October 14, 2009

Under the classical, mechanstic paradigm, identities were delimited by crisp, sharp edges — crisply defined conceptual boundaries, if you will. But the contextual embeddedness of complex systems makes them more like bramble bushes than geometrical shapes. Even worse, boundary conditions actually structure and organize complexity — just like the Aristotelian formal causes of old. The boundaries of a complex system are like a cell’s organic membranes, like the eardrum, permeable active site without which complex organization would not take place.
In light of this dynamic, where does an “ear” end and a “not ear” begin? How are we to understand the concept of “identity” given complex boundaries and their dynamics?

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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