"The relation in which the interchange of the parts does not involve any change in the relation" (J. FEIBLEMAN & J. FRIEND, 1969, p.32).
On the contrary, asymmetry implies such a change.
FEIBLEMAN and FRIEND give the following example "… The relation of the skin of an apple to the flesh is not the same as the relation of the flesh to the skin, and is therefore an asymmetrical relation… (however) grains of sand are symmetrical since an interchange of parts does not involve any change in their relation" (Ibid.).
A better example of asymmetry would be the relation between a subordinate and a senior in an organization. It is however quite difficult to imagine absolutely symmetrical relations, which would imply an also absolute reciprocal inertia of the elements.
According to the cited authors, asymmetry involves a dynamics tending toward a structural equilibrium. In their own words: "Since no organization is ever in complete equilibrium, the striving toward equilibrium is the equivalent of the reduction of asymmetry to order in seriality" (p.49).
However, dissipative structuration manifests the opposite process: symmetry-breaking leading to a higher level of complexity, generally more asymmetric.
Numerous types of structural symmetry are possible in two or three dimensions, since different symmetries can result of different rotations in space, for instance 90°, 60° 45° or 30°. The most symmetric figures in 2- and 3-dimensional space are the circle and the sphere.
Cristals present various types of more or less perfect symmetries in three dimensions.
Symmetry is many times presumed. H. SABELLI observes: "The so-called postulates of symmetry are so widely accepted in physics that many as yet unobserved phenomena have been formulated for reasons of symmetry. However, symmetry breaks down in the most important parameter: time" (1984, p.356). And: "The consideration of order and structure is not sufficient. Even more important is that of time-dependent, changing orderings and structurations. The process of ordering is both logically and existentially prior to the static order that it generates" (p.357).
This is also the lesson of PRIGOGINE's far from- equilibrium thermodynamics.
- 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]
We thank the following partners for making the open access of this volume possible: