Confucian Order at the Edge of Chaos: The Science of Complexity and Ancient Wisdom

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Many academics extol chaos theory and the science of complexity as significant scientific advances with application in such diverse fields as biology, anthropology, economics, and history. In this paper we focus our attention on structure-within-chaos and the dynamic self-organization of complex systems in the context of social philosophy. Although the modern formulation of the science of complexity has developed out of late-twentieth-century physics and computational mathematics, its roots may extend much deeper into classical thinking. We argue here that the essential ideas and predictions of the science of complexity are found within the social ordering principle of li (the rites) in Confucius's Analects.