A likeness between systems structures and,or processes.
The concept of similarity is quite elusive. It is not merely an analogy, in a metaphorical sense, but the clear recognition of an homomorphism. Similarity is observed. This means, in A KOESTLER's words, that it "involves processes of abstraction and generalization in the nervous system which are largely unexplained" (1964, p.201).
To become more than an analogy, similarity must be described in topological (i.e. graphical) or mathematical terms. KOESTLER, for instance, speaks of "bisociation of conceptual matrixes", which implies a kind of mapping, or pattern-matching.
Recognizing similarities is a highly creative mental process, typically systemic. It produces at times amazing results, as for example when A. WEGENER introduced the idea of continental drift, conducive to plate tectonics, having observed geographical complementary similarities in the forms of continents.
The observation of some dissimilarities, on a background of similarities, can be just as productive, as shown by DARWIN's Galapagos finches.
"Similitude" is a synonym unfrequently used.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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