Beware "determin...

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sat Dec 17 08:58:44 MST 1994


                   Beware "Determin..."

I would like to contribute something fuller, but because of time
I will contribute the one point in this exciting debate that I
wish to be sure people have heard.

In maths and in dynamical systems theory, words beginning with
"determin" have virtually nothing to do with the 19th century
debate about free will and determinism.

It is a different discourse (to be post modernist).

There has been a bifurcation of associations
     (to look at it from the point of view of systems theory).

There is a different meaning in the dictionary (to be semantic).

That was the specific purpose of my first intervention in this
forum where I wanted to quote the way the words are used in
thoughtful but popular science journalism like "Turbulent Mirror"
by John Briggs and David Peat:

   "complete determinism, that is you can determine all the terms
going into the equation"

and

   "suddenly Lorenz and other scientists became aware that in
deterministic (causal) dynamical systems, the potential for
generating chaos (unpredictability) crouches in every detail."

In the natural world there is no such thing as a deterministic
process *by definition* because we can never shut out all other
variables.

(The insights that come from these simple mathematical models
however, are every bit as interesting for what they imply about
non-linear processes in the biological world of human society as
Ron suggests. They are consistent I believe with much of the
approach of Marx and Engels.)


Chris Burford, London.


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