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From Biology to Sociopolitics Conceptual Continuity in Complex Systems

by Heinz Herrmann

  • ISBN: 9780300072532
  • ISBN10: 0300072538

From Biology to Sociopolitics Conceptual Continuity in Complex Systems

by Heinz Herrmann

  • List Price: $50.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 06/01/1998
  • ISBN: 9780300072532
  • ISBN10: 0300072538
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Description: The need to deal with complexity has become one of the salient characteristics of the postmodern era. In this original book, distinguished cell biologist Heinz Herrmann explores how we understand living and other complex systems. The conventional basis of understanding rests on abstract general theories. Here, Herrmann proposes a new paradigm -- conceptual continuity -- as a means of comparing systems of divergent complexity and resolving problems in such complex systems as human societies.

Herrmann envisions the inanimate world, life, and human existence as systems of increasing complexity that represent physical, biological, and sociopolitical realities. These systems may be related by a common form of understanding, conceptual continuity, that is established when two entities share a common element or form an intermediary complex. Herrmann compares the different ways that physics and biology reach conceptual continuity. In the ideal systems of physics, he says, the general abstractions of theories lead to the establishment of conceptual continuity. Yet this is not true in complex biological or sociopolitical systems, where identification of highly specific systems components is required to establish conceptual continuity. The author offers a historical survey and numerous examples to illustrate the range and meaning of conceptual continuity, and he proposes the paradigm not as an exclusive alternative but as a complementary mode of understanding complex systems.

"Herrmann takes an important issue, complexity, and analyzes it extremely well from numerous angles -- historical, philosophical, and biological". -- Scott F. Gilbert, Swarthmore College

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