The Science of Symbols

Mystery, Magic, and Miracles
Emergent Properties, Self-Animating Systems, and

the Mythic Symbolism of Scientifically Mysterious Dynamics

Mystery is Redefined as a Scientific Actuality

  • Modern society has dismissed magic and miracles as 'unreal' events -- as mere fantasy

  • Mystery has become a 'problem to be solved'

  • Now system science confronts us with the inexplicable dynamics of emergent properties and network agency

  • Mythic imagination has long symbolized these 'modern marvels' as fundamental to 'the way the world works'

Regaining Appreciation for Fundamental Mystery through Symbolism

Where Logic and Science Become Fantastic


The extraordinary challenge of the 21st century is a confrontation between our modern mechanistic worldview based on science and the evidence that science now confronts us with about a 'more than mechanistic reality.' Our assumptions about reality, based on reductive scientific method, have held all phenomena to be predictably deterministic thus potentially explainable and controllable. But our own logic and science have overturned such assumptions. System science reveals a fantastic 'other world' of nonlinear dynamics, unpredictably emergent and not fully explainable properties, not to mention the purposeful self-organization of feedback networks in systems.

The science identifies inaccessible "hidden layers" of interaction in networks,

incalculable sensitivity to initial conditions in system trajectories,

and charts how complex systems never exactly repeat yet remain "self-similar"


These 'known un-knowables' of 'how things actually happen' are associated with a type of dynamical activity that is both orderly and chaotic--a 'tangle' of linear and nonlinear dynamics referred to as "the edge of chaos." It is under these conditions that network feedback gives rise to self-organization and purposeful agency. Most significantly, this dynamical uncertainty is the actual source of most of the organization composing the biosphere.

Between well-ordered states and totally disordered randomness is the

'dynamically magical' realm where self-organization and network agency emerge unpredictably:

New Marvels That Are The Old Mysteries, Magic, and Miracles

What scientific method has now detailed as fundamental to complex order creation yet ultimately inaccessible to quantitative measurement and full explanation constitutes a factual 'revelation of fundamental mystery' in Nature. These are the 'mythic dynamics of interdependency' that somehow generate new order and outright transformations of systems. It is to these phenomena that the old notions of magic and miracles refer--and make more tangible to human intelligence by imagining them as extra-ordinary events. Just as observed in systems science, societies, ecologies, and individual people can spontaneously transform into radically different states. A single society can split in two during civil war. An individual can experience a psychological shift that produces utterly new behavior.

A 'magic potion' can turn a personality into its opposite is a symbol of the

transformative emergent behaviors of complex adaptive systems:

Dynamic Spectrum.jpg