Mike Diehl (V027JW4C@UBVMS.BITNET)
Mon, 11 Apr 1994 16:17:21 -0500
5) Another problems with the CHAOS label is that there really is not
yet a Theory of Chaos. To be sure, there are mathematical models and
algorithms that allow people to describe the complicated topography
explored by fractal geometry folks and the high energy folks and the fluid
dyamics folks. In other words, there's some pretty useful math. But there
isn'y yet anything like a "unified theory of Chaos." Thus when people stick
the word "chaos" into their anth/arch papers, it invariably strikes me as
rather strange and arbitrary. (Is the phrase "Chaos Theory" a "strange
6) There is a developing interest in COMPLEXITY (e.g. the SFI folks).
Again, no unified theory. Most of their progress so far has been in the
adaptive computation program. I mean this without slighting the various
other programs... computational folks have the advantage of being able to
generate their own data. The rest of the gang (Evolution, SW/Cult-Evol,
Economics/Time series) are still struggling to define ourselves.
7) The thing that appeals to me about COMPLEX SYSTEMS is the notion that
such systems have high interconnectivity and sensitivity between parameters
(I think that cultural systems may be similarly structured) and a
certain degree of sensitivity to small differences in the initialization
state of teh system (cultural systems might or then again might not have
such a sensitivity). In this regard I am intrigued by such examples as
Lauriston Sharp's "Steel Axes..." Who would know that the introduction
of such a simple item would throw the established sc system so out of
kilter? (It's axiomatic that colonial powers have had drastic effects
every time they contact "indiginous" cultures. In some cases this might
not simply be a consequence of the differences in the scale of the economic
systems involved, or in the, um, sanguinary nature of most such interactions).
Dunno. 1) Beware strangers wearing chaos. 2) There are some elements of
the structure of known complex systems that lend one to suspect that
human culture(s) are complex adaptive systems. 3) We need proof.
-nuff said for now. See you all at the SAA's.