Supra-Human Institutions and the Human Condition

  • Fenton F. Robb
Part of the Einstein Meets Magritte: An Interdisciplinary Reflection on Science, Nature, Art, Human Action and Society book series (EMMA, volume 5)


In a ‘thought experiment’ it is postulated that ‘institutions’, languages, cultures, schools of thought, disciplines and so on, are real-world entities of a natural kind spontaneously emergent from recursive cycles of conversations and communications. Autonomous, autopoietic, and, therefore, self-defining ‘living’ systems, institutions conform to the ‘natural laws’ of emergence, energy conversion and entropy production. They emerge from social interaction but not by the deliberate actions of individuals, and they need serve no human purpose. However, they do define what humans can perceive and understand to be real, true, good and causally related. They are not to be confused with man-made, man-controlled contractually-founded fabrications such as organisations, families, corporations, organs of state, and their like. Recognition of institutions as members of the class of natural kind objects and susceptible to conventional scientific investigation would enable a science of ‘Institutional Dynamics’ to clarify many of the conflicts subsumed under the rubric ‘Einstein meets Magritte’.


Entropy Production Thought Experiment Natural Kind Human Condition Human Purpose 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fenton F. Robb
    • 1
  1. 1.Ocean EyeEyemouthScotland, UK

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