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.”

Views: 2908

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

A few points. His warning to not fall into Victorian evolutionism is apt, given its propensity to assume our group or philosophy etc. is the pinnacle of evolution, thereby seeing all as below. He correctly notes Adi Da preached this and who do we know was an acolyte and now making similar claims for his system? Claims that cross that "thin, thin line into megalomania?" Think superhuman development as but the latest example.

He also advises studying a different kind of complexity thinking like that explored in this thread. A kind that does not fit neatly into kennilingus categories, quadrants or zones. Morin's dialectic is one example, where "there’s not always a synthesis, but there is interaction between the two terms." Sound familiar?

And how we need to see the connections between the quadrants, and no so much how any given phenomenon fits neatly into one category. Something heretofore poorly elucidated in kennilingus, if at all. Again, sound familiar?

If anyone reading this has yet to read this thread perhaps it's a good place to start implementing his suggestions?

Perhaps someone with Photoshop can put Kennilingam's head on this figure?

I was re-reading this post in another thread and it fits with recent comments on Montouri:

You might appreciate this blog post:

"My thesis is that conscious states give no reliable insight into their causes and that therefore we risk completely misconstruing our mental life if we take phenomenological description at face value. [...] This is the point behind the borromean critical theory I’ve been talking about.  The knot of borromean critical theory (not to be confused with Lacan’s knot), is meant to emphasize that the three orders simultaneously overlap and interpenetrate and are autonomous.  It is a logic of the both/and, not the either/or.  What it tries to reject is any of the three orders as being treated as foundational to the others.  The order of the symbolic (S) is the order of signs, signifiers, language, meaning. [...] The order of the imaginary (I) is the order of phenomenological lived experience.  The order of the real (R) is the order of the physical, natural, or material investigated by biology, physics, chemistry, and neurology."

And I'd add that the center where they all interact is the withdrawn.

Another excellent post by Montouri! Thanks Bruce for the link!

Balder said:

I'm putting this link here for now to a book chapter called Overton, W. F. (2013). Relationism and Relational Developmental Systems: A Paradigm for Developmental Science in the Post-Cartesian Era. Just a quick quote for now on complex systems:

"As systems change, they become increasingly complex. This increased complexity is a complexity of form rather than an additive complexity of elements. The butterfly emerges from the caterpillar through the differentiation and reintegration of organization, the frog from the tadpole, the plant from the seed, and the organism from the zygote. In an identical manner, higher order psychological structures emerge from lower order structures; also in an identical manner, new forms of organization exhibit novel features that cannot be reduced to (i.e., completely explained by) or predicted from earlier forms. The novel features are termed systemic, indicating that they are properties of the whole system and not properties of any individual part. This emergence of novelty is commonly referred to as qualitative change in the sense that it is the change that cannot be represented as purely additive. Similarly, reference to 'discontinuity' in development is simply the recognition of emergent novelty and qualitative change of a system" (53-4).

We see many agreements with the above article and this thread. It discusses the worldview shift from Cartesian split to relationism, broadly equivalent to the shift from a metaphysical to postmetaphysical worldview. The former accepts splitting, foundationalism (essentialism) and atomism, all indicative of the metaphysical. Splitting requires pure forms or elements in a strict either/or absolute law of noncontradiction based on a foundational, unchanging reality. It also requires linear causal sequences (38-9).

Relationism heals the split with forms that flow across fuzzy boundaries and relate to each other as indissociable compliments, hence relationism instead of foundationalism. Instead of linear causal sequences there is a holistic mereological relation of parts to wholes. He uses Luhmann as an example, to which I'll return later on his mereology. Of note are the 3 principles in this holism: the identity of opposites, the opposites of identity and the synthesis of wholes. The first is how parts relate to the whole with fuzzy boundaries. The second is how the parts retain their unique identities as distinct categories. The third is on how the other two relate in what I would translate into kennilingus as 1st, 2nd and 3rd person perspectives. Or as he terms it, how the personal, material and socio-cultural balance and interrelate. We see this in Bryant's 3 domains and in the kennilingus 4 quads (41-52).

Of course this worldview shift itself isn't a sudden transformation from one to the other, requiring transitional phases. He hints at this noting the antecedents in the shift to relationism via Kant, Hegel, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, to name a few (30+). We can see such transitional mixes in the likes of kennilingus and the MHC, explained earlier in the thread. I can also see some mixes of each in this author's presentation as well, which I'll get to, as well as a few points he leaves out that are contained in numerous examples in the thread above.

Note Overton's diagram of holistic synthesis on p. 50, figure 2.4. As one example he takes the mind-body duality (or 1st and 3rd person). They are holistically synthesized by introducing the social domain (2nd person), all three being different parts (perspectives) in the relational whole. The same goes for any dichotomous pairing of 2 of those 3, the third providing another perspective from which to create the holisitic relation. This again reminds me of Bryant's diagram just a few posts above, and how "the three orders simultaneously overlap and interpenetrate and are autonomous."

Wilber's AQAL diagram just shows the dichotomy between inner/outer an individual/social, i.e. 1st and 3rd person. He realizes he needs a 2nd person perspective and fits that into the inside of the social, which doesn't work. Consequently he still participates in the dualistic split paradigm and examined at length in various posts and threads.

Edwards handles this by making the perspectives a different lens altogether from the quadrants, as in this diagram where each perspective has 4 quadrants (figure 5 of this post):

Also of note, Edwards also has a diagram (much like Overton's but more complex) showing the relationship of the perspectives (see figure 7 in the same link). A much simpler diagram of the same relationship can be seen here where a 1st and 3rd person are 'synthesized' by the 2nd person artifact. Or seen another way, his social mediating holon is Bryant's symbolic domain and Overton's cultural domain balancing the imaginary/personal and real/material domains.

Now Overton seems to be conflating the mereological whole/part lens with the perspective lens per Edwards model, something that the Lingam also does but in a different way. Overton does recognize that there is increasing complexity via what we'd call holarchy and I'll explore that next. Plus there's also the issue of the withdrawn and Bryant's criticism of relationism, also forthcoming.

As a note, remember this post and following in the Edwards' thread, critical of kennlingus for its lack of scientific methodology. From the linked article:

"I have written in some detail on the weaknesses of the methodological approach used by Ken Wilber and the great majority of other metatheorists in the development of their overarching frameworks (Edwards, 2008a, 2008b). Briefly, Wilber and many other metatheoreists rely on traditional scholarship methods of essentially reading a broad, but ideosyncratic, selection of writings and research and then making of it what they will according to their own assumptions and predilections. This traditional appraoch is not adequate if metathetical research is to be taken seriously as a form of social science research. Metatheorising can and should be done as a rigorous and methodical research activity and that AQAL metatheory needs to participate in this process if it is to be truly grounded in the scientific tradition. Until that time, AQAL metatheory will remain the visionary creation of one thinker and corroborating evidence for its framework of quadrants, levels, lines, types and states will remain anecdotal at best. This is, perhaps, the most forceful reason for the lack of acceptance for metatheorising, and particularly for AQAL metatheory, across mainstream higher education institutions and their constitutive disciplines" (183).

Note that the data of existing theories drives the metatheory, whereas the Lingam tries to fit it "according to [his] own assumptions and predilections."

As a couple examples of such theoretical predilection, note how the Lingam has metaphysically distorted the data of biological evolution and Derrida to fit his agenda.

I'm not sure if this is more relevant here or on the recent Transfor(u)mative Practice thread, so I'll just put it here.  I came across this article (book excerpt) on storytelling and complexity thinking while doing some research for my next paper.

A few posts above I started to comment on some work by Overton, but got sidetracked and didn't continue. Wm. Harryman noted some new work by Overton and Lerner: Fundamental Concepts and Methods in Developmental Science: A Relational Perspective. Research in Human Development, 11: 63–73, 2014. It is attached for future reading and comment.


Reply to Discussion


What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2024   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service