02 November 2006

Emergent Systems

Caput mortuum was kind enough to send me a link to this article on learning computers. It seems to me that dynamic systems are increasingly give us the means to make good on the most basic intuitions of structuralist thought without having to grant any agency or existence to structures themselves. In other words, we are increasingly able to explain patterned social organization as emerging from very simple principles within the elements that compose these organizations, explaining how global or large scale organizations develop. That is, structuralists were right to recognize the existence of macro-level patterns of organization or structure (what Deleuze and Guattari would refer to as "molar organizations"), but wrong in their explanation of these patterns. As a result, this theoretical orientation leads one to ask the wrong sorts of questions as to how change and creation are possible. These misguided questions, I think, are endemic to contemporary social and political theory. Hopefully I'll be able to write more on this in the next couple of days, but such a theoretical orientation is extremely optimistic as these systems are also dynamic learning systems, capable of changing, unlike the iron law of structures, certain conceptions of power relations, or even the symbolic during Lacan's middle period. Indeed, I increasingly find myself skeptical of talk of the big Other altogether, though I better not say that publically.



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