Driving in circles: road building and causal thinking

Way back in September last year, I concluded the post prior to Beyond this Brief Anomaly’s rather longer than expected hiatus by using a very simple example to illustrate the distinction between the way that causality is conventionally understood, and how it tends to be appreciated within systemic thinking. I’ll now round out that discussion by extending the ideas explored there to a real-world “problematical situation”, in order to show how our understanding of causality can have very practical implications for the ways that we organise things in the social sphere. Continue reading

Dealing with causality in an uncertain world

The post prior to last cleared the air in relation to some ways in which the systems sciences seem to go astray in their treatment of foundational concepts relating to the energy view of physical phenomena, specifically those associated with the science of thermodynamics in its classical or macroscopic form. It’s a noteworthy irony that in taking a macroscopic view, the classical approach deals with thermodynamic behaviour at the level of “whole systems”, and in doing so, shares significant commonalities with the systems sciences. An important distinction is that whereas the systems sciences set out to do this as a self-conscious corrective to perceived inadequacies of reductionist science, in classical thermodynamics this is instead a natural entailment of dealing with phenomena that, as discussed previously, are of a systemic character. Continue reading