Systems – Work(s) in Progress

I gave a talk to the ISSS last weekend.

Public link to the slides (5 Meg) here.
Members link to the recording here (November 19, 2022).

I postponed an “in conversation” session with Anatoly Levenchuk at the Russian EEMI from the previous week until early new year. I made several references to EEMI and Levenchuk in my talk above and indeed Janet Singer responded with reference to a recent Levenchuk paper being the topic of an INCOSE Workshop the previous week.

Levenchuk’s most recent paper as a post “Towards a Third-Generation Systems Ontology” here. The paper as a PDF here. And an accompanying presentation as a PDF here, and as a recording here.

The significance and the connection between Levenchuk’s work and mine above is some common ground from when we worked together professionally on Russian infrastructure projects some 15 years ago. The main references are all in Levenchuk’s paper. The specific common ground is the work under ISO and the Ontology Forum around 15926 / IIDEAS / SUO / BORO generic systems modelling language (ontology) and interoperable / extensible / evolveable libraries of definitions. Matthew West OBE is the common connection between the origins of all this work since the late 1980’s and the current (2020+) BIM/CDBB Digital Built Britain work (referenced in my talk above). Matthew and I both spoke at the 2010 Russian INCOSE “Systems Engineering Challenges” event in Moscow invited by organiser Levenchuk.

Dots Joined Up.

Newly motivated by (a) positive responses to my talk above, and (b) by the convergence and consolidation of the core “Systems Thinking” ideas, to pick-up, complete and publish my #GoodFences paper. One part of my wider writing project.

Different industrial domains, indeed different mechanistic and naturalistic domains of human activity in the widest sense, as well as different initiatives in the Systems Theory / Science / Engineering domains … each have their own standardisation initiatives for their own content and methodologies. The whole of humanity and knowledge can never be a single unified or coordinated “project”. It’s about understanding how many overlapping breakdown structures (of anything and everything) work in an evolving world.

Divisions are necessary (technically, objectively and subjectively) whilst avoiding divisiveness (politically). Hence #GoodFences.

Interestingly, my Systems Thinking motivations now are almosts entirely philosophical, epistemological and metaphysical for widest applicability to humanity in the cosmos, whereas Levenchuk’s are entirely pragmatic to engineering business applications of Systems Thinking.

Ironically, due to domestic commitments on top of the systems activities above, I missed attending the INCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference (ASEC) 2022 in Newcastle the past two days, about as close to home as any such event is ever likely to be. Ho hum.

Onward and Upward.

The Mystery of Physical / Materialism?

One of my main agenda items is the demystification of consciousness, in order to make progress on more important and pressing issues for humanity. In fact, the meme “(Unlocking) The Mystery / Secrets of xxxx” is a pet hate – a click-bait meme to sell books, but not to enlighten or solve any problem.

Consciousness is no more mysterious than physicalism / materialism (or time, or causation, or …) and science has no problem dealing with these. Science already understands it has nothing to say about internal, intrinsic, qualitative (subjective) nature of … anything … material or conscious or causal or temporal or … It focuses its methods on the objective, observable, quantifiable external behaviour(s) of stuff.

Solms pleads for scientists to Cross the Rubicon and allow the subjective perspectives – their own experience – to enter their considerations, even though they know – we all know – they cannot treat and manipulate them as a “scientific” resource. That’s a deliberate choice by science, by design as it were. Keep calm and carry on. “The science of Galileo wasn’t designed to deal with consciousness.” (Goff)

I personally consider consciousness a known, understood part of reality. I was aghast at a Twitter exchange the other day with Philip Goff perpetuating the mystification of consciousness when I consider him one of those whose done much to demystify it in recent years. “If consciousness isn’t a mystery, I don’t know what is!” (Goff)

This episode of BBC Radio 3 “Free Thinking” has Matthew Sweet giving Philip Goff and Hedda Hassel Morch the opportunity to explain what is known about consciousness from the modern pan-psychist perspective. They’re both absolutely spot on as far as the above is concerned. The neuroscientist Daniel Glaser (like Christoff Koch referenced) spends his time defending what progress science “can” make and ignoring – dissing – the subjective point entirely. Lame! The “deep ecologist” Eccy de Jong at least gets the point of the subjective perspective at all eco-system levels. (Slight diversion on Spinoza and pan-theism. Spinoza is indeed wonderfully lovable, I’m a massive fan, but it doesn’t resolve the point here.)

[Hold – missed this recent PhilEvents workshop – featuring Hedda again and (my hero) Dan Dennett.]

[Hold – need to join-up my reality <> objectivity <> subjectivity “triad” with this “Perception Box” from the Tiny Blue Dot Initiative.]

Ishiguro’s “The Unconsoled”

Absolutely loved “The Unconsoled” when I read it back in 2006.

I wasn’t aware that at the time of original publication in 1995 it had been panned by large parts of the literary media. I only know this now because I listened to a fascinating documentary about it just this week, presented by Natasha Hodgson in its own style just the other day on BBC R4 “Exploding Library” series. (Link live for a year.)

I’m re-reading it.

Gary Clarke Jr & Eric Zapata

Been a “fan” of Gary Clarke Jr since I saw him at Antone’s in Austin Tx back in 2009 & 2010 and later saw him on the road to fame with a 2013 appearance on Jools.

Didn’t spot he’d played Glastonbury in 2016.

Interesting comment under the YouTube video crediting the rhythm guitar. First time I saw them, Eric (King) Zapata impressed me too – loud in the mix supporting the lead man.

YouTube commenter in 2017: “I want to give a shout out to the rhythm guitarist for that build up and sustain during the peak of Gary’s solo and knowing when to come down. Really nice work.”

I had said in 2009: “Gary Clark Jr. Another great young blues guitarist – heavy too, doubly heavy with Eric Zapata on the very loud and very different rhythm guitar – good job the two obviously get on. Good and loud.”

[Fun fact: Gary is now owner (major shareholder, anyway) of Antone’s. Long-standing venue in Austin needed preservation and relocation more than once, and the last time, Gary stepped-in.]

Evolutionary Change & Cybernetics

Interesting post about organisational change by Simon Parker on his Medium blog. As someone with prior success in organisational change, he’s now doing his Master’s and reflecting on what he didn’t know he knew about change when he succeeded at it.

Resonated with my own “Cultural Aspects of Change” 1991 MBA dissertation. Especially the cultural evolutionary systems view which sparked this two-decades-and-counting research blogging project.

His 7 propositions pretty well cover it, and sure enough Cybernetics (Stafford Beer) gets acknowledged.

“… I have absorbed but not fully understood some Stafford Beer along the way. This comes largely from the marvellous book Cybernetic Revolutionaries about Beer’s time in Chile, but also from my engagement with folk like Ben Taylor on twitter. I am aware there is deeper archaeology here, from writers I am only dimly aware of …”

This archaeological angle resonates with me too. Nothing (well, not much) new under the sun is a recurring impression – pretty much everything that needs saying has already been said. It’s mostly about attending to the right things. Worth a read.

(Hat tip to Ben Taylor for sharing on Twitter.)

Phineas Gage meet Gregor Baci

Phineas Gage is a standard – and over-used – meme in neuroscience writing. Having a change of personality but surviving as an otherwise normal human after a horrific 1848 accident when a loose tamping rod from railway explosive operations entered his lower left cheek and exited the top of his cranium. Standard because lots of “normal” brain-mind functions are routinely studied by comparison with natural or accidental abnormalities – the “Lesion Literature“. Normal isn’t usually this gruesome.

Before today however, I’d never heard of the equally gruesome Gregor Baci case who sometime around the 1550’s had a chivalric lance in through his right eye and out the back of his head and survived at least a year. Records and medical speculations are doubtful at this remove, but he was noted and written about too.

(Hat tip @TimandraHarkness on Twitter.)

Strawson on Panpsychism, Consciousness & Free-Will

Some great stuff, pithy quotes from the classic commentators, including both positive and negative views on Dennett. Strawson has grown on me since my starting from a position of apparent misunderstanding. (A man after my own in synthesising the best bits of any number of sources without feeling the need to claim originality in the form of “look, my answer’s the best one”.)

The ideas that panpsychism suffers from “the combination problem” or fails to solve “the hard problem” are just misunderstandings about what consciousness is fundamentally, in exactly the same way that physicalism says precisely nothing about what physical stuff is intrinsically. These are not the problems.

Must go back and grab the definitional quotes.
(And in fact, there is a transcript too.)

Hat tip @2philosophical_ on Twitter.

Solms and Harari on the Future of Humanity

Made no secret of the fact that I was never very impressed with Yuval Harari’s take on consciousness – what it is and how it functions – so was a little sceptical linking to this discussion facilitated by Indonesian blogger / you-tuber Gita Wirjawan. In terms of biological brains and minds, my trajectory has been Dennett, McGilchrist and Solms, and here Wirjawan has Harari in conversation with Solms – advertised as being on the “Dawn of Future Consciousness”.

Watched about 2/3 in real time and have the recorded link too.

It is VERY GOOD … and far reaching – humanity, society and governance – not just individual brains and minds.

Strong emphasis on the simplicity of affect / feeling as the root of our knowledge in the world and the need for individual attention to that. More than science.  The place of traditional narrative. The distortions of social media killing true democratic governance as conversation. (So far just my real time tweets, more later?)

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