Chaos and dialectics

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Thu Jun 8 08:23:23 MDT 1995


Well Lisa,

I find myself in almost total agreement. I cannot find anything to
disagree with here (below) and much to build on.

In particular I resonate to your comment that

> I've been thinking about over-dichotomized discussions, and I think
> many of our brains tend to work this way, for some good reasons.

Obviously because I work with mental illness, I am intrigued by
the idea that our brain models of reality have to be so flexible that
our sanity is at times potentially precarious.


Total agreement must be undialectical mustn't it? Why I think I often
find myself in agreement with you is

a) your willingness to risk appearing naive even when you know a lot,
which I think is in fact the royal road to knowledge,
(not that we ever finally get there)

b) your interest in making connections.

I think these two approaches are a great advantage in what Marxists
call dialectical materialism. Perhaps they are 3/4 of the dialectical
materialist approach.



Chris B

>>>>>
I've been reading up a bit on "chaos theory" and mathmatical models of
nonlinear and dynamical systems.

I find that some authors are jumping way too far in drawing unjustifiable
implications from the very existence of such models.  (One example conflates
the outcome of evolution on earth with the mechanism of evolution, harks
back to ecological notions of the continuing "progress" toward higher
energy use, and ignores all the critters that didn't evolve, as well as
all of Darwin, neo- or not.)

Models are useful in representing some aspects of reality.  Reality
itself is perhaps impossibily complicated.

I've been thinking about over-dichotomized discussions, and I think many
of our brains tend to work this way, for some good reasons.

Why not use the simplest model possible to represent/understand some
problem at hand?  {Evolutionarily} why waste time / energy on knowing
more than you need to know?  If a simple model works, great!  ANY model
of reality must be more simple than reality itself, or what use is it?

While we may find it useful
to analytically dissect something, it is really all part of one thing.
It is the reunion of the separation back to the complicated,
contradictory whole that I learned as "deconstruction."  This can be
useful too.

Isn't that dialectic?  We separate male/female, intellect/emotion,
competition/cooperation, but they are inseparable and co-existent, or
even required to inform and define each other.  The world is full of
separable / inseparable contradictions.





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