A growing degree of heterogeneity in a system or in a filiation of systems.
M. DODDS states: "In the evolutionary process, two tendencies which characterise all systems, viz differentiation and integration, go hand in hand. Differentiation is variety-increasing behavior (morphogenetic), leaning towards increasing complexity, apparent randomness, fragmentation, freedom. Integration on the other hand, represents pattern and order… The two tendencies are complementary, not contradictory" (1994, p.1417).
According to J.L.LE MOIGNE : "The formalization of differentiation processes seems still uncompleted. Two types of phenomena may be distinguished: the ones - morphostatic - evolve by extension, by regulation or even by equilibration; the others - morphogenetic – evolve by reproduction, by bifurcation or by mutation" (1977, p.191).
The first type results from the progressive expression of the virtual characters of the system during the process of its development, characters that became inscribed in it at the moment of its autogenesis. In this case, the system undergo transformations, but maintains its identity.
The second type of differentiation leads to the emergence of systems endowed with a superior degree of organization. Evolutive differentiation is aided by isolation of different groups, but impaired by recombination: this seems also to be sometimes true for technical and cultural variation. This is not anymore mere transformation: it becomes evolution. It would be quite useful to coin different terms to express these two quite different concepts of differentiation.
Differentiation is, by its nature, irreversible, as it leads to increased complexity coupled with an increased level of entropy production.
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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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