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Eigenvalue (Inherent Value) and Decision

How does a system gain stability? By repeating the same decision: One goes into the same office every day and thus one recognises that one is regularly employed by the firm, which is there. A team works together in roles that remain the same and an organisation does not change its name every day. Such repeated decisions are (by adopting the term from cybernetics) called eigenvalues (inherent) values. As opposed to cybernetics, though, system theory links this term, in the context of self-sustaining systems, with a decision-making process. In this way, eigenvalues become a setting of the system and are not simply present or imposed externally.

If stability is the consequence of such (very fundamental) decisions, then there is no security for autopoietic systems, as one could also decide differently: one can mutate from wellie manufacturer to mobile phone giant (Nokia), one can swap from a friendship circle to a start-up shareholder group and change from a man to a woman. Eigenvalues are contingent. Each “This is the way it is!” is an indication of a lack of reflection about the setting behind the presumed certainty.

Therefore, for each system, the question about how it can make its eigenvalues sufficiently binding, becomes a fundamental task, which it cannot evade.