Hence this life of
yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire
existence, but is, in a certain sense, the whole; only this whole
is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance.
This as we know, is what the Brahmins express in the sacred, mystic
formula which is yet so simple and so clear: "Tat tvam asi.",
this is you...and not merely "someday" but today, every
day she is bringing you forth, not once, but thousands upon thousands
of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over,
for eternally and always there is only now, and the same now;
the present is the only thing that has no end.
"My friend, all theory is gray, and the
Golden tree of life is green."
Reverend Sirs, time is precious. Don't make the mistake of following
others in desperately studying meditation or the Path, learning
words or phrases, seeking after the Buddha or patriarchs or good
friends. Followers of the Path, you have only one father and one
mother. What else do you want? Look into yourselves . An ancient
sage said that Yajna-datta thought he had lost his head [and sought
after it], but when his seeking mind was stopped he realized that
he had never lost it.
From Sources of Chinese Tradition (de Bary, Chan and Watson, ed.
and trans.), pp. 360--363
Typed 31 March 1995
change in concepts and ideas that happened in physics during the
first three decades of this century has been widely discussed
by physicists and philosophers for more than fifty years...The
intellectual crisis of quantum physicists in the 1920's is mirrored
today by a similar but much broader cultural crisis. The major
problems of our time...are all different facets of one single
crisis, which is essentially a crisis of perception...Like the
crisis in quantum physics, it derives from the fact that most
of us. and especially our large social institutions, subscribe
to the concepts of an outdated world view...At the same time researchers...are
developing a new vision of reality...emerging from modern physics
can be characterized by words like organic, (w)holistic, and ecological.
It might also be called a systems view, in the sense of general
systems theory. The universe is no longer seen as a machine, made
up of a multitude of objects, but has to be pictured as one indivisible
dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can
be understood only as patterns of a cosmic process". What
we are seeing today is a shift of paradigms not only within science
but also in the larger social arena...The social paradigm now
receding had dominated our culture for several hundred years,
during which it shaped our modern Western society and has significantly
influenced the rest of the world...This paradigm consists of...the
view of the world as a mechanical system, the view of the body
as a machine...the view of life as a competitive struggle...the
belief of unlimited of unlimited progress achieved through economic
and technological growth and the belief that the female is subsumed
under the male...During recent decades all these assumptions have
been severely limited and in need of radical revision. Indeed,
such a revision is mow taking place...In science, the language
of systems theory. and especially the theory of living systems,
seems to provide the most appropriate formulation of the new ecological
paradigm. I would like to now specify what is meant by the systems
approach...I shall identify five criteria of systems approach...1.
Shift from the parts to the whole. The properties of the parts
can be understood only from the dynamics of the whole. In fact,
ultimately there are no parts at all 2. Shift from the structure
to the process. In the new paradigm, every structure is seen as
a manifestation of an underlying process. 3. Shift from objective
to epistemic science. In the new paradigm, it is believed the
epistemology - the understanding of the process of knowledge -
has to be included explicitly in the description of natural phenomenon...4.
A shift from building to networks as a metaphor of knowledge.
In the new paradigm, the metaphor of knowledge as a building is
being replaced by that of the network. 5. Shift from truth to
approximate descriptions. This insight is crucial to all modern
science...in the new paradigm, it is recognized that all scientific
concepts and theories are limited and approximate...One of the
most important insights of the new systems theory is that life
and cognition are inseparable. The process of knowledge is also
the process of self-organization, that is, the process of life.
Our conventional model of knowledge is one of representation or
an image of independently existing facts which is the model derived
from classical physics. From, the new systems point of view, knowledge
is a part of the process of life, of a dialogue between subject
and object. I believe that the world view implied by modern physics
is inconsistent with our present society, which does not reflect
the interrelatedness we observe in nature. To achieve such a state
of dynamic balance, a radically different social and economic
structure will be needed; a cultural revolution in the true sense
of the word. The survival of our whole civilization may depend
on whether we can bring about such a change. It will depend ultimately,
on our ability to...experience the wholeness of nature and the
art of living with it in harmony."
Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself
and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects
affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be
studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done,
because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear
system can give a good idea of the behavoir of the whole."
GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY
"Compared to the analytical procedure of classical science
with resolution into component elements and one-way or linear
causality as basic category, the investigation of organized wholes
of many variables requires new categories of interaction, transaction,
"These considerations lead to the postulate of a new scientific
discipline which we call general system theory. It's subject matter
is formulation of principles that are valid for "systems"
in general, whatever the nature of the component elements and
the relations or "forces" between them...
"General system theory, therefore, is a general science of
The meaning of the somewhat mystical expression, "The whole
is more that the sum of its parts" is simply that constitutive
characteristics are not explanable from the characteristics of
the isolated parts. "
The systems view looks at the world in terms of
relationships and integration. Systems are integrated wholes whose
properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller units. Instead
of concentrating on basic building blocks or basic substances,
the systems approach emphasizes basic principles of organization.
Every organism- from the smallest bacterium through the wide range
or plants and animals to humans is an integrated whole and thus
a living system. ...But systems are not confined to individual
organisms and their parts. The same aspects of wholeness are exhibited
by social systems- such as an anthill, a beehive, or a human family-
and by ecosystems that consist of a variety of organisms and inanimate
matter in mutual interaction. What is preserved in a wilderness
area is not individual trees or organisms but a complex web of
relationships between them.
All these natural systems are wholes whose specfic
structures arise from the interactions and interdependence of
their parts. The activity of systems involves a process known
as transaction- the simultaneous and mutually interdependent interaction
between multiple components."
In a true system...not
all macroscopic properties follow from the properties of components
and combinations. Macroscopic properties often do not result from
static structures, but from dynamic interactions playing both
within the system and between the system and its environment...A
human being falling in love -- perhaps only once in a lifetime
-- changes the life of the community of which he or she is a part.
Such considerations already hint at the fact that a systemic view
of necessity leads to a dynamic perspective. Quite generally,
a system becomes observable and definable as a system through
its interactions. (The Self-Organizing Universe." p24)
A Starting Place Submitted by by
A top-down systemic strategy, this involves imagining the whole
oceanic unity of the universe, as we all vaguely remember experiencing
it in the womb, then making a division, say between self and other,
then conversationally and experimentally exploring the connections
across the boundary between self and other. Then successively
by making other analagous distinctions, say between the self and
the family and the other, or between the living and the non-living,
we can explore the connections across those boundaries using guiding
metaphors as heuristics and rigorous logic for detailed self-correcting
theory and model building.
"But let me emphasize that to have an approach of wholeness
that we are going to be able to capture the whole of existence
our concepts and knowledge. Rather it means first that we understand
this totality as an unbroken and seamless whole in which relatively
autonomous objects and forms emerge. And secondly it means that
far as wholeness is comprehended with the aid of the implicate
the relationship between the various parts or sub wholes are ultimately
internal. Wholeness is seen as primary while the parts are secondary,
the sense that what they are and what they do can be understood
the light of the whole. And perhaps I should also add here that
sub whole there is a certain quality that does not come from the
but helps organize the parts. I could summarize this in the principle:
The wholeness of the whole and the parts. Each human being is
related to the totality, including nature and the whole of mankind.
is also therefore internally related to other human beings. How
that relationship is, has to be explored. What I am further saying
that the quantum theory implies that ultimately the relationship
parts and whole of matter in general is understood in a similar
This approach of wholeness could help to end the far-reaching
pervasive fragmentation that arises out of the mechanistic world
When a person glimpses the face of a famous actor, sniffs a favorite
food or hears the voice of a friend, recognition is instant. Within
a fraction of a second after the eyes, nose, ears, tongue or skin
is stimulated, one knows the object is familiar and whether it
is desirable or dangerous. How does such recognition, which psychologists
call preattentive perception, happen so accurately and quickly,
even when the stimuli are complex and the context in which they
Much is known about the way the cerebral cortex,
the outer rind of the brain, initially analyzes sensory messages.
Yet investigations are only now beginning to suggest how the brain
moves beyond the mere extraction of features-how it combines sensory
messages with past experience and with expectation to identify
both the stimulus and its particular meaning to the individual.
My own group's studies, carried out over more than
30 years at the University of California at Berkeley, suggest
that perception cannot be understood solely by examining properties
of individual neurons, a microscopic approach that currently dominates
neuroscience research. We have found that perception depends on
the simultaneous, cooperative activity of millions of neurons
spread throughout expanses of the cortex. Such global activity
can be identified, measured and explained only if one adopts a
macroscopic view alongside the microscopic one.
There is an analogy to this approach in music. To
grasp the beauty in a choral piece, it is not enough to listen
to the individual singers sequentially. One must hear the performers
together, as they modulate their voices and timing in response
to one another.
From: February 1991 Scientific American, Vol 264,
(2) Pgs. 78-85.
JAN C. SMUTS
Holism and Evolution;
Holism (from the Greek Holos, whole) is the theory, which makes
the existence of "wholes" a fundamental feature of the
world. It regards natural objects, both animate and inanimate,
as "wholes" and not merely as assemblages of elements
or parts. (which) looks upon nature as consisting of discrete,
concrete bodies and things, and not as a diffusive homogeneous
continuum. And these bodies or things are not entirely resolvable
into parts; in one degree or another they are wholes which are
more than the sum of their parts, and the mechanical putting together
of their parts will not produce them or account for their characters
and behaviour. The so-called parts are in fact not real but largely
abstract analytical distinctions, and do not properly or adequately
express what has gone to the making of the thing as a whole.
A Sacred Unity Harper 1991 ISBN 0-06-250100-3
A system, after all, is any unit containing feedback
structure and therefore competent to process information. There
are ecological systems, social systems, and the individual organism
plus the environment with which it interacts is itself a system
in this technical sense. The circumstance that the family as a
unit came to be thought of as a system must lead back inevitably,
I believe, to considering the individual as a system.
It follows that the ways of thinking evolved by psychiatrists
in order to understand the family as a system. . . .The polarization
of opinion then will not be simply between practitioners of individual
therapy and practitioners of family therapy but between those
who think in terms of systems and those who think in terms of
lineal sequences of cause and effect. . . .
The basic rule of system theory is that, if you want to understand
some phenomenon or appearance, you must consider that phenomenon
within he context of all completed circuits which are relevant
New Concepts of Matter, Life & Mind
Advances in the new sciences suggest a further modification of
this assumption about the nature of reality. In light of what
scientists are beginning to glimpse regarding the nature of the
quantum vacuum, the energy sea that underlies all of spacetime,
it is no longer warranted to view matter as primary and space
as secondary. It is to space or rather, to the cosmically extended
"Dirac-sea" of the vacuum that we should grant primary
reality. The things we know as matter (and that scientists know
as mass, with its associated properties of inertia and gravitation)
appear as the consequence of interactions in the depth of this
universal field. In the emerging concept there is no "absolute
matter," only an absolute matter- generating energy field.
The Fifth Discipline
Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes.
It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things,
for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots.
It is a set of general principlesdistilled over the course
of the twentieth century, spanning fields as diverse as the physical
and social sciences, engineering, and management. ...During the
last thirty years, these tools have been applied to understand
a wide range of corporate, urban, regional, economic, political,
ecological, and even psychological systems. And systems thinking
is a sensibilityfor the subtle interconnectedness that gives
living systems their unique character.
General Systems Theory, a related modern concept [to holism],
says that each variable in any system interacts with the other
variables so thoroughly that cause and effect cannot be separated.
A simple variable can be both cause and effect. Reality will not
be still. And it cannot be taken apart! You cannot understand
a cell, a rat, a brain structure, a family, a culture if you isolate
it from its context. Relationship is everything.
LUDWIG von BERTALANFFY
A system can be defined as a complex of elements
standing in interaction. There are general principles
holding for systems, irrespective of the nature of the component
elements and the relations of forces between them. ...In modern
science, dynamic interaction is the basic problem in all fields,
and its general principles will have to be formulated in general
General Systems Theory.
Universal Operating Principle
of the Universe
This and That in a loving relationship
is something else.
- JOHN BARROW
"a theory of everything which will unite all
the laws of nature into a single expression... an abbreviated
representation of the logic behind the universes's properties...a
single coherant framework...an encapulation of all the laws of
nature...a simple and single representation...the ultimate directory...an
independent prescription which appeals to simplicity, naturalness
and economy...a union of perefect and unique intercompatibility..a
general principle...which can be applied in a varity of different
situations without becoming embroiled in their pecularities...Perhaps
there exist a whole set of basic rules about the development of
complexity which reduce to some of our simpler laws of nature
in situations where the level of complexity is essential nil.
If such rules do exist, then they are not like the laws which
the particle physicists seek. But is there any evidence that such
principles exist? collection of 1027 protons, neutrons and electrons
may be all that a desk-top computer is at some level, but clearly
the way in which those sub-attomic particles are put together,
is what distinguishes the computer from a crowd of 1027 separate
sub-atomic particles. ...The question of the existence of a "secret
of the Universe" amounts to discovering whether there is
some deep principle from which all other knowldege of the physical
"A long standing ambition of physicists is to construct a
single master theory that would incorporate all the known forces.
One imagines that such a theory would reveal some deep connection
between the various forces while accounting for their apparent
diversity. Such a unification has not been attained, but in recent
years some progress may have been made...What may ultimately prove
more important, all four forces are now described by means of
theories that have the same general form. Thus if physicists have
yet to find a single key that fits all the known locks, at least
all the needed keys can be cut from the same blank."
- Jonas Salk The Anatomy of
"It appears that all units of reality are comprised
of two basic elements in an asymmetrical binary relationship in
dynamic interaction..." (p.38) "As noted above, one
of the basic ideas that underlies my thinking, one of the images
I have in mind when I contemplate the universe, is that it is
constructed upon a simple pattern of order that may be seen in
any and all phenomena, no matter how complex. The simple pattern
is that of a binary relationship, recognized in a binary system.
The implication here is that everything in nature, everything
in the universe, is composed of networks of two elements, or two
parts in functional relationship to each other..."(p.39)
"The most fundamental phenomenon in the universe is relationship."(p.44)
KAFATOS and NADEAU
The Conscious Universe
Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory
Menas Kafatos Robert Nadeau
From the Introduction
...We will also advance the hypothesis that the
epistemological situation we are obliged to confront in a quantum
mechanical universe, in which non-locality must now be viewed
as a fundamental fact of nature, provides a new basis for understanding
the ability of the human brain to construct symbol systems, or
symbolic representations of reality. Drawing extensively on Niels
Bohr's definition of the logical framework of complementarity,
which we regard as fundamental to understanding the actual character
of physical reality in a quantum mechanical universe, we will
advance and attempt to support the view that complementarity is
the most fundamental dynamic in our conscious constructions of
reality in both ordinary and mathematical language systems. If
this thesis is correct, it provides a more reasonable and self-consistent
explanation than physical scientists have developed thus far as
to why the language of mathematics, or the language of mathematical
physics, is more "privileged" in its ability to uncover
the dynamics of physical reality than is ordinary language. And
it could also relieve much of the obvious "angst" that
has apparently been occasioned by the rather widespread conviction
among humanists and social scientists that all of us are locked,
as Nietzsche put it, in the "prison house" of our linguistically-based
constructions of reality with no real or necessary connection
between subjective reality and external reality. The most radical
hypothesis advanced here is, however, more narrowly scien- tific.
That hypothesis is that since complementarity has been a primary
feature in every physical theory advanced in mathematical physics
beginning with the special theory of relativity in 1905, and since
complementarity can also be shown to be an emergent property or
dynamic in the life of the evolving universe at increasingly larger
scales and times, then future advances in physical theory in cosmology,
or in the study of the origins and evolution of the entire universe,
will also feature complementary constructs. In this same discussion,
we also suggest that present limits of observation in the study
of the large-scale structure of the universe appear to be providing
additional evidence that the entire universe is a quantum system,
and that cosmologists and astrophysicists may have to invoke complementarity
in resolving some seemingly irresolvable problems associated with
the most widely accepted model for explaining the origins and
evolution of the cosmos-ae big-bang model with inflation."
Thus we have two experiments, both of which, after sixty years
of refinement and discussion, are considered correct and factual.
Each absolutely excludes the theory which is the necessary basis
for the explanation of the other- necessary, that is, if we must
think in such terms as waves and particles. On this point, Nobel
laureate Richard Feynman emphasizes, "All our experience
is with waves and particles." The wave and the particle natures
are two sides of one thing whose nature cannot be rationally expressed.
This one thing is light, which seems both continuous and discontinuous,
and which the experiments show is neither continuous nor discontinuous,
but which we know at a level beyond rational knowledge is a unity....Our
knowledge that it is light, a unity, or electron, another unity,
to which the opposites apply, emphasize a "both/ and"
which links the two and highlights their contradictory character.
- GREGORY BATESON
"Of all these examples, the simplest but the
most profound is the fact that it takes at least two somethings
to create a difference. To produce news of difference, i.e., information,
there must be two entities (real or imagined) such that the difference
betweeen them can be immanent in their mutual relationships; and
the whole affair must be such that news of their difference can
be represented as a difference inside some information-processing
entity, such as a brain, or, perhaps, acomputer. "To what
questions have fifty years of science led me? This chapter has
defined and exemplified a manner of search and therefore it is
the moment to raise two questions; For what am I searching? To
what questions have fifty years of science led me. The manner
of search is plain to me, it might be called the method of double
or multiple comparison." Thus the whole, in which such instances
are placed...become a display inviting the reader to ahieve insight
by comparing instances one with another,"
SUPERFORCE: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature
It is a curious fact that all ordinary matter in the universe
is made from just the two lightest leptons (the electron and its
neutrino) and the two lightest quarks (up and down). If the other
leptons and quarks suddenly ceased to exist it is probable that
very little would change in the world."
THE CARBON CYCLE
The carbon cycle in the sun involves three helium atoms. But the
three atoms aren't simply fused together, they step their way
up, two helium atoms fuze (beryllium) and then, with a little
external help, the fuzed two fuze again with a third helium atom
and that then is carbon.
Slicing a pie into three pieces
Take a pie. Cut the pie with a knife once.
Count the pieces.
Try to cut the pie into three pieces with a single cut.
Can't be done.
THE SOCIETY OF MIND
From the Glossory Page 329
The effect of one part of a system upon another part. It is remarkable
that in the history of science virtually all phenomena have eventually
been explained in terms of interactions between parts "taken
two at a a time" ...virtually no three-part interactions
have ever been observed in the physical universe."
"The universe is therefore prevaded by duality which is,
as it were, the very nature of its EXistence, but, just as the
opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but
aspects of the one unity in which they are synthesized; in the
manefested universe there is that which links subject to object,
spirit to matter. This something, at present unknown to Western
speculation, is called by the occultist "Fohat."
a pair of pairs each made of pairs of pairs made of pairs.
DNA (dê´èn-â´) noun
A nucleic acid that carries the genetic information in the cell
and is capable of self-replication and synthesis of RNA. DNA consists
of two long chains of nucleotides twisted into a double helix
and joined by hydrogen bonds between the complementary bases adenine
and thymine or cytosine and guanine. The sequence of nucleotides
determines individual hereditary characteristics.
TAO TE CHING
about 450 B.C.
translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English
The Tao begot one
One Begot Two
Two begot Three
And three begot the ten thousand things
The ten thousand things carry Yin and embrace yang
They achieve Harmony by combining these forces
The Triune God.
The Father, the Son,
The holy Spirit
KEN WILBER The Atman Project pg 68
Dante sang it thus:
"Fixing my gaze upon the Eternal Light
I saw within its depths,
Bound up with love together in one volume
The scattered leaves of all the universe...
Within the luminous profound substance
Of that Exalted Light saw I three circles
Of three colors yet of one dimension
And by the second seemed the first reflected
As rainbow is by rainbow, and the third
Seemed fire that equally from both is breathed."
The Kundalini Experience pg 85
'In 1976 I again experienced a quantum leap in energy
and received a vision that has been a directive in my life ever
since. This vision was in regard to a universal language. At first,
in my meditation, there appeared a point of intense, unearthly,
beautiful blue light. Then the blue light enveloped me, and I
went into a realm where I saw three immortal beings more clearly
and purely than is possible is sensory perception.The central
being was white, and on either side were Immortals in red and
blue. An elixir dropped from the roof of my mouth (from my brain!)
and pervaded my body with bliss. I saw celestial landscapes and
the Immortals showed me the luminous structure behind nature.
I was granted a vision of the future of our planet. I was told
that there would be human travail, but that there would also be
children who will understand the universal language I was shown."
Kabbalah (B.C. 1200?-700?
In wisdom and understanding
we have the archetypal Positive
and Negative, the primordial Maleness and Femaleness,
established while "countenance beheld not countenance"
manifestation was incipient. It is from these primary Pairs
of Opposites that the Pillars of the Universe spring,
between which is woven the web of Manifestation.
It is between the two polarizing aspects of manifestation -
the Supernal Father and the Supernal Mother - that the web
of Life is woven; souls going back and forth between them
like a weaver's shuttle. In our individual lives, in our
physiological rhythms, and in the history of the rise and
fall of nations, we observe the same rhythmic periodicity.
Nothing is impossible; there are ways
that lead to
everything, and if we had sufficient will we should
always have sufficient means. It is often merely for
an excuse that we say things are impossible.
La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)
Fundamental of Mathematics,
Edited by H Behnke, F Bachmann, K Fladt, and W. Suss
The MIT Press, Cambridge 1987 Volume 1
Chapter 2 GROUPS
The concept of a group is a variation of modern mathematics. Some
notion of it is to be found in the rich ornamentation of classical
art and architecture, but its fundamental importance and varied
application were not recognized until the nineteenth century.
The theory of groups originated in the study of algebraic equations.
where its central importance was recognized by E. Galois, who
introduced the name "group, " the work of A.,Cauchy,
C. Jordanm, A. Cayley, I Saylow, O. Holder, G, Frobenius, I. Schur,
and W. Burnside freed the theory from this subsidary position
and transformed it into an independant branch of mathematics,
concerned with algebraic operations on sets of finitely or infinitely
The late appearance of groups in science shows that a theory based
on them could only have resulted from the modern mathematical
method of generalization and abstraction, the method of thinking
in terms of "system.":
With such concepts as "set". "group" "ring"
"field," mathematics reached a stage of great generality.
The object of its study is no longer the special character of
certain magnitudes but the structure of whole domains. In this
way it becomes possible to make statements that are valid for
many different fields. For an over-all summary or synthesis of
widely varied parts of mathematics, the notion of a group has
The CONSCIOUS UNIVERSE
Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory
Menas Kafatos Robert Nadeau
From the Introduction
"The most radical hypothesis advanced here is, however, more
tific. That hypothesis is that since complementarity has been
a primary feature in
every physical theory advanced in mathematical physics beginning
with the special
theory of relativity in 1905, and since complementarity can also
be shown to be an
emergent property or dynamic in the life of the evolving universe
larger scales and times, then future advances in physical theory
in cosmology, or
in the study of the origins and evolution of the entire universe,
will also feature
ERIC SOMMER Synergy: an Introduction:
a `synergy', I mean a system of interactions between two or more
actors or centers of action. The word `synergy' comes from a Greek
work meaning `working together'. Any set of two or more interacting
beings may be regarded as a synergy. Two people in a conversation,
two people bumping into each other on the street, a bee visiting
flowers and polinating them, or two armies at war may all be regarded
as synergies. All of them involve interactons or systems of interaction
between two or more beings or centers of action.
the Systems Sciences:
Synergy -- the combined effects produced by two
(or more ) parts, elements or individuals -- is a unbiquitous
phemomenon in nature and human societies alike.
Although it plays a significant role in most, if
not all, of the scienctific disciplnes its importance is not widely
appreciated because it travels under many different aliases, including
emergence, cooperativity, symbiosis, coevolution, symmetry, order,
interactions, interdependencies, systemic effects, even complexity
and dynamical attractors. In this paper it is proposed that the
term "synergy" be utilized as a pan-disciplinary lingua
franca for co-operative effects of various kinds.
Although its role is often unappreciated, synergy
can also be considered one of the core concepts of the systems
Darwin's Lost Theory:
the new grounding for a scientific revolution
ISSS Meeting at Asilomar, June 28-July 2, 1999
Plenary Session, July 1, 1999, 9:00 a.m.
Notes by David Ing
Had the complete works of Darwin on a CD. Activated the search
the Descent of Man (later than Origin of Species) looks at the
differences that come into the picture at the level of man
+ "Survival of the Fittest" only appears twice in Descent
of Man, one of which is to say that he over-emphasized "Survival
of the Fittest" in the Origin of Species!
what else is there instead?
+ "Love" came up 95 times
+ competition came up 9 times
+ 19th Century synonyms of cooperation (e.g., mutuality) came
up 24 (?) times
+ "rule by selfish-genes" -- "a base principal
accounting for the low morality of savages"
+ the idea of blind chance is "abhorent" -- repeated
several times in the book and in private letters
+ again and again he insists that what drives man is morality,
the desire for us to help one another, desire to do what is right
rather than wrong
+ "morality is the major evolutionary drive" as a theme
appears 90 times
Synergetics by Kirby Urner
Synergetics: A metaphoric language for communicating
experiences using geometric concepts.
Thinking is the tuning in/out of systems. Systems
are spherical networks of interrelated points of interest. The
density of points is a measure of a system's ``frequency'' --
super high frequency systems approach sphericity.
The minimal system with the fewest possible points
is a tetrahedron -- four points make a primitive volume with an
inside and an outside. The canonical tetrahedron has a volume
2. In its broadest sense synergetics is Fuller's
hypothesized coordinate system of Universe --- both its physical
and metaphysical aspects. Fuller's system of epistemography and
mathematical-physics attempts to disclose how Nature actually
operates --- her ``operational mathematics.'' Fuller claimed that
synergetics could be understood by children (though they probably
couldn't comprehend his books on the subject). He published this
material in his essay ``Omni-directional Halo'' (in No More Secondhand
God), Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, Synergetics
2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, and Cosmography.
Cosmography is probably the easiest to read for people unfamiliar
with Fuller's prose style. An ``interleaved'' version of Synergetics
and Synergetics 2 is available on the Web at http://www.servtech.com/public/rwgray/synergetics/synergetics.html.
From my own study of synergetics, I'm convinced
that Bucky did in fact identify the coordinate system used by
Nature. But I would add the caveat that he didn't get too far
along in developing it. Fuller points to what the coordinate system
is in broad strokes. He gives many penetrating insights and new
discoveries, but the synergetics coordinate system needs a lot
more development before it will be possible to replace the current
(and inherently unrealistic) XYZ coordinate model.
Tip to students of synergetics: Build models. Ultimately,
it is the only way to come to understand the material. See the
section more tips.