After reading Scale by Geoffrey West, I am deeply impressed by his research, even though it appears that I have some fundamental disagreement with some of his conclusions. West argues for a framework of scaling cities (and other complex adaptive systems) that includes four core properties.

His treatise is to my sensibilities so elegantly (and entertainingly) written, I hesitate to share an alternative interpretation of part of it. Nevertheless, the possibility of expanding the understanding of the power of these key elements for the functioning of cities, and the wellbeing of the Human Hive (Gaia’s Reflective Organ) impels me to comment on these four tenets:

  1. Space Filling Network
  2. Terminal Invariance
  3. Energy Optimization
  4. Time – Birth/Growth, Aging, Death

West’s data and insights into Space Filling and Energy Optimization align well with what I have been able to discover. In my much humbler independent researcher mode, I have concentrated on meta-theories and/or cross and/or multi-disciplinary research that reveals how living complex adaptive systems operate at micro, meso and macroscopic scales.

West’s exploration of Space Filling Networks is addressed in both Integral City’s Book 1 Chapter 6 on Outer Intelligences and Chapter 7 on Building Intelligences. These 2 chapters on the objective and interobjective aspects of the Integral City are founded on the earlier Book 1 Chapters 1-4 that explore Contexting Intelligences in the Human Hive – through explorations of how cities arise with intelligences that adapt the to their Ecosphere, Emergent Wholeness, Integral Maps and Living Cycles.

Likewise, West’s exploration of Energy Optimization is explored in Integral City Book 1, with the insights of James Grier Miller’s transdisciplinary research teams on Living Systems in Chapters 6 and 7, looking in particular at how all organisms in the city have created fractal systems and sub-systems for the processing of matter-energy and information.

However, in respect to Terminal Invariance in humans (and the evolutionary implications that could have on the Time Dimension) Integral City research suggests an alternative interpretation, which may offer West new (and not insignificant) perspectives.

As explored in Book 1, Chapter 5, Inner Intelligence, from the perspective of an Integral City, the level of development of individual’s bio-psycho-cultural-social systems all impact an individual’s capacity to process energy/matter/information. Research suggests that human subjective development (i.e. Psycho-cultural) unfolds across 4 levels of increasing complexity – from self-centric, to ethno-centric, to world-centric, to Kosmo-centric.

Likewise, as explored in Book 1, Chapter 8, Storytelling (Cultural) Intelligence reveals the inter-subjective capacities that evolve in collective fractals in similar levels of complexity – where social holons not only become more complex, but are dependent on the evolving complexity of the individuals that make them up. This typical unfolding of social holons impacts cultural and governance expressions in cities that support worldviews, beliefs, and relationships that are characterized by their central values based on self, others, world and universe. The tensions between and amongst the expression of natural levels of complexity underlie the conflicts in perspectives and behaviours in the living complex adaptive social systems that are cities.

Thus, I would propose that the subjective and intersubjective data related to human systems can also scale, and it is this very fact that suggests a differing interpretation to Scale’s assumptions that people are “invariant terminals” in complex adaptive systems. (In Integral City Book 2, Appendix G we offer detailed data sources for each scale in the city.)

[Continued in next blog]