Can we view the world
This essay is
part of an ongoing project. It started as hard science, namely constructing large
computer models of biological systems. It then went beyond that to a set of questions
about science itself. These questions were stimulated by the writings of the
late Robert Rosen and the background information can be found on my Virginia Commonwealth
University web page: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/
From this page there is a
link to our VCU Complexity Research Group’s web page or you can go directly to http://www.complex.vcu.edu/
These pages can keep you
busy for a long time so let me provide a very brief summary here.
Rosen realized that hard
science has constructed a surrogate world and very successfully has convinced much of the world that this surrogate world
is the real world itself. Rosen uses the modeling relation to show how this was
done. In simple terms, we make models in order to try to understand what is happening
“out there”. We observe events in the world and construct a formal
system that simplifies the complex reality. Our hope is that the simplification
is still complex enough so as to preserve an image of reality that is useful for some purpose, yet can be understood and manipulated
by us to mimic the event we are trying to understand and explain. Hard science
is one of the most successful endeavors of this kind. The surrogate world it
has produced has led to modern technology and many other wonderful things. Physics,
in particular, is the core and all the other sciences are beholden to physics for the rules and procedures of good scientific
practices. As we move further and further from physics, the sciences get “softer”. Often soft sciences like sociology and psychology are put in a difficult position
by these standards because the way physics operates on its surrogate world does not transfer to these disciplines.
Rosen points out that the
surrogate world of hard science is really an incomplete model of complex reality and that the complex real world needs an
infinite number of such models to describe it totally. Each distinctly different
new way of interacting with the complex real world asks us to design new constructs made up of whole sets of new models. Hence we will be very disappointed at attempts to manipulate the methods of hard science
and its model of a surrogate world in order to learn things in the areas covered by soft science, philosophy and religion.
So that is the basis for
this project. We are going to try to step out of each of the fragmented compartments
that knowledge is manipulated into and try to look at the world as a whole. More
will follow if anyone responds to this challenge.