A key feature of complex systems is that they arise in interaction with the environment, including other complex systems with which they relate. The challenge they pose is double, because they entail systemic relations among parts and relationships of the constituted entity with other systems, their boundaries being often fuzzy. Thus, in addition to “vertical” complexity, the “horizontal” organization of this identity needs to be accounted for in interactions with others and the environment. Studying interactive processes of this kind in biological, cognitive, and social systems is a pending task for several fields of science and philosophy. The scope of natural and artificial examples and topics for thinking and modelling is wide in domains including the physiological, evolutionary and medical realm, also the mental and intersubjective, and extending to socio political agencies.
‘Inter-identity’ is a word we have composed with the aim to integrate the various dimensions and phenomenologies encountered by research into these kinds of complexities within a single expression. Issues of identity in biological, cognitive and social, biomedical, educational and political systems closely relate to aspects of individuality and individuation, but we are particularly interested in identifying phenomena occurring at the intersections and as the result of relations beyond individuality. Certainly, these problems are also relevant in artificial or computational models and devices built for research on living, cognitive and social phenomena. To solve these issues, we need to combine theoretical and empirical (operational) approaches, as a number of similarities can be drawn across domains or areas of research.
We propose this Research Topic within the multidisciplinary scope provided by Frontiers precisely to put together different descriptions of complex systems that comprise ‘inter-identities’, within the biological, cognitive and social spheres, along with the necessary conceptual philosophical work required to deal with the variety of cases, and with a special emphasis on theoretical and philosophical issues of Psychology.
Keywords: complexity, individuality, interaction, agency, relational autonomy