Systems Connections

In a break from writing, one or two pieces in need of reading and listening caught my attention. It’s all related.

In an ISSS context there has been some debate between two schools, between many different aspects of systems definition, complex detail for systems of different types in different real-world applications versus abstraction of systems aspects common to systems thinking generally. Obviously, I’m for the more generic conception – being clear what we mean when we call something a “system” and what we mean by “systems thinking”. The angels are in the abstractions, even though the devil will always be found in the details of many different types of system of different types of things. Gary Smith “collecting” together the many different historical attempts at “defining” systems, and Bruce McNaughton’s response seeking the generic systems fundamentals. (Membership discussion board links)

Also from an ISSS source – Dennis Finlayson – a summary of Mo Constandi’s book, an article with the click-baity title “Is the body key to understanding consciousness?” – No idea what the original ISSS context was, but obviously embodiment is fundamental to evolutionary views of consciousness and our minds. Most successfully recently by Mark Solms and Iain McGilchrist. The piece has lots of the surgical reports on experiencing phantom limbs and other propriocentric effects – the stuff I got originally from the likes of Damasio and Sacks (et al) – which force you to think where conscious experience really lies. Damasio famously rejected any algorithmic, computational, systems view until he eventually came on board.

And talking of Mark Solms – two things came up via social-media. One an Aeon paper – shared by Dan Dennett no less – on “blind-sight” that makes the distinction between the “qualia” – the affective impression – of seeing, and any actual objectively detailed “image” of the seen. When I’d made the Solms connection he referenced a JCS paper by Dennett that includes a sympathetic review of Solms book. Love it when a plan comes together. “Who’d have thought” – The convergence is upon us.

And just to round things off a conversation between Mark Solms and Michael Levin on “The Meaning Code” YouTube channel. Not the greatest premise for dialogue, but some interesting content. (Accuracy comes at the cost of complexity. When it comes to systems, less is more. “Deflationary” Friston. Consciousness as “raw feeling”.)

Michael Levin is relatively new to me – a colleague / collaborator / protégé of Dennett at Tufts – here a joint paper “Cognition All the Way Down” from 2020. The intentional stance at all levels / scales. Here Levin’s introductory video – “What Matters to Me and Why?” Love this selected quote on his Tufts page:

“Computer science is no more about computers
than astronomy is about telescopes.”
—Michael R. Fellows

Absolutely. Reminds me of the register-assembly computation exercise – it’s a fundamental process – fundamental to physics, life and consciousness.

2 thoughts on “Systems Connections”

  1. Am I wrong to understand systems and anologies as parallel concepts? Usefull anologies and usefull systems, apply occam to ensure no unneccessary tangling and ensure it is best available to address experience – amend and rearrange as new observation comes. Nothing experinced should be left out – nothing outside of experience should be included. Is this a misplaced comment? Lots of good ideas you are navigating around..

  2. Hi Artun. I think you maybe are.
    Obviously, some uses of systems are as “models” of what is being represented – analogies, as you say.

    But this is as old as the finger and moon, map and terrain arguments you will recognise?
    HERE I’m talking systems – and information processing – as the actual terrain, the real world, not simply a model of it.
    (I reviewed a paper that criticised this thinking back here: )

    Thanks for the positive thoughts.
    Right now I’m only posting highlights to capture links – all a bit sketchy / unclear – I’m focussing on a couple of writing projects away from the blog right now. Hopefully all will become clearer once I progress those.

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