by Tony Smith

Meme Media

for Complex’07, Surfers Paradise, Qld. AU

presented 3 July 2007


This paper reviews ISCE's February 2007 3rd International Workshop on Complexity and Philosophy (ISBN: 0-9791688-1-3). Aside from some common references to 20 year old work of Ilya Prigogine and Stuart Kauffman, the 20 presentations largely talked past each other, albeit politely. While at least half the participants had strong hard science backgrounds, arguments from hard science were largely neglected in seemingly politically correct deferral to the social constructivist minority.

The quest for a Philosophy of Complexity appears to have become a for now at least losing battle by those willing to persist in trying to elucidate common characteristics of complex systems across the physical, biological and social domains against the tide of those mining complexity theory for tactics that might be applied to organisation/knowledge management, arguably the derivatives traders of the new millennium.

This paper recaps those numerous common characteristics, including particular reference to the still controversial status of the edge of chaos/border of order.

It looks further at the particular obstacles to developing a broader appreciation of the philosophical implications of complexity theory, especially in the still formative minds of postgrads and postdocs. Do even our brightest youngsters have to have beaten Marcia Salner's suggested second personal crisis before their brains can differentiate complex systems from relativism, an ever more unlikely prospect since the sanctification of child protection?

Could Anglo capitalist triumphalism survive the rise of a proper intellectual appreciation of complex dynamics and its broad philosophical implications?


The browser-readable Slide Show uses Eric Meyer's S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System. Information about images used is provided on the accompanying Illustrations page.