Complexity and Philosophy

Jeffrey Goldstein
Adelphi University, USA

Albert Einstein once pointed out,” The results of scientific research very often force a change in the philosophical view of problems which extend far beyond the restricted domain of science itself” (Einstein writing with Leopold Infeld). This is certainly true with regard to contemporary research into complex systems since, as stated in the opening editorial to this first issue of E:CO, by stimulating a re-thinking of many of our fundamental assumptions about the nature of our organizations as systems, complexity theory is radically altering the sundry folklore and outmoded conceptual freight underlying traditional models of organizations. By re-thinking assumptions, the varied sciences of complex systems are inspir­ing a re-look at age old philosophical and metaphysical issues.

The new insights offered by complexity theory, therefore hold the promise that Scho­penhauer once gave voice to, “...the corrected, extended, and more thorough knowledge of nature is the very knowledge that always undermines and finally overthrows the metaphysical assumptions that until then have prevailed.” That is why E:CO will include a section commit­ted to offering fresh and insightful papers on the interface of complexity and philosophy. In this section, researchers and scholars will be grappling with foundational questions emerging from the debate between modernist and post-modernist perspectives, a debate which has led to intriguing and fresh speculations in ontology, epistemology, cognition, semiotics, ethics, and aesthetics. Again, these articles in this section have been selected through their recognition that new constructs are not merely ends in themselves but can offer new methods with pragmatic benefits.