, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 455–471 | Cite as

Even More than Life Itself: Beyond Complexity

Original Paper


This essay is an attempt to construct an artificial dialog loosely modeled after that sought by Robert Maynard Hutchins who was a significant influence on many of us including and especially Robert Rosen. The dialog is needed to counter the deep and devastating effects of Cartesian reductionism on today’s world. The success of such a dialog is made more probable thanks to the recent book by A. Louie. This book makes a rigorous basis for a new paradigm, the one pioneered by the late Robert Rosen. If we are to make such a paradigm shift happen, it has to be in the spirit of the dialog. The relationship between science, economics, technology and politics has to be openly recognized and dealt with. The message that Rosen sent to us has to be told outside small select circles of devotees. The situation has even been described by some as resembling a cult. This is no way for universal truths like these to be seen. The essay examines why this present situation has happened and identifies the systemic nature of the problem in terms of Rosen’s concepts about systems. The dialog involves works by George Lakoff, W. Brian Arthur, N. Katherine Hayles, Robert Reich and Dorion Sagan. These scholars each have their own approach to identifying the nature of the interacting systems that involve human activity and the importance of identifying levels of abstraction in analyzing systems. Pooling their insights into different facets of a complex system is very useful in constructing a model of the self referential system that humans and their technology have shaped. The role of the human component in the whole earth system is the goal of the analysis. The impact of the Cartesian reductionist paradigm on science and the related aspects of human activity are examined to establish an explanation for the isolation of Rosen’s paradigm. The possible way to proceed is examined in the conclusion.


Complexity Category theory Biology Epistemology Ontology Robert Rosen A. Louie Earth system Organism Machine Brian Arthur Technology Causation Closed loops N. Katherine Hales Dorion Sagan Robert Reich Robert Maynard Hutchins Anticipatory system Network thermodynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of Biological ComplexityVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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