A paradigm shift for the Great Bifurcation

The evolution of humanity faces a Great Bifurcation: either a breakthrough to a regime of global governance in which the self-made global challenges in the social, ecological and technological realm can be kept under control or a breakdown threatening with extinction – that’s the bandwidth of options in our current age. In order to have a future that is worth living, scientific research and development is called upon. A seminal paradigm shift throughout the whole edifice of disciplines is needed to catch up with the complexity of the current situation.

Wolfgang Hofkirchner wrote a short and compact paper on that issue: A paradigm shift for the Great Bifurcation. It deals with the connection of emergence, systems, information, and conviviality. That’s the abstract:

This paper is an attempt to achieve an understanding of the situation the evolution of humanity is confronted with in the age of global challenges. Since global challenges are problems of unprecedented complexity, it is argued that a secular paradigm shift is required away from the overemphasis on allegedly neutral standpoints, on a mechanistic picture of the world and on deductive logics towards accounts of emergence, of systemicity, informationality and conviviality, building upon each other and providing together a transdisciplinary edifice of the sciences, in the end, for, and by the inclusion of, citizens. Viewed from such a combined perspective, the current social evolution is punctuated by a Great Bifurcation similar to bifurcations other emergent systems have been facing. On the one hand, humankind is on the brink of extinction. It is the world occurrence of the enclosure of commons that is detrimental to sharing the systemic synergy effects and thus to the cohesion of social systems. On the other hand, humanity is on the threshold of a planetary society. Another leap in integration would be the appropriate response to the complexity confronted with. Humans and their social systems are informational agents and, as such, they are able to generate requisite information and use it to catch up with the complex challenges. They can establish convivial rules of living together in that they disclose the commons world-wide. By doing so, they would accomplish another evolutionary step in anthroposociogenesis. The concept of the Global Sustainable Information Society describes the framework of necessary conditions of conviviality under the new circumstances.

The paper is published in the special issue on Evolutionary dynamics of social systems of the journal BioSystems. It’s open access. Read it here.

It is a contribution to working out a Single Integrated Science of Information (SISI) and to the Systems Thinking Origins project.


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