Stuart Kauffman is a physician and biologist who first rose to prominence for his research into complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute. Founded in the early 1980s, the Santa Fe Institute is dedicated to the integrated and multidisciplinary study of complex adaptive systems. Kauffman investigated autocatalytic sets in chemical evolution and gene regulatory networks in developmental biology. He argues that the complexity of biological systems and organisms results as much from self-organization as from any Darwinian natural selection.
I was first introduced to Kauffman’s thinking and research by a book titled Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, the exciting story about the founding of the Santa Fe Institute. The similarities to OUBEY’s own approach to exploring complexity were so striking that I decided then and there – long before the idea of the Encounters project was born – to travel to Santa Fe with one of OUBEY’s works to see what thoughts, associations and ideas it would spark in Stuart Kauffman. To this day, I am still amazed that the encounter actually took place in Santa Fe in August 2010. It’s reassuring that we still have the video to prove it.