Basios, Vasileious Comments

Commission for Extended Science Responce: Dr. Vasileios Basios. Discipline: Physics of Complex Systems, Complexity & Chaos Theory

Running Title: “The Century of Complexity” As the crises of our times keep on dragging we see an increasing polarization among cultures. The conflict between “the two cultures” (sciences and humanities) as famously delineated by C. P. Snow, some decades ago, now has become a chaotic “meta-modern” battleground for a continuous proliferation of sub-cultures. Numerous “mainstream” established fortifications prevent genuine dialogue and on the other hand certain “new-age” misinformed groups create confusion about several very important issues. Signs and symptoms of a phase transition as they are, they nevertheless call for a deeper approach in thinking beyond mere paradigms. It is about time that we shall concern ourselves not only with the study of nature but also by the nature of this study. Self-reflection and a quest of a new kind of validation of experience, can be the only trusted peacemakers in resolving these contemporary conflicts.

How would you like to see these limitations addressed?

We can see these limitations of fortified, self-interests and doctrinal ways of scientific thinking in society, the environment, the economy, politics and education. The overarching theme in mainstream thinking is the seeking out of the ‘mechanism’ as the core any desired explanation. Although such a mechanistic, linear, thinking ceased to be the prevailing one in physics sine the beginning of the last century other sciences are yet to catch up, still trying to fathom their practice in the mechanistic, naively reductionistic paradigm. They take unquestioned their mode of understanding as only by means of reducing any operation to a mechanical process. They seek more and more the utility of the machine than the understanding of the process. Hence crises ensue. And in our days when crises are met it is custom to throw up our hands and proclaim “this is complex” (end of story, thinking stops here!). I would propose instead to engage and encounter these complexities. Observe our limitations and navigate through them. Participate during our observations. Engage with systems and concepts. Be able to re-equip and re-inform our science by allowing it to reflect on its own foundations.

What new methodologies and ontology would you propose?

Ontology: Arthur Koestler has remarked that the “decisive advances in the history of scientific thought can be described in terms of mental cross-fertilisation between different disciplines.” Complementary spirit is the key here. We shall be inspired by Socrates’ “science of sciences”. A “science of sciences” demands that we are not bound by paradigmatic thinking or doctrine. We must turn the investigative powers of ‘science-as-we-know-it’ onto its self, then onto the scientists and finally onto the major expressions of social life. Becoming aware of what limits our own thinking, we become aware of what justifies the thinking of others [4]. Moderation is not just a moral issue, it is what will reveal the ultimate complementarity of the opinions and methods of others. Inverting the parable: If we have a little mote in our eye, our neighbour can still see it clearly even he has not cast the beam out his own eye! When complementarity meets compassion miracles can be performed, for the benefit of all.

Methodologies: What it is worth adding in our considerations is an elaboration on the recently established activities of “crowd funding” and “crowd sourcing”. The first coming from the idea of self-organization in micro-economics while the second stems from self-organization in algorithms and distributed computing. Both inspired by the self-organization of labour in hyper-organisms such as beehives and ant colonies. Actually the last years, these novel fund-raising and resource-management ideas, operating via ad hoc assembled “crowds”, interested in specific science projects small or big, drew the attention of the scientific and research community to the extent that “Nature” and “Science” journals keep running special editorials to cover it.

Evidently such actions liberate the scientific workforce from contractual, ordered, research and the constrains of “Big-Science”, “Big-Pharma” and other “Big-Money” guidelines. Moreover and most importantly: by actively engaging every interested party they promote, in the most efficient way, public awareness via public participation. One hopes that creative forces will be released towards aims and scopes concerted with our committee’s own.

Complexity science, as system science before it, have developed the necessary tools and concepts to deal with such emerging self-organization. The call, the imperative, is the formation of polycentric, networks where projects and ideas are shared and circulated among a network of organizations, laboratories and individuals. The Scientific and Medical Network in many ways is such a network. Although people and organizations within the Scientific and Medical Network are indeed self-organized and engage in dialogue, along a polycentric scheme, it is not so for the projects that have been developed and are developing through and by the Network. These remain still quite mono-centric and basically still hierarchically stratified. Noting the absence of cooperative research projects aiming in basic and applied research activities with a long term horizon, I think it is within our reach to encourage and support the formation of Multi-state and multi-stake cooperatives of individuals and labs. Imagine this new kind of network as a village, or even better, as an organism like a “Mycelium”. Flexible, self-organized, exchanging energy, ideas and nutrients with its environment. Open to societal changes and needs yet resilient and growing, where it can grow, or keeping its ground and preparing to grow where it cannot grow. We can give birth to a live and resonant network of people, ideas and projects. We can definitely envision it and organize it in such a fashion. To this end, it goes without saying, that I would be happy to share my recent experiences on the subject.

What differences do you think an extended science would make to your field, and in general?

My hope is that by considering an extended science, as sketched above, many unanswered questions will resurface allowing us to be able to move beyond accepted unquestioned answers. Many will be the questions that will find new a framework for investigation. For example, the question of information, memory and knowledge dynamics; what are the plausible frameworks where we can ask whether or not Nature has a mind of her own? What are the substrata that awareness/cognition/intelligence require to express themselves? (A ‘field’? What kind of a field? Can there be any observables associated with it? In what sense they are measurable or felt? How to verify its reality? etc). Of course the big question of Consciousness will also ask for accommodation. And this will be the major difference!

Any other observations you may have.

Happy to be part of such a project. It resonates with my aspirations and future planned activities, broadly and deeply. Hope it will have a long term horizon too.

Some References: [1] “Encountering Complexity: in Need for a Self-Reflecting (pre)epistemology”, chapter by V. Basios, in “Endophysics, Time, Quantum and the Subjective”, edited by R. Buccheri, A.C. Elitzur and M. Saniga, World Scientific Press (2005). DOI: 10.1142/9789812701596_0029

[2] “Complexity, Interdependence & Objectification”, chapter by V. Basios, in “Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality”, edited by by Z. Jones, B. Dunne, E. Hoeger and R. Jahn, ICRL Press, Princeton, NJ, 2014.

[3] “Goedel’s other legacy and the imperative of a self-reflective science”, article by V. Basios and E. Bouratinos, in “Horizons of Ttuth: Goedel Centenary”, University of Vienna 2006. Journal-ref: Kurt Goedel Society Collegium Logicum, vol. IX, pg. 1-5, 2006, also available in arXiv:1411.3756

[4] “A Science Towards the Limits”, essay by E. Bouratinos, Scientific & Medical Network (2003)