Complex and Chaotic Dynamics of Human Life
are at the focus of our present research interest. This page explores how decisions emerge out of complex and chaotic dynamics of human life, what sustains this emergence and how decisions interact and evolve together.
Copyright © 1998 V.Dimitrov
Centre for Systemic Development
University of Western Sydney, Australia
SEMIOTICS AND COMPLEXITY.
I.DECISION EMERGENCE OUT OF COMPLEXITY AND CHAOS
II.SEMIOTICS AND COMPLEXITY
Emergence is a direct expression of the vitality of complex dynamic systems. Simple linear, isolated and steady state systems are deprived of the potential for emergence - they are artificially kept in an imposed equilibrium which breathes death.
Emergence is the most powerful manifestation of the unique self-organizing ability of complex dynamic systems. This ability emanates from continuing complex interactions between the agents which make the whole of the system. If agents stop interacting or if interactions lose their complexity and degenerate into easily predictable repetitive patterns, the whole dissipates, its self-organizing ability sinks, and emergence ceases to occur!
Every agent mirrors the power of emergence embedded in the complexity of the dynamic system as a whole, and the whole of the system mirrors the power of emergence imbedded in the complexity of every single agent. This fractal wholeness of dynamic complexity is a 'sine qua non' for emergence to occur.
In human systems, emergence implies serendipity and creativity both at individual (intrapersonal) and group (interpersonal) levels of interaction. For creativity to take hold and flourish, emergence needs space and freedom. Emergence cannot be designed. Emergence cannot be imposed. It simply happens - as a spontaneous burst of energy accumulated through the complex interplay of interactions. At an individual level this is the enigmatic and often paradoxical interplay between physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual fractals of human personality. At a group level, this is the autopoiesis of communications - people in dialogue with people, people in communication with their environment, people in communion with the spiritual essence of the universe...
Emergence can breathe order out of chaos, simplicity out of complexity, serenity out of confusion, inspiration out of every day monotony, insight out of mere intellectual speculations. While we cannot design a specific emergence, we are not merely helpless witnesses. We can create conditions for it to happen, we can read its presages and empower its heralds. We can seed it and make it blossom for the Good of Life on our planet.
I.DECISION-EMERGENCE UNDER CONDITIONS OF COMPLEXITY AND CHAOS
Complexity and Chaos study nonlinear dynamic processes. Such processes are open for emergence of unpredictable phenomena.
Emergence is a manifestation of a unique self-organizing ability of complex systems - its study, modelling and practical application are at the focus of the theory of Complexity. According to this theory, complex systems evolve into self-organized forms in the absence of external constraints (pressures). When driven by a constant supply of energy, they are unavoidably pulled towards critical states where avalanches of changes occur.
Emergence brings forth complex dynamic patterns of order - strange attractors, underlying chaotic systems behaviour - patterns whose forms and dynamics are at the focus of the theory of Chaos. According to this theory, strange attractors have fractal structure - each attractor consists of nested into one another similar and strongly interrelated forms (fractals). Fractals are infinitely complex - no matter how small a piece is taken, it is an equally complex microcosm of the whole.
The events and processes in human life are characterised by complex nonlinear dynamics - they arise, evolve and disappear as a direct result of interaction of many interwoven factors. These are the same factors which influence human decision-making.
It is obvious that linear decision making models cannot cope with nonlinear chaotic dynamics of complex decision situations. They are designed to work in that almost artificial context where changes in conditions lead to proportional changes in decisions made under those conditions - slight perturbations of decision conditions requires little "cosmetic" changes of the corresponding decisions. Unfortunately, this is a rare case in human systems. Tiny little changes persisting in our normal heart rhythm or body temperature bring into consideration of entirely new decisions than those applied under normal conditions. Instead of monotony of a linear flow, life 'prefers' turbulence and vortices, uncertainty and spontaneity, criticality and transformation.
Decision-models based on the rationale of choice are also inefficient under conditions of complexity and chaos. They operate according to the choice imperative:
This imperative works in a static and simplistic framework. In life it does not work. Not only because 'the best' is ever changing notion in the impregnated with unpredictable emergence flow of life, but also because choice and emergence are incompatible. Choice is inevitably imposed and restricted by a set of preliminary chosen criteria and goals. Emergence is never imposed - it needs freedom (free will and free space of potentialities) to self-organize and crystallize into a decision.
Unfortunately, the logic of contemporary decision-making is very much in captivity of linearity and choice. Even the advanced decision making technique of artificial intelligence based on genetic algorithms, neural network, fuzzy logic and evolutionary programming is not free from this captivity. Specially designed computational procedures for choosing the best (or highly satisfactory) alternatives are used in a predominantly linear learning environment of elementary cause-and-effect relationships (failure-punishment, success-reward). Robots can live in such an environment, humans cannot.
Under conditions of complexity and chaos, the process of making a decision becomes not only difficult and unreliable - often it turns to be meaningless. The reason for this is that any temporarily discrimination between right (good) decisions and wrong (bad) decisions loses its validity in the chaotic flow of the decision process considered in its wholeness.
What is considered to be a wrong decision at a current moment t could appear as the most appropriate (right) decision when looking at it from the moment T when the decision process terminates, and vice versa: a decision classified as the best one at a moment t can be seen at T as the worst decision ever made during the whole decision process. Instead of being currently made 'good' or 'bad', 'right' or 'wrong', 'satisfactory' or 'unsatisfactory' - characteristics that make sense only at a meta level, that is, from a position where one is able to have an integral look at the decision process in its wholeness, decisions are allowed freely to EMERGE out of the process as it unfolds (moves, flows) in time. As far as the potential for emergence is an intrinsic characteristic of any complex dynamic, the less the external pressure (constraints) on the decision process, the easier the manifestation of its spontaneity. In this sense, freedom is a crucial factor for any decision emergence.
If several decisions happen to emerge at the same time, the challenge is to discover (or create) a 'higher-order' decision pattern compatible with each of the emerged decision.
For example, if the decisions emerging in parallel in one's mind are: to stop smoking, to eat a healthier food and/or to be involved in some sport exercises, the decision pattern could be: to change the present life style. Such a decision pattern is compatible not only with the three decisions under consideration - it keeps open individual decision space for new decisions to emerge.
The discovery or creation of complex decision patterns based on the simultaneous emergence of more than one decision is called complex decision emergence.
The three decisions in the above example do not lose their significance - they could become fractals embedded in a more powerful decision structure, ready to absorb other decision opportunities, possibly 'softer' and easier practically to start with than such direct and difficult to realise decisions as 'stop smoking' or 'start doing exercises'. Other decisions could be: 'try to avoid contacts with people who smoke', 'talk to somebody who is already involved in similar sport activity', 'be aware of what kind food you are eating during the day', etc.
Complex decision emergence is always supported by a self-organizing force (or forces) inherent in chaotic and complex. dynamics of decision situations.
Usually, chaotic dynamics generate vortices (whirlpools). The vortices in human decision processes represent a kind of 'galvanised' mixtures of diverse 'streams' of intentions and motives, feelings and thoughts, beliefs and values, expectations and hopes - all these in a state of intensive dynamic interaction (percolation).
If the life situation is not only turbulent but also complex (interwoven, tangled), it easily moves into a critical state. A person (or group) who experiences critical state or is in a critical decision situation, cannot live any longer with decisions previously taken, i.e. before the criticality has occurred.
Both vorticity and criticality effect self-organizing forces which usually take form of a strong drive (a passionate desire) for change. It is that drive which eventually supports any decision emergence.
As far as the 'streams' percolating in the vortices of critical decision situations can have different origins of energy in parallel - physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological, social, spiritual, etc., the self-organizing forces can be enormously powerful and supportive for the emergence of multitude of human decisions.
Decision making requires division and separation. The decision maker needs to extract out of the available information (related to a decision situation under concern) at least three independent constituents:
(1) set of alternatives to choose from;
After analysing the above constituents, a specific procedure is sought in an attempt to connect them in an 'optimal' way.
Decision emerging does not require division and separation - on the contrary, it depends crucially on the ability of the decision-initiators (persons or groups responsible for initiating the process of decision-emerging) to fully experience decision situations. And decision situations are simply critical life situations. Without experiencing-in-vivo these situations, no decision emergence can occur. The emergence is never in past nor in future. Decision emerges now - in parallel with the act of experiencing the unfoldment of life. That is why the personal (or group) awareness (alertness, vigilance) is a vital factor in decision emergence. This factor does not allow self-organizing forces involved in critical situations to disperse - to lose their focus, direction and intensity.
Logical analysis is of little help in decision emergence, because the latter is not an emanation of logical thinking: decision emergence is a creative act, an act of spontaneity and insight. Brain divides, separates, classifies, debates, analyses - it needs time for this. It needs past data or future scenarios to think upon, to compare and select. Emergence cannot wait to emerge later, after the analyses ends.
In the flow of life dynamics, the external aspects of decision situations (such as criteria, goals, alternatives, procedures) become inferior to individual's (or group's) internal intention initiating (seeding, catalysing) the act of emergence. It is this internal intention which ultimately can shape an emerging decision to appear right or wrong.
It is clear that not all emergent decisions 'survive'. Many of them disappear shortly after being born, other continue to live only as ideas, unrealisable plans or dreams. In order to survive, a decision needs a stable support of self-organizing forces at the level of an individual, a group, community or society. In real life situations this means presence of a strong and persistent drive (motivation, determinedness, will power) to transform the emergent decision into actions.
The wisdom of ancient Sanskrit Vedas teaches us that people's actions are directed towards achievement or acquisition of power, knowledge, and/or freedom, as well as towards experience of love, pleasures and/or longevity. Whatever an individual decides to do, his or her actions are inevitably pulled towards one (or more than one in parallel) of those six kinds of acivity.
As there are enough experiential evidences supporting this ancient Vedic classification of human activity, we can accept that Longevity, Power, Knowledge, Freedom, Love, and Pleasure represent dynamically stable patterns in the turbulent flow of human actions.
The stable patterns in chaotic systems' dynamics are called chaotic or strange attractors. Being at a strange attractor, any chaotic process continues to move (as long as an energy supply is available) in an unpredictable way, but cannot easily escape from the basin of the attractor.
The six dynamical patterns of human activity can be considered as chaotic attractors in a space where each individual or group decision process can be represented by its unique dynamic trajectory - we shall refer to this space human decision space.
We can characterised dynamically stable decisions as emerging decisions that are both
(1) capable to bring forth actions, and
Decisions which are not driven towards any of the attractors of human activity are considered dynamically unstable. Dynamically unstable are also decisions that continuously jump ('bifurcate') from a basin of one attractor to the basin of another, without being capable to bring forth any single action.
Dynamically stable decisions emerging in complexity of human life include:
(1) ego-centred decisions, that is, decisions concerned with satisfaction of individual desires for power, pleasures, long life, etc.; this kind of ego-decisions emerge when we look at the world through the eyes of what it can give us for our personal benefit;
(2) family (community, society)-centred decisions, that is, decisions concerned with satisfaction of family (community, society) needs; this kind of people-oriented decisions emerge when we look at the world through the eyes of what we can give it and relates to our desires to serve (help, care for, share with) other human beings;
(3) environment (planet, universe)-centred decisions, that is, decisions concerned with the life of nature in its integrity; this kind of eco-decisions emerge when we consider human life inseparably connected with the ecology of the whole universe, and acknowledge the right of other (non-human) species on our planet to live and evolve.
The above decisions form a unique fractal structure in the human decision space - at the lowest scale level of the structure are the ego-decisions, and at the highest scale level are the eco-decisions. At the intermediate scale levels are located the decisions at service to family, community and society. The decisions at intermediate levels can be further 'fractalized' as decisions of local, national or/and international orientation.
The fractal decision structure is viable, that is, able to preserve its integrity and potential for evolving, if the decisions emerging at each scale level (say, level i ) are in strong interdependence with the decisions emerging both at the higher ( i+1 ) scale level and at the lower ( i-1 ) scale level.
For example, decisions serve society, if they satisfy the needs of local communities (belonging to the lower scale level) and at the same time they are eco-decisions (belonging to the higher fractal scale level) - it is clear that society cannot survive for long, if its emerging decisions often bring forth ecological disasters. And, vice versa, eco-decisions supporting the life of nature as a whole will be supportive also for the life of human society. The danger of self-oriented ego-decisions is obvious: individuals or organizations which intensively pursuit their own egoistic interests, irrespectively to the needs of communities and society, represent a serious threat for the humankind's life - the ego-decisions eventually lead to the fatal process of social disintegration.
Inseparability of decision emergence from experience manifests in people's narratives - we describe the emerging decisions through our stories. Some of the stories we share with others, some we keep in our 'minds and hearts'. Whether 'sharable' or not, whether true or imaginary, all narratives are characterised by an intrinsic wholistic power that reflects our unique ability to connect together diverse and seemingly disconnected events into a coherent and meaningful unity. This unity mirror the wholeness of human life.
The same techniques used in the explanatory narrative inquiry, that is, an inquiry aimed at construction of a narrative account explaining 'why' a situation or event has happened, can be applied to explain decision emerging. Once explained, decisions lose their characteristics of being emerging and becomes at a focus of various logical speculations typical for any qualitative type of analysis (D. Polkinghorne, Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis, Qualitative Studies in Education, 1995, 3, 5-23).
The narratives which people construct about their life and about themselves, strongly influence the decisions emerging in their 'minds and hearts'. For example, a narrative, where an individual sees himself (herself) as a victim destined to suffer, will facilitate the emergence of decisions expressing negativity, intolerance and even hostility towards others. Optimistic narratives with a prevailing positive attitude to life, will stimulate emergence of decisions expressing an 'easy-going' and friendly relations towards others.
In the flow of life, every individual is seen as a wayfarer, a pilgrim, a 'homo viator' - a human being in transit, on a journey. This is not only a journey of our physical bodies towards the fixed attractor of death - this is a journey of our minds and souls towards self-realization. Truth is the proper food of our minds, love and wisdom - of our souls.
People say that the agony of wayfaring is the difficulty of orientation. There is not a road in front us, we make it when walking. There are signs around and inside us that point towards truth, love and wisdom. Often these signs are enigmatic and mysterious. The experience of life reveals their meanings.
Semiotics as a theory and practice of how things and events act as signs can help us to navigate into complexity of life. Peirce (1839-1914) and Saussure (1857-1913) are the godfathers of semiotics. While Saussure looked at language as a system of meaning where those meanings are coded by words or by networks of meanings, Peirce considered human experience as a primary source of meaning. "Peirce's [semiotics] is not based on the word... but on proposition as that which unifies consciousness and creates intelligibility or comprehension. In this sense, Pierce's [semiotics] is not a theory of language but a theory of production of meaning" (Searle, L. 1994 Prirce, Charles Sander, in The John Hopkins Guide to Literature Theory and Criticism, Eds. M.Groden and M. Kreiswirth, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins Iniversity Press, p. 560).
Charles Peirce introduced semiotics as a theory of human experience mediated by our ability to reflect upon it and create explainations (representations). According to Peirce, the major research endeavour of semiotics is to find out what are the conditions for meaning to occur in human experience. Thus semiotcs directly addresses the issue of meaning.
"What is wanted, is a method of ascertaining the real meaning of any concept, doctrine, proposition, word, or other sign. The object of a sign is one thing; its meaning is another. Its object is the thing or occasion, however indefinite, to which it is applied. Its meaning is the idea which it attaches to that object, whether by way of mere supposition, or as a command, or as an assertion" (Peirce, C. 1931-58 Collected Papers of Charles Peirce in Eight Volumes. Eds: A. Burke, C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 5.5).
Our intention with the present writing is to bridge semiotics as initially introduced by Peirce with the conceptual framework of complexity science, and thus to facilitate development of new approaches for dealing with social complexity.
Peirce's semiotics conceives human experience in a three-relational conceptual structure Object - Sign - Subjective Idea necessary for capturing its creative and evolving nature. In the semiotic explanation of this structure, a sign refers to something else for someone: the sign can never be thing referred to as we never know for sure what someone might take it to mean. "Perfect accuracy of thought is unattainable - theoretically unattainable. And undue striving for it is worse than time wasted" (Peirce, C. 1977 Semiotic and Significs: The Correspondence between Charles S. Peirce and Victoria Lady Welby. Ed. Charles S. Hardwick. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p.11).
Thoughts reflect complexity of human experience. Any attempt to express this complexity in accurate terms is destined to fail. But this is an adantage rather than failure. The fuzzy language of conceptual (or computer based) complexity models keeps open human experience for emergence of meaning. So instead of being an ureliable producer of meaning, the three relational semiotic structure Object-Sign-Idea becomes, under condition of complexity, a poweful catalyst for emergence of meaning out of tangled and interwoven dynamics of human experience
As far as emergent phenomena are at the focus of complexity science, and the emergence of meaning is at the focus of semiotics, both complexity and semiotics appear inherently related to one another.
In the framework of complexity science, human experience occurs in an ever changing (dynamic) environment. We call this environment Human Experiential Spece.
Human Experiential Space (HES) is:
€ free from linearity of time
€ an evolving continuum
Multidimensional and chaotic nature of HES essentially contributes to unreliability of signs as points of reference - and this unreliability is what Peirce had in mind when describing the three-relational semiotic structure of human experience.
In the self-organizing ambience of HES, Peirce's three-relational structure becomes impregnated with a potential for new meanings to emerge. This potential can be amplfied through nonlinear manifestations of time in HES - one needn't necessarily to wait for long time in order to become able to grasp the meaning of an experiential event, this could happen in a twinkling of an eye. What matters is human eagerness for understanding, accompanied by a lack of prejudices and an extreme awareness.
In the evolving continuum of HES, human ability to make sense, to generalize and ideate contribitues in the establishement of flexible and dynamic relations between objects, events, signs, symbols, values, beliefs - relations that make possible the process of continuous growth and spreading of ideas. Peirce refers to this process as semiosis.
Semiosis is a process of using (consciously or unconsciously) various sign structures in order to mediate the world in which one lives. According to Peirce, semiosis inevitably includes appearance (emergence, discovery, creation) of connections (relations) between things (events, phenomena, signs, processes), a priori seen as not interacting with each other. Thus semiosis weaves the web of complexity and helps to elicit the wholistic nature of life where 'everything relates to everything'. In this sense, semiosis is the creator of complexity of life, and vice versa: complexity of life manifests itself through the process of semiosis.
Both complexity and semiosis have their roots in one and the same field - the fruitful field of experience ploughed by human endeavour for knowing. By the same token complexity and semiosis reveal continuity of human experience and emergence of meaning out of it. "Continuity is shown by the logic of relations to be nothing but a higher type of that which we know as generality. It is relational generality" (Peirce, C. 1931-58 Collected Papers of Charles Peirce in Eight Volumes. Eds: A. Burke, C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 6.190).
Continuity manifests in the continuous relationships between the constituents of the following three complexes:
€ body, mind, and nature
€ perception, representation, and consciousness
€ time, space, and existence
Each complex has a triadic fractal structure. Fractalaty is a concept used in the science of complexity and chaos theory to explain similar structures, nested into one another. Fractals manifest the wholeness and continuity of complex formations - being embedded into one another, they are essentially inter-dependent and co-evolving. In the first complex, 'body' affects the function of 'mind' and 'mind' affects the function of 'body', and of course, they both exist in 'nature'. 'Nature' manifests through them and affect their functioning.
Quite intersting is the interplay between the fractals of the second complex: perception, representation and consciousness described by Julia Kristeva (Kristeva, J. 1984 Revolution in Poetic Language, NY: Columbia University Press). For Kristeva semiosis is a 'process of signification' - that is, the set of processes which make possible human understanding of signs and symbols. She characterises these processes as "waves of attack against stases" - perception and representation prevent unchanging items from entering consciousness. The waves of attack demonstarte continuity of co-evolving dynamics of perception and representation in the complex process of signification - at the level of representation, the images of repeated stimuli are continuously constructed, against which perception matches incoming items. The effect is to defend consciousness against penetration of repetitive stimuli.
In the third complex, existence always unfolds in a spatio-temporal continuum. Animated and non-animated existantial forms need space to manifest their properies. Through their spatial changes, time expresses itself. Thus time also needs space for its manifestation. And vice versa, every point in space needs time to exhibit potentiality for self-organization of the existential forms located at this point. Both time and space determine continuity of existence demonstrated in the eternal triad of creation, persistence and destruction.
As far as semiosis is a process common to all living forms, it can be used to develop methodologies for studying complexity of existence (life, experience, evolution). We called these methodologies semiotic.
Semiotic methodologies aim at dicovery or creation of connections (relations) between events, phenomena and processes of existence. Semiotic methodologies reveal integrity and wholeness of life at different scales of its manifestation in the universe. Semiotic methodologies are powerful tools in studying human systems both at individual (intrapersonal) and social (interpersonal) levels. They help to explore fractal structures of complex living systems (natural or artificial), to reveal the attractors in their dynamics, to find ways for seeding emergent properties capable to increase vitality, that is, abilty for adaptation, evolution and growth of these systems.
According to Peirce, abduction is the basic logic of reasoning to a hypothetical meaning. Therefore, any discipline that has the issue of meaning as one of its central concerns is vitally concerned also with abductive reasoning.
Together with induction and deduction, Peirce considers abduction as a logical inference that informs semiotic thinking. "Abduction allows us to reason from the experience at hand, to so as to understand that experience not as a unique phenomenon, but as a meaningful case of some hypothetical rule or principle" (Peirce, C. 1931-58 Collected Papers of Charles Peirce in Eight Volumes. Eds: A. Burke, C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 6.19).
Abductive inference is the process where we conclude from the rule a -> B and the observation that B is true, that a might have caused B to be true. It is a kind of approximate reasoning. For example, given rules in the form (disease) -> (symptoms), the doctor concludes by abduction a disease because of the observed symptoms.
When a designer tries to realise a function F for the artefact to be designed, and his design knowledge (experience) tells her(him) that a component f beside others realises F, i.e. f -> F, then the designer concludes by abduction to select f.
If the decision maker DM has a collection D of facts (observations, data), and according to his(her) experience and knowledge, the hypothesis h explains D better than any other hypothesis (generated by DM), then h is adopted by abduction as a probably correct one.
Abductive logic is applied for creating hypothetical patterns of understanding the meaning of signs and structures built on signs. Abductive logic is the logic of signs. It helps to move semiotic inquiry forward into complexity of experience and life.
When weaving the web of complexity, semiosis uses abductive logic. When seeding emergence of new meanings in this web, complexity also uses abductive logic.
The best illustration of the use of abductive logic in complexity is internet. According to Shank (Shank, G., 1997, Abductive Multiloguing. The Semiotic Dynamics of Navigating the Net), much of the activities that occur on internet are abductive in nature - they look for new meanings, for implications of ideas and fostering a shared understanding of the explored phenomena and processes. The discussions on internet are multidisciplinary, inclusive, unpredictable, emergent. Topics emerge and expand into wider and wider content realms, as people with different areas of experience and knowledge brings in their insights. A hybridisation of information leading to new hypothetical meanings occurs permanently. Not only facts are shared but also ways of looking and understanding the world. All members of the virtual community have access to the expertise of each other almost instantaneously. Thus a broad base of potential abductive 'rules' is created.
Abductive logic tharnsforms the nature of the researcher in the era of networking and complexity, making it drastically different from the traditional researcher working in linear quantiatave framework widely used before the emergence of virtual community on internet. Shank considers the abductive researcher in the era of complexity as "less like experimenter and more like a detective, a hunter-gatherer who learns to gather information, to combine that information in search of new exciting venues of insights, and to turn to the world of experience directly for guidance".
From the point of view of semiotics, all forms are made up by signs. The signs make it possible to reveal the differences and similarities between the individual forms. The latter use of signs is important when studying fractal properties of complex systems. As far as fractals are similar structures which repeat at different levels (scales), it makes sense to extract signs pointing to the similarity between fractals belonging to different levels, to estimate the strength of this similarity, and to explore how this strength varies when moving from one fractal level to another.
Signs are rarely interesting in and of themselves, but in terms of what they stand for. They are not data to be verifies as to whether they are true or not, but are instead clues about what various things and circumstances could mean.
Often signs group into dynamic sign structures of different degree of complexity. It is through such structures that living organisms (including human beings) mediate the world.
It is obvious, that unchanging environment communicates nothing. According to Allott (Allott, R., 1997, Language and the Origin of Semiosis) , "each sign is a perceived change in the environment". In order to be able to perceive a change, the perceiver must have retained the pattern of what constitutes an expected flow of events (situations, phenomena), that is, a flow of events considered as a 'normally expected'. Allott reckons that complexity of our brains must be structured in terms of some kind of 'expected' environment and "perception is the result of interaction, or matching between the expected environment and the current environment by which change is detected". If no change is detected, the waves of attack against stasis described by Kristeva (see the above chapter on semiosis) resist the emergence of signs impregnated with meaning for the perceiver. In this sense, any meaningful sign is always a messanger of a perceived change, a bearer of dynamics caputed by the senses and mind.
In the paper quated above, Allott assumes that "there must then be restructuring in response to the perceived change, possibly not as a separate process - the awareness of the perception may in fact be this restructuring. Perception would be a direct reflection or representation of reality, an internal ordering influenced by what happens in the environment"
High level of awareness is required for perceprion of tiny changes in the environment which then can possibly lead to dramatic changes in meaning. This reminds the 'butterf;y effect' from the theory of chaos. Among the personal factors helping the deal with the butterfly effect in the emergence of meaning are:
€ richness of individual experience
€ devopment of intuitive thinking
€ depth of understanding the relationships between external and internal factors influencing the emergence of meaning
€ potentiality for creating virtual meaning of the observed signs and their structures.
The meaning of an expression reflects past, present and future of individual's (or group's) experience. Past has to do with the probilistic characteristics of an expression as a most probable response under experience and knowledge accumulated in the past. Present has to do with the actual circumstances of forming an expression as a conditionally stimulated response. Future includes a possibilty for an entirely new interpretation of the expression, different from any conventional (probabilistic) or dependent on actual conditions interpretations. This possibility reflects the virtual meaning of expressions.
The processes of thinking and communication, together with diversity, complexity, dynamism, unpredictability and evolution of human experience permanently contribute in the emergence of vitual (posible, future oriented) meanings.
Continuity of experience, in which meaning is always a possibility in future is ingrained in Perce's semiotics.
"No present actual thought has any meaning, any intellectual value; for this lies, not in what is actually thought, but in what this thought may be connected with in representation by subsequent thoughts; so that the meaning of a thought is altogether something virtual" (Peirce, 1905: "Writings of C.S.Peirce: A Chronological Edition in five volumes, Manuscript 291, Ed. C.J.W. Kloesel et al., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982-93).