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History and Evolution
by Nemonemini
16 July 2002 23:00 UTC
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In a message dated 7/14/2002 8:36:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time, larondin@yahoo.com writes:

If you would, please take a few moments, look over the postings, and make a contribution yourself to the conversation.  My question for you on this topic is: how, in an eonic approach -> to history and broad-based patterns to human experience, is the connection between large scale dynamics – chaos, complexity indeterminacy – and specific human action established (while all the time maintaining a balanced outlook between “free will” and “inevitability”)?

Thank you for the invitation to respond.
The answer to you excellent question could be extensive, but let me sketch a few brief ideas. I recommend a look at my 'eonic effect' and the model that goes with it, with its extensive consideration of 'freedom and necessity'.

I noted the discussion of such things as chaos and complexity in the thread indicated. These graduates of basic mechanics are of tremendous interest, but they speak to systems that are basically physical in their nature. Historical systems, as evolutionary systems, have a richer substance.  Even evolutionary systems have a different character, in their 'historical' characteristics. These systems all, a la Prignone, address issues surrounding the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and so forth.
The basic categories of evolution are aptly summarized by Monod as 'chance and necessity', and we see the second factor actually addressed in a non-standard account in Kauffman, a la At Home in the Universe.
The appearance of chance in evolutionary accounts is both the strength and the bane of these theories of evolution. For these systems are open to novelty, and don't follow mechanical routines which do not allow increase of information. This factor however is highly enigmatic and is now considered an issue of various anthropic or even design arguments, a la the recent Dembski.

Dembski's excessive emphasis on design nonetheless echoes the original pre-Darwinian and non-Paleyite suggestion of such as Kant, and others, that biological systems were more than mechanical, and shew elements of teleology. And teleology is explicitly rendered over to naturalism, unlike the latter spiritual expropriations of this issue, which have confounded all discussion with a red herring.

This issue spawned the generation of the teleo-mechanists in the age of Geoffrey, displaced by Darwin, but now returning (unspoken) with a vengeance in the age of developmental biology. The great question tacitly swept under the rug is, how can chance give rise to developmental systems? In any case, a developmental system remains an unknown here, as to mechanics. Beyond the distraction of religious critics of Darwin lies the simple, and naturalistic, question, what kind of model will explain a developmental system? Systematic confusion of these questions holds sway at the present time.
All I can suggest is what many books on electronics note in the intros before the issue is quietly deepsixed that systems that are non-causal and act from the future are no contradiction but physically unrealizable. So that's it, except they may well be physically realizable, we just don't know how. In a word, we are outclassed by the need for models way beyond our capabilities. So we are thrown back to empirical maps as models that are approximations.

How does history fit in here?  I purport to demonstrate the historical data of the 'eonic effect', based on a simple empirical study of three turning points in history. This shows pretty clear evidence of a global world system, and a host of other quite remarkable properties. The essence of the issue is the relationship of free activity (not necessarily free will) and the system's action (which may or may not be causal and/or directional). This data is a refined version of the older data as to the Axial age, so-called, where we see a clear discontinuity factor on a massive scale leading us to differentiate a large scale system, form the free activity that makes it up. And this empirical data demands its own kind of system model.

The dynamics of history has often been critiqued in the light of historicism, or a general challenge to historical determinism. This is essentially recovering ground explored by Kant, the antinomy of freedom and necessity. Note that chance and necessity, a la Monod, is now challenged with a third, chance, necessity, and (better than 'design'), directionality. Further necessited itself is shown to harbor the contradictions of freedom. Thus Monod's equation becomes more complex. All of this was foreseen by Kant in other contexts.

In general any system of explanation begins by enriching itself with an empirical foundation. In history a remarkable structure exists mimicking this chance, necessity-freedom, and directionality triad can be found. All we can do then is follow the empirical foundation.
Note that economists produce a host of differential equations models for economies, but when the chips are down they use empirical models of cycles of boom and bust, sometimes analysed with complex fourier methods, but basically remaining non-causal explanatory givens_ in which the free agent in the present can change the behavior of the system depending on what theory he espouses_!!!!
We are in a completely different ball park.

So the eonic model of the eonic effect shows a contrast of system action, as a past given, and 'free action' so called in alternation, and with free action in the present. It is a peculiar method, but entirely analogous to how we instinctively analyze economies, so straightforward.
But this kind of model that is based on past data but switches off in the present to leave free action is a great unexplored region for analysis, and allows us to create glove models over the data, rather than deterministic or other models.
This kind of discrete-continuous model so-called thus, to answer the original question, is built around the contrast of freedom and necessity, speaking formally. It's like leapfrog, necessity and freedom (amidst factors of chance) alternate, like a man with a mouse interacting with a deterministic computer.
Enough for the moment, I can go over some of these bizarre statements in a few further posts.
In general historical systems are far too complex to analyze with current methods. But nature can show us how to proceed, just as it shows us by experience the onset of clear cyclical behavior in economies.
The example of an economy, notwithstanding the host of deterministic models fetched out of books of differential equations, is elusively complex, for we see structure, and yet this never contradicts the element of free agency in the individuals in this economy. This hybrid type of system simply won't yield to physical models, and can, most remarkably, be seen in a non-economic type, in the eonic effect, which, however, shows more than random fluctuations.

That's a start on the answer to the original question.

Consider, to conclude, two exercises.
1. look at a field of soldiers in their foxholes at night, immobilized, and then the effect, brief, of a flare. In the prescence of light, activity changes. This is one example of a hybrid 'free action'  and 'system action' (flare) effect.
2. Again soldiers in the field, getting orders once a day from central HQ. Note the way in which the actors behave is not entirely spontaneous. And their activity is influenced by that arriving information, but the realization, outcome, and possible failure are open-ended. This is just another example of a 'free action' and 'system action' hybrid.

My point is that history won't yield to exclusive 'free action' theories or 'system action' theories. The hybrid approach yields answers farily quickly.

Enough for the moment.

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
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