Chaos and dialectics

Juan Inigo jinigo at
Mon Nov 21 20:23:44 MST 1994

>I'm , but I can't help myself. Juan, are you "for" chaos, or "a'gin" it?
>Steve Keen

Could I be for or against chaos? To begin with, does "chaos" stand here for
the real form or for the theory about this real form? As I have considered
both of them in my previous post, I will rely on it here.

As the real form,

> ... a so-called chaotic process shows to be the
>realization of a necessity that exists as a possible potency, when the
>course of this realization has possibility itself as its specific form of
>realizing itself. This is the most developed general form of determination,
>that is, of self-affirming through self-negation, and certainly a widely
>extended concrete form of it that we must necessarily face with our
>conscious action.

Now, being this so-called chaotic form a much simpler specific form of
matter than that which our action is, it will be always present under many
different concrete forms among the determinations of this action. So, how
could I be for or against chaos in this sense? It would be the same as, for
instance, being for or against quantitative determination, or to take a
specific form of quantitative determination, for or against time.

The point is here that when we find that this form of realizing itself a
real necessity is in itself a positive determination of our conscious
action, it suffices for us to let it proceed under its natural form. If we
find in it a negative relevant determination of our conscious action, we
need to extend this conscious action to transform the determination that
naturally realizes itself in the so-called chaotic form, so as to exclude
from its necessity this form of realizing itself. Or, conversely, we could
even produce this form of realization where it doesn't naturally exist,
provided it becomes a form of realizing our objectives, turning it itself
into a concrete form through which we develop our conscious action. If it
is a negative relevant determination of our conscious action upon a certain
concrete form but we cannot find the way to transform it, that concrete
form we are aiming to act upon will unavoidably escape from the reach of
our conscious action and, therefore, cannot realize its potency through it.

The question about the concrete form in which we regulate our real
appropriation of this specific determination by appropriating its necessity
concerning our own necessity with our thought, immediately follows. And
this takes to the second meaning that Steve might be giving to "chaos" in
his post.

"Chaos" meaning the theory of chaos:

>Conversely, as it is proper of contemporary scientific theory, chaos theory
>represents the determinations involved in this realization as being
>themselves determined by the relations of measure of the concrete forms
>through which it takes shape

Therefore, chaos theory represents the concrete realization of a
determination as being the cause, the necessity itself, of this realization
and, even, being the very cause that makes that determination to arise in
the first place.

Steve clearly reflected this point of view in the discussion centered in
the source of surplus-value:

>The basis of this analysis is that nonlinear relationships between
>entities generates complex behaviour. One of the key consequences
>of nonlinear relationships is that a tiny difference in initial
>conditions makes an enormous difference to the final outcome;
>another is that, for that reason, it's impossible to predict what
>will eventuate after any sort of cataclysmic change in such a
>system. Revolution is obviously a cataclysmic change in a social
>system, and there is no guarantee--as history has shown us--that
>what will evolve after such a change bears any semblance to the
>reasons that change was undertaken. I thus see revolution as an
>inherently dangerous route to social re-organisation. (Sept. 17)

>My approach emphasises reform, with an "evolutionary" focus, and
>an awareness that small changes can have immense ramifications over
>time. (Sept. 18)

In that occasion I pointed out the inversion inherent in chaos theory that
Steve was reflecting, in the following way:

>Now, as Marx also discovered, capitalism has two essential necessities as
>it's the general form taken by the regulation of contemporary human life
>through the process of capital accumulation. It needs to reproduce itself
>as such, lacking any limits concerning how brutal, how vicious, how bloody
>a course this reproduction might demand. But, at the same time, its most
>specific historical necessity is to produce the material conditions of
>human life that can only have conscious action as their general social
>regulation, thus annihilating itself in socialism. From this second point
>of view, capital is revolutionary in itself. Being a historical necessity,
>the latter realizes itself through the former.
>Some of the infinite concrete forms the supersession of capitalism in
>socialism has, can only take shape in a day by day imperceptible change;
>what Marx called (quoting him by heart) "the hidden transitions" from
>capitalism to socialism. Other of those forms need to be realized through
>violently immediate visible movements. But both types belong in capital
>accumulation process as much as any other capital's form. The reduction of
>the former transitions to "reformism" and of the latter to "revolution"
>does but to isolate them from their specific determinations, thus turning
>them into pure ideological abstractions.
> ...
>The degree of violence any social change might have doesn't emerge from the
>abstract will of those who personify it. On the contrary, it is the degree
>of violence that the realization of the change in question demands from
>those who positively or negatively personify it, which will necessarily
>take concrete form in the degree of violence these agents will be willing
>to apply. (Sept. 23)

Still, as I've pointed out in my previous post on chaos and dialectics, I
find chaos theory proceeding in this inversion exactly in the same way that
scientific theory does in general. And I criticize scientific theory in
general as a historically determined form of appropriating reality in
thought (that is, of consciously regulating one's action) that _represents_
reality by placing the real forms into relation through an ideal necessity,
a logic. I oppose to scientific theory the no less historically determined
scientific procedure of ideally _reproducing_ the real necessity itself, by
following its development by means of thought (Marx's "reproduction of the
concrete by the path of thought").

So, expressly concerning the scientific cognition of the so-called chaotic
real forms, what matters from my point of view is to reproduce them in
thought as soon as we face them as a specific determination of our
conscious action, and therefore, as a moment in the development of our own
necessity. On so doing, we overcome the limitations to the scope of this
conscious action that emerge from the appearances that result from the very
form of chaos theory.  Now, would it make sense to present my critique of
scientific theory as a matter of being for or against chaos theory? It
would unavoidably bring down this critique to an abstraction.

My answer to Steve's question actually finishes here. But maybe he was
referring to chaos in connection with an altogether different context, that
of professional fate. In this case, I will answer Steve by recalling a
well-known metaphysical controversy: Lawyers can claim the primacy of their
profession as, according to the Bible, God started by ordering the world,
establishing its laws, which of course are lawyers stuff. Yet, engineers
can claim for their primacy over lawyers, stating that before ordering the
world God had to create it, and production is what engineering is about.
But now, what does the Bible say it was there before God created the world?
Chaos! And, whose specific professional concern does common sense say
creating chaos is?

In this context, Steve, I can't help myself either. I'm an economist too.
And, by the way, I'm certainly for "creative chaos" as a very stimulating
moment, but of course only a moment, in any cognition process.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at

More information about the Marxism mailing list