Thoughts for a spring equinox…
Complexity theorist (and colleague of mine here at the University of Vermont) Stuart Kauffman takes stock here of the Enlightenment and sings of a re-enchantment to come.
Disenchantment and re-enchantment are long-running tropes in the intellectual currents of modernity, which I’ve frequently explored in my writing (see here for a quick synopsis of those explorations, and here for an entry point into a discussion on The Immanent Frame, one of the most intelligent blogs exploring these issues).
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I’m happy to share the news (a little belatedly) that complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman will be leaving his position as director of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics to take a position here with the University of Vermont’s Complex Systems Center, which, according to Grad College dean Dom Grasso, aims to become “the Santa Fe Institute of the East.” What form that may take is currently a little up for grabs, as UVM reconfigures its graduate offerings through a series of transdisciplinary research initiatives. But it’s a very safe bet that both environmental (including socio-environmental) research and complex systems research will continue to grow, and my hope is that Kauffman’s arrival may herald greater collaboration not only between those two broad fields but with humanists, philosophers, and cultural studies folks as well.
Kauffman’s books Reinventing the Sacred — see this video to get an idea of it — and At Home in the Universe both resonate well with the ideas explored on this blog (from Connolly’s immanent naturalism and Whitehead’s process thought to Deleuzian and Spinozan thought on nature and society), as I’ve posted about previously. I look forward to having him as a colleague.