A Dynamic Systems View of Economic and Political Theory

Since the Early Modern period, political theory has assumed methodological individualism, similar to the atomistic mechanism that prevailed in physics. This leads to a combinatorial, linear political theory centred on individual actions serving individual interests. Similar trends developed in economics from the time of its origin as a separate science. Today, through game theory, the same formalization has been applied to both economic and political theory, with only the values and circumstances differing from one domain to the other. However, in physics it has been discovered that the corresponding atomistic methodology is inadequate for complex systems, and that one must allow for open, self-organizing systems that cannot be reduced to linear combinations of their components. We will argue that this sort of open dynamical systems theory should be applied to political theory as well, with results that diverge quite strongly from the ideals of Modernist political theory. We will classify several competing current approaches to political theory and its relation to economics, and indicate how some recent versions try to deal with complexity, but (unsuccessfully) use closed autopoietic systems models. Our approach assumes some degree of autonomy for both politics and economics, but also assumes that each interacts with the other as an environment. We call this interactive autonomy. Autonomy emerges in general, on our view, through self-organization of biological and social systems.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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