Bulletin 14

Bull. 14 Dec. 31 1999. Given that we have to confront a science of sociology and a sociology of science for the current task of the survival of our “free” university, can we explain the difference in the two outlooks: does their dual existence or its negation imply a valid antinomy? Perhaps there is some other connection between the two? These questions we will debate against a very lively background of current ongoings.

Recall that we established ourselves as a “free” university, which would attempt to develop a foundation for the physics of complex systems. We called that component of science homeokinetics (HK), regarding it as an intellectual resource among the applied fields of science and engineering. Our method of furnishing instruction was to let our group, as a faculty of scientific-technical people, help develop running commentary on a series of major issues. We present them as bulls in a papal and Lutheran sense, and as an abbreviated form of bulletin. In our bulls, we argue out great antinomies, statements whose direct form and its negation both appear to represent truths of considerable scope, in spite of an apparent contradiction. Since our major concern, in this pursuit, is with the physical foundations for complex systems, our election of topics is governed by that systems’ constraint. We hope and expect that you support our more extended publications, which are created for the use of our followers or ‘students’ as their publication costs. For example, we would encourage the interested to acquire our primer, Iberall, Soodak, Primer for H-K, a physical foundation for complex systems, $9 + $3 S&H, 1999. An earlier book is Iberall, Wilkinson, White, Foundations for social and biological evolution, $14 + $3 S&H, 1993. It is our firm belief that, having been working on our systems’ science study subject for four or more decades, we have managed to create at least a start on our subject with applications to Government, industry, and academic needs, and have created intellectual beachheads in more than a dozen scientific-technical disciplines.

Science, of April 2, 1999, had an issue, which indicated on its cover that it had article contributions devoted to complex systems. Since two members of our group had contributed a beachhead article to Science, Soodak, Iberall, “Homeokinetics: a physical science for complex systems”, 201, 579, 1978, and we had written extensively elsewhere, e.g., a decade earlier, Iberall, McCulloch, “The organizing principle of complex living systems”, Trans. ASME, J Basic Engineering, 91, 290, 1969, or more recently, both of our contributions in Yates (ed.) Self Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, Plenum Press, 1985, we were surprised and disappointed that none of the articles referenced our work, and a neglect in calling on our knowledge and scope for help in review.

That state of affairs disturbed 15 of our colleagues from a broad variety of disciplines to sign a brief statement letter to Science calling attention to that oversight, but it was rejected. None of any other letter correspondence seemed to deal at any depth with the subject, its contents, and the contents of the sheaf of articles that Science had presented. A more personal letter to Science’s editor, not for publication, attempted to put forth the inadequate coverage that Science had devoted to the subject, but this also has produced no reply.

Thus, the only next step we could see possible was to go public on our own web site. This is sort of a Bell for Adano, as the cry is called among older folk. In the Bulls, we can outline some of the typical and important beachheads we have made in a fair sample of perhaps 15 scientific-technical disciplines. They constitute referenceseither written by us or other colleagues in reasonably mainline sources or periodical by which people in these other disciplines have been or could have been introduced to H-K.

The study fields we select, for which we shall offer here about a page or so of referral for a first example, are physiology, anthropology, psychology, civilizational study, political science, civilizational study, physics, economics, biomedical engineering, systems engineering, systems science, geography, history, hydrodynamics. The first example will be in international political relations. We will offer as reference Karns (ed.), Persistent Patterns and Emergent Structure in a Waning Century. This book is from in International Studies Association Series, 1986, Praeger Scientific. The ISA is the outstanding international political science professional society, for example, J. Rosenau was president of the society that 1985 year of the meeting, one of its panes included all the living U.S.A. presidential security advisors, and another, as a reprise on the Pentagon Papers, was led by their disseminator, Ellsberg. At these yearly conventions, a group of outstanding papers, e.g., 17, are selected for such special publication. Rosenau in a Forward states that the unifying theme for the volume “is important and highly relevant to the future of global life”. The editor, in an Introduction, states that “Tensions between persistent patterns and emergent structures…can be discerned at all levels of global life…

“The approaching end of a century invites both a look backward and a look ahead. How far have students of international politics come in their effort to develop theories..?…Hoffman (1961) Described that ‘long road’ to international relations theory. Does that ‘long road’ still stretch unending ahead..? And for those seeking to apply the greater rigor and methodological sophistication of the ‘hard’ sciences, what problems persist..?

“The chapters have been clustered into four sections, the first dealing with the development of international theory.

“The Development of International Relations Theory”.

“[Section one] Students of world politics have regularly debated whether the field has made progress in the development of theory and the search for appropriate paradigms…

“…Mansbach and…Ferguson [chapter one] raise the question whether, in fact, the discipline of international relations and the social sciences in general have made progress in the march down the ‘long road’. Their response is rather pessimistic despite the admitted advances in data collection and methodology…

“Wilkinson and…Iberall’s optimism [chapter two – “From Physics to World Politics”] with respect to the structures emerging from linkages between disciplines is striking by comparison with M and F’s pessimism. They challenge our views of the relationship of hard science to the study of world politics by proposing the adoptions not of scientific method and approach, but of basic paradigm…”

[To be noted is an end section in the book called “About the Editor and Contributors”, what essentially all 18 persons thumbnail sketched, 17 of them have rather expected credentials, whereas the one unusual one, Iberall, is described via a research and development background at the National Bureau of Standards, industry, and in academia, directing such hard science, with a closing remark that “These components have been assembled to attempt to create a general physical science for all complex systems”. It seems clear that the editor and editorial colleagues properly understood the unusual thrust that Wilkinson and his colleague, Iberall, have added to their development of a new general form of theory for the field of political relations.]

With such apparent accolades within the field itself [more are available if required], why did our work not receive attention, more broadly, in the social sciences or the ‘hard’ sciences? In the likely possibility that we can offer similar examples in a considerable number of other disciplinary fields of study, one is obliged to raise the question why H-K as a discipline for understanding complex systems of all kinds is not more widely recognized. We [Iberall & Soodak] can think of a number of likely explanations. We start from the premise that people exist who are successful in their fields of study and application. To learn completely new stuff, such new ‘art’ is likely blocked (a) by inertia, (b) by how the new material will be accepted in one’s own field, (c) we also know by our own experience that it takes a considerably long time to learn our new litany; also (d) successful application of H-K in any discipline involves the use of expert knowledge in a wider range of detailed aspects than most workers are accustomed to have to deal with. So why are there any successes at all? Because what society does have experience with is with the upbringing of the young of each succeeding generation. Before having conflicting commitments, the young have been exposed to ever lengthening periods of education, and have to make choices in some such extended smorgasbord. The period has been extended from grad school to middle school, to college, even to graduate school with choices no longer in hand crafts or trades but also in professions. The past 100-150 years of such rising education shows some common degree of success of a portion of the populace generation by generation to acquire more complex arts if there is a societal need.