Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
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.”
Bruce, thanks for the link. I see that this author (Loubser) also engages with Cilliers, (and Human), bringing us back to the original topic of this thread.
I'm really liking the Loubser article. A discussion of complexity that is not too complex to follow. The quotes from Morin and Cilliers clarifying the distinction between restricted and general complexity are helpful.
And footnote #5 is interesting, esp. in relation to Bruce's project:
Wentzel van Huyssteen’s postfoundationalist epistemology links well with Morin’s
general complexity. Van Huyssteen argues for a postfoundationalist approach
as a viable third option beyond foundationalism and nonfoundationalism. Van
Huyssteen (1999:113) explains that a postfoundationalist approach ‘should free us
to approach our cross-disciplinary conversation with our strong beliefs and even
prejudices intact, and while acknowledging these strong commitments, to identify
at the same time the shared resources of human rationality in different modes of
reflection ... a truly postfoundational move beyond objectivism and relativism is
to rediscover the embeddedness of our rational reflection in the context of living,
evolving and developing traditions’.
Joseph Farley at FB linked to this excellent article on the differences between systems that are simple, complicated, complex and chaotic. It's applicable to this FB thread, and this thread, in that what passes for complexity is really just complicated and inadequate to the tasks at hand. It's also applicable to some integral theory in that it seems more a top-down complicated model that doesn't allow for what's required in complex systems. To paraphrase a hackneyed expression around these parts: It's simply not that simple. E.g.:
Coping with complex predicaments requires a focus on continuously improving processes, not achieving outcomes.
If a group is grappling with a complex predicament, it needs to have a shared vision of what should be different at each step along the process of working towards the purpose,
Historically, most solutions have been devised and implemented top-down, by leaders atop political, corporate or social hierarchies. But complex predicaments [...] have defied all attempts at top-down fixes. The best approaches to such issues have come from bottom-up initiatives to deal with them at the local level.
Implicit in the idea that innovation and human ingenuity can ‘solve’ any problem is a level of arrogance and hubris that has no place in the struggle with complex predicaments.
Also see this post, relevant here.