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Health, science, and complexity
  1. Enrico Materia,
  2. Giovanni Baglio
  1. Agenzia Sanità Pubblica, Regione Lazio, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr E Materia
 Agenzia Sanità Pubblica, Regione Lazio, 53 via Santa Costanza, Rome 00198, Italy;

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It is of fundamental importance that economic and power interests should not take precedence over public health needs.

“Multidisciplinarity”. “Integration”. “Context”. That these have become key terms in public health vocabulary and core features of the health systems can be seen in the multidisciplinary approach to biomedical research and clinical medicine and in the increasing interest in “alternative” medicine.

What these changes have in common may be related to the concept of complexity and what could be defined as a shift in the epistemiological paradigm, away from the reductionist approach of Modernity. From Descartes and Newton to Russell and Popper, the development of knowledge has been characterised by the opposite of complexity—that is, reducing the complexity of the real to the simplicity of laws and explanations. This heuristics of parsimony has been the driving force behind empirical and speculative research.1 The paradigm of Modernity, which is rooted in a mechanistic view and in logical and mathematical thought, has above all developed around the search for an absolute and rational method capable of definitively separating scientific knowledge from pseudo-knowledge, including that of social disciplines. However, in the second half of the 20th century, Modernity underwent a …

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  • Funding: none.

  • Competing interests: none declared.

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