Just as physics can be built on information, many tried to build ethics on complexity — to make complexity the answer to those final “why” and “what for.” Such constructions are often circular: you still need some bootstrap ethics to get “good” complexity — for its definitely not all good, nor all meaningful (even if it does have power to meaningify things). Complexity preachers have trouble accounting for the opposing drive: simplification, reduction, symmetry — which is a natural, aesthetically if not ethically sound, healthy response to complixitys diminishing returns. Live ethics eschews single-cause explanations but complexity remains a staple; the “complexity ideal” of culture as an intricate, meaningfully interconnected system of systems is as live as ever.  ■    Complexity has many synonyms and affiliated concepts: irredundancy, meaningdom, extropy (entropy counts microstates per given macrostate; extropy is how many distinct macrostates — “interpretations,” “futures” — are there for a given microstate: a zero-entropy perfect crystal and maximum-entropy gas both have near-zero extropy but an evolvable living being is highly extropic). Famously controversial is “organismal complexity”: what are we to make of complexity that is viable, even efficient, — but clearly non-optimal, inelegant, noisy, not quite random but stemming from inevitably stochastic evolving or merely an accumulation of lived? Wheres the line, if any, between aimless drift and lifesaving adaptations — so easily rethinged into one another?  ■    Do civilizations pass a zenith of “blooming complexity” to cool down into a golden autumn of “creative simplification” — followed by stagnation and death? Its not the rise-and-fall narrative thats controversial (societal pulsations on many levels from collectives up are well understood) but, mainly, whether our civilizations peak of blooming complexity can be identified with modernity — which has since been winding down into everday's “afterglow,” fadeout, “at best a post-complexity world” of “neoantiquity.” “Dont mistake sheer volume for complexity” though: by many reasonable measures, modernitys bloom was way simpler than what replaced it.

< compiler  |  cone >

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License