Discover the Reality of
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 The Facts of Self-Animating Networks in Nature and a New, Realistic Role for the Mythic Imagination


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The Evidence for the Reality of Spiritual Animation in Nature--
and Its Necessarily Mytho-Logical Representation

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The Basics of a New Scientific Argument for Spiritual Animation in Nature

and Its Transformative Implications for Our Cultural Worldview

NOTE: The ideas presented below are an attempt to elucidate the relevance of the sciences of complex dynamics for our cultural worldview and how it must change to become more factually realistic. For information on the actual science from which these summaries and extrapolations are derived, please see the References Page

The Evidence

Science: Factual Description versus Conclusive Explanation in Materialistic Naturalism

Evidence: Quantifiable facts versus explanation
  • Science is a methodology of empirical analysis and theoretical explanation, not a belief system
  • It generates factual knowledge of Nature by first observing a phenomenon then posing hypothetical concepts about it that can be tested empirically for their accuracy--through quantification, calculation, and experimentation. In this way it provides descriptive evidence for "what is," and often a basis for understanding "how it comes to be" or is caused.
  • Such causal explanations for "how things come to be" arise from identifying specific relationships between quantifiable factors acting upon each other over time, revealing sequences of predictable events and changes.
  • However, scientific method often produces factual evidence for which no such causal explanation can be specified. Despite the fact that it has led to the causal explanation of many aspects of Nature, there is no basis in scientific method itself for assuming it can fully explain the origins of all phenomena for which it can provide factually valid description and testable evidence.
  • Thus, to be genuinely scientific, naturalistic science, as verifiable factual knowledge of natural phenomena, must acknowledge all the factual evidence it reveals regardless of whether the causal actions involved can be completely identified and explained.
  • Validated evidence of phenomena that cannot be fully explained in the predictably causal terms of the deterministic Laws of Physics is nonetheless evidence of something real: just because a phenomena or event cannot be fully explained does not make it factually un-real.
  • It is conceivable that aspects of Nature can be factually described by scientific method yet be "beyond conclusive explanation" without being "super-natural": science does not preclude the possibility of fundamental mystery in Nature.
Physics: Causal explanation has limits
  • The science of physics provides factually verifiable descriptions, explanations, and predictions for the properties of matter and energy.
  • Yet, despite its profoundly accurate and useful causal explanations, it has produced no "unified theory of everything."
  • It has proved particularly limited in explaining the operations of biological life systems and the origins of their purposeful behavior--such as human "free will."
  • A belief that physics should define and explain all reality, in terms of predictably deterministic causes and effects, creates resistance to factual evidence which suggests its mode of causal explanation has limits—and there is such evidence. But this evidence is at odds with our cultural definition of reality as phenomena that are ultimately definable and explainable in terms of the deterministic Laws of Physics.
  • Over recent decades, factual evidence has been accumulating that indicates there are indeed non-random, deterministic events which, due to their intrinsically unpredictable dynamical character, cannot be fully described or modeled--thus not fully explained.
  • Such non-random events can determine subsequent changes and effects in ways that are not predictably causal but result in materially quantifiable, thus factual effects. Such effects are particularly evident in the self-organization and intentionally purposeful behaviors of living systems.
  • Though the laws of physics do not appear to be violated by this evidence for unpredictably deterministic events, those laws cannot fully explain the origins of all the quantifiable effects and changes resulting from such events. We are confronted by evidence that compels us to reconsider our cultural definition of "how things actually happen" in Nature.
Dynamics: From sequential progressions to concurrent Interactions and beyond comprehension
  • Dynamics are the traits of action, change, and progression from one condition or event to another. Dynamical descriptions describe the relationships between succeeding events or changes.
  • Science uses mathematical analysis and modeling to differentiate linear from nonlinear dynamical relationships between events. Linear dynamics generate predictably consistent and proportional relationships between succeeding events or conditions. Thus they are fully predictable. Nonlinear dynamics can produce inconsistent and disproportional relationships between succeeding event or conditions that are not fully predictable.
  • Because the events of linear dynamics occur as progressive, proportionally consistent, predictably deterministic sequences, they are readily modeled, calculated, and causally explained. Linear events are what we can potentially manipulate and control in the world.
  • Because the events of nonlinear dynamics can occur disjunctively, as proportionally inconsistent and unpredictably deterministic "jumps," the relationships between events are not readily modeled, calculated, or explained. Thus nonlinear events tend to be both unpredictable and beyond direct control. Such dynamic relationships are not completely accessible to examination by scientific method. But such events are not accidents, not simply random. They are deterministic despite their disproportional and unpredictable changes.
  • Nonlinear events can arise from many factors and forces interacting concurrently, generating simultaneous influence on each other, resulting in effects that are so difficult to model they can be neither fully calculable nor causally explainable.
  • The difference between how linear and nonlinear dynamics create ordered states or relationships between multiple factors is profound. Linear changes produce order that is proportionally consistent with preceding states, as in 1, 2, 3, or 2 + 2 = 4. But nonlinear changes can result in order that is sequentially inconsistent and disproportional, as in 1, 2, 5, or 2 + 2 = 5. 
  • The consistency of linear dynamics create predictably orderly ordering that can readily be described in mechanistic terms and potentially controlled. But nonlinear ones can result in order emerging from disorder—a paradoxical quality of order-creating anarchy that cannot be fully described in a mechanical manner and is impossible to directly manipulate. In the strictest sense of cause and effect, nonlinear dynamics are "disorderly" because they can generate disproportional effects in disjunctive "leaps."
  • In recent decades scientific method has provided startling new descriptions of how nonlinear dynamics shape the world around us. While these insights provide greater understanding of such dynamics, they also tend to emphasize their ultimately mysterious origins and the impossibility of directly controlling them.
Emergence: The disjunctively determinsitic creativity of nonlinear dyamical relationships
  • The unpredictable but non-random changes of nonlinear dynamics are involved in the generation of many aspects of the world around us. They are fundamental to the properties of most forms, ordering, and function in the biosphere.
  • Because the origins of some of the forms and qualities resulting from the disjunctive changes of nonlinear dynamics cannot be fully specified as proportionally consistent, strictly mechanistic sequences of causal events, these are neither predictable by, nor fully explainable in terms of, the deterministic laws of physics.
  •  Subsequently, such forms, and the unexpected properties they often manifest, have come to be termed "emergent." This term is used to indicate effects that arise through the unpredictable changes associated with the disjunctive relationships of nonlinear dynamics. Emergent properties can usually be quantified but the disorderly process of their creation cannot be fully examined and explained in the same manner as can effects deriving from predictably deterministic causal events. Thus emergence has a "disorderly" quality of creativity that appears to be beyond our complete analytical comprehension.
  • The term "emergent properties" is used to indicate effects that arise in this synergistic fashion. The properties of water arise from the interaction of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen. But the resulting properties are disproportional with, and not predictable from, the properties of these two types of molecules themselves. The characteristics of water are determined by synergistic interactions occurring between those molecules, but not in a fully explainable way. Thus there are aspects of water that are emergent properties--meaning properties of fluidity as well as the static immobility of ice. These properties can be factually described once manifested but cannot be predicted from the preceding conditions of the properties of oxygen and hydrogen molecules whose synergistic interactions constitute the component parts of water.
  • Emergent properties turn out to be pervasive in natural phenomena, indicating that Nature's ordering derives, in considerable degree, from the unpredictably deterministic yet disorderly relationships of nonlinear dynamics.
Entropy: Emergence and exception to the Second Law of Thermodynamics
  • Entropy is a term that represents a state of non-differentiated relationships between aspects of matter and energy. Maximum entropy is a condition of uniformity that has no differentiated concentrations of organized relationships, thus has no potential for dynamical change.
  • The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a principle in physical science that describes the tendency of the entire universe to organizationally degrade toward a condition of maximum entropy.
  • This one-way process, which is referred to as the origin of the "arrow of time," is understood to have been initiated by a cosmos-creating "Big Bang" event, which resulted in uneven distributions of matter and energy in space. These localized discrepancies provided the impetus for more and less ordered local conditions, creating concentrations of gravitational attraction, that in turn generated stars, planets, solar systems, and galaxies. The interactions of these differentiation are presumed to necessarily dissipate over time until the universe becomes fully entropic or uniformly disordered.
  • However, emergent phenomena, such as the operations of biological systems, can actually increase the relative degree of order in localized aspects of the universe, as on planet earth. Indeed, they produce the most complex forms of order known to exist.
  • This localized increase of order within the overall entropic trajectory of the universe (meaning it is deemed to become progressively more entropic over time) has, thereby, an anti-entropic quality, also refered to as negentropy.
  • Emergence thus confronts us with an exception to the otherwise seemingly absolute determination of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It results in increases of the amount of order in the universe s well as the degree, by generating the most complex forms of ordering that have been observed.
  • This conundrum of new and more complex forms of order creation involving nonlinear dynamics, occurring in evident defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is a most basic aspect of the emergence of order from disorder that characterizes the thus far inexplicable self-creating, self-adapting character of living systems.
  • Somehow, the overall entropic degrading of order in the larger universe is enabling the emergence of increased and vastly more complex localized forms of order, which include those of subjectively self-conscious, willfully autonomous systems--such as animals. These are verifiable facts for which physics has no satisfactory theoretical explanations.

: The
Emergent Order Creation of Interdependent, Nonlinear Dynamical Relationships

Ordering Disorder: Where conflict and discontinuity generate accord and continuities
  • Research into nonlinear dynamics helped form the scientific concepts of chaos and complexity. These are terms used to indicate dynamical conditions involving nonlinear relationships and disproportional changes, within which orderly continuities can emerge from disorderly activity in unpredictable but non-random ways. The creation of such order cannot be reduced to sequentially consistent, mechanical actions and reactions. 
  • Chaotic dynamical conditions often appear to be random. Yet they can generate variably organized forms, such as whirlpools in turbulent fluids, which express self-similar yet non-identical reiterations of recognizable patterns. These emergent forms of order are derived primarily from the interaction of dynamic activity with external factors, such as the impetus of water flow encountering the constraining obstructions to it created by static rocks in a river, resulting in the variable ordering of a whirlpool.External factors "bend" the dynamic actions "back upon themselves" to generate interactions that generate ordered pattern.
  • Complex conditions have the additional quality of generating emergent order that somehow sustains itself, such as in biological bodies. These forms of order derive from interactions that are more internal to the dynamic activity--actions effect actions in ways that result in new order and its continuation--resulting in what is describable as more overtly self-sustaining self-organization.The dynamic interactions somehow generate ordered patterns and the capacity to sustain these without being compelled by external forces.
  • The dynamics of mechanical systems can be extremely complicated, such as a factory, airplane, or computer. But  the nonlinear dynamics of chaotic and complex dynamics produce relationships among factors that are more than a merely complicated set of linearly consistent relationships. And it is here that new and novel order emerges which appears to diverge from the dis-ordering entropic trajectory of the universe, as described by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  • A dynamical shift or boundary between complex and chaotic conditions is described as “the edge of chaos.” This is a condition in which complexity’s self-sustaining organization can develop from, or disintegrate back into, the less ordered conditions of chaotic dynamics. Complexity somehow scales up the erratic emergent order generation of chaos to a more sustainable level.
Self-Regulating Relationships: The emergence of self-organizing order from interdependency
  • Complexity manifests at extreme levels of connectivity and interdependence among interacting factors whose dynamic effects "feed back" into each other in reciprocal cycles--as in A effects B, B effects C, ad C effects A.Thus complex dynamics can arise from even simple-seeming sets of factors and interactions if these sufficiently modify each other—rather than merely “act upon” each other in mechanical sequences.
  • More extreme interdependence among factors can produce a transitional state of instability, termed criticality, because the existing order of dynamic activity reaches a “critical state” in which it might either re-organize or collapse in a shift toward chaotic dynamics. Criticality is a dynamical condition that manifest the potential for unpredictable emergence of new forms that can be sustained by complex interdependency. 
  • Criticality can result in new types of organized relations among interacting factors, a phenomenon termed “self-organizing criticality”: extreme interdependence can generate new, unexpected forms of organization and activity unpredictably—out of significant disorder. In chaotic dynamics an example is a tornado.
  • Complexity’s self-organizing can be thought of as a spontaneous synchronizing of concurrent interactions that results in new and self-sustaining ordering. In complex dynamics an example is the spontaneous transformation of a basic biological stem cell into an different type of cell with different properties and functions.
Inconsistent Continuities: The unique self-similarities of complexity's emergemt self-organizaiton
  • Complexity's order producing disorder is a kind of improvisation in each moment that allows for the emergence of both relatively similar yet also suddenly different versions of forms and functions.
  • These dynamical qualities enable complexity to create similar emergent forms, such as apples. But due to the  unpredictable nature of self-organizing criticality, even very similar forms are infinitely variable: every apple's form is an emergent property of complex dynamics. This is why no two apples--or people, or cities-- are the same.
Synergistic Mystery: Organization out of no where
  • The disproportional “leaps” of emergent order formation in complexity is empirically confirmed by quantifying the difference in degree or type of organization that exists before and after emergence: the specifiable forms, organization, and properties of emergent order have no predictable basis in the forms and conditions that preceding them.
  • Due to the radical interdependency of relationships among the highly interconnected factors involved in complexity, this disproportional creation of emergent properties--including that of self-sustaining ordering-- arise from an interactive synergy that cannot be specified as the "particular where" of preceding factors that produce a linear sequence of events.
  • A house is an emergent form of order because there is nothing about the properties of materials used for its construction that allows prediction of its ultimate organization. The components of the house cannot “build it”—complexity is required, in the form of human thoughts, plans, and interactions. Dynamic relationships generate the ordering that is the house, with its particular properties.
  • Most significantly, it has become evident that complexity's emergent creation of self-ordering order is the source of a high proportion of the organization in the planetary biosphere.

Systems: Interactive Parts that can Become Self-ordering, Adaptive Wholes

Linear and Nonlinear: Types of system dynamics
  • Systems are sets of component parts acting upon each other through dynamical relationships to produce the operations or behavior of an identifiable whole, whether as a clock or a forest ecology.
  • Some systems are dynamically linear and mechanistic, thus manifest predictable activity, while others are more dynamically nonlinear. The latter tend to be more emergently creative and complexly self-sustaining, thus manifest more unpredictable activity.
  • Complex systems are those that manifest complexity’s disorderly ordering and emergent properties to generate sustained self-organization of their forms and operations. Thus their relative continuity is continually emerging with some variation over time, rather than being a repetition of the same exact actions over and over again. 
  • Complex adaptive systems have a further emergent property of being able to re-organize their forms and operations in ways that make them adaptive to changes in their environments.
  • The interdependent interactivity of their parts synchronically generates self-organizing operations. These emerge from system dynamics which are in the potentially transformative state of criticality, operating in nearly chaotic dynamics, or "at the edge of chaos." Thus they ordering emerges from self-organizing criticality.
  • Such system self-organization is maintained through continual emergence of synchronized reciprocity among system activities, rather than as a mechanistic repetition of the same exact patterns. Thus system operations can be very similar but not exactly the same moment to moment, indicating that a system is effectively creating itself in each instant of time. It is ongoing self-organization facilitates their capacity to re-order in adaptive ways.
Self-Creation: The interdependent dynamics of system autonomy
  • From cells to societies, this self-organization involves the puroposeful interpretation of interactivity between system parts, as well with its environment, as meaningful information that enables the initiation of actions that regulate system activities.
  • Complex adaptive systems not only act to create and sustain, but also to adapt themselves to changing environments in an evolutionary manner. However, this operational adaptation, the evolutionary process actually involves purpose and even intention: the system determines its adaptive re-organization in response to its environment as a means of sustaining itself.
  • Most natural systems, from cells to ecologies, and even human systems like cities, are such self-organizing complex adaptive systems that act autonomously to perpetuate their operations.
  • In ways that elude analysis by conclusive measurement and calculation, they generate self-organizing operational networks for which there is no explicit material basis in the properties of their component parts
  • The easiest version of such systems to visualize are “agent based systems,” such as ant colonies. Here the system component parts are separate ants whose individual actions become interactions that feedback into the collective system network. This simultaneous interdependent interactity results emergent self-organization of the whole colony, without there being any central controller. What we call the “queen” only lays eggs. She has not actual command and control influence on the colony. Thus a collective mind manifests from simple behaviors of the ant agents that organizes and re-directs to whole system without there being a central “brain.” Such systems have been termed a “super organisms.”

Self-Regulation: System manipulation of complexity's dynamical relationships
  • These peculiar traits of complex systems are described as deriving from relative amounts of four factors of relationship among their parts: connectivity, interdependence, and diversity of system parts, along with a capacity to incorporate the system’s history into its present operations.  This latter aspect constitutes a form of learning and memory that enable systems to adapt to changing environmental factors by processing information about its past in relation to its present conditions.
  • Complexity’s self-organizing criticality emerges at a particular but unpredictable threshold in system dynamics: Too much or too little connectivity, interdependence, or diversity among system parts can disable a system’s networked self-organization. It is evident that some systems can regulate the proportional relationships of these factors.
  • Thus sustainability of complex systems, their adaptive robustness over time, derives from self-regulating these four factors. But this aspect of self-regulation is also an emergent property of interdependent interactivity among largely non-hierarchical, often redundant relationships between networked part. It is how these parts are networked that enables a system to generate its self-sustaining continuity and self-re-organizing adaptations.
Networks: Constellated Interactivity that can Think for Itself

Network Structure: Different types of connections have different relational effects
  • System networks are understood as abstract topologies, as if system components, the connections between these, and the relationships among them constitute a kind of spatial landscape.
  • Network structure is described in terms of nodes, representing system parts, and links or pathways, meaning the connections between parts across which actions and interactions move between nodes, creating patterns of relationships. The totality of these constitute the network of factors and relationships among them that enable a system to exist.
  • Any distinct entity or event can be described in terms of such a network of nodes, pathways of connections between nodes, and the relationships established by those connections: a stone is a network of specific molecules that constitute the material of the stone and its particular properties, such as how hard, dense, or brittle it is. A mechanical motor’s nodes are its parts that act upon each other, creating pathways of relationship. A social group of humans has person’s for nodes with pathways constituted by each person’s behavioral interactions with other persons.
  • Types of network structure, the connectivity among their parts, are distinguished as being centralized, de-centralized, or distributed. These terms indicate a spectrum from more hierarchically sequenced ordering to more a diffuse structure, the distributed form, in which most parts are multiply connected to other parts. Consequently, there are multiple pathways for interactions to occur among them, and to do so in a more simultaneous manner. Networks of complex systems tend toward the distributed topology of structure in which relationships among parts become more interdependent.
  • Network structure often involves some nodes having a greater number of links to other nodes than most. These are called hubs because they often play a more significant role in the system's processing of information that facilitates its emergent self-organization.
  • Different network structures, the arrangement of its topology of nodes and links between parts, can create radically different properties even when the parts are identical: carbon molecules arranged in one network of relationships become soft graphite, the same molecules arranged differently become hard diamonds; totalitarian social system networks have different structural and relational characteristics than do democratic ones
  • However, the actual effects of networks do not derive simply from their structural topology but also from the activities that occur across the links. Plotting the topology of a network as links and nodes does not necessarily reveal its ongoing, variable operations and the resulting properties it manifests, making some networks extremely difficult to fully describe.
  • The structure and dynamic activity of networks relates to their relative complexity. Complex systems manifest as dynamically complex operational networks. These are the type which can manifest the autonomous self-organization or agency that guides system adaptation, in effect allowing them to "think for them selves."
Network Dynamics: Relational actions, interactions, and transformations
  • Some networks are more dynamically active and complex than others, ranging from the more static relationships of parts composing a stone to the progressive sequences of linear actions in machinery, and the pulsing flows of simultaneous, mutually modifying interactions typical of self-organizing criticality in complex systems--such as human societies.
  • Active systems. like machinery and social groups, can be said to have operational networks. The system manifests as the dynamical activity of the relationships between its parts as the system changes over time.  In complex systems, this activity forms a variable constellation of interdependent interactions, from which emerges network self-organization. 
  • The ever changing constellation of complex network operations continually create and recreate their relationships from feedback communicated across pathways among their nodes and modules. This dynamically emergent network structure is distinct from the specifiable properties of the system parts from which it emerges. Network operations can often not be reduced to or understood by the traits of the system parts whose interactions produce those operations.
  • The actions and interactions between parts that are transmitted across network pathways are described as feedback flows. These can be more dynamically linear or more nonlinear. Feedback impulses in complex networks can become mutually modifying, amplifying the complexity of network dynamics and facilitating the criticality associated with self-organization. 
  • Such networks manifest unpredictable but characteristic behavior, individuality, and autonomy: even similarly structured networks have identifiable behavioral character. Not all individual human body networks operate their systems in exactly the same way and respond differently to different stimuli. Thus what proves to be sustainable ordering or adaptive change for one network is not necessarily the same for another, even very similar network.
  • Network operations can generate transformative phase changes in their systems, as in when a fertilized embryo becomes a fetus, a caterpillar a butterfly, a pride of lions adopt a new hunting technique, or a society jumps from peace to warfare. These are referred to as tipping points in a systems self-organization regime, beyond which radical change becomes relatively inevitable. But the instability of dynamical criticality involved can lead not only to transformative system adaptation but also to degenerative collapse.
  • Extremes of feedback from particular factors can disrupt the self-regulating operations emerging from a system's self-organizing criticality, pushing a network into a tipping point. Unlike more linear mechanical systems, complex ones, due to their flexibility, tend to respond to disruptive feedback in a delayed manner. But then when the tipping point is reached, network operations can fragment and the system can become chaotic, loosing its capacity to maintain relative continuity over time.  Examples include the discharge of green house gases into the atmosphere from human activity which took decades to overtly alter the clilmate system.
Network Autonomy: The emergent agency of interdependency
  • This constellation of synchronically interactive, interdependent feedback among network nodes results in self-organization and adaptive transformation of a system by generating an operational network which effectively enables them to think for themselves, by making meaning from feedback within their systems and from other external networks in their surrounding environments, then responding by altering their own network structures and thereby the properties of their systems. System adaptation results through this meaning making information processing that enables an operational network to act with autonomous agency in re-organizing the system.
  • The emergence of network autonomy and thus agency in organizing or re-organizing its system derives from significant disorder in its dynamical criticality. The uncertainty of instability is essential to how this occurs. Too much regularity can disable network self-organization and autonomy just as can too much chaos.
  • The actions of complex system parts upon each other produce networks with emergent properties. They have the unpredictable and inexplicable capacity to autonomously regulate overall operations of their systems. A complex network emerges from collectively constellated, synchronic system activity that then in turn acts to regulate that activity—system and network create each other as reciprocal phenomena in a moment to moment improvisation. The network organizes from feedback flows in the system then acts as an agent to influence the system.
  • Such self-organizing operations of complex system networks emerge from conditions of critically interdependent, simultaneous flows of feedback transmitted between the parts of system. Complex networks are continually active, turbulent, partly disorderly constellations of interdependent interactivity—even when functioning to maintain consistency in their system’s form and behavior.
  • Perhaps most significantly, attempts to control complex systems/networks, as humans often do through technological manipulations of ecological environments or their own societies, tend to produce unexpected and unpredictable network reactions: the autonomy of complex network activity can be excited or inhibited by external influences but not predictably controlled. This knowledge derived from complexity science has profound implications.
Meta-Networks: A world made of networks of networks
  • Networks scale up towards greater complexity as the number of localized areas of interdependency increase. Multiple networks, such as multiple social groups or animal species, become connected to and interact with each other to create ever larger meta-networks. These are sometimes described as nested systems. Each human is a network of complex networks, an entity composed of many sub-systems--including discrete bacterial organisms living on and in the body. The overall operational network of the biosphere system manifests as such a fluctuating patchwork of interacting networks.
  • When networks are networked into larger scales of networks—as in from cells to bodies to minds or individual ants interacting to create the "super-organism" of a colony—each level of scale can retain significant autonomy, which, when linked with that of others, plays a crucial role in enabling the emergence of a larger scale autonomous network within which it is patch-worked or nested. Larger scale network autonomy derives from interactions of smaller scale network autonomy.
  • Such aggregations are constituted by communicative exchanges of feedback that each sub-network interprets for its own purposes and which, collectively, can regulate the behaviors of all component networks as a meta-network—such as the individual agents of persons whose interactions generate the dynamic structure of a larger social network in an ongoing synchronic reciprocity. This is sometimes termed bottom-up order creation, as opposed to top-down, hierarchical control operations.
  • These patch-worked constellations of autonomous networks process information and make decisions on multiple levels of scale in ways that remain inexplicably emergent: the human body/brain/mind system/network is the prime example, being regarded as the most complex system in the known universe. But it appears to differ from other complex systems/networks only in regard to the higher degree of its dynamical complexity. The ways in which we think differ from how other complex adaptive systems operate only in terms of relative complexity.
Network Immateriality: Operations that are not things
  • Though complex system parts and actions can be quantified, their synergistically emergent network operations of information processing are not fully accessible to exact measurement and calculation. The way complex adaptive networks become aware of their external environments and internal system operations, then effectively decide how to adaptively re-organize these for the purpose of sustaining their systems, is not specifiable.
  • Thus complex network operations are not always entirely identifiable in material terms, yet create the majority of order and form in and around us, making them fundamentally mysterious yet crucial to our understanding of how order and form are created in reality

Information: A Thing-less Thing that has Causal Effects in Complex Network Operations

Difference that Makes a Difference: Interpreting data as meaningful differentiation
  • The notion of information includes physical data and abstract concepts or meanings
  • Both physical data, like temperature, and concepts, such as self versus other, are the basis for making distinctions of difference
  • Information in the larger sense is differentiation that is interpreted as meaningful. Even measurements of weight and temperature only exist as meaningful information when interpreted as such. Information in this sense requires some aspect of interpretation.
  • The interpretation of differences in data or concepts generates information that is meaningful because it enables the interpreter to act in response to the differences. Information is difference that makes a difference in an interpreter's ability to respond to phenomena that have been differentiated.
Networked Knowledge: Converting data into agency and memory
  • Complex adaptive networks can convert the data of differences in interacting feedback flowing between system parts, as well as from their external environments, into meaningful information about their systems and environments. Networks can convert data into information and meaning and use these to distinguish their systems from their environments.
  • A network's interpretation of differences within and outside its system as meaningful information facilitate its emergent property of autonomous self-organization and the resulting agency that enable it to influence system operations. Such interpretation of differences is essential to autonomous self-organization.
  • By producing such information, which becomes part of their ongoing selective operational behaviors, complex networks manifest a form of learning or memory about their past and present conditions. This retained information facilitates the emergent agency that allows them to influence their systems in adaptive ways.
From Abstraction to Action: Immaterial differentiation leads to purposeful material doing
  • Information on this level is abstract yet contributes to system behaviors that result in physical events. Information, as interpretations of difference that facilitate selective network actions, can be a thing-less thing that has literal causal effects—as in human thoughts—and it is intrinsic to complex network operations.
  • This informational content in complex networks, derived from network processing of data that distinguishes differences that are meaningful for the system, is “more than” the system components. It cannot be explicitly identified in the material system.
  • Genetic encoding of data provides a form of physical memory about the past manifestations of a biological body system. Though genetic encoding is often considered a blue print for the operation of a biological body, this data only becomes meaningful information when an active system generates an emergent network capable of interpreting it in response to present conditions in and outside its system. Indeed, genetic memory, as an encoded record like written human knowledge, is partly created by historical network operations in the past evolution of particular types of systems.
  • Furthermore, the operational networks of complex systems such as ecologies and societies process data into information that influences the effective actions of their autonomous self-organization without having direct access to such explicit, physically encoded genetic memory.

Causation: A Paradox of BI-Dynamical Order Creation--through two different ‘ways that things happen’

Causation as Constraint: What happens arises from restrictions
  • Causation is familiar in the terms of "every action has an equal and opposite reaction." In this view, effects  derive dependently from preceding conditions which cause the effects.  Every event can be identified as part of a sequence of measurable and proportionally consistent changes in the conditions of matter and energy. That means that causes and effects propagate predictably across distinct instances of time in a predictable manner: as in man swings a hammer with X amount of energy or force, the hammer strikes a nail, and the nail penetrates wood in proportion to the force applied. The force of the man's muscles moves the hammer which transmits the force to the nail which causes it to penetrate the wood.
  • However, scientifically speaking, such events and changes result not simply from the force applied in a given instance but as the result of constraints imposed on what forms matter and energy can take. The Laws of Physics are laws in the sense that science has discovered inherent constraints that limit the possible ways matter and energy can become arranged or ordered, thus the effects that can result from actions.
  • How matter and energy take the forms, have the properties they have, and result in the actions or changes that we observe, are predetermined by specifiable limitations that only allow those events to occur. The knowledge of physical science enables us to define and predict what we call causes and effects with great precision because these are dependent upon those constraints. Physical changes occur in proportionally consistent ways that are dependent upon preceding conditions--allowing us to engineer buildings and send rockets to the moon.
  • Since changes in matter and energy are always consistently proportional, these are potentially predictable and even controllable--because they are dependent upon the constraints of the Laws of Physics. Thus how the ordering of things and events happens should be definable and explainable in relation to the conditions that proceed any changes.
Emergent Constraints: Confronting the unpredictable generation of new properties of order
  • However, the scientific study of complexity and its emergent properties confront us with disproportional changes in how matter gets organized into some forms. Such forms can have properties which are inconsistent with the proceeding conditions and properties from which they emerge, thus they do not appear to be predetermined, making them unpredictable and not fully explainable.
  • An example of such disproportional emergence in chemistry involves the properties of water. Water's properties of fluidity and its capacity to exist as liquid, solid, or gas have no specifiable basis in the properties of the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen that constitute water molecules. The physical properties of these atoms themselves do not change when bonded into a water molecule.Thus theses emergent properties must somehow derive from the interactions of hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
  • Though the properties of water molecules are not predictable from those of the atoms composing them, and no sequence of dependent changes has been identified that explains how exactly this happens, water's emergent properties do not violate the Laws of Physics. Nonetheless, such emergent properties are not random. They are determined in relation to some form of constraints. Thus the new properties of water must derive from causal constraints that are generated unpredictably by the complex interactions of the properties of the atoms, rather than those of physical determinism alone.  cc
  • A more tangible example of such emergence is found in the properties of rope. Ropes with different properties, such harder or softer, more rigid or more elastic, can be made from the same physical material--such as the molecules of a particular plastic polymer. These differing properties are not predictable from those of the plastic molecules composing the base material. They emerge from the different ways that material is ordered or organized into the rope--the relationships of the molecules to each other and the ways the fibers are formed and braided together. Something about those relationships must constrain the potential emergence of new properties in ways that determine them, though in an unpredictable manner.
Causation without "Cause": Confronting indeterminable creativity
  • The science of complex systems and their autonomous network operations provides even more confounding examples of unpredictable but deterministically emergent properties. The capacity of complex systems to self-organize and adaptively re-self-organize through the autonomous operations of their networks is disproportional to the properties of the system components from which it arises. Such emergent events cannot be shown to occur as deterministically dependent sequences of change that are predictable from the constraints imposed upon matter and energy as described by the Laws of physics.
  • The forms and properties of complex systems get significantly re-configured as a result of their own network activities, but again, not in proportionally consistent ways. There is no way to determine exactly where the new order comes from. We can measure its existence in terms of how systems change as a result of self-organization. We can measure the subsequent effects that its influence on other systems creates in their surrounding environments. When a pride of lions emergently adopt a new hunting technique, other species alter their system behaviors. But we cannot measure how these changes comes into being.
  • How then can such emergent events be described in causal terms, if by causation we mean consistently proportional changes that are  commensurate with the predetermining Laws of Physics? There is evidence of deterministic creativity, even intentionally purposeful change, that alters the material world but has not explicit "cause." Science is confronted with a blind spot it its methodological capacity to fully analyze, thus explain, Nature.
Co-arising Order: From dependent to interdependent order creation
  • From the perspective of the Laws of Physics, and in particular the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the universe is inevitably becoming less ordered, through the process of entropy. But complexity's emergent ordering is anti-entropic. It continually creates more complex order in infinitely variable ways. In terms of the complexity of order, it has actually increased since the observable origins of the universe--initially as increasing atomic forms of matter, then molecular compounds of atoms, and recently on earth as the vastly more complex emergent orderings of biological life.
  • What can be scientifically known about the conditions from which system self-organization arises is that these involve high degrees of dynamical complexity. It appears to depend upon the simultaneously interdependent interactivity among system parts whose disorder and instability generate dynamical criticality. Thus, at the least, we can observe that the autonomous agency of complex system networks emerges in part from concurrently reciprocal interdependency of the properties and activities of system parts. 
  • Statistically, this elaboration of order is not random, not accidental, it is determined by some constraints. Regarding the universe as an historical development, it appears that the elaborations of different atomic forms of matter enabled that of more complex forms of emergent order and its new properties.
  • That description allows us to speculate that increased differentiation facilitated complexity's interdependent interactions and that these impose different constraints on "how things happen" than do those of physic's dependent constraints. In this view, interdependency somehow allows for, or makes possible, disjunctive changes in how prexisting properties of a system influence each other to produce emergent ones.
  • Thus there is evidence for a domain of order creation that is peculiar to complexity’s critical levels of interactive interdependency (self-organizing criticality), which manifests from constraints that are “in addition to” those of physics
  • However, there also appears to be no intrinsic conflict between these two ways that things happen, or take form. Complexity's emergent properties do not appear to violate the constraints on matter and energy described by the Laws of Physics. Thus the emergent order creation would seem to be an emergent property of complex dynamical relationships occurring between the predetermined properties of matter and energy: predictably dependent and unpredictably interdependent are co-arising aspects of Nature.
Purposeful "Causing": The intentional changes of network autonomy
  • The greatest conundrum, regarding the evidence from physics that changes occur in a predictably deterministic manner, proceeding along identifiable sequences that, which indicates causation can have no intrinsic purpose or intentionality--because all changes are dependently constrained. The laws of physics constrain changes in matter and energy to predetermined possibilities, thus all changes must be without purpose. Nonetheless, the emergent networks of complex adaptive systems can be shown factually to operate in an unpredictable yet deterministic and autonomous manner--an activity that promotes the sustainability of their systems in a purposeful way.
  • Thus emergent causation of complex system networks is not evidently "lawful" in a in a predetermining way, because it derives from the disorderly dynamics of concurrent interdependence, whose synergistic actions cannot be sequenced, yet determines particular, even intentional effects. Further, these actions involve processing of data into abstract meaningful information that is at least partly beyond quantification and calculation yet plays an effective role in the intentionally selectively actions of self-organization that determine the future forms of a a system's order. All of this is demonstrably crucial to the purposeful self-sustainability of living systems--yet these emergent properties co-arise with those of the deterministic Laws of Physics.
A Bi-dynamical World View: Re-stating how dynamical relationships create reality
  • Given these distinctions it appears there exist two dynamical modes of order creation, which we might distinguish as producing dynamically dependent versus interdependent constraints on the potential formation of forms and their properties:
  •     1. Dependent Order Creation: The sequentially progressive, proportionally consistent events that are the entirely materialistic, quantifiable, and potentially controllable conditions of causation associated with the deterministic Laws of Physics constitute dependent dynamical order creation. This mode of ordering is dependent in the sense that it is constrained by those "laws," thus creates order in a predictably orderly manner.
  •     2. Interdependent Order Creation: A condition of concurrently simultaneous and interdependent events that have proportionally inconsistent effects and can involve informational network processing that does not appear to be entirely materialistic, thus are not fully quantifiable nor directly controllable. This mode of ordering is interdependent in the sense that it appears to derive from mutually modifying interactions, rather than sequential actions and reactions. This interdependency involves disorderly dynamics that account for its unpredictability, making it disorderly ordering. Yet, because it is deterministic rather than random, it must derive from some constraints on what is possible. The conundrum is that these constraints appear to not be "lawful" in the sense of the constraints of physics.  Rather, there must be something about the criticality of interdependent interactivity that enables the emergence of new order but does not exactly determine it. That notion suggests that the interdependent mode is not strictly causal but a kind of enabling of emergent potential.
  • This view of two modes of ordering can be described as bi-dynamical order creation. Though the evidence is compelling, the concept is confounding to our modernist cultural assumptions about scientific knowledge of Nature. Physical constraints of order creation are not sufficient to describe or explain what science can confirm about the creation of order in dynamical complexity. Understandably, there is profound resistence to this notion in the current culture of physics-based science. Nonetheless, it is the quantitative methodology of physics that has revealed this evidence.
  • However, despite the paradox of bi-dynamical order creation, these causal conditions are not unrelated. It appears there is a threshold or “phase change” from dependent to interdependent causal conditions: the laws of physics constrain the properties of matter and energy in ways that make the nonlinear dynamics of chaos possible, which make the self-organizing ones of complexity possible.
  • Critical levels of concurrent interdependency among factors and parts (whose properties are definable by physics) associate with the potential for complexity's synergistically emergent causation and its emergent formation of complex networks, with their self-animating operations—whose properties are not entirely definable by physics but can, in turn, create unpredictable, even intentional organizations of matter and energy—as in endlessly unique biological bodies or minds.
  • When the dependent dynamics of matter and energy (governed entirely by the predictably causal constraints of the Laws of Physics) become arranged in ways that facilitate sufficient connectivity, diversity, and interdependency of factors, the causal potential the interdependent dynamics of complexity’s unpredictably emergent causation apparently becomes enabled—without violating the Laws of Physics.
  • Given  the appropriate conditions, pre-biotic autocatalyzing molecular sets emerge that structure themselves as interdependently derived networks. These are a basis for biotic networks that self-organize adaptively. That creates a basis for the evolutionary speciation of biological life.
  • Thus causal constraints appear to scale up across a transformative threshold of interdependency among factors, which enables the emergence of complexity’s interdependent dynamics—including networks ranging range from simpler forms of self-ordering in some molecular structures to more complex ones involving the volitional action and intelligent consciousness intrinsic to life.
  • A further distinction between these two modes is that the dependent ordering of physics shows no means of producing functions or purposes. Being pre-determined, the ordering of the Laws of Physics are universal. They do not predict any specific purposeful function. The interdependent order creation of complexity does produce purpose. Complex adaptive systems operate purposefully to sustain the functionality of their own operations by self-organizing and re-organizing those operations.
  • This purposeful aspect of complex systems involves an additional distinction of what these different modes of order creation make possible involves the generation of meaningful information. Complex adaptive networks manifest their capacity to self-organize their systems through the interpretation of the data of feedback as in some way meaningful about the system's operations. Such networks act purposefully to maintain and adapt the functionality of their systems. To do so they must process data into information.
  • The order creation of physical determinism does not appear to provide for this operation. It requires the emergent properties of complexity's interdependent order creation.(Admittedly, technological devices that are mechanical rather than complex systems can process data into information . However, such devices only exist because these are purposefully created by the complex adaptive system networks of human minds.)
  • In summary, the unpredictable yet deterministic emergent potential of interdependent order creation is evidently dependent upon the predictability of physic’s sequentially dependent order creation--despite the former involving the unpredictable instability or near anarchy of criticality’s radical interdependence “at the edge of chaos.”
  • Confronting the evidence for bi-dynamical order creation is crucial to our understanding of reality because the interdependent mode of complexity is clearly the source of most of the complex organization that constitutes the forms and activities of our selves and the biosphere we inhabit. We require a category of interdependent order creation to account for the pervasive manifestation of purposeful function in Nature.

Spiritual Animation:

Self-Ordering System Networks and a “Ghost in the Machine” that “makes them alive”

Self-Animating Subjectivity: The self of self-organizing agency
  • In discreet biological systems, genes provide the initial data memory of the system’s past organization. That data becomes information when interpreted by the emergent network of each new complex adaptive body/mind system. Every individual plant and animal manifests its own, partly unique emergent operational network that generates and processes information in a moment-to-moment, improvisational manner. Though this activity is guided by genetic data, it is not a fully predictable, pre-programmed operation. It is this emergent networking that makes creatures both unique and alive.
  • But even networks in non-living systems like economies can cause them to act as if alive by re-organizing their relational structure, and thus system properties, in ways that adaptively promote the sustainability of their operations.
  • It is in this regard that autonomous system network self-organization constitutes what has been termed "autopoiesis," or self-creation.  By self-organizing in an ongoing basis, a complex system is creating its own activity or behavior. That operation is readily described as self-animation.
  • Complex networks, by interpreting data as meaningful information about their systems and environments, then initiating actions in response to that information, manifest traits of self-awareness. By differentiating their system parts from each other, and these from its environment and other systems, then acting in the interests of their own system’s continued operation, complex networks are effectively behaving subjectively--as self-aware subjects.
Spiritual Impetus: The transformative "ghosts" of network autonomy
  • This self-animating information processing and action initiation, that is not entirely accessible to definitive description or physical manipulation, has the individualized and volitional qualities associated with the concepts of spirits and souls. These words indicate a mental or psychic agency whose impetus animates material objects in a subjective manner.
  • In responding to feedback within its system and between that system and other systems, a network can re-configure the structure and relationships of itself and its system, effectively altering the properties of the overall system/network. Such activity conforms to the notion of spiritual animation.
  • Further more, like the notion of transformative spirits, network autonomy can select for behavior that has fundamentally different properties. A species of slime mold can operate as independent single cell organisms that autonomously animate themselves as individual systems. But these individuals can also collectively choose to aggregate and become a multi-cellular organism with radically different emergent properties—including the solving of mazes to locate food sources. There is no evident basis in the properties of  individual slime mold cells that they can generate this transformation. It is a "ghostly" agency of "spiritual" self-animation that arises from self-awareness within an external environment.
  • There are “ghosts” in the physical “machinery” of complex adaptive systems that manifest in their operational networks where complexity’s extreme scale of interdependency among factors enables the interdependent dynamics of emergent causation. Further, even complex systems that are not composed as discrete biological bodies can self-organize, thus self-animate, thus generate spiritually animating ghosts in their machinery. Subjectivity is an emergent effect of complex dynamics.
  • Like the emergent effects of complexity's interdependent dynamics in general, the capacity of this spiritually animating impulse to generate subjective awareness out of meaningful interpretation of data appears scalable. Greater dynamical complexity in a system/network associates with more intelligent subjective perception and creative adaptation--as from single cell organisms to animals. Our human intelligence is but the most elaborate version of this dynamical effect in Nature.
Spiritual Form: The spiritually animated world of things
  • This phenomena of spiritual animation by complex network autonomy is a fundamental source of much, if not most, of the order we are and that constitutes our biosphere. A vast array of things that seem to be "merely physical" are demonstrably emergent effects of its operations.
  • A house constitutes a relatively static network structure of physical properties. But a house is an emergent form of order because it cannot simply be caused by the physical properties of its component parts—wood, stone, steel, glass, etc.. A house emerges from the complex network of self-animating human minds that design and build it—its physical form emerges from the self-organizing complexity of that information-processing network, which is its actual cause. A house is a materialization of that complex network’s spiritual animation. This is equally true of a hammer, a tree, and a termite mound.
  • This view confronts us with a world of things and events that, though describable in the dependently deterministic terms of physics, have been organized by this spiritual animation of network autonomy. It can thereby be said that these things have "in" or "about" them an "echo" of the "ghostly" agency of the operations of network autonomy. That makes them materializations of spiritual animation. This is the fundamental paradox of bi-dynamical order creation: we inhabit a material world largely composed of forms, properties, and functions that derive emergently from the spiritual impetus of network autonomy, which is mysterious to the perspective of materialistic definition.
Network Soul: The Agency of Self-Animating System Networks Constitutes an Embodied Soul

Materialized Spiritual Character: System/Network as individually physicalized agency
  • A complex system is the physical basis of its emergent network’s autonomously self-animating agency. That emergent network autonomy then becomes a source of the system’s physical self-organization. Yet, though the physical components and actions of the system can be specified and quantified, the operations of its emergent network are not so definable. Nonetheless, those operations are part of the overall system.
  • The operational system, whether a human body or a city, is the material expression of its network’s information processing and volition that animate the system by organizing its operations. That reciprocal process manifests as some degree of subjective awareness in regard to how the network assesses the conditions of its system in relation to its external environment of other systems, and selectively responds by  adapting system operations for overall sustainability.
  • Systems and their operational networks are not the same exact phenomena, yet are not entirely differentiable from each other, thus are mutually creative of this subjective agency of spiritual self-animation that they collectively manifest. Together they constitute the materially causal expression of the network’s emergent property of self-creating impetus: the agency of its spiritual animation
  • Every complex system, be it a person, a species, or a forest, manifests individualized traits of its type of form and behavior. These traits characterize the uniquely materialized or embodied expression of its particular network subjectivity--the way it "thinks for itself."  The characteristic actions of that subjectivity or psychic mindfulness constitute the embodiment of the network's animating agency in and as its system's operations--from which it arises and which it then animates in a reciprocal manner.
  • In the traditional terms of spirituality, that mutuality of physical system and ephemeral subjective network operations has the animating qualities of a "soul"--meaning the embodiment of a specific, individualized spiritual character. The spiritual impetus of a network's animating agency, arising from its qualities of subjectivity, becomes the specific "soul" of its physical system--it is embodied in the system's forms, behaviors, and properties that effect other systems in quantifiable ways. Thus we can term it "network soul."
Archetypal Network Soul: The commonalities and uniqueness of embodied agency
  • In the biosphere, these individually embodied networks of subjective agency manifest as innumerable smaller systems that are parts of interconnected larger systems, in which they are interdependently nested or patch-worked together. At every level of this meta-networking there is a quality of network soul, such as emerges from individual animals that collectively constitute the system of a species.
  • A diversity of many such species interact to generate ecosystems, each with its own distinct embodied subjective character or network soul, which likewise interact all the way up to the biosphere. 
  • Each network soul can thus be thought of as having archetypal traits to its character. Every species of birds has some universal traits of a basic originating “arche” of form and behavior that identify the species as having bird-ness--such a beaks, wings, feathers, etc. These identify the broadest archetypal character of networked bird soul--of how the agency of spiritual animation creates the essential traits of self-organized form and function in all birds. 
  • Yet each species is differentiated by its own traits, manifesting a distinctive archetypal version of the more universal one,  from cranes to ostriches, and each individual of a species manifests a somewhat unique version of its particular species’ archetypal network character.  There is a differentiated archetypal character of network soul for bird-ness, for hawk-ness, and for any given hawk.
  • At each level of differentiation among archetypally related systems, a network soul is emergently embodied that has the particular traits of spiritual animation expressed by a particular system. There is an archetypal network soul that makes a bird a bird, a hawk and hawk-bird, or an individual hawk this particular hawk-bird.
  • The biosphere is constituted by the vast interdependent interplay of archetypally diversified network souls whose incalculable interdependent interplay generates the moment-to-moment emergence of its overall self-creating, self-regulating, self-animating autonomy that it physically embodies as its collectively interdependent network soul. That self-creating, self-regulating meta-system or super-organism has been referred to as Anima Mundi, or world soul, and by the ancient Greeks as the goddess Gaia, a name for the earth as a spiritually self-creating, self-animating entity.

NOTE: For information on the actual science from which these summaries
and extrapolations are derived, please see the References Page

       The New Reality of Self-Animating Nature
   The Mechanically Predictable 2arrowcircle The Spiritually Emergent
              What we can Measure  AND  What we can only Imagine

Reality: Nature as Interplay of Mechanically Predictable and Emergently Spiritual Network Dynamics

A New World Ordering: Nature beyond mechanism
  • The science of complex systems and their networks provides a radically more dynamic and unpredictable view of order formation in Nature than does physics alone. Most aspects of our selves and environments have taken form not only within the mechanically causal constraints of the Laws of Physics but also under the influence of complexity's unpredictably emergent order creation.
  • The physical “machinery” of life is organized and animated by complex system networks that emerge from the underlying laws of physics, but also constitute an additional domain of order creation—that of spiritual animation in complex networks.
  • In this view of Nature, most form and organization derive from the instability of complexity's self-organizing criticality. Nature is not a “system in balanced equilibrium” but a constantly variable set of interdependent relationships which generate their relative continuities in large part from the partial instability of systems operating “at the edge of chaos”: order emerges from disorder and too much uniform system continuity can be as disabling to system self-sustainability and adaptivity as can be too little.
  • It is now evident that there is a general impetus in Nature to form orderly patterns out of disorder, from whirlpools in the chaotic flow of a river to the self-organization of complex systems and the self-animation of their autonomously intentional networks. And it is the networking together these systems that compose a biosphere which is its own self-creating, self-maintaining entity. Yet this patchworked interdependency orders itself which improvisationally from moment to moment, out of the instability of critical interdependency “at the edge of chaos.”
  • Further, these causal dynamics cannot be analytically de-composed as specific sequences, thus not fully measured or explained, like those of mechanistic physics. They remain effectively “invisible” to our logical understanding
  • Nature creates its own basis, through the laws of physics, for its emergent mode of order creation, through the nonlinear dynamics of complexity, that give it the self-organizing / self-animating capacity to create and regulate vast interdependent networks of infinitely variable formal entities.
  • Life is an inherently emergent potential of physics. It's self-animating networks will arise under the appropriate dynamical conditons.  It is not an accident. The physical constraints of our universe do not directly cause it to emerge but do make it inevitable under certain conditions.
  • The world of things, of matter, “this world,” is also a world of autonomously creative, even volitional, network souls—an “other world” of emergent causation, in which Nature intentionally creates order and does so from a seeming anarchy of disorderly conditions. Nature acts through the same self-animating network autonomy that we humans do. Nature too, acts through subjectivity in its emergent networks: life is psyche-logical.
  • In short: The world is created through diverse, un-controlably interdependent impetus and willful agency moment by moment.
  • The overall self-organization of meta-networks, from ecologies and societies to the biosphere, emerges as the interactions among the subsystems nested within them adapt to each other in an on-going interplay, creating interdependent relationships that act as constraints or “rules” which regulate their effects upon each other. Large scale meta-network self-organization results from a sort of “game” in which subsystems “make their moves” in a correspondent “dance” of autonomous adaptation, involving competition that contributes to inter-system cooperation in larger scales of interdependency.
  • The interdependency of volitionally self-animating natural system networks is both internal and external: each system arises from synchronic interdependency of its parts and is in turn a part of larger interdependent networks, from micro organisms to species and entire ecologies. This inter-system interdependency means that disruption of one system’s autonomous self-organization can potentially create disruption of self-regulation among other systems: the decline of one species can cripple an entire ecology. The collapse of one ecology, like the Amazon rain forest, can disrupt the entire biosphere: biological and even geological systems are intimately interdependent
  • An illustration of how crucial evolved interdependency in meta-networks is to their sustainable self-regulation is demonstrated by the introduction of what is termed an “invasive species.” When a plant or animal species that has not been part of the evolution of an existing regime of network interdependency is introduced into it, that “alien” species can disable the meta-network’s self-organization—an “alien” species can be a “free agent” because its network characteristics are not integrated into the overall reciprocity of the existing regime of interdependency: in effect, it does not “play by the rules” of that network and can “game the system” until other species adapt to its effects. 
Confronting the Impossible: How does modern mentality make sense of emergence?
  • But this new view is problematic: evidence for bi-dynamical order creation, with its unpredictably deterministic emergence and a component of autonomous self-organization, is fundamentally foreign to our common cultural sense of reality. We have no category for its existence in our modernist concept of causation: it's just not possible.
  • Nature’s complex systems are inherently miraculous to the perspective of mechanistic causation, though the reality of their self-animating emergent causation has been revealed by the very scientific methods used to assert that reality is entirely derived from the mechanics of the Laws of Physics, from which it arises, but to which it cannot be reduced: Nature is fundamentally mysterious.
  • However, this self-animating creativity, with its evident intentionality and successful generation of our vast biosphere, does not conform to the concept of a pre-determining “designer.” Though it manifests with reconizable patterns, it does so through the unpredictable instability of dynamical criticality.  Thus it improvises itself in an evolutionary manner in every moment, whether sustaining relatively self-similar forms over time or metamorphing into new, more adaptive ones. This order creation cannot proceed from a predetermined “plan,” orchestrated by an omnipotent "creator," because a pre-determined plan would be non-adaptive to continual inter-system adaptation emerging from criticality “at the edge of chaos”.
  • However, understanding the two-fold, bi-dynamical aspect of Nature, with its radically reciprocal interdependencies, requires more than analytical methods: we are confronted with aspects that we can measure and others we can ultimately only speculatively imagine.
  • We can only comprehend the seemingly separate things and events of Nature as reciprocally interdependent networks, manifesting with lesser or greater degrees of dynamical complexity, that exist as parts of larger scale networked relationships, from atoms on up to the biosphere—constituting an autonomously self-organizing thus self-animating meta-network of dynamic networks acting in synergistically simultaneous conversation with each other. This is how Nature actually acts to create itself.
  • Understanding the two-fold, bi-dynamical aspect of Nature, with its radically reciprocal interdependencies, requires more than analytical methods. We are confronted with aspects that we can measure and something we cannot. Further, these two different phenomena are indifferentiably confused as embodied network souls and the spiritually ordered forms of what seem merely physical things, like houses and hammers .
  • A realistic understanding of the world requires “knowledge of two worlds that are one”—a measurably mechanical, dependently predictably domain and an immeasurably interactive, unpredictably deterministic one. But that means somehow perceiving the self-determining spiritual agency of emergent networks that cannot be fully measured, defined, predicted, or controlled. That means representing Nature in terms of human psychology--as a field of interdependent, significantly sentient, even intelligent systems.
  • Why does this new view of how Nature creates its order matter to our contemporary society and economy? Broadly, because it shows we do not understand how our own bodies, minds, societies, and economies actually function—much less how Nature does. Our culture has conditioned our perspective on reality such that we are not capable of thinking like Nature acts.
  • Most crucially, it reveals how our technologically industrialized human systems do not act reciprocally with those of Nature. Our massive disruptions of ecosystems and fossil fuel burning energy production have drastically disabled the self-creating, self-regulating, adaptive autonomy of non-human systems. These human behaviors evade the mutually supportive, feedback-synchronized interdependence the reciprocally networked systems of the biosphere. Network autonomy that does not act reciprocally with other networks around it can disable the sustainability of the environment in which it operates: that is what humans systems tend to do.
  • We have pushed ecological and climate networks past their self-organizing operations “at the edge of chaos” into fully chaotic dynamics, prompting runaway climate change and record-setting rates of the mass extinction of plant and animal species. Our modern view of Nature is destroying the very basis of our own existence. We must re-imagine how Nature acts if we are to think and act in ways that are sustainable.

The Necessity of Mythic Imagination to Understanding Reality
How can we know self-determining natural processes that we can neither define nor predict?

Knowing: Perceiving Emergence and the Interdependent Dynamics of Its Complex Networks

From Reduction to the Irreducible: The quandary of knowing what cannot be measured or defined
  • As modern people, we have come to regard true knowledge as that which can be verified by scientific method with absolute certainty. Scientific method, as a mode of knowing, relies on reducing phenomena to discreet entities, quantifiable differences, and mathematically calculable changes to verify evidence as empirically factual. Its analytical procedure is intrinsically rationalistic, seeking to separate conditions of composition and events, then to sequence these in quantifiable progressions of change. It is reflexively reductive and linear in its conceptual examination of phenomena.
  • Thus it is reasonable to conclude that this method is not entirely adequate to describing and explaining complexity’s synergistic dynamics, within which disproportionate transformation emerges from simultaneously interdependent interactions--rather than as identifiable sequences having proportionally consistent, thus predictable outcomes. Complex dynamics are not reducible to specifiable facts of sequential change. Rather, they appear to be fundamentally "irreducible."
  • Nonetheless, it is this rationally analytical, empirically testable, reductive differentiation of science that has revealed the existence of complexity's strange domain of interdependent order creation--by quantifying its disproportionate effects. Reductive scientific method provides the evidence for irreducible phenomena it cannot fully describe and explain, which, thereby, appears to be factually mysterious—but now what?
Bi-Dynamical Knowing: The network dialectics of dependency and interdependency
  • What we can know with certainty is what we can reduce to definitive description, by discretely differentiating, quantifying, calculating, hypothesizing, and testing.  What we can reliably predict are changes and events pre-determined by the causal constraints described by the laws of physics.  Even random events manifest as probabilities that can be calculated with astonishing predictive accuracy. This is reductive knowledge of the effects of proportionally consistent, sequentially dependent dynamics.
  • What we can neither know nor predict with certainty are the emergent changes and effects of disproportionally inconsistent, interdependent dynamics. Nonetheless, the certain knowledge of dependent dynamics provides the factual evidence for the existence of interdependency irreducible dynamics and emergent effects--and thereby demonstrates the importance of attempting to know about both.
  • The word dialectics has been given two contrasting meanings that relate to this bi-dynamical contrast. Its ancient Greek origins are from dialektike, translated as the art or technique of debate, and is related to the back-and-forth of dialog. In philosophical contexts, dialectical discourse investigates the relationships of contradictions. 
  • In some instances it is understood as discovering how contrasting or opposing concepts become resolved into a new, unified, thus no longer conflicted, set of relationships. This sense is sometimes represented by the phrase "thesis, antithesis, synthesis," suggesting a sequential resolution of conflict. This sense of process suggests the progressively sequenced changes of dependent dynamics in which two or more factors are reduced to a single, definitively describable unity.
  • But dialectical thought is also associated with the notion that conflicting elements become interactive, giving rise to a new set of relationships that have different meanings or effects. That new condition exists because of on-going, unstable tensions between the interacting aspects. In this sense there is no reduction of conflict to a new unified, thus definable condition. Here, dialectical discourse seeks knowledge of emergent interactions, suggesting the sustained generative tension of the self-organizing criticality that arises from interdependent dynamics.
  • This contrast in how the "dialog" of order creation can be approached conceptually is useful in attempts to generate more realistic awareness of bi-dynamical reality. It aids in differentiating how changes arise from relationships that "converge" into a new, uniform state, through a dependently specifiable "resolution", versus from a sustained but unstable set of continually interacting, emergent relationships.
  • We can thus pose a concept of network dialectics, through which we seek to differentiate the dynamical character of events and concepts in terms of how their network of relationships are more predictably dependent or more unpredictably interdependent, whether these resolve into a more mechanistically unified condition or remain in a more complexly emergent activity of self-organizing criticality. 
  • In this view, there are definably dependent, mechanistically dialectical processes and also inherently ambiguous, thus un-definably emergent dialectical relationships. These can be thought of as synthetically conclusive, thus reductive, versus synergistically relational, thus non-reductive. Further, these interact in a meta-level dialectical interplay of synthetic fusion and synergistic interdependency. 
  • This contrast of dialectical dynamics presents a logical one between synthetic and synergistic reasoning. In this sense, to rationalize is to generate definitive descriptions and explanations through reductive synthesis. But how then to describe reasoning that seeks to account for irreducibly interdependent synergistic relationships? In view of the new scientific evidence, if we are to be "ultimately logical" we must analyise in both dialectical methods.
Neto-logical Knowing: Learning to think interdependency
  • How are we moderns to conceive the ultimately irreducible dynamical domain of complex system networks, with their dialectically unstable, betwixt-between nether-world of instantaneously interacting feedback, often flowing between uncountable nodes, along undefinable pathways, manifesting as a literally invisible, ever-changing topology of mutually modifying relationships--in which nearly everything is merging with everything else in a disorderly confusion, yet generating self-regulating organization?
  • If we are to represent complexity's emergent creativity (much less its purposeful network autonomy), we will necessarily have to employ an intuitive mode of understanding that can represent the paradoxical bi-dynamical aspects of interdependency's disorderly order creation--which, from the perspective of rationalistic material science, appear to be irrationally inconsistent.
  • Such a mode of knowing must make sense of Nature’s paradoxical incorporation of mechanistic and emergent dynamics, its bi-dynamical traits of orderly and disorderly modes of organization, with their physically objective as well as psychically subjective factors. To do that, we must "go beyond" reduction and mechanistic modeling to understand reality.
  • We must somehow learn to “see” and experience self and world as a networks of interdependent networks, whose dynamics are both linearly dependent, or mechanistic, and emergently synergistic, or chaotic and complex. We must perceive and think "neto-logically." That requires a means of envisioning the ethereal operations of spiritually animating networks, with their incalculable interdependency and purposeful agency. We have to consciously think the ways complex networks--thus Nature--act. Such an orientation could be termed the bi-dynamical vision of a net-ological philosophy. But what does it take to "know the world" in this manner?
Signification: Modeling interdependency and emergence through mental re-presentations

Re-Presenting Phenomena: Signifying differences makes knowing possible
  • Our human cognition is an emergent property of complexity. It arises from the same interdependent dynamics that enable other complex adaptive system networks to interpret data about themselves and their environments as meaningful information. This is how complex systems/networks "know"--whether human or non-human--thereby facilitating their self-organizing self-animation. Though just how this occurs remains obscure, as humans, we have the capacity to directly observe aspects of it. 
  • Part of how our mental networks convert the data of sensations and experience into meaningful information involves registering "differences that make a difference."  By differentiating contrasts in the data, we can re-present the phenomena of things and events to our cognitive awareness using signs that "stand for" them and their relative differences--color, texture, size, movement, effects, behaviors, etc..
  • We signify these differentiations through the signs of images, gestures, words, and numbers. These in turn facilitate our modeling of self and world further by generating interpretations of effects and relationships as abstract meanings--represented through the significations of narratives, pictures, diagrams, concepts, calculations, and theories. This general process of signifying difference, then interpreting it as mental interpretations, represented in further significations, is termed semiosis. It is this  "making of meaning" that makes knowing possible.
Pragmatic Signification: The reductive, linearly dynamical bias of human representation and interpretation
  • These layers of signification enable us to model the dynamical activity of how things happen in our selves and the world. Since the primary function of a complex system's operational network is to preserve its system's integrity, the most elemental meaning for it to interpret from data is information that will assist it to maintain that system. For animals, this primary level of signification and interpretation must facilitate the practical operations of finding food and shelter, avoiding injury, and often cooperating with others.
  • For humans, surviving and adapting involve an exceptional degree of manipulative control of environments.  We don't just interact with our surroundings through our bodies, we do it with tools and sophisticated concepts--through logical analysis and technology. To survive, we must comprehend how things are composed and events happen, so that we can manipulate them to our advantage.
  • Thus, our signification of difference has a bias toward identifying discreet entities and events as progressive sequences, which we reflexively interpret in the pragmatic terms of their linearly dynamical, thus predictable relationships. Our default mode of making meaning is to reduce data to information that promotes manipulation and control.
  •  As technologically industrial modern humans, we have maximized this bias, becoming reflexively mechanistic in our perspective. We tend to think about dialectical relationships between conflicting factors only in terms of conclusive resolution.  We are "addicted" to definitive description and the identification of  opposed, either/or states of being. That is our normatively reductive mode of representation and interpretation. 
Signifying Complexity: Imaging interdpendency to enable its mental conception
  • However, confronted with the scientific evidence for the distinctive differences between the predictably mechanistic causation of physics and the unpredictable, volitional order creation of complex adaptive systems, our pragmatic impulse to self-preservation demands we incorporate this information into how we think and act. It is now obvious that we require modes of signifying the profoundly different dynamical conditions of complexity and how these generate most of the order in the world--so that we can better adapt to them.
  • But how are we to meaningfully signify nonlinearity, emergence, and the autonomous agency of networks in  non-human, even non-living systems? How can our rationalized mentalities, obsessed with mechanistic interpretation of data, meaningfully represent the profound paradoxes of physical causation and emergent order creation? How to relate these two ways that things happen, with their orderly and disorderly orderings, so that both are comprehensibly valid?
  • If language as a sign system is to meaningfully signify both dynamical modalities, it must have different modes for modeling these. But to do that it must somehow create and then surpass basic logical rules for representing a sequentially dependent, rule-bound, thus pragmatically controllable, ordering of the world.  It must first represent ordering as predictably sequenced events, then as the unpredictable, un-sequenceable, yet still deterministic dynamical relationships that arise between differentiated parts and factors.
  • Signification as mental network modeling that interprets these different causal dynamics differently must involve a paradoxical duality. It must produce modes of signifying that reduce phenomena to definitive conditions and events which enable mechanical modeling, but it must also must also produce modes that model complexity.
  • To enable us to think bi-dynamically, thus know Nature realistically and act in a self-sustaining manner, our language has to signify paradoxically. It must enable us to think in ways that are both reductively differentiating and relationally inclusive, sequentially and interdependently dynamical, diachronic and synchronic, proportional and disproportional, mechanistic and synergistic. These contrasts imply those of denotative and connotative, literalistic and metaphoric, factual and imaginal, rational and irrational.
  • In essence, we must signify in ways that produce two, dynamically different, dialectically contrasting "states of mind."
    The Problem of Minding the Irrational Inconsistency and Synergistic Simultaneity of Emergent Dynamics

Linear Mechanical Minding:  The normative psychology of manipulation and control
  • Because our awareness is preoccupied with the practical concerns of manipulating and controlling our environments, our normative psychological “state of mind,” the logic of our psychic mode for signifying, interpreting, and modeling the world around us, is dynamically linear and reductively mechanistic.
  • Rational logic and the mechanistic causal processes of deterministic physics confirm the accuracy of this normative thinking. We rely on this aspect of scientific knowledge to improve our ability to control sequentially dependent events through engineering and technology
  • Thinking in the predictably mechanistic terms of distinct parts acting in sequences with “beginnings, middles, and ends” is the default philosophical perspective of secular modernity. Its effectiveness promotes a dogmatic belief that all events are potentially predictable and thus controllable--or else are random occurrences which we can know in terms of probability. To this state of mind, events are either predictably determinable or merely accidental.
  • Because scientific signification relies on rational consistency, analytical reduction to definitive descriptions, mathematical calculation, and the mechanistic assumptions of material physics to represent causal dynamics, it promotes a mental perspective on reality that is inherently resistant to thinking in terms of the complexity's disorderly, emergent dynamical phenomena. Though some of these dynamics can be modeled mathematically, the resulting equations do not signify the world the way we expect it to be: the implications of complex systems science are often confounding even to scientists.
  • Though indispensable to human survival, this default of linearly mechanical mentality is ultimately delusional. It restricts our perception and conception of "how things actually happen" to only "half of Nature."
Nonlinear Minding: The altered mental states of a neto-logical psychology
  • To become aware of, and adapt to, complexity’s elusive but nonetheless causal aspects of reality requires a distinctive psychological change. To think mechanistically but also neto-logicically, we must shift from the "reality framing" of our pragmatically normative mentality to an “altered state of mind” that can meaningfully signify the dynamical character of disorderly ordering, emergence, and network autonomy.
  • Inducing this shift in awareness, and then correlating it with our normative pragmatic mentality to facilitate a more complete understanding of a bi-dynamical reality has two aspects. Firstly, we must our get our minds to model the interdependency, synergistic simultaneity, and volitional agency of emergent causation--we must somehow become able to "think in many directions simultaneously," rather than only in rationalistic sequences. Secondly, we must somehow model interdependency's paradoxical co-arising with the predictably dependent causation of mechanical physics.
  • Changing our minds about how Nature acts to create its ordering requires re-configuring our habitual mental networks in ways we cannot conceive through pragmatic signification. We must re-signify emergence and network autonomy in ways that make us intuitively ‘feel’ their fundamentally different dynamics.
  • Thus, knowing bi-dynamical reality means knowing in two contrasting ways at once--in effect, as two different realities that are also one. We must somehow generate two contrasting psycho-logical “states of mind-ing”, from differently configured mental networks, one consistently rational and analytic, one inconsistently correlative and intuitive. We must generate two contrasting but related psychological mentalities.
  • This difficulty in knowing both sides of a bi-dynamical reality is best illustrated by the challenge of knowing one’s self. Our body/brain/mind is a meta-network of interdependently nested complex systems, composed of innumerable, autonomous, interacting networks, from which emerges a mental or psychic network, from which emerges the conscious sense of a “me.” This seemingly singular “I” is confronted with the conundrum of knowing and representing its inherently conflicted, disorderly, multifarious, and thereby emergent complexity as "a single entity."  As psychological study and therapeutic practice testify, the paradoxical complexity of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, our rational yet irrational selves, cannot be analytically defined or logically summarized. To be a person is to be a plurality.
  • Thus, to know one's self adequately enough to have any remotely realistic "sense of self," one must perceive and experience the psyche, the mental network, from which self-awareness arises, as a paradoxically conflicted, met-networked, ever emerging totality. A realistic sense of selfhood, of mind, requires psychological theory that incorporates a neto-logical, thus bi-dynamical philosophy.
  • Given our reflexively mechanistic mentality, knowing one's bi-dynamical self, like knowing Nature, requires a mode of signification that disrupts our habitual perceptions and interpretations of reality. Normatively pragmatic signification and modeling are insufficient to representing even our selves to our selves. Thus we must somehow represent self and world to our awareness in ways that are un-realistic to our ordinary conception of reality.
  • Ultimately, it is logically necessary to provoke an altered state of minding that experiences the world not simply as things and events, but as self-organizing contexts animated by network autonomy. That means signifying in ways that represent not only the synergistically interdependent dynamics of complexity but also the subjective agency of self-animating networks, with their variably configured archetypal character or network souls. Our subjectivity must be enabled to experience its own emergent autonomous agency in the non-human, even non-living systems of Nature.
  Modeling Interdependent Synergy, Its Emergent Properties, and Their Nonlinear Meanings Metaphorically

From Sign to Symbol: Signification as direct denotation and indirect connotation
  • The terms sign and symbol are often used interchangeably to indicate the representation of one thing by another. But these words are also differentiated through concepts of direct or explicit denotation versus indirect or implicit connotation. In this view, a sign "stands for" an explicitly definable meaning that it directly denotes--there is an exact one-to-one relationship between a sign and its meaning.
  • Numbers are the best example: the sign "1" is equivalent with the quantity of a single unit of something. Similarly, the image of a red round circle with a diagonal slash across it conveys the explicit meaning "no entry." Such signs "are what they say the are." They "reduce" to definitive meanings.
  • In contrast, images and words can also imply additional meanings. The word father explicitly denotes the meaning "man who is a parent." That is its primary, "literal" definition. But it can also convey, or imply, a sense of paternal protection and authority in a more indirect connotative manner.
  • The term symbol is also often used to indicate representations that convey meaning in a primarily indirect, non-literal manner. This mode of conveying meaning relies on comparative association, allegorical suggestion, or the conflation of dissimilar things and meanings that do not "reduce" to an explicit meaning.
  • By effectively violating the literal denotative meanings of both words and visual signs, such symbolic representation can convey implicit qualities that cannot be expressed in explicitly direct, literal definitions. That makes it a kind of "irreducible" signification, which is more suitable to representing what cannot be explicitly sequenced, measured, calculated, defined, or explained.
Metaphoric Modeling: Representing irreducible interdependencies through metamorphic transformation
  • The term metaphor denotes this style of indirect symbolic representation that deliberately violates the logical realism of ordinary language usage. Metaphors conflate logically separate things and categories. The phrase “John is a wolf” creates a metaphor of a man-wolf, which signifies by way of a category conflation, in which two literally different types of things (with all their contrasting qualities) are bound in an ambiguous dialectical tension--which is illogical but can be meaningful. The meaning is "irreducible" to a singular status.
  • This metaphoric conflation is a kind of metamorphosis, in which unlike forms and signs are transformed into "some thing else" that is and is not their differences. Such signs appear inaccurate, imprecise, even delusional to a strictly logical state of mind. Yet it is a mode of signification found commonly in everyday speech. Its pervasive use indicates it can be interpreted as a meaningful abstraction of information about differences. But rather than generating its meaning from rational analysis, it does so by way of a more intuitive mental processing that depends upon disruptive, illogical associations. 
  • The symbol is constituted as an inclusive constellation of disparate things, qualities, or relationships that are understood by intuiting these as an interdependent whole. A man-wolf is both man and wolf and also neither one. It is this conflicted interdependency of the symbolizing metaphor, the tension of its dialectical ambiguity, that generates its abstract yet ultimately unresolved or indefinite meaning.
  • Metaphoric symbolism enhances the sense of signification that represents things, events, and meanings that are not being literally described. Metaphoric symbols are significations that intentionally “are not what the symbol itself represents”--that is how they "make" meaningful information. A "man-wolf" is not "a thing" in a literal sense.
  • The functional communication of such signification is to somehow characterize qualities of a thing, event, or meaning by indirect references that deliberately violate ordinarily literal or logical categories. The imprecision and inaccuracy of metaphoric symbolism gives it an unstable ambiguity that is evidently essential to its mode of representing what is not explicitly represented--suggesting that it cannot be literally described.
  • This indirect representation of symbolic meaning uses metaphors and allegories to represent what a thing or event is like without defining its traits in literal or mechanical terms. In this way, symbols can reveal aspects of reality that cannot be literally described, defined, or fully explained. 
  • The contradictory or pragmatically unrealistic sets of associations presented by metamorphic metaphors present us with dynamically nonlinear, infinitely interdependent relationships as constellated wholes. Our minds must try to "take them in" as a somehow unitary thing or event.
  • Every static visual image is intrinsically such a nonlinear networked constellation. It cannot be reduced to any logical sequence, hierarchy, or central point. The various aspects or parts of an image, and the relationships between these, appear simultaneously, all at once, not in explicit hierarchic sequences of presentation. Any image, indeed any object, is an intrinsically interdependent network of concurrent relationships among its elements. But our normative attitudes tend to “read” or interpret these in a sequenced manner--despite the fact that the symbol has not such intrinsic hierarchy of progressively logical meaning.
  • More overtly metaphoric symbolism that conflates ordinary categorical distinctions, such as a painting of a dress with human breasts, a sculpture of an upside down building, or a poem about the house of the heart, assists in disrupting this reflexive mode of interpreting.
  • Overtly thinking in terms of metaphoric symbolism provides a way of maintaining awareness that one is attempting to know what cannot be literally defined and explicitly signified. This mental maneuver is enhanced by the use of “imaginary things,” such as with the metaphor “The Dragons of War.”
  • This symbolic imagination is useful in representing the “meaning fullness” of the nonlinear dynamics of simultaneous interaction and the disproportional creativity of emergent phenomena and networks. It can model their seemingly anarchic disorderly ordering by presenting us with constellations of associations that imply the interdependency of their networked relationships. Thinking in terms of dragons of war alerts us to the creaturely behavior of the emergent network autonomy that arises from warfare as a set of interacting autonomous systems.
  • Then there is a more generally iconic aspect of symbolic constellation. The intertwining black and white teardrop shapes within the circle of a Yin Yang symbol modles differences that are interactively interdependent. Such modeling suggests how “two things are also one thing," as their synergistic interplay gives rise to an emergent network. These schematic symbols have a close resemblance to the diagrams used in complexity science to represent complexity's recursive, emergently self-ordering dynamics
  • Such symbols with no linear sequence of logic or action, no “beginning, middle, or end,” stimulate a mental  experience that models the infinitely instantaneous reciprocal interaction of a complex network's “wholeness" that is “more than the sum of its parts."
  • These nonlinear relationships model what “happens all at once” by signifying in a manner that represents such a way of happening. Such dynamical simultaneity, which is paradoxical to our ordinarily practical categories of definition and perspective on cause and effect, can re-configure our own mental networks of understanding.
  • Narrative stories that involve unrealistic elements, transformative events, and illogical sequences have a similar effect. These aspects disrupt our mechanistic expectations of how things happen in ways that function as symbols of complexity's confounding dynamics.
  • Such logically paradoxical representation is essential in forming meaningful information about events that cannot be modeled in exact terms or logically progressive sequences. The meaning of interdependent causation emerges from the constellated, seemingly illogical references of dialectically ambiguous symbolic association. The meaning is more in the "how" of the representation than in the "what" of it--"in" or "of" its paradoxically indirect references, more than its literal appearances or overt sequences--which, in such a context, can become ultimately interdependent as well.
  • In general then, the irreducible dialectical ambiguities of metaphoric symbolic modeling provide a way of altering our habitually mechanistic state of mind, or psychological attitude, so that we can perceive what seem extra-ordinary, even ephemeral aspects of reality and meaning.
  • This effort to represent what cannot be literally described, through paradoxically interdependent, ambiguously signifying symbolism, is essential to revealing the existence of complexity's interdependent dynamics.
The Network Aesthetics of Art: Making the invisible activity of interdependency more tangible
  • The notion of “art,” as a category of human expression, is associated with the metaphorically symbolic mode of signifying meaning. Artistic representation in general is regarded as different than ordinary, pragmatic signification. It is understood as "being about" some relatively extra-ordinary aspects of the ordinary world.
  • Though more realistic styles of painting and language signify in a relatively normative, literally pragmatic manner, when approach as art even these expressions can become metaphorical symbols with implicit allegorical meanings.
  • More fantastic, surreal, or abstract style in painting and literature signify in the more overtly metaphorically symbolic mode by depicting, combining, and situating aspects of ordinary reality in peculiar ways that further emphasize an indirect, implicit signification of meanings. Such images and language overtly "signal" that their signification is not reducible to explicit signs they employ--colors, forms, or words.
  • But in both the relatively realistic and the overtly metaphoric styles as--whether as painting, sculpture, performance, poetry, prose, or even photography--artistic expression is concerned with aspects of reality and meaning that are elusive, even incomprehensible, to our ordinary mentalities. The forms and styles of poetic language exist for the purpose of implying meanings that cannot be expressed in ordinary, pragmatic prose.
  • As an intrinsically metaphoric mode or representation, practiced to act in contrast with our pragmatic mode, art appears to have as its epistemological purpose the signification of complexity. It is a universal aspect of human culture that serves to stimulate awareness of the anarchic traits of emergent order creation. It prompts a mental experience of and complex networks are operating "under the surface" of ordinary reality bymaking these more overtly effectively "visible" through an extra-ordinary mode of signification.
  • Art is regarded as an aesthetic mode of knowing because it stimulates an experience that is in some way about "beauty" and "pleasure." Viewed dynamically, it helps us see, experience, and comprehend the world differently by stimulating a sensory-based experience of interdependencies mysterious generation of form, order, identity, and meaning.  The practice of stimulating this "altered state" of experiencing how things "are and manifest" could be termed the signification of network aesthetics--the "beauty" of which can involve both pleasant and frightening emotions.
  • The style of an impressionistic painting defuses normally distinct forms and boundaries, blurring sharp distinctions between things to suggest that each is an interplay of elements (color, form, and light) and all are interactive in the larger network of a figure or landscape. A cubist portrait can abstract and jumble human features in ways that symbolically model the underlying disorderly ordering and emergent, dynamically conflicted character of the network soul of a person. A fully abstract image or sculpture redirects our figurative understanding to the most basic aspects of form, color, and contrast in space and time. There is a sense that such elemental abstraction is the most overtly focused upon the interdependency of dynamical relationships.
  • The interpretation of art is a particularly various and contentious field of human thought. Works of art can prompt radically different sensings of meaning to different people, or even the same person at different times. These can be paradoxical as well, as in a conflicted sense of peacefulness and foreboding. This quality further emphasizes the role of dialectical ambiguity, tension, and interdependence in what artistic expression serves to represent about reality.
  • Further, art involves careful selections on the part of the artist about what expressive style, material, and overt subject matter will constitute the most apt metaphoric conflation for symbolizing what is not being literally described. There is a question of precision and accuracy involved in composing the inaccurate ambiguity of the metaphor. What is made literally "visible," and how, whether as image, object, or language, is crucial to art's representation of the ordinarily invisible.
  • In this regard, the metaphoric forms and styles of artworks, in and of themselves, can be understood as directly representing what they are meant to signify--the nonlinear, interdependent emergence of phenomena and their necessarily irreducible meanings.
  • How artistic symbolism "makes sense" then, might best be understood as occurring through an experience of paradoxical interplay. Confronted with non-ordinary styles and metaphoric, metamorphic forms of representation, logical analysis is deferred and our mental operations are thrown into a more anarchic chaos of associative efforts, from which novel sets of associations can emerge. That people often have potent emotional and physical responses to artworks emphasizes their disruption of ordinary states of mind.
  • In these regards, art acts psycho-logically to alter our normative state of consciousness, to re-orient our awareness of reality toward its inherent complexity, and thereby generate intuited meaning that practical perspectives and logical analysis cannot fully appreciate. In these ways, art aids in perceiving the extra-ordinary aspects of bi-dynamical order creation and provides a way of directly sensing the emergent networks of complexity.
Myth: The Psyche-Logical Art of Imagining Emergence and Its Spiritually Animating Network Autonomy

What is Myth: Artful imagination of revealing complexity and its numinous network agency
  • Mythic representation is "artful" in the sense of art presented above--the purpose of its style of symbolic signification is to reveal to our awareness dynamical complexity that ordinary perception ignores.
  • But it can be understood more specifically as artistic expression which is primarily concerned with signifying the ordinarily incomprehensible effects of emergent order creation and autonomous network agency. Thus myth is the art of "making visible" or tangible complexity's role in "how things happen" as "magical" events and spiritual animation.
  • As such, it constitutes a particular epistemological method of gaining complex dynamical knowledge. To accomplish this purpose, it must overtly violate our ordinary pragmatic sense of reality. By employing the most overtly metaphorically metamorphic modes of symbolization the art of myth seeks to reconfigure reality--through disruptive "acts of imagination."
  • Mythic representation is psychological in two regards. Firstly it is a method of altering our habitual mental mode of modeling dynamical events--our psycho-logical attitude toward reality. Secondly, it is psychological in its representation of the subjective aspect of complex network autonomy as spiritual agents that act intentionally to emergently alter the order of their systems and thereby exert influences that have material causal consequences.
  • This representation of subjective agency in Nature appears to derive from a reflexive human intuition of mind or intentionality in natural phenomena. That has been called a sense of the numinous or numinosity--words that derive from the Latin numen translated as "divine power."
Mythic Imagination: Our innate metaphoric epistemology of complexity and its subjective spiritual agency
  • All known pre-modern cultures produced artistic expressions in the sense described above--meaning images, stories, and concepts that are not literalistic representations of ordinary reality. There are numerous examples of sophisticated artistic technique used by paleolithic painters and sculptors dating back 40,000 years. But their works are rarely literalistic in the sense of photographs or contemporary biological illustrations. Despite evidence that even paleolithic artists were capable of such realistic painting, the images found are often stylistically expressive and abstract, sometimes even geometric in style. Modern viewers of these images often recount an aesthetic experience of awe and beauty similar to modern art. 
  • Thus we can consider that these expressions were created to signify in a metaphorically symbolic rather than primarily literalistic manner. That is, they were meant to represent something more than the literal physical traits and mechanistic actions of the objects or animals suggested by the images. Their purpose seems to involve representation of some phenomena or meaning that we moderns would consider extra-ordinary, something about how things are and happen that is not overtly visible or logical to ordinary pragmatic perception.
  • From paleolithic style hunter-gatherer cultures that survived into modernity, anthropologists have learned that their artistic imagery is similar to the evidence of prehistoric ones, involving stylized figures and fully abstract forms with no obvious corollaries to literal things. In addition, the oral traditions of contemporary hunter-gatherers involve an emphasis upon unrealistic events, fanciful creatures, and metamorphic transformations.
  • Evidence from the historical cultures of civilization, dating back over 5,000 years, shows similar style and subject matter. Written texts enable us to know that this mode of representation is overtly concerned with spiritual agents, gods and goddesses, that have a fundamental role in creating and ordering the ordinary world. The general term for this human mode of expression is mythology.
  • Comparative study reveals vast variation and yet frequent commonalities across the many mythological cultural traditions of the past. What is most uniform about cultural mythologies is that their subject matter is permeated with unrealistic or magical events and spiritual agents. Thus their non-naturalistic style of representation and subject matter appears to be fundamentally metaphorical and symbolic--to be about something more or other than what the images and stories directly present. 
  • To archaic peoples, the fantastic events, characters, and imagery of mythical imagination appear to constitute representation of what they consider actual phenomena. Yet their use of this mode of representing reality does not prevent them from also perceiving what we mechanistic moderns call deterministic cause and effect. Their long-term survival attests to the effectiveness of their ability to represent the predictable effects of the laws of physics and pragmatically manipulate of their environments. But unlike moderns, when questioned about their seemingly indiscriminate mixing of these two modes of signification, they appear to regard them as complimentary, or "reasonable" rather than logically contradictory.
  • This pervasive human propensity for mythological representation of overtly unrealistic or magical events, metamorphic transformations, and immaterial spiritual agents is considered here to be response to the intuitive sensing of numinosity or intentional agency in Nature. Human experience must have shown this awareness to have practical value, giving rise to the representational style of a "mythic imagination." This term is meant to suggest there is a specific function of human imagining that generates metaphorically symbolic representations of ordinarily invisible and illogical aspects of reality.
  • Thus we can say that the "logic of myth" concerns something extra-ordinary that can only be imagined--or formed as a mental image that is not a direct representation of directly observable reality. Myth is "logically illogical."
  • The evidence for mythological expressions as a universal feature of pre-modern and pre-historical cultures suggests that it is not only an innate aspect of human imagination, but that it served some adaptive purpose in sustaining the operations of human societies within the natural systems of their environments. Mythic imagination must have been a way of knowing, an epistemology for something important. 
  • Given its artistic modality, the usefulness of the knowledge it was used to generate must have involved awareness of complexity and the agency of network autonomy--symbolized as ordinarily un-realistic events and ethereal spiritual agents.
Mythic Modeling: Metaphors of emergence and the archetypal psychology of network subjectivity
  • Because the style and subjects of archaic myth appear irrational, often literally impossible, and thus unrealistic to our modern mentality, myth has been classified as “un-truth” and falsehood. It has even been described as the "bad science" or pre-modern people attempting to model and explain natural phenomena.
  • However, the recent science of complexity enables us to consider myth as a mental mode of modeling complexity's interdependence, emergence, and system self-animation. Amazingly, this view allows myth to become a comprehensible method for knowing something real.
  • The psychologically disruptive influence myth's extra-ordinary imagination exerts on our habitually pragmatic awareness, by contradicting our normal assumptions about how the world works (or how Nature acts), has a scientific purpose.
  • Magical acts, metamorphic transformations, and hybridized creatures can now be understood as metaphors for emergent order creation.
  • Myth's spiritual agents are unpredictably autonomous and emergently creative, manifesting diverse characteristic behaviors. These model the archetypal range or potential of how a complex network's animating impetus can create emergent properties and self-organization in complex systems.
  • The diversity of their character and behavior differentiate the distinctive ways such networks create types of form and organization, their characteristically creative tendencies. Myth is a mode of “seeing” the archetypal modalities of autonomous agency, or network soul,  "in action" as these shape the behaviors of complex systems and their networks.
  • These differences are termed archetypal because each represents a basic type of system network configuration which animates the world (an archetype) but which does so in novel and unpredictable ways, while also remaining recognizably characteristic. Thus we can think of spirits and divinities as archetypal animators of Nature--as psychological portraits of the diverse aspects of subjective network autonomy manifesting in complex systems. 
  • Archetypal traits of characteristic network behaviors are symbolized by imagining these as particular “personifications,” or the personalities of spiritual agents. As the "persons" of network subjectivity, they make the spiritually animating activity of networks more tangible.
  • A god like Ares personifies the archetypal range of actions and effects likely to emerge from the autonomous agency of complex networks involving aggression and warfare. A god like Apollo personifies the more uniformly linear and proportional creativity of self-organizing networks, while his half-brother, Dionysus, models the more disproportional, nonlinear, radically transformative aspects of emergent dynamics. The latter type has many variations, such as the indigenous American cultural figure of Coyote, whose behavior is socially improper yet emergently creative of phenomena essential to culture.
  • Mythic imagination "figures" the interactions and interdependencies of these personified archetypal animators with stories of relationships between spirits or gods--generating knowledge that models how types of networks influence each other. The on-going love affair of the violently aggressive Ares and Aphrodite, goddess of love and sex, reveals the unexpected correspondences that can emerge between such seemingly antithetical spiritual impulses--or network souls.
  • The magical and metamorphic acts of spirits and divinities in suggest the pervasive role of emergent creativity in Nature, as well as how it derives from certain types of network autonomy, symbolized by the metaphors of personification.
  • In these ways, myth provides representation of the range of behaviors that characterize the manifestations of network self-organization or “spiritual animation” as their types of “personality,” constituting an archetypal psychology of complex network subjectivity, or network soul, in both human and non-human networks.
  • In these ways, mythic metaphors prompt a more conscious relationship with the reality of complexity, emergent order creation, and its self-animating system networks. Engaging this symbolism can thus be though of as a "spiritual practice"--as a way of attending to Nature's inherent spiritual animation.
Myth's Other World: The bi-dynamical interplay of This World and The Other
  • Mythic narratives (including what are called fairy tales) function as representations of bi-dynamical reality by juxtaposing familiar sequential causation of predictably dependent dynamics with complexity’s “magical” emergence and autonomous system subjectivity. As a worldview, this conjunction provides a “illogically logical” representation of the interplay of both aspects of dynamical reality: myth must appear paradoxical and even “un-real” to perform its realistic functions as an imaginal epistemology of "how Nature acts."
  • This double aspect of causal dynamics is expressed in the mythic notion of "this world” and “the other world,” identified by in more modern terms as profane and sacred. Though often regarded as an antithetical duality, these were more of a “non-dual continuity” to archaic peoples—who tended to experience all aspects of the world as somehow subjectively “alive,” emanating a numinous aura of intentionality
  • While mythical symbolism can be regarded as an imaginary modeling of this paradox of a “bi-dynamical” reality, our pragmatic modernist mentality can also be viewed as “imaging” the world as purely mechanistic. From the perspective of network science, mythic mentality is actually more dynamically inclusive, and thus arguably more realistic, than exclusively pragmatic thinking
  • The classic motif of the mythic hero’s journey, from the “ordinary world” into an “other world” of mythical events and adventures, engages human emotions that promote intuitive understanding of the underlying activity of the ever present but seemingly preposterous creativity of emergence and spiritual animation—awareness through which one can psychologically “enter into” a dynamically complex "state of mind”
  • For archaic and pre-modern humans, the paradoxical logic of myth’s “two worlds” of causal dynamics provided an emotionally compelling provocation to become aware of, and act in relationship with, the self-animating forces of natural systems as actual, if “ethereal,” aspects of reality: mythic imagination is a means of prompting an “altered state of consciousness” appropriate to experiencing Nature’s intrinsic “spiritual animation”—an experience of intentionality in natural phenomena termed “numinosity”
Mytho-Logos: The empirically paradoxical logic of mythic mindfulness
  • Myth was once regarded as “sacred” because its stories, magical characters, and symbols represented the  originating, life-giving, world-ordering spiritual impetus in Nature. These symbols can now be understood scientifically as imaginal encounters with emergent order formation and the pervasive creativity of autonomous network animation that is beyond mechanical explanation and manipulative control.
  • Thus there exists an empirically logical basis for generating such symbols to provide experience of a profound mystery that gives life greater meaning--that of autonomous network self-animation--to which humans must accommodate their behavior in order to survive sustainably.
  • This spiritual animation that renders the world sacred can thus be understood as Nature’s capacity to scale up the predictably deterministic causality of physics' dependently deterministic order creation to the unpredictable, interdependently deterministic order creation of complexity’s emergent self-animating networks. Mythically, these can be understood as the mechanistically profane and complexly sacred dynamics of bi-dynamical reality. 
  • The science of complexity is the rational corroboration of the irrational symbolism of myth. Both serve to “make visible” the ultimately invisible dynamics of emergence and self-organizing networks. But the mythic mode operates on a more emotionally experiential level to intuitively alter our psychic logic about reality.
  • Mythic "mindfulness" models the dynamical paradox of science: the world is created emergently by disorderly ordering that arises from the un-controlably interdependent interactions of willful subjective agency moment to moment.
  • A genuinely mythic cultural worldview situates normatively pragmatic logic- (the profane domain of order creation) within a symbolically spiritual one (the sacred domain of complexity). Its imaginatively enabled encounters with this two-fold world of orderly and disorderly order creation transgress the control obsessed preoccupations of reductively mechanistic rationality and its linearly logical thinking. 
  • Mythic imagination's use of symbolism, to signify in ways that scientific and ordinary language usage cannot, relies on fundamental, irresolvable logical paradox. This world and the other are represented as interdependent. Ordinary and extra-ordinary seeming aspects of dynamical reality, of how things happen, are encountered as co-existent, making the world logically illogical.
  • This disjunctive psychological experience, when embraced as such, can transform how we know and understand through a kind of psycho-dynamic leap, in which we partly dissociate from our ordinary sense of self and reality.
  • This paradoxical reality is confounding to our modern mentalities, which are conditioned to categorized in opposites like true or false, real or unreal, orderly or disorderly, good or bad. Mythic knowing is both and neither of these opposites. Thus myths are often described as “stories that are not real but are true.” 

Mytho-Logical Embodiment: Engaging the paradox of bi-dynamical science as psycho-somatic experience
  • It is the embrace of this paradox, as a psychically embodied or psycho-somatic experience, that makes myth a compelling way of knowing bi-dynamical reality. However, to be effective, its irrational combinations of ordinary and extra-ordinary reality require a kind of surrender--what is often termed a "suspension of disbelief."  We have to allow our whole being to be "projected" into the imaginal experience of myth's logical paradox so that we "embody it psycho-dynamically."
  • Our human capacity for this psycho-physical imaginal experience is still evident in people's aesthetic involvement in entertainments such as novels and movies, especially those with so-called super-natural or fantasy themes. In a mythical culture, however, this experience is not simply an entertaining diversion but an encounter with an genuinely magical and spiritual aspect of reality.
  • The effectiveness of such imaginal experience likely derives in part from an unconscious sense of "being mirrored."  One intuitively identifies with protagonists caught up in the emergent magical events and actions of archetypal spiritual agents, gods, and goddesses in the mythic adventures.
  • That is, one's own "internal" complexity--the synergistic, autonomously self-animating meta-network of networks that emergently generate one's multifarious psycho-physical being--is experienced "out there," through the paradoxical dynamics of mythic symbolism. The mythic drama is one's own. Modern people still have such experience, but lack a basis for embracing it as being "realistic."
Mythic Ritual: Symbolic Action that Embodies the Strange Dynamics of Emergent Meaning
  • The cultural evolution of myth's imaginal engagement with complexity might well have originated as actions rather than stories and concepts about specific animating spirits. The overt embodiment of symbolic acts associated with the term ritual--as gestures, song, dance, and performances--can have profound effects on our psychological states. Ritual actions can enhance the mind’s imaginal encounter with myth’s paradoxical world of the co-existent operations of linear and nonlinear, dependent and interdependent dynamics, by enhancing an embodied experience of their contrasting traits.
  • Such overt symbolic action is, by definition, somehow more than practical or normative behavior. By engaging the body in metaphoric signification, its paradoxical way of making meaning becomes physically reinforced as experience. One makes gestures that are not about practical, mechanistic manipulations of  predictable events. This can promote the metamorphosis of our conscious mentality from preoccupation with linearly logical pragmatism to engagement with the simultaneous synergy of interdependency, its network autonomy, and emergent meaningfulness.
  • Ritual behaviors involve organized contexts and actions that “structure” a “betwixt and between” status, in which ordinary reality is “suspended,” allowing for experiential encounters with the anarchic, “anti-structural” dynamics of complexity and its emergent creativity. Ritual orders a context for encounters with disorderly ordering.
  • Thus ritual gestures are understandable as mythologically symbolic metaphors, functioning to promote an emotionally compelling shift from the ordinary pragmatic state of consciousness to one that can “make meaning” of myth’s magical other world of complexity and its personified spiritual animation.
  • Such practices often involve the imaginal “granting” of subjective status to non-human aspects of Nature, such as landscapes or rivers, and even seemingly inanimate objects, such stones, as a means of experiencing the numinous operations of spiritually animating networks.
  • This psychological transformation of ordinary things into sentient beings, utilized by all archaic cultures, has a practical purpose. It can assist humans in adapting their behavior to the intrinsic role of network autonomy in ordering reality by making it more tangible, more "human-like," thus more meaningful.
  • At its most basic level, ritual induces our symbolic imagination to prompt an extra-ordinary experience that “initiates” our sense of reality and identity into relationship with complexity’s mysteriously “invisible forces”
  • Like mythic symbols in general, ritualized behaviors do not function by inducing belief in what is being symbolized as ordinarily actual or literally real. To be effective, both mental and physical symbolism must produce a sense of mystery, not objective fact. This mystical attitude of mythic imagination can be distinguished from that of literalistic religious belief.
Religion: Orthodoxy and the Literalistic Normalizing of Mythic Imagination's Metaphoric Representation

Mythic Reduction: The conflation of symbolic metaphors with definitive facts
  • The term religion can be used to distinguish between the mythic imagination’s metaphoric modeling of spiritual animation and the conversion of such symbolism into a normatively literalistic description of reality--as a basis for an orthodox belief system. Whereas mythic symbolism is intrinsically paradoxical and ambiguous about its meaning, as "stories that are not real but are true," religious belief tends to interpret myth's metaphors as factual descriptions of literal acts and events.
  • This literalistic interpretation of myth's imaginal models of complexity changes their mode of representation, reducing its indirect symbolism to direct signification. Its metaphors are then understood as if these described actual things and the mechanistic dynamics of ordinarily definable events--despite their magical and spiritual imagery.
  • When mythic symbolism is interpreted in this way, through our normative, mechanistic mentality, as historical fact, it loses its capacity to model the literally un-definable dynamics of emergent causation and self-organizing network autonomy. This literalizing can be called idolatry, meaning an attitude that mistakes a metaphoric representation for what it symbolizes.
  • Literalizing the mythic symbolism of any “holy scripture” as literal truth or historical event renders it a "pragmatic fact." That "fact" can then be used to justify the ultimate truth of an orthodox doctrine. Literalizing myth's "sacred symbolism" of complexity's mysteriously creative dynamics gives the impression of ultimate and final knowledge of Nature. Claiming such knowledge is useful in justifying the authority of  social institutions, with their political control and economic power.
  • By obscuring their symbolic modeling, the literalizing of myth's metaphors debilitates their potential to generate paradoxical psychological experience of bi-dynamical reality. It confuses their reference to the undefinable dynamics of emergence and its spiritual animation with social claims to absolute definitions of reality--which have no factual basis for defining those complex dynamics.
  • Notions of “making sacrifice to the gods” can function as ritualized symbols that acknowledge the essential interdependence between complex system networks that collectively compose a larger network (such as a local ecology, a city, or the biosphere). Making offerings and sacrifices to spiritual animators can be a symbolic act of participation in this interplay, in which every system must “give something up” to help facilitate the other systems upon which its own existence depends.
  • However, this same notion can also be used to compel members of a society to sacrifice to a literalized god whose function is primarily a justification for the political power of a hierarchically structured institution or state. In that case, the symbolic gestures of mythic imagination are subordinated to the control-3ewobsessed mentality of social domination.
Keeping "The Spirit": Maintaining myth's metaphoric representations as knowledge of complexity
  • Literalizing mythic metaphors is promoted by the reflexively reductive interpretation of pragmatic perspectives. But it becomes part of an orthodox religious belief system it can be particularly obstructive to appreciating how such metaphors model complexity.
  • Whereas mythical symbolism can promote awareness of complex network's spiritual animation, organized religion readily becomes concerned with establishing authority over how such symbolism is interpreted.
  • In this regard, orthodox religion can be understood as an institutionalized condition of spirituality. It is the realm of culture where relationship with the mythical modeling of spiritual animation becomes entangled in the power structures of social hierarchy. In that context, mythic attention to the self-animating, thus spiritual, thus sacred, dynamics of complexity becomes subordinated to society's reflexive preoccupation with the “profane dynamics" of pragmatic political and economic control.
  • To retain mythical representation of complexity as spiritually animating “sacred dynamics,” religious traditions and practices must maintain a sense of how their symbolism provides overtly metaphoric models of a fundamentally mysterious aspect of reality. It is to this end that spiritual traditions often caution that "god is beyond definition and understanding."
  • Thus mythic symbolism must be employed to generate experience of “sacred dynamics” as real, but also fundamentally mystical, thus not ultimately definable. Only in this way can the notion of "the spirit" be maintained as a dynamical metaphor for something real yet intrinsically mysterious.
  • To serve that epistemological purpose, rreligious practices must facilitate the “surrender” of our control-obsessed normative mentality to the reality of Nature’s bi-dynamical order creation, with its radically interdependent, mysteriously self-animating networking of innumerable, every fluctuating networks.
Gods that Are and Are Not: The necessarily imaginal reality of divine dynamical agents beyond belief
  • From the perspective of the new science, there now exists a reasonable basis for modeling the archetypal tendencies of emergent network creativity as “divine agents” of “sacred dynamics,” as “gods and goddesses” whose willful agency is an inherent influence in generating, sustaining, transforming, and destroying all the forms of our biosphere.
  • The paradoxical conundrum of these metaphors for Nature’s purposeful network autonomy is that they do represent empirical evidence from scientific fact about the dynamics of reality--but they do so through the overtly nonlinear, interdependent dynamics of their ordinarily un-realistic mode of signification. Their "factual accuracy" arises from their indirect mode of representation--not as literal description with its denotative meaning. They constitute "acts of imaginal reality." Myths are indeed "stories that are not real but are true."
  • Thus "literal belief" becomes a tricky issue: if we believe that the symbols of “the gods” are literal things, we obscure their function as intuitions of the mystery of emergent network animation. If we dismiss them as the delusional fantasy, as un-realistic imagination that has no relation to factual evidence, then we obstruct our access to mythical knowledge about complexity.
  • It is more apt to regard such symbols as psychological experience of how the network numinosity somehow animates the world in various characteristic ways—experience that enables us to know it exists and to know that its actual operations remain un-believable to our pragmatic mentalities. To know mythically we must neither believe nor dis-believe--at least in the literalistic terms of our reflexively mechanistic perspective on causation. 
Divine Improvisation: On-going emergent creativity is not singular, omnipotent spiritual control
  • Network science does not confirm the reality of a specifiable, spiritually creative personality “at work in the world"--as in an omnipotent creator god. Rather, it provides evidence for creativity that acts intentionally through spontaneous improvisation, emergently arising in an on-going, unpredictable manner from the vast interplay of interdependent networks. This is perhaps the most confounding paradox of complexity. It generates willful network behavior that shapes the material world for future purposes yet does so through the unpredictable, unstable dynamics of self-organizing criticality. It is this very moment-to-moment adaptivity that allows it to adapt to continually changing conditions. It cannot "do what it does" by proceeding along a consistent, pre-established trajectory toward a specific concluding status.
  • This is definitely not evidence for a singular, all-knowing creator god who “designs” and “engineers” the universe according to a predetermined plan--much less one whose intentions we can define. But it does provide empirical references for deciding which religious notions symbolize the "divine dynamical agents" of complexity in ways that are more or less appropriate to the scientific evidence. Posing a variety of different spirits and gods interacting spontaneously to animate the ordering of the world appears the more accurate way to model of the science.
Science as Religion: Dogmatic belief is neither dynamicaly spiritual nor scientifically logical
  • The modern conflict between religion and science exemplifies how reductive representations of reality become the dogmatic idols of belief in an incontrovertible, absolute truth--and how that "truth" is used to assert social power.
  • Such a belief can take the form of asserting the absolute truth of a literalized god and historically factualized religious scripture. But it can also arise from a dogmatic assertion drawn from scientific evidence. Some have posed the mechanistic laws of physics as the only valid description of, thus the absolute truth about, reality. Such a view proscribes what scientific method can reveal and becomes a de facto doctrine of belief.
  • Both the religious reduction of myth and science-based claims to ultimate knowledge of nature generate dogmas that obstruct awareness of the ultimately un-definable order creation of complexity, emergence, and autonomous networks.  Both lead to struggles over who has the authority to define what is "right" to think and how to behave.
  • Myth and science, as descriptions of dynamical phenomena, are not fundamentally in conflict. It is dogmatic beliefs in the institutionalized aspects of religious and scientific culture that are "at war." That struggle has nothing to do with either mythical spirituality or the knowledge provided by rigorous scientific method.
  • The antipathy of “believers” in the absolute truth of mechanistic science toward religion can be understood historically in relation to the intellectual response of European culture to the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries—along with more recent violence associated with religious fundamentalism. The horrors of violence justified by competing religious claims to absolute truth were a primary impetus to the scientific pursuit of an objective, empirically validated description of natural phenomena. But the reaction of scientific materialists against religion has itself become reductively dogmatic.
  • However, with the advent of complexity science, it is now intellectually dishonest to use science to deny the reality of emergent order creation and network autonomy, thus the aptness of mythic symbolism as  dynamical modeling of spiritually animating networks. Similarly, it has become factually illogical for religious believers to assert literal definitions of the spiritual animation evidenced by the pervasive but ultimately inaccessible phenomena of complexity.

The Re-Education
The Cultural Transformation of a Scientific Mythology
Science and Culture: Constituting a new metaphysically philosophical yet science-based worldview
  • The above overview of new perspectives on the dynamics of order creation, and their implications for what we currently do not comprehend about how order is created, compel us to re-evaluate our cultural sense of reality.
  • That means reconfiguring how we base or worldview on scientific evidence--because that evidence has changed so dramatically by revealing emergence and autonomous network agency. We are now confronted by a factual basis for a mystical aspect of Nature.
  • At the same time, this new knowledge demonstrates that scientific understanding of "the nature of Nature" is necessarily limited--in its own terms.
  • In effect, the old notion of metaphysics, as "the science of things transcending what is physical," with its philosophical investigations of "what ultimately exists and what is it like", and inquiry into "categories of being," have been revived by evidence for bi-dynamical order creation and become relevant to composing a genuinely science based culture.
  • This development does not logically suggest that science is now irrelevant. Indeed, it is more essential than ever, as it has revealed dynamics of order creation that our previous concept of scientific fact omitted. Because of sceintific method, we now have knowledge of phenomena about which we have been devastatingly ignorant.
  • The crucial point here is that we can now combine science and philosophy in a new way. Knowledge about complexity can guide philosophy in ways that physics alone could not. Our philosophical speculations can assist in conceiving what the new science reveals but cannot definitively explain. Indeed, it can now be seen that much of historical philosophy has grappled with ideas that represent the strange dynamics of complexity.
  • Incorporating the new science into our cultural worldview requires that we re-evaluate our sense of what there is to know, what we can know about it with any certainty, and how we can gain useful understanding about what cannot be known with certainty.
  • This is not simply an arcane academic concern. It has profound importance for how we all think and thus act--if we are to think and act in any adequately realistic manner. Our entire culture must undergo a radical re-education if it is to generate a society capable of interacting sustainably with the natural systems upon which we depend..
  • Such a philosophical cultural re-orientation will necessarily involve some form of scientifically mytho-logical thought.
Scientific Mythology: The Practical Role of Metaphoric Symbolism in Scientific Understanding

Mythical Science: Confronting scientifically valid mystery in Nature
  • Like it or not, our reductive scientific method has produced a "scientific revelation." That is to say, in a manner similar to myth, science has revealed that there is indeed subjective, willful agency that shapes the world in profound but ultimately undefinable ways.
  • The first difficulty we face in incorporating this knowledge of complexity into our worldview concerns the existing "culture of science." We have all been conditioned by the cultural belief that mechanical physics is the ultimate description of reality. Mystery, in this view, is only an as yet unsolved problem of identifying predictably deterministic factors. Ultimately, all aspects of Nature "should be" definable.
  • Practicing scientists and scientific educators work in institutions which reflexively reinforce this assumption. Thus any notion of mythical, metaphysical, or mystical science is a culturally forbidden topic. Giving credence to such ideas could readily damage one's reputation and put one's employment at risk
  • Nonetheless, there is a growing number of researchers who have bravely begun to write and speak about the ever expanding evidence for, and implications of, complexity's mysterious emergent creativity and self-organizing systems.
  • The "official culture" of science is understandably resistant to these ventures and seems likely to remain that way for some time. However, the knowledge becoming available through the more accessible writings of complexity scientists gives the average individual the opportunity to begin to make his or her own logical judgments.
  • Thus it seems possible that a cultural shift in how we understand dynamical phenomena, or "how the world actually works," might arise outside of the academic domains of institutionalized science.
  • Such a shift is essential to understanding both the astonishing extent as well as the limits of scientific insight into complexity. It is from that awareness that the dynamical modeling of mythical symbolism can be appreciated as of practical value in comprehending the scientific evidence.
  • Just what forms a more overtly symbolic expression of the new scientific facts might take is difficult to guess. But it can at least begin with a re-assessment of this function in traditional myth and contemporary art.
Scientific Myth-ing: Re-contexting metaphoric symbolism as factually valid dynamical modeling
  • How then does the mytho-logical imagination become scientific?
  • It is now possible to re-read art, literature, and mythology from the perspective of complexity science in ways that will radically alter their role in our practical understanding of reality. Given the limits scientific method has imposed upon its ability to describe and explain complexity, modeling it through metaphoric symbolism has become an essential compliment to comprehending the scientific facts.
  • But the science goes further by providing a new empirical basis for evaluating how accurately mythic symbolism represents the scientific evidence, as well as a guide for interpreting the meanings of such symbolism. The empirical evidence helps differentiate when mythical imagination is being used to represent the interdependent order creation of Nature and when it is being used merely as entertainment that does not fundamentally challenge our mechanistic fantasy of a controllable reality, or to justify socially constructed concepts that actually function as oppositional and hierarchical manipulations of social systems.
  • In this way the science restrains the tendency of social power structures to literalize mythic symbols as ordinary facts that support dogmatic orthodoxy, whether overtly religious or secular, that can be used to justify and impose social controls. Secular states and religious institutions alike are top-down control systems whose network autonomies are reflexively prone to enhancing their power by any and all means.
  • In turn, a mytho-logical perspective assists in restraining our modernist tendency to assume that scientific representations of natural phenomena are, in fact, complete definitions that are the same as those phenomena, rather than significations that “stand for” reality.
  • By metaphorically representing the archetypal character of the creative tendencies of scientific complexity's autonomously self-animating networks—as personified tendencies of emergent ordering's spiritual animation—a scientific mythology enables us to engage these as the subjective, intentional operations that they evidently are. By doing so in ways scientific language cannot, mythic metaphors provide the symbolic form of an archetypal network psychology that elaborates the scientific evidence in more tangible, emotionally compelling ways.
  • This effort constitutes a re-invention of mythic imagination. It not only draws upon the symbolism of pre-modern mythological traditions to illustrate network dynamics, it provides the basis for a contemporary imaginal practice that functions as realistic knowing within scientifically secular cultural.
  • Rigorously correlated, science and myth can re-educate our simplisitically mechanistic cultural mentality by providing a more empirically complete and accessible portrayal of the role of emergent causation and its spiritual animation play in our selves and the world we inhabit. This cross-referencing can generate a “network gnosis” through which we “see” the world as bi-dynamically interdependent relationships that can scale up into subjective intentionality across the vast array of reciprocally interacting systems that constitute the biosphere.
  • This correlation can also reveal that conflict between reductive fundamentalism in religion and science, between theists and atheists, is actually a dogmatic competition for possessing the definition of absolute truth: a presumption that is neither scientifically nor mythically logical
Factual Imagination : The analytical method of scientific mythologizing
  • The basic insights of complexity science can be used as a frame for engaging the archetypal psychology and metaphoric modeling ofmythic imagination to explore the emergent properties and network autonomy in any given context.
  • By beginning with a general analysis of the network relationships composing a set of factors or events, a scientifically derived assessment can be amplified through a seriies of mytho-logically derived elaborations.
  • This process generates an analysis of network properties that can then be examined for their archetypal traits. The archetypal traits can then be psychologically characterized. These elaborations of the network analysis can then be modeled using the motifs, narratives, and personifications of generated by mythic imagination.
  • All these aspects can then be considered in regard to how the subject being examined actually comes into being and operates in complex, un-controlable ways. That provides a more realistic dynamicalperspective on it and how it might be influenced.
Cultural Transformation: Creating sustainable social systems through scientific mythology

Culture after Complexity: The new basis for social systems that reciprocate with natural ones
  • The new science of autonomous systems reveals how their networks interact interdependently to emergently generate the collective self-regulation of the biosphere.
  • This knowledge poses a very different view of how social systems need to function if they are to support that biospheric self-regulation, upon which we depend. Complexity science provides new ways to understand how various configurations of social systems and their emergent networks tend to generate effects. Social and economic networks composed around hierarchical, top-down command and control structures, as well as independently competitive individualism, tend to produce un-sustainably non-reciprocal behavior.
  • The re-configuration of our modernist worldview that a scientific mythology can initiate has profound implications for how we understand our societies, economies, and political systems. By revealing how these are expressions of intentional networks with archetypal character, or network soul, it cautions us about the limits of our control over even our own systems. At the same time, it shows how we can interact more realistically with this willful character in both human and non-human networks.
  • But to make this change in our approach to our own systems, thus ourselves, requires a change in our cultural worldview: social systems arise from cultural networks of knowledge and values.
  • The issues involved with such a potential change can be illustrated with some mytho-logical reflection on the character of civilization as a particular type of network autonomy, or network soul.
Out of Control: Civilization as a mythically monstrous network of non-reciprocal exploitation
  • The insights provided by complex systems science shows how industrial civilization’s manipulative exploitation has devastated the resilience of natural systems by disrupting their self-animating, thus self-sustaining networks, and thereby their mutually enabling, reciprocating interdependency
  • Anthropological and archaeological studies indicate that humans evolved to live in small communal groups of around 20 to 50 individuals, prior to the advent of large scale agriculture and the urbanization it enabled. The subsequent emergence of civilization’s mass societies generated social systems that restrict interdependent reciprocity within them as well as between them and their natural environments.
  • The resulting hierarchical forms of top-down, command and control network structures and mechanistic pre-occupation with technological means of manipulation obstruct the ability of civilized systems to operate sustainably within those of the biosphere. They become isolated from, thus unresponsive to, thus destructively exploitative of non-human systems. 
  • These traits of civilized networks are archetypally reductive in their view of the world, regarding it as things that can be defined, calculated, controlled and manipulated. They tend to produce "instrumental behavior" that reflexively seeks to "use" things and events to control other things and events.Technology is a formalized expression of this "instrumentalism."
  • The structure of most governmental, institutional, and corporate systems manifest this type of network character. Regardless of the values used to justify them, their network configuration functions to concentrate controlling power rather than facilitate meta-system interdependency within societies and with natural systems.
  • The destructive effects of civilization on biospheric networks derive from exploitative, control obsessed, hierarchical characteristics of its network structures and their operations. The way they are structured causes them to “think and act” in such a manner, regardless of how we might want them to act. Civilized networks are also expressions of complex adaptive systems--they have "minds of their own" that we fail to recognize.
  • The effects of the “financialization” of contemporary economies exemplifies how a subsystem’s autonomy can act as an alien species within civilization, one that exploits the larger system in which it operates, by evading integration into that meta-network’s evolved regime of synchronic mutual reciprocity. This "taking without giving," by profiting without actually making anything useful, disrupts the larger economic systems' self-regulation. Such network behavior can be thought of as a “pathologically predatory network soul.” 
  • In mythological perspective, these network character traits can be termed "monstrous" or a "monstrosity." The word monster carries meanings such as a large and frightening creature, often with an insatiable appetite or unrestrained violence, an unfeeling or treacherous person, and something malformed or mutated.  Stories about monsters typically reveal how their excess leads to their destruction.
  • The word derives from the Latin  monstrum, translated as portent or warning. Thus a monster, or monstrosity, is an indicator, or a symptom of something that is "out of balance with" or disruptive to the usual "Nature of things." These archetypal characterizations represent the effects of civilized networks' compulsive, ultimately self-destructive pursuit of control over and exploitation of other systems.
Manipulative Restraint: Constraining  the excesses of our techno-logical network soul
  • Because of its amplification of human manipulative power, technology is intrinsically dangerous because it both isolates human systems from immediate interdependency with each other and from responsive participation in the feedback networks of non-human ones. Yet technology is an autonomous network in its own right and must be regarded as an "alien" or invasive species that can only be brought into reciprocal relations with natural systems by the influence of other human networks.
  • The perspective of mechanistic science is well suited to the impulse to manipulate and control systems, both human and non-human. It assists social, economic, political,and technological elites in promoting the idea that they can assert command and control over society and Nature, thus justifying their disproportional share of wealth and power. But network science shows this claim to be a dangerous delusion that unleashes networks like technology in ways that disable both human and non-human systems.
  • There are no technological fixes for civilization’s current existential dilemma because it is the very effects of our control-seeking technological manipulation of natural systems that has created it. Our technological mode of adapting environments to our desires makes us an invasive species that is alien to the evolved regime of synchronically reciprocal meta-network interdependency in every ecological system on the planet. Civilization always “games” ecological networks by not becoming integrated into their mutually beneficial reciprocity, but instead competes un-co-operatively, acting like an un-integrated predator--what mythology represents as a monster.
Sustainable Societies: Bringing Human Systems into Reciprocal Relations with Nature
  • To create sustainable societies, to survive the ecological devastations and chaotic climate change our disruption of other biospheric networks has created, we must restructure our human networks. These most be reconfigured to facilitate the operation and interdependency of Nature’s autonomous systems rather than exploit them without regard for the consequences. Our social, political, and economic systems must be radically re-structured. That means manipulating our systems to make them less manipulative, and controlling our impulse to control our environments in ways that disable their self-regulation
  • Ironically, the exploitive character of hierarchic civilized systems not only disables non-human systems, it is crippling to those of our contemporary societies and economy--creating vast income inequality, unemployment, and events such as the financial crisis of 2008. We know not what we do—to ourselves or the biosphere—because we do not know how the strange dynamical properties of our own autonomous networks, much less those of Nature, actually function. For all our wealth and power, our science and technology, we do not understand how Nature acts.
  • Sustainable societies must be composed as non-hierarchical, distributed network structures, with more horizontal and less vertical feedback flows. These changes will enable them to act adaptively through autonomous agency at all levels of scale, from families to local communities, and on up to governments, and to do so “in conversation with” the “creaturely” realm of non-human yet autonomously self animating Nature.
  • To make the meta-network of civilization more sustainable we must come to know it, and its sub-networks (social, economic, political) as “creaturely” entities in them selves, with their own emergent autonomous agency of spiritual animation, their particularized network souls, which arise from the behaviors of the human agents that constitute them and are then in turn influenced by them. Civilization, like Nature, is a mytho-logical realm of archetypal characters. Thus attempts to re-adapt it requires symbolizing it thusly—regarding human systems as mere mechanisms is a delusional as regarding Nature as purely physical.
  • A crucial aspect of this re-networking is localizing network interdependency. Only if the operations of human systems are fully connected to those of their local environments can they experience the immediacy of their communal interdependency with the non-human. The operational organization of sustainable societies necessarily derives from localized integration with non-human, natural systems. Industrial civilization has obliterated this localized integration of human and non-human systems.
  • Society must be communal because Nature is communal, with all reciprocally interdependent with all. Adaptive meta-system sustainability can only emerge “from the bottom up,” from subsystem interdependency with an unimpeded flow of feedback—it cannot be engineered or controlled from the top-down.
  • Social and financial inequality greatly inhibit flows of feedback and thus the interdependency of humans systems, so genuine democracy and communal reciprocity are essential, while command and control networks must be minimized as these obstruct feedback between systems, debilitating the resilient autonomy of the systems they manipulate. The top-down controlling impulse of elite social and economic subsystems are intrinsically disruptive of overall meta-system sustainability. Where there are network aspects that provide system direction these must function primarily to promote inter-system networking, not exploitation.
  • Creating sustainable and equitable societies means we must be consciously suspicious of our reflexive human tendencies to manipulate, exploit, and dominate other networks, both those of people as well as the non-human. This self-awareness requires the cultural incorporation of both complexity science and its elaboration by myth's archetypal psychology of network autonomy, with its personifications of the variable configurations of spiritually animating network soul in both human and non-human systems.

Dual Ethics: The Sustainability of Nature's Wild Ethos and The Un-sustainablity of Civilization's Tame One
  • Notions of social morality based upon egalitarian ethics regard every person or group of persons as of intrinsic and equal value. Thus each should be engaged with empathy, respect, and fairness. This ethical view expresses awareness of the importance of each person as an autonomous, subjective network that interacts with others to form the larger networked meta-system of societies: the individuality of network soul is a foremost value in such an ethos.
  • This egalitarian rule of ethical interaction has become a basic tenant of so-called civilized behavior in modern urbanized mass societies.  However, the actual behavior of civilizations expresses a very different ethos.  They can only exist through the forced domestication or taming of plants, animals, and environments. They are effectively "at odds" with the natural systems they exploit to derive the energy and resources required to sustain their often exponential growth.
  • Further, whatever their stated purposes, the institutions of state, religious, and corporate power, and the socio-economic elites who benefit disproportionally from these, can exist only by imposing manipulative control over social systems. Whatever ideals they are expected to serve, the performative ethics they manifest emphasize subordination of individual citizens to their power, above all else. The implicit first order function of law enforcement systems in civilized societies is to preserve existing social, economic, and political power structures.
  • In both its external and internal aspects, this hierarchical relationship of control that characterizes civilization's network autonomy constitutes a domesticated or tame ethics of domination. It constitutes the underlying ethos of civilization, in which the dominance of hierarchical network soul is the foremost value: no hierarchy = no civilization. The emergence of pluralistic secular societies and democratic political systems have not changed this underlying ethos--as testified to by the contemporary disparity between rich and poor, the disparity between public opinions and government actions, and the ever-accelerating pace of ecological devastation.
  • The contrast between the standards for behavior inferred by egalitarian ethics and the actual primacy of hierarchical control systems appears to be an unresolvable paradox of civilization. It indicates the conflicted co-existence of two aspects of network autonomy in the meta-network of civilized societies--one which seeks cooperative equality and one which emphasizes competitive struggle for disproportionate power and privilege. Even the most egalitarian civilized societies manifest the ethos of domination toward natural systems.
  • Though hierarchical control systems often justify their dominion as being necessary for the existence of egalitarian social behaviors, their network configuration is intrinsically prone to acting in service to its own promotion despite such stated purposes. That is the character of its network autonomy. This social competition for dominance and disproportionate advantage has been defended as a "law of Nature."
  • Indeed, Nature on the larger scale, as seen through complex systems science, does manifests a similar conflict between cooperative facilitation and competitive struggle among its systems. However, the ubiquity of interdependent reciprocity among natural systems tends to limit the degree of advantage one system can gain over others. Plant and animal species co-evolve as ever-interacting parts of a meta-system.
  • Changes in one system's behavior acts as feedback that concurrently triggers changes in others. This on-going instantaneous interplay activates the self-regulating adaptive operations of the environmental meta-system they collectively generate, and that imposes limits on the behaviors of all. No one species becomes capable of forcing another under its direct control.
  • Though we tend to regard predators like lions as "the kings of the jungle," they are in fact nor more in control of their environments than are the animals they prey upon. Each must contribute to as much as they benefit from their environments, or their behavior disrupts the basis of their own existence. The actual "law of Nature" is reciprocal interdependency, not hierarchical domination. Competition is subordinated to collective adaptation by the reciprocal flows of feedback between the sub-systems of an environmental meta-system. That rule of reciprocity we could call the ethos of Nature, or wild ethics.
  • Civilization, as a system structured around technologically leveraged environmental manipulation and exploitation, abrogates this rule of wild ethics. Through mechanistic leverage, amplified by centralized organization and industrial technology, civilized systems evade feedback from non-human systems. They violate the rule of reciprocity that limits the power of natural systems over each other by evading natural feedback flows. They take far more from than the mutually interdependent operations of their environments than they give back. Historically, all have done this until their effects on the natural systems they exploit attain a catastrophic level of meta-system environmental disruption, leading to the collapse of civilized systems.
  • Civilized human systems thus become “rogue systems” that act without regard for the effects their exercise of network autonomy has upon that of other systems: civilizations compete with Nature in a non-co-operative manner by refusing to subordinate human behaviors to the “greater good” of a mutually self-sustaining “creaturely” biosphere. In this regard, from a mythological perspective, they are "monsters"--creatures of network autonomy whose behavior is "out of proportion" to other systems, that take without giving back, thus have a destructive impact on other systems. 
  • Science, technology, and engineering cannot solve the dilemma of civilization's exploitation of natural systems. Carbon-free renewable energy sources would diminish carbon dioxide emissions but will also accelerate the development of industrial civilization's consumer societies that are the primary disrupter of natural systems.
  • The conflict of civilization's exploitative ethos of domesticating dominance and Nature's wild one of interdependency is intrinsic. Indeed, it is an enlarged version of the impact that the most basic technologies of non-agrarian, hunter-gatherer societies can have on natural systems. Even they can over-exploit their environments in ways that endanger their own existence.
  • Thus to be sustainable, civilization would have to impose upon itself the rule of wild ethics, which is to say, “do unto other systems in ways that facilitate their interdependent co-operation (upon which one’s own system depends) as they do unto you.”
  • Without wild ethics there can be no viable context for tame ethics. Its is for this reason that the stimuli of mythic imagination and ritual appear as adaptive behaviors in human societies.  By imagining the interdependency of human and non-human network autonomy, humans are more likely to act with restraint in how they manipulate natural systems. 
  • To sustain our human systems we must make significant sacrifices of our interests and appetites. We must act in ways that "give back" to non-human systems so sustain their network autonomies so that our human ones can prosper. We must continually struggle to surrender the arrogant sense of superiority and privilege our technological capacities tend to foster.
  • We are, in deed, “the Fallen”: through our technological civil-izing we became “creatures of control” whose systems operate “at odds” with the rest of life. We have “fallen out of conversation” with the reciprocity of Nature and committed “the sin” of non-co-operation with non-human systems, which now threatens a biospheric apocalypse. 
  • Yet most astonishingly, it is as secular pragmatists, whose scientific pursuit of “final knowledge” that we hope would grant us “control over everything,” that we have unexpectedly re-discovered the ancient wisdom of the mythic imagination. It is this new, unexpected knowledge of complexity science that proffers our redemption from the ethics of domination.

Going Beyond Belief: Myth-ing the reality of unbelievable science to enable a cultural transformation
  • Obviously, the most important part of a practical education now is a worldview-changing understanding of the science of complex systems and their self-animating networks.
  • But the science alone will not change our network structures. As constituted, our cultural mentality cannot think its way out of its mechanistic preoccupation. Without the corrective perspective of myth, we will reflexively attempt to engineer our way out of civilization's dilemma because we are addicted to technological control. More of the same behavior will not alter our conditions.
  • What is required is an adequately motivating cultural mentality the emerges from an emotionally compelling, intuitively meaningful symbolism that links the scientific knowledge with our intrinsic mythological imagination—a scientific mythology that produces a network gnosis of a spiritually animated reality, a cultural  reconfiguration that brings us back into the community of natural network subjectivity.
  • What we need is not literalistic religious doctrine and belief but symbolic experience that transforms our psychological state of mind, using shared stories, images, and ritual practices (linked to network science) to make the realities of emergent, spiritually animating networks meaningfully tangible—and cultural life more vibrantly connected to the rest of Life. 
  • Thus the practical cultural transformation to sustainable societies implied by complex systems science is a mytho-logical one that re-establishes interdependent relationships between civilized human systems and the subjective operations of those of “the rest of Nature.” It is once again practical to imagine aspects of reality that cannot be fully defined or explained.
  • Many mythic traditions have stories of a distant past in which humans and animals “spoke the same language,” but that humans somehow lost the ability to communicate directly with the those non-human networks. The loss of that shared language in these stories indicates the break of reciprocity that occured when humans evolved as a technologically manipulative species. Without a mythic imagination we have no way to bring our awareness “back into the conversation” with other natural systems that can maintain our own sustainability.
  • Most astonishingly, such changes constitute a “return of the sacred” within a scientifically secular society. The archaic sense of sacredness derived from knowing that non-human systems are also effectively living spirits, whose emergent reciprocity make the world a mystery of interdependent relationships, upon which human life depends. Sustainable human systems require this sense of numionus mystery in Nature to restrain our technologically manipulative behavior. 

Full Enlightenment  Education: The trans-disciplinarity of teaching ourselves to think bi-dynamical reality
  • Re-educating ourselves to incorporate complexity science into our worldview can be understood as the fulfillment of the intellectual Enlightenment of the 18th century. That impulse toward rational, scientific realism first led us to our materialistic, physics-based worldview. But the same impulse has proceeded beyond that perspective to reveal the utterly unexpected, logically paradoxical knowledge of bi-dynamical order creation, which appears illogical to our current assumptions about reality. 
  • It is no longer logical or realistic to teach people to have ultimate faith in reductive definitions, predictive certainty, or conclusive knowledge about "how the world works." Like it or not, this is where the Enlightenment quest to know the world in factual terms has led us.
  • However, to remain current with these scientific insights, we must confront the problem of teaching them through social and educational systems presently incapable of incorporating the concepts complexity and their implications.
  • Modernist obsession with predictably deterministic dynamics and order creation led to a separation of what was once a metaphysical continuum of knowledge (known as "natural philosophy") into two opposed categories. The so-called "hard sciences," based on quantifiable facts and predictably deterministic proofs, came to be regarded as more realistic than what are termed "the Humanities": philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and the arts.
  • But these latter areas of thought have actually been grappling with the effects of complexity far longer than has science. They have already explored its paradoxical logic in a variety of conceptual and metaphoric ways. From the dialectical thought of Hegel, Schopenhauer's "world as will," concepts of a pluralistic  psyche in the depth psychology of Freud and Jung, and modern art's disruptions of pragmatic signification and its interpretation, to the revelations of paradoxical contradictions in linear logic by such as Derrida and other "postmodern" thinkers, there exists a myriad of insights into the actual complexity of reality. There is much in the domains of the Humanities that is mytho-logical.
  • With the perspectives of complexity and network science, much of this reasoning done in the humanities, which has thus far been deemed un-scientific, now has an empirical basis. There now exists a scientific perspective that can re-unite our fragmented knowledge fields in a trans-disciplinary manner, by providing a more-than-mechanistic dynamical philosophy that confirms the empirical accuracy of complexity modeling in non-quantitative knowledge fields .
  • It is now obvious that a full appreciation of the implications of the new science and its bi-dynamical order creation requires a trans-disciplinary application that reveals its many corollaries in other disciplines of thought. 
  • Thus the fullness of an Enlightenment derived education must transgress the limitations of our reflexively materialistic, mechanistic worldview and the institutions constituted upon it. Such a re-education will take us closer to "reality"--but necessarily farther away from certainty, universal truths, and the expectation of control.

NOTE: For information on the actual science from which these summaries
and extrapolations are derived, please see the References Page


Link to New Story of Science Page