WIT Press

‘In’ or ‘As’ space?: A model of complexity, with philosophical, simulatory, and empirical ramifications


Free (open access)


Volume 10 (2015), Issue 3



Page Range

233 - 241

Paper DOI



WIT Press




A General Systems model based on ideas originating with the writings of Benedict de Spinoza is described, starting with its philosophical underpinnings and proceeding on to its relation to modern systems concepts, including attempts to simulate the relationships posed and measure real-world structures. Central to the idea is the notion that spatial extension may not have a prior existence but emerges only through an entropy maximization process in which information and energy exchange is balanced among some limited number of subsystems that in sum comprise any given functioning complex system. Related published empiricism concerning geographical/geological systems – the hypsometry of stream basins and overall internal zonation properties of earth structure – is briefly described; the former, especially, reveals a hierarchical pattern of potential energy relations that seems to fit well the organizational hypothesis. Possible applications of the model to genomic codon and medical imaging modeling are alluded to. A brief treatment of the relation of the model to basic properties of complex systems (connectivity, autonomy, emergence, etc.) is provided.


complex systems, entropy maximization, General Systems Theory, simulation, space, spatial exten- sion, spatial structure, Spinoza, stream basins.