Chaos, Complexity, Self-Regulating Systems, and Postformal Thought

  • Jan D. Sinnott
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


In Chapters 5 and 6, we examined two 20th-century worldviews that relate to my theory of adult logical development, the Theory of Postformal Thought. Those worldviews are the original, basic ideas of the new physics, and ideas of general systems theory (GST). Although there are ancient and current cultural, philosophical, and spiritual metaphors that bear some resemblance to these theories (e.g., J. Campbell, 1988; Capra, 1975; Underwood, 1993), in mainstream science, both sets descended from physics. These two related ways of describing complex interactions over time are joined in this chapter by a third set of concepts, namely, the ideas of chaos theory, complexity theory, self-regulating systems, and new biology. These concepts also arise from physics to some extent, but are grounded even more strongly in computer science and biology. The theories in this chapter share common bonds with each other and overlap with new physics (Chapter 5) and GST (Chapter 6), yet each is distinct. All are relatively unknown, except by scientists on the cutting edge of their disciplines. All seem useful as worldviews or methods for the study of life-span development, especially for the study of cognitive development. All have helped form my thinking.


Chaotic System Chaos Theory General System Theory Bifurcation Model Postformal Thought 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan D. Sinnott
    • 1
  1. 1.Towson UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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