Philosophical Foundations of Nonlinear Complex Systems

  • K. Mainzer
Part of the Springer Series in Synergetics book series (SSSYN, volume 62)


The main problems of mankind have become global, complex, and nonlinear. Local changes in the ecological, economic or political system can cause a global crisis. Nonlinear interactions in complex networks have synergetic effects which can neither be traced back to single causes nor be forecast in the long run. Linear thinking and believing that the whole is only the sum of its parts has become dangerous. Individual responsibility for synergetic effects seems to be doubtful or at least questionable. Our ecological problems, for instance, are not caused by some bad individuals, but by the demand for welfare and economic growth of mankind. Thus we need new strategies to deal with nonlinear complex systems and to evaluate our actions ethically. Synergetics promises to deliver problem-solving procedures founded by the physical, chemical, and biological evolution of nature. In philosophy we have to analyze the conceptual foundations of this approach in order to estimate its interdisciplinary applications not only in the natural sciences but in the humanities, too. We begin with some methodological remarks on the principles of synergetics. Then the evolution of matter, life, human society, and the evolution of natural and artificial intelligence is discussed. Our philosophical aim are the ‘prolegomena’ of an epistemology and ethics mastering the problems of a nonlinear complex reality.


Nonlinear Interaction Synergetic Effect Couple Differential Equation Nonlinear Complex System Linear Quantum 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Mainzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Philosophie und WissenschaftstheorieUniversität AugsburgAugsburgFed. Rep. of Germany

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