Epochal trajectories

Steve.Keen at unsw.edu.au Steve.Keen at unsw.edu.au
Wed Mar 8 06:53:23 MST 1995


Paul replied to my comment about chance that:
This objection only applies to single points in phase space,
a probabalistic theory - e.g. thermodynamics - is defined
over ensembles of such points.

But Paul, I wasn't arguing from probability: complexity theory
is completely deterministic; it is the other end of the
mathematical spectrum from probability theory.

In a probabilistic framework, random events occur about a mean
(in some form of distribution), and if the majority of events
lean in a particular direction, then that's the way the system
will tend.

But in a deterministic but complex framework, one chance
(sorry--a slight difference between two initial positions)
difference is expanded exponentially over time. This is
poorly expressed in the "butterfly concept"--that a butterfly
flapping its wings in Peking can cause a hurricane in Florida--
but the basic idea is simple, and it applies as much to
society as the weather. This is that historical events truly
matter: a slight difference in "initial conditions" leads to
an utterly different outcome.

In such a system, it doesn't matter that 99% of social forces
tend towards socialism, for example. If the other 1% was the
starting position, then we'll never get to socialism.

In other words, in a complex world, you can't trust in
averages.

Cheers,
Steve Keen


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