Principia Cybernetica Web

Symposium : The Evolution of Complexity

Evolutionary and cybernetic foundations for transdisciplinary integration

as part of the conference:

Einstein meets Magritte:

An interdisciplinary reflection on science, nature, human action and society

May 29 / June 3, 1995
at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium

A symposium organized by the Principia Cybernetica Project (PCP) was held as part of "Einstein meets Magritte", a large interdisciplinary conference at the Free University of Brussels. After the organization of several other symposia, this was the fifth official meeting of the Project. The theme was the contribution that theories of evolution and self-organization, on the one hand, and systems theory and cybernetics, on the other hand, can make to the development of an integrated world view.

The basic idea underlying PCP is that evolution leads to the spontaneous emergence of systems of higher and higher complexity or "intelligence": from elementary particles, via atoms, molecules, living cells, multicellular organisms, plants, and animals to human beings, culture and society. This historical development can be understood with the help of concepts such as self-organization, selection, adaptation, variety, chaos, hierarchy, autonomy, control, cognition, and metasystem transition.

This perspective makes it possible to unify knowledge from presently separate disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, etc. We thus wish to revive the transdisciplinary tradition of General Systems Theory, by adding recently developed insights around evolution and complexity. The resulting scientific/philosophical framework should provide us with an answer to the basic questions: "Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going to?"

The above introductory text was distributed world-wide via a Call for Papers. Out of some 45 submissions, 30 abstracts were selected for presentation. The contributors presented a wide range of disciplinary and cultural backgrounds, illustrating the full breadth of the subject domain. A bibliography on this domain was compiled on the basis of the submitted lists of references. For a report of the Symposium, check my impressions as a chairman.

At the moment, we are collecting the full texts of the papers that were presented, making them available on the Net. They will be published as one of the 8 Proceedings volumes for the Einstein meets Magritte Conference. The probable reference will be: F. Heylighen & D. Aerts (eds.) (1996): The Evolution of Complexity (Kluwer, Dordrecht).

Below you will find the abstracts of papers that were presented or accepted for presentation (* means that a full paper is available, linked to the abstract).

Photo: H.C. Speel in action at the Symposium

Symposium Program

(see also the overall Conference Program)

Wednesday, May 31, 1995: Conceptual Foundations

9:00 - F. Heylighen & C. Joslyn
Introduction to the Symposium
9:20 - F. Heylighen
(Free University of Brussels) on "From the Big Bang to the Information Society: principles underlying the growth of complexity during evolution"* (full paper)
9:40 - D. M. Keirsey
(Hughes Research Labs) on "Involution: On the Structure and Process of Existence" * (full paper)
10:00 - C. Henry
(Vassar College) on "Branching: The Biological Basis of Symbol Formation "*
10:20 - A. Mansueto
(Foundation for Social Progress) on "Dialectic, Cosmos, and Society: The Philosophical Implications of the New Science"*
10:40 - Robert Pallbo
(Lund University) on "Representations as We Know Them"*
11:00 - Coffee break
11:20 - C. Joslyn
(NASA) on "Dimensional and Cardinal Variety in Systems"
11:40 - Bruce Edmonds
(Centre for Policy Modeling, Manchester Metropolitan University) on "What is Complexity? - The philosophy of complexity per se with application to some examples in evolution."*
12:00 - B.C.E Scott, A.J. Hirst and S.J. Shurville
(Open University, UK) on "Forgetting in Self-Organising Systems
12:20 - G. Nagarjuna
(Indian Institute of Technology) on "Invertibility and Autopoiesis ""* (full paper in PostScript)
12:40 - Discussion: Conceptual Foundations

Thursday, June 1, 1995: Mathematical and Physical Models

9:00 - D. Karabeg
(University of Oslo) on "Polyscopic Modelling" (full paper will be published in different symposium volume)
9:20 - R. L. Coren
(Drexel University) on "A Simple Mathematical Theory of Evolution showing that Taxonomic Complexity is a Logistic Variable" (part 1)
9:40 - G. S. Percivall
(Hughes Applied Information Systems) on "Application of Complexity Theories to Evolutionary System Development "
10:00 - R. L. Coren
(Drexel University) on "A Simple Mathematical Theory of Evolution showing that Taxonomic Complexity is a Logistic Variable" (part 2)
10:20 - B. Codenotti
(IMC-CNR) & L. Margara (University of Pisa) on "Chaos in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science: Similarities and Dissimilarities"
11:00 - Coffee break
11:20 - Joao Batista Crispiniano et al.
(RUCA, Antwerpen) on " Diversity and Complexity: Two Sides of the Same Coin"
11:40 - N. Vandewalle & M. Ausloos
(University of Liege) on "Physical Models of Biological Evolution"* (full paper)
12:00 - Y. Toquenaga et al.
(University of Tsukuba) on "Stepping up Trophic Levels with Self-Repairing Genetic Algorithm"
12:20 - A. Markos
(Charles University, Prague) on " The Gaia theory: Role of microorganisms in a planetary information network "
12:40 - Discussion: Mathematical and physical models

Friday, June 2, 1995: Applications to Knowledge and Society

9:00 - Bertin H. Martens
(European Commission) on "The Introduction of Complexity: Towards a New Paradigm in Economics."*
9:20 - J. Bollen
(Free University of Brussels) on "Algorithms for the evolution and development of knowledge networks that use common semantics"
9:40 - Ben Cullen
(University of Wales) on "Chain Letters, Corpse Flowers and the Evolution of Religion"* (abstract not up-to-date)
10:00 - H. C. Speel
(Technical University Delft) on "Memetics, the way a new worldview can act as an overall-language to promote communication between disciplines."
10:20 - K. C. Diller
(University of New Hampshire) on "The Evolution of Complexity in the Evolution of Language: grammaticalization, pidgin languages, and language acquisition"
10:40 - F. Geyer
(SISWO, Amsterdam) on "The Challenge of Sociocybernetics" *
11:00 - Coffee break
11:20 - Ron Cottam
(Free University of Brussels) on"Partial Comprehension in a Quasi-Particulate Universe"* (late entry, not refereed for this Symposium)
11:40 - E. Andres Garcia
(New York University) on "Use of Complex Adaptive Systems in Organizational Studies
12:00 - F. Heylighen, C. Joslyn, F. Geyer , B. Edmonds and John D. Collier
Concluding Panel Discussion: The Evolution of Complexity

Not presented

Though the following accepted abstracts were not presented because the contributors were unable to participate for various reasons (mostly financial), these abstracts are certainly of interest to anybody interested in the symposium subject.
Tony Hirst
(Open University) Lest We Forget Our Inheritance * (presented in different symposium but to be included in the Proceedings of this symposium)
J.P. Crutchfield
(Univ. of California at Berkeley, and Santa Fe Institute) on " Computational mechanics and emergent computation models in which quantitative measures of complexity increase during evolution "
G. Cziko
(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) on " From Providence through Instruction to Selection: The Evolution of Human Understanding of the Evolution of Adapted Complexity"
J. Sarnovsky
(Department of Cybernetics and Art. Int) on "Modern Rationality (a cybernetics view)"
A. Heschl
(Konrad Lorenz Institute) on "Evolutionary Epistemology Taken Seriously"
A. Juarrero
(Prince George's Community College) on "Causality As Constraint"
Saulius Norvaisas
(Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Vilnius, Lithuania) on " Is Variety Inevitable"
Robert Glueck& Andrei Klimov
(Techn. University of Vienna) & (Russian Academy of Sciences) on "Metacomputation of Language Hierarchies"
Adesina Wasiu Raifu
(Technical University of Budapest) on "Globalisation and the evolution of human society."
P. Stokes
(University College, Dublin) on "Complexity and Social Evolution."

Copyright© 1996 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen,

Jan 11, 1996 (modified)
Nov 10, 1994 (created)


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