I came upon this free ebook, Complexity and Postmodernism by Paul Cilliers (Routledge 1998). From the introduction:

“Complexity and Postmodernism explores the notion of complexity in the light of contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science. Paul Cilliers contributes to our general understanding of complex systems, and explores the implications of complexity theory for our understanding of biological and social systems. Postmodern theory is reinterpreted in order to argue that a postmodern perspective does not necessarily imply relativism, but that it could also be viewed as a manifestation of an inherent sensitivity to complexity.

As Cilliers explains, the characterisation of complexity revolves around analyses of the process of self-organisation and a rejection of traditional notions of representation. The model of language developed by Saussure—and expanded by Derrida—is used to develop the notion of distributed representation, which in turn is linked with distributed modelling techniques. Connectionism (implemented in neural networks) serves as an example of these techniques. Cilliers points out that this approach to complexity leads to models of complex systems that avoid the oversimplification that results from rulebased models.

Complexity and Postmodernism integrates insights from complexity and computational theory with the philosophical position of thinkers like Derrida and Lyotard. Cilliers takes a critical stance towards the use of the analytical method as a tool to cope with complexity, and he rejects Searle’s superficial contribution to the debate.

Complexity and Postmodernism is an exciting and an original book that should be read by anyone interested in gaining a fresh understanding of complexity, postmodernism and connectionism.”

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Morrison (M) has 2 references to Prigogine (P) in Spinbitz, on pp. 184 and 186. On 184 he says P see matter as active with "infinite depth, activity and modification." This sounds akin to objects as we're discussing in the OOO thread. Though I've yet to see P describe it this way, and there's no citation to P supporting this interpretation. The reference on 186 just reinforces the connection he sees with Spinoza and Morrison's principle of the "identity of opposites." To me this might be more trying to fit P into M's thesis, but myself not knowing a lot about P, and not understanding M much, I'll refrain from an outright judgment. That said, I can see though how the article M referenced above would be consonant with M's notions, just not sure about the same with P.

PS: The two references to P in Sorce Theory just reference the above from Spinbitz.

Isabelle Stengers, who co-authors a few books with Prigogine, has been mentioned frequently by OOO authors. I found one of her essays at Scribd, "Introductory notes on an ecology of practices." A relevant clip on physics:

"The way physics presents itself now, the way it defines 'physical reality,' is by way of persistent but now freely floating theologico-political claims referring to the opposition between the world as understood from an intelligible point of view (which may be associated with divine creation) and the world as we meet it and interact with it. As a result of defining 'physical reality' as the objective and beyond our merely human fictions, physics claims for itself....the secure position that they 'discover' physical reality beyond changing appearances" (183).

At Scribd I also came upon Stengers book Power and Invention (U of MN Press, 1997). The Foreward is written by Latour. Same chapter names include "The reenchantment of the world," "Turtles all the way down," "Who is the author?" "Body fluids."

More from Prigogine and IFG:

"Electrons, photons are only observable because they interact and participate in irreversible processes. The basic idea of unitary transformation of integrable systems is that you could, in one way or another, eliminate interactions. But interactions are a fundamental part of nature which we observe, and in non-integrable systems, interactions cannot be eliminated" (17-18).

More from IFG:

"We can describe dynamics from two points of view. On the one hand we have the individual description in terms of trajectories in classical dynamics, or of wave functions in quantum theory. On the other hand we have the collective statistical description in terms of ensembles represented by a probability distribution.... Traditionally, quantum theory was associated with Hilbert space, that is, with functions that are square integrable.... But when we go outside the Hilbert space we find...new solutions that can be no more implemented by trajectories or wave functions. We obtain, then, new dynamical laws that provide the microscopic basis for irreversible processes" (24-5).


"A fundamental problem of modern physics is the relationship between particles and fields.... Free quantum fields are integrable systems.... However, as there are no free fields in nature, interactions lead to nonintegrable systems. Nonintegrable fields are systems of an infinite number of degrees of freedom with persistent interactions.... The inclusion of irreversibility changes our view of nature. The future is no longer given. Our world is a world of continuous 'construction' ruled by probabilistic laws and no longer a kind of automaton. We are led from a world of 'being' to a world of 'becoming.'" (38-9).

One can draw many parallels with the OOOers from the above, as well as the deconstructionists and the polydox crew.

Speaking of the Polydox crew, here is something (related/relevant) that I was just looking at this morning:  Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming.

I referenced this book in the old Gaia Caputo thread. In discussing hierarchy kela asked: "What about her-archy?" I replied: "This is indeed part of the sacred anarchy in the word hier(an)archy. You've heard history, now it's time for herstory." See p. 3 of the thread (12/5/08 @ 12:32 pm) for more reference to this book.

Ah, nice!  I just read a bit from the thread you linked; I'm glad you archived so well!  I noted one of the chapters in the book referred to "pneumatic foam," which reminded me of Sloterdijk (though I think she's drawing on Deleuze and Guattari).

Morin: "From the concept of system to the paradigm of complexity." Sound familiar?

"As the concept of system now stands, though it is embedded in a general theory ('general system theory'), it does not constitute a paradigmatic principle; rather, the principle invoked is that of holism, which seeks explanation at the level of the totality, in opposition to the reductionist paradigm that seeks explanation at the level of elementary components. As I shall demonstrate, however, this 'holism' arises from the same simplifying principle as the reductionism to which it is opposed (that is, a simplification of, and reduction to, the whole)" (1).


"We should conceive of systems not only in terms of global unity...but in terms of a unitas multiplex; here again, antagonistic terms are necessarily coupled. The whole is effectively a macro-unity, but the parts are not fused or confused therein; they have a double identity, one which continues to belong to each of them individually (and is thus irreducible to the whole), and one which is held in common (constituting, so to speak, their citizenship in the system)" (3).

"'Progress' does not necessarily consist in the construction of larger and larger wholes; on the contrary, it may lie in the freedom and independence of small components. The richness of the universe is not found in its dissipative totality, but in the small reflexive entities-the deviant and peripheral units-which have self-assembled within it....The whole is less than the whole. Within every whole there are penumbras and mutual incomprehensions-indeed schisms and rifts between the repressed and the expressed, the submerged and the emergent, the generative and the phenomenal. There are black holes at the heart of every biological totality, especially every anthropo-social totality.... If one places this conception...at the very heart of the system paradigm, then this paradigm opens out spontaneously onto the modern theories of the individual unconscious (Freud) and the social unconscious (Marx)" (4-5).

And I might add, the withdrawn.

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