Bull. 8. Aug.10, 1997. Ending the question (part 3): Is there a physical science foundation for the modern human species and its social organization?
In Bulls. 3 and 7, we began our argument, using a summary report that we prepared in 1980. We offered it because of its clarity and unity as an introduction to such a physically based study. In a first part, we identified the atomistic variables that we use in a system – its matter and energy flows, its action flows as a substitute for momentum in complex systems, its population flows for living systems; and then the various storage potentials (e.g., the chemical genetic) which drive the movements in that field. We used the simplest example of a colony of ciliated bacteria as such a collective field system to illustrate its societal cooperative behaviors. We continued then, moving toward beginning up to modern – human societies involving the human species. In this final third section, we evaluate what we have done and review the work and ideas of other investigators in treating such systems and their problems.
13. Justification for the work. As part of a summary, we have been asked to answer a number of questions: first, what is the justification for the work? The basic answer is that from the startup of urban civilizations, marked by written record keeping, there is ample evidence that one major purpose of writing was to help keep a useful causal record of the world as it appeared regularly to humans. Thus, whether as priests, or advisors to the ruler, or as transactional record keeping, an empirically derived image of natural phenomena was recorded. Whether the efforts were objectively validatable (e.g., astronomical, agricultural) or only imaginary (e.g., astrological, divinational, mind distorting, mystical), an evaluation of methodology from simple observational to mystical to rationally causal to scientific (parsimonious principles) has taken place. This effort, a social science based on physical principles, is the latest of such methodological efforts at modelling the nature of reality. It is an effort that has two historical precedents, one in the Greek era 600-300 B.C. in which rational philosophic speculation was ‘invented’ (earlier science, purely empirical, existed among the Egyptians, Babylonians), and the second in the European Age of Enlightenment 17th to 19th Centuries in which rational science (the Newtonian world machine) was invented (What followed, in the 19th and 20th Centuries was a splintering among the sciences. This late 20th Century effort is a reductionist effort to unify the sciences.)
14. How it fits in with other work. Obviously this kind of development is attached basically and in principle to physics. However, physicists too have to be convinced that such extensions beyond normal physics are in order and valid. That problem turns on the following: Can it be that physics applies to all systems except the living system and the social system? Arguments pro and con are being vigorously pursued in a number of interdisciplinary circles.
The same issue exists with regard to other physical – implicitly hyphenated sciences. If we ask the question in the form “Does a kinetic theory and a theory of irreversible thermodynamics hold for such sciences as chemistry, geophysics, meteorology?”, the general answer would be a “Yes”. So again the issue turns on the connection of this new construct and the biological and social sciences, e.g., in life, mind, society.
Biology is obviously in process of capitulating, in its foundations, to the physical sciences. Molecular biology, as biology’s newest foundation, is essentially all a study of the physics – kinetics and thermodynamics – and chemistry of a particular class of molecules. Cellular biology – function, structure, self-assembly – is being increasingly accounted for in physicalchemical terms. Thus it is only organization at the level of the higher organism which is still in doubt. We have written how this construct is connected with the higher biological organism elsewhere (1,2,3,4). Also see some representative work of our colleagues (5,6,7).
Expressed as a generalization, our homeokinetic construct states that the basic regulation of the internal environment of the living organism is achieved dynamically by an collective of thermodynamic engine processes. Such regulation takes place among the fundamental conservations of the organism. It maintains form and function of the interior of the organism independent of external vicissitudes.
In guiding the experimental work that our colleagues and we have conducted, that construct leads to a search and account for the engine cycles, their mechanisms, and their interconnection. It leads to a view of a dynamic biology, at every level up through the organization and function of the brain. Yates has aptly compared it with the standard constructs of biology.
Thus more pertinently we turn to the connection of our homeokinetic construct and the social sciences. The connections have been spelled out in various of our earlier reports (8, 9, 10), more specifically, in our reports under this contract. We have named the fundamental conservations and operative potentials. We have indicated how the various social sciences deal with aspects of these conservations and potentials, e.g., economics with the value-in-trade balance, anthropology with the dynamics of the epigenetic value potential, engineering with the technological rate potential. Thus these social sciences may be viewed as scientific sub-disciplines of a homeokinetic physics of complex systems.
Such a status should not be too surprising. Consider meteorology, or astronomy. No well trained scientist in these fields would consider it impertinent if it were suggested that he or she undertake a general education in physics and then not use that ‘reductionist’ base to tackle the specialization of meteorology as atmospheric-physics, or astronomy as astro-physics. Nor would such a scientist find specialized ’emergent’ properties to be unusual for the specific discipline. So it is not hard to fathom what would be the analogous problem in a social-physics that lacked a physical foundation. We presume it to be the ‘surprise’ contained in the ’emergent’ properties of human brain. We have discussed the issue in many places (e.g., in (1, 3)).
But having examined the issue of human behavior at both the individual level (e.g., the psychology, psychiatry, ethnology of animal, particularly human, behavior) and the social level throughout history, we still see only a denumerably finite number of behavioral modes, and we find it far from difficult to trace such behavior back to brain mechanisms, even if not yet in detail. So we find little of emergent novelty.
If one accepts that premise, then the remaining question is how this homeokinetic physics construct (as applied to society) compares, connects, or contrasts with other constructs. The likely candidates, as constructs or methodologies, are:
set theoretic modelling
Cybernetics. As our reports will indicate, we developed the construct of homeokinetic physics with one of the three fathers of cybernetics, Warren McCulloch. The basic question which McCulloch posed, from Macy Foundation meeting days on, was what was the science, particularly physical science or engineering, for command-control. Weiner’s “cybernetics” came up with the notion of feedback control, possibly with some regulation involved in the process. Von Neumann used the question to illustrate the requirements for modern digital computers (He attended McCulloch’s brain science meetings for ideas and background from this area). In our work with McCulloch we stressed that the basic function was achieved by the dynamic regulation furnished modally by the coupling among thermodynamic engine processes. This was followed up by McCulloch and his colleagues (e.g., Kilmer) in a construct attempting a realization of the reticular activating core in the brain (11)).
Set theoretic modeling. The broadest scattershot criticism of everyone’s attempt at modelling is contained in Berlinski’s book (12). Eden (13), in a review of the book, attempts to offer some more moderate and objective remarks on its intemperance. But a basic message which Berlinski attempts to spell out is that only Suppes’ set theoretic of a model has any chance at success. (For some of Suppes’ work, see (14), particularly the chapter on “Models of Data”). A more rational review of Suppes’ point of view was given by Yates (6, 7).
A radical or extreme mathematical reductionist view of Suppes’ work (see Bunge (15) for definitions of reductionism and radical reductionism) would be offensive to physicists. The notion of a world limited only by mathematical self-consistency would have that character (See Benacerraf and Putnam for the very reasonable and diverse views of pure mathematicians on the foundations of mathematics (16)). On the other hand, if Suppes’ set theoretic is interpreted, in his words, “Many of the discussions in the philosophy of science may best be formulated as a series of problems using the notion of a representation theorem. For example, the thesis that biology may be reduced to physics would be in many people’s minds appropriately established if one could show that for any model of a biological theory it was possible to construct an isomorphic model within physical theory”, such a view would be reasonable. It represents the thrust behind our biological work in attempting to model the thermoregulation system, muscle functional units, brain function, cardiovascular function, development, behavior, metabolism by physical models of these physiological processes.
But the issue returns again very quickly to the social sciences. What, in pure mathematician’s views, would a set theoretic for the social sciences be? We don’t know. We know what a number of mathematically inclined physicists have offered. A good typical example is the geographer’s Alan Wilson’s work, on entropy maximization, e.g., ((17). (Many others can be found in the automatic control literature, e.g., at various IFAC conferences)).
An even more recent example, of an urban planner (Isard) who has found a mathematical physical companion, is (18). We see the mathematics. We do not see, in Suppes’ terms, any reductionism to isomorphic modelling within physical theory.
Another example, Prigogine made the direct statement, at the October 1979 program planning session in Cambridge, that no self-respecting physicist could entertain the notion of there being any Rubicon that would permit crossing over from physics to social science. Instead, he pointed out, that the only possible modelling lay in finding certain mathematical isomorphisms.
Thus quite clearly these researchers are guided by mathematical reductionisms, not a physical reductionism. This chasm would apparently require some reconciliation in which either the physically oriented or the mathematically oriented budged and their models fit commonly acceptable constraints. That argument is also going on in biological and in social science circles.
Topology. Of the two perhaps most abstract branches of mathematics – logic and topology – it is interesting to note the interest, in the past decade or so, expressed in applying topology to the more perplexing large systems problems in science. One leader in this effort was René Thom. We were fortunate in having been invited by Waddington to contribute to his sessions on foundations for a theoretical biology wherein Thom’s interests first surfaced in his dialogues with Waddington (19). Thus we have been able to follow the issues from the beginning. Scientific discussion about catastrophe theory has been provocative, evocative, and in the end quite vitriolic. All through the 1970’s, debate went on. In the late 70’s, we were consulted, as part of an international chain of people, by a free lance science writer who was trying to put together a piece for a large circulation periodical on the status and meaning of the catastrophe theory dispute [We believe, now, without adequate proof, only vague memory, that the searcher was Gleick. We remember, quite well and quite definitely, the telephone discussions that we were asked to engage in, regarding hydrodynamic flow field phenomena by Mandelbrot just prior to his fractal explosion]. Our comments than (and now) were that catastrophe theory was not necessarily a complete topology for physical processes; that in the end its merit would only be tested not by ‘novelty’ in imperfectly formulated fields (e.g., biology, social science) but by its merit as compared to other views in some well defined physical field. We suggested that such a field was hydrodynamics, and that Thom’s views had already been begun to be explored there (e.g., the work of Ruelle and Takens). In 1980, the question of a definite answer has still not been resolved. There are those who think the lead still provocative; there are those who consider the lead intellectually shabby.
References that provide some historical sense of the strengths or weakness of the outlook are to be found in three N.Y. Academy of Science meetings – Gurel’s ((20). In particular Dr. Dresden’s discussion should be attended to), Gurel and Rössler (21), and Helleman (22). What is happening, as (22) reveals, is that the topology of bifurcational transformations in hydrodynamics is gradually being discovered. A comment that we made is that the electrohydrodynamics of brain, the magnetohydrodynamics of fusion [for example, we gave such a lecture, with Llinás, at the invitation of the magnetohydrodynamic group studying fusion at Princeton at about that time], and the irreversible thermodynamics of society have all suggested a much richer number of transitional transformations.
A Gordon Research conference of a few years ago (1976), was devoted to stability. Sponsored by a solid state physics group, the meeting brought together a Noah’s Ark of participants (e.g., two biologists, two biophysicists, etc., but also an appropriate sprinkling of pairs of mathematicians). Notable was the contribution of the topologists. A basic theme was the demonstration of the chaotic attractors, in addition to those now known (e.g., linear oscillators, limit cycle oscillators). Hydrodynamicists have been able to follow a sequence of transitions to chaotic noise. (Although to the question of what, if anything, might follow as an attractor beyond noise, the topologists could furnish no answers).
More recently, the mathematician Abraham (see, for example (23)) has suggested a richer set of bifurcations than Thom.
These frontiers illustrate mathematicians who are inspired and confront physical problems, and those who turn away from them. There are those mathematicians (e.g., Abraham) who look with reasonable favor on our hierarchical homeokinetic physics. However, one must say precisely that none of the frontier candidates can claim a universal theory that unifies mathematical and physical reasoning at the level of the complex systems we are considering, i.e., biological, social.
Feedback control. Our initial technical background, past academi c/raining, was in the regulation and automatic control field. Thus we are familiar with its originators and origins. Our first ‘mature’ commentary on regulation and control in complex systems (biological systems, with a final hint regarding social systems) may be found in (24). The theme that was expressed in that paper was that a thorough review of the biological literature about the complex organism, including our own experimental work, found little automatic control mechanism of a feedback nature. Instead the processes seemed, in the main, to be dynamic regulatory processes, involving thermodynamic engine cycles, that we later denoted as homeokinetic. Arguing such differences in outlook in automatic control circles. we have helped proponents of an automatic control point of view to sharpen their own views. A highly mature example of such a mixed control theoretic view by a most knowledgeable control engineer is (25). Another more recent view, by Siebert (26), indicates some of the reservations that knowledgeable communications engineers, working in biology, take toward a control point of view. On the other hand, a modern control engineer’s defense may be found in (27).
One essential criticism that we express against the wide relevance of control theory to systems, whether self-organizing or organized by a deus ex machina, is that they provide no theory for the plant. Control is exogenous to the system. And that is not our concept of self-organizing systems, e.g., biological and social. Now we may be criticized for using discussions of control engineers in the biological system rather than the social system. Our justification is the question of experience and of verifiability. It turns out that there are a number of engineers with one or more decades of experience with the biological organism. Knowledgeable experience with politics is available to very few engineers from this control community (e.g., except for a few Russian engineers, or say, the cyberneticist, Stafford Beer). Second, as the issues discussed in a recent New Scientist article (28) refer to, there are certain suspect qualities to using a historical record as part of science. Thus one has a sense that feedback theory is more sharply tested in biology.
Vitalism. After the Darwinian era, it became exceedingly difficult for any student firmly rooted in a scientific metaphysics that included physical science to consider vitalism as a significant component of scientific modelling. The 20th Century quickly took up, in turn, the themes that radioactivity demonstrated the existence of nucleosynthetic processes to support long stellar life, that all ‘organic’ byproducts of the living system could be ‘inorganically’ synthesized, a long life for earth processes, a long evolutionary life from elementary chemical beginnings for living forms, a historical cosmic evolution via nucleosynthetic processes, a chemical foundation for the genetic determinants of living organisms, a limited number of basic forces. Any belief in specialized nonphysical forces for life dimmed.
Yet scientific disquietude regarding life and its ’emergent’ properties have not completely disappeared. The most common theme under which objection is gathered is under the banner of holism. To some extent, Bunge (15) classified the logical position of such beliefs. Thus we will turn our attention to the topic of holism, because in agreement with the overwhelming majority of the community of scientists we cannot take vitalism seriously as a scientific doctrine. Instead our construct is based on attempting to place these complex subjects – life, mind, society – within a physical theoretic. We cannot take seriously the Popper – Eccles separation (29) of three worlds (physical, mental, social), nor of the issues argued around Popper’s beliefs in (28).
Holism. [Holism is a major icon in our society. Thus a careful review is not out of order, in fact is of significant importance]. Holism begins with J. Smuts’ estimable little book (30), written in the 1920’s soon after the beginnings of quantum mechanics. It asks a variety of questions regarding the ability of science to deal with systems exhibiting a great deal of complexity, rather dealing with systems which exhibited greater complexity than mechanistic systems, e.g., its seventh chapter is entitled ‘Mechanism and holism”. Its common descriptive catchphrase has become the theme “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, or put more innocently, function emergent from assembly is more extensive than the functions ascribable to the parts and the act of assembly. The main comparison which sticks out throughout the book is that simple systems have a mechanistic character (e.g., hard geared, hard guided constraints), whereas higher systems (life, society) have a freer character.
Put so innocently, it is hard to object. But reflection quickly raises the following questions. Both in Smuts (30), and in the discussion of Engels’ ideas in (28), there seems to be a striking lack of attention to the physics of flow processes. It is fair to say in rebuttal, for example, that essentially all of Prigogine’s (and ours) contributions have been based on highlighting the thermodynamics associated with flow processes.
And if one examines Smuts closer, one in fact discovers what is basically a hidden vitalism (The essence of Smuts’ argument is that the reductionist position should be contrasted with the antireductionist positions of vitalism and holism, and he states that he rejects vitalism. So the issues critically hang on whether he really takes a hidden vitalistic position). We will attempt to indicate the hidden vitalistic position by a few quotations:
“In spite ofÉgreat advancesÉgapÉremain; matter, life and mind still remainÉdisparateÉReformed concepts. Éare wanted. ÉTake Evolution as a case in point. [its] acceptanceÉ, the origin of life-structures from the inorganic, must mean a complete revolution in our idea of matter”. [Not so. Every chemistry text book in the first quarter of the century had accepted the notion as a matter of fact].
Yet a “close scrutiny of the nature of matter, as revealed by the New Physics, and especially colloid chemistry, brings it very close to the concept of life”. [True. Modern molecular biology has closed the gap even more].
“The cell is the second fundamental structure of the universe” [only to living systems, as we know them on Earth].
“The structure of a cell isÉmost complexÉcomparatively little is yet definitely known about it. Its functions are even more mysteriousÉ laboratory attempts to repeat organic processes throwÉlittle light on the exact nature of these processes” [vitalistic].
“Organic regulationÉamong an indefinitely large number of parts which make all the parts function together for certain purposes is a great advance onÉphysical equilibrium in atomsÉand is yet quite distinct from the control whichÉmind comes to exercise . . . mind. . . must. . . not be ascribed to the cell. . .”
In organisms “the parts appear to play a common part and to carry out some common purpose or to act for the common well-being. They seem to respond to some central pressureÉwe are evidently in the presence of some inner factor in Evolution which requires identification and description” [This sets up a picture in which either the process is to be accounted for physically, ‘mechanistically’, or vitalistically. We have opted for a fluid mechanical complex physics internally, as per the measure of a bulk viscosity, as revealed in an action spectrum. Note that Prigogine rejected such a notion as not being acceptable to physicists. Thus the alternate view would seem to have to be vitalistic, even if he calls it mathematical].
Smuts offers holism as a general and specific or concrete construct to account for creative evolution. Behind evolution there is no mere vague creative impulse or elan vital. The synthesis of whole and parts grades from physical mixtures, to chemical compounds, to organisms, to minds, to personality. “The explanation of nature canÉnot be purely mechanical.” In a chapter on mechanism and holism, mechanism is identified as a structure in which ”the working parts maintain their identity and produce their effects individually, so that the activityÉisÉthe mathematical result of the individual activities of the parts”. [We repeat again, this seems to be a view built on hard molded, hard wired, hard guided, hard geared components, and in no way faces the loose coupling and freedom of flow fields. Just to offer the reader a small enrichment of thought, we call attention to our mechanically oriented colleague at NBS, Jack Rabinow, who developed the very fluidic electromagnetic clutch to serve as a substitute for the common mechanical clutch used in autos].
“Science looks upon the physical realm as a closed system dependent only on physical laws, which leave no opening anywhere for the active intervention of nonmaterial entities like life and mind”. [This is a nonscientist’s view, with which we are quarreling. We have shown the openings. It requires largely electrohydrodynamic processes. Second, if life and mind are ‘entities’, they are embodied in the actions of the organism, and the brain, both very material and very electrohydrodynamic].
“While science denies reality to life and mind [No], the other side [vitalism] retort by erecting them into vital and mental forcesÉ Both viewsÉare one-sided and misleading”.
“In reply to mechanistic ScienceÉthe holistic factors of life and mind do not interfere with the closed physical system, and that a proper understanding of the laws of thermodynamics permits of the immanent activity of a factor of selectiveness and self-direction, such as life or mind, without any derogation from those laws”. [We agree with the latter part of the sentence. That is our credo. Thermodynamics can deal with the systems characteristics of life, mind, society. But the purpose of the first proposition in our Science article (31) was to demonstrate that mechanics of any continuum-like field had to imply thermodynamics. Thus mechanics and thermodynamics cannot be separated. One gets the view, again and again, that Smuts (and perhaps all other holists) regard ‘mechanism’ via a hard molded, hard wired, hard guided, hard geared picture, and really do not consider fluid mechanical fields in their perceptions, or where the thermodynamic foundations really come from].
“We . . . envisage the physico – chemical structures of nature as the beginnings of earlier phases of Holism, and ‘life’ as a more developed phase of the same inner activity. Life is not a new agent, with the mission of interfering with the structures of matterÉHolism has only advanced one step farther; there is a deeper structure, more selectiveness, more direction, more control.” [That kind of writing leaves no concrete construct for the holistic doctrine. It still leaves only some kind of slippery vitalism. The only alternative we see, if Smuts is to believe his thermodynamic assertion, is that holists have not found the way to describe the physics of internally activated motions and change. We have pointed the path. It is contained in the transport coefficient associated with internal action rather than external translational action 1 .We found it very surprising when Prigogine accepted thermodynamics as being valid for life processes, but not for societal processes. We see no basic difference in the need for internalized descriptions. Thus nature, life, humankind, mind, society pose the same problems to us. Holists differ].
Nonphysical reductionism. It is not possible to conduct any significant discussion of other reductionist positions except to name them and perhaps add a sentence. Thus vitalism actually is a nonphysical reductionism where the ‘vital force’ may take one of a variety of forms. Holism attempts to avoid a stand. Mathematical reductionism, which we discussed, is another example. Solipcism, as it were, puts the focal force at infinity (or in the perceiver’s mind). Nothing exists except in the perceiver’s mind.
More limited forms of reductionism attempt an account of only one step in the universe’s hierarchy, e.g., sociobiology. In sociobiology, the effort is proposed to account for social bonding or social formation by genetic processes. This, of course, has stirred up a great deal of controversy. Another example of such a limited reduction is the Prigogine school’s (e.g., at DOT) efforts at a sociological mathematics.
Solipcism. While one would have thought this outlook to be completely outmoded, it became evident that when reasons arise for social depression, this outlook can come back to favor. This remark is made to note in passing the recent death of Sartre and perhaps of the influence of his existential movement.
Dissipative structures. We have no difficulty with accepting the key idea of dissipative ‘structures’ (except for the use of the term ‘structures’. We would prefer functions). The term has been associated with the Prigogone school, although it is not the source of our belief. Coming through the line of hydrodynamic – irreversible thermodynamic research, our attribution is much more to the Poincaré notion of characteristic exponents, diffusive and vorticity issues in stability of Reynolds and Rayleigh, other issues of fluid mechanical as well as elastic stability theory. To illustrate another line of researchers, one might examine Scriven’s remarks, as it is taken from the perspective of chemical engineering, (“A Physicochemical Basis for Pattern and Rhythm”, in Vol. II, (19)), or see the questions raised in (32).
As we have discussed in our earlier report, commenting on the outlooks of various schools, Prigogine credits his chemical thermodynamic- mathematical attack to key ideas derived from Turing. So does Scriven. The issue that Prigogine, Scriven, and we settle on is the emergence of cyclic processes associated with nonlinearity and dissipative processes.
But the one criticism that remains, one which we have raised both with regard to Scriven and Prigogine, one which was also expressed by P. Anderson, is that dissipative structures associated with flow fields do not account for symmetry breaking in matter condensation fields.2 And since we believe that true self-organization is a matter condensation not a flow instability, a theme also expressed by Landauer, we still require a theory of how the internal behavior – which provokes so much ‘holistic’ commentary – is developed as a dissipative process. Our article in Collective Phenomena (33) has illustrated how the process comes about [After 1979, when the term self-organization is found in articles after that date, quite commonly their inspiration was the conference which we helped organize in Dubrovnik; see (34). Inspection of its authors will indicate how and why its themes spread around so quickly].
Pure economics. Pure economics deals with balances in only one compartment, the value-in-trade compartment. It is the general assertion of pure economics, from Walras on, that given an optimality function (as a consequence of a rank ordered selection of individual preferences) there exists an equilibrium solution for the economy at every instance. In the most detailed modern form, this has been cast into the components of such large scale econometric models as those of the Brookings Institute or the Wharton School. It includes Leontiev’s input-output tables to represent ‘the factory’. [As such it faces the same dilemma that control theory does, in the sense that it cannot represent the self-organization of the ongoing industrial process. That has to be endogenous to the model]. The model then deals with the flow of funds through the economic system.
Most scientists outside the field of economics would consider the pure economic modelling to be an elaborate curve fitting by functions which are not probably isomorphic to the processes they attempt to represent. As an extreme view, Heilbroner views all scientific modeling including those from his econometric field as tautologies. The difficulty is that both of these views defended by economics leave other scientists with a sense that economics is empty of physically dynamic causal content. Our view is that we are willing to graft an econometric theory, as one compartment, to our construct. However, we have never been permitted the opportunity to do so. This is one aspect of the task that we wish to carry on with the group at TSC-Cambridge.
Network theory. Network theory, to us, has been the effort to represent generalized systems by analogies, basically black box analogies, using the response of network components usual in electrical engineering, e.g., charge, current, potential, resistance, capacitance, inductance. A very elaborate form of this is pursued by bond graph theorists.
One major objection has been that hydrodynamic analogies are poorly fitted into the scheme, and are likely more general. But basically, we have finally turned to irreversible thermodynamics as the broadest ‘true’ rather than analogical description. The problem becomes particularly sticky exactly at the point that holistic questions arise. How are internally complex systems to be described? Our answer, time and again, has come out to be by a matrix of action modes. This is all the system’s command-control can throw out.
15. Utility of the approach. In our opinion, the utility of the homeokinetic system’s approach is that it can attempt to answer any kind of social systems’ question on the level of collective characteristics. Its very structure makes it a companion theory to kinetic theory which would attempt to deal with individual units.
But that utility is not of the most direct value to a mission oriented agency. Thus, as applied scientists, our basic answer for the utility of the approach is to define the characteristics of the social system of the U.S.A. for national policy purposes. In (9), we spelled out a first crude model of how the construct could be used in a feedback manner independent of ideology (e.g., for command-control of any kind of political persuasion, including for a pure ‘open-loop’ informational guidance system with no feedback control).
But in particular, we indicated that the limits of this near equilibrium thermodynamic approach lay in the near equilibrium time scale of one generation. It was not of real benefit for the far-from-equilibrium kinetic scale of politics, e.g., 2-6 years. Our belief would be that our construct could be tied up with any fluctuational kinetic model of all the more rapid atomistic processes to show how the near equilibrium field would evolve.
16. What is required to continue the work. As we have suggested, we see the need to continue the work with some systems’ group, preferably with Government, who has mixed disciplinary and computer capability (e.g., the group in Cambridge), wherein a working model of the U.S.A. can be built up around the conservation compartments and potentials which can model movement and change in the U.S.A. at the various time scales of interest from enculturation to the high frequency fluctuations. We believe that such a national model can be tied in, in time, to urban models and to econometric models. The merit of what we could add would be its large scale general utility.
1 If Smuts believes his statement about a proper understanding of the laws of thermodynamics, then he must understand that the thermodynamics of movement and change, even social movement, must be contained in the transport parameter responses to driving forces or potentials. The Rubicon from physics of simple systems (systems that can be described in momentum space) and complex systems (systems that require description in internal action space) is the transport coefficients associated with internal action. Such a measure already exists in physical theory and requires elaboration, which we are trying to offer. We admit that without such a theoretic, the holists’ challenge would be absolutely valid. But then physics would not be a universal science and we would be back to square one for interpretation of the book of nature.
2 The point was made by Anderson at the most recent Solvay Congress whose proceedings were edited by Nicolis. It was a point which we attempted to elucidate in (33). In rapid flow processes (e.g., convectively governed fields which hydrodynamicists are long familiar with), time unsymmetric instabilities are associated with momentum diffusivities. Prigogine has attempted to highlight chemically induced instabilities associated with such fields. But these instabilities do not account for the symmetry breaking of matter condensation, e.g., first or second order transitions in phase change. New functional field processes may arise (e.g., vortices, Taylor rolls, Benard cells), but these are not structural changes. The difference in how that word is used distinguishes physics and mathematical outlooks.
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