system and boundary

 

simple and composite unities

A simple unity (A) is seen as a singular entity, acting as such.  A complex unity (B) is seen as being made out of components which are connected either physically or through their relationships.  A unity may be taken as either simple or complex or both (C) according to how it is seen or how it enters in our thinking or conversation. 


boundary

The boundary of a unity is formed through the relationship between the elements.  It needs nothing more than the preferential relation of the elements to each other to generate enough of an “isolation” from the rest of the world that we can look at the unity and name it a unity, separate (bounded) from the medium. 

systems

Systems are composite entities, and they exist as such in two domains: in the domain in which they are totalities or wholes, and in the domain of operation of their components.  And it is because systems are composite unities, that systems interact in both domains through the operation of the properties of their components.”

The Origin of Humanness in the Biology of Love, p. 163

“A simple unity is an entity that as it arises as a totality or whole in our distinction, it arises as a totality (or whole) in which we cannot distinguish components, or in which we choose not to do so.  Simple unities operate as totalities, and they operate as totalities through the realization of the properties with which they arise in the moment in which they are distinguished by the observer. 

... At difference from a simple unity, a composite unity is an entity that an observer first distinguishes as a totality, and in which he or she then separates components.

...   Therefore, it follows that as an observer distinguishes a simple unity he or she does so interacting or relating with it in the domain of the operation of its properties as such.  Conversely, as the observer distinguishes a composite unity he or she does so interacting and relating with the distinguished unity both through the operation of its properties as a totality, and through the operation of the properties of its components.

... But it is also the case, and it is not always fully seen, that a composite unity interacts as a totality through the operation of the properties of its components. 

... Yet, as the observer distinguishes a composite unity as a totality, its components become invisible to him or her even though it interacts as a totality through them.”

The Origin of Humanness in the Biology of Love, p. 163

Living  systems have evolved way beyond a simple differentiation between themselves and their medium through having evolved membranes which enable the operational boundary to actively generate different conditions on the inside than the outside. 

However, if we think the membrane is the boundary, we do not notice that there are other kinds of boundaries as well.  Even with a membrane present, a boundary is fundamentally an operational one.  What we distinguish as a boundary depends on how we look and what we have accepted as relevant as we look.

distinguishing systems of systems

(a short section on hierarchies v/s embeddeness to be developed)

drawing on top of photo by Simon Kneebone,

adapted from Ison, Systems Practice, Open University

seeing our world


distinguishing a system

Different conversations use the term “system” with rather different meanings.  Just consider the notions of “a governance system” v/s “ecosystem” or “nervous system”.  I can’t distinguish anything more consistent than “things working together to do something we either intend or discern as relevant.”   In other words, what we humans see as a system depends on the implicit rules we give ourselves for considering a thing with parts a system.  I have,   however, noted that we do use different rules, as described in this youtube on distinguishing a system.