Publication date (electronic): 30 June 2016
Complex adaptive loci of cognition
Free University of Brussels (VUB)
I am a social systems scientist based at the Global Brain Institute, Free University in Brussels (VUB). I study self-organization of social systems, seen as autopoietic, cognizing and intelligent “species”. I received my PhD in humanistic management (public affairs) in 2014 and my MA in philology (theoretical linguistics) in 2001 from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.
David R. Weinbaum (Weaver) is a PhD. researcher at the Global Brain Institute at Center Leon Apostel (CLEA), the Free University Brussels (VUB). He holds M.Sc. in electronics and computer engineering from Tel-Aviv University (1989). His research interests extend to Philosophy of mind, Cognitive Science, Foundations of thought, Metaphysics, Complex systems, Individuation and self-organization, Cybernetics, Evolution Theory and post-modernist philosophy.
Mr. Braathen holds a Master of Science in Control & Electrical Engineering from Norwegian University for Science and Technology, and from University of Washington. He further holds a Master of Science in Strategy and International Business from the Norwegian School of Management. Mr. Braathen is currently completing a Ph.D. at the University of Brussels, in the interdisciplinary program, focusing on complexity theory applied to strategic management and organizational theory. Mr. Braathen facilitates strategic visioning, organizational change, and leadership development for global companies in various industries.
We argue the case that human social systems and social organizations in particular are concrete, non-metaphorical, cognitive agents operating in their own self-constructed environments. Our point of departure is Luhmann's theory of social systems as self-organizing systems of communications. Integrating the Luhmannian theory with the enactive theory of cognition and Simondon's theory of individuation, results in a novel view of social systems as complex, individuating sequences of communicative interactions that together constitute distributed yet distinct cognitive agencies. The relations of such agencies with their respective environments (involving other agencies of the same construction) is further clarified by discussing both the Hayek-Hebb and the perturbation-compensation perspectives on systems adaptiveness as each reveals different and complementary facets of the operation of social systems as loci of cognitive activity. The major theoretical points of the argument are followed and demonstrated by an analysis of NASA's communications showing how a social organization undergoes a process of individuation from which it emerges as an autonomous cognitive agent with a distinct and adaptive identity. With this example we hope to invite a debate on how the presented approach could inform a transdisciplinary method of cognitive modeling applied to human social systems.
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