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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

Related Q&A(s): 603

The Question (ID Number 682)...

    This is regarding Q and A #603 on this site...

    It's worth pointing out that the questioner is wrong. Some rule-based systems have been found to be chaotic, but chaos theory itself isn't purely about chaos -- it's about how there are strange aspects of order underneath certain kinds of phenomena that we might think of as purely chaotic. The questioner seems to be using the colloquial meaning of chaotic rather than the technical meaning. Further, and more importantly, complexity science (which has big intellectual ties to chaos theory and systems thinking/theory -- all of these are deeply tied to each in conceiving of non-linear dynamic systems) is all about how certain kinds of systems based on even a few simple rules can produce incredibly dynamic results that are defined as "complex" -- being on the "edge" between order and chaos, showing enough order to make sense but enough chaos to be dynamic and interesting. In a very big way, this idea is at the heart of "living in the hands of the gods," of doing things "with nature," of seeing the universe as a fundamentally friendly place, and having good things sort of effortlessly flow as a result -- as opposed to insisting that control be exerted to get things done and having so many bad things flow effortlessly as a result, impelling you to exert more control, ratcheting up the revenge effects and the vicious cycles. This questioner has confused rules in the sense of underlying principles (which very often take the form of what we call natural laws -- biological evolution, the functioning of ecosystems, the rise of solar systems, etc, all occur in conformance with particular underlying "rules") with rules in the sense of human laws which dictate what must be done. Your answer to this question is totally appropriate in itself, but I feel that many of your site's readers will nevertheless come away from this Q&A with misinformation simply as a result of the way the question itself has been put. It'd be nice to educate them a bit on this other stuff I've mentioned here.

    ...and the response:

    I agree.

    Related Q&A(s): 603

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