The Physics of Complex Systems

Dr. Alexander Moore
Professor of Anthropology
University of Southern California

Synopsis of background:

Dr. Alexander Moore is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. His latest book, "Cultural Anthropology" (Collegiate Press, 1992) regards humanity as an emergent species, from its initial diffusing over the world, to its tribal societies, to civilized life, and then to modern life. Dr. Moore addresses how homeokinesis can be used to understand and describe these various phases of societies. Trained at Columbia University and Harvard University, Dr. Moore has studied cultures in Guatemala, Spain, China., and Panama.

On Homeokinetics:

"Homeokinetics has implications for the study of economics as seen from anthropology in the context of the study of the emergence of all self-organizing systems, as well as of human institutions. As it turns out, the primary implication is that a truly new order of matter, energy, momentum, and living systems does not emerge with culture in Homo sapiens sapiens (or her predecessors), but rather emerges with the institutionalization of exchange processes between and across human groups in trade and war with the emergence of tribal society. Only then does the superorganic, properly speaking appear.

That which makes human economics unique in nature---indeed all cosmology--- is that the fluxes of energy, matter, action, and population flow across human group boundaries according to some measure of value. To realize just how unique this is, imagine adjacent glaciers tossing boulders back and forth according to a recognized plan or blueprint. Like glaciers, human groups themselves are in flux. This sum total of world trade and transport, then, obeys the principles of homeokinetic physics.

Economics comprises yet another continuum of its own atomisms, in that sense another level of reality, another continuum above related atomisms below. One can start at the level one-down, with the discrete human groups, each also with the flow of energy, matter, actions, and population within it, each with its boundaries staked out over a portion of the biosphere. That is, there a flatland physics at this level, of the functioning of any given society. There are, however, also flows up and down from these (increasingly less) separate compartments, obeying the principles of up-down physics. Here one must study the interactions at boundaries, which themselves at every level always form new potentials. For each complex level and its flow stream there is a linguistic-catalytic communicational flow stream rather than merely an energy empowering flow stream, that is what activates the system."

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