## March 8, 2005

### (Probably) Simple Questions

I feel like an infant joining this discussion -- I'm not working on the same level as you, Gregg, and it's going to take me a while to catch up. But I haven't been idle: I've been playing with these ideas seriously enough to have (for one brief and fleeting week) announced to Bill Doherty that I was changing the direction of my graduate work and that I'd do a theoretical dissertation on an idea which systemically addressed an intersection between quantum physics, interrelationality, and living systems. I had even started assembling a committee around it (Liz was very interested), when friends from other institutions cornered me at a conference and told me I was talking about life's work, not a dissertation. Or at least not one which could be completed in my life time. Maybe yours, Gregg, but I'm SOOO much older than you.

Bill was very relieved when I changed my mind.

It seems from my reading that systems are often presented in a vertical or hierarchical manner. If I could be sure this would tranfer correctly, I'd try to diagram it for you, but I think I'm stuck with a written description, so here goes:

Take a single individual. Call him System 0. Move upward, or outward (if you'd like to think of shells rather than stay on a linear plane): above System 0 are increasingly larger systems (say, System 1, System 2, System 3, etc.). These macrosystems have a commonality in that each has the individual (System 0) as a member. For example, System 1 may be a dyad with his wife, System 2 his nuclear family, System 3 extended family, System N community, or society, and so on. There may be macrosystems which do not include all members of other macrosystems in which System 0 is a member, such as one macrosystem being his church, another his workplace; hence, a shell scheme. But still, they are all of increasing size and complexity, and all have System 0 as a member.

Now, we'll work in the inverse direction. Back to System 0: He is comprised of microsystems, each of smaller composition, each a member of System 0. So, we've got the respiratory system (System -1), bronchioli (System -2), lung cell (System -3), cell organelles (System -4), proteins (System -5), and so on. Again, there is decreasing size and complexity, but all have System 0 as a level of the hierarchy.

Am I seeing this correctly? Making sense?

Now, my question is if Systems Theory addresses lateral relationships, one in which there may be a connection to System 0 at some distant macro level, but there is none in linear proximity at the point of connection.; rather, one can view these more as lateral or horizontal connections. Let me explain more, as I struggle to language this. Take System 0 and a germinating grass seed (another System 0). Research has been done to indicate that a human can project a sense of wellbeing onto a germinating seed and there is an observable increase in the rate of plant growth. How can you explain this is System Theory terms? Would one say that the human is part of the seed's ecosystem (on a macrosystem level) and that is where the interrelation takes place? Or can independent, vertically unconnected systems impact each other? (Duh. Of course they can, as I reread this. But how to describe it correctly within the theory?)

As I write this, I'm beginning to see it a little more clearly, but I'd surely appreciate some input. Thanks.

JIM'S RESPONSE