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History -- Mathematical models, System theory, Complexity (Philosophy)


We want and need the ‘whole story,’ but the whole story is difficult to tell. We can reduce the magnitude of the task by taking a cue from the title of the meeting, namely “Cosmos, Nature, Culture: A Transdisciplinary Conference.” The ‘whole story’ can be divided into three stories: the story of the unfolding of the universe (‘cosmos’), the story of the evolution of life (‘nature’), and the story of human history (‘culture’). This paper focuses on the third of these. Of course, human history is rooted in nature which is a manifestation of cosmos on our planet, but its story is also a ‘partial whole’ unto itself. Indeed, it may be that constructing this story presents the greatest challenge. We have a draft of the story of the cosmos, though it is far from complete, especially about the origins of the universe, and far from free of mystery, for example about dark matter and dark energy; and future discoveries are certain to surprise us. A similar situation exists for our story of nature. Here too we are ignorant about origins, i.e., how life began, and there are gaps in our knowledge of evolution and its mechanisms. Still, adequate stories of cosmos and nature are available in rough form. By contrast, we do not have even a preliminary draft of a story of ‘culture,’ i.e., human history, that has the degree of consensus that exists about our stories of cosmos and nature.


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