Marxist epistemology

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Wed Sep 1 14:49:08 MDT 1999

>From "Chaotic Dynamics: Theory and Applications to Economics" by Alfredo
Medio, Cambridge, 1993:

"An Intuitive Definition of Chaos

Although a universally accepted and comprehensive characterization of chaos
is still lacking,...we shall adopt the definition suggested in a recent
conference on chaos (Royal Society, London, 1986) namely 'stochastic
behavior occurring in a deterministic system.' Broadly speaking, a system is
said to be deterrministic when it comprises no exogenous random variables.
On the other hand, the 'observable' behavior of a dynamical system is called
stochastic when the transition of the system from one state to another can
only be given a probabilistic description as happens for truly random
processes e.g. the outcome of spinning a roulette wheel." [ pp 4-5]

  "Let us now pose the following question: is the complete knowledge of
which cells the system has occupied in the past sufficient to predict the
future course?
  For a nonchaotic system [the neoclassical fantasy world], the answer to
this question must be affirmative [otherwise the crude positivism and
predictive "validity" is out the window]. In this case, the sequence of cell
numbers will eventually follow a regular pattern, e.g. it will be periodic.
Sooner or later, therefore, when we have accumulated a sufficient number of
data, we shall be able to exactly predict the future positions of the system
moving from one cell to the next. For nonchaotic systems, therefore, after a
certain time, listening to the 'news' becomes totally uninformative.
  For a chaotic system, however, no matter how long we accumulate data on
the past positions of the system, we cannot accurately predict its
transition from the present position to the next one (or to any of the
future ones). In this case, we can only make probabilistic forecasts, if any
at all. For chaotic systems, therefore, coarse-grained past, however long,
does not determine uniquely and completely coarse-grained future. In other
words, the 'news' will continue indefinately to be a source of additional
information on the system." [ pp. 5-6]
  This characteristic of chaotic systems, persists no matter how small the
size of the cell in the finite partition...Therefore, for a system following
a chaotic orbit, despite exact knowledge of its 'law of motion', the
sequence of the cell numbers corresponding to its positions may look random
and provide no obvious hint of the underlying deterministic structure, for
any finite number of observations of finite position. The fact that we
cannot make exact predictions of the long-term behavior of chaotic systems
does not exclude the possibility of making (more or less accurate) short-run
forecasts...However, even statistical predictions may be difficult or
impossible if a chaotic system exhibits the so-called 'sensitive dependence
on parameters' [e.g. not assuming the existing order as GIVEN, ETERNAL and
IMMUTABLE] i.e. if its mode of behavior changes drastically when the value
of a parameter is altered by an arbitrarily small amount. In this case,
stastical averages concerning the system become unstable under variations in
parameters, so that the forecaster may have to face a situation that is even
worse than that created by sensitive dependence on initial conditions." [p

And from "Marx and Non-equilibrium Economics" Alan Freeman and Guglielmo
Carchedi (eds.), Edward Elgar Pub. Cheltenham, UK, 1996:

"In a world out of balance the principle of equilibrium is neither a valid
foundation nor a real result. Practising economists are driven to study
change, time and disequilibrium. Cyclic crisis, unemployment, debt,
underdevelopment, and financial chaos are the real phoenomena which command
attention, but they receive no explanation. Orthodoxy either defines them
out of existence or labels them exceptions. Official economics is stuck with
an unworkable paradigm--applying to an unstable world concepts derived from
the assumption of stability."

What is interesting is that in all of the books on Chaos Theory that I have
read, not one mentions Indigenous works, tranditional practices or Lodge
Tales etc as manifesting and embodying the core principles and perspectives
of non-linear dynamics and what is euphemistically called "Chaos Theory".
{Actually Indigenous thinking is even less
mechanical-heuristic/stochastic/"holistic" than some of the new modelling
that also seeks "rigor" as in "rigor" mortis.

Jim C

James Craven
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA. 98663
(360) 992-2283; Fax: (360) 992-2863
blkfoot5 at
*My Employer Has No Association With My Private/Protected

-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Brown [mailto:CharlesB at]
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 12:38 PM
To: Marxism at
Subject: Marxist epistemology

>>> "Craven, Jim" <jcraven at> 09/01/99 02:50PM >>

 Why is it that Indigenous cultures have
traditionally employed non-linear and non-reductionistic paradigms that
"modern science" seeks today after the failures and irrelevance of the
ultra-reductionistic, positivist and linear paradigms and methods?


Charles: A relative newcomer to human knowledge, dialectical materialism
,rediscovered  this epistemology.

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