The Self as a System of Systems Processes
Student Fellow, Calfornia State Polytechnic University Pomon
Last modified: September 27, 2007
Subjective human experience is explored by psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, spiritual practices, evolutionary biology, and more. Consciousness, cognition, and emotion are approached differently by researchers from different disciplines making interpretations of findings and communications among disciplines difficult. Reframing the self or subjective experience as a system of processes provides a model for integrating concepts and findings from various disciplines, for defining and potentially measuring what is otherwise considered abstract and illusive, and for generating new hypotheses and models. This paper adapts and applies Banathy’s three "lenses" for developing a systems view to articulate a systems view of the self. The system-environment lens outlines the hierarchical processes of human systems and their interrelationships, boundaries and boundary conditions, and the capacity to adapt and coevolve. The function-structure lens describes components, functions, and regulatory processes of the self and human systems. The development lens compares hierarchical levels of development and reframes them as processes and systems types. This model results in simple, functional, and measurable descriptions for (1) the experience of self as three components: an innate “wisdom” (subconscious capacity to process masses of information), cognition, shifting awareness or consciousness; (2) ethics and emotions as regulatory “guidance systems;” (3) a process definition of mental health; and (4) the self as an developing and coevolving system emergent from neurophysiological systems and embedded in human systems.