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Balkan Journal of Philosophy

Volume 1, Issue 1, 2009

Philosophy and the Future

Roberto Poli
Pages 19-29
DOI: 10.5840/bjp20091117

The Complexity of Anticipation

An anticipatory system is a system with the capacity to anticipate its own evolution. This paper generalizes the idea of anticipatory systems from its original biological setting to the fields of cognitive and social sciences, and it shows that anticipatory systems are a generalization of autopoietic systems. Anticipatory systems, almost by definition, escape the possibilities of rote iteration. This argument shows that the complexity of an anticipatory system extends well beyond mainstream complexity theory. For this reason, the idea of systems of higher-order complexity has been introduced. These types of systems come in at least two forms: impredicative or self-referential systems, and living systems. It follows that anticipation does not necessarily require life.

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