Complexity as a contrast between dynamics and phenomenology

L. C. Zuchowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
498 Downloads (Pure)


I will present results from a novel analysis of complexity definitions. I will argue that the vast majority of complexity definitions can be interpreted as requiring different combinations of different technical embodiments of five core criteria for complexity: the three dynamical criteria of the existence of many components, determinism and indeterminism; and the two phenomenological criteria of regularity and irregularity. Furthermore, I will show that while different complexity definitions require different and even exclusive combinations of these criteria – all complexity definitions require contrasting dynamical and phenomenological criteria, i.e. determinism in combination with irregularity or indeterminism in combination with irregularity. Therefore, a contrast between dynamics and phenomenology appears to constitute the conceptual heart of complexity science. I will then propose that the existence of such dynamics-phenomenology contrasts should be used as a minimal definition of the concept of complexity. Furthermore, I will show that such contrasts constitute a kind of epistemological emergence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-99
Number of pages14
JournalStudies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Early online date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


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