science of complexity

Nils Zurawski (zurawsk@UNI-MUENSTER.DE)
Tue, 4 Apr 1995 08:47:48 +0100

Also I didn't get all of the discussion and are not into the discourse that
seems to the thing on american campuses I enjoyed the poatings about that
Esspecially as I never had anything to do with archeology, paleontology,
but only with ethnology, in an way I figured by now, what you put under
cultural anthropology.
But then the whole german system differs in a lot of ways from the american .

I got interested in the discussion, because I advocate very much
interdisciplinary thinking and approaches. Though I am not very much into
maths - and the idea of having a class to take in order to study
anthropology would make me sleepless - I also think that complexity is one
of the most important approaches/ways to see things whatever (can't find
the right expression for that here). Though I don' think maths is the main
key to it. Complexity can be approached from various angles, even within
the humanities. For me complexity starts right here. Humanities in the US
seems to be a different thing from what I used to think of it. Humanities
as opposed to what. Archeology does that belong to the humaiies? In Germany
it clearly does, with its maths and all.

The discussion on the list about that started with the postmodernist
thread. Science against the other (unscientific??)postmodern anything.

I have the impression that PoMo has actually little to do with it, though
it might advocate it strongly (the other, I am not even sure if I got he
discussion right here).
For quite sometime, science was what could be calculated, rationalized, put
into systems. Social sciences and humanities always had some trouble to be
accepted as "proper" sciences. Thats at least the way things were over here
and still are to a certain extent.
I am a Ph.D. student in sociology and for my studies so far I always had to
deal with people that were trying to tell me that everything I did was not
really science. The discriptions went from "blabla talking" to" wild
guessing" and "useless". Whenever I did some statistics however or I
referred to autopoetic systems, or chaos theory people at least showed some
intered in what I had to say, i.e. people of so called "natural" sciences".

I believe the humanities have a lot to say to cultural, social and
political issues, without using mathematical models or classifications. Why
is it then that these are only fully appreciated when they do refer to
these model?
On the other hand, no biologist, mathmatician etc has to deal with the
problem of being talked into doing some humanities, just to get a feel for
the responsibilities they eventually will have considering the outcome of
their works (e.g. genetics)
Or am I wrong on that point. That's at least how I see the academic
situation in germany between "humanities" and the "sciences".
That has nothing to do with PoMo, that's just how it always was. The
frontiers are softening though.
I agree that some of the more interesting works are those that step across
those borders, but that accounts for boths sides.

I am currently working on a Ph.D thesis about ethnicity, Internet and
global society, and so far I can't see a lot that computer sciences has to
tell me. I may be wrong and I am glad for corrections.

Sorry for the long post and the somewhat chaotic way in it was written....I
hope I didn't get the discussion all wrong....