Chaos

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Thu Sep 28 05:02:54 MDT 1995


Ron Press wrote:

> Economics is a highly interactive system. There are many feedback loops both
> positive and negative. A set of linear equations cannot hope to model it.
> There is little hope for any maths to model it frankly.

Thank you, Ron! Marx wrote in the "Preface to the French Edition" of
_Capital_ that: "There is no royal road to science, and only those who do
not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining
its luminous summits" (Penguin ed., p.105).

"Economics", despite the mystification of bourgeois economists, is *not*
a quantitative subject matter and, consequently, fundamental economic
relationships can not be derived through quantitative means.

While chaos theory is certainly more realistic than linear math when
modelling real world social problems, *no* math can replace the need for
abstraction and dialectics.

There is, though, a quantitative aspect or dimension to the economy
(which is secondary in importance to the qualitative dimension). That
quantitative dimension can sometimes be modelled, depending on the
subject, with math. However, abstraction and dialectics *must* come first
if we are to understand the fundamental relationships of topics such as
the value-form and its connection to subsequent topics of investigation.
*After* one has developed a theory that explains the fundamental
relationships related to a particular subject, *then* one can (sometimes)
select a mathematical model which does justice to that understanding.
When selecting the math, one must not only be careful not to model
non-linear subjects with linear math. One must also select a non-linear
model with full consideration of the applicability of that particular
math to the particular subject in economics that one is trying to
understand. For this to be done properly, one must consider the
assumptions and mechanical properties of the different chaotic models in
order to select the most relevant math.

Consequently, chaos theory may have uses in economics, but it can not
displace the need for abstraction and dialectics.

Jerry


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