[OPE] Reply to Paul Cockshott on neo-Smithian Marxism andequilibrium,

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@telfort.nl)
Date: Thu May 01 2008 - 08:32:12 EDT

In my view, chaotic systems strictly speaking do not exist, because they are 
not systems. A necessary condition for a system to exist, is that operates 
according to ordering principles which enables us
to understand it as a system. If there is only chaos, there is no system. A 
"chaotic system" is therefore specifiable only in the sense of a system 
which combines some determinacy with some indeterminacy. As Marx would say, 
the surface appearance is chaos, the essence is a (hidden) order which 
reveals itself only a certain moments (if it did not do so, there would be 
no evidence for the essence at all and Karl Popper would be right in his 
critiques of essentialism; we would not even know there was something 
hidden - in this sense, Roy Bashkar's "transcendental realism" is strictly a 
metaphysical ideology, not science). If  a system is "completely determined 
by its laws of motion and boundary conditions" as you say, it must be 
possible to predict its future state.

Abstractly, there are at least two sorts of counterarguments to this:

1) Complexity: a system is connected to many other systems in a complex 
concatenation of cause and effect. But if the system is not selfsufficient 
in essential respects, we cannot even mark it out as a system.

2) Fragility: a system does have an ordered pattern enabling some
prediction, but in response to events, that order might very rapidly change
qualitatively, or mutate into a different order, or collapse. We then might
get a very rapid succession of different ordered systems across time.

Let's not make "chaotic systems" into a subterfuge, so that if it suits our 
argument there is "system" and if it doesn't there is "chaos". Let us 
instead try to understand the real dialectic of events,
as good Marxian scholars can, acknowledging with Hegel that "in all 
necessity there is an element of the coincidental".


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