Complexity is not a paradigm shift

Claims are made such as ‘complexity entails a scientific revolution, hence a radical shift in science’.

I believe that what is called complexity science is a continued working-through of ancient insights going back decades and centuries, and claiming a decisive shift leads us down dangerous paths and to miss out on powerful, valuable thinking.

It’s a Rorschach blot
  1. seeing the organisational potential within the system
    (from whatever source or level — systems/complexity/cybernetics can equally identify/support/set up structured, command-and-control hierarchies (say, Jacques’ Stratified Systems Theory), and the conditions for ‘pure self-organisation’)
  2. seeing the role of the observer, a second order perspective
    that the observer creates the ‘system’ (or the complexity or chaos); that talking about these terms — or pattern and nebulosity in general — outside of a loop between the observer and what is being observed — is meaningless
  3. making critical boundary judgements, i.e. understanding that the framing we bring to our observations has implications (this follows from (2))



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