Back to Vlad's Homepage

Towards a New Kind of Social Science

Vladimir Dimitrov

Foreword of the book A New Kind of Social Science: Study of Self-organization in Human Dynamics submitted for publishing in Springer (Berlin, Heidelberg, New York)

This book introduces a new kind of social inquiry centred in the exploration of the self-organizing nature of human dynamics. The unfolding of each individual life is driven by an inherent urge towards self-organization: self-finding, self-realization and self-fulfilment. By studying the ways this urge is manifest: its origin and characteristics, its stimulators and impediments, catalysts and inhibitors, factors which support, sustain, impede, or block its inward and outward realizations, we are able to understand human society in a much deeper way than if we continue to study it as an object of research separated from the unique and fathomless richness of individual dynamics.

The main premise of A New Kind of Social Science: Study of Self-organization in Human Dynamics reflects the core idea of Wolframs A New Kind of Science (Wolfram, 2002): what goes on inside us can ultimately achieve the same level of computational sophistication as our whole universe. By projecting this idea on the study of individual and social dynamics, our research develops it further while bringing forth whole new discoveries.

Individual dynamics energize ones search for truth, enlightenment and wisdom, ones creative insights, endeavours and actions. This kind of dynamics has no pre-imposed constrains on its inherent capacity to self-organize, evolve, and transform. It is the individual alone who chooses to stimulate or obstruct their unfolding. If not obstructed, individual dynamics can become as complex - interconnected, holistic, harmonious - as universal dynamics. This is possible because each individual is an embodiment of the same forces and energies which sustain the whole universe. Individual dynamics express the universal wholeness; they are imbedded in it, centred in its centre and driven by its dynamics. Nature does not select one set of forces and energies for humans and another for the rest of the universe. As Heisenberg pointed out, the same universal forces and energies are responsible for the existence of every single entity in nature; individuals are bearers of their limitless potential (Heisenberg, 1971).

The book presents three major research findings:

(1) The Individual is capable to comprehend the Social and achieve complexity of the Universal.

(2) The Universal needs the Individual in order to realize itself.

(3) The Social can neither comprehend the Individual nor achieve complexity of the Universal.

At the level of an individual, people are able to develop and sharpen their awareness, so as to consciously facilitate the realization of the Universal through the unfolding of their lives. As it is shown in this book, society is unable to do this.

Dominance, Control and Lack of Authenticity in Society

Human societies have been always dominated and controlled by powerful cliques of different origin - religious, military, economical, political. Through permanent suppression of peoples actions against their hegemony, these cliques have irreversibly distorted the impetus for self-organization of social dynamics an impetus that can be sustained only in societies where people are equally empowered to seek their self-realizations. In the whole history of humankind, there have never been social conditions in favour of peoples equal empowerment. There has always been an unsurpassable gap between a handful of richest and most powerful social players the elite, and the vast majority of people who have been economically enslaved: destined to work all their lives in order to etch out a living while supporting the superior life style of the elite.

Although the will to power has its roots in individual nature, it needs a social environment group, organization, community, society, humanity in order to fully manifest its oppressive character (Nietzsche, 1987). Normally, at the level of an individual, one respects and cares for oneself. There is no reason to exercise ones will to power for self-destruction, on the contrary - one tries to use it constructively: to live in a wholesome way, to grow in intelligence, and so forth (Dimitrov, 2001a). When the will to power is directed towards others (and this is what happens in society), it is hard to stop its destructive manifestations. Millions of individuals (whose names are not known worldwide like the names of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King) were extinguished because they tried to do the impossible: to help society use the will to power wisely - not for further empowerment of those who already have power in abundance, but for helping those who are powerless in society.

In the beginning of 2003 there were millions of people who protested worldwide against the war in Iraq, and yet the US war machine was set in motion killing many innocent people. Millions of people protest worldwide against the establishment of a global economic empire, and yet the process of economic globalization continues with ever-accelerated tempo fostering global injustice, cultural and political discrimination, oppression and wars. Millions of people try to stop the environmental degradation, and yet the biggest industrial and military corporations continue to operate in full capacities and thus to irreversibly destroy the ecological balance of the planet.

Self-organization works only with authentic dynamics. Unfortunately, social dynamics are not authentic: the unequal distribution of power in society, together with the suppression and fear it causes, impede the authentic expression of human dynamics. People are forced to play games, pretend, exhibit vanity and pride, reputation and fame, ambition and honour; all these qualities inevitably require the social arena to express and gratify themselves. At the level of an individual, these qualities are no longer needed and therefore, it is not too hard for an individual to behave authentically; when communing with oneself, one is able to genuinely express ones thoughts and feelings, honestly reflect upon ones experience, and see oneself as s/he is - with no masks to carry and roles to play.

One needs to be aware of the obstructions which society tries to create on individuals understanding of social reality; all kinds of manipulation, propaganda and brainwashing bombard our minds, obscure our consciousness, and weaken our ability to navigate through social complexity. When aware of this, one is able to protect oneself - to activate tools for minimizing the effects of the destructive social interventions.

Society: Deprived of Ability to Acquire Wisdom

The efficiency of individual protection depends on the degree of development of ones ability to implode to reflect upon oneself, concentrate on ones experience, master ones will power, strengthen ones intuition, and raise the potential of ones creativity. The ability for implosion is sine qua non for ones growth in intelligence. Moreover, any process of growth in nature happens from within the living entity and therefore, needs to be preceded by some kind of implosion: drawing energy inwards. In the realms of plants and animals the implosion is guided by nature, while in humans it needs to be guided consciously; a consciously guided implosion makes it possible for us to learn from our mistakes, transform our failures into lessons, and thus grow in wisdom.

Society is deprived of ability to implode, to silently concentrate inwards, contemplate, relax and meditate; social dynamics are destined to be expressed only outwards. Society is a product of outwardly directed (explosive, dissipative) activities of its members. Because of this, social dynamics inevitably dissipate. Every civilization in human history ended with self-destruction. It is not hard to see the symptoms, both social and ecological, of an intensive and irreversible self-destruction of todays developed Western models of civilization.

Society can grow in size, generate complicated social structures, produce scientific, technological and cultural miracles, but with no capacity to implode, it can never become wise. Wars and bloodsheds accompany the whole history of human society; there are present-day wars also - wars with much graver consequences than before. Todays production of tools for killing people and destroying nature has achieved far more advanced levels of technological sophistication and efficiency than ever before. Oppression and exploitation accompanied the history of human society; oppression and exploitation continue to destroy human lives our days also. The unscrupulous forcing of society into a global economic order aims at turning the largest part of humanity into economic slaves (Dimitrov, 2001).

With no ability for implosion, self-reflection and learning from its own mistakes and failures, society is open for manipulation and deception. Mighty propaganda machines installed by the servants of the social elite permanently mix truth with lies and thus distort our perception of society and its dynamics. When dissolved in lies, truth can never be discovered. Therefore the study of society (as an object of research separated from the exploration in depth of the innermost dynamics of those involved in the research) cannot reveal its true picture, no matter how honest the intentions of the researchers are. So efficient is the work of the machines for delusion and brainwashing in the countries with Western type of democracy, that they have even made the majority of people believe that they are free, that their votes matter, and that those who rule the system listen to their needs. None are so helplessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free said Goethe almost two hundreds years ago and his words reflect precisely the present situation of the largest part of the people in capitalist societies.

Individual: Custodian and Executor of Self-organizing Drive of Universe

It is the individual who is custodian and executor of the self-organizing drive of universe, and not society. The individual has heart, will and intelligence; society has neither. For an individual it is possible to learn from his or her mistakes and experiences, and to become wise; for society this is impossible. A high level awareness is needed in order for an individual to discriminate between lies and truth, and steadily pursue understanding and wisdom. By harnessing the power of will, one is capable to reach such level of awareness, while society can never do this. Lack of capacity for implosion, combined with an ever-growing power differential and spreading delusion and trivia by the mass media, creates irremovable obstacles for society to develop a common awareness and exert coherent actions.

As seen from history, if some individuals wholeheartedly persist in sowing truth and wisdom, society condemns them to the stake, crucifies, stabs them in the back, or guns them down. And yet, this does not stop our urge to pursue wisdom. When society suppresses the external (social) realizations of this urge, it moves inward to facilitate the opening of the inner eye - the ability to penetrate into the complex and enigmatic essence of human nature. Individuals, who succeed in grasping this essence, acquire an understanding of social dynamics as well, because the essence of ones own inner nature mirrors the essence of the whole web of life at every level of its manifestation, be it individual, social, or universal.

For social researchers, to centre their research in the self-organization of individual dynamics means to dive deeply into the space defined by their own experiences and derive meanings and insights out of it. The emergent meanings and insights reflect both the external influences coming from society and the internal influences brought about by ones mind and soul. Therefore, by exploring the space of their own experiences, researchers gain knowledge about society and themselves at once - about the limits, which society imposes on the researchers efforts to pursue truth and wisdom, and about the freedom they have within themselves to reveal and realize ways for transcending these limits.

Individuals endeavouring to understand the meanings of the events they experience in their lives not as isolated phenomena but as closely related, connected and dependent on one another existential events, are potential researchers into A New Kind of Social Science (NKSS). And every human being, whose life experience resonates with the life experiences of NKSS researchers, is a unique source of new findings and discoveries.

It is clear that the deeper ones understanding of her or his own experience, the better s/he understands the experiences of others. This eventually leads to a greater ability to express empathy, compassion, and support towards those who are oppressed in society. In this way, the researchers in NKSS acts as catalysts for practical action aimed at mutual understanding and support.

This book elicits human dimensions of A New Kind of Science originated by Wolfram and is centred in the discoveries he made when studying dynamic interactions of cellular automata. Simple rule of interaction of these automata produce extremely sophisticated patterns of complex interconnectedness, and in a similar way, simple rules of interaction of individuals produce extremely sophisticated patterns of social behaviour. The interactive effects of only three groups of forces energizing human dynamics explosive forces manifested through the infinite spectrum of outwardly expressed (interpersonal) individual realizations, implosive forces responsible for inwardly expressed (intrapersonal) individual realizations, and harmonizing forces aimed at balancing the effects of the above two groups propel social complexity as reflected in the ever-changing kaleidoscope of social events and processes.

Irreducible Uniqueness of Individual Dynamics

While aware that society cannot grow in consciousness, we understand the vital importance of our own efforts to advance on the way to wisdom a way which one creates by oneself when walking on it. There is no social structure for the individual to rely upon when walking on this way; one alone is responsible for every single step - for every single thought, word and action. Society provides the common ground where one can consciously test ones ability to deal with emergent difficulties and specially created obstacles, to learn from failures and successes, to help those who are victims of social injustice and oppression, to express tolerance, compassion, solidarity and love.

NKSS explains that the level of integrity and harmony of individual dynamics tends towards the level of integrity and harmony of the universe. Society does not exhibit such tendency, and yet, even if we know about this, and when we know about this, and because we know about this, we continue to fight for justice in society and die, as the millions before us who endeavoured to make it better. One cannot live contentedly when so many suffer in the world: it appears that humankind is an inseparable whole imbedded in the wholeness of existence.

The phenomenon of computational irreducibility in Wolframs New Kind of Science reflects the fundamental boundaries to science and knowing to explain every dynamic entity and process in the universe. As shown in the research of social fuzziology - the study of fuzziness of human knowing, fuzziness can never be eliminated from our understanding and experience of reality. It can only move from one level to another, where the levels of fuzziness correspond to the levels of our capacity for understanding and development (growth) of our consciousness (Dimitrov, 2000; Dimitrov and Hodge, 2002; Dimitrov, 2003).

To say that the fuzziness has moved to another level means that the process of our understanding has moved to another level also, and what was fuzzy and incomprehensible for the mind at the level, from where the fuzziness has pulled itself, has become clear and comprehensible. Of course, this does not mean that there is no more fuzziness in our understanding, that we have won the battle with the fuzziness and succeeded to extinguish it once and for all.

Fuzziness is still 'alive' on each new level - full of vigour and potential to become denser and to expand wider. One can call the new level 'higher' or 'deeper', it does not matter; what matters is that one's understanding has become deeper, that one's consciousness has been expanded, that the limitations which fuzziness used to impose on the process of thinking at one level of one's understanding have been transcended. The inquiring mind will soon encounter the limitations that fuzziness brings with it to the new level of its evolving dynamics; these limitations challenge the human mind to explore it further and make it move again.

The research into the self-organizing nature of human dynamics confirms Wolframs inference that there can be no abstract basic study of these dynamics. Something irreducible has been achieved in the process of evolution of the human species: a fundamental uniqueness of expression of the universe through each individual uniqueness that is sine qua non for the immortality of the human kind.

The author expresses gratitude to Prof. Bob Hodge for the inspiring discussions and assistance in writing the first and fourth chapters.

References

Dimitrov, V. (2000) Fuzziology: Applications for Studying Complexity of Existential Dynamics, Internet publications: http://www.zulenet.com/VladimirDimitrov/pages/fuzzycomplex.html

Dimitrov, V. (2001) Fuzziology in search for Insights for Dealing with Global Economy, Internet publication: http://www.zulenet.com/VladimirDimitrov/pages/FuzziologyInsight.html

Dimitrov, V. (2001a) Bridging Complexity and Ecology: An Outline of Health Ecology, Complex Systems, 2001, vol. 13, No 4

Dimitrov, V. and Hodge, B. (2002) Social Fuzziology, Heidelberg and New York: Physica Verlag.

Dimitrov, V. (2003) Fuzziology: A Study of Fuzziness of Human Knowing and Being, Kybernetes: International Journal of Systems & Cybernetics, 32, 4

Heisenberg, W. (1971) Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, NY: Harper and Row.

Nietzche, F. (1987) The Will to Power, Random House

Wolfram, S. (2002) A New Kind of Science, Wolfram Media Inc.

May 2003

University of Western Sydney

Back to Vlad's Homepage