In short: I am looking for a philosophical take/theory/way of finding abstract-level metadimensions of complex systems (or any "real" system in general at this stage, if that helps).

Details: Complex systems are characterized by large dimensionality. Studying all these dimensions (or finding which dimensions are important) to explain a given outcome is cumbersome. To overcome this, I was thinking about the idea to have higher-level abstract "meta-dimensions". Is there a philosophical theory that can guide as to how can one generate a list of metadimensions - typically, abstract in nature - that encapsulate the myriad dimensions characterizing the complex system? These meta-dimensions would then characterize the system comprehensively.

As an illustration of what I mean, below is an example of meta-dimensions and the encapsulated dimensions in the complex system of human body.

Organ meta-dimension: heart rate, lungs capacity and kidney capacity are the dimensions.

Behavioral meta-dimension: diet, exercise level, sleep hours, and stress levels are the dimensions.

Environmental meta-dimension: Surrounding temperature, humidity, toxins, and water quality are the dimensions.

Psychological meta-dimension: thought patterns, emotional fluctuations, and mental states are the dimensions.

You get the idea.

Two properties of meta-dimensions that I could think of: First, the meta-dimensions must exist at the system level of analysis. Second, the selected meta-dimensions should exhibit (a) theoretical complementarity and (b) collective theoretical coherence so that they non-redundantly and comprehensively characterize the entire system.

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    Although we would more often refer to higher-order types or properties and not dimensions, it's true that in category theory they have the phrase "n-dimensional categories," and they look for isomorphisms (among other things) between structures. Your question seems rather broad/vague, that might well be unavoidable, but so my suggestion is that the generality possible in category theory would be along the lines of what you're looking for (though c.f. the debate about natural kinds for other pertinent info). Jun 29 at 4:38
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    I would characterize your example as the dimensions of human health. Why meta?
    – Rushi
    Jun 29 at 5:55
  • Complex systems are characterized by many things, high dimensionality being but one. Other even more fundamental qualities include: emergence, hierarchies, self-organizing, self-similarity and self-exciting (Hawkes' process). That some complex systems theorists, e.g., the Santa Fe Institute guys, emphasize it's biological origins with growth following an S-shaped curve is a limiting red herring as socio-economic-tech complex systems don't grow with an S-shape. Ultrametric trees are one approach to finding higher order dimensionalities.
    – DJohnson
    Jun 29 at 11:59
  • Thank you, KristianBerry and @DJohnson. Appreciate your inputs.
    – Aman Kabra
    Jun 29 at 18:15
  • @Rusi: "Meta" because lower order dimensions can be mapped into "categories" or metadimensions. Metadimension "organ" can have several characterizations (or "dimensions"), such as heart rate, lungs capacity and kidney capacity.
    – Aman Kabra
    Jun 29 at 18:17


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