South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):261-273 (2013)

In this paper we argue for the contribution that deconstruction can make towards an understanding of complex systems. We begin with a description of what we mean by complexity and how Derrida’s thought illustrates a sensitivity towards the problems we face when dealing with complex systems. This is especially clear in Derrida’s deconstruction of the structuralist linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure. We compare this critique with the work of Edgar Morin, one of the foremost thinkers of contemporary complexity and argue for the possible contributions that both thinkers provide towards an understanding of complex phenomena in the world. We then move on to illustrate the particular economy of thinking we are forced to engage with when dealing with complex systems. This economy is inspired by Derrida’s deconstruction of Bataille’s general economy. This economy illustrates the fundamental nature of critique in the process of dealing with complex systems, the third concept we explore in this paper. The process of critique illustrates the necessity for both cutting apart and weaving together of economies in order to maintain the possibility for divergent ways of being in the world. We conclude with the ethical implications of dealing with complex systems and some first steps towards an ‘ethics of complexity’
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1515/9781501502590-019
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,864
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Complexity and Post-Modernism: Understanding Complex Systems.P. Cilliers & David Spurrett - 1999 - South African Journal of Philosophy 18 (2):258-274.
Abnormal Justice.Nancy Fraser - 2008 - Critical Inquiry 34 (3):393-422.
The New Constellation: The Ethical-Political Horizons of Modernity/Postmodernity.Thomas McCarthy - 1995 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (4):977-981.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Complexity, Deconstruction and Relativism.Paul Cilliers - 2005 - Theory, Culture and Society 22 (5):255-267.
Toward Constructive Deconstruction.Rafe Champion - 1989 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 3 (1):77-89.
Derrida on Teaching: The Economy of Erasure.Charles W. Bingham - 2007 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 27 (1):15-31.
Witnessing Deconstruction in Education: Why Quasi-Transcendentalism Matters.Gert Biesta - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (3):391-404.
Foucault and the Invisible Economy.Ute Tellmann - 2009 - Foucault Studies 6:5-24.
Where is Morin's Road to Complexity Going?Laurent Dobuzinskis - 2004 - World Futures 60 (5 & 6):433 – 455.


Added to PP index

Total views
17 ( #600,788 of 2,433,069 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #138,144 of 2,433,069 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes