Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems (2022)

unidentified.webd.pl: Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems (Economies of Asia; 14) (): Paul Cilliers: Books.
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  • Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems - Paul Cilliers - Google Книги
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From this groundwork he immediately addresses differences in models of language structure and understanding. Most of the thoughts here are based upon the work of Saussure, later embellished by Derrida. Here, as in other areas of the book, Cilliers excellently illustrates how complexity theory re-frames, supports, and furthers independent lines of thought across several disciplines. Saussure claims that words in themselves carry no meanings, but that meaning is communicated by how words as signs differ from others in the language or system As soon as a word is used in the system in a particular context, that use slightly modifies any meaning found in the system, both for the word being used and for other signs in the system.

These thoughts by Saussure and Derrida are very much part of a specific area of thought pertaining to the philosophy of meaning and representation in language. After Cilliers is finished with his explanation, it seems quite obvious how complex systems apply: There is a very real analogy to how connectionist systems i. Signs then do not take on any particular meaning 82 , but rather represent meanings through their use in the system, at the same time changing whatever meaning is being generated by the very usage of these signs.

The signs in a system therefore encode no actual meaning — there is no true global representation. Similarly, history is important but elusive in complex systems. Two similar systems placed in identical conditions may respond in vastly different ways if they have different histories. To be more precise, the history of a system is not merely important in the understanding of the system, it co-determines the structure of the system" However, "Global behaviour of the system is the result of ' patterns of traces' The same arguments hold for memory in the context of the brain.

Memories are not stored in the brain as discrete units that can be recalled as if from a filing cabinet" This entire discussion brings up the fascinating aspect that "there are no 'memories'" Here a few more comments.

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Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems - Paul Cilliers - Google Книги

The book is too rich to talk about all interesting topics. MAIN THESIS Cilliers thinks that 'complexity' is a fundamental property of the world we are living in and that traditional methods of science and analytical philosophy are not sensitive enough to complexity. He talks explicitly and in a critical manner about methods like rule-based symbolic Artificial Intelligence, analytical method, deductive logic, atomism, formal rule-based grammars , closed algorithms and symbolic representation.

As only alternative he proposes a connectionist approach which he uses as an example concept which is understood to realize the main ideas of 'post-structuralism', of 'post-modernism' as well as of complexity in general. The weak point of the book starts right in the beginning where the term 'complexity' has to be introduced. Stating, that the phenomenon of 'complexity' is not merely determined by the point of view of the observer 3 , this assumes, that there is some 'objective reality' 'outside' and 'independent' of the observer.

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This represents a philosophical position which contradicts nearly everything which the author wants to bring forward in the rest of the book post-structuralism, post-modernism. In the following the reader will not find a real working definition 2 , but only circumscribing characterizations of different properties which are loosely exemplified by taking phenomena from the field of economy 5.

Other examples of complex systems to which the book points are brain and language 5. Thus, the author describes 'complex systems' as something which exists outside and independent of an observer in an 'informal language'. This informal text can perhaps be understood as a post-structural 'narrative', which allows different interpretations which makes a detailed examination difficult, if not impossible. There are much more details to this topic which I leave out here e. He only states that complexity has not be confused with 'randomness' and 'chance' , and, that complexity is much more than 'chaos' From all the before mentioned characterizing properties of complex systems two are especially important for the author: Raising the question, how one could 'model' complex systems the author mentions so-called 'rule-based' systems also called 'symbolic AI' as illustrated by formal systems in general, as well as expert systems, turing machines, and formal languages.

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These are than compared to so-called connectionis models which are inspired by the biological brain as a network of neurons. In such networks are the 'important informations' represented as 'weights' attached to the connections. The 'learning' of such networks follows e. Hebb's learning rule, later improved by the generalized delta-rule.

Looking to a single element reveals no reasonable behaviour, only observing the 'whole' network. This kind of argumentation can be found in many publications, but this argumentation is nevertheless misleading and even wrong.

Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems

Taking here only one point of many: The turing machine is mathematical concept allowing the formal presentation of every kind of computable process, which is known until today. Every kind of a concrete neural network can be simulated within the formal concept of the turing machine. Thus the formal concept of the turing machine can be used as a 'meta-concept' where neural networks are possible examples, 'instances' of this concept.

Moreover, it is possible to simulate an instance of a turing machine within the formal! This shows the formal equivalence of of both concepts.

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In an analogue manner it is possible to show that an implementation of a certain classical rule-based system for some learning tasks which appears to be 'cumbersome' or 'inflexible' is no argument against formal models and theories in general. One can represent any kind of connectionist system within a formal system including all the know dynamics. Thus the contradiction is not formal vs. While the individual signifier-event is local to the sign-user, the 'language as object of science' is only given in the set of relationships between all signifier.

This implies 'differences' between the individual signifiers. While Saussure in his writings keeps the signified as a kind of 'counterpart' to the systems of signifiers does Derrida switch from the priority of the spoken language to the written language and does cut the dependency of the signifier of the signified. Meaning is now declared 'independent' from the subject, the consciousness loses it's control about meaning and language, language becomes subject-free, a system of 'differences' and 'traces' where 'traces is not really 'defined' , and as a consequence of this, not the subject controls now language but the language controls the subject e.

Only one concluding remark: From the point of view of the reviewer is the deconstruction of Saussure by Derrida a nice 'game of concepts', but finally it doesn't work.


  1. Paul Cilliers, Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems - PhilPapers?
  2. Notes: Complexity & Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems.
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  6. It is in 'contradiction' with it's own assumptions. Within the modern research of language-learning artificial agents one can see that Saussure 'works', Derrida not.

    Nevertheless seems Derrida's position very stimulating and instead of bringing metaphysics to an end -- as Derrida wanted to show -- it is not unlikely now, that we will get Metaphysics back, much more brilliant and forceful than ever See all 12 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published on August 4, Published on October 18, Published on August 27, Published on January 21, Published on August 7, Published on December 7, Published on July 6, Published on January 8, Published on March 30, Published on March 9, Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

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