Tue, 5 Apr 1994 11:26:54 EST

Good Morning John,

There have been a recent burst of queries re chaos theory. I'm growing
more interested in this area and have been saving all postings on the
topic. The one below you sent in nov. was very good. I don't know what
email etiquette is so I'm forwarding it back to you and suggesting you
re-post it....

I've very much enjoyed the recent/ebbing Fabian debate and your
comments. My colleague Laird Christie at WLU tells me that you will be
giving a session at Walpole Island on Irish Cosmology??? I shall be
giving a paper that deals with Other-than-human persons (Fairies) and
spatial organization in Outport Newfoundland. Look forward to hearing
your paper next month...

Best Wishes,
K. Szala-Meneok

On Sat, 6 Nov
1993, John O'Brien wrote:

> First, on the topic of Chaos theory, I would like to reference the
> following sociological article for list readers.
> Schwalbe, Michael L. 1991. "The Autogenesis of the Self," Journal of
> the Theory of Social Behavior 21(3):269-295.
> Schwalbe's approach, in a nut shell is to conceive of `self' as a
> non-linear, dynamical system originating through non-social forces. It
> is a bio-materialist adaptation of chaos theory to the formation of
> human `self' (in the social psychological sense - though the concept does
> not apply cross-culturally).
> I recommend the article in that Michael has produced a succinct,
> well written, lucid account of a practical application of Chaos theory
> that could analogously be applied to anthropoligical studies.
> In essense . . .
> Autogenesis is the term for the self organizing process which occurs
> prior to a level of development for the individual which would allow
> symbolic interaction, and cultural meaning systems to come into play in
> traditional SI terms.
> Consciousness and self are seen as emergents that naturally come from
> the tension between human biology and communal life.
> The paradigm discusses the structural features of an open system and
> its tendency to self organize when caught up in an energy flux.
> Systems are seen as inherently dynamic energy transformation regimes
> that co-evolve with their environment, and that organize and regulate
> themselves in accord with physical laws.
> `Self' is seen as a manifestation of these energy flows, AND OF THE
> In short, nonlinear dynamical systems are seen as NOT closed systems
> of interacting discrete objects that are the concern of positivistic
> Newtonian paradigms, rather nonlinear dynamical systems are open to their
> environments. They act iteratively on their own output, and exhibit
> stability only when they are far from equilibrium.
> This last point directly address Dwight Reed's comment on an earlier
> post that human beings have the remarkable characteristic of being able
> to change the system that they are involved in. That characteristic is
> exactly the characteristic that dynamical systems approaches are meant
> to address.
> Continuing, `selves' are said to emerge and evolve according to
> Schwalbe.
> More on this topic in a later post. I only note that, while the
> approach may be relevant to Anthropology . . . Schwalbe's biomaterialist
> explanation does not correspond with the basic assumptions of Construct
> Realism, as I have addressed it. The primary difference has to do with
> the fact that Construct Realism does not propose any necessarily isomorphic
> relationship between biological brain organization, and the level of mind
> or world view. The only assumption made in construct realism is that
> the processes that apply at one level `map' to other levels of human
> organiztion. This does not discount the biological or material, it simply
> eliminates the reductionistic tendency to assume that biological and
> material are the locus of prime cause.
> John O'Brien
> Indiana University