The Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order” | Kauffman (1990)

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The Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order”

The Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order” | PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association: Vol 1990, No 2

The Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order”

Stuart A. Kauffman


This article discusses my book, Origins of Order: Self Organization and Selection in Evolution, in the context of the emerging sciences of complexity. Origins, due out of Oxford University Press in early 1992, attempts to lay out a broadened theory of evolution based on the marriage of unexpected and powerful properties of self organization which arises in complex systems, properties which may underlie the origin of life itself and the emergence of order in ontogeny, and the continuing action of natural selection. The three major themes are: 1) that such self organized properties lie to hand for selection’s further molding; 2) hence that the order we see is not due to selection alone, but in part reflects the order selection has always acted upon; 3) and finally that the marriage of natural order and natural selection may inevitably lead living entitites to a novel organized state, lying on the edge between order and chaos, as the inevitable evolutionary attractor of selection for the capacity to adapt.