ICCS2004 Application Submission/Review

Abstract for
"Complexity and the Social Sciences"


Given that human social systems are non-ergodic (Kauffmann, Bar-Yam), and that the use of scales and maps is not so as useful as it is in purely biological or physical systems, this paper focuses on the problem of measuring the complexity of human social systems. The paper stresses the importance of recognizing time and temporal dimensions vis-a-vis the kind of systems this paper is concerned with. It is my contention to argue that human social systems bear the maximum possible complexity due precisely to the significance of time. Three arguments can be provided, thus: a) how to harness complexity (Axelrod and Cohen); b) how to manage complexity (De Rosnay), and c) how to participate in complexity and not just control it. These are the keystones that allow us to distinguish between any other mesure of complexity and the one concerned with human systems. Such are the specifics of interwoven complexity and social sciences. I shall argue that for human social systems the maximum complexity corresponds to their evolution, and that it is possible that the highest degree of complexity might have been either reached at some point in the past, be the actual situation, or any possible critical point at a given point in the future. This papers explores the plausibility and conceptual and philosophical consequences of these three possibilities.