I have been thinking a lot recently about the role of dynamism and complexity in the world. I took up this topic in my dissertation with regard to political revolutions, but encountered it again during my engaging interview with Conor Mayo-Wilson, who works on understanding chaos and imprecision as they appear in the fields of logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of math.
The interview reminded me of my initial encounter with the theory behind complex adaptive systems, which happened through some books on biology. Biologists encounter complexity on a regular basis as they seek to understand how populations evolve and the many natural processes that affect each living being. My belief is that philosophers have much that they can learn from the study of complex adaptive systems, just as those studying such systems could benefit from a philosopher’s take on their work. In order to facilitate such a dialogue, I encourage philosophers to read the following works. The first two are some of the books I read that introduced me to complex adaptive systems, and the last two are papers by philosophers and social scientists who have begun thinking about how the study of complexity and dynamism affect other areas of research.
- Diversity and Complexity, by Scott Page (published by Princeton University Press in 2010)
- Emergence: From Chaos to Order, by Joshua Holland (published by Helix Books in 1999)
- Agent_Zero: Toward Neurocognitive Foundations for Generative Social Science, by Joshua Epstein (published by Princeton University Press in 2014)
- “Beyond Uncertainties: Some Open Questions about Chaos and Ethics,” by Teresa Kwiatkowska (published by Ethics and the Environment in 2001).
- “Sociology and the Second Darwinian Revolution: A Metatheoretical Analysis,” by Richard Machalek and Michael W. Martin (published by Sociological Theory in 2004)
What are you reading?