English Presentation

A Journey towards Complexity: Presentation

The now called Sciences of Complexity gather a whole of theoretical developments that arise at diverse stages of human knowledge and at the core of different sciences. To name the main ones: non-lineal systems; dissipative structures; fractal geometry; chaos theory; catastrophes theory; and the non-classic logics. Each one of these contributes from its perspective to shape the complexity paradigm.

The authors have accepted the challenge of dealing with the new paradigm in a rigorously trans-disciplinary way, to make valid connections between the various sciences. That is a search for transcendental meaning, beyond the basic field of each discipline. As editors, we have placed a special emphasis on psychoanalysis, which we consider a suitable application of complexity; and we have tried to integrate it within the wider context of the project. We are aware that while specialization has lead to fruitful scientific growth, its stringent formulation makes it more difficult for scientific progress to be well integrated.

We have also tried to avoid two risks that we succinctly describe as ‘reductionism’ and ‘metaphorization’. Strictly formulated, the first one sustains that all science (no matter the level of integration it deals with) can be and should be ‘reduced’ to primordial physical elements. As Mario Bunge put it, reduction is necessary and sufficient to resolve the problems of knowledge. With regard to the second risk, we think that metaphorization can be clarifying but it is often confused with causal relations, which invites to mistake reality for imagination.

There are two important concepts through which this project flows. First, the ‘levels of integration’: physical, biological and psycho-social – each of them with sublevels, which have domains from which their own laws can be governed. Second, the notion of ‘emergence’ which, to start with, we conceive as a new ‘generalization’ of (or departure from) the classical law of causality. However, the concept of emergence has to be applied in a rigorous fashion. One of us (N. Caparrós) has sustained for a while that emergence should not be used between two levels that are not contiguous; for example, physical and psychological. Caparrós has also described emergence between contiguous levels as ‘first order’ and emergence within a same level as ‘second order’.

The project is organised in three volumes devoted to the above three levels of integration: physical, biological and psycho-social. In each of the volumes preference is given to a specific group of sciences but some of these, like mathematics, philosophy, epistemology and science theory, appear in more than one volume. A reason for this is that these sciences treat on their own right problems that belong to various levels. For example, in a broad sense, evolution begins with physics, since the ‘big bang’, and spreads to limits that are as remote from that as the emergence of language.

Finally, we note that we have addressed some problems within the classic context of their disciplines rather than from the view of complexity. We decided to do so as we attempted to put the new paradigm into perspective: complexity did not spring up ‘ex-nihilo’.

N. Caparrós, R. Cruz Roche (Eds.)