Alternative Pathways to Complexity focuses on the themes of architecture, economics, and power in the evolution of complex societies. Case studies from Mesoamerica, Asia, Africa, and Europe examine the relationship between political structures and economic configurations of ancient chiefdoms and states through a framework of comparative archaeology.
A group of highly distinguished scholars takes up important issues, theories, and methods stemming from the nascent body of research on comparative archaeology to showcase and apply important theories of households, power, and how the development of complex societies can be extended and refined. Drawing on the archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic records, the chapters in this volume contain critical investigations on the role of collective action, economics, and corporate cognitive codes in structuring complex societies.
Alternative Pathways to Complexity is an important addition to theoretical development and empirical research on Mesoamerica, the Old World, and cross-cultural studies. The theoretical implications addressed in the chapters will have broad appeal for scholars grappling with alternative pathways to complexity in other regions as well as those addressing diverse cross-cultural research.
Contributors: Sarah B. Barber, Cynthia L. Bedell, Christopher S. Beekman, Frances F. Berdan, Tim Earle, Carol R. Ember, Gary M. Feinman, Arthur A. Joyce, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Lisa J. LeCount, Linda M. Nicholas, Peter N. Peregrine, Peter Robertshaw, Barbara L. Stark, T. L. Thurston, Deborah Winslow, Rita Wright
Life on earth is characterized by three striking phenomena that demand explanation: adaptation—the marvelous fit between organism and environment; diversity—the great variety of organisms; and complexity—the enormous intricacy of their internal structure. Natural selection explains adaptation. But what explains diversity and complexity? Daniel W. McShea and Robert N. Brandon argue that there exists in evolution a spontaneous tendency toward increased diversity and complexity, one that acts whether natural selection is present or not. They call this tendency a biological law—the Zero-Force Evolutionary Law, or ZFEL. This law unifies the principles and data of biology under a single framework and invites a reconceptualization of the field of the same sort that Newton’s First Law brought to physics.
Biology’s First Law shows how the ZFEL can be applied to the study of diversity and complexity and examines its wider implications for biology. Intended for evolutionary biologists, paleontologists, and other scientists studying complex systems, and written in a concise and engaging format that speaks to students and interdisciplinary practitioners alike, this book will also find an appreciative audience in the philosophy of science.
"Accountability" is a watchword of our era. Dissatisfaction with a range of public and private institutions is widespread and often expressed in strong critical rhetoric. The reasons for these views are varied and difficult to translate into concrete action, but this hasn't deterred governments and nongovernmental organizations from putting into place formal processes for determining whether their own and others' goals have been achieved and problems with performance have been avoided.
In this thought-provoking book, government and public administration scholar Beryl Radin takes on many of the assumptions of the performance movement, arguing that evaluation relies too often on simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions that are not always effective for dynamic organizations. Drawing on a wide range of ideas, including theories of intelligence and modes of thought, assumptions about numbers and information, and the nature of professionalism, Radin sheds light on the hidden complexities of creating standards to evaluate performance. She illustrates these problems by discussing a range of program areas, including health efforts as well as the education program, "No Child Left Behind."
Throughout, the author devotes particular attention to concerns about government standards, from accounting for issues of equity to allowing for complicated intergovernmental relationships and fragmentation of powers. She explores in detail how recent performance measurement efforts in the U.S. government have fared, and analyzes efforts by nongovernmental organizations both inside and outside of the United States to impose standards of integrity and equity on their governments. The examination concludes with alternative assumptions and lessons for those embarking on performance measurement activities.
"Put together one of the world's best science writers with one of the universe's most fascinating subjects and you are bound to produce a wonderful book. . . . The subject of complexity is vital and controversial. This book is important and beautifully done."—Stephen Jay Gould
"[Complexity] is that curious mix of complication and organization that we find throughout the natural and human worlds: the workings of a cell, the structure of the brain, the behavior of the stock market, the shifts of political power. . . . It is time science . . . thinks about meaning as well as counting information. . . . This is the core of the complexity manifesto. Read it, think about it . . . but don't ignore it."—Ian Stewart, Nature
This second edition has been brought up to date with an essay entitled "On the Edge in the Business World" and an interview with John Holland, author of Emergence: From Chaos to Order.
Joyce, Chaos, and Complexity
Thomas Jackson Rice University of Illinois Press, 1997 Library of Congress PR6019.O9Z78455 1997 | Dewey Decimal 823.912
Thomas Rice compellingly argues that James Joyce's work resists postmodernist approaches of ambiguity: Joyce never abandoned his conviction that reality exists, regardless of the human ability to represent it.
Placing Joyce in his cultural context, Rice first traces the influence of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries on Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He then demonstrates that, when later innovations in science transformed entire worldviews, Joyce recognized conventional literary modes of representation as offering only arbitrary constructions of this reality. Joyce responded in Ulysses by experimenting with perspective, embedding design, and affirming the existence of reality. Rice contends that Ulysses presages the multiple tensions of chaos theory; likewise, chaos theory can serve as a model for understanding Ulysses. In Finnegans Wake Joyce consummates his vision and anticipates the theories of complexity science through a dynamic approximation of reality.
Mice are used as model organisms across a wide range of fields in science today—but it is far from obvious how studying a mouse in a maze can help us understand human problems like alcoholism or anxiety. How do scientists convince funders, fellow scientists, the general public, and even themselves that animal experiments are a good way of producing knowledge about the genetics of human behavior? In Model Behavior, Nicole C. Nelson takes us inside an animal behavior genetics laboratory to examine how scientists create and manage the foundational knowledge of their field.
Behavior genetics is a particularly challenging field for making a clear-cut case that mouse experiments work, because researchers believe that both the phenomena they are studying and the animal models they are using are complex. These assumptions of complexity change the nature of what laboratory work produces. Whereas historical and ethnographic studies traditionally portray the laboratory as a place where scientists control, simplify, and stabilize nature in the service of producing durable facts, the laboratory that emerges from Nelson’s extensive interviews and fieldwork is a place where stable findings are always just out of reach. The ongoing work of managing precarious experimental systems means that researchers learn as much—if not more—about the impact of the environment on behavior as they do about genetics. Model Behavior offers a compelling portrait of life in a twenty-first-century laboratory, where partial, provisional answers to complex scientific questions are increasingly the norm.
"The Moment of Complexity is a profoundly original work. In remarkable and insightful ways, Mark Taylor traces an entirely new way to view the evolution of our culture, detailing how information theory and the scientific concept of complexity can be used to understand recent developments in the arts and humanities. This book will ultimately be seen as a classic."-John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute, author of Gödel: A Life of Logic, the Mind, and Mathematics
The science of complexity accounts for that inscrutable mix of chaos and order that governs our natural world. Complexity explains how networks emerge and function, how species organize into ecosystems, how stars form into galaxies, and how just a few sequences of DNA can account for so many different life forms. Recently, the idea of complexity has taken the worlds of business and politics by storm. The concept is used to account for phenomena as varied as the behavior of the stock market, the response of voting populations, and the effects of risk management. Even Disney has used complexity theory to manage crowd control at its theme parks.
Given the startling development of new information technologies, we now live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change occurs faster than our ability to comprehend it. With The Moment of Complexity, Mark C. Taylor offers a timely map for this unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture. According to Taylor, complexity is not just a breakthrough scientific concept, but the defining quality of the post-Cold War era. The flux of digital currents swirling around us, he argues, has created a new network culture with its own distinctive logic and dynamic.
Drawing on resources from information theory and evolutionary biology, Taylor explains the operation of complex adaptive systems in social and cultural processes and captures a whole new zeitgeist in the making. To appreciate the significance of our emerging network culture, he claims, we need not only to understand contemporary scientific and technological transformations, but also to explore the subtle influences of art, architecture, philosophy, religion, and higher education. The Moment of Complexity, then, is a remarkable work of cultural analysis on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how we arrived at this critical moment in our culture, and to know where we might head in the twenty-first century.
Synthesizing almost thirty years of Dutch archaeological research in central and southern Italy, this book discusses and compares settlement and land use patterns from the late protohistoric period to the late Roman Republic. Considering both social and environmental factors, the authors analyze the long-term progression of indigenous Bronze Age tribal pastoralist societies towards the complexity of urbanized Roman society. Drawing on a decade of collaboration between Dutch and Italian researchers, this exhaustive study will be of great interest to students and scholars of Mediterranean archaeology.
The world is complex, but acknowledging its complexity requires an appreciation for the many roles context plays in shaping natural phenomena. In Unsimple Truths, Sandra Mitchell argues that the long-standing scientific and philosophical deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal laws, linear causal models, and predict-and-act strategies fails to accommodate the kinds of knowledge that many contemporary sciences are providing about the world. She advocates, instead, for a new understanding that represents the rich, variegated, interdependent fabric of many levels and kinds of explanation that are integrated with one another to ground effective prediction and action.
Mitchell draws from diverse fields including psychiatry, social insect biology, and studies of climate change to defend “integrative pluralism”—a theory of scientific practices that makes sense of how many natural and social sciences represent the multi-level, multi-component, dynamic structures they study. She explains how we must, in light of the now-acknowledged complexity and contingency of biological and social systems, revise how we conceptualize the world, how we investigate the world, and how we act in the world. Ultimately Unsimple Truths argues that the very idea of what should count as legitimate science itself should change.