Complexity and Philosophy
Olkowski, Dorothea (University of Colorado, USA)
Complex non-linear systems are often characterized as linguistic and mathematical systems that fascinate insofar as their input and output are incommensurate. A great deal of attention has been given to these types of non-linear systems and they have been described or characterized even by those who are not linguists or a mathematicians. In their work, the Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine and the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers reformulate the world as open, complex, probabilistic, and temporally irreversible, particularly as it applies to the macroscopic scale, the scale of atoms, molecules and biomolecules. This came out of the conclusion that new, dynamic states of matter may emerge from thermal chaos when a system interacts with its surroundings. These ideas can be traced back to the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (99-55 BCE) who referred to this as the clinamen, a spontaneous, unpredictable deviation that describes turbulence, irregular on the macroscopic scale, but highly organized microscopically. This paper examines sources of the concept of complexity including philosophy, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology.
Dorothea Olkowski is Professor and former Chair of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, current Director of Humanities and Director of the Cognitive Studies Program, and founding Director of Women’s Studies. She is author of more than one hundred articles and fourteen books, including her most recent publication, Deleuze, Bergson, and Merleau-Ponty, The Logic and Pragmatics of Affect, Perception, and Creation (Indiana University Press, 2021). Her other recent publications include, Deleuze at the End of the World. An Argentinian Perspective on the Sources of his Thought, Dorothea Olkowski and Julián Ferreyra (Eds., Rowman and Littlefield, 2020), Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy of Freedom: Freedom’s Refrains, edited collection with Eftechios Pirovolakis, Routledge Press, 2019, “Continental Feminist Approaches to Philosophy of Science,” The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Philosophy,” Kim Q. Hall, ed., Oxford University Press, 2021, "Time is Real, Continuity and the Arrow of Time,” in Gilles Deleuze and Time, Daniel Smith, (ed.), Edinburgh University Press, 2021.“Deleuze’s Oedipus,” in, All About Father: Psychoanalysis, the Oedipus Complex, and the Modern Family, Lilliane Weissberg (ed.), NewYork: Palgrave McMillian, 2021.