More from Charles Adamson

Charles Adamson with more comments (edited by me):

Charles Adamson , who has lived in Japan for one half of his life, suggests that Holland’s model is influenced by cultural and psychological factors. He writes:

Culturally, Holland, like most Americans and Westerners, generally divides the world into bipolar pairs, while people in Japan, for instance, frequently see continuums. Examples of Western bipolarities are animate/inanimate, sentient/nonsentient, good/evil, war/peace, etc. Psychologically ,based on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Holland processes information in terms of similarities, rather than differences as I do.

Point 1: It seems obvious to me that there are continuums from sentient to non-sentient and from animate to inanimate. However, for Holland, things are either this or that, with no middle ground. For CASs, he divides animate and inanimate, saying that only animate objects can be a CAS. He also classifies all animate objects together in terms of whether or not they are sentient.

Point 2: According to NLP, people tend to prefer one of two possible ways of processing information. They can look at the similarities, as Holland does, between people and bacterium, which lets him attribute human qualities (anticipation) to the bacteria. I process information by looking at differences, so I tend to compare bacteria to less animate objects and say, "Wait a minute. Neither of these are at all like a human, so you can not say that a bacterium can anticipate."

Points 1 and 2 together

My position and Holland's make sense as two different world views. One view is not more correct than the other, but one may be more useful in a particular situation. Holland's view leads him to his model of CASs, but mine seems to put limits on that model, restrictions that do not appear from Holland's viewpoint.

By limiting the use of the term 'anticipate' to only sentient beings, we can force a redefinition of the terms for CAS that include non-sentient agents, like bacteria. Once we have new definitions of the CAS properties and mechanisms that accept a non-sentient view of bacteria, I believe that we will find that a wider range of phenomena fall into the category of CAS, things like language for example.

So by a round about route, I have arrived at the position of Charles N a few days ago. I think that we need to modify, redefine the terms of, Holland's model of CAS, so that we no longer have the problem of words 'anticipating'.

My comments:

Certainly, different views may be more viable in particular contexts. So, I asked Charles, What would you like to redefine (in addition to “anticipate”)? Why? and What will be gained by doing so with respect to understanding CASs?

Before redefining, perhaps we should discuss what we mean by CAS: complex adaptive system (as opposed to complicated and merely complex systems). Can inanimate objects adapt? Rocks can't. What would we consider Brownian motion? It's a form of self-organizing, but it doesn't seem to be a CAS. Bacteria do adapt, so we need a CAS model that includes them. Words change over time, but do they adapt? Metaphorically (and what isn't a metaphor), it may be useful to see them as adapting. But then we need to consider what we mean by "adapt". Are we using the term with different meanings in different contexts? If yes, is it legitimate/profitable to do so? Does that mean that we are looking at different types of CAS? If yes, how is that different from Holland having different types of anticipation: implicit for bacteria and both implicit and explicit for human beings, perhaps with some continuum in between.

Charles Adamson responds:

This means that we have to be clear about what 'adapt' means and then to determine whether it applies to language seen as a time series. Maybe, it is not a CAS at all. Maybe, it is only the people involved that are CASs and the language is simply complex.

Charles Adamson later came up with a lengthy online definition of CAS from Kevin Dooley (saying that he would think some more now that he had a definition), a major member in the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences. I've briefly summarized that definition.

"A CAS behaves/evolves according to three key principles: order is emergent as opposed to predetermined, the system's history is

irreversible, and the system's future is often unpredictable. The basic building blocks of the CAS are agents. Agents are semi-autonomous units that seek to maximize some measure of goodness, or fitness, by evolving over time. Agents scan their environment and develop schema representing interpretive and action rules. ... Existing schema can undergo three types of change. ... Schema define how a given agent interacts with other agents surrounding it. Actions between agents involve the exchange of information and/or resources."

My comments:

These schema are the same as Holland's internal models. For the most part, words undergo change, but perhaps it would be better to consider their tags as defining how they interact with other words rather than schema or internal models. So, with Charles Adamson, perhaps language is a complex system rather than a complex adaptive system. If so, then the primary differentiator seems to be the presence/absence of schema.