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The Mosaic Theory of Natural Complexity

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Georges Chapouthier

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1What is complexity? The present work will offer a description of complex systems based on two general principles: juxtaposition of similar units and then integration of these units, once modified, into structures at a higher level of which they become parts. As in a mosaic, however, these parts within the higher level or structure, retain some independent properties and autonomy. The model is based directly on observations of living organisms: cells or organs retain their autonomy functioning within a given organism, and individual organisms have autonomy when functioning as part of a population or society; or areas of the brain have autonomy when operating as part of the overall functioning of the whole brain. The model is compatible with Darwinian approaches and can offer an epistemological rehabilitation of the role of asexual reproduction which has only too often been overlooked. The argument is that the anatomical complexity of living beings mainly arises from the non-separation of structures such as cells or “twins” produced through asexual reproduction and subsequent integration.

2The mosaic model can also be broadly used to describe memory, consciousness, language, drawing, music, technical objects, urban planning, mathematics and information theory, social structures, dialectics, ethical stances and literary approaches. Arguments for the mosaic model can also be found in various elements in cultures and animal (proto) cultures (e.g. the use of tools, cognitive rules, communication and language, or evidence of practicing moral behaviour or aesthetic choices).

3In philosophical terms, the model can be related to the Biocosmological or neo-Aristotelian stance as argued by the Russian philosopher Konstantin Khroutski. The concept of triunity developed by Khroutski may be applied to the general philosophical concept of dialectics, both at the materialistic level (in line with Engels’ Dialectics of Nature) and at the ideological level (in line with Hegelian dialectic). The mosaic model can fit von Bertalanffy’s holistic General System Theory that similar principles can be found in different theoretical or scientific fields. The involvement of mosaic structures could be put forth as one such general principle.

4The mosaic model of complexity has strong links with three philosophical approaches: the neo-Aristotelian approach, the ubiquitous concept of dialectics and the General System Theory. It can also offer an understanding of why knowledge is possible: the brain being built according to the same principles as the rest of the world (principles including complexity in mosaic formations), it can mimic and simulate the rest of the world and lead to scientific knowledge.

© Éditions des maisons des sciences de l’homme associées, 2018

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