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Complex Systems: The Latest Human Artefact

  • Nicola LabancaEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)

Abstract

Complex systems are presented in this chapter as an emergent social and historical phenomenon related to the making and the using of artefacts. Rather than as the result of scientific discoveries, these systems are mainly seen as the product of a social construction which has affected any department of knowledge and human activity. The proposed account revolves around the idea that the intensive scientific and technical reflections that have taken place in specific historical periods in relation to specific human artefacts have transformed the concepts associated with the creation of these artefacts into central ideas and metaphors around which societies have started being organized while leading to their massive technological reproduction. By building on an historical enquiry on instrumentality developed by a series of acknowledged scholars, this chapter discusses how the nature of human artefacts has changed starting from the twelfth century. In particular, it shows how these artefacts have been mainly seen during subsequent historical phases as organa, instruments, motors and, more recently, as complex systems. In addition, it illustrates how these transformations have been accompanied by as many radical changes in the social imaginary concerning the meaning of human action and in the way in which delegation to machines and agency (i.e. the power to generate a change) has been conceived. The chapter also illustrates how the ongoing transition to renewable energies can reinforce the social construction of complex systems and represents an introduction to the second chapter where the implications of this construction for the energy sustainability of this transition are discussed by the author.

Keywords

Social Construction Material Object Twelfth Century Material Thing Human Intentionality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Commission, Directorate-General Joint Research CentreUnit C.02 Energy Efficiency and RenewablesIspraItaly

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