Rhizomatic Systems and the Emergence of Intelligence

“The ‘arborescenť model of thought designates the epistemology that informs all of Western thought, from botany to information sciences to theology”. Arbolic thought is a model to describe a system that is hierarchical, centered around a core belief, reductivistic, increasingly specialized, non-cyclical, linear, and ripe with segmentation and striation. Similar to a tree-like description of biological evolution or genealogy, arborescent systems start from a central origin and continue to evolve by branching into successively specialized generations. Vertical in nature, the arbolic is ordered, structured and “scientific”: it has a distinct train of thought, a clear inheritance, an order. In contrast, the rhizome is brought forward as a matted web of interlinked concepts. Inspired by the wandering, non-centered root systems of grasses and plants, the rhizome appears non-linear, horizontal, nomadic, deterritorialized and heterogeneous. The rhizome cuts across and between the order of vertical space, connecting multiple points simultaneously in a network of nodes. Connected to  each other at arbitrary points, the rhizomatic system is more concerned with the multiplicitous interlinking of concept, action and being. Although it lacks a central dogma of a trunk/brain, it is a horizontal, bottom-up system that produces an emergent system of metabehavior that is strong, robust, and intelligent… in the non-standard sense of the word. Within nature, rhizomatic systems like ants or grassy weeds eventually win: “True, the weed produced no lilies, no battleships, no Sermons on the Mount… Eventually the weed gets the upper hand… The lily is beautiful, the cabbage is provender, the poppy is maddening – but the weed is rank growth… it points a moral.” If intelligence could exist without a central brain, the rhizome would be it.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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