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Ternality Theory

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The tern of Nexus augments causality

This whole approach is based on the general concept that the main entities in cybernetics are mechanisms, and that these behave in accordance with appropriate principles of dynamics. Dynamics is a tern, in the sense that each domain has its own constructions by means of its own form of causal or other nexus, and this point is so important that it is worth elaborating in some detail.


Figure button   The tern of Nexus


If we go back to Ashby's exposition of kinematic graphs (Ashby,1956), we see that these are tables or networks of links between events. Ashby makes a point of insisting that the only domain of interest to cybernetics is the secondary one so, for him, the link is of the form A is always followed by B, or perhaps A implies B. For him, this is a unary mechanism, because he is not concerned with any material causation which may be going on in the system which he is describing.

If we look in the primary domain, we will probably see that there is a causal nexus of some kind between the events A and B. Regarded as a binary mechanism, it is one in which the causal nexus in the primary domain expresses an implicatory nexus in the secondary domain.

At this stage, the kinematic graph is not describing a purposive mechanism. But we can go a stage further, and add a tertiary domain. We could then handle the possibility that event A is part of a situation which is in some way less desirable than the situation that would obtain if event B occurred. If the primary nexus is actuated, to express the secondary nexus and to result in event B happening, then we can say that the tertiary nexus being expressed is of the form 'in order that'.

What we now have is a tern of Nexus, which consists of {cause - implication - in order that}, and the tertiary component of nexus (in order that) is where purpose, teleology, and imparity fit into the mechanism.

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© Copyright D J Stewart 1987, 1998, 2003. All rights reserved.

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