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I@HoU (The Reflaction)1

By Serge Gélalian

in 2010, I published a - deliberate - article that appeared in the magazine Travaux et

Jours Nr 85 (Université St Joseph - Beirut). I've translated it in English and it was published in
the American Journal Psychology Research (April 2013, Vol.3, no4). As my situation of teacher-
researcher was not satisfying because of a University policy at odds with the academic field and
as I could no longer publish other articles about my linguistic-cognitive domain, I have toyed
with the idea to publish a book in line with the article I wrote. This idea has made its way and, as
to my knowledge, there is no market for popular scientific books in Lebanon, I decided to get
into this adventure.

I intend therefore to pursue the topic of my article and try to bring it to an end. Knowing
that an essay can be daunting these days for the general public, as people no longer read in depth
"thanks" to the Internet and the social networks, I chose to write this book by chronicling the
pathways of my thoughts along with my readings, as storytelling is fashionable at present,
especially in companies. Telling a history always exerts an attraction to the human being as,
according to the scientists, our brain is cabled for this purpose i.e., inventing, telling and listening
to stories. Just read the book Pourquoi la fiction by Jean-Marie Schæffer to be convinced. I
summarize hereunder the general idea in a few words:

For Jean-Marie Schaeffer, prior to being related to art in general (potentially to literature), fiction
is a cognitive skill that the child develops and which plays a very important role in her life:
fiction has a fundamental role in the process of knowledge. Schaeffer considers fiction in its the
broadest sense: oral fictions (tales, sagas, etc.), novels, works of art (opera, theatre, cinema,
paintings), traditional games, digital fictions and even chess, as one of his disciples Olivier Caïra
puts it.

This cognitive skill is an emergence and assumes the combination of three factors:
mimetic immersion, shared playful sham and analogical modeling. I will not go into the details
of Schaeffer's topic, because that would take us deeper than what is planned for the present work.
Remember that for Schaeffer fiction is a vector of knowledge and that it is not the overflow of
imagination which is harmful, but the opposite, because imagination, framed by the reason, can
be a resource for teaching.

This cognitive approach of Schaeffer for fiction echoes that of the narrative function of
Bernard Victorri. This is a bit more detailed in my article mentioned at the beginning and
proposed below.

This is the English version of my book in French L’Information au cœur de l’Univers, L’Harmattan, 2018.

Is Modeling the Primary Activity of the Human Brain?

This question arose after having thought about how novelists imagine their surrounding world - the
reality - before (and during) “creating” their work which represents a piece of this reality. This fact was
then extended to other “artistic producers” such as the painter, the musician, the sculptor, etc. Simply
put, the question is: what happens in a creator’s mind before and during the process of creation, be him
a novelist, a musician, a painter, etc. To the following question: “How do you make the shape of your
piece of work appear from within the stone”? Michelangelo used to answer: “It’s already in there”.

It is while thinking about the novel as a process of representation of reality that the following idea
surfaced: modeling could well be the main process of thought of the human brain. We reason only on
models, says Paul Valéry. We communicate only by models, echoes him Gregory Bateson. What could
this mean other than there exists many kinds of modeling on the cognitive level: mathematical,
schematic, graphical, etc. Could this mean that there is a modeling prototype, hence a modeling
archetype? The answer to this question is far from being simple. I suggest in this article a way of opening
up and an attempt for finding an answer based mainly on the human oral and textual productions,
without neglecting other productions such as the graphical or the schematic ones. My major objective is
thus the following:

examine the various types of narrative ranging from myth to advertising including tale, saga, legend…;

examine the various types of scientific representation such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, but also
computer languages by focusing primarily on the concept of algorithm which is common to them;

examine artistic works such as music, paintings, sculptures, sketches.

But, as those examinations constitute a large program and could not be tackled in a short article, I will
thus examine briefly some of the examples mentioned above within the general frame of modeling.

What is modeling?

The modeling I am referring to is akin to the systems thinking’s modeling, thus to that of complexity
science2. It is a technical process leading to a construct (in Lévy-Strauss’ sense) - the model, i.e., the
matching counterpart of the complex reality - which is designed to reproduce the perceived reality in
order to better understand it, or even to act on it. Nowadays, a model can be studied on computers
(elaboration and simulation) and it will not be the object of a mathematical demonstration as it is just
confronted to reality of which it is the best rough copy.

Here is a personal definition of a system:

A system is an organized whole, composed of interacting components, which generates emergent

characteristics that are unpredictable from the components’ characteristics of the system.

Let me remind here that a system is often complex as it is composed of many autonomous components
related by non-linear relations. These interrelations make the system’s behavior unpredictable as it is
not the result of the sum of each component’s behavior, hence the phenomenon of emergence in a
complex system. A simple example would be the water: the result of associating two gases – hydrogen
and oxygen – is not a gas but a liquid.

Let us keep in mind that systems don’t exist in our surrounding reality. Systems are mental constructs
designed and intended to better understand aspects of this environment (nature, society, politics,
economy …) which is perceived as being highly complex – but not complicated – and not easily grasped
with the analytical method3 even if this latter allowed great progress in Science. This is why systems
thinking surfaced: helping grasp complex systems; and the core method of it is modeling.

The built construct mentioned above is a model of a piece of reality. It’s a kind of reduced dummy of
reality used to better understand and predict the evolution of a studied system. Thus, modeling is first
and foremost a scientific method. But, I believe, as P. Valéry, H.A. Simon, P.N. Laird-Johnson and many
others, that modeling is in fact the main cognitive process of the human brain and that it can have many
shapes, its main one being the mathematical modeling.

Usually, scientific theories are expressed by means of mathematics. Ivar Ekeland, a norse
mathematician, defines modeling as follows: “[an] intellectual construct of a mathematical model, i.e., a
network of equations supposed to describe reality”. It is of course a definition of mathematical modeling.

But there are other definitions of modeling. The definition of the group AFSCET says: Modeling is an art
by which the modeler express his vision of reality. It is a constructivist way. J.-L. Le Moigne, in his article
La modélisation est désormais notre mot-clé4, defines modeling as a process of intentional construction
which represents, by means of a system of symbols, a perception of an experience of reality perceived by

The reader may consult many books on this topic written by authors such as: Jay Forrester, Peter Checkland, Peter
Senge, etc.
Some scholars, such as Leibniz and others, had put forward reservations about the Descartes’ method.
G.-B. Vico said about it: “If we apply it with rigor, it forbids invention; it only allows reproduction”.
Modeling is henceforth our key word; In edil26,

the modeler5. Finally, in a book on the implementation of modeling (Le Moigne 2004), Le Moigne says:
Modeling is built as a point of view matched on reality (p.118).

This way of modeling mentioned here is that of Leonardo da Vinci, the Disegno, or that of G.-B. Vico, the
Ingenium. It makes the poet, the scientist, the musician, the painter, the architect, the novelist, the
sculptor, realize that they all proceed the same way to represent phenomena, events, or to build,
design, elaborate projects. We could not call it a rigorous method but rather a train of thought that
leaves room for intuition, fuzziness, uncertainty.

When we think, ideas “collide” in disorder as we don’t think in a linear way but in a non-linear one: we
think in a complex manner, in a networked manner. This is why we need to write down our ideas.
Modeling helps us manage this complexity. It couldn’t be represented linearly or as a tree-like diagram;
it could only be represented as a network in which the relations between components are more
important than the components themselves, but without the importance of the components being
neglected. A good example of this method would be Tony Buzzan’s mind mapping which teaches us to
draw up a heuristic map of our thoughts. Karl Marx said: “A spider conducts operations that resemble
those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what
distinguishes the worst work of architects from the best work of bees is that the architect raises his
structure in imagination before he erects it in reality”.6

However, the definition of modeling that best seduced me is that of Henri Planchon in his account La

(…) developing a model is akin to writing a poem in which, for better expressing our emotions, we
infringe some rules in order to bring out an aesthetic which will help us get closer to the unspeakable, to
this almost unconveyed world that the poet fully lives while trying hard to share it with others. The poet
tries to build what can be shown but cannot be said. Consequently, reading a poem is not only being in
an attentive and listening mood, but it is to penetrate the thought of the poet through ourselves. A
poem, like a model, is not grasped as an object: it is shared.

Whatever the definition given, I believe that the process of modeling is a mental characteristic allowing
the human to imagine and to represent reality in a given “language”, be it equations, diagrams, a
narrative, a code, etc. There is thus a mental process (thinking and /or imagining, often both) before the
production of a model which could take the form of equations, a novel or a symphony. I suggest a little
further a diagram of this mental process but first I’ll examine briefly some kinds of modeling.

Let us keep in mind the word symbol which, in itself, is a kind of synthetic modeling.
In Das Kapital, Buch 1,Vol. I, Ch. 7, pg.198 (

Kinds of modeling

I use the word kind instead of type in order to not confuse with the classification set by the scientific
community which distinguishes types of modeling although without setting visible borders between
them (conceptual type, notional type, etc.). I distinguish four kinds of modeling:

the mathematical modeling covering the scientific areas (physics, chemistry, etc.) where modeling is
expressed in mathematical language, i.e., equations.

the narrative modeling – which matters most here – is expressed in natural languages in various
narrative forms (myth, legend, saga, tale, poem, etc.).

the graphical modeling expressed usually in the form of diagrams or drawings (painting, sketch,
sculpture, caricature, chart, graph, etc.)

the musical modeling represented by music; this kind of modeling could also belong to the narrative
kind as songs are (roughly) words grafted on a melody.

In order to be consistent with myself, I ought to begin with the graphical kind as in the beginning there is
reality, the physical environing world. The human will have a pictured representation of this reality – the
image, a model of reality – which, for example, was discovered in prehistoric caves. But this presupposes
that the human had already sketched these pictures in his brain under some certain form(s). After the
graphical kind, could have come the narrative kind as if we go back far in the history of the human
mankind we encounter myths, legends, fables etc. which are ways of representing reality. But this
chronology will force me to develop my ideas in a more detailed manner and this will overstep the limits
of an article. I will thus begin with the mathematical kind in order to better set up the concept of
modeling reality.

The mathematical kind

 
I will not tackle the mathematical modeling which is too specific a field. In the view of this article,
Mathematics does not constitute a way of modeling reality as the mathematical objects are idealized
mental abstractions. As these objects are not really perceived by our five senses, there is thus no
cognitive perception  conceptualization course8. Concepts such as infinity, a mathematical point, do
not exist as are in reality. We can’t thus talk about modeling reality in this case. Mathematics are a field
of abstract knowledge built upon concepts such as numbers, shapes, structures, transformations etc.
with the help of logical reasoning. But let’s not forget that Calculation, the ancestor of Mathematics, was
dealing with real problems concerning trade, population, distances, angles, planets, etc. In the Classical
Age, Mathematics was a science of order and measure. This doesn’t mean that there is no place for
imagination or creation. Great mathematicians such as H. Poincaré, or great physicists such as A.
Einstein, assigned a big importance to the imagination, i.e., visualizing a problem-situation (for example,
Einstein’s cosmic elevator, Maxwell’s demon etc.). Henri Poincaré’s mathematical method consisted of
four steps: preparation, incubation, illumination, verification (following the act of creating of G. Wallas).
It was during the periods of incubation and illumination that imagination played the biggest role. The
mathematician Wendelin Werner says about his work (Werner 2010): “Of course, I handle abstract
objects, but they strike a chord within my imagination. We associate them to something lived in real life,
a bit less abstract than other mathematical objects. (…) I love to deal with these objects. I find in them
something personal, not completely untied from me”.

According to J.-L. Krivine, mathematicians decipher the mechanisms of their own thought by using unconsciously
the lambda-calculus which could be our “mentalese”, our brain’s machine language as defined by J. Fodor. By
thinking, they just “reproduce calculations that are brewing since millions of years”. In Science&Vie, nº1013 février


So, when the math says : ∑ s 1 = lim s , it describes the behavior of s

n n n by saying:

n=0 k ∞

the sum s n gets nearer to the limit 1 as n moves toward infinity;

infinity and by setting:

1 = 1/2 + 1/2² + 1/2³ + …+ 1/2ⁿ,

1/2 we set a mathematical modeling regarding real numbers which are pure
mathematical objects, i.e., abstract, imaginary objects. Other scientific fields use mathematical
modeling, i.e. a description procedure (a “technique”) of reality by way of mathematical language.

Thus, when Physics say:


it is a modeling which is nearer

nearer to our sense of modeling as it is an equation representing the trajectory
of a particle of mass m in a field of potential, knowing its coordinates in space with respect to time. We
could thus say that modeling requires to identify and select relevant aspects
a spects of a situation of the real

Also, when Chemistry says: 2 KClO3 2KCl + 3 O2, it is modeling a chemical reaction where 2
molecules of potassium chlorate break down into 2 molecules of potassium chloride and 3 molecules of
dioxygen.. We have here
here a modeling similar to that of Physics as a chemical equation is a language
allowing to describe the reshuffling of atoms in a chemical reaction.

This short explanation on mathematical modeling was a way to show the means invented by man to
represent and describe his surrounding environment, i.e. reality. But it took him a bit of time before he
reaches this kind of modeling since the Hellenistic thinkers. Before this era, man uses a way of modeling
which is characteristic of his nature and which distinguishes
distinguishes him from an animal:
animal: language.

The narrative kind: in principio erat narratio

When the tools allowing him to understand the world lack, man invents ways of explaining reality. Even
if he possesses the most powerful tool – the brain, which is the key of his development, evolution,
progress in many fields –, man chooses a specific way of explaining reality which is particular to human
mankind: stories, tales, myths. He thus calls for this or that imaginary entity or force or power to explain
phenomena whose meaning escapes him. In order to understand his environment – or rather to make
others understand what he has understood –, man most probably began to “tell stories” (and then he
probably engraved them on the walls of caves, or inversely, which means in both cases that the story
was carved in his brain under some form). Man probably began to represent his surrounding
environment – to model reality – with the help of fiction because it is a vehicle of knowledge. What is
“to know” – anything – other than having of that anything an iconic representation, i.e. a more or less
precise and multisensory image, or, at higher levels of complexity, a more abstract model.

Why Fiction? By borrowing this title from J.-M. Schaeffer’ book (Pourquoi la fiction, Seuil, 1999), I intend
to say that man, in order to understand the world, imagined, invented, created fictions which later
developed and evolved progressively into myths, legends, tales, Eddas etc. until ads including
Mathematics9. This vision follows from Bernard Victorri’s narrative function (Victorri 2006) concerning
the origin – or rather the emergence – of human language10. According to this hypothesis, the
emergence of natural language resulted probably from and during crisis situations in the ancient
Hominidae (archaic Homo Sapiens) and language could have been developed – by way of a progressive
complexifying process – in order to avoid that the crisis be repeated within the society. This favored
social cohesion and the group’s survival. From there to the birth of myths, there is a fine line. And the
rest followed.

Please excuse this shortcut.
In fact, it concerns the passage from protolanguage to language, the protolanguage being a utilitarian system of
communication much more rudimentary than language.

Protolanguage and language coexisted during a period of time until the extinction of the first one.
Protolanguage was probably some sort of a functional language with a rudimentary Tarzan-like syntax
but with a rich lexis. Language, by borrowing lexis from protolanguage, developed specific features
allowing it to become a full-fledged tongue by a complexifying process (and sometimes by a
simplexifying process as we will see it further for the modeling process): aspect in expressing
temporality, modal verbs, demonstratives (which could be used as deicitics), syntax, polysemy,
metaphor, metonymy etc., so much features which protolanguage lacked and which allowed language
to mention past or imaginary events that were not the immediate focus of the speakers.

An answer to the question asked above could be the following extract from Victorri’s article:

Telling a story means most of the time to pull oneself out of the present situation in order to introduce
another spatiotemporal frame, to conjure up real or imaginary characters, make them live, act, think,
talk on some kind of a ‘verbal stage’ set in front of an audience by unfolding, more or less quickly
according to the needs, the course of a temporality that is fully mastered and that is used to serve the
dynamic process of the events that succeed one another on this stage. This latter could in turn move to
follow a character or a plot to the ends of the earth if need be. In short, the narrative function needs
imperatively the use of all the complexity of languages which turn out to be astonishingly adapted to this
exercise, (…). But, beyond this fact, the narrative function has many other uses: from the first myths to
children’s tales to dreams’ stories to science-fiction novels, it ‘informs’ in a totally other way11: by
shaping and educating the minds to exercise our imagination, (…) the narrative played and continue to
play an essential role in setting up and permanently renewing the cultural world that characterizes all
human societies. Storytelling, far from being an anecdotal activity restrained to leisure, lies at the very
heart of these societies’ structuring as it lies on the sharing of common cultural values.

This narrative vision is corroborated by Jean-Guy Meunier in his article Narration et cognition
(MeunierJ.-G. 1993) where he says: ‘Narration appears to be a representational way by which
individuals, as society, organize and interpret their own stature in their environment’. According to
Meunier, we can find, on the level of the narrative act, identical features to the general cognitive

Its first way of informing is factual, i.e., factual information, the ground zero of information.

- perceptive functions
- praxiological functions
- control functions
- epistemical fuctions
- ipseical functions
- didactical functions

What concerns the perceptive functions, Meunier says:

‘Narration could be a way among others to set the individual or collective memory of the including and
integrative representations of complex perceptions. The narrative could thus be, for the speaker, a way
of representing its own perception of the world’.

In view of the functions mentioned above – cognitive models12 according to Catherine Grall (Grall 2007)
– Narration appears to Meunier as a process by which a cognitive agent set his/her perceptions, develop
them in action templates, mark/tag them with norms, weigh up their validity and set him/herself as
unity; it constitutes thus an original symbolic modality for the adaptation and insertion of a subject in the
world vis-à-vis the others and the self. C. Grall adds that the cognitive agent whose various
representational functions are all activated by his/her narrative performance, shapes simulation valued

We could thus say that the Human ‘fictionalizes’ not only for the sake of fun but above all to learn and
know. The little girl who plays doll while pretending to be a mother, or the little boy playing cops and
robbers, already possesses the faculty of creating a fictive world with their imagination which remains
linked to entities and objects of the real world. The child models in her brain – by simplifying and
without knowing it as she does for language – her future world of adult, in order to learn to know it and
understand it better and hence to adapt to it.

In the same way, the author who invents a story creates a fictive world based on real entities. She is just
modeling what the world could be (or could have been or has been) according to her own point of view.

Fiction is an essential process for thought once it tends to free itself from raw perception, says H. Wallon
(in De l’acte à la pensée).

The French word is grille (grid).

Modeling could hence take various forms by leaning on a code as it is summarized in the following

{ symbolic  mathematical equations

Modeling  Code { language  narrative

{ graphical  drawings, pictures

{ acoustic  music (+ lyrics)

Which kind of modeling?

After having briefly stated two kinds of modeling, mathematical and narrative, I’ll try to define the
nature of the process of modeling as regards to artists and authors, and the processe(s) that is/are at

In systemic modeling, the observer (the modelizer) is part of the system; his/her modeling is thus
subjective as it is his/her point of view. Let us take as an example the numerous books on geopolitics for
a given topic (oil, for example): the points de views (the models) diverge or converge depending on the
authors, but they all have a common basis, i.e. the modeling. It is not quite the same case in
Mathematics: the results (models) have to converge but the ways (modeling) can be different.

Concerning modeling, Henri Planchon says the following13:

Any perception, any idea creates a mental representation which, if it is thought and ‘made aware’, could
be expressed, conveyed by a modeling. The very fact of wishing to have a written trace of this mental
image is part of the process of modeling. Willing to project our thoughts makes it organize itself and
makes it model. This progress from the fuzzyness, i.e., the ‘flared’ shape of our mental modeling, towards
more clear ideas through an image whose architecture appears more clearly, is made easier and is done
by way of a written and/or an oral production. At this level, the elements are tried, corrected, adapted
and above all linked to each other in a way that they form together a coherent whole which can be
perceptible and grasped globally.


I believe that all the process is linked to this flared shape, as modeling presupposes that the cognitive
agent/subject has already developed a representation during the stage of conceptualization. I think that
this stage consists in a complex process named schematizing in which the cognitive subject develops
quickly at the subconscious level two kinds of schemas14. To reach this stage, it seems that the cognitive
subject uses a natural cognitive process already ‘implemented’ since his/her early childhood in order to
learn his/her mother tongue: abduction.

It’s the philosopher-logician C.S. Peirce who first discovered this type of reasoning, saying that it is a
weak kind of reasoning as it lacks the rigor of the other two strong types of reasoning which are
deduction and induction. However, Peirce recommended to study abduction as, according to him, it
could well be the basis of human perception and because it could be the only type of reasoning allowing
new ideas to crop up, and thus, allowing creation.

According to Peirce, abduction is a type of reasoning where a person, instead of following a logical
method (as in deduction by modus ponens), infer a previous stage by means of a heuristical process
from a present case.

Let us see briefly these three types of reasoning15, beginning with deduction (or hypothetical-deductive
reasoning) which is the most familiar one (Sherlock Holmes is its most perfect representative):

Given a law: All Humans are mortal;

and a case: Socrates is a human;

we deduce a result: Socrates is mortal.

In induction, we go on from a case and a result to infer a law:

Case: Socrates is a human, as are B. Obama, the Dalaï Lama, you, me;

Result: Socrates is mortal;

Law: all Humans are mortal.

I’ll explain this word further as it is used with various meanings; but it possesses a common sense from Kant to
Piaget to Revault d’Allones and many others even if there are nuances.
According to some logicians, there exists a fourth type of reasoning, transduction, where we have the possibility
to transfer a reasoning from one domain top another provided some degree of homomorphism.

In abduction, we infer the case from the law and the result:

Result: Socrates is dead;

Law: All Humans are mortal;

Case: Socrates was probably a human.

Abduction reasoning is not as rigorous as are the other two types of reasoning, as we can infer a wrong
case: If Socrates is dead (result) and given that all cats are mortal (law), we can abduct the following
case: Socrates was probably a cat. But, deduction reasoning, with all its rigor, can also lead to
absurdities even more stupid than the probabilities resulting from abduction. For example:

Law: A rare horse is expensive;

Case: Yet, a horse of little value is rare;

Result: Thus, a horse of little value is expensive.

Abduction allows us to reach a general forecasting without guaranteeing a clear result. It starts from a
noticed result, invokes a law and infers that something could have been the case. It is the kind of
reasoning used by speakers of a tongue where they proceed with assumptions based on the data of
other grammars and by inferring from these. This is why Henning Andersen says that the acquisition of a
language by a child involves the three types of reasoning mentioned above, the most important of them
being abduction as it is the most used subconsiously.

In the course of acquiring a language, the child builds its grammar by hearing it used around him. In so
doing, she interprets it as a result and makes assumptions - by way of heuristics - concerning the
structure of this grammar by relying on linguistic rules supposed to be innate; this is the abductive

It is well known that if a child doesn’t hear a language spoken in her environment, her faculty of language is not
activated and she will not acquire any language.

The grammar that the child builds progressively is tested in two ways:

1. the child could hear new structures and check if the grammar she has built so far can reproduce them;
this is the inductive stage. If this fails, the child will proceed to other abductive innovations.

2. the child reproduces the heard structures, checking thus the grammar she has built with and beside
the other speakers; this is the deductive stage. If the speakers don’t understand her or correct her, the
child will rectify her grammar.

Abduction could thus be the basis, the grounding, the substructure of human reasoning. Moreover,
abduction possesses a specific feature, an asset, that the other two types lack, as vis-à-vis the rigor –
thus the rigidity17 – of deduction and induction, it refines with time and experience. Not only the
heuristics implement themselves more easily, but they could be easily transferred to another domain.
This is called transduction (more commonly known as analogy18).

What the scientist does the most explicitly and the most completely by reasoning, the acting thought
does it most often spontaneously, implicitly and incompletely but with some success (Piaget visité par la
didactique, Vergnaud 2001/02).

It seems thus that logical deduction is not the strong point of Humans as it is a method created,
developed and used on a large scale long ago, especially since the 19 th century. What we are good at is
to jump to conclusions after having gathered some bits of proof in order to pull out some fuzzy rule (a
schema), and this makes us feel that we are on the right track. The schemas bypass our way of dealing
with the detail of the surrounding reality; and this saves our energy for other matters. It seems that
Zipf’s law works everywhere.

This law – according to me – seems to be a cognitive process similar to Ockham’s razor: simplexity. It is
a way to simplify the complexity (of a system), by keeping its marrow and without losing complexity. An
approximate analogy to figure out this process would be the data compression softwares: a huge
volume of data is ‘reduced’ (compressed, zipped) to save place, but the data is safe. In the simplexity
process, the volume is replaced with complexity.

Usually those two go hand in hand.
I personally prefer the term analogical metaphor, but I will not develop this concept further here.

Simplexity is not simplicity as it is deeply linked to complexity. To begin with, both words share the same
latin root plex-: simplex (lat. simplexus) means ‘with one fold’; complex (lat. cumplexus) means
‘intertwined’. According to A. Berthoz (Berthoz 2009), simplexity is those solutions or mechanisms that
Life developed to make its life easier: ‘(…) simplifying rules which reduce complexity and allow to deal
quickly with information or situations by taking into account the past experiences and by anticipating the
future; those rules make it easier the understanding of intentions without altering the complexity of

This means that simplexity is in its own a complex process, as for dealing with complexity, the means
used - it is a principle in complexity science - must as least be as complex as the studied system 19. The
means, however, will have ‘compressed’ the complexity.

Here are some examples to better grasp this process:

Some languages use affixes that express a lot at a time, e.g., the Turkish suffix –mIş express at the same
time the past and some distance of the speaker towards an event (it probably happened but I’m not sure
of it). Some Amerindian languages, lacking verbal forms, possess nominal suffixes expressing at the
same time the aspect, the place and the time. Let’s remain in language to notice that metaphor (not
only the figure of speech but G. Lakoff’s conceptual metaphor) allows us to summarize in one sentence a
complex situation which would otherwise need a longer explanation. Once again, in language, at the
level of tropes, irony allows us to give our opinion in a quick way without expanding upon diatribes.
Finally, let’s return to the narrative function with the myth which as a ‘detour through imagination,
contains realities, synthesized complex relations despite their apparent complexity’ 20. We could say the
same for the tale, the fable, the parable, the advertising, the propaganda, the symbol etc. Human
language seems to contain various mechanisms using simplexity to convey a message.

Simplexity is thus the means used by the human brain to hold complex information concerning the
surrounding world but also to express and convey them. It is a cognitive process which compresses
information and synthesizes it without losing its complexity. What is then the implemented mechanism
in this cognitive process?

I mentioned above Ockham’s razor. Taken from Aristotle (who himself cited Empedocles), Ockham’s
razor is in fact a process involving simplexity. As Berthoz says: ‘(…) Ockham’s idea is subtle: the abstract

This concurs with Ashby’s law of requisite variety.
A. Berthoz, op. cited, p.223.

shapes of thought – concepts, intentions, similarities with the outside world, the “intellections” – are all
mental signs that we have no reason to differentiate from the very act of intellecting’21.

The terms abstract shapes, mental signs, are, within the frame of this article, what Kant and many
others name mental schemas, and what Johnson-Laird calls mental models. What Berthoz explains in
the above quoted sentence is the mental process named schematizing by R. Estivals (Fr.
schématisation). It is a subconscious process used by the human brain to simplexify his/her perceptions
of the surrounding world. We find, at the basis of this process, the schema (Gr. skεma).

I will proceed to a “simplexified” explanation of the word schema without developing the concept
further as there are various meanings depending on the philosopher, the logician or the scientist using
it. However, the main structure of all these various schemas is similar.

The schema is a mental frame which can lead to other forms of expression. ‘The schema is a
psychological representation intermediate between the concrete image and the abstract concept’, says
M. Piéron22. E. Kant defines the schema as a general process of the imagination to give an image to a

In his article, G. Vergnaud (Vergnaud 2001/02) says: ‘Revault d’Allones developed the concept of schema
many years before Piaget did, by introducing it mainly in a theory of perception and recognition; he even
talks about glimpse23, i.e., a process of a quick information grasping, which is inevitably reducing. His
idea, already very interesting, is that we organize the perceived information in schematic scenes, in
silhouettes; the psychological phenomena and many other cultural products like proverbs, trade
names/signs, ensigns, prove it.

R. Estivals (Estivals 2003) believes that the schema is a structured intuition, a preconcpetual
object/phenomenon ‘which can appear in the consiousness without triggering a verbal expression’. This
presymbolic cognitive structure of the connexionnists could be part of our mental language, the
mentalese of J. Fodor.

According to J.-J. Wunenburger (Wunenburger 2005), ‘(…) the schema appears (…) as some sort of a
sensitive representation, which could be visualized, but which is reduced to an uncertain sketch whose
recourse allows precisely to lead a concept towards perceptive exemplifications and, inversely, lead
specific perceptions towards a unique categorical referent. (…) The notion of schema thus selects and
promotes a special type of representation which is not reduced to the reproduction of a referent but
gives of it a refined, simplified, generic and genetic information’.

Ibidem, p.211.
In Vocabulaire de la psychologie, 1963.
The French text says aperception.

E. Manguelin (Manguelin 2005) claims that ‘the schema is a power of figuring, a figural matrix, which lies
beyond the represented objects. It is creative because, contrary to the image, it exists at the state of pure
tendency and can be constantly reactualized’24.

B. Duborgel (Duborgel 2005) bases his definition of the schema on Kant’s definition: ‘This peculiar
representation is not the concept nor the image; the schema is not the specific detailed image, it is its
status of possibility; it lies near the image but beyond it and it lies near the generality of the concept but
already beyond it ’. Pursuing with Kant who said about the schema that it is ‘an art hidden deep in the
human psyche and it will be very difficult to dig out its mechanism (…)’, Duborgel clarifies that Kant’s
metaphor of the monogram aiming at grasping the schema is important as ‘The monogram is indeed the
condensed and abbreviated expression of a name, this latter being reduced to some main letters or to a
non scriptural graphical sign which can serve as a signature’.

In view of the preceding, I can say that the schema is a minimal mental mold implementing a quick
simultaneous process of reduction-organization of information. It is creative, generative, and shaping,
i.e., it gives shape to the perceived information. It is probably the crucible, the generating matrix in
which and by which the mixed abduction-simplexity process occurs. It is after this process that thinking
(analysis, modeling25 etc.) takes place.

In order to clarify the concept of schema, I will give some examples from various fields.

To begin with, Chomsky’s universal grammar can be considered as a schema (even a megaschema) as it
is presupposed to be the matrix generating all the grammars of all the natural languages. As a proof, we
can consider creoles languages (born from pidgins) and the sign languages as that of Nicaragua or that of
Al-Sayyed Palestinian village in the Negev (Israël). In those two last cases, the generation who followed
the one who created the pidgin or the sign language, developed this language to a fully-fledged
language, i.e., a language possessing a syntax; the pidgin usually possesses a Tarzan-like arrangement of
words. Also in Linguistics, we have in the semitic languages the schema which is a pre-established mold
giving birth to verbal and nominal forms.

In the computer field, the XML language, a kind of mold-format, could be transposed into another
format (doc, pdf, …) without losing its pre-established characteristics.

Nowadays we would say updated but it is not the adequate word here.
I like the protemanteau word modelyze as I believe that analysis is part of the modeling process.

In the Hindu religious field, the mantra could be considered as a phonic schema (vibratory if it is only
“thought” but not pronounced) and the mandala could be considered as a graphic-symbolic schema.

Now, if the schema is the basis of human thought (To think is to schematize, said Goblot), this means
that it is a cognitive invariant, some sort of a cognitive substructural framework. In fact, if we consider
the human thought, we notice the following:

i. the human being has an abstraction capacity, the most compelling proof being Mathematics: he can
think in the abstract, on the abstract, for the abstract;

ii. the human being has an imagination power: the most compelling proof is fiction he created long ago
and which gave birth to myths, legends, novels, etc.;

iii. the human being has an analysis power, the most compelling proof is the huge progress in all the
fields of Science.

There is no need to say that those three powers can combine together to form a complex system that
allows the modeling process.

Now, after looking more deeply into the schema, this is what I deduce:

If 1) it is pre-conceptual (or pre-symbolic) and 2) it is a general process of the imagination to give an

image to a concept, this means that there are two kinds of schemas:

i) a first one, schema i, intuitive, pre-conceptual, barely sketched, which will lead to
ii) a second one, schema d, post-conceptual, definite and definitive, which will set itself into a
shape, an image, a model, and will lead to categorization.

In order to clarify all the abovementioned ideas, I suggest the following figure which translates what
could be – in my view – the representational system of the human being:


Schema i i


Schema d

Modeling process

Representation => schematizing  conceptualizing  modeling  creation


I tried in this article to show whether the modeling process, as defined at the beginning, was the main
cognitive activity of the human being used to the process of representation. My starting point was:
What is going on in the heads of artists, authors and other creators? How do they represent their
surrounding world? How do they imagine, invent, create?

Next, I divided the modeling process into four kinds and I looked briefly into two of them: the
mathematical kind and the narrative kind. By developing this latter, I showed that the narrative function
was essential for the human being as it stands at the core of her understanding of the world: the human
being “fictionalizes” in order to better understand her environment. Fiction is a vehicle for knowledge
and it involves modeling. But there is at first another process which leads to this modeling process: the
schematizing process in which abduction and simplexity mix together and lead to the conceptualizing

Scientifical modeling is claimed to be objective and systemic modeling is claimed to be subjective. What
about the “artistic” modeling, i.e., that of the artists, writers, designers? In view of what precedes, I
would say it is a mix of the first two modeling processes with a personal touch of the artist and it gives a
“modalized” modeling process. Thus, the modeling process can take various aspects:

‘Modeling could be envisaged under other aspects than that of the slaving mathematical models. Trying
to model what is (…) specific to human situations (…) requires also building (…) another view to the
model than that proposed by Mathematics. (…) The transdisciplinarity invites us to experiment various
modelings producing meaning, being interpretative rather than explanatory, and which try hard to show
the various plausibilities that these modelings contain. Henceforth, the power of a model can be revealed
just as much by a parable, a story, a poem as by a diagram, a drawing or equations’26.

There is no need to say that this article only skimmed over the concerned subject. But I believe that this
topic could be part of a new theory – or model – of Information, containing itself a theory of knowledge
which contains a theory of cognition which in turn includes a theory of representation.

Expériences de la modélisation, modélisation de l’expérience, p.11-12, L’Harmattan, 2004.


It is obvious that my resulting thoughts out of this article - they continue to surface - led
me farther than expected. This is what is what is called Serendipity, i.e., finding something other
than what we were looking for. Now, it happens that in many cases, the unexpected discovery
has a tenuous link with what we were looking for. If this link is not apparent, then we have to dig
more deeply to make it apparent\.

Louis Pasteur, Alexander Fleming, Marie Curie and many others have each made a
discovery while they were leaning on a different topic of their "punch". But, as Pasteur says, the
mind must be prepared to realize that this finding is a novelty to be considered. Here are two
quotes in this regard:

1) ... by chance, would you say, but remember that in the observational sciences, chance only
favours prepared minds.
Louis Pasteur, manuscript of his first speech as Dean of the new Faculty of Sciences of Lille, 1854.

2) One who finds what he seeks generally does the good job of a schoolboy; thinking about what
he wants, he often neglects signs, sometimes minimal, who bring something else than the object
of its forecasts. The true seeker must know how to pay attention to the signs that reveal the
existence of a phenomenon which is not expected.
Louis Leprince-Ringuet, in Des atomes et des hommes, II, Psychologie nouvelle duchercheur, Paris, Fayard, 1957,
pp. 57-58.

Personally, this led me to a discovery concerning the entire universe (er, yes, just that).
But to confirm and validate it, I had to read again philosophers such as Kant, Leibniz, Spinoza,
and to focus on their concept of knowledge, thought, language, and meaning. It was also
necessary to examine the myth, the legend, the parable, the fable and many other fictional genres
to see what knowledge these representations of reality conveyed to the ordinary people and to the
scholar. Moreover, I had to study concepts such as information, meaning and cognition to put it
all in an organized framework to better find my bearings while grasping the discovery. And, last
but not not least, I had to tackle some concepts of Cosmology, especially those related to dark
matter and dark energy.

I must say I hesitated a lot to write down these thoughts in order to publish a book
because I have this strong feeling that I'm taking risks in doing so. But I like to live dangerously.
Thus, driven by a deep impulse, I continued my readings and research on these "avatars" of
storytelling that teach us something and step by step, I found that the narrative function was
vitally important in any civilisation.

It all started with my thoughts as a linguist on meaning. It 's settled! Excuse the delay.
What is meaning? Where does it come from? Is it an intrinsic part of our world or is it we,
human beings, who give meaning to the world that surrounds us as we are beings endowed with

In the first case - meaning as an intrinsic part - the answer can wait because we can't
detect meaning with some device as it is an intangible entity. To my knowledge, there isn't yet a
meaningometre (or a semantometre) measuring quality and quantity of meaning.

In the second case, the answer can be provided in the light of advances in cognitive
sciences and in neurosciences, but also in light of all the literature on this topic. Whence my
article above. It is from there that the concept27 of meaning could be addressed, but probably not

While thinking about meaning, I obviously ran into the concept of information. Meaning
is important for a linguist: meaning of a word, meaning of a sentence, meaning of a text, lexical
semantics, sentence semantics, text semantics. So many notions elaborated to give meaning to
meaning. And in what respect has this been considered?

Meaning is just as important to non-linguists, which means the rest of the population. But
we don't care too much because it's part of our daily life. Hey! Why my son took his headphones
without his cellphone? If I find an explanation for this situation, I would have understood why.
That will make sense. But it is the very concept of meaning that baffles us. This is why we must
start with the concept of information, even if Information is less palpable than Meaning. As
what is it that has meaning if not the perceived information?

To address these elusive concepts, let's start by something concrete. Here are some
examples that will put us on the track:

Take a kitten already wide awake and propel a ball in front of her. She's going to chase it. Why?

Take the same kitten (or another one if this one is not available) and tease her with a cord on the
ground. The kitten will be frightened and will attack the end of the cord with her paw. Why?

How come the beavers build dams on rivers without knowing anything about basic mathematics,
static physics and architecture?

How do leukocytes recognize foreign invaders within our body?

How peptides resulting from the degradation of elastin are recognized by the receiver?

I use the term "concept" because it seems more alive that within the framework of this concept would be more
appropriate, although more abstract concept. (a supprimer)

There is a pattern in E-coli bacterium that responds to stress by producing flagella resembling
whips and allowing it to move to more favourable locations. How and why?

The ascidiacea, a half-animal half-vegetal body, endow itself with a tiny brain, an eye and a
vestibular sensor if it doesn't find food in its environment. How and why?

It was recently discovered what overbrisks chromosome X in males: it's an activating enzyme,
MSL2, which recognizes a particular DNA sequence on the surface of chromosome X.

Bees: fascinating animals! As soon as one of them forager or scout/explorer, finds flowers, it
returns to the hive to warn its fellows by dancing in front of them. This dance mobilizes the
entire body of the bee and explains to the others the location and the distance of the flowers:

i. The distance is given by the speed of the dance: the faster the dance, the closer the food

ii. The direction is indicated in relation to the Sun: the angle that the dance plane makes with the
vertical is equal to the angle that the food makes with the Sun on a horizontal plane.

Bees use a language. This means that our kitten, our beaver, our white blood cells and
any living entity on the Planet have a language (Yes, even plants, see below). Well, this is maybe
rushing things, but one could argue that any living entity, however small it may be, would have a
device for processing information (some sort of an integrated bio-nano-processor). We can thus
deduce that a process of communication exists between living entities and that a process of
cognition could exist at all levels of Life.

Here is the evidence:

Suzanne Simard, a Canadian researcher, spent nearly 30 years studying the trees in the
forests and carried out the following experiment: She recreated a littlle forest with about 100
trees of three species: paper birch, Douglas fir and western red cedar. She covered each tree with
a plastic bag and injected radioactive gaz carbon-14 into the birch bag and a gaz carbon-13 into
the pine bag. Shortly after, she removed the bag from the birch tree and noted with astonishment
that the birch had transmitted CO2 to the pine from the roots and she inferred that the trees and
plants communicate through a very complex subterranean network called mycorrhizal network.
In this network, mother-trees - similar in function to the main nodes of the Internet - transmit to
young plants their excess of carbon.

“Plants don't have a brain, but this does not mean they don't have some sort of cognition; as the
American psychologist William James wrote: 'Some creatures situated far low on the intellectual
scale could be able of conceiving; they just need to be able to recognize the same experience.

(…)'. Our immune system, for example, is a conceptual thinker in the sense given by W. James
because it knows how to recognize pathogens it has already encountered”.28

Information: elusive, but existing

In a recent book entitled Le fil de la vie (The Thread of Life), Jean-Louis Dessalles asserts
that information only exists - it takes its existence - if there is an individual who discerns/reads it.
Otherwise, information doesn't exist in itself. Fine. But as there are only information
detectors/sensors in this world - me, you, the leukocytes, the peptides, the kitten, the beavers, the
bees and all the others - it is right to assume that information exists in itself, even in the absence
of a reader. My USB stick, my old audio cassettes, my old vinyls, my CD-ROMs contain data.
By inserting these information media in the appropriate drive, I have access to my data. By
removing the media, the data are always on it, they haven't vanished. They exist potentially. It is
perhaps because information is materially intangible that we don't feel its existence.

Ditto for books or any other data medium. The information contained in a book doesn't
disappear once the book is read, closed and put back on the shelf. And information doesn't
vanish from the Universe when we stop pointing our telescopes at galaxies, stars and comets.
Without getting into considerations that go beyond the framework established for this book
(Leontiev's theory, Hofkirchner's Unified theory, Landauer's erasure principle), I set forth below
the views of some specialists. If I proceed this way, it's because most of these theories call on a
fundamental aspect for scientists: Entropy. This isn't part of this book, otherwise, we will have to
deal with various and related topics. I start from the point of view of a linguist (ascendant
cognitician) and I confine myself to a limited scope in order not to be too scattered. My goal is
to prove that information is a fundamental component of the Universe, and that it is part of all
aspects of life (the explanations generally given about it are but avatars used in fields as various
as biology, social sciences, physics, etc.). Here are the views of some experts, knowing that the
idea of a role of information in the understanding of the Universe was already proposed since the
19th century by scientists such as Ludwig Boltzmann, Josiah Gibbs or Leo Szilard:

Norbert Wiener:

Information is information, not matter or energy.

This is what Gilles Cohen-Tannoudji29says:

With quantum concepts, the concept of information shares the priority we have mentioned at the
beginning, which is combining in an inseparable way the subjective and the objective aspects.
From an objective point of view, information reflects reality as something existing objectively,

Idriss Aberkane, Libérez votre cerveau, R.Laffont, p.105
Le temps des processus élémentaires-I, in Le temps et sa flèche, Champs-Flammarion, 1995, p.112.

independently of any specific knowledge we can have about it. From the subjective point of
view, information is the material of all knowledge.

Tom Stonier's (1927-1999) point of view:

Information exists. It does not need to be perceived to exist. It does not need to be understood to
exist. It requires no intelligence to interpret it. It does not need to have meaning to exist. It just

According to Stonier, biological systems process information since their beginnings. In

fact, we can interpret the evolutionary history of living systems in terms of their capacity to
create more efficient ways to retain and process relevant information. This evolution of
information systems led to differentiated forms of organization becoming more and more
complex through time.

In his book, Stonier proposes three theorems of Information physics, relating to the connection
between information and organization:31

1. All organised structures contain information, and as a corollary: No organised structure can
exist without containing some form of information.

2. The addition of information to a system manifests itself by causing the system to be more

3. An organised system has the capacity to release or convey information.

Rolf Landauer's point of view32 :

He says that information is not a disembodied abstract entity; it is always tied to a physical
representation, this ties the handling of information to all the possibilities and restrictions of our
real physical world (...) Information is irredeemably engraved in physical medium. According to
Landauer, information is engraved or encoded in a physical medium, regardless of its type.

Seth Lloyd's point of view:

“Starting from its very earliest moments, every piece of the universe was processing

information and the Internal Structure of the Universe, Springer-Verlag, 2013, p.21. Tom Stonier was a biologist,
a philosopher and an information theorist for whom information is not only a built of the human mind, but the 3rd
entity of the universe after matter and energy. He founded the Physics of information that he wanted to become the
basis of a General Theory of Information.
ibid. p.25
Rolf Landauer (1927-1999) was aGerman-American physicist who worked at IBM and for whom information is a
physical entity. (Information is Physical, Physics Today44, May 1991, pp. 23-29).

(Lloyd, S. (2010). The computational universe. In P. Davies and N. H. Gregersen (Eds.), Information and the nature of reality:
From physics to metaphysics(pp. 92-103). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

John Wheeler:

“All physical things are information-theoretic in origin”. Information should therefore be the
single most fundamental notion in understanding the whole of physics.
Wheeler, J. A. (1990). Information, physics, quantum: the search for links. In W. Zurek (ed.),Complexity, entropy and the
physics of information(pp. 3-28). Redwood City CA: Addison-Wesley.

Thus, information is present around us and we make sense of it by analyzing it, i.e., we
produce sense by analyzing it. We are here in the normal frame of Jakobson's communication
layout: there is a transmitter (information), a receiver (human) and a channel (the brain that
produces sense). And - I'm taking a shortcut - the human being began to tell stories in order to
explain the world (and explain it to others), to give it some meaning. We are back to B.
Victorri's narrative function 33mentioned in my article above. In this regard, this narrative
function echoes other fiction-related "theories":

a) The Als-Obtheory of the German philosopher Hans Vaihinger, (1852-1933), (Philosophie des
Als-Ob) , according to which human beings justperceive phenomena, and builds out of them
fictional models of thought to which they give a value ofreality. They then act as if their models
correspond to the perceived reality. Vaihinger takes as an example the atom's elementary
particles (protons, neutrons, etc.): nobody saw them but Science behaves as if these particles
really exist and bases on this model to carry out more advanced observations and enhance the
model. (We know now that these particles really exist after having observed them in the particles
accelerators). According to Vaihinger, the provision human being to generate it fictional objects
is as useful for him as its capacities deductive and inductive.

Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud were inspired by this theory of Vaihinger.

b) the Make-Believe theory of the American philosopher Kendall Walton (1939 - ) according to
whom fictions (to which Kendall adds the works of art) must be regarded as supports in games
where one pretends to do/act, i.e., where one plays pretense. It goes without saying that, like
everywhere else, imagination plays here a central role. These kinds of games, including and
especially those of the children, are characterized by representations that the children feed; they
usually understand the rules which specify the manner with which what actually occurs sparks
what occurs in the game, thus causing an adequate representation. For instance, taking a leek and
pretending to pierce your mother-in-law's belly may be considered as if she was killed; it is
therefore appropriate to consider her dead.

Personally, I'd rather say creative function from which the narrative function would derive, because human
beings not only create with their hands, but with their tongue (literally as well as figuratively), as thought drives
these organs.

The Myth

In the light of the foregoing, let's look at one of the most common narrative fictions
among all the civilizations of the planet: the myth.

I'll start with generalities drawn from various sources and summarized below, and I'll continue
after that with some definitions of two specialists.

The myth is an oral genre that has allowed knowledge to be transmitted before writing is able
to do so. The myth precedes the legend and the tale. As a founder narrative of human history,
the myth is rooted out of history, in those indistinct origins where gods, beings and the world
sought to establish their respective places. Loaded with symbols, it tells the origin of theworld,
men, animals, landscapes, traditions and certain forms of human activity by staging
supernatural beings and processes.

Characteristics of the myth:

• It is sacred, because it includes the intervention of supernatural beings.

• It is true, because it refers to non-scientific realities, but responds more to a deep religious

• It always refers to a creation, because it tells how something came into existence (creation of
the world, humans, animals, etc.).

• It must be repeated by the rites of initiation, because one must not forget the origins of what
founded them.

• It sets some precedents because it answers our concerns before we even ask questions.

• It takes root out of history.

• It was very important for the archaic man, as it told him the stories that founded them, which
relate directly to them and which provided them with a way of life.

• It explains in a pictorial way the origin of knowledge and institutions.

• Its purpose is to enlighten almost inexplicable phenomena.

• It allows to structure the world by proposing answers, through symbolic and pictorial narratives,
to the universal questions of mankind concerning the origins.

• These answers give rise to rituals and hierarchies which structure the society by organizing the
place of people in it.

1. Here is the definition of the myth provided by the website Philolog ( - Simone


A myth is a forged story aiming to answer the great questions that men have always asked
themselves when they think about their origins, the reasons of existing, the destinies of our
universe and our race, the great enigmatic phenomena that arise from everywhere. If one asks
me what a storm is, I will evoke the humidity of the air, the formation of clouds, the phenomena
of rapid ascent of some of them, their charge both electric and rainfall, and other abstract facts

A Loreto, an Indian of the Peruvian territory, will answer the same question like this: "The
Storm is a giant man, with legs longer than the body, with a long and dry face, with ears
resembling those of a vampire. The flashes are the movement of his ears. The rumbling of the
thunder is the power of his feet when he runs on one side and the other. The Storm is created
by him when he's fishing the boa, which he eats and which he calls eel. He then makes
enormous strides, and this is why one hears the thunder from one side to another…” (De
Wavrin, Mœurs et Coutumes des Indiens de l’Amérique du Sud, endnote p. 615).

Did the narrator, or his guarantors, see this giant described with such precision? Obviously not.
They have never observed his existence, nor observed his movements; they infer all of it, they
deduce it. As they don't know other free causes than the ones caused by man, they can only
conceive the storm, which bursts forth anywhere at any time, as provoked by a human agent.
Moreover, given the enormity of the phenomenon, they are forced to set up a "giant", to his
measure. (!) And so on and so forth. Using "worked out phantasies", they thus build their
narrative based on the givens of the problem that they are trying to solve, like the fabulists
who, while imagining their stories, work them out for the sake of the morality they want to

A myth is thus not, at least at its birth, a pointless narrative, some sort of a pure phantasy
intended only for pleasure, art and enchantment. It is the answer to a question, it is the
solution of a problem, it is always a explanation - something which would report, all in all, to
“philosophy”, if we mean by this term the pathway of our spirit when it “seeks to know”, and
to clarify the great questions which arise before us in the world, to the extent that in order to
formulate them and to provide answers, we do not set ourselves in the orbit of “science”. This
association between myth and philosophy is so much obvious, that the first philosophy of our
world, such as the one worked out by the Greeks, comes obviously directly from their
mythology (...)

(…) Contrary to the historical narrative, the myth does not report facts that actually happened
in time in order to make them available to the people with accuracy. Incidentally, the standard
of objective truth is what distinguishes the legend from the historic narrative. In both cases, the
story refers to an effective reality but, whereas the historian cares about the loyalty of the
narrative in the historical reality, the legend beautifies, but also distorts the facts for
hagiographic and uplifting purposes (...)

(...) For its authors, the myth is intended to materialize with something palpable, visible,
dynamic and dramatic hunches, speculations, ideas, themselves disembodied and conceptual,
in order to communicate them to us in our imaginary and not in the abstract; it does not
record findings, but explanations (...)

(...) This isn't the case for myths. Being the culture of the civilizations of oral tradition, one
cannot assign them a specific author. As narratives of the beginnings, they tell of events that
happened in a time before time, with protagonists who are imaginary human beings, heroes,
gods and ancestors. They do have an explanatory function, but on an irreducible mode
against the principles of rational explanation 34.

2. Here is the definition of the myth given by Mircea Eliade35:

The myth tells a sacred story, an event that occurred in the primeval time, the fabled time of
"the beginnings". (...) It is thus always the story of a creation: it is reported how something was
created, how it began to exist. The myth doesn't tell what actually happened; what was fully
showed. (...) We see therefore that the story narrated by the myth is an esoteric-like
"knowledge", not only because it is a secret transmitted during an initiation, but also because
this "knowledge" is accompanied by a magico-religious power. (...) Considered in its aliveness,
the myth is not an explanation intended to satisfy scientific curiosity, but a story that brings to
life an initial reality and fulfills a deep religious need, moral aspirations, constraints and
essential requirements of social type, and even pragmatic requirements.

3. Here is the definition of the Dictionary of symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant
(Robert Laffont, Coll. Bouquins / Jupiter, 1988):

Myths are dramaturgical transpositions of these archetypes, patterns and symbols or overall
assemblies, epics, stories, genesis, cosmogonies, theogonies, gigantomancies, which already
reflect a process of rationalizing. Mircea Eliade sees in the myth the archetypal model for all

I have boldened some sentences on purpose in order to highlight those aspects of the myth that corroborates the
concept of modeling.
In : Aspects du mythe, Folio essais, 2011, p.16 sqq. (1ère édition: Gallimard 1963).

creations on whatever plan they unfold: biological, psychological, and spiritual. The main
function of the myth is to establish the exemplary models of all significant human actions (TH,
345). The myth will appear as a symbolic theater of the inner and outer struggles that the man
faces on the path of their evolution, for the sake of the conquest of his personality. The myth
condenses into one story a throng of similar situations; beyond the eventful and colorful
images, it allows us to discover constant types of relationships, i.e., structures.

After this short outline, let us develop the topic of the myth a little by mentioning some
types of myths, in order to corroborate the idea that the myth could be a way of modeling the

1. Myths of creation ex nihilo: They describe the creation of the world either by thought, word
or asceticism of god the creator, that is, the universe derives directly from this creator-god (ex
deo) without the help of an external agent and without pre-existing substratum.

Here is an example of a Polynesian myth:

In the beginnings, there were only primeval waters immersed into cosmic darkness.
From the vastness of the space where he stood, Io, the supreme God, expressed the desire
to get out of his rest. So light appeared immediately. Then he said: "Let the waters split
apart! Let the heavens form! Let the Earth become! ". This is how the world came into
existence: by the cosmogonic words of Io.

2. Myths of creation ex materia: they adress the creation of the universe from a pre-existing
substratum and with the help of an outside agent.

a. Myths referring to a cosmogonic "diving": The Deus Creator sends a mythical animal or
character in the depth of the primeval waters to bring some mud from which the Earth will be

In many cases (Eastern Europe and Central Asia), these characters are opposed to the
creator and they manage to exercise his power over the world. The significance of this dualism is
that, even if this character is the auxiliary of the God in the activity of creation, his action reflects
the imperfections of the creation and the existence of evil (Prometheus, Lucifer, etc.).

3. Myths of creation by division of an undifferentiated primitive matter:

● Separation of the primeval pair Earth / Sky

● Creation from a primeval chaos

● Creation from a primeval egg that encompasses the whole Universe

● Creation from an egg floating on the primeval waters

(In the latter two cases, the creation begins with the division of the egg).

4. Myths explaining the cosmogonic act by the dismemberment of a primeval man or an

ophidian marine monster:

• Freely accepted immolation of a primeval man (Purusha in Vedic mythology, P'an-ku in

Chinese tradition).

• Fight against a monster followed by its dismemberment (Tiamat in Mesopotamian


5. Deus faber:

In this kind of creative myth, the divinity creates the world using the methods of a
craftsman. In the book of Job, Yahweh reminds Job that it is He who laid the foundations of the
World and its measures. In some Egyptian and Polynesian myths, the creator is a potter (creation
ex materia: clay). Among the Yuki Indians (California), the creator is a manufacturer of tents. In
the "myths" of the Middle Ages and then in those of the Freemasons, the Creator is an Architect
(square & compasses). This process is intended to convey a message that is difficult to
understand for ordinary mortals.

6. Subtypes of myths:

a. Myths telling the origins of an entity:

Here, the existence of the world is assumed and the myth tells the occurrence of a new order.

For instance: The myths of regeneration, which are generally inspired with the cosmogonic
myths and having this fundamental idea that the Cosmos would go to ruin if it were not regularly
recreated by the annual celebration of regeneration rites with the recitation of myths of
regeneration. (e.g.: recitation of theEnuma Elish at the Babylonian New Year).

b. Cataclysmic myths:

How has mankind been annihilated except one couple or a few survivors (e.g.: myth of the

For instance: The myth of Manu (the firstman) in India, who is saved from the flood by a fish
that drags Manu's boat to a mountain36.

(These myths are found everywhere except in Africa).

c. Retirement of the Supreme God:

The Supreme Being, after having created the world and the human being, abandons them and
retreats to heaven. Other gods complete the act of creation and undertake the governing of the

d. Anthropogonic myths:

Man was created from a material substance: soil (Yorubas of Nigeria), stone (Indonesian and
Melanesian myths), animal (Southeast Asia); or, the first men were created by the sacred union
of Mother Earth and Heaven-Father, or by a bisexed divinity (myth of the androgynous).

e. Eschatological myths (end of the world and re-creation):

Universal conflagration. Ultimate battle of the gods (Indo-European civilization in its German
branch), earthquakes, floods, volcanism (Mediterranean basin, Oceania, Japan, America, India,

Here is a brief recapitulation of the types of creation myths:

• Creation from a primeval slop / primeval chaos

• Creation ex nihilo

• Created by Deus Faber

• Creation ex materia (usually from clay)

• Creation by dismemberment of a primeval being / division of a primeval oneness

• Creation by sacrifice (Dyonisos, Osiris, Attis, etc.)

• Creation by accretion (grouping of primeval elements ~ ex materia)

• Creation by secretion (divine fluids, saliva, excrements, etc., ~ ex deo)

• Creation by thought (ex nihilo)

• Creation by word (logos: Ptah, pharaonic Egypt, ex nihilo)

We find here Jonas and Noah.

• Creation by trial and error process

• Creation by cosmogonic diving

• Creation from a cosmic egg (or other oval object depending on the civilization)

• Creation by emergence

• Creation by the Ancestors


Although the definitions of myths are based on a socio-religious sense, it is clear that the
myth is a way of explaining reality and that the religious aspect derives from it. Without going
into details that will outstrip the scope of this book, I provide as proof a book published in 1969
and entitled Hamlet's Mill: "An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its
Transmission Through Myth", by Giorgio de Santillana, Philosopher of Science, in collaboration
with Hertha von Deschend, anthropologist.

In summary, the book explores the idea that certain recurring themes of the world's
mythologies are attempts to pinpoint the phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes which
would have been discovered around 4000 BC, well before its "official" discovery by Hipparchus
in 130 BC. 37

According to the authors of the book, this discovery, which would have founded archaeo-
astronomy, would have given birth to some great myths of humanity whereof Hamlet's
(Hamlodhi) narrative would be an avatar. This narrative, telled by Saxo Grammaticus, inspired
Shakespeare and is found in other myths like the Skaldic tales in which nine virgins molded
Hamlodhi's flour; the Finnish Kalevala; the tales of respectively Samson, Krishna, Susanowo;
the epic of Gigamesh, etc.

The guiding thread of this myth is as follows: the axis of the world is represented by the
axis of a millstone. This millstone is often destroyed or removed from its housing by a character
with superhuman strength such as Krishna or Samson, thus explaining the passage of the axis of
the world from one constellation to the other during the axial precession. Thus, according to the
beliefs of this Neolithic era, cataclysms and other terrestrial catastrophes were due to the
dislocation of the millstone's axis, There are other related facts in these tales ranging from
Scandinavia to China via India: the millstone, sometimes found at the bottom of the sea where it

HAMLET'S MILL : Un mythe d’origine des sciences, B. Teissier, Equipe “Géométrie et Dynamique”, Institut Mathématique
de Jussieu.

grinds salt (especially in Scandinavian myths); the whirlwind which represents the passage
between the world of the livings or that of the deads and the sky, and many other details.

Needless to say that this book caused an outcry at that time (and up to the present day). It
is true that Santillana himself is aware that his book lists numerous clues that are very similar on
a fairly large geographical area, but he provides as a valid argument, inter alia, that "When
something is found In China, and is also present in the Babylonian texts, it must be considered as
relevant, for it reveals a complex of particular ideas which no one can claim it appeared in
isolation through spontaneous emergence.38 We let the reader judge by themselves by reading
the Hamlet's Mill. You can access the book here: hamletmill.htm.

We could have continued, at this stage of our peregrinations, with an outline of some
other types of narratives: legend, tale, fable, allegory, and even maths, physics, chemistry, but I
think this would have annoyed the reader. The fact is that each one of these narrative models
implements a picturesque manner to see the world for many purposes such as teaching,
denouncing, criticizing, humorizing, satirizing, etc. We should perhaps assume an innate
creative function instead of the narrative function, because storytelling alone does not bring an
added value. It is the imagination that "does the maths". It's like a CD-ROM on which data is
written. The CD alone is just a media; it requires a device to read the data (see Le fil de la vie
above). But, a device requires electricity and electricity is a form of energy. Information
therefore requires energy to become alive. We can thus confirm that imagination is a form of
energy that enlivens the narrative.

Here is an example with natural languages: if it is not enlivened by speech, it remains at

the stage of information registered in the brain. Although this analogy is somewhat approximate,
it reflects the fact that information, strictly speaking, requires a motive to enliven it. Let us see
thus the second parameter which is energy and without which everything would be frozen and

Energy: elusive but palpable

A. Definition by Petit Larousse Grand Format, 2010, p.367:

a. A magnitude characterizing a system and expressing its ability to change the state of other
systems with which it interacts. In addition to mechanical energy (potential energy (...) and
kinetic energy (...), there are other kinds of energy: electric, nuclear, heat, radiant. Energy is a
basic concept of Physics, as an isolated system has a constant total energy. Therefore, there may

In : Claude Gaudriault, Le Moulin d’Hamlet, éd. Edite, mai 2012 (version française).

not be creation or loss of energy, but only transformation of one form of energy into another or a
transfer of energy from one system to another. Any conversion of energy results in losses. These
are particularly important in the conversion of thermal energy into mechanical energy, following
the laws of thermodynamics. (...)

b. Astronomy:

1. Black or dark energy: a hypothetical predominant component of the cosmos and which, acting
as a force of repulsion, would explain the accelerating expansion of the universe.

2. Dark matter: opposite of dark energy.

B. Definition from Wikipedia : In physics, energy is the property that must be transferred to an
object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object. It can be converted in form, but not
created or destroyed..

Energy is defined in Physics as the capacity of a system to produce work39, triggering thus
a movement, or to produce, inter alia, light, heat or electricity. It is a physical quantity which
characterizes the state of a system and which is generally maintained during the transformations.
The energy is expressed in joules (in the international system of units) or often in kilowatt-hours
(kW-h or kWh).


Even if the word energy has been part of the physical sciences since the18th century, it has
several meainings, as its history traces back to Antiquity. The word is used in many areas,
including Philosophy, Economy, Nutrition, Spirituality; it refers to various aspects and concepts
depending on eras, places and authors.


Energy is a concept created to quantify the interactions between very different phenomena; it is
somewhat a common exchange currency between physical phenomena. These exchanges are
controlled by the laws and principles of Thermodynamics. The unit of energy defined by the
international Bureau of weights and measures (BIPM) in the International System (IS) is the


Thanks to energy, we can connect observations as different as movement, rotation, temperature,

color of a body or a light, consumption of sugar or coal, wear, etc.
Eugene Hecht (transl. Tamer Becherrawy, Joël Martin), Physique, De Boeck
Supérieur, 1999 (ISBN 9782744500183), p. 312 [archive].


Energy transformations involving thermal energy are studied by Thermodynamics:

 The first principle states that energy is kept. Energy can neither create nor destroy itself, it
can only turn from one form to another (Lavoisier principle) or be exchanged from one
system to another (Carnotprinciple);

 The second principle imposes restrictions on the performance of the thermal energy's
transformation into mechanical, electric or another energy. The conversion of energy from
one form into another is generally not entire: part of this initial energy is deteriorated into
messy kinetic energy. Performance is the quotient of the energy obtained in the desired form
by the one provided at the input of the converter.

Definition by

Energy is the engine of the world!

If it is not actually possible to see energy, its effects are here, all around us. It is because
everything that exists needs energy to operate. The Sun that makes plants grow, the wind that
pushes the sailboat, the wood burning in the fireplace, the dam producing power. Actions,
movements, heat and electricity... all of this is energy!

Without energy, the Earth would be cold, dark and lifeless.

There are two interplanetary fundamental laws which regulate energy. They are always true,
whether in Timbuktu or on the Moon:

In the Universe:
i. The total amount of energy never changes.
ii. Energy can be transformed, but it cannot be created nor destroyed.

For example: the energy of the Sun makes plants grow. The cow will eat grass and flowers. Her
milk will be used to make cheese. The kids will eat and then play, run, jump, think...

At each step, energy is transformed. It's the energy's cycle of life.

D. Lawrence Krauss' point of view:

(...) the startling conclusion that most of the energy in the universe resides in some mysterious,
now inexplicable permeating all of empty space. It is not an understatement to say that this
discovery has changed the playing of modern cosmology.

Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing, Simon & Schuster, 2012 , p. xvii.

Explosive cocktail

In the light of this overview, we have therefore two immaterial entities: Information,
which is intangible, and Energy, which is perceptible by the effects it causes. Let's look a little
more at these two entities.

Many scholars, philosophers, scientists - and not insignificant ones - reported that the
universe is substantially made out of 'thought', as it is mental (cognitive, noetic). What does this
mean? Let's see briefly what some scholars say about this40, without however going back to Plato
as most of the ideas of these scholars are platonic.41

a) Baruch Spinoza said that everything in nature was endowed with body and mind42 which are
two aspects of the same underlying reality that he called Deus sive natura (God or nature). The
higher the complexity of the body's interactions with its environment, the higher the complexity
of the corresponding mind.

b) Leibniz, like Newton, had a holistic view of the interdependences between particles in the
universe. But, unlike Newton who believed firmly that matter is made of non-conscious particles
attracted to each other by gravitational force, Leibniz assumed rather that elementary particles of
the universe were connected through consciousness. He called these particles Monads, which are
units of both force and thought.

c) In the Age of Enlightenment, Denis Diderot has extended the frame of subjectivity to Matter,
going as far as to speak of smart particles.

d) Between the 18th and the 19th centuries, a period during which panpsychism was widespread
especially in Germany, the philosopher Johann Herder claimed that energy was the underlying
principle of reality, showing both physical and mental properties.

Excerpts translated from Rupert Sheldrake's book, The Science Delusion, pp.116-119, Coronet, 2012; with a few
addings from the Internet.
Van Gogh, Kirkegaard, Max Planck, Sommerfeld, Minkowski, W. Clifford, etc.
Here Mind means a form of thinking, of cognition.

e) Goethe, a friend of Herder, saw two major driving forces in Nature: polarity and scaling. The
first one pertains to a material dimension, a state of constant attraction/repulsion to which
intensification provided a spiritual dimension; a state of permanent quest for ascent pertaining to
some sort of evolutionary pressure. Goethe emphasized the importance of the mind as an
organizing creative force.

f) In his book Die Welt als Wille und Vostellung (The World as Will and Representation), the
philosopher Arthur Schopenauer argues that the world is pure Will and it is provided to us as a
Representation. According to him, any thing or entity has a will which is expressed by desires,
feelings and emotions. Material objects are objectifyings of the will. The gravitational and
magnetic forces are expressions of the Will in Nature.

g) Among the philosophers of the 19th century who had similar points of view, we quote Ernst
Mach and Ernst Haeckel. The first, which had a strong influence on A. Einstein for his Theory of
relativity, rejected the mechanistic design of matter and asserted that the world was not
composed of “things”/”objects”, but of colors, sounds, spaces, time, in other words, of individual

The second, strong advocate of Darwin's theory, considered matter as being endowed
with a soul, i.e. feeling/emotion and movement. According to him, there is a fundamental unity
of nature (organic and inorganic), mind and matter. Any living creature has a “conscious psychic

h) In the United States (end of 19th century - beginning of 20th century), the famous psychologist
William James argued for a form of panpsychism where individual spirits and a hierarchy of
spirits of lower and higher nature formed the reality of the universe. One of the most outstanding
contributions of his book The Principles of Psychology is the concept of “stream of
consciousness”, where thought is seen as a flow guided by the environment in which human
beings live

i) The philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce considered physical and mental dimensions as
separate aspects of the underlying reality. All thought is more or less part of the nature of matter
(...) By observing an entity from the outside, it appears as matter. By observing it from the
inside, it appears as consciousness.

j) In France, the philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) valued memory very significantly.
According to him, any physical event contains a memory of the past, allowing him to endure and
last. Bergson proposes his own concept of vital momentum against the finalist and mechanistic
meanings and shows that these two aspects, often contrasted with one another, are the same
regarding evolution. According to this vital momentum, there is nothing "already planned", as in
the case of finalism, nor is there something foreseeable as in the case of mecanism. Evolution is

unpredictable, the world "goes adventuring", it "invents itself constantly", without the fact that
the path it spoors behind it pre-exists to the travel, one way or another.

k) In 1878, the great mathematician William Clifford states in a book that "the universe consists
entirely of mental substance". His argument was so convincing that nearly 50 years later, the
eminent astrophysicist Arthur Eddington devoted an entire book to this topic.

l) Closer to us, Richard Dawkins' selfish gene constitutes a good example of animated matter, but
his colleague Daniel Dennett tries to reveal a form of consciousness in genes by endowing them
with an “interest” in self-replication.

This is quite beautiful, you would say, but where do we go from here? What happens
with these two invisible and intangible entities: information and energy?

Well, interaction happens. They interact with each other and something dashing, stunner,
should I say stellar, surfaces. This grandiose is the universe itself. It is the product of the
interaction between original Information and Energy at (micro)cosmic level. How dare I say
this? It's the science of systems, i.e., system thinking/complexity sciences, which led me to this

What is he talking about? I explain this in a few words right below43, starting with the
notion of system in order to lead you towards that of complexity. Hold on, because it may seem
quite barren. After this (long) parenthesis, I'll get back to our inseparable pair:

The system
Let's begin by giving some definitions of famous systemicians, then I'll develop gradually the
concept of system on the basis of well known specialists.

a)Ludwig von Bertalanffy, an Austrian biologist whose theory on Biology is the basis of the
General Systems Theory, says:

A system is an entity which maintains its existence by means of the mutual interactions of its

We deduce from this definition that a system contains parts, components that interact with each
other and these interactions ensure the sustainability of the system.

A little bit more, actually

b) Joël de Rosnay, french scientist, author of several books on the sciences of complexity (The
Macroscope (1975), L’Homme symbiotique (2000)), says:

A system is a set of elements in dynamic interaction and organized according to a purpose.

We find once again our parts, components and their interactions, and in addition, we have
organization and a goal. We'll see that a system is not voluntarily acting towards its goal, but
that this act is an intrinsic function of the system. What's new here is the set of organized
components. A set of elements is an organized community constituted as a whole or a totality.

c) For Edgar Morin, a great French thinker and author of several books on Complexity, whose
main works of five volumes entitled La Méthode (The Method), a system is an organized overall
unit of interrelationships between elements, actions orindividuals.

One can see that the components of a system can take various 'forms' (actions, individuals, etc.).

d) According to J. Ladrière, a system is a complex object made up of separate components

linked together by a number of relationships.

e) J.W. Lapierre says that a system is an organized whole of processes which are tied together
by a set of interactions both coherent enough and flexible enough to make it capable of having
a certain degree of autonomy.

f) Finally, Ferdinand de Saussure, the famous father of European Linguistics, says that a
system is an organized whole composed of solidary elements which cannot be defined with
respect to one another but in function of their place in that whole.

What are therefore the characteristics of a system in the light of these few definitions

(The field of systems thinking is vast and has been well developed since the end of World War

a. First, there is the notion of globality. A system is composed of elements, but it is not a sum of
elements. One of the first scientist to draw attention to the fact that a system is a whole non-
reducible to its components has been Von Bertalanffy. This means that you cannot analyze a

system in a cartesian way, i.e. by breaking it down to learn how it functions. Pascal said : "I
consider it impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole, nor to know the whole
without knowing the parts in particular".

In his book The Ghost in the Machine, A. Koestler says:

« Parts and wholes, strictly speaking, do not exist in the biological field ...».

For Koestler, the body should be considered as a hierarchy, with multiple levels, of semi-
autonomous sub-systems connected to lower-order subsystems and so on. The subsystems of any
level of the hierarchy are named holons. The biological holons are open self-regulated systems
that have both autonomous properties of the wholes and dependent properties of the parts. This
dichotomy, which exists at any level of any type of hierarchical organization, is named Janus
effect... The concept of holon aspires to reconcile the atomic and holistic approaches. We infer
that the parts of a system can be systems (which is often the case).

Aristotle used to say: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts". This idea leads to
the phenomenon of emergence: at the overall level of a system appear basic properties that are
non-deductible from the components' properties. It is not the sum of a molecule of oxygen and
two molecules of hydrogen which produces water; it is their combination. Taken separately,
these two molecules are distinct and one cannot deduce nor predict the matter water from the
sum of their distinct properties; but once these two molecules are combined, water H2O emerges
as by enchantment. The concept of emergence leads then to the concept of hierarchy in the
systems, namely that a system consists of subsystems.

b. Then there is the concept of interaction between the components of a system, also named
interdependence. The components of a system interact with each other (we don't actually know
how), i.e. each component draws its information from other components and acts on them. This
interaction is not limited to an action of a component X on another component Y; there is also an
action of Y on X. This leads to the concept of non-linearity in the systems, i.e. a non-
proportionality between cause and effect. A particular form of interaction is the feedback, a term
from cybernetics44.

Feedback is a process going on within a system where an initial cause reverberates

through a chain of causalities in order to maintain the system in a state of equilibrium. We name
those chains in the systems feedback loops (which can sometimes be numerous). Here is a simple
example to clarify this important idea concerning systems: consider the system consisting of a

Cybernetics, created by the American mathematician Norbert Wiener shortly after World War II, is the science of
regulation and communications in natural and artificial systems. Cybernetics consists of: i) recognizing the structure
and the inner state of a system; ii) describing the relations of the system with its environment; iii) predicting its
behaviour and its evolution.

room, a heater and a thermostat connected to the heater. The heater heats the room; the room's
temperature is the input for the thermostat, which was adjusted beforehand. When the room
temperature reaches a certain threshold (the one that has been the subject of a prior setting), the
thermostat warns the heater that the room's temperature is high enough. The heater stops working
until the temperature of the room subsided enough so that the thermostat warns again the heater
of this situation. The heater kicks off again to raise the room's temperature, and so on. In this
case, the feedback loop is situated between the thermostat and the heater.

Here is another simple example: hunger. When you're hungry, your stomach growls to
warn you that it is empty; in fact it warns your brain. You eat well and when your stomach is
full, you stop eating as your stomach has warned your brain that it is full. This communication
between stomach and brain is a feedback loop.

Feedback is information moving along within a system and reintroduced into that system
in order for it to take notice of its own condition. The effect (output) feeds back the cause (input).
There are two kinds of feedback: the positive feedback, also called explosive, whose role is to
amplify the state of a system leading it to a total disruption; the negative feedback has the role of
stabilizing a system's state. This concept of feedback is related to the concept of self-organizing

c. The third fundamental characteristic of systems is organization. Organization is the layout of

a whole according to the distribution of its components in hierarchical levels or in networks. It is
a process by which elements come together to form a whole, a structure. This process may be the
work of the system itself as certain structures develop a kind of autonomy, they organize from
the inside: this is called self-organization.

d. The fourth feature of systems is complexity. It is the result of the interactions between the
components of a system and the feedback loops. The richness of relationships between
components of the system is more important than the quantity of those same components. Henri
Atlan said: "(...)" the feeling of complexity first arises from the assembly of a large number of
different constituent components45. The analytical Cartesian logic taught at school (still)
prescribes us to simplify, reduce, break down in order to understand. This couldn't always be the
case. In fact, this is almost never the case. Complexity is around us: in nature, in family, in
society, within ourselves as we, humans beings, are complex systems. We have to make a sharp
distinction here between complexity and complication. A complicated system has many
components arranged messyly, but with a simple layout. In general, a complicated system does
not evolve, it remains rigid because it has no emerging properties and cannot self-organize. In a
complex system, order can emerge from disorder. A TV form the previous decades or the wiring
of an airplane can be considered as complicated devices.

Atlan Henri, Entre le cristal et la fumée, Le Seuil, 1979, p.79.

A complex system is characterized by the following:

i. imprecision: we can't know with precision the structure, the dimensions and the boundaries of
such a system; it is difficult to identify all the components of a system and to understand all the
relationships going on.

II. instability, namely, a dynamic balance between order and disorder (which implies a high
degree of organization);

III. unpredictability: evolution is not steady, but occurs through bifurcations causing sudden
changes of state, jumps (Cf. the catastrophe theory of René Thom);

IV. antagonism, which may be necessary to the system.

e. We can add a fifth characteristic of the systems: regulation. The system regulates itself to
keep itself in a constant state often characterized by dynamic equilibrium. In general, a system
tends to return to its initial state when it meets external or interior disturbances. But it is never
the case. A system does not return to an identical state, but to a similar state, i.e. a state slightly
different from its previous one as it endeavoured to come back as close as possible to this
previous state. Consequently, a system evolves while keeping a certain stability. A system adapts
to guarantee its survival. If we want to describe schematically the evolution of a system, we
could give the example of a wire that is rolled on a cylinder in a very tight way, so that part of
the wire's winding covers the part that is already wound, leading thus to a spiral or a linear helix,
almost like a solenoid.

Makeup of a system

In the above definitions, some terms were used: components, interactions, totality, etc.
Let's see what a system is made of.

In general a system is made up of the following:

1. A limit, a border or a boundary (or also membrane) separating the system from its external
environment. This border is more or less pervious depending on whether the system is open or
closed, that is, whether or not it exchanges something with its external environment. The
boundary is the interface of a system with the outside. It is limiting, structuring, filtering and

2. Identifiable, countable and classifiable elements. These elements are the constituting parts of
the system, they are its components.

3. Relationship networks: The components of a system are interrelated. We have seen that the
components of a system interact with each other; the more interactions, the higher the degree of
the system's organization and the greater its complexity.

4. Tanks or stocks: they constitute a kind of memory of systems and are essential to their
survival. "Things" (matter, information, energy) are stored in there that must pass through the
system by reception or transmission.

In order to clarify these notions above, here is the example of the human brain:

1. The border is made up of the human body, as the brain, being inside the skull, is linked to all
the body's functions.

2. The components are the neurons,

3. interconnected by dendrites forming a complex network of relationships;

4. the human memory (conscious and subconscious) is the stock.

The composition given above is that of the structural level of a system. On the functional level, a
system is characterized by the following:

i. Flows (matter, energy and/or information), which circulate through networks of relations and
transit through stocks. They operate through inputs / outputs with the environment.

ii. Decision centres organizing the networks of relations by coordinating the flows and managing
the stocks: they receive the information and transform them into actions by regulating the
outflows of the various flows.
iii. Feedback loops that are used to inform the decision centres of what is happening so that they
can know more quickly the overall state of the system and thus make the decisions.
iv. Adjustments made by the decision centres and based on the feedback loops and response time
frames, these latter corresponding to the time taken by the "ascending" information to be
processed and to the additional time taken by the "descending" information to turn into actions.

Typology of systems

There are three kinds of systems:

a. The open or closed systems according to the degree of exchange with their environment.
Experience has shown that there rarely exist completely closed or completely open systems. In
the first case, the system freezes and lives in isolation without any possible evolution. The most
closed system still exchanges energy as heat with its environment. In the second case, the system
loses its identity. A system is therefore, in general, more or less open because it needs to
exchange matter, information or energy or all three at once with its environment.

b. The natural systems - like living systems - and the artificial systems - like social systems or
machines made by humans.

c. The dynamic systems , i.e. systems that evolve over time. Two factors characterize these
systems: the first one is that behind the apparent disorder that first attracts our attention lies a
more complex order than the visible one. The second factor is that, this order surfaces by way of
self-organization (emergence).

Here are some other classifications from eminent system thinkers. We'll retain here the
classification of J. Lesourne as it corresponds pretty well to language. We will briefly outline
Lesourne's four types of systems:

a. The steady-state systems: these are systems that transform a series of inputs in a series of
outputs. These systems are for the most part mechanical, meaning that they are commanded from
the outside (mechanism of regulation or control, human intervention...).

b. The goal-driven systems: control in this type of systems is integrated within. Ex.: a heating
unit with a thermostat. These systems have their own purpose; they are said to be teleonomic,

i.e. they are permanently oriented towards the search for a goal (goal-finder) and not directed
towards a goal (goal-seeker). They recognize their goal when they found it.

c. The learning systems: they are more complex than the goal-driven systems because they have
a memory and an overcontrol device. Memory stores all the information and the overcontrol
device has the ability to decide based on the acquired experience. These systems are also able to
learn by trial and error process. Their behavior depends more on the acquired experience; the
systems self-organize their own learning.

There are two other types of systems that we'll just mention: systems with multiple decision-
makers and the organizations.

In view of the foregoing, we will give a simple definition of the system, as we believe that
giving detailed a definition of it can only complicate things because we will then apply the
analytical method, which we what to avoid, this method being reductionist by definition. We
prefer therefore to remain vague since a system can only be grasped by heuristics, because of its
holistic nature and because of the relationships between the system's components which take
precedence over the components themselves.

A system is an organized whole constituted of interacting components, and which generates

unpredictable emerging properties due to the specific characteristics of the system's

Please keep in mind that the concept of system does not exist as such in nature. The
concept of system is a human construction designed to better understand aspects of its natural
environment (nature, society, political, economy, etc.) that are difficult to grasp by way of the
analytical (cartesian) method. This is why systems thinking was created. This construction is
called a model: this is nothing more than a replica, a mockup of the reality built by man.
Systems thinking uses modeling to study systems.

Just to clarify, we reproduce below two tables comparing the analytical approach and the
systemic approach;they are taken from Arlette Yatchinovsky's book L'Approche systémique (ESF
édition, 2000): the first one is established by Joël de Rosnay in his book Le Macroscope (1975)
and the second is established by F. Kourilsky in his book Du désir au plaisir de changer
(InterEditions, 1996):

a. Joël de Rosnay's comparison:


Isolates: focuses on the components. Links: focuses on interactions between
Considers the nature of the interactions. components.
Relies on the accuracy of the details. Considers the effects of interactions.
Modifies one variable at a time. Relies on the overall perception.
Independent of duration: the phenomena Modifies groups of variables simultaneously.
considered are reversible. Incorporates duration and irreversibility.
The validation of the facts is achieved by the The validation of the facts is done by
experimental proof within the framework of a comparing the model with reality.
The models are precise and detailed, but The models are insufficiently rigorous to serve
difficult to use in action. as a basis for knowledge, but can be used in
decision and action.
Effective approach when interactions are Effective approach when interactions are
linear and weak. nonlinear and strong.
Leads to a teaching by discipline. Leads to a multidisciplinary teaching.
Leads to an action programmed in all details. Leads to an action by way of goals.
Knowledge of the details; ill-defined goals. Knowledge of goals; blurred details.

b. F. Kourilsky-Belliard's comparison:


Disjunctive binary logic (contains only two
Conjunctive ternary logic (composed of three
states that severs the components) joint components)
Linear causality Circular causality
Past-present oriented Future oriented
To solve a problem, we must first know its
To solve a problem, we must first clarify the
causes goal to be achieved
Focused on the explanation of the system's
Focused on the useful functions of the
dysfunctions and handicaps system's dysfunctions and resources
Feeds itself from the past in order to evolve
Feeds itself from the present and makes the
system evolve according to the goal to be
The past determines the present and the The projection of the desired future influences
future the present

We note from these two tables that De Rosnay's and Kourilsky's comparisons are

The systems that the human being encounters - himself a complex system - are different
in nature and face the same problems, which are the following

 the need to constantly manage their relationships with their environment

 the need to be effectively organized
 the need to maintain their identity
 the need of variety in their behavior
 the adaptability to evolve

Let's examine these different points:

a. Managing relationships with the environment

We have seen that there are two kinds of systems: open and closed. In fact, there are no
totally open or totally closed systems. A system is always more or less open because it maintains
contacts with its environment. This environment can be passive or active, that is to say either it
does not interact with the system or it interacts with it. In the latter case, the interactions between
the system and the environment constitute inputs and outputs for the system. The most open
systems are those that are best able to adapt to the changing conditions of their environment
while maintaining a certain degree of closure for not facing the risk of losing their identity. This
degree of closure is named organizational closure or also interface. The interactions occurs in
the form of an exchange of matter, energy or information (or all three at once). These three
inputs / outputs of different nature constitute information for the system in the Shannonian sense
of the term. Henri Laborit distinguishes between circulating information, that is to say the flow
of exchange between the system and its environment as well as within the system, and
structuring information, that enriches the system and founds its identity.

b. Organization

Without organization, a system would only be a messy blend. Organization is a key

property of systems. There are two types of organization: modules (or network also) and
hierarchy. In general, these two types of organizations come together in complex systems and
they form a tree-like structure.

The first one is made up of interconnected subsystems, i.e., interacting with each other.
Let's take a company as an example: it is a complex system that can be broken down into
subsystems: production, financial, sales, customers, suppliers, etc.

Herbert Simon's parable of the two watchmakers is also clarifying: Two watchmakers
Hora and Tempus were each renowned for manufacturing beautiful watches formed with about a
thousand pieces. Customers were flocking from everywhere. But, over time, Hora prospered
while Tempus was going bankrupt and ended up losing his business. Why?

Simply because each one was working with a different way of assembling the parts.
Tempus was assembling the thousand parts one by one. As a result, if he had to interrupt his
work for some reason or another, the parts dismantled and he had to restart their assembly from
scratch. Hora, with the same 1000 parts, proceeded by assembling subparts made up of ten pieces
each, so that ten of these ten assembled subsets constitute a larger subset of 100 subsets and ten
of these last subsets constitute a watch (10 x 10 = 100 and 100 x 10 = 1000). Thus, if Hora had to
interrupt his work, he could continue from where he had interrupted it without starting from

The second type of organization is hierarchical, that is, made up of hierarchical levels.
This means that subsystems are assembled into internal levels of increasing complexity
encapsulating each other to reach the most encapsulating level. Let's take as an example the
human being: it is composed of cells that form organs which in turn form the large vital

c. Conservation of identity

To ensure its identity in the environment with which it interacts, a system needs to be
maintained in a state of equilibrium suitable for its conservation. There are two kinds of solutions
to this: the steady state and homeostasis.

The first one is typical of the rather rigid and artificial systems. It is related to the concept
of regulation, a term originating from Cybernetics. We have mentioned above the negative
feedback that is designed to stabilize a system within certain limits.

Homeostasis is the process of regulation specific to living beings. It is the ability of a

system to maintain a steady state despite external disturbances. The American physiologist w. b.
Cannon (1871-1945), inventor of the term homeostasis, described this process as all the organic
processes acting in order to maintain the stationary state of the organism in its morphology
and in its internal conditions, despite the external disruptions.

In brief, we have a cybernetic regulation in the case of a stationary state. Homeostasis is a

complex and autonomous process of self-regulation involving a renewal of the components and a
structural reorganization. It is a process of equilibration.

d. Variety

The preservation of a system's identity calls for a constant adapting to the changes in its
environment. A system must be flexible, i.e., it must "know how" / "be able" to measure out its
interaction with its environment. This requires room for freedom for its components to
manoeuvre. Thus innovation. A system needs variety to adapt and maintain itself. Variety is the
number of configurations that a system can undertake, a bit like the chameleon. Variety depends
thus both on the system itself and on its environment. At the system's level, variety depends on
the number of its components as well as the number of interactions between these components.
At the level of the duo system-environment, the interactions can occur on many levels. This
internal dosing, as well as the external one aiming at adapting, is expressed by the famous law of
the cybernetician Ross Ashby, the law of requisite variety:

the control of a given system requires a control device whose variety is at least equal to
that of the system. In other words, also by R. Ashby, the regulation of a system is only effective
if it is based on a control system which is as complex as the system itself.

e. Evolution

Given the characteristics mentioned above, one can easily deduce that a system is more
or less dynamic, i.e. it evolves with time. The fact that a system adapts to maintain itself makes it
evolve, even if it tends to return to its initial state. But we see that a system never returns to its
initial state: it approaches this state. There is thus no contradiction between the feature of
conservation and that of evolution: while adapting, the system preserves itself during change. If
we are to schematize this evolution, we would give the example of a wire which is rolled up on a
cylinder, with a very tight step so that the wire is rolled up partly on itself and partly on the
cylinder, a bit like a solenoid coil.


After this overview on systems, let's focus a little more on the notion of systems
complexity and to show after that we can consider natural languages as complex adaptive

We have seen that a complex system consists of a group of elements whose overall
behavior and interactions are an indirect consequence of these elements interactions. But despite
multiple efforts, there is not, until now, an exact definition of a complex system, a definition
approved by the entire scientific community46. The heuristic approaches focus on the interactions
between subsystems at the microscopic level which creates new properties at the macroscopic
level. We have two definitions that emerge:

This is understandable since there is a big variety of complex systems in science and every scientific domain has
its own point of view on the subject.

* Complex systems are systems having with many interacting components whose behavior can
be inferred by that of their components.

* We understand by complex system, a system made up of a certain quantity components,

strongly interacting with each other and whose comprehension requires the development or the
use of new scientific tools, of nonlinear models, of descriptions of non-equilibrium state and
computer simulations.

This last definition raises already the problem of knowing which kind of methodologies
or scientific tools would be necessary to study complex systems. It is currently accepted that
computer modelings, in addition to formal theories and empirical studies, will play a great part in
this work. I believe that these two definitions are complementary and I think that it is better to
leave a blur in the definition of a complex system since this blur is an intrinsic part of the system.
Too much rigor is sometimes detrimental to the understanding of things.

There are, however, some definitions that somehow bring more details. Thus, in the
scientific jargon, we name complex any system that has the following characteristics:

Agents : they are the building blocks of the system

Heterogeneity : the features of these agents are very different

Dynamic : these characteristics change with time because of the adaptation of the agents to their
environment, because of their acquisition/training from their experiments or because of the
natural selection in the process of regeneration.

Feedback : these changes are often due to a feedback on the agents as a result of their activities.

Organization : the agents are assembled in groups or hierarchies. These organizations are often
structured and these structures affect the evolution of the system in time.

Emergence : in these models, we focus on the behaviors at the macroscopic level which emerge
from the interactions between agents (at the microscopic level).

Seen like this, the definition does not inform us much about complex systems. Let's link
the above features in a more coherent text, which gives us the following definition:

A complex system is any holistic entity which has components interacting with each other
"in an intelligent way".

More particularly, we consider that a phenomenon - be it biological, social, physical, etc.

- is a complex system if he has accumulated a certain number of the following characteristics:

it is agent-based, meaning that it contains those autonomous individual bricks that are
heterogeneous, possessing each its own characteristics. These characteristics change with time
by way of theadaptation of the agents to their environment; the system is thus dynamic, i.e. it is
generally non-linear, and sometimes chaotic in the scientific meaning of the term (ICS,
bifurcations, characteristic time, etc.). The system is seldom in a state of extended equilibrium
as it oscillates at the edge of chaos. Changes in the system over time are often the result of the
feedbacks received by the agents as a result of their activities. This is why the agents are
organized in groups, hierarchies or networks, which constitute the subsystems of the system.
This self-organization is often structured, and influences the evolution of the system in time.
The evolution of these subsystems (microscopic level) generates some phenomena/behaviors not
foreseeable at the macroscopic level - i.e., on the level of the entire system - that is named
emergence. These are phenomena that one cannot foresee from the observation of the agents'

However, despite the diversity of the systems and the various definitions that could
follow, there exist universal laws that are common to the systems and that are essential for
research and a better comprehension. Science/scientific research is more or less founded on the
existence of universality, which appears by way of various means. Thus, the study of the
complex systems as a new project strives to increase our capacity to understand universality,
which emerges when the systems are highly complex. After this short digression, let's return to

The concept of complexity is strongly related to that of “inter-connected, interacting,

interdependent parts”. Why the nature of a complex system is closely related to its constituent
parts? Simple systems also consist of parts. But there is a clear difference between these two
kinds of systems and it all depends on a keyword: inter-connected (syn: interacting,

Qualitatively, if we want to identify the behavior of a complex system, we must not only
understand the behaviour of its constituent parts, but also how they interact to build the behavior
of the whole. Complex systems are difficult to grasp because of the fact that we cannot describe

We will further see that the term inter-connected is not completely appropriate and that the term interdependent is

the whole without describing each component, which itself should be described in relation to the
other components.

Complex systems share some common characteristics.

• The components and their number

• The interactions between components and their magnitude

• The forming/operation duo and its timescale

• The diversity/variability duo

• The environment and its requirements

• The activities and their purpose

There are two approaches to derive the characteristics of complex systems:

The first one is the relationship between the components and the whole. Since the
complex system has only a single property - complexity - the first question that we can ask about
this relationship is: how the complexity of the whole is related to that of the components?

Considering examples such as the company, the family, a government, a company, the
human body, it is obvious that the components of a complex system are often themselves
complex. It is normal that an assembly of complex elements be complex. But, it is not always the
case. There are systems made up of simple components, but whose behavior on the level of the
whole is complex. This means that the interactions between the parts (at the microscopic level)
of such a system makes it emerge a complex behavior of the whole (at the macroscopic level).
This behavior is known as emergent complexity.

The second approach to study complex systems begins with understanding the systems' links to
their descriptions. Complex systems are characterized by the following properties:

Space: What are the characteristics of a complex system's structure, especially as some complex
systems have a substructure - that is, a cluster of subsystems - which often extends to the
dimensions of the whole system? Why is there a substructure?

Time: What is the duration of the dynamic processes in complex systems? Many complex
systems have specific reactions to the changes occurring in their environment; those reactions
require a transformation of the internal structure of these systems.

Self-organization: How are complex systems born? What are the dynamic processes involved?
Why and how do they structure themselves from within? Some complex systems are subject to
"guided" development processes. How does this happen?

Complexity: There are degrees of complexity. How to characterize and distinguish them?

Since the interactions between the components of a complex system are essential to the
understanding of its behavior, it is therefore necessary to examine the components in their
relation with the whole. In addition, a complex system interacts with its environment and the
influence of the environment is important to describe the behavior of the system.

Behavior of a complex system

In a complex system, global consistency occurs despite - or even because or even through
the non-linear interactions of the system's components. In general, a complex system remains
open while protecting its rear, that is to say, retaining a means for closure. This opening keeps
the system in dynamic equilibrium.

For most complex systems, there exist three behaviors that depend on environmental

Stable equilibrium: the system converges to a steady state.

Self-organization: an orderly behavior emerges.

Chaos: a form of extreme and unpredictable order appears.

The classic example is that of the formation of the Bénard cells: a thin layer of liquid is placed
on the flat bottom of a pan. If the liquid is not heated, it is in a state of equilibrium where none of
its particles move. The properties of the system are homogeneous, the temperature is the same

By heating the pan on low heat from below, the heat will transfer from bottom to top by a
process of thermal conduction. That means that there is no displacement of the fluid, but rather
an increase in the thermal agitation of its particles, which is propagated gradually to the liquid's
surface which is cooler. The layers of liquids of different temperatures acquire different densities
and thus different weights and, under the effect of gravity, the layers of the top (cooler) are
attracted to the bottom and the layers of the bottom (hotter) are pushed upwards. Thus, when the
difference in temperature is weak, the liquid does not move and it is the thermal conduction
which occurs. But if this thermal variation exceeds a critical point, the fluid moves suddenly at
the macroscopic level in an apparently disordered way: currents of convection appears.

The interesting fact here is that these currents are not random but organized in very
specific structures that break the symmetry of the liquid without making it disappear completely.
Initially, just above the critical temperature, parallel square bands are formed. Two close bands
make a rotational movement of the liquid in opposite direction to one another. If the temperature
increases further, bands appear in the perpendicular sense to the first bands formed. The liquid is
then organized in square cells of convection. If the temperature increases again, polygonal
shapes appear which can sometimes pave the surface with steadily hexagonal shapes. If the
temperature exceeds a critical threshold, then these regular structures turn into chaotic
turbulences. If one stops heating the liquid so as to obtain no temperature difference between the
top and the bottom, then the convection patterns disappear and the liquid returns to its
equilibrium state where the temperature is uniform without any displacement of the molecules.

The preceding example is that of a system in which the formation of patterns (schemas or
structures) requires that it be pushed far from its state of equilibrium by a continuous flow of
energy (in our example, the thermal agitation). Such systems are called self-organized dissipative
systems. However, self-organization does not only concern systems far from equilibrium; it can
also occur when a system evolves towards its equilibrium.

Thus, within the family of complex systems, there is a subclass distinguished by a

specific characteristic and it is called adaptive complex systems. These systems are the most
sophisticated, that is, they do not react passively to external events occurring in their external
environment. They have the ability to change their internal structure in order to adapt to their
environment and become more efficient. This particular characteristic mentioned above is that
the governing rules within the system are not constant. In a fluid, the laws of nature determining
its behavior do not change. Different behaviors are due to different environmental parameters. In
a complex adaptive system, the behavior of the components and the nature of the interactions can
change, causing the emergence of a higher order dynamics. Economics, ecological systems,
social systems are examples of complex adaptive systems. These systems seem to be the major
key of complexity in Nature.

The adaptive complex systems approach examines how complex systems interact with
their environment in order to sustain themselves over time (especially on their internal level). We
have already mentioned that a system - let alone an adaptive system - has the ability to adapt to
changes in its environment because any complex system is open. We will call "adaptive complex
system" any system with the following properties:

1. Primary components called agents.

2. Interactions between those agents, and between thes agents and their environment.

3. An adaptation of the behavior of the agents to other agents and to environmental constraints.

4. A consequent evolution of the system's behavior over time.

5. Unexpected overall properties resulting from the interactions between agents, which is called

Before continuing, let's stop a little on the two concepts of emergence and self-
organization as these two concepts are linked together.

We can speak of emergence when we have an assembly of interacting elements, with

properties arising from their collective behavior. A system has an overall behavior, holistic. This
overall behavior is not the result of the combination of the cumulative behavior of each of its
components. This behavior must be considered as an overall process. The interactions of the
system's components enable it to self-organize. This self-organization phenomenon makes it
arise at the system’s overall level properties that we can’t infer inférer from the components’
interactions. This is what we call emergence. Rules governing interactions between a system's
components create a behavior at the overall level which surpasses the combined behavior of the
components. In other words, new, different, unexpected and unpredictable properties appear at
the overall level, that are not contained in embryo in the components or in their interactions.
There is a spontaneous generation of properties at the system's overall level.

Moreover, there are two kinds of emergence: the local emergence, where an overall
behavior appears in a small part of the system, and the overall emergence, where behavior
concerns the entire system. It is the latter that is particularly relevant for the study of complex
systems. An example of local emergence is the formation of water from hydrogen and oxygen
atoms. The properties of water do not appear in the properties of the two gases. And a water
molecule does not reveal all the properties of water.
In the study of complex systems, we are particularly interested in the properties of overall
emergence, because such properties depend on the entire system. Such a system considered in its
totality is composed of interdependent components. The term “interdependent” is more relevant
than “inter-connected” because the components depend on each other, and even adapt to one
another, i.e. they adapt their behavior48 by means of interactions, especially by means of
feedback loops; in this case, the loss or even the alteration of one component will strongly
disturb the entire system while this is not the case with interconnection. In a system,
interdependence implies interconnection, but the other way around is not true. An example of
overall emergence is the surfacing (occurrence) of intelligence and consciousness in humans
because of the interactions of billions of neurons that make up the human brain.

This local/overall dichotomy can be matched to the trivial/innovative dichotomy49. This

dichotomy results from the distinction between random complexity and organized complexity.

Without going into details that would exceed the scope of this book, let us clarify these
two concepts with examples. Random complexity is the heap of sand, the mixed ingredients of a
cake before baking, water and oil mixed together before decanting. There is nothing new in
random complexity; it's a mess (a mixture) with fortuity, but this mess is replaced by a uniform
structure of little interest as in the crystallization process. Therefore, there may be a form of
organization emanating from random complexity. Organized complexity is the living being,
society, a company, a city, i.e., a wealth of the system at its structuring level (existence of
subsystems within the system), indicating that it has been produced by a long process of

Thus, trivial emergence characterizes random complexity: there is organization according

to a simple and repetitive pattern, but without real content. The innovative emergence is the
signature of the organized complexity: the components of a system establish relationships
between themselves, they organize themselves in such a way that the resulting totality is the
product of a long dynamic/evolving process. The birth of the Universe, or the origin of life on
earth result from organized complexity. Evolved human beings result from these two kinds of
complexities, with a bit of a higher organized complexity, of course.

This is a bit as in an orchestra where the instruments are tuned on the diapason to play each one their score. A
music arises which is the combination of melody, harmony and rhythm at the overall level. We cannot infer all the
music from the score played by one instrument or a group of instruments.
Or synchronic emergence v/s diachronic emergence (cf. the article by Bernard Wallisser, Deux modes
d’émergence in Science & Avenir, HS nr. 143 July-August 2005, L’Enigme de l'émergence).


According to Henri Atlan, self-organization characterizes the systems that react to

random effects of the environment in order to increase their capacities of reacting vis-a-vis new
stimuli, i.e. their capacities of regulating themselves. We all know the contribution of Henri
Atlan (and of some others of his time like Edgar Morin) to the field of complexity, inter alia his
studies on noise and its influence on complex systems.50

Nowadays, the concept of self-organization is at the heart of the Science of Complexity.

Self-organization deals with collective behavior and evolution, knowing that the overall behavior
of a complexe system is often the signature of emerging properties resulting from the various
interactions between the system’s components at the local level. Those emergent properties, as
we saw it above, cannot be understood by observing the individual parts one by one, i.e., by
proceeding to an analysis of the system.

Self-organization is considered to be a new perspective to explain emerging properties in

complex systems. The concept of self-organization appears with the thinkers of the 19th century;
Kant is considered as being the first to use the word "self-organization" to the nature of living
organisms in his Critique of Pure Reason. He says that living organisms, unlike machines, are
self-organizing and self-replicating entities. In the Sixties, various phenomena of self-
organization were studied and they led to the development of the theory of self-organization. A
traditional case of self-organization is the cells of Bénard: a thin layer of liquid in a flat circular
container is heated from underneath uniformly. For a certain moment, the liquid remains at rest.
But, when the difference in temperature between the top and the bottom reaches a critical value,
hexagonal cells appear spontaneously: the Bénard cells.

The structures of self-organization in physical systems are often built from the system's
components. Similar phenomena are found in biological systems such as the sardine shoals or
those of pigeons moving in a coordinated way, a column of ants, etc. But, there exists another
type of self-organization in the biological systems where self-organized structures are built by
living organisms: the structure counting the hexagonal cells in a hive, the walls built in an ant
colony, the mounds built by termites, etc. At the human level, languages can be considered as
self-organized systems created by humans.

Atlan Henri, Entre le cristal et la fumée, Seuil, Paris 1979, opus mentioned.

There are two major differences in the process of self-organization of biological systems
and that of physical systems. First, biological systems have a high degree of complexity at the
level of their components. In physical systems, the interacting components are “inanimate”
objects (molecules, particles, etc.) whereas in biological systems the components are living
organisms whose behavior is inherently complex as it results from constant learning. Next, there
is the nature of rules that govern the interactions between components. The rules in
physicochemical systems are physical or chemical laws (gravity, surface tension, repulsion, etc.).
In biological systems, in addition to the physico-chemical rules, the specific rules of the systems
are determined by the properties of the components which are subjected to natural selection. In
other words, the rules of interaction change according to the selection pressure. The rules
between components can be of a surprising simplicity even if extremely sophisticated structures

Self-organization is thus a process from which an unexpected property at a system's

overall level emerges from the interactions between the components of this system. Moreover,
the rules controlling these interactions between components are carried out by using only local
information without any reference to the overall structure. In spite of the various kinds of self-
organized systems in various fields, these systems share some common properties:

a. Membrane: It is a very complex interface that is necessary to the system's existence, because
it gives sense to the system's components and behavior. It is a well structured boundary zone,
with a certain extent and some dense branchings inside the system. It is the restrictive,
structuring, filtering and communicating border. It allows the necessary adaptation of the system
in its environment by distinguishing it as a stand-alone entity.

b. Emergence: Space-time structures emerge in an unexpected way from the interactions

between the components of the system. An emergence cannot be grasped by examining
separately the properties of each component of a system; it requires to take into account the
interactions between components.

c. Multistability: Various stable states can coexist. Because of the emergence of structures by
amplification of random deviations, any deviation can be amplified and the system converges to
one of the possible stable states as this convergence depends on initial conditions.

d. Phase transition: The behavior of a self-organizing system can change abruptly (see René
Thom's Catastrophe Theory).

In self-organizing systems, especially in biological systems, there are a few basic ingredients
justifying the above features:

a. Positive feedback: An initial change in a system strengthens in the same direction as the
initial split. The self-improvement, the amplification and self-catalysis are examples of positive
feedback. Positive feedback is generally inherent to the system's agents.

b. Negative feedback: A small external disturbance on the system triggers a reaction from the
system itself to thwart this disturbance. This provides an inhibition counterbalancing the
amplification due to the positive feedback and contributes to the stability of the system.
Processes such as saturation, exhaustion, competition provide a negative feedback. Negative
feedback is mostly due to a physical constraint imposed by the environment.

c. Amplification and fluctuations: Fluctuations such as errors, random tracks, etc., act like
germs from which structures emerge. Random is often critical as it allows to discover new

d. Multiple interactions: The components/agents interact constantly between each others. In

these interactions, the agents use only the local information obtained from their own activities
and from the other surrounding agents. They do not have any access at the overall level.

Now, let's get back to the complex adaptive systems.

A complex adaptive system is located in an environment. The latter is often more

complex than the system itself and, therefore, it cannot be totally predictable for the system; the
system would depend on regularities of the environment in order to maintain its energetical,
informational, or material input that is necessary for its internal processes. Thus, the input that
the system receives or extracts from its environment possesses regularities as well as aspects that
appear to be random to the system.

These regularities are useful for the system because, by nature, a system itself will be
defined by regularities that it builds from the input, and those regularities are maintained and
expressed by the system's internal processes. The system thus needs external regularities to feed
its own internal processes.

The random input is considered by some, at best useless (cf. Ockham's razor) and at
worst harmful to the system. However, this random input can constitute noise for the system, and
we know from the studies undertaken by Henri Atlan that noise is only harmful to simple
systems. For complex systems, noise could perhaps be very beneficial, as it indices within them
the appearance of order/organization. Such systems, known as self-organizing systems, need
even noise to evolve. Their autonomy vis-a-vis the environment is the corollary of their
"openness" as they are influenced by external events, and because of their autonomy, they
consider these events (the input) as noise and not as data that they already know how to process.

However, it depends on the system and on its model of internal representation of its
external environment to know which part of the input is significant and regular and which one
part is insignificant and random, i.e. noise. In this case, the adaptation consists in increasing the
first at the expense of the second according to constraints (of capacity) imposed by the system's
internal structure. This means that, on the one hand, the system will attempt to extract as many
regularities as possible from the environment and that, on the other hand, it will represent these
patterns internally as efficiently as possible in order to use them with its optimal potential. It
appears therefore that complex adaptive systems attempt to increase their external complexity
and to reduce their internal complexity.51

Each of these two processes will operate on its own temporal scale(s) while remaining
intimately linked and mutually interdependent. Thus, the internal complexity will be reduced
only in the case of a fixed input, a fixed external complexity, in order to represent this input more
efficiently. But if the system wants to process additional inputs to increase its external
complexity, it could just as well increase its internal complexity first and thus create a potential
for a possible future reduction of internal complexity on another time scale.

The increase in internal complexity can occur by creating redundancy, i.e., a duplication
of some units or internal structures. A process of differentiation or specialization can operate on
this redundancy through random mechanisms or internal selection so that the system becomes
able to process more inputs and thus increase its external complexity. Once this has occurred, the
system can again attempt to represent this newly acquired input more efficiently and thus reduce
its internal complexity. Conversely, for the reduction of internal complexity, the system can also
get rid of part of its input by considering it inadmissible and insignificant for its goals and thus
decrease its external complexity. Similarly, reducing the external complexity required for the
selection of the most relevant input is a secondary process, as the primary objective remains
increasing external complexity and reducing internal complexity.

This principle is described in detail in Hermann Haken's Synergetics.

Although that in the end, the system depends on its environment (while being
autonomous), what matters to the system is what is reflected in its internal model. Therefore, the
external complexity is not assessed as the amount of raw data collected by the system, but rather
by what could be processed in the internal model. More precisely, the system does not represent
any invariant external reality but rather builds its own model according to which it operates and
this is only modulated by the external input. What is considered input is decided by the internal
model and not by the environment and, more particularly, complexity - even what is called
external complexity - becomes ultimately an internal criterion.

External complexity measures the number of inputs (information, energy, material)

obtained from the environment and that the system can process. Internal complexity measures
the complexity of the representation of this input by the system. Internal complexity constitutes
therefore a modeling.

The goal of the system is to process as much incoming data as possible by building the
simplest internal model. Thus, the simpler the data representation model, the more capacity to
process additional inputs increasing thus the external complexity. As a result, the more inputs the
system can process, the more it can grow and expand, and the greater the potential for reducing
internal complexity. The system will therefore attempt to increase its external complexity and
reduce its internal complexity.

These two processes may seem contradictory and conflicting, but this conflict can be
avoided if these processes operate at different time scales. Thus, with the internal model used to
organize the input, the system tries to increase the complexity of this input. Simultaneously and
paradoxically, it tries to simplify the model representing this input and thus reduce its
complexity. What constitutes the input depends on the time scale: on a reduced time scale, the
input consists of individual signals; on a longer time scale, there is a distribution of probabilities
of the signals. A good model cannot be established on individual input signals, but on considring
the regularities of these inputs. As a result, this model cannot adapt to the time scale of
individual input signals. In any case, the two processes of increasing the external complexity and
reducing the internal complexity are interdependent and therefore their temporal scale(s)
becomes bounded.

Emergence and self-organization would therefore be the two main characteristics of

complex adaptive systems, knowing that these systems are not limited to these two
characteristics. Complex adaptive systems are distinguished, as noted above, by a number of
other features.

Boson the clown?

This presentation on complex systems seemed probably too long. But, it was necessary
because I had to take this path and deepen my knowledge on this subject in order to reach the
conclusion explained below. It's part of my journey mentioned at the beginning of this book.

Now, let's go back to the interaction between our two entities: Information and Energy. I
said above that the Universe would be the result of the interaction between initial Information
and Energy. I explain all this without resorting to mathematical-physical equations as my
thinking is purely metaphysical-philosophical within the framework of Systems Thinking.

In 1927, a Belgian priest and astrophysicist, Georges Lemaître, solved the equations of
Einstein's general relativity and reached the conclusion that Einstein's theory foresaw a
constantly expanding universe.

Your calculations are correct, but your Physics is terrible, wrote Einstein to the priest, as at that
time Einstein did not accept the idea of an ever-expanding universe although he had accepted it
in 1922 after the works of Alexander Friedmann. Lemaître didn't falter and proposed in 1930 his
principle of the Primeval Atom according to which our universe would, in fact, have begun by
being an infinitesimal point mathematically speaking, which exploded - the Big Bang - giving
birth to our Universe. Since then, this universe is expanding faster and faster.

According to cosmologist experts, what was before the Big Bang is indescribable because
we are under Planck's time, that is, below 10-43 second. It's the smallest measure of time we can
access; beyond this limit, the laws of Physicsare no more valid. We are in the Singularity.

According to cosmologists, the whole Universe before the Big Bang was concentrated in
a mathematical point containing matter, energy, time, radiation and, for some experts,
information. According to others, all these ingredients were joined together in a space of the size
of a pinhead, or a ball of baseball or a football. And according to a few others, there was nothing
at all but information, which made it possible to the Universe to be formed; a code for some,
laws of Physics for others (which approximately the same). A little bit like the DNA of our cells.
Others deny that our Universe was born of a gigantic explosion and claim that it has always
existed, but that it runs through phase transitions. Theories are numerous and we are still carried
away with speculation on this topic.

The fact is that observation satellites sent far into space, especially the Planck satellite,
have proved valid the initial theory of Father Georges Lemaître, i.e., that our Universe would
have been born from a tremendous explosion and that before that, it consisted of a point where
everything was concentrated. In other words, the Universe would have been born from nothing,
or almost nothing. We will see that this is not far from reality.

Saint Albert the Great (1206 - 1280) said in his Treatise of Physics:

The physicist must prove what he states by means of methods that are specific to the science he
intends to consider, or he must keep silent. The beginning of the World by creation is not
physical and cannot be proved by Physics52.

We can thus say that the reason - or the reasons - for the Big Bang, the creation of the
Universe, lies beyond Physics, without necessarily implying that it has - they have - a
metaphysical background.

Without going too much into detail that would lead us nowhere (or very far, it depends on
the details), I state my point of view on this topic, in all modesty, on behalf of what some experts
call common science. This idea has been going round in my mind since long ago (I was 18 yo),
but the vicissitudes of life make a point to divert you often - not to say always - from your most
exciting interests. Yes! It's a conspiracy!

What concerns me, Systems Thinking taught me that any system is born from two
seemingly incompatible entities (opposite, antagonist, contradictory and complementary, as
Edgar Morin puts it in all his works on Complexity). As a proof, I put forward the principle of
bisociation53of Arthur Koestler. Subsequently, this system will grow more complex over time,
so much that its original birth will appear completely hermetic to us.

Personally, I am adamant that the Universe was born from the interaction between two
immaterial entities, Information and Eenergy, and that Matter is an emergence of this interaction
in the accepted sense of the Science of Complexity (see above the section on Systems).
However, any system to be born needs a field (and a soil) to develop and evolve. In the case of
our Universe, it is Time that provides this feature. In other words, before the Big Bang, in this
"mathematical" point, Information and Energy interact in a one-dimension 'space': time. An area
where all occurs at the same time, all the time, in no time, which is a rough description of

What happens from the Big Bang onwards is a dilation of Time and the formation of Space in
order for Matter to emerge; time and space are deeply linked in cosmology, hence space-time.
But in fact, Space is Time unfolding at a huge speed, hence the concept of the arrow of time. St.
Augustine said:

Excerpt from: Le temps et sa flèche, Etienne Klein, Michel Spiro, Champs/Flammarion, p.60.
You must be two to create, said Paul Valéry.

The Universe didn't occur in time but with time.54

Time does not exist without a change that occurs by movement.

Time is the dimension in which movement occurs. Time is the measurement of

movement. No time, no movement, thus time is space. If, as the Theory of General Relativity
states it, time begins with the creation of the universe, this is most likely due to an entity that acts
in a temporal dimension completely independent and pre-existing to the temporal dimension of
the Cosmos. Would this dimension be the Elsewhere of the cosmologists? That would mean that
this creative entity is transcendent to our universe: it is not the universe, nor is it contained in the
universe. In order to know it, we must break the time barrier. I think personally that the Universe
is a temporal wave propagating in all directions and spinning. We have many kinds of waves:
sound wave, light wave, liquid wave, sismic wave, fire wave and electromagnetic wave. Why not
a temporal wave? Tempus fugit. If this were confirmed, what if gravity were an emergent
property due to this propagating and spinning temporal wave? In that case, the Universe would
be a huge system, The Supreme System, The Universal Model of System. This is to be
confirmed by science.

What allows me to assert this fact? It is a feature of the universe which is self-
organization. There are solar systems like ours, where the planets, with or without satellites
orbiting around them, orbit themselves around a big star, and some comets too. Has this
organization originated by chance? Has it arisen by accident?

Let us consider a specific example: Gliese 876 is a star located in the Aquarius constellation at 15
light-years from our solar system. The orbits of all its planets, except the closest one, are
involved in a rare Laplace resonance with three bodies. This kind of resonance has been
detected at the three galilean planets of Jupiter. Our Moon presents this type of feature: it turns
on itself at the same rhythm of its orbit around the Earth; this is why we always see the same side
of it, the other one being hidden. These two features belong to the phenomenon of
synchronicity55. Movement in time. Has initial Tempus before the Big Bang been transformed
into Chronos after the Big Bang? This kind of phenomenon is not born by chance. It is the result
of some sort of organization.56

There is more to this as any interaction should leave some residues. Science confirms it.
Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed. In our case, it seems that nothing is
lost, much is created, everything is maintained while transforming itself. Cosmology teaches us

This is a thought to be considered seriously, especially if we invert the two prepositions in and with. Personally, I
think that the Universe was made in and withtime, as the Universe is Time unfolding.
A concept, first introduced by Carl G. Jung to describe events with meaningful coincidences occurring with no
causal relationship but seeming to be meaningfuly related.
I use this term by Carl G. Jung because we are dealing with coincidences connected by sense/meaning and not by
a causal relationship.

that our Universe is expanding very fast, at an accelerated speed, and that this is due to what
scientists call dark energy. This energy offsets the gravitational force of matter, otherwise, our
universe would have collapsed from the first moments of its "explosion". In fact, this happened
at the very beginning: there was a moment where the universe collapsed then caught back its
breath and continued its eternal inflation, which continues at an exponentially accelerated

But there is another "thing" that puzzles the cosmologists more and more: they call it
dark matter . This element is essential to the creation of stars in galaxies; this is why it is found
massively around all galaxies. Some cosmologists think it is linked to the gravitational waves.
This is truly strange. In my humble opinion, dark matter could well be the initial Information
which interacted with initial Energy before the Big-bang and these two elements are always at
work in our Universe, both in their “residual” form.57

I will not develop the topic of matter here. Much was said about it form Democritus to
Stephen Hawking. Review your courses or write the word “matter” in the research field of your
preferred search engine. Thank you for your comprehension.

What does this all mean? Quite simply that the Universe is immersed in time.
Cosmologists mention an Elsewhere. I tend to doubt its existence. Space is time unfolding
indefinitely. This is probably why the Universe is so tremendously vast, endless, immeasurable,
enormous, infinite, unlimited, astronomical. If this point were verified, it means that it would
probably be necessary to re-examine some aspects concerning the Universe. This means
especially that the Universe “thinks”! What is an explosive mixture of information and energy
that gives birth to all kinds of huge organized cosmic objects like the galaxies? Moreover, what
is this mix that gives birth to the thinking life: animals, plants, human beings? It is a gigantic
universal Eureka. And eureka entails a thinking brain. But, what brain is he talking about? Take
a guess!

I won't go further on this topic as I fear to be called a follower of the Intelligent Design
sect or a creationist or some other names.

After this presentation, I think we should leave room for faith. Some scientists, Einstein
is among them, endeavoured to grasp the creation of the universe by way of reason, but the
moment arrives when reason is overwhelmed and not able to probe. It is thus necessary to call on
something else. St. Albert the Great, again, said:

"Don't try to understand in order to believe; believe in order to understand".

If these comments appear tortuous to you, eat chocolate (dark at 85% and preferably without added sugars).

This is what he called the intelligence of faith. It is another level of “understanding” that
is necessary here and that exceeds understanding. No more reason, no more intuition, no more
imagination, no more reflection. One believes or not; after that, each one has his personal
experiment on the subject. Nothing prevents us from joining both, reason and faith (information
and energy), “to see more clearly”, to feel more extremely. If we want to grasp the creation of
the world, we must set ourselves out of time. Maybe this the Elsewhere. The world of business
keep harping on its famous watchword for innovation purposes: Think out of the box. I would say
in our case:

Think out of the Universe.


This is where I stand now. After having completed the article presented at the beginning
of this book, I intended to continue along the same path. I wanted to talk with creators (novelists,
painters and especially musicians) to have an overview of the way they "proceed" to create a
work, to see if it fits my vision of cognitive modeling in the mentioned article and to phrase the
nature of the creative function. I wished after that to develop the topic of modeling by grasping
more closely the concept of model in order to have a general view of knowledge on the basis of
philosophers such as Kant, Leibniz, Locke and of some cogniticians of the 20th century. I
intended thus to address the tale, the legend, advertizing, propaganda and other narrative means
within the framework of the narrative function.

But, as you noticed in this book, I “shifted” during the course of my readings and
reflections and, as I go, I dug more deeply and further than expected. It is not all bad news
because it corroborated the fact that information is one of the fundamental brick of our Universe.
Cognition is thus a component of our Universe, as some scientists such as William Clifford cited
above had deducted, and for whom the Universe is made up of mental stuff. In his book, The
Mysterious Universe (1930), British astrophysicist Sir James Jeans says:

(...) the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to
look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an
accidental intruder into the realm of matter.

What can we learn from all the foregoing?

I'll avoid commenting on the Universe, Creation, God and all the saints. Given the
animosity between science and religion, I think that these two should collaborate concerning the
creation of our world. The scientists should be more open to religion as they appear too much
hostile, even aggressive, towards all that concerns religion and its vision of the world. No, not
this, it suggests too much the creation, said Einstein concerning the primeval atom of Lemaître.

And almost all the scientists who succeeded him follow in his footsteps. To say that the Universe
made itself only by means of laws is an evidence of scientific bad faith.

To call on a lot of theories - string theory, super-string theory, multiverse, hologrammatic

universe, oscillating universe, quantum universe, etc. - in order to explain gravity, identify space-
time, grasp dark matter and dark energy, are many ways to avoid acknowledging that the
Universe is probably the result of a creator. Fine. But then, how can we explain this fine-tuned
adjustment of the constants and other parameters of our Universe without which Life would not
have been possible? It is OK to have a bit if a common sense to accept a reality which goes
beyond our comprehension. Let us not forget that the majority of the people who said judicious
things on the creation of the universe - on the scientific level and without mingling religion with
it - were priests, the latest one being George Lemaître. And it is once again Einstein who said:
Anyone who, in front of the immensity and the splendor of the universe doesn't feel deep inside
him that sense of unique admiration for the Supreme Being, who is the author of all this, is really
not worthy to be called a human being!.

Before concluding this book, here are a few quotes from great scientists:

Wernher von Braun (one of the most famous scientists from Nazi Germany, inventor of the V2
missile, and former supervisor at NASA):
One cannot be confronted with the law and the order of the universe without concluding that
there must exist a design and a goal behind all of it... The more we understand the complexities
of the universe and its workings, the more we have reasons to wonder at the inherent design that
underlies it... To be forced to believe in only one conclusion - that all in the universe appeared
by the fact of the chance - would violate the objectivity of science itself… Which random process
could produce the brain of a human being or the system of the human eye?

Albert Einstein:
I really can't imagine a scientist deprived of deep faith. This could be formulated in the following
way: it is impossible to believe in science without faith.

Camille Flammarion (French astronomer):

Atheism is too despicable to lay claim to science or reason or to deserve the name of any
ideology! It's too insignificant and too small to be given its rightful place among us. (...) To get
away from faith, it takes refuge in abstract speculations and sophisms that it would have
certainly discarded if he had submitted them to the judgment of its healthy nature. Similarly, it
would have realized that its true feelings and what his imagination dictates are totally opposite.
If one day we were asked: "Who is the man who lies the most to himself" ? "We would answer
without any hesitation: it's the atheist" !

Allan Sandage (famous contemporary astronomer):

It's my science, which led me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than
can be explained by science.

Max Planck (founder of modern physics, German physicist):

Anyone seriously interested in science, whatever the field, will read the following inscriptions on
the door of the temple of knowledge: Believe. Faith is a feature that a scientist cannot ignore.

I will finish this part of quotes with an excerpt of the book Libérez votre cerveau58 by
Idriss Aberkane:

Opposing science and conscience, or science and spirituality, is to oppose essential modules of
our being and to cause within us a civil war which we will never win. Opposing science and
spirituality would be to oppose our two hands which are supposed to work together.

What if science tried to explain the birth of the universe by integrating the Credo of Saint
Albert the Great in its equations: I believe in order to understand. After all - we mentioned it
very briefly above - the biological world possesses the instinct of manufacture, of construction,
of invention and of creation. The beaver built its dam, the bee makes honey, ants make their
stigmergic way, termites build their mound in such a way that galleries ventilate and brighten up
all the structure, etc. But plants and animals create by instinct and their creations do not change
with time: the Beaver will always build dams in the same way, the bee will always build its hive
and manufacture honey in the same way, termites will always build their mound in the same
way. This is an evidence that cognition is widespread in nature, and therefore in the universe.
Information is at the heart of the universe (I@HoU).

The instinct of creation of animals becomes a creative function in humans. Man creates
not only by instinct, but especially by need (the instinct is a prerequisite), and also for pleasure;
his inventions can evolve according to a process called innovation. We create material objects
(houses, machines, devices, tools, etc.) and virtual ones (fictions of all kinds: myths, legends,
tales, games of all kinds, math, etc.). If this instinct is anchored in us since the beginning for
pleasurable and useful purposes, what would be the instinct of God? The Christians name it

If human fiction is a creation and that creation of the universe for human beings is a fiction,
would the Universe be the fiction of God?

Libérez votre cerveau, Robert Laffont, Paris, 2016, p. 236.


Berthoz Alain, La simplexité, 2009, Odile Jacob.

De Rosnay Joël, Le macroscope, Points, 2001, coll. Points Essai, 320 pages.

Donnadieu Gérard et Karsky Michel, La systémique : penser et agir dans la complexité, éd.
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Duborgel René, Un singulier masque-mosaïque de R. Reynaud, in Miroirs, fragments,

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cognition, dir. Jean Bessière, Honoré Champion, 2007.

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Satinover Jeffrey, The Quantum Brain, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2001.

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Von Baeyer Hans Christian, Information: The New Language of Science, Phoenix, London,

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Wunenburger Jean-Jacques, Images poïétiques, schèmes et création intellectuelle, in Miroirs,

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Documents électroniques

Edil 26,

Planchon Henri,

Vergnaud Gérard, Piaget revisité par la didactique, Intellectica 2001/02, n° 33.