Causality, Emergence, Self-Organisation


Preface  5

Vladimir Arshinov and Christian Fuchs

I. Causality and Emergence

Emergence of Cause or Cause of Emergence?  19

Irina Dobronravova

An Integrative Image of Causality and Emergence  23

Klaus Brunner and Bert Klauninger

Decentralisation as Organising Principle of Emergent Urban Structures  36

Rainer E. Zimmermann

An Integrated Notion of “Law”  56

Annette Schlemm

The Spontaneity of Emergent Events and the Formation of Facts  76

Yuriy Myelkov

II. Principles of Synergetics

II.1. General Systems

Evolutionism, the Anthropic Principle, and New Rationality  85

Vyacheslav Stepin

A New Way of Thinking and A New World View.

On the Philosophy of Self-Organisation I.  131

Wolfgang Hofkirchner

Fundamental Properties of Self-Organisation  150

John Collier

Principles of Synergetics  167

Vladimir Budanov and Natalya Savicheva

Synergetic Knowledge: Between the Network and the Principles  182

Vladimir I. Arshinov and Vjacheslav E. Voitsekhovich

II.2. Physical Systems

Dialectical Philosophy and Self-Organisation  195

Christian Fuchs

Emergence and Self-Organisation of Complex Systems.
The Role of Energy Flows and Information  245

Norbert Fenzl

Spinoza, the ”Very Untranscendental“. Ernst Bloch´s Interpretation of Spinoza  259

Doris Zeilinger

II.3. Biological Systems

Organisation in Biological Systems  287

John Collier

II.4. Social Systems

The Autocreation of Communication and the Re-creation of Actions in Social Systems  303

Christian Fuchs and Gottfried Stockinger

Action, Communication, and Creativity.
A Contribution from a Meadean Perspective  322

Franz Ofner


This book is a result of the international INTAS research project “Human Strategies in Complexity. Philosophical Foundations for a Theory of Evolutionary Systems” (see that has been funded by the International Association for the Promotion of Cooperation with Scientists from the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (INTAS) of the European Union (contract number MP/CA 2000-298) and supported by the Austrian Ministry for Education, Science, and Culture. The project is a co-operation between research teams from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and Austria. The project team includes partners from the Synergetics Group at the Institute of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Chair of Philosophy and Methodology of Science at the Kiev National Shevchenko University, the Interdisciplinary Study Group on Philosophical Problems of Foundation at the University of Kassel, and the Unified Theory of Information Group at the Institute of Design and Technology Assesment at the Vienna University of Technology.

The project members are:

Moscow: Vladimir Arshinov, Vladimir Budanov, Vjacheslav Stepin (Moscow team leader), Natalya Savicheva, Vjacheslav Voitsekhovich

Kiev: Tatyana Belous, Irina Dobronravova (Kiev team leader), Yuriy Myelkov

Kassel: Inga Gammel, Tarja Kallio-Tamminen, Sabine Ley, Annette Schlemm, Doris Zeilinger, Rainer Zimmermann (Kassel team leader)

Vienna: Klaus Brunner, John Collier, Günther Ellersdorfer, Norbert Fenzl, Christian Fuchs, Wolfgang Hofkirchner (overall project co-ordinator, Vienna team leader), Bert Klauninger, Franz Ofner, Gottfried Stockinger

Emergence and self-organisation are the two main concepts that this book and the research project “Human Strategies in Complexity” focus on. We want to give a general characterisation of both concepts.

Aspects of emergence are:

  • Synergism: Emergence is due to the productive interaction between entities. Synergy is a very general concept that refers “to combined or ´co-operative´ effects – literally, the effects produced by things that ´operate together´ (parts, elements or individuals)” (Corning 1998: 136).  Synergy takes place and shapes systems on all organisational levels of matter, it is a fundamental quality of matter. Synergies between interacting entities are the cause of the evolution and persistence of emergent systems.
  • Novelty: On a systemic level different from the level of the synergetically interacting entities new qualities show up. Emergent qualities are qualities that have not been previously observed and have not previously existed in a complex system (“a whole is more than the sum of its parts”).
  • Irreducebility: The new produced qualities are not reduceable to or derivable from the level of the producing, interacting entities.
  • Unpredictability: The form of the emergent result and the point of emergence can´t be fully predicted.
  • Coherence/Correlation: Complex systems with emergent qualities have some coherent behaviour for a certain period of time (Goldstein 1999). This coherence spans and correlates the level of the producing entities into a unity on the level of emergence (ibid.).
  • Historicity: Emergent qualities are not pre-given, but the result of the dynamical development of complex systems.

Emergence is a fundamental quality of self-organising systems. Aspects of self-organisation are:

  • Systemness: Self-organisation takes place in a system, i.e. in coherent whole that has parts, interactions, structural relationships, behaviour, state, and a border that delimits it from its environment.
  • Complexity: Self-organising systems are complex systems. The term “complexity” has three levels of meaning: 1. there is self-organization and emergence in complex systems (Edmonds 1999), 2. complex systems are not organised centrally, but in a distributed manner; there are many connections between the system´s parts (Kauffman 1993, Edmonds 1999), 3. it is difficult to model complex systems and to predict their behaviour even if one knows to a large extent the parts of such systems and the connections between the parts (Heylighen 1996, 1997; Edmonds 1999). The complexity of a system depends on the number of its elements and connections between the elements (the system´s structure). According to this assumption, Kauffman (1993) defines complexity as the “number of conflicting constraints” in a system, Heylighen (1996) says that complexity can be characterised by a lack of symmetry (symmetry breaking) which means that “no part or aspect of a complex entity can provide sufficient information to actually or statistically predict the properties of the others parts” and Edmonds (1996) defines complexity as “that property of a language expression which makes it difficult to formulate its overall behaviour, even when given almost complete information about its atomic components and their inter-relations”. Aspects of complexity are things, people, number of elements, number of relations, non-linearity, broken symmetry, non-holonic constraints, hierarchy and emergence (Flood/Carson 1993).
  • Cohesion: Cohesion means the closure of the causal relations among the dynamical parts of a dynamical particular that determine its resistance to external and internal fluctuations that might disrupt its integrity (Collier 2003, 2004). It is a “dividing glue” of dynamic entities (ibid.).
  • Openness: self-organisation can only take place if the system imports energy which is transformed within the system, as a result energy is exported. Self-organisation is entropy reduction.
  • Bottom-up-Emergence: A perturbation causes the system´s parts to interact synergetically in such a way that at least one new quality on a higher level emerges.
  • Downward Causation: Once new qualities of a system have emerged they along with the other structural macor-aspects of the system influence, i.e. enable and constrain, the behaviour of the system´s parts. This process can be described as top-down-emergence if new qualities of certain parts (seen as wholes or systems themselves) show up.
  • Non-linearity: Emergence is based on non-linear causality, i.e. causes and effects can´t be mapped linearly: similar causes can have different effects and different causes similar effects;  small changes of causes can have large effects whereas large changes can also only result in small effects (but nonetheless it can also be the case that small causes have small effects and large causes large effects).
  • Feedback loops, Circular causality: there are feedback loops within a self-organising system; circular causality involves a number of processes p1, p2, …., pn (n³1) and p1 results in p2, p2 in p3, …. , pn-1 in pn and pn in p1. Self-organisation can be envisioned as a circular loop in the sense that the level of elements and the structural level are complexly mutually causally related. This mutual relationship is productive, complex, and non-linear.
  • Information: All self-organising systems are information generating systems. Information is the processual relationship between self-organising material units that form a coherent whole that has emergent properties.
  • Relative Chance: there are both aspects of chance and necessity in self-organising systems; certain aspects are determined, whereas others are relatively open and according to chance
  • Hierarchy: The self-organisation of complex systems produces a hierarchy in two distinctive senses: 1. The level of emergence is a hierarchically higher level, i.e. it has additional, new emergent qualities that can´t be found on the lower level which is comprised by the components. The upper level is a sublation of the lower level. 2. Self-organisation results in an evolutionary hierarchy of different system types, these types are hierarchically ordered in the sense that upper levels are more complex and have additional emergent qualities.
  • Globalisation and Localisation: Bottom-up-emergence means the globalising sublation of local entities, downward causation the localisation of more global qualities.
  • Unity in Plurality (Generality and Specifity): On the one hand each type of self-organising system is characterised by a number of distinctive qualities that distinguish it from other self-organising systems. On the other hand each type of self-organising system also shares general principles and qualities with all other types of self-organising systems. Both generality/unity and specifity/plurality are characteristic of self-organising systems.

Science itself is a self-organising system. It develops in such a way that phases of relative stability are followed by phases of fundamental innovations. The latter constitute discontinuous breaks that are characterised by rapid change and fluctuations from which new scientific order emerges. During such scientific bifurcation points a new scientific paradigm emerges. Such a paradigm refers to the “entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community” (Kuhn 1962: 175). The evolution of science is a discontinuous process where the emergence of new paradigm causes spontaneous rupture and new development stages. Such paradigm shifts can be both found in particular scientific disciplines as well as in science as a general system.

Since the sixties a scientific paradigm shift has been underway towards a Theory of Evolutionary Systems. During the last two decades an increasing body of scientific literature on topics of self-organisation has emerged that taken together represents a huge shift of focus in science:

  • from structures and states to processes and functions
  • from self-correcting to self-organising systems
  • from hierarchical steering to participation
  • from conditions of equilibrium to dynamic balances of non equilibrium
  • from single trajectories to bundles of trajectories
  • from linear causality to circular causality
  • from predictability to relative chance
  • from order and stability to instability, chaos and dynamics
  • from certainty and determination to a larger degree of risk, ambiguity and uncertainty
  • from reductionism to emergentism
  • from being to becoming

Still there are gaps in theoretical knowledge about self-organisation to which philosophical theorizing may put forward heuristic offers. The project “Human Strategies in Complexity” undertakes the task to help to fill some of the gaps. The objectives are:

  • To contribute to a single and comprehensive transdisciplinary scientific research programme for investigating self-organisation by elaborating selected epistemological, ontological and axiological implications, thus attempting at unifying the scattered approaches in the so-called non-linear science of complexity.
  • To contribute to a scientific understanding of the “feedback-loop” of human action and reflection in a historical moment in which the destiny of the world system is at stake.

In July 1999 a first official meeting of the project members took place in Vienna that was intended to exchange scientific views on self-organisation and draft a joint research proposal. As a result a first project proposal was produced that was submitted to the INTAS-program. After one redraft it was accepted in early 2001 and achieved excellent marks in the evaluation process. It had ranking two in the evaluation procedure, there were 19 projects out of 90 funded in the fields of economics, human and social sciences. Thus, the success rate was less than 20 %. The project started in July 2001, its duration is 36 months.

The papers gathered in this volume are the outcome of a project seminar week that took place in Yalta from July 1st until 8th, 2002. The contributions were written for the subtasks 1.1. and 1.2. of the project. These two tasks concentrate on the issues “Causality and Emergence“ (1.1.) and “Principles of Synergetics“ (1.2.). The two sections of this book have been named according to the tasks, the structure of this volume reflects the structure of the project.

The objective of the subtask on ”Causality and Emergence“ was to determine the place of emergence within the framework of causality in the initial phase of the genesis of evolutionary systems (formation, becoming) and in other phases of their development as well as in their hierarchical structure (being), using the differentiation of macro- and micro-causality, against the background of the chasm between determinism and indeterminism. The results gathered in part one this book clarify the relationship of causality and emergence in self-organising systems.

The objective of the subtask on ”Principles of Synergetics“ was to following the line of recent results given by several researchers in self-organisation theory, extract a bundle of elementary principles which can serve as a general scientific approach to understanding evolutionary systems and which can help to clarify the concrete conditions which are responsible for the co-evolution of the worldly and its cognitive representation and comprehending. The results gathered in part two of this book outline both general and specific principles of self-organisation.

We want to point out the results of these two subtasks shortly by summarising the main arguments of the contributions.

Part 1: Causality and Emergence

Irina Dobronravova (“Emergence of Cause or Cause of Emergence?“) argues that in a non-linear system chance and necessity are interconnected. Although a choice in a bifurcation point would be a choice by chance, it would be a choice between two certain possibilities (there is a set of a few certain possibilities for the critical point in general). These possibilities would be defined by attractors of the non-linear medium. The emergence of a set of possibilities and the selection of one possibility in a bifurcation point would be signs of integrity of the medium of self-organisation. Integrity and the presence of alternatives would not exclude, but pre-suggest each other. The meaning of integrity, characterised by the presence of the parameter of order, would be preserved during all phases of the self-organisation processes. She considers a bifurcation point as a point of the formation of causes. In such a point the system would make a random choice between two equally probable solutions. The fluctuation would select one of the two possibilities and it could be understood as the cause whose action is the formation of a coherent structure, i.e. the choice by the system of a certain evolutionary pathway. Hence the situation, where the choice may be both possible and random, would be prior to the formation of the cause.

Klaus Brunner and Bert Klauninger (“An Integrative Image of Causality and Emergence“) suggest that the notion of emergence means that a system is more than the sum of its parts and that a developing system has new qualities that can´t be reduced to old states or prior existing systems. Elements of what they call a “strong“ emergentist thinking as opposed to a reductionistic “weak“ emergentism would be hierarchy, downward causation, incomplete determinism, irreducibility and unpredictability. They develop an integrative image of causality where the influence of the old on the new is equal to the Aristotelian causa efficiens, the influence of the new on the present is corresponds to the causa finalis, the influence from the micro-level (parts) of a system to the macro-level (whole) is equal to the causa materialis and the influence from the macro-level to the micro-level corresponds to the causa formalis.

Rainer E. Zimmermann (“Decentralisation as Organising Principle of Emergent Urban Structures”) discusses general organising principles of emergent structures in social systems with a view to the meaning of decentralisation. He proposes to introduce decentralisation as a principle for organising emergent structures in a generic way. Emergence would be closely related to innovation considered as appearance of a phenomenon that cannot be inferred within a utilised language describing some process level, although the language is completely specified. Emergence would refer to models rather than to processes. Detailed behaviour of individuals who comprise a given social aggregate would not be retraceable in the observed collective behaviour of that same aggregate. Individuals would depend on their essentially local knowledge produced by local interactions (on their microlevel) so that the global outcome would generically be a result of superposition, not strictly independent of a single action taken, but in any case different from it. Social processes would be computational processes, there would be strategic choices that are based on an inventory of available algorithms that is explicitly determined by the process of socialisation. Centralized organisation would have major drawbacks as compared to decentralised organisation. Zimmermann discusses basic aspects of visualising and modeling the evolution of a macroscopically observable urban structure as the outcome of a superposition of social actions.

Annette Schlemm (“An Integrated Notion of Law“) works out a dialectical notion of law. She defines a law as a universal-necessary, essential connection and shows that the statistical and the dynamical view of the law are connected: in the synchronous description of a complex system (i.e. self-reproduction) a law determines one possibility for the behaviour of the system necessarily, there is an objective field of possibilities for the behaviour of the elements, from which one possibility will be realised by chance. She calls this the integrated notion of law. In the diachronic description of a system, new possibilities and a new field of possibilities emerge in points of bifurcation. There is a systemic hierarchy in the synchronous view and an undetermined transition from certain states to others in the diachronic view. She assumes that the dialectical, developing character of the world means that also laws evolve, change and hence have a history.

Yuriy Myelkov (“The Spontaneity of Emergent Events and the Formation of Facts”) considers the notion of event and fact in different scientific worldview. He argues that in classical science a scientific fact was considered as an event that is mechanistically determined by laws. In non-classical science an event first would have to be observed in order to obtain a scientific fact and the process of observation influences the formation of facts. In this pardigm an event would no longer be fully determined, it would rather be a chance event. Post-non-classical science would go a third way beyond determinism and indeterminism. He suggests to consider events as spontaneous in this paradigm, i.e. the causality of their emergence combines chance and necessity. Systemic events and the facts constituted by the human observer would have been considered as united in the classical paradigm, as separated in the post-non-classical paradigm and could now in the new post-non-classical paradigm be considered as separated, but united in a higher level unity (meta-system, meta-observer). Scientific investigation would always be influenced by meta-contexts.

Part 2: Principles of Synergetics

This chapter is divided into three subchapters according to a distinction between different types of self-organising systems. First, general principles of self-organisation are discussed, in subchapter 2 principles of physical self-organisation, in subchapter 3 principles of biological self-organisation, and finally in subchapter 4 principles of social self-organisation.

Part 2.1: General Systems

Vyacheslav Stepin (“Evolutionism, the Anthropic Principle, and New Rationality“) points out basic philosophical implications of the emergence of the new scientific paradigm. He conceives self-organisation theory philosophically within what he calls the shift of the scientific paradigm from non-classical to post-non-classical science. The rationality of post-non-classical science would extend the field of scientific reflection on activity and be aware of the relation not only between the knowledge of an object and the specific nature of the means and procedures of activity, but also between this very knowledge and the structure of the goals and values of such activity. Extrascientific humanistic goals, worldview guidelines and an open rationality would be important for this rationality. The sciences of the 20th century would have enabled the constitution of a general unifying theory of science that points out general evolutionary principles. Stepin calls such a theory universal evolutionism and points out that it should be both based on evolutionary ideas and the systems approach. There would be four characteristics of a self-organizing system: 1) thermodynamical openness; 2) non-linear character of the dynamic equations of the system; 3) the deviation from balance exceeds critical values; 4) processes in the system occur cooperatively. Self-organisation would play the role of a process leading to the formation of new structures. Self-organisation theory would point out that all aspects of the world and all system-types are interconnected by general evolutionary principles and it would give us fundamentally new possibilities to form an integral general scientific picture of the world. Considering man as part of cosmic evolution and connected to the biosphere would create the foundation for considering man also as responsible for the state of the world. Self-organisation theory would require to put humanistic meaning into scientific knowledge, an alliance and dialogue between man and nature and the formation of “anthropomeasured systems“, i.e. harmonious relationships between people, man and nature, would be necessary in order to solve the global problems of mankind that would have resulted from the development of the technogenic civilisation. The latter would be based on exploitation as its dominant value. The ideas put forward by self-organisation theory would have been anticipated by Russian cosmists like Vernadsky and in Eastern philosophy.

Wolfgang Hofkirchner (“A New Way of Thinking and A New World View”) argues that the solution of the global problems requires new ways of thinking and a new world view. The theories of self-organisation would constitute a paradigm shift in science. He identifies four different ways of thinking: a reductionistic unity without plurality, a holistic unity without plurality, a dualistic plurality without unity, and a dialectical, integrative unity in plurality. A world view would have three dimension: approaching the world (epistemology), archetyping the world (ontology), and envisioning the world (axiology). He maps the four types of thinking with the three world view dimensions to identify 15 different ways of thinking in world views. There are reductionistic, holistic, dualistic, and dialectical approaches to epistemology, ontology, and axiology. The philosophy of self-organisation would be based on integrative, dialectical epistemology, ontology, and axiology. He characterises the philosophy of self-organisation epistemologically as reflexive rationalism, ontologically as less-than-strict-determinism, and axiologically as responsible activism. Reflexive rationalism could be understood as a dialectic of explaining and understanding, less-than-strict-determinism as a dialectic of necessity and chance, responsible activism as a dialectic of actualising and virtualising. In order to solve the global problems, strategies in the new millennium would have to be based upon the real-world implications and comprehension implications of the new way of thinking and new world view.

John Collier (“Fundamental Properties of Self-Organisation”) discusses basic aspects of self-organisation and makes a distinction between self-organisation and self-reorganisation. In self-organisation new macroscopic constraints would emerge, in self-reorganisation no new macroscopic constraints would be formed. Self-reorganisation would be a process or rearrangement. In self-reorganisation the finally available information would be implicit in the initial state of the system, pre-established possibilities would be worked out, such systems wouldn´t be necessarily complex. Only self-organising system would spontaneously produce new emergent information, entail genuine novelty, be necessarily complex and involve the emergence of new constraints and possibilities.  Collier assesses different concepts used in complexity literature and evaluates whether they are closer to his concept of self-organisation or his notion of self-reorganisation. He identifies six necessary conditions for dissipative self-organisation: phase separation, a free energy (exergy) source, the exportation of entropy from the system, the promotion of microscopic fluctuations to macroscopic order, the minimisation of local entropy production, and the maximisation of the efficiency of energy throughput.

Vladimir Budanov and Natalya Savicheva (“Principles of Synergetics“) present seven general principles of synergetics, suggesting that the synergetical, self-organising development of complex systems the unity of being and becoming is very important. These principles are: homeostasis, hierarchy, non-linearity, openness, non-stability, dynamic hierarchy/emergence, observeability. They present a general hierarchical model of self-organisation where the emergence of new qualities on a certain level is due to the interactions between an upper and a lower level and point out the importance of scale relativity in self-organising systems.  They point out a systemic hierarchy that consists of a micro-, a macro- and a mega-level. The mega level would consist of very slow changing eternal variables that function as order parameters for the macro-level, the authors call them control parameters. Order parameters are considered to be long-living collective variables which set the language of the middle meso-level. The micro-level would be constituted by quick short-living variables. At a bifurcation point the macro-level would disappears and due to synergetic interactions of the micro- and mega-levels a macro-level with new emergent qualities would be created.

Vladimir I. Arshinov and Vjacheslav E. Voitsekhovich (“Synergetic Knowledge: Between the Network and the Principles”) interpret synergetics as a scientific revolution that has resulted in a new scientific paradigm. Synergetics could be seen on different levels as a number of particular scientific theories, a general scientific theory and as source for a new world-outlook and philosophy. The connection between these three levels wouldn´t be a hierarchical, rather a cyclical one. Arshinov and Voitsekhovich conceive synergetic knowledge topologically as a multi-dimensional open network. They point out some general principles of synergetics: specific ones (non-linearity, instability, openness, subordination), general ones (becoming, recognition, accord, correspondence, complimentarity), mathematical ones (mathematical becoming, complexity, fractal homomorphism, liberation, duality), and logical ones (logical becoming, fractality, geometricity, local non-predictability, global uniqueness) The synergetic outlook would differ from classical paradigms of thinking because it would feature communicativity, continuous dialogue and openness.

Part 2.2: Physical Systems

Christian Fuchs (“Dialectical Philosophy and the Self-organisation of Matter“) takes a look at the philosophical relationship between the dialectical thinking of Hegel, Marx, Engels and self-organisation theory. The substance of the world would be the permanent dialectical movement of matter, i.e. the endless productive self-organisation of nature. Concepts from self-organisation theory such as control parameters, critical values, bifurcation points, phase transitions, non-linearity, selection, fluctuation and intensification in self-organisation theory would correspond to the dialectical principle of transition from quantity to quality. What is called emergence of order, production of information or symmetry breaking in self-organisation theory would correspond to Hegel´s notions of sublation (Aufhebung) and negation of the negation. Self-organisation theory would show that Engels´ Dialectics of Nature is still very topical and that dialectical materialism contrary to mechanical materialism and idealism hasn´t been invalidated. It would rather seem to be confirmed that dialectics is a general set of general principles of the evolution of nature and society. Self-organisation theory would put forward an immanent logic of explanation of the world as its own reason and cause, hence the assumption that God exists and created the world wouldn´t be scientifically feasible.

Norbert Fenzl (“Emergence and Self-Organisation of Complex Systems. The Role of Energy Flows and Information“) points out fundamental physical aspects of self-organisation. His main focus is the role of matter, energy and information in self-organising processes. The throughput of energy and matter and the production of system-specific information would be the basic driving forces of self-organisation. A complex system would interact with its environment mediated by a field of interaction. Emergence is considered as the appearance of a new property of a system which cannot be deduced or previously observed as a functional characteristic of the system, self-organisation as the appearance of new system structures without explicit pressure from outside the system, or involvement from the environment. Fenzl points out the process of interaction between two open systems. Each system would change its structural information according to the changes in the field of interaction. He terms the changes caused by a system in the environment potential information. Material and energetic signs would be imported as signals by a system from its environment, these signal would trigger the actualisation of structural information. This actualisation would start in new interactions with the environment that result in a differentiation of pragmatic information. For an interaction of two open systems there would have to be a shared interaction field, a common pool of signs. In systemic interaction the signals imported by one system would be produced by the other system..

Doris Zeilinger (“Spinoza, the ”Very Untranscendental“. Ernst Bloch´s Interpretation of Spinoza”) discusses Ernst Bloch´s concept of matter and his references to Spinoza. Bloch would positively refer to Spinoza´s assumption of a non-spiritual material substratum of the world and would criticise him for a static conception of nature that leaves out movement and dynamics. She shows that Bloch has referred to the assumption of a fully lawfully determined world with the metaphor of the crystal and has been critical of reductionism because he thought that the qualitative human individual was neglected by it. Bloch would have liked Spinoza´s Pantheistic notion of God as immanent in nature. Hence the world would be no creation by God because nature would be its own cause and would produce itself. In this context Bloch, Zeilinger points out, found interest in Spinoza´s concept of natura naturans, i.e. nature as a producing, active subject. Bloch opposes a static concept of matter (“block matter”) and considers nature as an open, self-organising process. For Bloch matter would be a dialectically developing, producing substance and this substance would have an immanent and speculative potential. Zeilinger stresses that Bloch´s concept of matter corresponds to and anticipated Prigogine´s and Haken´s concepts of self-organisation. She also stresses that Bloch´s philosophising has its beginning as well as its end in the human existence and that hence Bloch puts forward the idea that the human being in co-operation with nature can advance humanistic ideals. A strong teleological humanistic element would be constitutive for Bloch´s works.

Part 2.3: Biological Systems

John Collier (“Organisation in Biological Systems”) points out aspects of biological self-organisation. He argues that both the etiological and the organisational approach on biology have serious shortcomings and proposes a reconciliation that is based on an interactivist approach. The etiological approach would be an externalist one, the organisational an internalist one. A satisfying concept of biological self-organisation would have to combine both internal and external aspects. Based on such a synthesis he develops the concept of biological autonomy. Maturana´s concept of autopoiesis would suffer from mechanism, mostly because of its closed, internal character. But self-organising systems would be intrinsically open systems, autonomous biological systems would be open to information as well as energy and matter. This would be denied by the definition of autopoiesis. Autonomy would require non-equilibrium conditions, internal dynamical differentiation, hierarchical and interactive process organisation, incomplete closure, openness to the world, and openness to infrastructural inputs

Part 2.4: Social Systems

Christian Fuchs and Gottfried Stockinger (“The Autocreation of Communication and the Re-creation of Actions in Social Systems”) point out fundamental aspects of social self-organisation. Social systems and the human being would be creative, communications and human actions would be important aspects of social self-organisation. Social systems would be auto- and re-creative systems: from the perspective of communication, social self-organisation would denote the permanent creation of reality through concatenation of communication units in a self-referential mode (auto-creativity). From the perspective of the human actor, social self-organisation would denote a permanent reflexive interaction process related and coupled to social structures (re-creativity) where social structures are medium and outcome of social actions. Auto-creative communications and re-creative actions would be mutually dependent and coupled and together would enable the self-organisation of social systems and society. The main argument of Fuchs and Stockinger is that the creativity of social systems is based on autopoietic or self-reproducing processes on both the level of communications and the level of actors and that on both levels creativity is an important feature. They argue that co-operative social self-organisation could be a principle that puts forward co-operative intelligence (CI).

Franz Ofner (“Action, Communication, and Creativity. A Contribution from a Meadean Perspective”) points out that if there is a transition from action to communication and vice versa these two kinds of processes need to have common contents and structures, hence the question would arise how understanding between actors and meaning is possible. He deals with these questions from a perspective that is based on the works of George Herbert Mead. The first step towards consciousness of meaning would take place if the gestures are such that the individuals making them can perceive them. This would be the case with vocal gestures. As a result the individual making the gesture would be enabled to participate in the other´s response. The consequence would be that the individual assumes the same attitude towards his own gesture as the other individuals do. This procedure of taking the attitude of the others towards his own gestures would be the core of Mead´s approach to explain the appearance of meaning and consciousness. The gesture would call out in the individual making the gesture the image of the response of the other individual. The individual would respond to his own gesture in the form of imagery. Thus, the connection between gesture and response would be internalised, and would become conscious and meaningful. Significant gestures would emerge. The procedure of taking the attitude of the others would enable the individuals to create a self and social objects which are internalised. Thinking would arise if communication processes take place within the organism of individuals in the sphere of imagery. Ofner argues that formation of meaningful gestures and the self is the precondition for human creativity and reflexivity which are fundamental aspects of social self-organisation.

Vladimir Arshinov and Christian Fuchs

Moscow/Vienna, June 2003


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