wandelaar

I Ching and the dynamics of complex systems

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Looking through a modern book on the dynamics of complex systems I wondered whether the I Ching is basically talking about the same sort of systems. Have the two approaches already been compared?

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2 hours ago, wandelaar said:

Looking through a modern book on the dynamics of complex systems I wondered whether the I Ching is basically talking about the same sort of systems. Have the two approaches already been compared?

 

Could you explain in layman's terms what you mean by complex systems?

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Wikipedia has a nice explanation:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_system

 

The important thing here is that the I Ching as an oracle was invented for predicting the probable development of situations where we could not oversee all the relevant factors to rationally predict the probable future development ourselves, in other words for predicting the behavior of what are now called "complex systems". So it might just be possible that the text of the I Ching contains pieces of intuitive knowledge about peculiarities of how complex systems behave.

 

Whether the I Ching objectively predicts the future is another matter on which I do not want to talk now. The subject of this topic as far as I am concerned is only whether or not the text of the I Ching contains intuitive knowledge about peculiarities of how complex systems behave as they are now investigated and proven by modern science. 

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There are a finite number of transitions within the I Ching, 4096 to be exact, so all possible situations can be distilled down to one of 4096 scenarios. From that point of view the I Ching, although complicated, can hardly be considered complex, at least according to the Wikipedia definition.

 

Quote

A complex system is a system composed of many components which may interact with each other. Examples of complex systems are Earth's global climate, organisms, the human brain, infrastructure such as power grid, transportation or communication systems, social and economic organizations (like cities), an ecosystem, a living cell, and ultimately the entire universe.

 

Complex systems are systems whose behavior is intrinsically difficult to model due to the dependencies, competitions, relationships, or other types of interactions between their parts or between a given system and its environment. Systems that are "complex" have distinct properties that arise from these relationships, such as nonlinearity, emergence, spontaneous order, adaptation, and feedback loops, among others. Because such systems appear in a wide variety of fields, the commonalities among them have become the topic of their own independent area of research. In many cases it is useful to represent such a system as a network where the nodes represent the components and the links their interactions.

 

But there is more to the I Ching than simply the transitions. Each hexagram consists of two trigrams, and each trigram has many attributes. One can translate the relationships between the attributes in several ways, thus producing highly nuanced interpretations. These interpretations may well be considered complex.

Edited by Lost in Translation

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@ LiT

 

That's not what I am thinking of. The I Ching as a book may contain hints about how the world as a complex system behaves. Those intuitive understandings of the dynamics of situations could be compared to the insights of modern science on the dynamics of complex systems. I didn't suggest that the I Ching itself (when used as an oracle) is or isn't a complex system. That might also be an interesting question, but that's not what I want to discuss in this topic. ;)

Edited by wandelaar

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7 hours ago, wandelaar said:

The I Ching as a book may contain hints about how the world as a complex system behaves.

 

I think that is exactly what the I Ching does, since it models the changes within the world as we know it.

 

7 hours ago, wandelaar said:

Those intuitive understandings of the dynamics of situations could be compared to the insights of modern science on the dynamics of complex systems.

 

That's more difficult to determine. Whereas science strives for repeatability, the I Ching does not. One can prove science. Proving I Ching is far more difficult.

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I am not trying to prove or disprove the I Ching , at least not in this topic. ;)

 

What would be nice is when certain texts in the I Ching (or the Tao Te Ching) could be understood as referring to certain known behaviors of complex systems. In searching the internet I saw some books and articles that talk about it, but sadly they were much too nonspecific to be of any use.

 

 

Edited by wandelaar

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7 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

What would be nice is when certain texts in the I Ching (or the Tao Te Ching) could be understood as referring to certain known behaviors of complex systems.

 

Is this like then the Tao Te Ching refers to "cooking a small fish" as a metaphor for ruling a nation? Thus if we see a reference to food or to nourishment we might conclude this is speaking of some form of leader/follower relationship?

 

Is this the sort of thing you are talking about?

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So it's less about the i-ching itself being a complex system, than about it becoming a reliable notation system for describing complex phenomena? A daunting endeavor to even get started, but potentially worthwhile advancement.

 

To simplify the concept all the way down to the natural numbers - A young child, when asked how old they are, holds up a certain number of fingers and says "this many." Only after learning the nomenclature of base-ten system would they give a more intellectual reply, but the idea that a certain amount of discrete things can be counted in some universally consistent way is quite natural.

To be able to intuit exactly where along the continuum of "yinyangness" a given slice of reality resides would be strong kung-fu indeed. Not only would we have to memorize the 64 hexagrams and their personalities, but then establish a way to rigorously chant them while viewing/performing some outward manifestation of them - analogous to counting 1 to 10 while incrementally holding up one's fingers.

 

Baguazhang is exactly this, in a kinesthetic sense. Now what if we have a BaguaScience? Could really kick some ass, technologically.

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3 minutes ago, Nintendao said:

Oh shit it's even worse than i thought!

 

Yes - it will be a big problem to have so few possible changes to work with!

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17 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

 

Yes - it will be a big problem to have so few possible changes to work with!

 

That is true if you look at the transition as a whole. If you look at the hexagram components then there are many more interpretations. 

 

For example, hex 27¬†š∑ö I / Nourishment consists of "Keeping Still" over "Arousing". The attributes of keeping still are above/outside and arousing are below/inside.¬†

 

Attributes of keeping still are: standstill, dog, rat, hand, third son, fingers, mountain, path, stones, doors, fruits, seeds, watchmen and eunichs, among others.

 

Attributes of arousing are: movement, dragon, serpent, foot, first son, decisive, vehement, reed/rush, thunder, dark yellow, spread out, great road, bamboo and strong, among others.

 

So if you look at the hexagram attributes instead of (in addition to) the I Ching judgements the then you can see a much larger picture. And if you do this with both hexagrams comprising a single reading then the number of interpretations is phenomenal!

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@ LiT

 

Yes - I know. And that's why the I Ching works regardless of the hexagram(s) thrown whenever you allow yourself to be unconsciously drawn to the one interpretation that's most useful for you. But I like to keep the discussion focused on the text of the I Ching (or the Tao Te Ching) and not on the oracle.

 

Edited by wandelaar

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3 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

I like to keep the discussion focused on the text of the I Ching (or the Tao Te Ching) and not on the oracle.

 

Understood, but keep in mind that the text cannot be separated from the hexagram (and trigram) attributes, since it's those attributes that drove the text originally. After all, King Wen and Confucius wrote the text upon consulting the attributes.

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We can and should look at hexagrams, trigrams, image, text, judgements, and commentaries. They are all related. But keep in mind the I Ching is fundamentally about the lines and their relationships. It's complex (pun intended!).

Edited by Lost in Translation

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That is so - when used as an oracle. But my question is whether the I Ching contains some texts that point to an intuitive understanding of some patterns of behavior of complex systems.

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34 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

That is so - when used as an oracle. But my question is whether the I Ching contains some texts that point to an intuitive understanding of some patterns of behavior of complex systems.

 

Understood. What I am saying is that the I Ching does not contain text. Text has been added to the I Ching over the years by various scholars. ;) But the I Ching is just a bunch of lines, their meanings, and a method to calculate the lines.

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On 10/10/2018 at 4:22 PM, wandelaar said:

Looking through a modern book on the dynamics of complex systems I wondered whether the I Ching is basically talking about the same sort of systems. Have the two approaches already been compared?

Yes it has been done. The only difference is that the i ching is not a complex system because there is a unifying force which all things become manifest.

 

Everything that makes up no relationships of a complex system is actually possible and addressed in the i ching because it is all related on every level..

 

Complex systems are systems whose behavior is intrinsically difficult to model due to the dependencies, competitions, relationships, or other types of interactions between their parts or between a given system and its environment. Systems that are "complex" have distinct properties that arise from these relationships, such as nonlinearity, emergence, spontaneous order, adaptation, and feedback loops, among others. Because such systems appear in a wide variety of fields, the commonalities among them have become the topic of their own independent area of research. In many cases it is useful to represent such a system as a network where the nodes represent the components and the links their interactions.

 

From  above definition of Complex system we can plainly see that different branches of western medicine, science and  all knowledge has no unifying principle.This creates the NEED of things made into independent areas of research / no relationship.

 

 

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On 11.10.2018 at 11:40 PM, Wu Ming Jen said:

Yes it has been done. The only difference is that the i ching is not a complex system because there is a unifying force which all things become manifest.

 

Everything that makes up no relationships of a complex system is actually possible and addressed in the i ching because it is all related on every level..

 

Complex systems are systems whose behavior is intrinsically difficult to model due to the dependencies, competitions, relationships, or other types of interactions between their parts or between a given system and its environment. Systems that are "complex" have distinct properties that arise from these relationships, such as nonlinearity, emergence, spontaneous order, adaptation, and feedback loops, among others. Because such systems appear in a wide variety of fields, the commonalities among them have become the topic of their own independent area of research. In many cases it is useful to represent such a system as a network where the nodes represent the components and the links their interactions.

 

From  above definition of Complex system we can plainly see that different branches of western medicine, science and  all knowledge has no unifying principle.This creates the NEED of things made into independent areas of research / no relationship.

 

 

 

There is always a unifying principle. There is always simplicity underlying complexity. It is just due to our lack of perception that things at times don't appear so.

 

The Yijing addresses complex situations and models them by reducing them to first principles: Just eight forces, extended to 64 patterns etc.

 

Thus it can help us see through the complexity of ay given situation and recognize its crucial factors.

 

Therein lies its value as a book of wisdom and of divination.

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Perhaps you can see it, but apparently nobody can explain or demonstrate it. So it might just as well be a case of I Ching users collectively fooling them self. It rather looks like all that is really happening is them unconsciously picking out patterns from the mess of possible interpretations. Those patterns might very well be meaningful from a personal point of view (as the picking is done by the unconscious), but they don't seem to point to anything objective in the sense of understanding complex systems. At least not beyond what common sense and tacit knowledge could also tell us. 

 

Not one convincing example is brought forward of how the I Ching helps in seeing through the complexity of complex systems. The books and articles I found on the subject deliberately stay on the most abstract level imaginable to avoid being put to the test. Yes - the world is changing, there are ups and downs. Overdoing things can result in the opposite of what one wants. All true, and very important to know! But we don't need the I Ching for that. And the rare parapsychological tests of the I Ching that have been done only gave marginal positive or mixed results.

 

I don't think it is useful for me to put much more time in investigating this subject. The more I study the I Ching, Chinese alchemy, Chinese astrology and the like, the clearer it becomes that that's not my cup of thee. I would do better to restrict myself to philosophical Taoism (plus meditation).

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The I Ching is inherently subjective. It takes a person to frame the session by asking a question, calculating a response and interpreting the response. Of course the subject plays a role in this - and a large role at that. This makes objectivity difficult at best.

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