Discover the Reality of
Scientific Mythology

 The Facts of Self-Animating Networks in Nature and a New, Realistic Role for the Mythic Imagination

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References to the Relevant Science
The Case for a
Scientific Mythology

>Summary Outline
>Extended Outline Short
>Extended Outline Full
>New Story of Science
>The Logic of Networks
>Networks Are Us
>What is Mythic Imagination
>What is Scientific Mythology
>Applying Scientific Mythology

Engaging the Strange Realities of Chaos, Complexity, and Networks

     Beginning most notably with James Gleick's book, "Chaos: Making a New Science," published in 1987, the developing science of chaotic and complex dynamical systems began to become accessibe to general readers. Subsequently, science writers produced a variety of introductory texts through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In addition, some of the principle researchers involved in this new area of science have themselves published books written for general readers that explore its social and cultural implications. There are also many highly technical texts on aspects of the science itself. Titles from all these categories are listed below. More recently, numerous internet websites have been created that provide effective introductions to the basics of this new science and how it applies to tangible aspects of the world around us.
     However, despite its remarkable development, this new area of scientific knowledge is rarely taught in schools or engaged in any public discourse. Consequently, scientific knowledge that has profoud implications for how we understand the creation of order in both human and non-human systems has yet to become part of our cultural worldview.

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      The Challenge of Comprehending the Science and Its Larger Implications

     There are three distinct obstacles to getting a full understanding of complexity science and its remarkably different view of reality. One issue is the way various aspects of it have emerged in diverse areas of scientific study, from material physics to meteorology, biology, ecology, mathematics, computational modeling, and sociology. Due to the traditional separation of these scientific specializations, inter-disciplinary discourse has been rather limited. Consequently, there are different sets of theory and terminology in use that have not been well correlated. Thus complexity science currently exists in a fragmented state. A second issue is that the evidence involved arises from familiarly reductive quantifications of phenomena, yet it often contradicts our standard reductive theories of causation. Most unexpectedly, it constitutes reductive knowledge about ultimately irreducible dynamics. A third problem is that scientists and science writers operate within a professional culture that resists overt acknowledgment of the unsettling implications posed by the new science itself--there exists an intrinsic bias against the implications the science has for our existing worldview.
     Because the evidence for complexity's emergent order creation and autonomous network behavior derives from quantitative and mathematical analysis, it can seem to be "just more reductive scientific information"--just more mechanistic facts about the "stuff" around us. And it is often presented in this way, as technical methods and data that seem to fully explain what these describe. Thus many of the books and online videos addressing complexity give the impression that they are simply providing yet
more definitive knowledge that increases our attempts to control events. But this attitude is fundamentally misleading. It obscures the genuinely new insights into reality that the science provides and the profound implications these have for our worldview. 
   There is also a problem with what topics get examined from the perspective of complexity. The majority of material addressing complex networks focuses on human social relationships and computer-based systems, such as the internet. But examination of complexity in natural systems, such as ecologies, tend to provide a more vivid portrait of how self-organizing criticality and network autonomy emergently create, maintain, and teleologically adapt the complex systems that interactively compose our biosphere.
     It is important to remember while reading or viewing these resources that they have been composed within a scientific culture that remains reflexively reductive and mechanistic in its modeling of dynamical reality. There is a genuine element of "cultural heresy" in this new science: it violates our shared philosophical worldview. If you seriously engage its implications, you will encounter a profound challenge to our cultural assumptions about reality and causation. But to do that, you will have to correlate diverse terminologies applied in specialized contexts while tracking the interference of mechanistic mentality.In order to reflect upon what the science is actually revealing about "how the world actually happens" you must maintain supiscion of mechanistic bias in both how this science is presented and how you yourself intepreret the presentations. The science of emergence is, appropriately enough, a complexly emergent, paradoxical perspective upon actual phenomenon.
     Though most authors and presenters tend to evade the broader implications of this confrontation between our existing scientific understanding about the dynamics of "how the world actually works" and that of complexity science, there are dramatic exceptions. The number of scientists willing to acknowledge the disruption of our dominant mechanistic worldview, as well as its "mystical" component, is increasing.
Those who do this often devote large portions of their books to analyzing the historical origins of our current mechanistic worldview and its limitations in logically accounting for causality and order creation. This effort is necessary to reveal how our common assumptions about scienctific knowledge are neither scientific nor logically consistent.

Authors Who Confront the Wider Implications of the Science

Scientists Confronting a New Reality:

    The books which provide the compelling presentation of the relevant science have emerged from the fields of biology and ecology. Scientists in these areas of knowledge have been most overly confronted with limitiations of our mechanistic worldview in describing natural systems.

     The writings of theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman provide the most inclusive overview of the science and its radical implications. His entire career since the 1960s has been at the forefront of this emerging new scientific worldview. Read in the chronological sequence of their publication, Kauffman's books lead one through the entire range of the science to his conclusion that there is factual evidence for fundamental mystery in Nature.

    Terrence Deacon's book "Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter" provides both an accessible critique of our dominant philosophical perspectives on causation and an alternative approach that makes scientific sense of teleological purpose and the immaterial creativity of "mind" in Nature.

    Harold Morowitz's "The Emergence of Everything" walks the reader through successive levels of emergently novel and unpredictable domains of phenomena from the beginning of the universe to our present biosphere.

    Robert Ulanowics' "A Third Window" Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin" presents the evidence that compells us to adopt an additional perspective on causality if we are to perceive biological life realistially.

> At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization & Complexity, by Stuart Kauffman, 1996
> Investigations: by Stuart Kauffman, 2000

> Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion by Stuart A. Kauffman, 2008
> Humanity in a Creative Universe, Stuart Kauffman, 2016
> Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, by Terrence W. Deacon, 2011
> The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex, by Harold J. Morowitz, 2008
> A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin, by Robert E. Ulanowicz, 2009

> Beyond Mechanism: Putting Life Back Into Biology, edited by Brian G. Henning and Adam Scarfe, 2015

Non-Sceintists Conveying the Implications of the New Wroldview:

    One of the best non-technical accounts of the worldview-changing science is Steven Johnson's "Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software," in which he  investigates the how 'bottom up' self-organizing interactions generate 'top down" agency, purposefullness, and intelligence.

The best introduction to generalized network thinking is provided by Christopher Vitale, in his book "Networkologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age."

Online Sources:

    Excellent animated videos illustrating the principle concepts of complexity science are available online at Complexity Labs, Videos on complexity in specific contexts, as well as study courses, are offered by the Complexity Academy:

Contents Below with Links:

Online Sources of Complexity Science Information

Excellent Video Introductions Online:

> Complexity Academy online:

> Complexity Labs:

Centers of Research Online:
> The Sante Fe Institute (dedicated to complexity science):

Websites Elaborating the Implications of the Science:
> Systems View of Life:

Books Introducing the Science

> Complexity: A Guided Tour, by Melanie Mitchell,
> Simply Complexity: A Clear Guide to Complexity Theory,
by Neil Johnson, 2010
> Two's Company, Three is Complexity, by Neil Johnson, 2007
> Networks: A Very Short Introduction, by Guido Caldarelli, Michele Catanzaro, 2012
> At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization & Complexity, by Stuart Kauffman, 1996
> Investigations: by Stuart Kauffman, 2000

> Understanding Complexity, by Scott E. Page, DVD-ROM, 2009
> Complexity: A Very Short Introduction, by John H. Holland, 2014
> Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, by Roger Lewin, 1992
> Introducing Chaos: A Graphic Guide,
by Ziauddin Sardar and Iwona Abrams,  2004
> Systems + Complexity-An Overview: An accessible Introduction to the New Area of Complex Systems, by      Joss James Colchester, 2016
> Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks, by Mark Buchanan, 2003
> The Nonlinear Universe: Chaos, Emergence, Life, by Alwyn C. Scott, 2007
> Network Science, by Albert-László Barabási (Author), Márton Pósfai (Contributor), 2016
>Understanding Natural Phenomena: Self-Organization and Emergence in Complex Systems, by Vinod Wadhawan, 2017
> Diversity and Complexity (Primers in Complex Systems), by Scott E. Page, 2010
> Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity, John Holland
> Emergence: From Chaos to Order, by John Holland, 1999
> Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems, by John Holland,

More Technical Books on the Science
> The End of Certainty, by Ilya Prigogine, 1997
> An Introduction to Complex Systems: Society, Ecology, and Nonlinear Dynamics, by Paul Fieguth, 2017
> How Nature Works: the Science of Self-organized Criticality, by Per Bak, 1999
> Complex and Adaptive Dynamical Systems: A Primer, by Claudius Gros, 2013
> Principles of Systems Science , by George E. Mobus, Michael C. Kalton, 2015
> Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos: With Applications to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering, by Steven H. Strogatz, 2014
> Chemical Complexity: Self-Organization Processes in Molecular Systems, by Alexander S. Mikhailov and Gerhard Ertl ,2017
> The Self Organization of Disordered Systems: Examples of Self-Organization In Nature,
Paul F. Kisak (editor) 2016
> From Cells to Societies: Models of Complex Coherent Action, by Alexander S. Mikhailov, Vera Calenbuhr, 2006
> Intelligent Complex Adaptive Systems, by Ang Yang (Author, Editor), Yin Shan (Editor), 2008
> The Structure of Complex Networks: Theory and Applications, by Ernesto Estrada, 2016

> The Structure and Dynamics of Networks, by Mark Newman, Albert-László Barabási, Duncan J. Watts, 2006
> Dynamical Processes on Complex Networks, by Alain Barrat, Marc Barthélemy, Alessandro Vespignani,  2012
> Emergent Complexity from Nonlinearity, in Physics, Engineering and the Life Sciences, byGiorgio Mantica, 2017
> Network Science : Complexity in Nature and Technology, Ernesto Estrada, 2016

> Networks of Networks: the Last Frontier of Complexity, Gregorio D'Agostino, 2014
> Graph Theory and Complex Networks: An Introduction, by Maarten van Steen, 2010
> Symmetry And Complexity: The Spirit And Beauty Of Nonlinear Science, by Klaus Mainzer, 2005
> Networks: An Introduction, by Mark Newman, 2010
> Evolving Complexity: Time's Arrows and the Physics of Emergence, by Harrison Crecraft, 2017

Books that Elaborate Implications of the Science

In General

> Netologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age, Christopher Vitale
> Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson 2001

> Emergence, Complexity, and Self-Organization: Precursors and Prototypes, Alicia Juarrero, Carl A. Rubino (editors), 2010
> There Is No Theory of Everything: A Physics Perspective on Emergence, by Lars Q. English, 2017
> The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex, by Harold J. Morowitz, 2008
> Networks of Echoes, Bruce J. West, 2014

In Biology and Ecology

> Signs Of Life: How Complexity Pervades Biology, by Ricard Sole and Brian Goodwin, 2000
> A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin, by Robert E. Ulanowicz, 2009
> How the Leopard Changed Its Spots : The Evolution of Complexity, by Brian Goodwin , 2001
> Beyond Mechanism: Putting Life Back Into Biology, edited by Brian G. Henning and Adam Scarfe, 2015
> The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth: The Emergence of the Fourth Geosphere, by Eric Smith and Harold J. Morowitz, 2016
> The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems by Fritjof Capra 1997
> The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi, 2014
> Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis, b
y Marcello Barbieri, 2008
by Marcello Barbieri
> Network-Oriented Modeling, by Jan Treur, 2014
> The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, by Stuart A. Kauffman, 1999
> Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something "Alive" and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It,
by J. Scott Turner, 2017

In Psychology
> The New Science of Consciousness: Exploring the Complexity of Brain, Mind, and Self, by Paul L. Nunez, 2016
> Chaos and Complexity in Psychology: The Theory of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems, by Stephen J. Guastello (Editor), Matthijs Koopmans (Editor), David Pincus (Editor) 2008
> Mind and Emergence: From Quantum to Consciousness, by Phillip Clayton, 2004
> Neither Ghost nor Machine: The Emergence and Nature of Selves, by Jeremy Sherman (Author), Terrence Deacon (Foreword), 2017
> Self-Organizing Complexity in Psychological Systems, by Craig Piers (Editor), John P. Muller (Editor), Joseph Brent (Editor),2007
> The Catalyzing Mind: Beyond Models of Causality, by Kenneth R. Cabell, 2013
> Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System, by Alicia Juarrero, 2007
In Philosophy
> Networkologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age, 
by Christopher Vitale, 2014
> Thinking Complexity: Complexity & Philosophy Vol 1,
by P. Cilliers (Editor), 2007
> Critical Complexity: Collected Essays, by Paul Cilliers, Rika Preiser (edtor), 2016
> Emergence in Science and Philosophy, by Antonella Corradini (Editor), Timothy O'Connor (Editor), 2013
> Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy,
by Carl Gillett, 2016
> Emergence, by Paul Humphreys, 2016
> The Metaphysics of Emergence,
by R. Campbell, 2015
> Biosemiotics: An Examination into the Signs of Life and the Life of Signs (Approaches to Postmodernity), by Jesper Hoffmeyer and Donald Favareau,  2009
> The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture, by Wendy Wheeler, 2006
> Life as Its Own Designer: Darwin's Origin and Western Thought (Biosemiotics),
by Anton Markoš and Filip Grygar, 2011
> The Orders of Nature,
by Lawrence Cahoone, 2014
> Life as Its Own Designer: Darwin's Origin and Western Thought, by Anton Markos, Filip Grygar, László Hajnal, 2009
> Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems, by Paul Cilliers, 1998

In Art and Aesthetics
> Art in the Age of Emergence,
by Michael J. Pearce, 2015
> The Biologist's Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature, by V N Alexander, 2013
> Network Aesthetics,
by Patrick Jagoda, 2016
> Networks (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art),
by Lars Bang Larsen (Editor), 2014
> Systems (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art),
by Edward A. Shanken (Editor), 2015
> The Biologist's Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature, by Victoria N. Alexander , 2011
> Art in the Age of Emergence (2nd Ed),  by Michael Pearce, 2017
> The Moment of Complexity: The Emerging Network Culture, by Mark C. Taylor, 2001

In Culture and Society
> Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy,
by Sandra D. Mitchell, 2009, by Sandra D. Mitchell
> A Crude Look at the Whole: The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life, and Society, by John H. Miller, 2016
> The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture, by Wendy Wheeler, 2006
> Why Society is a Complex Matter: Meeting 21st Century Challenges with a New Kind of Science, by Phillip Ball, 2012
> Complexity Science and World Affairs, by Walter C. Clemens Jr. , 2014
> Complexity Theory and the Social Sciences: The state of the Art,
by David Byrne and Gillian Callaghan ,2013
> Complexity, Science and Society, by Jan Bogg, Robert Geyer, 2007
> Of Ants and Men: The Unexpected Side Effects of Complexity in Society, by David G. Green, 2014
> Self-Organization and Society (Agent-Based Social Systems), by Takatoshi Imada, 2008
> 43 Visions For Complexity, Stefan Thurner (editor), 2016
> Qualitative Complexity: Ecology, Cognitive Processes, and the Re-Emergence of Structures in Post-Humanist Social Theory, John Smith, Chris Jenks, 2007
> Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World, by David Easley, Jon Kleinberg, 2010
> The Square and The Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook, Nial Ferguson, 2018

In Ecological Sustainability
> The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living  by Fritjof Capra 2004
> Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future, by Jon Norberg (Author), Graeme Cumming (Author), 2008
> A Complexity Approach to Sustainability: Theory and Application, by Angela Espinosa and Jon Walker, 2011
> Complexity and Sustainability (Studies in Ecological Economics), by Jennifer Wells, 2014
> A Complexity Approach to Sustainability:Theory and Application, by Angela Espinosa, Jon Walker, 2017
> Systems and Models: Complexity, Dynamics, Evolution, Sustainability, by Hartmut Bossel, 2007
> Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World, by Brian Walker  &‎ David Salt (
> Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, Lance H. Gunderson (Editor),‎ C. S. Holling (Editor)

In Climate Change:
> Systems Practice: How to Act in a Climate Change World, by Ray Ison, 2010

> Climate and Ecosystems (Princeton Primers in Climate), by David Schimel, 2013

In Education
> Complexity and the Human Experience: Modeling Complexity in the Humanities and Social Sciences,
by Paul A. Youngman (Editor), Mirsad Hadzikadic (Editor) 2014
> Complexity and Education, by Brent Davis, Dennis Sumara, 200ß

As Natural Mystery
> Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion by Stuart A. Kauffman, 2008
> The Biologist's Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature, by Victoria N. Alexander , 2011
> A God That Could be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet, by Nancy Elen Abrams, 2016