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In recent years the concepts of new thermodynamics have been used to achieve a synthesis of various facets of complex systems, including the physical, ecological and economic. A recent issue of Futures magazine was devoted to this theme. This article further develops this work, distinguishing among systems that are simple, complex and reflexive. It is suggested that as energy mainly characterizes the state of simplicity, and entropy/exergy that of complexity, there is a third property, which is called quality, mainly characterizing reflexivity. With quality, the connection between the disciplined study of thermodynamics and its poetry is made explicit.

Additional information

Authors: FUNTOWICZ S, JRC Ispra (IT);RAVETZ J, RMC Ltd, London (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: Article: Futures (1997)
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