Publication date (electronic): 31 March 2015
The need to link complex thinking and complex adaptive systems science
Alvaro Malaina holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) of Paris and a European Doctorate from the University Complutense of Madrid. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley. His research interests deal with the implications of the theories of complexity in social sciences, combining an epistemological and methodological approach. He has published articles in journals and books, and he is the author of the book Le paradigm de la complexité et la sociologie (L’Harmattan, Paris, 2012). He has been General Secretary of the Association for Complex Thinking, founded and presided by Edgar Morin, and based in Paris. He has been also a visiting researcher at centers of complex systems, such as the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, and the Human Complex Systems Faculty at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
This article reflects the division in the field of the study of complexity, between a mainly philosophical and epistemological approach (Edgar Morin called it “general complexity”) and a mainly scientific and methodological approach (called by Morin as “restricted complexity”). The first perspective would be well represented by Morin’s “complex thinking,” while the second by the new “science of complex adaptive systems.” We show the potential and limits of each perspective, and conclude by claiming the need to relink both the perspectives into a comprehensive “paradigm of complexity” that is capable of providing, and following the original definition of Thomas Kuhn, at the same time a worldview (“general complexity”) and examples of scientific achievements (“restricted complexity”).
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