Growth Points (?) in Emerging Emergence:
Evolution, Architecture, Story Telling, and Generativity
(Theory and Practice of Non-Normal Inquiry)

Paul Grobstein
Emergence Working Group
8, 15 February 2006

Background to an evolving story

Some Thoughts on Similarities Between Brain Function and Morphogenesis, and Their Significance for Research Methology and Biological Theory (1988)
  • in distributed systems, the whole is in important ways more than the sum of the parts
  • in multi-level systems, one can/should start anywhere, move both up and down, causation is bi-directional
  • biological systems are, in general, exploratory rather than objective oriented
  • biological systems exploit indeterminacy; what appears to an external observer to be programs having objectives reflects similarities in strategies of exploration and starting points rather than "intention"
"getting it progressively less wrong" (1993)
getting it less wrong, the brain's way, (2003)
bipartite brain, (2005)
science as story telling (2005)
generativity (beyond deconstructionism/postmodernism), 2005-6

With thanks to Michael Krausz (among others):
a deflationary (no appeal to "Truth", "Reality"), non-foundationalist (no presumption that there is a characterizable starting point), pragmatic ("puzzle solving"), non-deterministic, non-terminating, multi-layered, transactionalist perspectivism (no preferred reference frame, new things result from comparing views from different reference frames) that might encourage compassion/social justice but starts with neither

Bumping up against other stories (multiple non-falsifiable stories, and a there there that isn't everywhere)

Multi-level architecture and bidirectional causality

sciencebrainsocial organization/culture

The relations between observations and interpretations are nested rather than parallel or hierarchical.

The relations among physics, biology, social science are nested rather than parallel or hierarchical

The relations among body/brain/self are nested, rather than parallel or hierarchical

The relations between individuals and societies/cultures are nested than parallel or (necessarily) hierarchical

A current evaluation of the generativity of science as story telling/emerging emergence/bipartite brain/?

"Cluelessness"/pragmatism/reflective shmuckiness: a defensible theory of exploration, inquiry, life

Local problem solving = "normal science" = "normal" inquiry

  • depends on falsifiability ("getting it less wrong")
  • does NOT depend on "truth/reality"
  • highly successful but also has some problems
    • tends not see broader patterns
    • is prone to premature story telling
    • can get trapped on local peaks

More global inquiry = "revolutionary science" = "non-normal" inquiry

  • falsifiability a relevant but not an adequate citerion, need to add generativity
  • equally need not depend on "truth/reality"
  • absolutely dependent on local problem solving processes to create broader patterns
  • can usefully contribute to local problem solving
  • can be done by
    • looking from wider perspective to notice patterns
    • making observations that seriously upset local problem solving processes in several realms
    • denying one or more generally accepted starting points and following the implications of such denial

Neither "normal" nor "non-normal" should be regarded as perjorative. The two forms of inquiry are mutually interdependent, and together constitute an adaptive structure with a bi-level architecture and bi-directional causation.

Notes after second session

Interesting to think of this in "closed/open" system terms. What this does, in some ways, is to "open" the system by embedding the story teller in the system, treating the story teller as simultaneously describing/being influenced by the system and as an influence on the system (cf Being, Thinking, Story Telling: What It Is and How it Works, Reflectively). There are important (?) resonances to the difficulties of formally handling recursion, as well as to the problems of completeness/consistency. In any case, the simple bottom line at the moment seems to be that "conflict" is a feature rather than a bug, that non-normal inquiry is critically dependent on the tensions between various forms of normal inquiry and needs itself to be in tension, both with normal inquiry and alternate non-normal inquiries?

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