Can intellectual processes in the sciences also be simulated? The anticipation and visualization of possible future states
Socio-cognitive action reproduces and changes both social and cognitive structures. The analytical distinction between these dimensions of structure provides us with richer models of scientific development. In this study, I assume that (1) social structures organize expectations into belief structures that can be attributed to individuals and communities; (2) expectations are specified in scholarly literature; and (3) intellectually the sciences (disciplines, specialties) tend to self-organize as systems of rationalized expectations. Whereas social organizations remain localized, academic writings can circulate, and expectations can be stabilized and globalized using symbolically generalized codes of communication. The intellectual restructuring, however, remains latent as a second-order dynamics that can be accessed by participants only reflexively. Yet, the emerging “horizons of meaning” provide feedback to the historically developing organizations by constraining the possible future states as boundary conditions. I propose to model these possible future states using incursive and hyper-incursive equations from the computation of anticipatory systems. Simulations of these equations enable us to visualize the couplings among the historical—i.e., recursive—progression of social structures along trajectories, the evolutionary—i.e., hyper-incursive—development of systems of expectations at the regime level, and the incursive instantiations of expectations in actions, organizations, and texts.
In Scientometrics, online first, open access: