Programm für Wintersemester 2012/13

Rainer E. Zimmermann
Metaphysics of Emergence

During the last fifteen years we can observe a progressive convergence of physics, biology, and computer science that is actually tending to go far beyond the already classical framework of physical theories of everything. This is mainly so because the problem of emergence implicit in this sort of theory building is considerably more complex than what is encountered within the development of intra-physical modelling alone. Work over the last two years has revealed essentially two main insights: First of all, as it turns out, it is in fact the metaphysical grounding of the problems involved that might prove helpful for achieving basic progress. Hence, it is thus possible to give a new modern meaning to formerly purely philosophical attitudes traditionally derived from a line of thought associated with what Schelling used to call “speculative physics”.  On the other hand, recent results on the physical aspects of energy and information  and their discursive representation  display clearly the mediated nature of the categories of cognition and communication on the most fundamental level of reflexion. Hence, it can be shown that it is the concept of “evolutionary system” that opens up the epistemological field of possibilities once it is chosen as a leading paradigm itself.

Rainer E. Zimmermann, ist Professor für Philosophie an der Hochschule München, zudem Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge (UK), sowie gewähltes Mitglied der Internationalen Akademie für kybernetische und Systemwissenschaften (iascys) Wien. Um die 350 Publikationen , darunter 20 Bücher.

6.12. (new date)
Karolina Safarzynska
The Coevolution of Institutions and Environment

We propose a model of multi level (group) selection in the presence of climate variability, where environment and culture coevolve. The model describes a population subdivided into groups, each with access to a renewable resource. Individuals employ different harvesting strategies: defectors harvest more resources than cooperators and punishers. In groups with many defectors, resource extraction may exceed the level of sustainable harvests, causing resource exhaustion. Weather shocks accelerate resource scarcity and eliminate groups with many defectors. The model is used to study conditions under which resource conservation evolves. Conservation is costly but enhances group’s chances of survival. We study conditions under which environmental crises enhance the evolution of cooperation. We examine how between-group interactions such as resource-conflict and harvest-sharing affect the probability of resource exhaustion.

Karolina Safarzynska works as an assistant professor at the Institute of the Environment and Regional Development at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business. Her research interests concern evolutionary-economic modeling, sustainable development, technological change, complexity, and environment-economy coevolution. She has published several articles on these issues.

10.1. 2013
Manfred Füllsack
“Ententionality”, Emergence and the Observer

A Review of Deacon’s “Incomplete Nature” on the Background of Suggestions by Mark Bedau and Heinz von Foerster

This presentation will discuss implications of the recent proposal of Terrence Deacon to unify physical and human sciences by focusing on the constraints of matter – “the absent rather than the present” – thereby resorting to the emergence of morphodynamic from thermodynamic, and teleodynamic from morphodynamic processes. Deacon’s proposal will be reviewed on the background of Mark Bedau’s suggestion to define (weak) emergence in respect to computer-based simulation. And it will be questioned in regard to Heinz von Foerster’s invitation to consider the observer in each conception with aspiration to a Theory of Everything.

Manfred Füllsack is Professor for Systems Sciences at the University of Graz, concerned with theory and simulation of complex systems, in particular networks, and with the epistemology of productivity and sustainability.

24. 1. 2013
Wolfgang Hofkirchner
Emergent Information. The Quest for a Unified Theory

The talk will deal with an attempt to cast a framework for a unified theory of information. That framework is based upon systems thinking, in particular, on the concept of “evolutionary system”. It will be demonstrated that every evolutionary system can be regarded as an agent that is capable of generating as well as utilising information. Information is then a relation that is actualised by an evolutionary system relating a perturbation that occurs to a system to a change in the system’s structure, state or behaviour. Such a definition can include semiotic concepts, in particular, those of C. S. Peirce. Emergence is shown as a sine qua non for the existence of information.

Wolfgang Hofkirchner is Associate Professor for Technology Assessment at the Vienna University of Technology. He is heading the Unified Theory of Information Research Group, the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science and President Elect of the International Society for Information Studies. His focus is on a theory that comprises information, information technology and information society. A book with the title “Emergent Information” is to be published at the end of 2012 (World Scientific).

All talks take place in the Institut für Wissenschaft und Kunst (IWK), 9. Bergasse 17,  19h c.t.

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