Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Situation 2

This is the second of a series of posts about viewing things slightly differently via situations.  The first was here.

Change and irreversibility
Situations change, depending on their stability and on linked or embedded situations. For all macroscopic situations, change is not exactly reversible. Change has direction and this is what we experience as time, as well as using regular, repeating situations as measures of time.

Situations A, B and C generate situation D.
Situation D decomposes to A1, B1 and C1
Situations A1, B1, and C1 generate situation D1.
Situation D1 decomposes to A2, B2 and C2 – and so on.

So the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts and reductionism may fail as an explanation. A complex situation cannot be identical to the sum of its parts - otherwise the whole would not be a situation at all, because it would not have its own logic. A molecule is not identical to its component atoms - water is not a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen.

Situations have boundaries which are commonly inexact because all situations are linked to or embedded in other situations. Artistic productions for example are always embedded in cultural and often financial situations.

We understand situations via our ability to do what if analysis. We imagine possible or even impossible situations and compare them to known situations. It may be that this is a basic feature of social life - both human and animal – comparing situations and communicating those comparisons.

Imaginary stimulus + imaginary response = imaginary situation.

So entertainment is similar to analysis as imaginary situations are involved in both - politics too. 

Science is most successful where situation boundaries are narrow and clearly defined and where other situations offer minimal interference. These situations are contrived by scientists to facilitate their studies.

However, for any scientific work, there are always at least two major situations - scientist and situation being studied. The two cannot always be usefully separated because there is no situation where they are not linked.

Climate science has failed at a scientific level, because there are too many linked physical situations and because of interfering political and funding situations. Currently, it is common for technical scientific situations to be embedded in political, institutional, cultural and funding situations. In fact it is rare for things to be otherwise.


James Higham said...

A molecule is not identical to its component atoms - water is not a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen.

A woman and a man are not just two people.

A K Haart said...

JH - exactly so.

rogerh said...

I suppose you could assign probabilities or positions like those quantum bods. Where it would get you - no idea.

I am agnostic on this Climate stuff - but a firm believer the politicians will do nothing until the water laps round their ankles - and blame the problem on the last government.

Carbon Trading and Green Energy - phooey, a damned fraud and a classic example of rent-seeking.

A K Haart said...

rogerh - I think probabilities would be difficult. An educated guess might be better.

I wonder if future generations will be taught about Carbon Trading and Green Energy as classic cases of rent-seeking? Or just fraud?