The study of complex systems has led to deep transformations in our modes of thinking, challenging our conceptions of reality and, with them, our roles and possibilities for action as agents in a complex world (Morin, 2005; Heylighen, Cillier & Gershenson, 2006). A variety of modes of thinking co-exists within the fuzzy boundaries of the domain of Complexity Studies. Different modes of thinking complexity and of thinking ‘in’ complexity (enacting its principles) can be identified in the literature, albeit not always explicitly recognised (Melo et al. 2019). These modes of thinking somehow simultaneously express and are expressed in, shape and are shaped, constitute and are constituted, transform and are transformed by different worldviews (which encompass ontologies, epistemologies, prediction frames, axiologies, praxeologies; Vidal, 2008). Worldviews and modes of thinking are intrinsically related, albeit neither directly mapped nor reduced to each other. Different modes of thinking will present different potentialities and limitations in relation to how these worldviews are constructed, enacted, operationalised and transformed in the process of developing theory, research and practice. Different modes of thinking will build different types and levels of capacity to understand as well as to affect and manage change in the ‘real-world’ and even to lead to a transformation of our worldviews.
Different modes of thinking will differ in a number of dimensions, for instance, in relation to:
the way key theoretical questions are defined and translated into research problems;
the way they inform choices regarding the construction, selection and adaptation of methodologies and methods, impacting on the way data are interpreted;
the extent to which they are embedded in ‘real-world’ practices (e.g. interventions for the management of change in complex systems; formal and informal education in ‘Complexity’ themes);
the effects of the choices they inform on the target systems;
the extent to which they inform the development of strategies and tools for their own development and management;
their congruence with particular worldviews and their underlying assumptions;
the concepts and processes used to assemble worldviews and to investigate their empirical foundation.
This workshop is grounded in the idea that Science should nurture a second-order, self-critical and reflexive stance (Müller, 2016; Morin, 2005) and that Complexity Science(s) should be embedded in the organising principles similar to the systems it studies and aims to affect (Melo, 2020). Nevertheless, it recognises that even this ambition is grounded in particular worldviews and modes of thinking that are not necessarily shared by all. Hence, it affirms the need to explore the relations between different modes of thinking and corresponding worldviews and their implications. It works from the assumption that the Philosophy of Science and the Philosophy of Complexity are critical partners to Science and that the practice of Science should be accompanied by philosophical investigations and by deep Inter- and Transdisciplinary dialogues in order to construct the requisite variety of perspectives and modes of thinking for truly embracing Complexity (Morin, 2005).