Dialectics and complexity -Reply

Lisa Rogers EQDOMAIN.EQWQ.LROGERS at email.state.ut.us
Thu Aug 24 15:11:55 MDT 1995

Good thread, I agree, thanks for reply.  I will write up a few notes
on Gleick for you [and you-all], but not this post.  I'm still
glowing and digesting after reading Gleick.

Please distinguish for me between chaos theory and complexity theory?
I haven't seen this before, as Gleick does not distinguish.

Of course, on a rapidly moving cutting edge, Gleick is not up to
date, pub way back in 1987.  Besides, he doesn't even try to go
through all the ramifications, just mentions that there are some and
provides references to some biologists, for instance.  Well he does
talk some biology, but not like you are.  Steve Keen has mentioned
Santa Fe to me too, but I haven't looked at that yet, or the SciAm
you read.

Gleick's emphasis is math and physics, strictly material, I think it
is exactly what you mean by reality-based.  It includes historical
roots and focusses on an apparent mushroom of creative and powerful
developments into the 80's, as various cross-disciplinary people and
a group of unorthodox graduate students in physics in Santa Cruz
[called themselves the dynamical systems collective] brought various
threads together and produced work that finally got the attention of

BTW, it is clear that large numbers of things do sometimes form
complex patterns, the question is .... how and why.  Maybe we should
clarify this some more, I mean, what do you think is the question
that is addressed by chaos and/or complexity "theory"?

More later.

>>> Chris Burford <cburford at gn.apc.org>  8/24/95
It is nice to be able to exchange notes  with you.

Chaos theory has a reputable pedigree in maths building up over 100
years. Complexity theory, to be prudent, is less that 10 years old
and  is disparaged by some as a product of opinionated people
gathered in  the Santa Fe Institute "where complex people ponder
complex things", as a critical article in the June Scientific
American put it.
It is easier for me, as it is perhaps for you, coming from the life
sciences, to accept that large numbers of entities, cells, human
beings, etc, may start forming complex patterns, that then have a
momentum of  their own.
I would be interested to hear what aspects of complexity theory you
feel to be most firmly based in reality, as a result of your recent



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