A precursor of the sciences of complexity in the XIX century

The sciences of complexity present some recurrent themes: the emergence of qualitatively new behaviors in dissipative systems out of equilibrium, the aparent tendency of complex system to lie at the border of phase transitions and bifurcation points, a historical dynamics which present punctuated equilibrium, a tentative of complementing Darwinian evolution with certain ideas of progress (understood as increase of computational power) etc. Such themes, indeed, belong to a long scientific and philosophical tradiction and, curiously, appear already in the work of Frederick Engels at the 70’s of the XIX century. So, the apparent novelity of the sciences of complexity seems to be not situated in its fundamental ideas, but in the use of mathematical and computational models for illustrate, test and develop such ideas. Since politicians as the candidate Al Gore recently declared that the sciences of complexity have influenced strongly their worldview, perhaps it could be interesting to know better the ideas and the ideology related to the notion of complex adaptive systems.


A precursor of the sciences of complexity in the XIX century
Osame Kinouchi

Source: arxiv.org