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Understanding Complexity

Understanding Complexity

I stand under what I understand and it informs me. Gurdjieff called this 'reason of understanding,' and it is in utter contrast with 'reason of knowing,' ... (from 'The Intelligent Enneagram', p.108

One might have expected that scientists and philosophers everywhere would, by now, have agreed to replace the doctrine of simplicity, by one of the limitless diversity and complexity of the natural order. The reason why this has not happened is probably two-fold. On the one hand, it looks like a confession of failure, an admission that the task of understanding the world is beyond us. On the other hand, general laws a being discovered that seem to hold promise of bringing all the diversity into some kind of universal order which, if not simple, will at least be within the power of man to grasp. Such modes of thought are relics of the past and fail to take account of the truly overwhelming complexity of the world we are beginning to explore. The confidence that we feel in the scientific method is no longer based upon well established universal laws – note that almost every such law that a hundred years ago appeared secure forever has since proved seriously defective – but rather upon the unexpressed conviction that, behind the bewildering diversity and complexity of phenomena, there is an organized structure that holds them together. (DU III, p. 6)

Systematics helps us understand complexity as complex wholes in which we are not observers but, rather, embedded participants.