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Role objects/roles and "role-playing" / function / purpose in the environment

The same system can have multiple descriptions:

  • Functional/role-based: a kettle is needed for boiling water. It heats the water poured into it to a boil, then beeps loudly to signal that the water has boiled.
  • Constructive: the kettle consists of a body, a heating element, a boiling indicator (sensor, controller, speaker), a cord with a plug for connecting to the power grid.
  • Placement: the kettle stands on the windowsill in the kitchen, plugged into the outlet to the left of the window.
  • Cost-related: the kettle costs 5,000 rubles upfront and then you will pay for electricity depending on your tariff, 1.2 kW per hour of operation.
  • ... and there can be many more descriptions. An artistic description to assess its fit in the interior, a description of potential threats (burns, electric shocks, etc.) in terms of safety, instructions on how to carry out maintenance (remove limescale) and repairs, and so on.

We remember that in 4D extensionalism, if you describe objects and these descriptions refer to the same place in space-time, then it is the same object. If you describe a "warm object on the windowsill in the kitchen", your friend describes an "orange object on the windowsill in the kitchen", and I describe a "kettle on the windowsill in the kitchen", and you understand that besides this kettle, there is nothing else on the windowsill in the kitchen, then it simply refers to the same warm orange kettle on the windowsill in the kitchen.

All these descriptions seem to have equal status, but the first four are commonly accepted as the most important, with the first one being first among equals. Systems thinking primarily considers systems as having some purpose in their environment at the time of use/operation/functioning, meaning they demonstrate important/interesting behavior to someone in their surrounding environment when ready (and not at the time of creation). This description is commonly referred to as functional (what function the system performs in its environment when it operates, focusing on function::behavior) or role-based (what role the system plays in the environment, focusing on the role object::thing, meaning an object with certain behavior). Something important - for various agents from different projects for their own functioning, something may be important, and something may not. To one agent, it is important that the kettle quickly boils water, while to another, what matters is the color of the kettle: this other agent is concerned with interior design, not tea-drinking. Systems thinking should facilitate reaching agreements on these important issues so that the created system turns out to be successful. Moreover, "important behavior" - whether it is "important needed" or "important harmful" behavior, the key here is not the positivity or negativity of the behavior itself, but rather how important it turns out to be for the systems affected by the system or affecting the system. These are the system-creating agents but also the agents interested in systems in the environment of the system during operation, as well as agents interested in projects to create systems that are part of a suprasystem. All these interests need to be satisfied. Thus, there could be a multitude of functional descriptions (the same system may play different roles in different higher-level systems, which different agents identify in their projects related to the target system), which will need to be reconciled as well. And since we mentioned both system-creating agents and system users and systems in the environment, usually the functional descriptions should capture all of them. Systems thinking requires this description as the first one.

First, it is necessary to understand what the system does during operation, the benefit or harm it brings with its behavior: what role::item it has and what function::behavior of this item (role's behavior when it operates). Role is the system itself, in its physical form, as the role object is physical when its role is performed by some constructive/material object as part of the system. A constructive/material/materialized object is important during the time of creation/construction by creators/constructors, representing the "material" of a role, matter and fields. However, the role/functional object is physical, though it is less commonly referred to as a "physical object." A physical object exists and is stable to the extent that its material presence in some form is maintained over time (NESS, minor fluctuations to sustain stability do not affect this), and this material is taken regardless of its function. A role/functional system is physical because it persists as long as its function::behavior is performed by some constructive objects. Thus, we minimally examine the system twice (and then we will learn that we need to consider the system a minimum of four times, and usually a much larger number of times):

  • As a Role: functional/"role-playing object"::"physical object" (the physicality is achieved by the embodiment in constructive/material objects) that performs a function::behavior. A functional item exists continuously as long as the role is maintained (the same function is performed), while the material can change. A kettle as a functional object exists as long as a constructive component heats the water. If it doesn't heat, it's not a kettle.
  • As Constructive: constructive/"material object"::"physical object," which exists continuously as long as its physical material is maintained, while roles can change. A rock is either a paperweight::role or a nail driver::role, but it's just a rock, the "material," the "constructive."

These objects are related by the embodiment relationship: a set of constructive objects embodies a certain functional system (role). Different approaches in systems thinking slightly vary in terms of the physicality of functional items/objects. For example, in ISO 15926, a functional object is considered a subtype (specialization relationship, a subset) of a physical object.

Moreover, in ISO 15926-2:2003, a spatial location is also a physical object due to 3D extensionalism. As a functional object is defined based on the stability of its purpose/behavior, and a constructive/material object is defined based on the stability of its material presence, a spatial object is defined based on the stability of its position. And another material object is separated, which is important in engineering, but difficult to define through material stability, position, and purpose: a stream, in a stream, the stability of its flow_path is important.

A "functional physical object" and a "material physical object," connected by the relationship of "temporal whole part":

  • The word "temporal" here precisely denotes that a functional physical object exists temporarily, only when its role is performed by a physical object. For example, a "craneman" exists only when this professional/functional role is played by a person or even an AI agent, and a "nail driver" exists only when this role is played by a rock or a microscope.
  • "Whole" means that at a certain moment, one constructive object entirely fulfills the role of a functional object (a craneman consists entirely of the person playing the role, a nail driver consists entirely of a rock or microscope, sometimes a hammer, but also entirely).

In other schools of thought, it is said that the functional object is not directly a "physical object" but "physic...