- Mar 2018
"Whereas Marxists like Althusser adopted a totalistic programme of seeking to explain the whole by understanding the interrelations between its component parts, for Foucault the totality always eluded analysis or understanding in terms of structure, but rather was characterised by incompleteness, indeterminacy, complexity and change. This was the core of his pluralism. As Foucault says, 'though it is true that these discontinuous discursive series each have, within certain limits, their regularity, it is undoubtedly no longer possible to establish links of mechanical causality, or of ideal necessity between the elements which constitute them. We must accept the introduction of alea (chance) as a category in the production of events' (1981: 69)" (Mason, 2008: 95)
To understand Foucault as a complexity theorist we need to understand his rejection of Marx and structuralism. Instead Nietzsche serves as Foucault's guide, especially with his process of genealogy.
Foucault as Complexity Theorist in Education in the book Complexity Theory and the Philosophy of Education
See also Research Methods in Education, which first introduced me to Complexity Theory as a method for research
Mason perceives Foucault as a complexity theorist, and he believes he is relevant today in this capacity.
Complexity Theory - Dynamical Systems Theory
If we want to make change we should come at a problem from as many different areas as possible.
We should be wary of the magic bullet. Complexity theory may be seen as post-structuralist or even further?
This is part of an agency structure debate.
There are varied factors that contribute to change.
The connections of neurons are more important than the number of cells are more important for consciousness or the mind. This is a good analogy for why complexity theory is so essential.
Consciousness emerges when critical mass is reached in a system.
It's hard to know how much of a factor something can be in a causal system. For example, how much do we cause do we attribute to butterfly wings causing a storm in India.
What causes change in the education system?
We need to use words like compounding effects to explain change.
We need to conceive of change in terms of speed and direction, like a mathematical function.
We need to be wary of one dimensional change or one kind of initiative. You need to think of multiple factors.
Effective intervention means intervention from every possible angle.
We need to pump resources until we have autocatalysis.
International Journal of Education Development Mark Mason