The present generation finds itself caught in many valid but incommensurable explanations of reality, which gives rise to perceiving society as complex, essentially indeterminate, where the rational clashes with the irrational. Caught between different modes of reasoning, a whole generation loses power to understand itself (Geertz). We are like the short-sighted faced with far-reaching challenges, like a traveller who explores new lands equipped with old maps (Benhabib). Increasingly complex conditions call for a new kind of social thought specifically developed for blinded generation that must be as different from modern and postmodern thoughts, as they were different from their precedents (Wallerstein).
The book first develops an evaluative methodology for studying complex social matters as semi-ordered from a mesoscopic point of view and then tests methodology with three case studies. The case studies reflect some of the most pressing problems in contemporary societies resulting from their increasing complexity: aggregation problem, integration problem, and organization problem. The obtained findings give grounds for the depiction of an outline for the ‘anti-postmodern’ (Badiou, Žižek) comprehension and ordering of contemporary societies.
The mesoscopic description of social complexity is not rationally scientific but evaluative and so irrationally rational. The description builds understanding on facts and on values, assuring that bias, asymmetry, and incompatibility, not order and certainty is framework for rational inquiry. The irrational component arises in methodology through recognizing the void (Derrida) in every rational claim (Bourdieu) that results from its indeterminacy (Heisenberg) and incompleteness (Gödel). At the heart of existence and meaning then is not essence but difference, absence not substance.
As the complex world is essentially uncertain, its understanding is not possible without bias and ignorance. To comprehend complex matter, one needs ‘to sail the void’ (Kepler) between Scylla and Charybdis of ignorance and the unknown, between what is misunderstood and what is not understood at all. Like Odysseus, the evaluator is a sailor with prejudice who can save the boat only by setting it on the middle path between the most varied biases, with recognizing own blindness about ultimate truth as a main the precursor to safer seas.
Blindness about ultimate truth is for an evaluator not a handicap but original adaptation to darkness in which search for truth can only take place. Just like bat who sees through the darkness with ears, evaluator does not see reality through facts, but through the void, by dividing what is claimed to be known by zero. This is by connecting competing truth claims at the middle where their inconsistencies meet, through what was previously ignored and excluded as irrational.
The book concludes that blind generation can proceed on its uncertain path toward some better future only through darkness, from nothing to nothing. This means in absence of absolute essence, except in absence of nothingness (Nagarjuna). Since nothingness is the single absolute that cannot produce void and exclude difference so it has exquisite liberating, creative and integrative potentials that are indispensable for developing strong mesoscopic agency in transformative complex conditions.
From my book “Social Complexity and Complex Society — In the middle of a middle world” (Presentation): https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/social-complexity-complex-society-middle-world-bojan-bojan-radej/
Discussion Group: “Complex Public Governance”: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8522366/