"To See a World in a Grain of Sand": Complexity Ethics and Moral Education

Heesoon Bai, Hartley Banack


Making the case for the mutual relationship between ontology (what reality is like) and ethics (how we should conduct ourselves), this essay argues that the dualistic, linear, deterministic ontology of Modern Science that categorically separates perceiver and the perceived, knower and known is oppressive by virtue of objectification. Delineating a relational (that is, non-linear) ontology disclosed by New Science and Complexity Theory, this essay extrapolates to an ethical paradigm, named ‘participatory ethics’. Key to participatory ethics is perception of “patterns that connect”—which, to manifest, the moral agent needs to emergently embed itself in the pattern, in a manner analogous to fractal reiteration. Since non-linearity (complexity) manifests everywhere we turn and in everything we encounter, participatory ethics modeled after complexity is about recalling, remembering, and reminding ourselves of, our inter-beingness.

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