A New Kind of Social Science

Vladimir Dimitrov

University of Western Sydney













Chapter 3.

 Law of Requisite Vorticity in Human Dynamics

3.1 Introduction

This chapter draws on one of the most powerful idea in cybernetics - Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety (Ashby, 1958) - from the perspective of the new kind of social science. According to this law, “only variety can destroy variety”, that is, control can be obtained only if the variety of the controller is at least as great as the variety of the situation to be controlled (Beer, 1973). As the variety is an expression of the richness of the field of possible states of a dynamical system, the controller must have enough information about this field in order to recognise the differences between the states and thus to manage the system. When complexity of the latter increases, this kind of information is difficult to obtain.

Dynamic interactions of the factors influencing a complex system may lead to chaotic behaviour and emergence of patterns able to self-organize - change and move, evolve and transform in unpredictable ways. It is extremely difficult to control variety generated by chaotic and self-organizing dynamics. The law of requisite variety requires from the managers to seek ways how to destroy, suppress, and eliminate variety expressed in systems behaviour in order to manage it.

For example, any centralized form of managing human dynamics is a kind of application of the law of requisite variety. The living variety produced by humans’ drives towards self-realization becomes destroyed by an imposed ‘requisite variety’ aimed at facilitating realization of totalitarian ways of control. Today’s economic globalization does almost the same: the variety of possible developments of the national economies is reduced to only one global economic model - a model whose realization suits best the interests of the greatest beneficiaries and leaders of the economic globalization in the developed capitalist world - a bunch of monstrously rich financial institutions and corporations.

At the time when the law of requisite variety was introduced, researchers were obsessed with the idea of making variety provided by nature ‘comfortable’ for people (or at least for those who can afford the comfort). The ecological degradation that we are witnessing today is partly a result of this obsession - an obsession, which still thrives (under even more sophisticated and more dangerous forms) in the reductionist reasoning of many researchers and scientists, leaders and institutions, as well as in the profit-driven actions of their financial supporters.
Can we live in harmony with the variety of nature, life, and society without destroying it, without pushing it to fit the procrustean bed of our partial models aimed at exercising power and control?

The way to live and co-evolve with the dynamic variety without killing it is through understanding:

• forces and energies which constantly drive the variety from within, and
• conditions and factors which strengthen or weaken (accelerate or decelerate, sustain or destroy) its unfolding dynamics from without.

The stunning variety, which we see and experience in nature and life, in ourselves and society, is a manifestation of the self-organizing capacity of the never-ceasing complex interplay of existential dynamics - forces, energies, substances and forms. These dynamics are all pervading and the laws which rule them are universal, although the scales where the laws operate are different.

For example, the forces of gravitation between the heavenly bodies are displayed at a macro scale where the laws of heavenly mechanics work; the force of gravitation acting upon a falling stone acts at a mezzo scale where the laws of Newton are applicable. The gravitation between the elementary particles manifests at a micro scale of matter where the laws of quantum mechanics operate, while the ‘gravitation’ of one person to another manifests at the scale of human dynamics and needs psychological ‘laws’ of sympathy and solidarity, compassion and love. Whatever the scale, gravitation is an expression of the universal existential interconnectedness: no thing and no being can exist in isolation - by itself, in itself or for itself - but only in dynamic relationships with other things and beings (Dimitrov, 2001).

By stating that only variety can destroy variety, the law of requisite variety focuses on the external manifestation of the dynamic interrelationships. By stating than only vorticity can create vorticity, the law of requisite vorticity, which is introduced below, relates to the inner sources of the dynamic interrelationships. Before explaining the law of requisite variety, let us ‘zoom’ into the meaning of the term vorticity.

3.2 What is Vorticity?

As we discussed in the first chapter, vortices relate to the most essential property of complex dynamic interactions - their ability to self-organize. Both the maelstrom in the stormy waters and the tornado in the stormy airs are examples of natural vortices; they seem to have hidden engines which produce inwardly directed centripetal (‘sucking’) forces along the vertical axis of the whirling streams of water or air, and outwardly directed centrifugal forces. Both types of forces can be of significant magnitude, as in the case of tornado or hurricane. Of course, there are no hidden engines; it is the dynamic interactions of the ‘out-of-equilibrium’ streams of a fluid entrained in a whirling motion that ‘fires’ the emergent forces.

Once emerged, an inwardly directed force keeps the integrity of the vortex; there are no boundaries between the streams, as they permeate each other and the vortex appears as a holistic self-organized, self-propelled and self-sustained structure. The vortex ‘refers’ to itself when rotating its fluid, and not to any external source of energy. Moreover, every vortex ‘speaks’ its own language through the magnitude and direction of its inner force - a force that keeps the interacting masses of the fluid centred; without such a force the vortex will dissolve in the flow.

When studying the air dynamics, and particularly the lift achieved by an airflow over a spinning cylinder, the Russian researcher Nikolai Joukowski (1837-1931) found that this lift depends on the ‘vortex strength’ directly proportional to the angular velocity of the spin of the cylinder; later, this result was absorbed by a law known as Kutta-Joukowski Law: the circulation around a contour that contains a group of vortices is equal to the sum of the enclosed vortex strengths (Anderson, 1991).

We consider vorticity as a property of the flows to form vortices. It is clear that if the fluid (air, water, plasma) is at rest, its vorticity is zero, although the mere motion of the fluid does not guarantee emergence of vortices. A branch of science called fluid dynamics explores the mystery of vorticity; the research in fluid dynamics explains much about how the vortices behave and very little about why they behave in a certain way or what ‘fires’ their self-organising formation.

What seem to be crucial for realization of vorticity are the dynamic interactions (in the form of positive and negative feedback) between streams which differ in their characteristics and yet belong to one and the same fluid. In a way, vorticity emerges out of variety of dynamically interacting streams; when the interactions become recursive (repetitive), and their intensity increases beyond a certain level, variety seems to transform into vorticity, which seeks embodiment into a vortex. It is obvious that the external conditions can facilitate or impede this ‘mysterious’ transformation. For example, a specific shape of the river’s bed, the presence of rocks, stones or fallen trees may help for formation of a recursive type of local interaction of the water streams, which may result in the emergence of a whirlpool.

Examples of natural vortices are whirlpools and eddies, whirlwinds and dust devils, tornadoes and waterspouts. The hurricanes and typhoons also carry powerful vortical spirals in their inner central zones called ‘eyes’. The spiral galaxy represents a gigantic disc shaped vortex, the inwardly centred force of which seems to keep together all the bodies rotating or wandering within the galaxy. The DNA molecule displays also a thread shaped vortical structure. Vortical is the shape of the human embryo, vortical is the unfolding spiral of the leaves and branches on the stems of the growing plants and trees.

Viktor Schauberger (1885-1958), a genius Austrian inventor of engineering constructions encapsulating the mechanics inherent in the “multiple movement” taking place in the vortex, has pointed out shapes that sustain this kind of movement everywhere in nature: “the beds of creeks and rivers, the gills and fins of fishes, the wings of the birds, blood vessels - all these give impulses to vortical movement.” (Schauberger, 1998).

3.3. Implosion versus Explosion

Schauberger was convinced that life is sustained by a vortex-like, centripetal, ‘implosive’ type of movement. This type of movement is associated with coolness, suction, growth, healthiness and wholeness, while the opposite - the centrifugal, explosive, ‘radiative’ movement generates heat, pressure, stress, illness, fragmentation and death.

The implosive movement is creative and neg-entropic, that is, it does not dissipate energy. Unfortunately, all the engines, which our civilisation uses, are based on explosion, heat and pressure. According to Schauberger, the use only of explosive movement increases the entropy and leads eventually to destruction of nature and society.

Nature knows how to balance the two types of movement - inwardly directed, centripetal movement and outwardly directed, centrifugal movement – by using balancing (harmonizing) forces and energies. They tend to regenerate nature, restore its harmony, and support its evolution.

Unfortunately, today’s human society knows only how to generate explosive dynamics. We intensively use internal combustion engines, nuclear energy (nuclear power plants, nuclear chemistry, nuclear missiles and rockets, hydrogenic bombs, etc.), lasers, microwave technologies, and other types of radiative, that is, explosive hi-techs. Our every-day life is constantly bombarded by electromagnetic radiation of an ever-growing spectrum of more and more sophisticated devices and tools we use in the every-day life (our computers and cell phones are also sources of this kind of radiation).

As far as the use of explosive (radiative) dynamics brings forth dissipation, fragmentation and death, while attached to them our society continues to irreversibly damage the environment, spread diseases, and extinguish life.

What is important to be emphasized in the framework of our inquiry is that at the level of society it is impossible to stop using and developing the explosive type of dynamics. This is because society by itself is a product of and sustained by these dynamics; individuals have created the web of their relationships by intensively interacting with one another, that is, through outwardly expressed - explosive, radiative - type of dynamics. Whatever the establishment in society – slave owning, feudal, capitalist, or communist, its existence is based on explosive dynamics; sooner or later these dynamics dissipate, burn out, and the establishment wanes.

Individuals alone are capable to master the implosive type of dynamics they are endowed with. Some among the ‘masters’ may become leaders initiating a replacement of one social establishment by another.

There are methods and practices, which help us concentrate inwards, ‘implode’ and explore the depths of our inner worlds – the worlds of our minds, hearts and souls, – in search of an umbilical chord able to link us with the inexhaustible source of energy that supports existential dynamics. Different are the types of this energy and infinite is its potential for transformation from one type to another.

There are no methods and practices to make society implode inwards: society has neither heart nor soul, and its mind is always controlled and manipulated by an elite that wants more money and power. And if somewhere in the world a community emerges, which decides to oppose the will of the elite and to listen to the voices of its members, its resistance lasts only for a short time.

While deprived of capacity for implosion, human society can hardly understand the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and longings of an individual. In his famous books “The Trial” and “The Castle” Frantz Kafka (1883-1924) describes the hell into which the bureaucratic machine of society was able to convert individual life. And even without reading Kafka, we know well from our own experiences how hard is to talk and work with bureaucracy created with one major purpose in society: to support blindly and brainlessly those who have power; the bureaucracy is incapable to understand an individual. As far as the machinery of bureaucracy is indispensable to the existence of human society, the Social can never comprehend the Individual.

3.4 Existential Vorticity

In the wholeness of existential dynamics, where everything constantly moves (emerges, sustains, disappears and re-emerges again), must be a centre, an essence that holds all the whirling dynamics in an unbreakable unity (Bohm, 1980).
Unity is sine qua non for existential dynamics; they change, adapt, evolve and transform from one material embodiment to another only in integrity - interconnection, interrelationship and interdependence. As the existence has neither beginning nor end, the uniting centre of its dynamics appears to be timeless (permanent, eternal).

Our galaxy looks like a gigantic vortex with a centre that holds together all its swirling dynamics. The infinity of the existential continuum seems to consist of countless number of galactic vortices; the centre of each of them mirrors and relates to the centre of a larger one, in a similar way as the centre of our solar system mirrors and relates to the centre of our galaxy, and the centre of our galaxy relates to the centre of a larger 'mega-galaxy', and so on ad infinitum. Similar ideas about the vortical nature of the universe were expressed in the writings of the great French thinker Descartes (1596-1660), and although these ideas were not adopted by the Newtonian mechanics, today’s theoretical physicists seems strongly attracted to the study of vortex-like structures (like the whirling structures of the black, white and worm holes, for example). 

The study of nonlinear vortical dynamics indicates that at the central axis of any highly energised vortex a kind of 'hollowness' emerges, which sustains a cavity, a kind of emptiness, with no material filling in it. The “vacuum solution” to Einstein’s general relativity theoretically argue for its existence (Wolfram, 2002). One can imagine such hollowness along the central axis of the all-embracing existential vortex. Being free of material substratum, the centre is free from the effect of time: the emptiness persists along the axis without changes, without birth and death, growth and decay. While empty from material substrata, the centre is impregnated with an immense creative potential, similarly to the potential of the hollowness assumed to exist along the tunnel of a worm hole - a hollowness impregnated with a gigantic sucking power. 
Being simultaneously voidness (void of substance) and plenitude (full of inner energy) and something else, which transcends the duality of being full or empty (something which is neither voidness nor plenitude), the hollowness of the centre of the existential vortex can stand for a kind of abstraction that is not transient but eternal in the whole existence (Dimitrov and Hodge, 2002).
All embodied-in-matter motions, dynamics and interactions, all animated and non-animated emanations of existence gravitate to the voidness in order to release their energy when undergoing decay, and to the plenitude in order to be filled with energy and emerge as manifestations of different (transformed) forms of matter, in accordance with the law of energy conservation. This makes the vortex pulsate in a unique existential rhythm, a rhythm reflected in the pulsations and cycles of all the forms of nature.

While keeping the integrity of existential dynamics, the impregnated-with-energy hollowness at the centre of the universal vortex endows these dynamics with ability to self-organize into various levels or scales; one can distinguish between the levels of non-animated and animated dynamics, between the levels of plants, animals and human dynamics. Each level reveals sub-levels of self-organization that share similar features with one another; an analogy can be found with the fractal structures of Mandelbrot, which reveal geometrical similarity between their scale levels, when zooming into them. Each level has its own rhythm - a rhythm that reflects the universal rhythm of the whole existential vortex.

One can hardly imagine how incredibly great must be the magnitude of the overall self-organizing drive in the universe that serves to support all levels of existential dynamics. This drive must act as an immense self-propelling engine (similar to the 'engine' of a gigantic tornado) that feeds with energy the whole universe with its astonishing variety of ever-moving, evolving and transforming phenomena and processes at innumerable levels of manifestation. One can recognize the work fulfilled by this universal engine in the blossom of a flower as well as in the waves of the ocean, in the pulsation of a simple cell as well as in the beats of our hearts, in the rhythm of our breathing as well as in the rhythm of the cycles of the solar activity.

3.5 Vorticity of Human Dynamics
Human dynamics form a specific level in the holistic dynamic structure of the universal existential dynamics. The challenge is to be aware of the integrity of this structure and to act so that to preserve its wholeness. Unfortunately, human society often acts in the opposite direction.

The impediments on the self-organising urge of nature created by society through the production of an almost infinite variety of artificial (human-made) forms, using explosive and radiative types of energies and technologies, inevitably backfires on us, as we are realizations of this very urge. It is much wiser to explore what propels and sustains natural dynamics, and to learn how to ‘collaborate’ with them without destroying their self-organising impetus and vorticity.

The basis for this kind of understanding and learning can be the following transparent and self-evident presumption: ‘they’, the self-organising forces of nature, and ‘we’, the humans, are inseparably connected. Moreover, our ‘internal vorticity’ – vorticity that supports the individual impetus for self-finding, self-fulfilment, and self-realization - is nothing but a manifestation of vorticity of nature, of its self-restoring, self-supporting and self-unfolding capacity. In the largest part of humanity, this type of vorticity is still in its potential (‘seed’-like, dormant) state. What we learn in schools, universities and work places is how to dissipate our energy outwards: to produce an external variety and not an internal vorticity. When the energy is exhausted, we become sick, old and helpless. And that is what we call life - life with variety but without vorticity, ‘life’ which moves towards death (life which implies death, can it be called “life”?)

Vorticity implies creating energy, charging one’s life ‘batteries’, going deeper into oneself in search for a centre, for an umbilical cord connecting the Individual with the timeless essence of the Universal.

A new kind of study of vorticity of human dynamics is a study of their inner impetus for self-organization. In a sense, this kind of study is a journey inward. Most of the scientific explorations have been directed towards the world around us: to explore and use it, to conquer and exploit it, to classify and separate it, to possess and hence to destroy it. We know little about what an ‘inner journey’ means or know about it only as a theoretical abstraction or as a religious dogma, and not as a living experience.

Without ability to create vortices out of the ‘swarming’ dynamics of our thoughts, and beliefs, feelings and emotions, aspirations and dreams, all the energies they carry irreversibly dissipate in the space around, while bringing more pain than joy, more illness than health, more suffering than happiness, more thoughts of sadness than waves of inspiration.

A wheel can move only because in its centre there is something, which never moves, which remains unmoved. The ‘wheel’ of the world that we perceive through our senses constantly moves, but there is a centre inside which remains unmoved, as it mirrors the timeless essence of the all-embracing existential vortex. It is a challenge for us to discover this centre, as no vorticity can manifest without a centre. With zero vorticity we are in a standstill, we do not evolve. Outwardly we move, we produce variety and entropy, ‘order’ and ‘chaos’, words and noise, but this has absolutely nothing to do with our inner growth.

There is a tremendous difference between growing as a whole and growing only in our mental ability or in our ability to feel or sense. When only one part of our nature grows, it leads to disharmony, to development of a kind of cancer, be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. When the growth is holistic, it is harmonious and healthy, and leads to wisdom. How can one create vorticity?

3.6 Law of Requisite Vorticity

The law of requisite vorticity states that only vorticity can create vorticity. Vorticity is like energy and energy, according to the law of conservation, can only be transformed from one type of energy to another. In other words, only energy can create energy: from a state of potentiality, energy becomes motion, explosion, growth, transformation, and then again ‘implodes’ into potentiality. Vorticity behaves in the same way; once ‘imploded’ in the fluid dynamics, it may turn into whirlpools and tornadoes (when appropriate conditions arise), and then again to calm down into a dormant state. Vorticity is energy, and the proof of the law of the energy conservation is a proof of the law of requisite vorticity.

Vorticity at the macro scale of the existential dynamics projects onto the scale of the human dynamics. Our research shows that the way one can ‘fire’ (educe, create) vorticity in one’s inner dynamics is by ‘connecting’ oneself consciously to the existential vortex, to the powerhouse of the universe. There is no other way. The individual alone is responsible to make this connection as a result of his or her own efforts.
Theoretical knowledge, philosophy and mere logical speculations are not enough to make vorticity embody into a living vortex of one’s dynamics. It is impossible to borrow vorticity from somebody else, from a book, from a teacher, from a guru. Those who have succeeded to connect themselves with the timeless essence of the existential vortex can be of help to others not so much through preaching and instructing, but through their own ways of being and behaving. The inspirational power of one’s words lasts only for a while, the inspirational power of one’s own life lasts forever.

When centred, we are able to find who we are at present, to accept ourselves as being here and now, and not as we were before or as we imagine ourselves in the future. When centred, we are real and our dynamics are authentic and not false and pretended. When centred, our inner energy is focused, our attention keeps concentrated and we stay alert, vigilant and aware of what we experience, feel and think.


3.7 Vorticity Activators

Vortex is a metaphor of oneness which is centred and which creates and preserves energy. There is no rigidness in the vortical structure, no pre-designed boundaries, no extremes and polar points, no division. The streams are whirling and yet relaxed, ‘surrendered’ to the vortical dynamics and yet responsible for their integrity, ‘receptive’ and yet preserving their creative energy. There are no conflicting and resisting points in the fluid masses, but open-for-interaction streams involved in a genuine play.

Because of this, the metaphor of vortex (and vorticity) is useful for understanding human self-organization.  When our inner dynamics become centred in a self-sustained vortex, we are awakened - ‘undivided’ and focused, sensitive and receptive. However, the inner vortex can hardly survive if not supported by a ceaseless flow of energy coming from the centre, from the timeless essence of the existential vortex.

In order to become a vehicle for this energy and thus to incite the spin of one’s own vorticity, one must know how to relax and be at ease with oneself, humble and surrendered, authentic and genuine. One needs to throw away one’s artificiality, false attitudes and pretences – they stop the flow of energy needed for activating vorticity. The will to power and the ego are obstacles for firing vorticity, together with the experience of pride and anger, greed and fear, arrogance and ignorance, competitiveness and violence; all they dissipate a great amount of energy and thus impede one’s vortical implosion.

Our research reveals the following qualities of human dynamics, which stimulate individual vorticity:

• craving to comprehend universal forces acting both in us and in the world around;
• mastering the power of will not to obey blindly the dictate of mind and desires;
• not wasting energy for suppressing the urge for self-organization: self-finding, self-realization and self-fulfilment;
• not accepting automatically what is assumed as known but not rejecting it either: seeking to move beyond;
• not trying to separate polarities, but rather to grasp the running current which makes them one;
• never imitating or repeating  in a parrot-like way what other people think, say and do;
• never yielding to customs and traditions, dogmas and prejudices, routines and conventionalities.

While stimulating vorticity, the above seven qualities act, at the same time, as catalysts for centring individual dynamics and transforming them from ego-centred into dynamics of enlightenment.

Three ancient methods - relaxation, concentration and meditation - can help one’s search for an inner centre. In a state of deep relaxation, when not only the body of the individual is free of stress and tension, but also the mind and heart are calm and peaceful, one can experience the energising effect of centring inner dynamics. After such an experience, one feels like being born anew, charged with natural energy, the effect of which is similar to the effect of inspiration. Because of this re-vitalising effect, relaxation positively influences the health of people, brings peace and calmness to mind and fills heart with warm feelings of kindness and good will. It is in the state of relaxation, where mind becomes silent and the obstacles, which the ego unconsciously or consciously creates on the flow of the life-supporting energy, gradually dissolve. When there are no obstacles, the flow of energy is ready to activate vorticity.

Concentration seems to be opposite to the relaxation. The energy, which freely moves through every single cell of the body, becomes focused on visual images, mental constructs, spiritual beliefs, certain points (organs) of the body, the rhythm of breathing, etc. Concentration stops mind jumping from one idea to another and thus strengthens its capacity to understand – analyse, synthesise and intuit.

Mediation helps practitioners 'listen' to the rhythm of the existential vortex, and makes them experience those blissful oceanic feelings of union with the timeless essence. Meditation combines the effect of relaxation (peace, calmness and tranquillity) with the effect of concentration (sharpening the flow of mental or emotional energy). In the oldest scriptures of humanity – the Hindu Vedas - the stage of mediation is considered deeply spiritual, while the life-supporting rhythm of the universe is characterised as divine. In the highest states of mediation, the boundary between the Universal and Individual melts and disappears.


3.8 References

Anderson, J. (1991) Fundamentals of Aerodynamics, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Ashby, W.R. (1958) “Requisite Variety and its Implications for the Control of Complex Systems”, Cybernetica, 1(3):83-99.
Beer, S. (1973) Brain of the Firm , Chichester: John Wiley, Chichester.
Bohm, D. (1980) Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London: Routledge.
Dimitrov, V. (1998) “Communication as Interaction in Synergy with Uncertainty”, Internet publication , 
Dimitrov, V. and Hodge, B. (2002) Social Fuzziology, Heidelberg and New York: Physica-Verlag.
Schauberger, V. (1998) Nature as Teacher , Bath: Gateway Books.
Wolfram, S. (2002) A New Kind of Sicence, Wolfram Media, Inc., p.1053




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