Peranetics

Subject-matter

Peranetics is a young science which deals with the dynamics of edge or boundary conditions. Such conditions are characteristic of the organisation of complex systems. They are important as they play a decisive part both in living organisms and in social systems.

It is edge and boundary conditions that give structure to a system. At the same time, they are selection conditions („constraints“), as they restrict the set of possible processes in a system to those processes that actually occur. A good example of this is provided by the specific material structure of the genome of a living organism – a structure that is the basis of all the processes of life that take place in the organism.

It is fundamentally possible to trace the organisation and the information-content of complex systems back to the existence of specific edge and boundary conditions. The significance of edge and boundary conditions for the understanding of complex systems was first fully recognised by Michael Polanyi and Bernd-Olaf Küppers. However, Polanyi regarded information-carrying boundary conditions as irreducible elements of complex systems, while Küppers, in an approach based upon modern information theory, related edge and boundary conditions to the physical concepts of self-organisation. The term “peranetics”, coined by Küppers, is derived from the Greek word “peras”, meaning boundary.




       


                                                                                                                                 Copyright © 2010 COMPASS. All rights reserved

Photo ⓒ STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SPL/Science Photo Library/Getty Images