Dialectical and Multi-system theory


The title gives it away really. It is the paradigm of dialectics (of which I have only a faint idea) to the study and theory of systems (of which I am trying to learn the rudiments).

The motivation is thus: in real life, one notices that many situations involve a tension between two (or more of course, but it can often be reduced to two poles) parties having different goals. We can abstract these as two systems involved in a competition through which they react to each other (interact/inter-react). Competition is unfortunately the most immediate example, but we can of course imagine mutually-reinforcing interactions.

So instead of studying one system on its own, interacting with some faceless environment, we now study two (and more) systems in interaction, in an abstract representation of a multi-body system.


Studying systems is a tricky thing. One also cannot help but notice that putting expectations to a future state somehow biases reality to producing that state, or its opposite, or a state related to the expected one in some way. When one puts a model for reality, one produces future expectations based on the model. These expectations take a widely varied array of forms, from personal modes of behaviour, to scientific theories, to technological devices. In a way, Nature is responding to us the way it does because we are polarizing it into specific possibilities.

The trouble with systems becomes immediately apparent. With such a powerful tool (so as to shape reality) and such accompanying obvious lack of understanding of reality at its higher levels of detail, we are entering with system theory a new territory of potential mistakes that are an order of magnitude larger than the previous, local territory we've grown to be familiar with - and gain some good experience with. One must tread lightly and humbly.