The Zen of Systems

All systems exist in contexts, environments and distributed, often integrated, other systems from which they gather or variously acquire (as effect, consequence, experience or memory and encoding) information as internal structure. This internal structure or variety is only possible and sustainably continuous by offsetting the inevitability of growing internal (as thermodynamic or logical/information) entropy to an environment. The internal structure and ordered patterning of a system is equivalent to the external dissonance and disorder it asserts into (and in some sense as) its context or environment.

While the game of energy is one always bound by the losing handbthat thermodynamic entropy as uncertainty and manifest incompleteness always invokes, there are loopholes and workarounds available to minimise the inertial “drag” that ordered systems and information generate. Notice that eco- as environmental systems possess a subtle difference of relationships, information and energy flows, and dependencies. This appears to be because at a gestalt or notionally “whole” and holistic systems level of self-reference and interpretation or explanatory analysis, these integrated systems trade entropy and order across the entire distributed hyper-surface in a literal economy of flow and motion.

The secret here lies in the ways that logical system self-containment represents a unity and unified global systems property that is indistinguishable as effectively identical to the absence of that unity. An ensemble of integrated biological systems in or as an ecosystem is quite substantively without centralised control or governance and that represents the mischievously unresolvable paradox here. The highest sophistication and refinement of control as knowledge, information, intelligence or order is the conspicuous absence of order and control. This is what we might otherwise recognise as “emergent complexity” and disentangling the cognitive confusion it generates is the most wonderfully fascinating and indefinitely-extensible, open-ended philosophical mystery of existence, life, sentience and experience.

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