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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put it in your top-10 list of must-read thought generators, 15 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: On Complexity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences) (Perfect Paperback)
Morin is revered by an insider set who know of his genius, and the elegant precise way in which he outlines the nature, significance and meaning of the science of complexity. While he sometimes seems to travel close to the reductionist outlook, he never falls into that trap. In many ways I think that complexity is the wrong word for what is being described in that far from the world being complex, it is merely richly patterned and we who do not know how to read those patterns. Morin has some keys.

To explain: science turned the world into a myriad of parts (like atoms, molecules, cells) and then try to assemble these parts into wholes in the way that you would assemble a bicycle. Mechanical things can indeed be assembled in this way but virtually everything on our planet is actually alive – the soil, the air, the mountains, societies, at all levels of detail. We live in a planetary ecology of ecologies. Now when you try and make sense of that by connecting the dots, it all breaks down because there are just too many dots (never mind the fact that you've created those dots as mental abstractions in the first place – for example there is no atom 'thing', it's really a dynamic activity). The combinatorial explosion of interactions between all these suppose of parts is so utterly mindbogglingly huge that the world is unfathomably complex. But of course when you walk up to the newsagent, handsome money across and walk away with a newspaper, the world really seems rather different. We're in a world of much simpler patterns in which we can recognise each other's faces and know which city we are in. And these simpler patterns are also qualitatively rich. The same science that created the crazy mechanistic view of nature also throughout the whole quality of experience as merely subjective (and therefore fundamentally untruthful and unreliable). But how can we ever create a society that is "good for human beings on the planet" if the qualitative experience is marginalised as illusive fiction?

So we need to develop a science and practice capability that reflects the realities of everyday life and this is what Edgar Morin calls complex thinking. In spare brilliant prose, Morin explains this and also shows how the autonomy of the individual is not merely supported by but essential to understanding this world. It's a science that gives back the individual as a reality. It's a science that gives back the experience of quality as a foundation of science and it's an outline of a way of thinking that can be cultivated that will be utterly essential to solving the problems of the 21st-century.
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Reviewer

Angus Jenkinson
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Cambridgeshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,532