Analysis and Synthesis

The words analysis and synthesis represent often conflicting views of science, and are central to understanding our goals for the Kororoit Institute.

Reductionist view of science

The analytical approach to science is often called "reductionism". Following Wikipedia, "Reductionism can either mean (a) an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or (b) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents."

To greatly simplify some contentious philosophical arguments, those who doggedly follow reductionist approaches believe that we can understand the nature of the world by carefully drilling down into the physical components that form the world we see to understand their interactions (i.e., the laws of nature) at the most detailed levels. This is the basis for scientific analysis. When those laws are fully understood, then we can explain the world as the playing out of those fundamental laws at increasingly higher levels of organization. In other words, the operation of the laws governing the interactions of fundamental particles cause and explain the actions of the world we can see and interact with. The predictions of such fundamental laws can then be tested to see if we have correctly understood the law(s).

Antireductionism leads to synthetic approaches

Many people including most of Kororit Institute's proponents and supporters argue that many features of higher levels of organization cannot be anticipated, predicted and explained solely by upward causation from the level of fundamental particles. They argue that each level of organization is characterized by additonal laws that only emerge as regularities at a certain level. This approach to scientific understanding is known as antireductionism or holism and encourages the development of synthetic understandings where the sum is more (often very much more) than just the sum of its parts. A number of conceptual views of the dynamic world arise from holistic and synthetic thinking, such as synergy, emergence, and hierarchical complexity.

However, an understanding of causation shows that neither analytical nor synthetic approaches provide all the answers. Following the Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon's Architecture of Complexity and Stanley Salthe's Evolving Hierarchical Systems, as shown in the graphic below, the world can be seen as a complex hiearchy of interacting systems, where a system at any given "focal level" of organization includes a collection of components interacting with one another than they do with other components. Each component in the collection of components forming a system may be a system in its own right, formed of still lower level components. Similarly, each system at the focal level (where the particular system at the focus of our attention is known as a "holon"). Similarly, every holon is a component in a higher level system that forms its environment. Causation affecting the holon works both from the bottom up, where "universal laws" as studied and understood by analytical approaches determine what is causally possible in any interaction of low level particles; and top down where the actually existing structural constraints and boundary conditions determines what actually happens. A synthetic or wholistic view needs to be taken in order to identify top-down causes that determines which possibilities are able to be realized.


Kororoit Institute will support both analysis and synthesis

Based on our member's broad mix of qualifications in the sciences and engineering, we are building an Institute that is able to both offer the intellectual rigor and thoroughness of analytical approaches and the scope of synthetic and wholistic approaches to problem solving.