Scott Marshall Scott at
Thu Sep 14 23:11:00 MDT 1995

At 09:56 AM 9/15/95 +1000, you wrote:
>A quick observation on an exchange between Scott and Lisa where
>both apparently agree:

>Gould isn't really employing biological reasoning here, or if he is
>then it is just a subset of nonlinear thinking.

Yes, he says so explicitly as I recall.

>This might not mean something as drastic as that "progress" might
>not have occurred, but it could, for example, have meant that
>slavery continued well into the 19th century, and that as a
>consequence, US industrialisation did not progress as rapidly.
>Or, had slavery continued for long enough and the attitudes it
>engenders gone deep enough, the US might have become an ally with the
>Nazis in WWII. I think we'd all agree that the world would now be
>a *very* different place. But no biological reasoning is needed to
>support such musing.

It is indeed musing and *very* fanciful to me. And in no way proves..

>in a real world process which is
>underlyingly a chaotic system, *nothing* is "necessary".

Does it?

And anyway Steve you seem to be hedging your bets a bit. While musing that
it could be very different etc (which I can agree with, It *could* have) you
still hold on to a notion of progress. I don't think Gould did, but it's
been a while since I read Mismeasure and I was bored and skimmed a lot.

But back to the point: chaos as described here seems a mechanical, cause and
effect type of system of explanation and not nearly as illuminating as
Marxist dialectics. It seems to combine pre-industrial mechanistic
materialism with idealism or at least agnosticism. It seems to me that at
the heart of chaos is random geometry rather than flat linear angles, but so
what? (Instead of Maoist "if you don't know up, you can't know down," it's
"if you don't know left, you can't know under the chair."  It's still
mechanical, if ultimately mystical and unknowable. Marxist
'interrelatedness' is far more illuminating.


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