Friday, October 18, 2019

Different theories of complexity

In Jim's discussion with Bonnie he mentioned Prigogine, and that his type of complexity is different than that of the Santa Fe Institute to the point where SFI denounces him. So which theories of complexity, or at least which parts of these different theories, are applicable to postmetaphysics (or Game B or metamodernism) and which are not?

In Cilliars' book Complexity and Postmodernism he said:

"In the first place one has to acknowledge that the 'discipline' of Complexity is a house divided. There are serious differences between different approaches to complexity. After about two or three decades of work explicitly dedicated to the understanding of complex systems, it has become crucial to reflect critically on the value of these different approaches. One way of distinguishing between these approaches is provided by Edgar Morin (2007) who distinguishes between 'general' and 'restricted' complexity. Restricted complexity refers mainly to the mathematical and computational approaches to complexity, often strongly informed by chaos theory. This approach, Morin argues, acknowledges the non-linear, relational nature of complex systems, but seeks to tame it in ways which reintroduces positivism and reductionism. General complexity on the other hand, argues for the limits of all approaches to complex systems and urges that we acknowledge these limits and recognise that we need a new language in which to do this, a language which moves beyond Enlightenment ideals of neutrality and objectivity."

Also recall the "science wars" between the feuding factions of chaos theory, between Prigogine's philosophical approach, which sees correlations with postmodern cultural theory, and the more objectivist and applied approach of Mandelbrot et al. Interestingly, Prigogine is comfortable with and acknowledges that metaphor is essential to not only scientific theory but all theory, given theory's embodied root in it. Whereas the idealistic (and perhaps Platonist?) objectivists abhor such metaphoric contamination among its ranks, so much so that Prigogine has become persona non grata. Which is all the more interesting since "Prigogine is the only man to have to have thus far won the Nobel Prize for work related to non-linear dynamics" as of the writing of this article.

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