Epochal trajectories

matteo mandarini rego at mmand.demon.co.uk
Wed Mar 8 08:17:54 MST 1995


In message  <9503081000.aa03506 at baird.cs.strath.ac.uk> wpc at cs.strath.ac.uk writes:
> Steve
> --------------
> Hate to play the devil's advocate here, but if social forces are
> chaotic/nonlinear, then such probability summing doesn't work. A
> chance event at one point in time can have cumulative impacts far
> beyond its probabilistic weighting. Economists are beginning to
> apply this notion of "path dependency" to such questions as why
> we continue to use the inferior QWERTY keyboard, but it applies
> to much bigger questions such as societal change too. A few
> chance events in history can have a lot more impact than the
> summing argument would imply.
> --------------
>
> This objection only applies to single points in phase space,
> a probabalistic theory - e.g. thermodynamics - is defined
> over ensembles of such points.
>
>
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>
>
I think Steve's answer is probably incorrect, since what is in question
here is a question of transition. It is precisely at points of
instability/far from equlibrium that phase transitions occur, instituting
different laws (I prefer tendencies -since at stake is precisely the break
with notions of universal laws) which function on a level which cannot have
been fully predicted (some times totally unpredictable) within the earlier
system. This is -I think- what is at stake in the question of transition between
one socio-economic order and another. In other words, unpredictability does
not only function/operate on single points in a phase space, but also between
bifurcations between one phase space and another. Another point of related
interest concerns a text by a Hungarian, George Kampis called: Self Modifying
Systems in Biology and Cognitive Science (Wow!). In this text he claims that
unpredictability is not a feature of epistemic conditions, but rather concerns
the very operations of the system under discussion.

(I have only just joined the group, so if I've completely missed the point
do fill me in)

matteo


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