The Necessary Shift to a Network Centered World View
Both Nature and human society are created by the agency of purposefully self-organizing system networks
We cannot understand these systems in terms of predictably predetermined, thus potentially controllable events
The self-asserting networks of social and economic systems tend to control us more than we control them
Human behaviors are often driven by the purposeful agency of system networks that are not humans
To understand how these networks manipulate us and direct events we require a new network-based world view
Confronting Our Ignorance of how Networks Make the World
Learning to 'See Through the Visible World' to Perceive the Hidden Networks that Make It
To make this profound change in our behavior requires a new way of 'seeing' the world around us--and even our selves and societies. Systems science shows how perceiving the world as separate things and events that occur in mechanistic, linear sequences blinds us to most of what is actually happening. We must learn to 'see through' this obvious 'surface of appearances to perceive the networks of feedback-driven relationships which drive system behaviors. We must regard human as well as natural systems as purposefully adaptive networks that 'act as if they are alive' and interact in ways we are fundamentally ignorant about.
Humans Create Systems that Create Unintended, often Disastrous Human Behaviors
Many complex adaptive system networks are composed of individual agents, from ant colonies to human societies. The collective interactions of these agents gives rise to the purposeful agency of the entire network. But with human systems, their networks have vastly greater collective intelligence, power, and variability. These networks are not human. They are not empathic, ethical entities. Their self-asserting impetus can work against the very values that humans create them to promote, such as equity, justice, and freedom. Yet their self-organizing, self-promoting 'drive' can manipulate the humans that compose them into assuming that their systems are synonymous with the purposes for which these were created. Thus it is to be expected that human systems cannot be fully controlled and inevitably generate unexpected, even disastrous behaviors. To be realistic about human systems is to "live by the law of unintended consequences.
Human Systems are Crippling the Self-Organizing Agency of Natural Ones
Humans tend to create control-oriented, technologically leveraged systems that operate to exploit natural systems. Consequently, our behaviors can disrupt the capacity of the biosphere's component system networks that sustain their operations through their interdependent self-regulation. In other words, human systems do not act reciprocally with natural ones. Our system networks ignore feedback from natural ones
about how their networks are being disrupted. The results include deforestation, desertification, habit destruction, species extinction, and chaotic climate system disruption.
Inhabiting a World of Autonomously Self-Organizing Systems Beyond Our Control
In light of network science, we can no longer assume that our control-oriented behavior serves our own best interests. It has proved to be a disaster for the natural systems upon which we depend. The independent agency of natural systems cannot be controlled. And when we manipulate them in ways that disrupt their capacity to self-organize, they will eventually collapse, as is now happening. Thus we must now learn how to configure our systems so that these operate reciprocally with the networks of the biosphere, facilitating rather than exploiting these--from local forest ecologies to large scale ones such as the oceans and the global climate.