Evolving Systems: October 2009 Core Group Meeting
October 27, 2009 Core Group Meeting
and Continuing Discussion
The I Ching and the Emergence of Form
Background (Ben, excerpted from a longer .pdf):
In this session, we will examine the process of the I Ching, and speculate on what it says about causality, probability, the (mathematical) structure of the universe, and the emergence of form. We may also consider what the I Ching and its model says about the other “emergence” question in our Evolving Systems Group mandate — that is, the emergence of meaning.
- What is our modern view of chance, probability and the structure of the universe and the events that take place in it?
- Why is divination so common in many different cultures and societies? In what forms does it exist in our own society?
- What is significant about the particular aesthetic of this Chinese I Ching system?
A meeting summary (Alice) - see also Ben's presentation slides
Ben gave a presentation of the I Ching as a model for existence based on convergence rather than causality in a fully distributed system. In this model, there is no conductor (think orchestra, not electricity or train), and no single goal or end-point. Used to inform human decision-making, the I Ching “captures everything going on,” all of the “factors” or “states,” manifest and otherwise, at the time of decision. It’s a given that “everything is in play and then it’s all going to change. “ Paul argued that also in play is randomness, introduced by the coin toss or yarrow throw. In contrast to the idea that God guides the hand of the person opening the Bible seemingly at random, with the I Ching, there is no such thing as arriving at the right page. Everything, Ben explained, is in a “fated relationship” to everything else.
After consideration of parallels between Tarot cards and the I Ching, discussion turned to an understanding of time as prompted by the I Ching. The view of the “block model” of time taken by quantum physics, in which time block doesn’t change, contrasts with the phenomological view, in which “every time the wave function collapses, the block model of time collapses.” Ensuing questions included:
A question remaining is whether the distributed system under consideration in imagined as complete or complex. If complete, human interaction has no bearing on it beyond people’s (likely doomed) coming to knowledge of it. If complex, human interaction, as with interactions among other of its living parts, is part of realizing it (in the sense of creating, changing and recognizing).
Continuing discussion (below)