Hidden complexity

We all know that the world, particularly when it involves social and institutional activities rather than just movements of physical or biological objects, is highly complex. Politics, financial systems, scientific research, cultural developments, etc. cannot be easily understood because of their complexity. As a matter of fact, however, most mundane aspects of our lives are also very complex; it's just that the complexity is not right in front of us. It usually takes a thinker to notice the complexity, while most people don't think much about things that appear simple (even though they are in fact complex).

I really like the following words by John Searle in his The Construction of Social Reality, which expresses elegantly the point I have just made:

Consider a simple scene like the following. I go into a cafe in Paris and sit in a chair at a table. The waiter comes and I utter a fragment of a French sentence.... The waiter brings the beer and I drink it. I leave some money on the table and leave. An innocent scene, but its metaphysical complexity is truly staggering, and its complexity would have taken Kant's breath away if he had ever bothered to think about such things. Notice that we cannot capture the features of the description I have just given in the language of physics and chemistry.... Notice, furthermore, that the scene as described has a huge, invisible ontology: the waiter did not actually own the beer he gave me, but he is employed by the restaurant, which owned it. The restaurant is required to post a list of the prices of all the boissons, and even if I never see such a list, I am required to pay only the listed price. The owner of the restaurant is licensed by the French government to operate it. As such, he is subject to a thousand rules and regulations I know nothing about. I am entitled to be there in the first place only because I am a citizen of the United States, the bearer of a valid passport, and I have entered France legally... If, after leaving the restaurant, I then go to listen to a lecture or attend a party, the size of the metaphysical burden I am carrying only increases; and one sometimes wonders how anyone can bear it.

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