Complexity and Emergence

Bengaluru: Avijit Lahiri (2024)
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Abstract

This monograph focuses on two major themes of current interest---those of complexity and emergence. Neither of the two concepts is, in the very nature of things, precisely defined or easily comprehended. Complexity is all around us while the sciences often analyze entities and events by making simplifications. But the fault lines in the latter get exposed over larger spans of space and time. Complexity entails emergence that involves discontinuity and novelty in the evolution of complex systems, based on the appearance of distinctive spatial and temporal structures. Underlying an occurrence of emergence is an instability involving the transition from one stable regime to another, where distinct space-time scales acquire relevance across the transition. The structures on the two sides of the transition are characterized by distinct sets of state variables where, on one side of the transition, collective variables make their appearance. Complexity and emergence are viewed in this book in the context of the Kantian noumenal-phenomenal divide. The noumenal reality is the repository of all the complexity that there is, while the phenomenal reality emerges from the noumenal in the process of our perception, interpretation, and inference. The noumenal exists in itself as a self-determined whole, and reveals itself to us in fragmentary patches as skewed projections that we assemble to form our phenomenal world that keeps on emerging ceaselessly. Our own biological evolution and the evolution of our phenomenal world occurs in a mutually consistent process, that can be referred to as co-evolution. We seek regularities in the phenomenal world by means of our scientific theories which are often successful, but that success is fragile as, over larger spans of space and time, anomalies make their appearance, giving a lie to the simplicity and regularity previously presumed to have been unearthed. Simplicity, regularity, and harmony are only fleetingly located in the phenomenal world by means of our theories as these keep on being revised endlessly and often radically, thereby generating a mosaic of theories that becomes ever more complex, indicating a pervasive complexity of the noumenal world from which the phenomenal emerges by way of strictly limited projections. The foundational metaphysics on which this book is based tells us that reality is fundamentally complex, while tiny islands of simplicity, regularity, and harmony are embedded in it in isolated space-time domains.

Author's Profile

Avijit Lahiri
Calcutta University (Alumnus)

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