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Talk:A Systemic Revolution, or, the Need for a Post-Scientific Approach - Andy Novocin

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Enjoyed reading this, but puzzled by last sentence. Unsure what "Think from the top-down and bottom-up about how to see and describe interconnected aspects of problems..." is suggesting? Doesn't thinking from a starting point of top-down and bottom-up (a hierarchy? why the need for this?, what sort of 'top' is meant?, and a schism, or division) lead to the perpetuation of division? Up till then encouraging us to see and describe how to create synthesis of (inherently partial) views? I may be misunderstaniding, but wonder if an example would help? For example what would thinking from the top-down and bottom-up about how to see and describe interconnected aspects of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, or the over-usage of our planet's non-renewable resources, begin to look like? Does something like "Think from a variety of different starting points about how to see and describe interconnected aspects of problems..." work better? Philralph 18:02, 19 July 2010 (UTC)


  • ANDY's reply* Thanks for taking a look at this. You're right, I've betrayed myself, well, kind of. This is about a post-scientific approach, science is excellent at the breakdown of problems into sub-atomic problems, but lacks when it comes to reconstructing information about the macro-sized supra-problems, the inter-connectedness of the problems, how to pull from one problem into another. Science searches out statements which can be demonstrated as true or false, but lacks methods for constructing those cellular statements into larger organic statements. So a hierarchy is what I am recommending in the sense that some problems naturally contain sub-problems and are naturally sub-problems themselves of other larger-still problems, and what science tends to be ill-equipped for is 'zooming out'. I'm not advocating the rejection of science or the atomic statements it creates but a framework for understanding the relationship between the various statements which would allow a basic level of zooming out.

The phrase Top-down/bottom-up seems to imply a motivating perspective, objective, question, purpose, etc and not some type of multi-faceted objective list, but a multi-faceted objective list tends to always fall under a logic that connect the objectives. So the gap between the rich and the poor could be taken as a starting point for a systemic analysis, and you could see that it as under the problem of cultural axioms (and other macro-problems for sure) which would also be a super-problem of 'resource over-usage'. So seeing these systemic problems as sub-problems of cultural axioms might then direct study towards the interplay of different cultures with industrial technologies.

To see top-down as a reference to a departure point for a particular study, is the way you might study the human body, every sub-study is subject to its relationship with other sub-studies and supra-studies, the lungs don't really make sense on their own, or at least such a study is out of context, they only make sense as organs in the body. To study the body might not make much sense without studying atmospheric pressures or nutrition or sunlight... So the departure point is then something motivating a study, and in a systemic way of looking at things you might have to be aware of external factors, internal factors, how your question relates to other questions, and shared logic with other studies.

I do see problem statements in a somewhat hierarchal mode, which is a nod of respect to an axiomatic/unified approach to knowledge, but the hierarchy isn't a straight line, maybe more like a multi-dimensional graph or a hierarchy of webs of connectedness which is just a pointer to the intuition I have in mind. If we view any possible inquiry as a node on a graph with directed edges then the earlier perspective of departure point is like saying: I'm at node A1 which points towards sub-inquiries A1.i, A1.ii and is pointed to by supra-inquiries A, B, C and has sister inquiries A2, A3. Understanding how one inquiry is connected and relates to other inquiries, and the top-would merely refer to your local origin. Another perspective is that any problem has supra-problems and if you trace them all back you could find some small list of problems with no supra-problems. The ultimate statements from which all others are built, at that point this becomes an exercise in theoretical philosophy, which might be too esoteric to ever catch steam.

Anyhow I'll think about how to say that in a more concise and clear way, thanks!