Eric Canin (
Tue, 19 Sep 1995 14:34:56 -0400

Dear fellow anthros,

This is my first time out on this newsgroup, and I find it rather
amusing that some find cosmology a fit topic for discussion (that is, the
scientific rather than the mythological version, which would be a
"classical" anthropological topic). Not that I mind, being an old
cosmology buff myself.
I would like to know whether anybody has attempted to apply
"chaos theory" to anthropology. When not studying questions of popular
religion and power in Central America this summer, I read James Gleick's
CHAOS, wherein he presented the synthesis of physics, mathematics,
computer science, meteorology, ecology, and physiology as a Kuhnian
scientific revolution. I imagine that the most logical application of
chaos theory would be to indeterminacy in evolution, biological (eg. is
"ontology recapitulates phylogeny" the law of self-similarity at
different scales?) and social. And, of course, the postmodernists may
show interest(s) until they discover that deterministic order underlies
apparant chaos.
One question: "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" may be
fine for a computer model, but how are initial conditions reckoned in the
real world short of a singularity like the ....big bang?
Any thoughts on this matter from anthropologists, physicists, poets?

Eric Canin
Department of Anthropology
City University of New York, Hunter College