A Matter of Approach IV
But, what kind of complexity are we talking about? For, in “Mathematical Chaos and Complexity Theories” there is a special kind of “emerging” phenomena suggested, which are very different, indeed, from any holistic view of an Emergence, as a creative and, indeed, Revolutionary Event. So, let us attempt to clarify.
Starting with Laplace we had the classical idea of Causality, where natural causes produce entities or situations , which, in their turn, can cause another layer of complexity - but completely predictable from the causalities involved.
Now, such a sequence delivers a wholly linear conception, which can always be traced both forwards – as Prediction, and backwards - as Reductionism. Yet, attempts to trace backwards never succeed beyond a few, same-level, steps, and can never be carried through-and-beyond any full- blown Emergence Event – in either direction! So, such conceptions are rarely held with conviction these days.
Yet, versions of such are still legion, including the fabled “Complexity”, wherein many such simultaneously- present, “linear causalities” produce overall mixes of consequences, which can have very different results and varied overall properties.
It is these higher level consequences that are incorrectly termed Emergences – because they seemingly “emerge” from a given complexity,
In such cases, an important principle is involved, though only very rarely overtly stated. It is the crucial Principle of Plurality, which effectively asserts that that all the causal strands involved are completely separable, and the resultant, “combined laws” so coming out from that situation are considered eternal!
With such a premise, the validity of the widely-used statistical approach is said to be confirmed, and many “Laws”, of such a composite nature, can be revealed and used. And, theoretically, at least, the causal strand is involved, and, being “totally separable”, can be traced back. But, it doesn’t take a great deal of research to undermine the assumption of Plurality, for it can never explain any kind of qualitative change, nor, most important of all – the actual Evolution of things.
To attempt to reduce Human Thinking, in such a way, is derisory. Indeed, you simply can’t! Plurality has been useful, especially in carefully designed and maintained situations, but it certainly isn’t true generally. It is a pragmatic trick!
So, what other way of dealing with Causality do we have? It has to be the opposite conception to that of Plurality – indeed, it can only be that based upon the Principle of Holism. For, within that concept, “Everything affects everything else!” And, this means that any found relations are NOT separable! There can be NO eternal Natural Laws, such as those assumed to be delivered by carefully organised pluralistic experiments. What Plurality delivers is a simplified and idealised general relation, which will always vary in different contexts, due to its unavoidable modification by everything else!
The pluralist route can give us a first order of approximation, as to what is actually going on, but it does not deliver the fabled eternal Natural Laws!
Clearly, to impose such fixed Laws in all contexts is erroneous. If the reader doubts this analysis let him consider the USE of pluralist Laws. To ensure that they are obeyed, the exact same conditions as were necessary for extraction have to be replicated in use! If a complex item is to be manufactured, it can never be achieved in a single, fixed context: every single step of its construction will require the right conditions for each Law used – sometimes quite separate factories are the only way to achieve success, with each specialising in its own limited set of processes!
So, how are we to consider so-called Complexity? For, surely, that is actually the simultaneous occurrence of multiple causal effects, all happening in the very same context?
While Plurality is supposed to just “weave-them-together unchanged” – in an “Eternal Golden Braid”, Holism sees them unavoidably affecting one another, which can result in an overall effect – they have all both “changed and melded” into an overall effect at a higher level!
The combined result cannot simply be analysed from a summation of the unchanged, “separable” components involved. They will all have new forms in such a combined context – more like the formation of a functional “tissue” than a mere knitted braid of unchanged parts. The various contributions have been both changed and merged into something else, with its own properties.
Pluralist analysis may correctly identify what components were involved, but it will say nothing about HOW they have been changed, and HOW the forms behaved to produce what finally came about!
The alternative the holistic version of an Emergence, involving different orders of complexity, can, indeed, be meaningful at every level of Reality, all the way to Human Thought.
But, though the analysis is assumed to be easy in an assumed to be pluralist world, it falls to the ground in an holistic World. For, we cannot merely separate each and every cause, and manipulate them into an “explanation” of the higher level behaviours merely via the “addition of fixed Laws”. We have, on the contrary, to see what Qualitative Changes are most certainly involved, which can never be derived from the “producing” level. There is, though, a chance that, once occurring, the new situation could be explained NOT purely as a summation of separate and fixed causes, but as the creation of something wholly new, where possibilities are instituted with completely new properties. Indeed, real Development or Evolution requires such creation: it can be explained no other way!
Yet, such things don’t necessarily happen immediately, or even automatically. In fact, they are rare, and are usually stopped from occurring for very long periods, by prior inhibitory structures, which we term Stable Systems.
These Stabilities are largely self-maintained Systems, which intrinsically react to prevent innovation and maintain the status quo, against any significant Qualitative developments.
Now, this role of Stabilities modifies the trajectory of changes in such Systems radically. Normally, such Systems resist change for long periods, but are never permanent set-ups.
There will always be crises, which are resolved to re- establish an adjusted version of the Stability.
But, always, changes at some point in a crisis, are sufficient to precipitate a wholesale collapse that is not recovered, but swoops ever downwards into a total dissociation of the prior System.
But, it must be emphasized that it is the system- maintaining-factors that are overwhelmed: the majority of the contained processes continue as before, but are no longer constrained into a persisting System of Stability.
Now, what we end up with is “something like” Chaos. For, now innumerable processes are un hindered and all continue without restraint. This transforms the situation radically! Inter-relation associations occur, and multiple mini-systems, of kinds previously prohibited, now grow unhindered, and gradually a new Stability is constructed. Interestingly, the key solidifiers of the new system, will be its defensive processes to prevent competing alternatives from getting a hold.
With the integration of cooperating processes and the defensive palisade of prohibiting policeman processes, a Stability finally emerges.
|Issue 44 now available|
This paper is the fourth and final part of a series of articles published here weekly, on the theme of Marxist Philosophical Practice. This work isn’t about Capitalism or Socialism, and certainly says nothing about Economics. This is about Marxism as a philosophical approach, applicable to any field of study, any aspect of reality. The series takes four very different issues in Philosophy and investigates them via this Marxist stance, which is termed Dialectical Materialism.
These papers are also collected as a new issue of the Shape Journal (44) available here