To better appreciate the contribution of the ‘paradigm of complexity’ in Educational sciences, this paper proposes a framework discussing its cultural and historical roots. First, it focuses on Giambattista Vico’s (1668-1744) critique of René Descartes’ method (1637), contrasting Cartesian’s principles (evidence, disjunction, linear causality and enumeration), with the open rationality of the ‘ingenium’ (capacity to establish relationships and contextualize). Acknowledging the teleological character of scientific inquiry (Bachelard) and the inseparability between ‘subject’ and ‘object’, the second part of the text explores the relevance of ‘designo’ (intentional design) implemented by Leonardo da Vinci (1453-1519) in order to identify and formulate problems encountered by researchers. Referring to contemporary epistemologists (Bachelard, Valéry, Simon, Morin), this contribution finally questions the relationships between the ‘ingenio’ (pragmatic intelligence), the ‘designo’ (modeling method) and ethics. It proposes one to conceive the paradigm of complexity through the relationships it establishes between (pragmatic) action, (epistemic) reflection and meditation (ethics).
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