2022-10-01 systems and elements

So we have found two quotes by Aristotle that are very close to the phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” but not quite. And we now can see that Aristotle was mainly concerned with explaining the multifaceted aspects of definition (object) and terms (parts). But this concept about the whole, and its relationship to its parts, is the beginning of thinking about Systems and that very difficult and mysterious property of Emergence.

So let me try rephrase the phase using a more modern Systems Engineering language,

“The System is something beside, and not the same as, its elements.”

Not as pithy as the misquoted original but still  a plausible definition of Emergence.

What I like about this expression is that the whole (system) is not just a collection of independent elements, but is also comprised of the many-faceted relations amongst the elements and the relations. So, yeah, that seems like a thing that can be observed and experienced.

2023-01-12 update: Observations and experiences of such a system arise from my participation in a work group or a community of practice, and these can be recounted in stories and artifacts that are created and maintained by members of such a collective.


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