1 )"The differentiation of one half from the other" (G. BATESON, 1973, p.353)
2) "A union of unequal opposites, the coexistence of two different, opposite poles in a unity" (H. SABELLI & L. CARLSON-SABELLI – 1992, p.660).
The SABELLIs view asymmetry, the general result of symmetry-breaking, as the fundamental cosmic order in relation to the temporal flow of energy, as "Whereas mechanics (classic, statistical, relativistic, or quantic) postulates stationary and reversible processes, thermodynamics and dynamics postulate that processes asymmetrically tend to attractors" (p.661). Thus asymmetry is "imprinted in the form of every object" (Ibid.).
H. SABELLI observes that "this concept of cosmic asymmetry has been validated in our century, beginning with the discovery of the non-conservation of parity in beta decay, the optical rotation of atoms, the string theory of matter, the importance of highly asymmetric, nonequilibrium states in the thermodynamics of open processes, the asymmetric preponderance of matter over anti-matter, the time asymmetric collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics, the asymmetry of crystals of which rocks are made, the violation of gauge symmetry by superfluids, the lack of symmetry in magnets and fundamental biological asymmetries". Asymmetric structures lead to asymmetric processes, and in turn the asymmetry of processes becomes imprinted as structural asymmetry" (1991, 219-20)
G. BATESON writes about the step from bilateral symmetry to asymmetry.(in living beings): "… either the asymmetry must be achieved by a random process or it must be achieved by information received from the outside" (p.373).
In both cases, positional value of the receiving element becomes very significant.
Asymmetry acts as a factor of organization and complexification because it corresponds to distinctions, leads to complementarities and opens more possibilities for differentiation.
This had already been recognized in the 19th. century by L. PASTEUR and well explained in 1942 by Ch. LAVILLE, who constructed a theory of fields asymmetry.
Contemporary ecologists, as R. MARGALEF for instance (1982), also admit that asymmetric exchange between living systems (as in commensalism and symbiosis) leads to an in crease of their global complexity.
M. HAAS established a typology of asymetries.(1967). He distinguished:
temporal – spatial – kinetic - entropic and allocational asymmetries.
Within the temporal asymmetries he signaled (among others, which seem less significant): - fluctuations - tides - discontinuities
Within spatial asymmetries he mentions (also among others, more specific of social and political situations): - segregation - centralization
His description of kinetic asymmetries seems too restricted to these same social and political situations. It makes sense however to distinguish, for instance: - mobility at different rates - immobility
As to kinetic asymmetries, they seem quite basically related to different levels of entropy production in different parts of a system.
As to allocational asymmetries, HAAS' classification, as related to socio-political systems is difficult to transfer to other types of systems because it implies values of different kinds.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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