Cilliers on Slowness

A PEL fan pointed us to the work of the recently deceased philosopher Paul Cilliers from South Africa, particularly to a short paper he wrote for  "On the Importance of  a Certain Slowness." (published as a chapter in Worldviews, Science, and Us: Philosophy and Complexity ). In the essay, Cilliers points to the various "slow" movements that have been cropping up around the world from slow food, to slow cities, to slow schooling to slow sex and looks to focus

on the underlying principles which make the debate on slowness an important one. Through an analysis of the temporal nature of complex systems, it will be shown that the cult of speed, and especially the understanding that speed is related to efficiency, is a destructive one.

As he notes in the conclusion, philosophy, maybe more than any of the traditional intellectual activities, depends upon a certain bit of slowness:

...the need for slowness, and a warning against the embracing of the fast, can perhaps be motivated best from the perspective of philosophy. Philosophy, in its most general form, is essentially the art of reflection.

I didn't need a lot of convincing on these points, but hadn't thought of the links to complexity that he brings up. It's a decent read and reminded me of the Slow Science Manifesto which is yet another plea for reflection and thoughtfulness and a little less falling down the hill like Jack and Jill. Maybe a little reflection (and philosophy) will help prevent breaking our crowns.



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