Briefly on Complexity and Chaos

Anthony Wilden said that organised complexity is constrained diversity. Cilliers agreed with that and said that the principle of organisation makes sure that complexity is not confused with chaos:

“Complex systems are constrained, they have an organised structure, but within those constraints the system has to diversify maximally” (Cilliers).

He didn’t see much utility in deterministic chaos, saying it “does not really help us to understand the dynamics of complex systems”.

Chaos theory and the study of chaos is different from complexity, and while the definitions and boundaries between chaos and complex adative systems theory overlap and there are variations in the literature as to their definitions, they are considered distinct. Yaneer Bar-Yam defined the difference thusly:

“Chaos is concerned with a few parameters and the dynamics of their values, while the study of complex systems is concerned with both the structure and the dynamics of systems and their interaction with their environment”. (Bar-Yam)

I think it’s a good definition.

I find that in socially complex systems there’s greater practical utility in the constraint based definition of complexity (Juarrero, Cilliers, D. Snowden) than in non-linear dynamics of deterministic chaos.

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