Vincenzo Fiore Marrese

I’m fascinated by the idea of the "paradigm of complexity" by Edgar Morin

I found the "paradigm of complexity" by Edgar Morin relevant. It has a connection within the creative process that I experienced during the developing of my artworks.

As an artist, I create complex connections between ideas. I do not just juxtapose them.

Since my Master's degree thesis, I adopted an interdisciplinary approach. I have a Master's degree from the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence, in Italy. The Department of Philosophy and the Department of Biology of the University of Florence, in Italy, supports me developing my Master's degree thesis. In Italy, the Academy of Fine Arts and the University are, in a sense, two separate environments. The Academy of Fine Arts is part of the so-called AFAM (Alta Formazione Artistica, Musicale e coreutica). It is the Higher Education for Fine Arts, Music and Dance, a specific educational area. So, my Master's degree thesis was interdisciplinary.

Regarding Morin's thought, you can refer to his broad bibliography, starting from his seminal work, called "La Méthode".

Anyway, cause for the relevance of my artistic way, I will introduce here three pillars, his concepts of "paradigm", "paradigm of simplicity" and "paradigm of complexity".

Paradigm

Morin defined the word "paradigm": «as the set of fundamental relations of association and/or opposition among a restricted number of master notions-relations»[1] «made up of a certain kind of extremely strong logical relation between master notions, key principles»[2]

According to his conception, a "paradigm" is a "set of relation". These relations are "logical" relation. They are "fundamental" or "extremely strong". They could be relations of "association" and/or "opposition". The relations are between "notions" or "principles". The notions and principles are "master" or "key". The paradigms (and the principles): «command or control all thoughts, discourses, and theories»[3]«all proposition that unconsciously obey its empire»[4]

According to these definitions we, probably, could say that a paradigm is a set of strong logical relations between key ideas that control all ideas.

Talking about paradigm means talking about relations.

Paradigm of Simplicity

Then Morin states that: «To understand the problem of complexity, we must first know that there is a paradigm of simplicity»[5]

He wrote: «The principle of simplicity either separates that which is linked (disjunction), or unifies that which is diverse (reduction)»[6]

It defines "disjunction" and "reduction" as: «two types of logical operations»[7]

Regarding the "disjunction" he offers this example:

«Humans are biological and, at the same time, cultural beings; in the paradigm of simplification, the biological and cultural beings are "disjointed"»[8]

Regarding the "reduction" he states: «revealing the simplicity hidden behind the apparent multiplicity and apparent disorder of the phenomena»[9]

According to these definitions we, probably, could say that two logical operations, reduction and disjunction, defines the paradigm of simplicity.

Paradigm of Complexity

Regarding the "principles of complex thought," he states: «will necessarily be principle of distinction, conjunction, and implication»[10]

Then he stressed the accent on the "complex conjunction": «The principle of complexity, in a way, is founded on the predominance of complex conjunction»[11]

In another paragraph of the same book, he wrote: «there are three principles that can help us to think of complexity. The first is the principle that I call dialogic. (...) The second principle is that of organizational recursion. (...) The third principle is the holographic principle»[12]

Regarding the "dialogic principle" he states: «In other words, there are two logics (...) These two principles are not simply juxtaposed, they are necessary to each other (...) are complementary but also antagonistic (...) There is a dialogic between the two principles (...) two enemies: one abolishes the other, but at the same time, in certain cases, they collaborate and produce organization and complexity. The dialogic principle allows us to maintain duality at the heart of unity. It associates two terms that are at the same time complementary and antagonistic»[13]

Regarding the "organizational recursion" he states: «A recursive process is a process where the products and the effects are at the same time causes and producers of what produces them (...) The recursive idea is, therefore, an idea that has broken away from the linear idea of cause and effect»[14]

Regarding the "holographic principle" he states: «In a physical hologram, the smallest point of the hologram image contains the quasi-totality of information of the represented object. Not only is the part in the whole, but the whole is in the part (...) The idea of the hologram surpassed both reductionisms, which can only see the parts, and holism, which only see the whole (...) in recursive logic we know very well that what we acquire in terms of knowledge about the parts feeds back on the whole (...) we can enrich knowledge of the parts through knowledge of the whole and knowledge of the whole through knowledge of the parts, in a single productive movement of knowledge»[15]

And then: «the idea of the hologram is linked to the recursive idea, which is in part linked to the dialogic idea»[16]

In another document, he wrote that "complexity is complex" means that «cannot be simplified»[17] because of three reasons.

The first reason is that the complexity «forces us to unite ideas which are mutually exclusive within the frame work of the principle of simplification/reduction»[18]

According to the illustration related to this sentence, he referred to ideas such: one-many; whole-parts; order-organisation-disorder; subject-object, where the subject is the observer and the object is the observed system.

The second reason is that complexity «establishes mutual implication-and, therefore, necessary conjunction-between notions which that classically disjunct»[19]

According to the illustration related to this sentence, he referred to notions such: System; Interactions; Organisation; Existence; Being.

The third reason is that complexity «introduces a complex concept of causality – in particular, the idea of an eco-auto-causality»[20]

Regarding this reason he explained: «The notion of auto-causality-which always requires an external causality-is synonymous with recursive causality, in which the organizing process elaborates the products, actions, and effects necessary for its own generation or regeneration»[21]

According to these definitions we, probably, could say that three logical operations, distinction, conjunction, and implication, defines the paradigm of complexity and that the conjunction is the predominant one.

To understand this paradigm we could use three principles, dialogic, organizational recursion and the holographic principle, where organizational recursion and holographic are linked, and recursion is, partially, linked to dialogic.

There are also three reasons why complexity «cannot be simplified»[22]

The first reason is that it forces us to unite ideas that are mutually exclusive in the reduction.

The second reason is that it establishes implication and conjunction between the notion that are disjunct.

The third reason is that it introduces a recursive causality.

Notes

  1. 1. Edgar Morin, From the concept of system to the paradigm of complexity, Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, Volume 15, Issue 4, 1992, Pages 371-385, "D. The Paradigm of Complexity" p. 382

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  2. 2. Edgar Morin, On complexity, Hampton Press, 2008, "The Paradigm of Simplicity" p.39

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  3. 3. Morin 1992, p. 382

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  4. 4. Morin 2008, p.39

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  5. 5. Ibidem

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  6. 6. Ibidem

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  7. 7. Morin 2008, p.51

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  8. 8. Morin 2008, p.39

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  9. 9. Ibidem

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  10. 10. Morin 2008, p.51

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  11. 11. Ibidem

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  12. 12. Morin 2008, pp.49-50

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  13. 13. Morin 2008, p.49

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  14. 14. Ibidem

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  15. 15. Morin 2008, p.50

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  16. 16. Ibidem

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  17. 17. Morin 1992, p.382

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  18. 18. Ibidem

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  19. 19. Ibidem

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  20. 20. Ibidem

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  21. 21. Ibidem

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  22. 22. Ibidem

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