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Observing Complexity

Systems Theory and Postmodernity

2000

William Rasch and Cary Wolfe, editors

Observing Complexity

Shakes up postmodern criticism with paradigms from the social and techno-sciences.

Brings the major concepts and foremost thinkers of systems theory into interaction with the major figures of postmodern theory. The format is multiplex and open-a rich montage, including interviews, exemplary essays, and staged dialogues.

Contributors: Drucilla Cornell, Jonathan Elmer, N. Katherine Hayles, Peter Uwe Hohendahl, Eva Knodt, Marjorie Levinson, Niklas Luhmann, and Brian Massumi.

As a collection of papers it is well-written, it is a thoughtful and exploratory analysis, and could well be used as a basis for further, broader and deeper investigations of both systems analysis and postmodernism. Essentially, this volume is an ambitious attempt to provide an alternative to the problems generated by the relativist isolationism of postmodernism. Systems theory, with its recognition that relational processes are not but operate within networks of entangled relations, its recognition that interpretation is developmental, exploratory and flexible, would seem a strong and constructive response to both the problems of the collapse of the modernist framework and the problems of postmodernism.

Space and Culture

Shakes up postmodern criticism with paradigms from the social and techno-sciences.

The rubric of systems theory brings together conceptual models and approaches in the sciences and social sciences that study complexity. It attempts to provide a coherent means of describing all systems, whether organic or inorganic, and offers a theory of knowledge that can account for the integration of humans in the social, informational, and ecological systems in which we are enmeshed. Observing Complexity brings the major concepts and foremost thinkers of systems theory into interaction with the major figures of postmodern theory. The format is multiplex and open-a rich montage, including interviews, exemplary essays, and staged dialogues. The writers’ aim is not to solidify theory but to provide a thorough explication and an open-ended exploration of how systems theory can address, in a fresh and productive way, theoretical questions that too often have led to impasses between different schools of postmodern theory.

Contributors: Drucilla Cornell, Rutgers U; Jonathan Elmer, Indiana U; N. Katherine Hayles, UCLA; Peter Uwe Hohendahl, Cornell U; Eva Knodt; Marjorie Levinson, U of Michigan; Niklas Luhmann; Brian Massumi, SUNY, Albany.


Observing Complexity

William Rasch is professor of Germanic studies at Indiana University. Cary Wolfe is professor and associate dean of English at SUNY, Albany.

Observing Complexity

As a collection of papers it is well-written, it is a thoughtful and exploratory analysis, and could well be used as a basis for further, broader and deeper investigations of both systems analysis and postmodernism. Essentially, this volume is an ambitious attempt to provide an alternative to the problems generated by the relativist isolationism of postmodernism. Systems theory, with its recognition that relational processes are not but operate within networks of entangled relations, its recognition that interpretation is developmental, exploratory and flexible, would seem a strong and constructive response to both the problems of the collapse of the modernist framework and the problems of postmodernism.

Space and Culture