Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGershenson, C
EditorKaldis, B
Book TitleEncyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences

The term complexity derives etymologically from the Latin plexus, which means interwoven. Intuitively, this implies that something complex is composed by elements that are difficult to separate. This difficulty arises from the relevant interactions that take place between components. This lack of separability is at odds with the classical scientific method - which has been used since the times of Galileo, Newton, Descartes, and Laplace - and has also influenced philosophy and engineering. In recent decades, the scientific study of complexity and complex systems has proposed a paradigm shift in science and philosophy, proposing novel methods that take into account relevant interactions.