Complexity: Excerpt from the Manuscript-in-progress, Part II
[Part II of the excerpt posted yesterday. This one is the payoff for the details from yesterday. And please, send any and all comments or thoughts. When you’re editing literally night and day, it’s hard to be objective about what you’re working on!].
Now that we have explained the reasoning behind the networkological definition of complexity, let us now describe complexity itself.
Complexity is the manner in which emergence can increase its own intensity by means of its intertwining with itself. That is, complexity is the manner in which emergence intertwines with itself as intensity. If emergence is that which contains itself, complexity is that which is potential for itself.
That is to say, complexity self-potentiates. The more complexity is intertwined with more complexity, the more intensely complex it is, for in fact, complexity is nothing but this intertwining. And when emergence occurs within complexity, it is more intensely emergent, and hence, more complex.
In this sense we can think of complexity as a sort of meta-emergence, the potential for the emergence of greater intensity of emergence. Thus, if emergence is that which contains itself, it contains itself more intensely by means of intertwining with itself as complexity, such that complexity is the form of this intertwining containment.
Complexity binds emergence as potential, and in such a manner that this potential is not merely potential emergence, but also potential complexity, for complexity is nothing more than this intensification of emergence by means of its self-intertwining. Emergence and complexity require each other, for were there no complexity, there would be nothing to emerge from, for if emergence is that which contains itself, this self-containing indicates the sort of intertwining which is what we have described as complexity.
We can in this sense say that emergence is the manner in which complexity actualizes in the world, while complexity is the manner in which emergence intertwines with itself as potential. Complexity and emergence are two sides of the same, and interwining, or relation, describes the threeandic complement which transforms the one into the other. We thereby see the manner in which emergence emerges from itself precisely by means of intertwning with itself as complexity in the process of emergence.
Complexity is not only the intensity of emergence, but that from which all other intensities emerge, for it is both an abstraction from all other particular intensities, as well as that which gives rise to intensity as such. The more intensities which pertain as potential to a given aspect of emergence, the more potential complexity it has, even as such potential complexity can only occur by means of the intertwining of the aspect of emergence in question with others as complexity. Such intertwinings are more complex the more particular intensities each has, both/and in terms of intensity and type, and this is only accopmlished by means of the types of intertwinings we have seen described in our discussion of parameters of ground.
Furthermore, if the more potential complexity an entity has depends upon its intertwinings with other aspects of complexity which allow it to potentially actualize in a wide variety of ways, then the actualizing complexity of an entity, that is, the complexity of an entity in the process of emerging from itself, depends upon the intertwinings with other aspects of complexity which allow it to potentially actualize other aspects of complexity, beyond itself, in a wide variety of ways.
For it is only by actualizing the potential of other complexities that any aspect thereof is able to actualize its own. That is, the more an aspect of complexity intertwines its actualizing with that of others, the more potential its actualizing can actualize.
For example, a single cell in a human brain can actualize in a huge number of ways, but only because it coordinates its actualizing with that of a huge number of other cells, not only in the brain, but the other parts of the body. The form of these intertwinings, the interdependencies and systmetaic relationships, all these describe the form of intertwining necessary for a single brain cell to be able to actualize in the widely diverse manner which we are used to in our world. But the complexity which such a cell is able to actualize is not it’s alone, but that with which it is intertwined.
Complexity is in this sense thoroughly relational, such that emergence is always emergence with. And the more intensely emergence is intertwined with that of other aspects thereof, the more intense it is and can become. From such a perspective, we can say that all that exists, all that has emerged, is in this sense complexity, if of differing intensities, and according to different particular parameters which describe the forms of its dynamic structural intertwining with itself. There is nothing which emerges, or has emerged, which is not a form of complexity, for complexity is that from which emergence emerges, and that which must emerge if there is to be further emergence.
In all its forms, complexity embodies all the principles of the networkological endeavor described at the start of this text. It is an intensity and a value, one which, according to the networkological project, all other values flow. Much more will be said about this in the volume on network ethics.