Social Order

From Individual Activity to Functional Cooperation
  • G. Küppers
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Series in Synergetics book series (SSSYN, volume 62)


To demonstrate that functionality and goal-directedness could be the outcome of blind interaction has proved to be a tricky problem for modem science. Its program of tracing all observable changes in nature back to the interaction of matter reduces Aristotle’s multidimensional schema of causality to the causa efficiens. This “effective cause” was only one and, indeed, the least important of the four components in Aristotle’s concept of causality. The other three were causa formalis, causa materialis, and causa finalis. It has often been noted that this explanatory schema is borrowed from a (manual) production process. A house is constructed by imagining a purpose, designing a structure, supplying certain building materials, and finally starting to build. The modem concept of force retains only the latter: A force is the cause of a change in a material substrate. With the omission of form-giving causality, there was no longer any plausible explanation within science for the way things are formed; and with the loss of purpose-giving causality, there was no longer any plausible explanation for the organization between things. The problem of establishing order, which the Greeks only needed to explain as far as the creation of the world from disordered chaos was concerned1, and which Aristotle resolved with his theory of a world that had always been formed and was therefore eternal, now became a problem that pervaded all segments of reality. How can order, be it externally organized or self-organized, in any way arise without organizing powers? How can order arise or be maintained from forces that cause nothing other than changes of movement while remaining “blind” with regard to goals?


Science System Knowledge Production Operational Closure Causa Efficiens External Boundary Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Küppers
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BielefeldFed. Rep. of Germany

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