Prof Paul Cilliers

Short biography

Paul Cilliers has a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in philosophy. He worked as a research engineer for over a decade, specializing in computer modelling and pattern recognition using neural networks. After completing his doctorate (supervised by Johan Degenaar of Stellenbosch and Mary Hesse of Cambridge), he was appointed in the Philosophy Department of the University of Stellenbosch. He teaches mainly cultural philosophy and deconstruction, as well as courses on the philosophy and ethics of science.

He is the author of Complexity and Postmodernism (Routledge 1998). In this book he introduces complexity theory from a philosophical perspective, and argues for certain similarities between complexity and the post-structural positions of Derrida and Lyotard. The aim of this comparison is to tone down some of the exaggerated claims made in the name of Derrida and others, but also to show that complex problems will not be solved by general, analytic and abstract means.

His current research is focused on the implications of complexity theory for our understanding of ethics, law and justice.

For more information on the book, and some reviews, have a look on

A more academic review can be found in the Journal of Simulation and Artificial Social Systems.