Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Applying deterministic chaos in the study of historical events.

     History is the history of man; it is the sum of ideas thought by man and the acts committed by man. History is a human brainchild and is manipulated by the human mind. Historicism and Marxism attempt to describe history with the determining and deterministic rules of classical physics, and claim that human history follows a course towards a determinate end.

     But historical events, as noted by F.Cramer, always seem to behave in violation to the rules, they are describable by neither simple nor complex models. There are no historical laws, but at most rules of probability, human history follows a seemingly irrational course. Jurgen Habermass and Niklas Luhmann, used the concept of complexity to explain social (or historical) structures: “Systems maintain and form islands of lower complexity within their stabilising boundaries...” compared to the largely chaotic surrounding world. History is largely chaotic and its description is made possible by observing isolated systems. Only isolated islands of lower complexity are accessible to description.

     Karl Popper, in his critique of historicism; argued that as the growth of human knowledge is the causal factor in the evolution of human history, and since “no society can predict, scientifically, its own future states of knowledge”, it follows that there can be no predictive science of human history. The course history takes is indeterminate.

     Sociologist Niklas Luhmann said: social systems are self-referential systems based on meaningful communication. They use communication to constitute and interconnect the events (actions) which build up the systems. Society is the encompassing social system which includes all communications and constitutes meaningful horizons for further communications.

     Modern society knows no boundaries, it is a world society. Its communicative network spreads all over the globe. "It provides one world for one system; and it integrates all world horizons as one communicative system. Its evolution started with the advent of the industrial state in the 18th century, closely intertwined with the technological progress of communication processes, the evolved social structures seen as historical structures.

     But what about deterministic chaos and chaotic attractors. Can these be used to provide a framework to explain historical events? Deterministic chaos, refers in the world of dynamics to the generation of random, unpredictable behavior from a simple, but nonlinear rule. The rule has no "noise", randomness, or probabilities built in. Instead, through the rule's repeated application the long-term behavior becomes quite complicated. In this sense, the unpredictability "emerges" over time.

     This rule is the meaningful communication that social systems are based on. Communication is used to establish relations between the members or groups of members of social systems and proliferate the ideas thought by man and guide the acts committed by man therefore give rise to history. As a rule is simple and is repeated endlessly and it is not linear, as meaningful communication is conveyed as a constituent, property, of groups of members and not of the individual members therefore is not proportional, it is nonlinear. Historical events are influenced by ideas thought and acts committed collectively.

     But what about chaotic attractors? The chaotic attractor is referred to as a set of states in a system's state space with very special properties. The relations attained by means of communication, confer status to members, both as individuals and as members of groups in the social system. The whole spectrum of status achieved by the members in a social system constitute the system’s state space. Each member naturally tends to improve its status individually or collectively, according to the prevailing circumstances of its immediate and/or wider environment. Each member’s status improvement had to be acceptable both by the member and the other members as well. By consensus this culminated to the right of each member to be and act as a free individual. The set of states describing status incorporated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the chaotic attractor. Throughout history social systems members continual efforts to improve their status, determined relations, affected communication, moulded ideas thought by man, guided acts committed by man, led historical events.

     The special properties of a chaotic attractor are: First, the set of states of a chaotic attractor, is an attracting set. So that the system, starting with its initial condition in the appropriate basin, eventually ends up in the set. Even if the system is perturbed off the attractor, it eventually returns. Spanning history for historical events that give evidence to that property one can easily think of the relatively recent collapse of the Soviet Union. Second, and most important, once the system is on the attractor nearby states diverge from each other exponentially fast. Due to this second property, small amounts of noise are amplified. Once sufficiently amplified the noise determines the system’s large scale behaviour and the system is then unpredictable. Observing the historical events associated with the French Revolution, the later deterioration in its aims would give credence to this property.

     Foremost, of all, is that social systems, even if temporarily thrown off their course, return eventually to the chaotic attractor set, the human rights set. Human rights is the driving force that shaped up modern society.

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