Against Reductionism: Complexity Science, Complexity Art, and Complexity Studies

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Philip Galanter: Against Reductionism: Complexity Science, Complexity Art, and Complexity Studies. In: PhysicaPlus Online Magazin of the Israel Physical Society, 15.04.2010



Interest in interdisciplinary work has been on the increase for a number of years now, and phrases such as “art and science” and “science and religion” are frequently offered to point towards new frontiers of exploration. All too often, however, those in one discipline will not take seriously the content of another discipline. Instead the first discipline will merely treat the second as a specimen subject to standard analysis without regard to the claims it makes. Explored here is the impact of this kind of theoretical reductionism, especially as it pertains to the topic of complexity. Examples include the way philosophers of art have increasingly ignored the stated interests of artists, the way the arts and humanities have reduced the claims made by the sciences to mere social constructions, and the way complexity scientists have offered views of art interface of physical and life orthogonal to art itself.

It is my position that the result has been experts talking past each other and not building a set of common interdisciplinary insights, despite their sincere wish to do so. As a remedy I propose the creation of “complexity studies” as an interdisciplinary effort that eschews theoretical reductionism.

Extended Abstract


Used References

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