Systems Emerge Due to Constraints

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Systems or, more precisely, dissipative and autocatalytic structures that are precursors of autonomous, e.g. biological, systems emerge from the “the background soup” via contextual Constraints – “No constraints = no form or structure”.Juarrero (1998), 238

This means contextual constraints act as Enabling Constraints.

The “organizational closure” autocatalysis effects is such that a Boundary between the autocatalytic web and the background soup from which it emerged has been formed. The autocatalytic web is distinguishable from its Environment; it is a structure of processes. … [T]he emergent higher level of organization (the autocatalytic web as a whole) can access more and different states than the isolated components from which it was formed. … Contextual constraints thus perform double duty. From the combined effects of contextual constraints operating on matter and energy flows, structures and patterns at increasingly higher levels of organization emerge. Furthermore, the orderly context of the system in which the parts are now embedded alters and redefines their behavior. The dynamical framework of the whole constrains the behavior of the components, a form of interlevel (in this case top-down) Causation.ibid., 238 f

Such constraints enable complexity and self-organisation:

[C]onstraints create hierarchies. Once the hierarchy is established, the “bits” that created them acquire - at the cost of a reduced number of ways they can be arranged - an identity they previously did not have: they are now “components” or “nodes” of a higher level whole. In organizing the higher level whole by correlating the parts, contextual constraints increased the number of states the newly created system as a whole can access. Contextual constraints are thus nature’s own answer to the problem posed by Maxwell’s demon. Contextual constraints are a demon with a Janus nature: acting as Dr. Jekyll they impose order by limiting alternatives; as Mr. Hyde they create potential message variety through reintroducing disorder at a higher level. And it is as Mr. Hyde that they are responsible for the creative evolutionary progress of nature. The increasing complexity of Evolution is a function of the operation of contextual constraints. Parts no longer independent of each other constitute the self-organization of a higher level; as such contextual constraints are the “agents” of interlevel, bottom-up causality. Acting top-down they simultaneously create new roles for those parts as they correlate them.ibid., 239 f

More possible behaviours means an extended State Space:

Once closure of first-order context sensitive constraints occurs, the resulting global dynamics presents characteristics that aggregates or sums of individuals do not; in technical terms, context-sensitive constraints are enabling constraints insofar as they precipitate the emergence of a global dynamics with an expanded phase space.Juarrero (2010), 3

As enabling constraints operating bottom up, contextual constraints free up a set of states which the higher level system of relationships they create can now access. Systems of relationships themselves can in tum become related (the earlier relationships now becoming the relata in a new relationship), thus evolving into systems of ever higher level relationships with creative new properties of their own. Once the higher systemic level is in place, it acts as a top-down selective constraint on the (now) lower level components from which it organized, altering the number of ways they can be arranged.Juarrero (1998), 240 f

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