This extract from a longer article by Nora Bateson says more about the term...
"I would like to propose a new word for 'System' that refers specifically to living systems – that is, to systems composed of living vitae, which emerge from their communications and interactions. The expression and communication of interdependency and, particularly, mutual learning should be implicit in the term.
The existing word, 'system', while useful for discussion of many kinds of systems, does not communicate contextual fields of simultaneous learning as is necessary for life. Due to the missed characteristic of learning within the term 'System', this important aspect is often lost in 'systemic' studies. The inclusion of mutual learning in the terminology precludes the models of engineering and mechanism, as the many variables of developing interaction become untenable to consider in those parameters.
This difference is a significant shift in our work in the sciences, communication, and arts that address our understanding of life, and evolution. The discourse with which we discuss and study the living world should be representative of the living world, and cautiously avoid connotations that imply or are derived from engineering.
Biology, culture, and society are dependent at all levels upon the vitality of interaction they produce both internally and externally. A body, a family, a forest or a city can each be described as a buzzing hive of communication between and within its vitae.
Together the organs of your body allow you to make sense of the world around you. A jungle can be understood best as a conversation between the flora, the fauna, the insects and the contact with humanity. The interaction is what creates and vitalizes the integrity of the living world. Over time the ongoing survival of the organisms in their environments requires that there be learning, and learning to learn, together. Gregory Bateson said, “The evolution is in the context.”
Our conceptual understanding of the living world can be elevated with a new terminology that better describes the processes we are referring to within it. The viability of this new term is a step toward a clearer understanding of the way we describe the difference between what we can “control”, i.e. in material terms, and that which requires another approach, i.e. interacting with the complexity of evolving living systems."
See Nora Bateson's Blog entry on Symmathesy
Nora Bateson goes on to look at some considerations associated with mutual learning. She covers:
Contexts ~ Calibration ~ Bias ~ Stochastic Process ~ Play ~ Boundaries ~ Time ~ The Double Helix.
Here is what she writes about Calibration:
"Learning in Symmathesy is an ongoing process of calibration within contexts of aggregate interrelational variables. This calibration does not require conscious involvement. The learning that any living thing must either continue within (or else become obsolete) is a wide-angle process receiving of information of difference from simultaneous multiple (countless?) interactions.
Complexity does not divide itself and therefore life requires calibration within multiple streams of information and interaction. In order to do a simple task, such as walk across a room, a staggering calibration of information must take
place. Not only does one have a reason to cross the room, like the famous chicken who crossed the road, but also perception both visual and tactile are in use, as is memory, balance, rhythm, language and more. Likewise our tree in
the forest above calibrates its placement of branches, direction of the wind, sun, pathways of its roots, and the context of the forest it lives in will be influential on the tree at every level, and even be visible to us in its shape.
Learning is the process we are referring to here as calibration within variables of interrelationship."
Nora Bateson's book Small Arcs of Larger Circles will be published later in 2016.
Mutual Learning & Change in Living Systems
Two UK workshops with Nora Bateson:
9/10 March & 20/21 April 2016
See details here