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Resisting chaos: the power of the humanities as a problem‐solving system

Peter Katopes (Vice President for Academic Affairs, LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, New York, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 17 May 2011




The purpose of this essay is to argue the importance of the humanities as a problem‐solving “system”, one which has for thousands of years provided humankind with the tools to make reasoned decisions about complex problems in an ever‐changing world.


This essay places the idea of complexity within a historical and philosophical context.


The rise of new technologies has resulted in the notion that human beings are no longer capable of addressing complex problems. Too dogmatic a reliance upon technology, however, instead of leading to clarity, can lead to chaos and confusion.

Social implications

One of the few remaining “big structures” which retains a significant degree of public trust is higher education. If we continue to devalue the one area of study – the humanities – which has as its ultimate purpose precisely the analysis of “complex issues” – in favor of quasi‐human systemic solutions or an alteration of the “epistemology” of education, we will surely render ourselves irrelevant.


This is an original approach and an original piece of work.



Katopes, P. (2011), "Resisting chaos: the power of the humanities as a problem‐solving system", On the Horizon, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 140-146.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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