Re: One bored mathematician (was: the mind of culture)

Len Piotrowski (
Thu, 11 Jul 1996 18:11:26 GMT

In article <4s0lbi$> (Eric Brunner) writes:


>: I thought that perhaps I might suggest that you examine chaos theories.
>: A good book for those with no mathematical inclinations would be any
>: book on fractals and especially one discussing strange attractors (this
>: aspect of chaos theory is similar to the qualities you describe as a
>: cultural mind, or a semi-conscious entity). The key is in remembering
>: that while such a book refers to fractals, the concepts behind the
>: theories are applicable to all complex dynamic systems.

>Care to name one, "good book for those with no mathematical inclinations"
>that is? I'll pass on the problem a non-mathematically sophisticated work
>as a compendium of useful tools for social scientists presents, since that
>problem was solved almost 100 years ago, when statistics entered into public
>policy. Statistics-using social scientists are no longer afforded the
>luxury of "no statistical or probablistic inclination" when attempting to
>do useful work.

>So, "(t)he key is in remembering that while such a book refers to fractals
>(fractional dimensional Hausdorff spaces, properly speaking), the concepts
>behind the theories are applicable to all complex dynamic systems." This
>will come as a surprise to ergodic theorists and non-standard analysts.

>: Just a thought.

>Please enlarge.

I've missed what triggered this thread, but let me suggest as a possible
starting point for this discussion an article by Kevin Dooley called "A
Complex Adaptive Systems Model of Organization Change:"

Dooley's analysis and six theoretical propositions for organizational change
are directed at culture change rather than at the nature of human culture or
human social structure, an important point of distinction. No where does he
attempt a model for human culture or an explanation for the evolution of human
culture presumably out of the chaos of a previous system. His six propositions
for system change (including, as Dooley notes, human "social structure" and
"culture") are :

1). organizations are potentially chaotic
2). organizations move from one dynamic state to the other through a discrete
bifurcation process (second order change)
3). forecasting is impossible, especially at a global scale and in the long
term (unpredictability)
4). when in a chaotic state, organizations are attracted to an identifiable
configuration (order out of randomness)
5). when in a chaotic state, similar structure patterns are found at
organizational, unit, group, and individual levels (fractal nature of chaotic
6). similar actions taken by organizations in a chaotic state will never lead
to the same result

At least with respect to human social-psychology, I would suggest that what
Dooley has loosely labeled a Complex Adaptive System (CAS) should
alternatively be considered as a selectionist model of interaction, hence
avoiding a needless argument over the fitness value of such things as human
dialog (both social and self-reflexive), and purposeful human action in