From Interdependent Feedback to Emergent Order and Conscious Agency
Interactions between parts can result in unpredictable and inexplicable properties, such as those of water
Interactive feedback networks in complex systems generate non-linear dynamics that can result in self-organizing operations
This self-organization produces measurable effects but emerges in unpredictable, partly undefinable ways
One such effect is the selective self-directing, self-adapting ordering of systems we associate with agency and consciousness
This new understanding of how adaptive agency emerges from interactive feedback networks constitutes 'scientific mystery'
We now have measurable evidence for the creation of order that arises from dynamical relationships that are immeasurable
The Confounding Science of Proportionally Linear and Disproportional Non-Linear Dynamics
Our Modern World View--One Thing After Another:
The linearly dependent, mechanical dynamics of our modern world view are predictably consistent, thus exactly describable and potentially controllable. That view gives us the impression we can fully understand 'how things actually happen.'
The New Scientific Understanding--Many Things At Once:
The nonlinear, simultaneously interdependent dynamics of complex system networks are unpredictably inconsistent and often self-regulating, thus beyond exact description and our control. This understanding shows that we cannot fully understand 'how things happen.'
Confronting these contrasting categories of dynamical events we are compelled to shift our thinking. It is no longer scientifically adequate to conceive the world as a series of predictable, thus potentially controllable mechanistic sequences. We must now perceive 'how the world works' thru two dynamical models: predictably linear and unpredictably emergent non-linear.
The New Reality of Two 'Ways that Things Happen'--A 'Visible' and a 'Hidden' World:
The linearly consistent dynamics of mechanistic events can be fully measured, thus are effectively 'visible.' The simultaneous interdependency of complex network dynamics that create order unexpectedly, often out of disorder, are effectively 'invisible'--we can only measure their effects not their full process. Emergent ordering arises from simultaneous interactions within recursive networks of turbulent feedback among parts and actions.
These mutually modifying flows of feedback are the dynamical basis of emergent ordering, which can arise in chaotic systems like hurricanes or as the self-regulating relationships in complex ones like ecologies and animal species.
Scientific Symbolism--Making the Invisible Visible
Science has generated various abstract models to represent the effectively 'invisible' form and functions of system networks, with their interdependent, simultaneous interactivity and self-organizing effects.
Scientific Spirituality--Imagining Network Agency
Appreciating the capacity of complex networks to organize, maintain, and adapt their systems requires metaphoric imagination. Conceiving the creative agency of these networks as 'spiritual agents,' such as the gods and goddesses of mythology, provides us with an emotionally compelling model of what science now describes in abstract terms. The wisdom of ancient mythic symbolism now has a new, scientific basis.