— W. Brian Arthur American economist 1946
"Coming from Your Inner Self", Conversation with W. Brian Arthur, Xerox PARC (16 April 1999) http://web.archive.org/web/20071011023150/http://www.dialogonleadership.org/Arthur-1999.html, by Joseph Jaworski, Gary Jusela, C. Otto Scharmer
Contexto: Complexity theory is really a movement of the sciences. Standard sciences tend to see the world as mechanistic. That sort of science puts things under a finer and finer microscope. In biology the investigations go from classifying organisms to functions of organisms, then organs themselves, then cells, and then organelles, right down to protein and enzymes, metabolic pathways, and DNA. This is finer and finer reductionist thinking.
The movement that started complexity looks in the other direction. It’s asking, how do things assemble themselves? How do patterns emerge from these interacting elements? Complexity is looking at interacting elements and asking how they form patterns and how the patterns unfold. It’s important to point out that the patterns may never be finished. They’re open-ended. In standard science this hit some things that most scientists have a negative reaction to. Science doesn’t like perpetual novelty.