Chaos and dialectics

Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU
Mon Nov 14 22:11:18 MST 1994

Re Lulu's request that I expand on the suggestion of "an *identity*
between dialectics and chaos".

Firstly, it's not what I'd call a fully developed idea yet, and my idea
of dialectics may differ from others! But my suggestion is that
dialectical philosophy is essentially dynamic, and emphasises the
relationships between things, whereas other philosophies put more
emphasis on things themselves. Notions in dialectics such as
quantative change "becoming" qualitative change fit in well with the
"sensitive dependency on initial conditions" aspect of chaos (for
example, in the model I am working on, a minute change in the rate
of interest changes the system from one with a stable equilibrium
to one with an unstable equilibrium--from a system which, in economic
terms, enjoys exponential growth, to a system which collapses to
zero income via a debt deflation. That's a pretty good illustration
of quantitative change becoming qualitative).

I am not a historian of Hegel; so I can't (yet) postulate as to what
observations may have led Hegel to develop his philosophy. But it
*may* be that observing real-world phenomena which these days we
would acknowledge as chaotic led Hegel to develop a philosophy which
could account for those phenomena, long before the mathematical
insights were developed.

That's the notion; I intend following up on the historiography before
I intend committing anything to print, however!

Steve Keen
PS those phenomena could easily have been social ones, even wars
(for anyone doubting that, a good reference are the two papers in
the 1992 or 1993 Sante Fe _Lectures on Complex Systems_ entitled
"On the mathematical biology of arms races and wars".).


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