A New Blogger
Please welcome a new blogger – Hamid Y. Javanbakht. You may know him from some of his comments and from forum posts under the name koinotely.
The theme of his posts will be The Bahá’í Faith and Complex Systems – Towards A 21st Century Mix of Science, Systems Theory, Philosophy, and Universal Religion.
The universe, according to the Bahá’í Writings, is a highly interconnected place:
For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever…. Cooperation and reciprocity are essential properties that are inherent in the unified system of the world of existence, and without which the entire creation would be reduced to nothingness.
Were one to observe with an eye that discovereth the realities of all things, it would become clear that the greatest relationship that bindeth the world of being together lieth in the range of created things themselves, and that cooperation, mutual aid, and reciprocity are essential characteristics in the unified body of the world of being, inasmuch as all created things are closely related together and each is influenced by the other or deriveth benefit there from, either directly or indirectly.
Complex systems are defined in Wikipedia as:
… a new approach to science that studies how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.
In short, modern complex system theory address a central component of the Bahá’í understanding of the universe. In a world where global warming – probably caused by us – is the new reality, our relationship to the world around us is assuming greater and greater importance. Again, the Bahá’í Writings:
We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.
Occasionally, there will be difficult going. Hamid will delve into how complex systems exhibit stability, harmony, disharmony, crowd sourcing, new emerging phenomena, global coherence, interconnectivity, and all those wonderful notions that engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians and people in love with understanding love to explore. He has promised to make things clear.
And please consider the importance. Think of how a new era of world history started with the then startlingly new mathematical methods of Descartes, of Newton, and of Laplace 200 to 300 years ago. It revolutionized the world. Its happening again, but on a much large and more powerful scale.
So please welcome Hamid in his explorations of The Bahá’í Faith and Complex Systems.
Stephen R. Friberg
Towards A 21st Century Mix of Science, Systems Theory, Philosophy, and Universal Religion – Cybernetics and How it Scared the Soviets
It’s amazing how much history there has been on this pale blue dot of a planet. It has endured so much, yet how little of it we are able to really know from the traces of evidence that various events have left behind for us to piece back together.
I find the era of the Soviet Union is one of the more interesting cases of unknown history. My perspective is that of someone born and raised in the United States by Iranian immigrants parents who were Muslim (nominally anyway) yet somehow resolved to send me to a Christian Montessori elementary school – both to protect me and to learn American values.
I remember studying a political map of the earth in my kindergarten class back in 1989, wondering what it would be like to visit the U.S.S.R. I couldn’t help but notice that it was the largest country in the world, at least geographically.
In a sense it was as if there were worlds within worlds. There was my Iranian culture, how my parents met as leftist revolutionaries during the overthrow of the Shah, my Christian school, and the “1st” world of democratic-industrial countries influenced by America), the “2nd” world of communist-socialist states influenced by the Soviets, the “3rd” world of countries not aligned with either side, and – please don’t forget – the “4th” world of indigenous peoples and cultural entities living within and across national boundaries.
While many are aware of Soviet contributions to scientific progress in space exploration and nuclear technology, there is another side to the history of the intellectual milieu of the Soviet Union and the influence of Marx’s ideas about historical and dialectical materialism. We are quick to relegate Karl Marx to the dustbin of history, but he did have some keen insights – for example, the distinction he makes between use value (Gebrauchswert) and exchange value (Tauschwert). He was a grand systems builder much like his predecessor – the famous German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Marx, in some ways, sought to become the antithesis of Hegel by eliminating all references to Hegel’s ideal notions – “world spirit” or “cosmic self” – by replacing them with their material counterparts. Certainly this is an oversimplification, but Marx is famous for turning Hegel “upside-down”.
In the Soviet era, certain sciences, such as genetics, were banned by Stalin, resulting in the imprisonment and execution of hundreds of scientists. One of those sciences was cybernetic – threat to the dogma of materialism according to the communist regime. In my first post – this is just an introduction – I will explore the life and work of Norbert Wiener – inventor of the field of cybernetics – and his explanations of “purposiveness”.
Hamid Y. Javanbakht