Cafe Discussion - Chaos vs. Determinism

Is the universe inherently chaotic or deterministic? I'm sure we've all observed apparent instances of chaos in our lives and likewise we've all observed things apparently operating with seemingly perfect regularity. But is either of these phenomena an illusion? Perhaps everything is ultimately chaotic or alternately maybe everything is deterministic. What do you think?

Join or login to comment.

  • Craig D.

    Rainer, you may enjoy Daniel Dennett's talk about the Pope being an atheist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iVCxx-GkMg

    1 · May 14

    • Craig D.

      "every Easter the Pope prays for peace, although it never prevents or ends war and has no effect",... " What goes through the Pope's mind?"...

      1 · May 14

    • Susan H.

      Now, THAT is a darned good question. Perhaps it does have an effect, but we don't know it because whatever it headed off didn't happen? (Not that I think that's true, but just thought that I'd throw that out there...)

      1 · May 14

  • Craig D.

    Al, I just finished watching a Sam Harris lecture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FanhvXO9Pk)
    The last quarter is dedicated to questions from the audience. A question is asked about being depressed to realize that “love” is simply a result of unintended past experience. Sam’s answer seems to also address your concern that determinism removes some of the satisfaction of existence. I found it interesting.

    May 13

    • Craig D.

      Daniel Dennett states that it may be "irresponsible"­­ for neurosurgeons and philosophers to teach that there is no such thing as free will because it makes people act more irresponsibly. https://www.youtube.co...­

      May 13

  • daniel k.

    OK, the article I was talking about (I think) was in Nature and NOT Scientific American.

    http://www.nature.com/news/first-proof-that-infinitely-many-prime-numbers-come-in-pairs-1.12989

    Of course, I don't know what that actually means....

    But I do know that time is going faster now that I'm older, and that beer is much, much more expensive....

    2 · May 11

    • Rainer M

      I have imagined forms of life that are farther away from life forms present/known on earth. I can imagine that, if we visit other planets, might encounter life and we will not recognize it because it is too foreign and too different to our interpretation of "life". The alien-ness grows even more prominent
      if we imagine life in environments that is absolute incompatible to any of the life we are familiar with. Here i'm thinking -among other conditions- about temperature ranges that we cannot tolerate.

      May 12

    • Rainer M

      Plasma was just a randomly chosen range. I played with the idea that the suns might be living objects.

      May 12

  • David Z.

    Informative.

    1 · May 12

  • Rainer M

    Chaos vs deyerminism was a lively, interesting, educational, and thought provoking meeting.
    Craig did a good job as the appointed conductor.
    He ruled supremely like a benign dictator with an iron fist inside the velvet glove.
    Seeing the nuclear glitter in his kind eyes, the assembled thinking beings submitted to decent civilized patterns of conduct.
    It came as no surprise that twelve beings offered 31 and a half different interpretations of the term chaos.
    I loved it because it gave me the opportunity to slip in tidbits from some of my pet interests without getting admonished for exposing obsessive compulsive disorderly behavior during a meeting of normal minds.

    1 · May 12

    • Susan H.

      Normal? Where? she said, looking over her shoulder.

      1 · May 12

  • Susan H.

    Somewhat chaotic, but we were determined to have a good time. (cringe.. sorry...)

    2 · May 11

    • Craig D.

      MAYbe, but I'm not holding my breath!

      May 11

    • Rainer M

      Susan, please, do not rely too much on the steady increase of the dosage.
      I have found that after the third successful lobotomy, things got noticeably better.

      1 · May 11

  • Craig D.

    I was digging around some blogs and found some interesting quotes about the subject of free-will.

    “Not having true free-will doesn't mean we don't percept free will locally. We do think we have it because we don't have enough information to predict our own actions. It works the same as pseudo-random numbers. They may look completely random for a human being, but they are completely pre-determined.”

    “Quantum mechanics and its randomness represent a different view on the (microscopic) world, and it does look unnatural to a mind that is shaped by the behavior of the (macroscopic) world. When I studied physics, it took me years to get some intuitive understanding of the quantum mechanical world, because it contradicted my intuitive understanding of the world of classical physics in so many ways.”

    Here are websites of interest: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chaos/ and http://philosophy.stackexchange.com

    May 11

    • Rainer M

      In the universe with the three variables (or: three degrees of freedom), we can easily perceive the order and mechanics; we have no trouble to recognize the pattern at work and how they affect us as we are merely small particles in the greater movement. We can see how we are governed. That's the macro level.

      On the micro level, however, we are facing a confusing multitude of variables (freedoms), and, thus, the overall governing forces are not visible or only visible with great difficulty. The perceived absence (or near absence) of overall governing force makes us feel that nearly every decision/act is based on our very personal choice.

      May 11

    • Rainer M

      The Stanford article you have linked gets into some very fascinating, interesting detail.
      To our meeting, I had brought along a few books which two people actually looked at. Some of the topics detailed in the Stanford article are also part of the books.

      1 · May 11

  • Al

    Well can't we rule out absolute chaos just by the fact that we can make predictions that are extremely reliable? i.e I predict that when i arrive at my next appointment my watch will read at least 10 minutes after the time I was supposed to arrive.

    1 · May 4

    • Rainer M

      And when it comes to our minds and to the self awareness we are so proud of: Our self awareness resides in the brain, and it is the result of processes dictated by the laws of physics, by chemistry, by electricity. We are part of an immensely complex machine. The "Butterfly Effect" toys with an idea that small actions may be the trigger/catalyst for bigger actions; Eric voiced it during our meeting.
      If we had the facilities to trace trillions of causes and effects reliably over a long enough time, we may be able to confirm or to dismiss the idea.

      May 11

    • Rainer M

      Since I cannot correct grammar and spelling mistakes in this blog once I have pressed the "enter" button, I may sound like an old Asian man.
      I apologize for my inadequacies. I'm sure, I du much worse during our discussions.

      1 · May 11

  • Al

    I had some trouble hearing from the far end of the table. Otherwise it was thought provoking enough for me to be less sure of the stance I went in with. So I learned something, even though the jury is still out of my mind.

    3 · May 10

    • Anna S.

      It was so nice to meet you today, Al! You're my new favorite person. :) I wish we could have spoken longer. I hope to see you next Saturday.

      1 · May 10

    • Craig D.

      "... even though the jury is still out of my mind." Good one! I'm going to plagiarize that.

      May 11

  • Rainer M

    In our decisions and actions, I think, we are influenced by the physical and social environments and by the biological state of body and mind. The mind I don't perceive as being a separate entity from the body. Hence, there seems to be some determinism present.

    May 10

  • Rainer M

    The view I totally reject as absurd and ill-conceived is the one peddled since thousands of years: some omnipotent and omniscient diety hiding somewhere, plotting even the minute events of the universe.

    May 10

  • Rainer M

    2
    We used to (and, to a degree, still do) predict weather/climate by using three variables: a groundhog, a shadow, and an expert.
    The prediction derived was and is about as accurate as flipping a coin or plainly just guessing.

    Our monitoring system and our algorithms were sophisticated enough in the early 1990s to use a million variables in order to make weather predictions.

    Today, we have more monitors, more expert people, and better simulation technologies; we can take hundreds of millions of variables into account and still derive with useful answers within an acceptable amount of time.. The deterministic view seems more applicable on the macro and super-macro level than on the micro level because of the perceived difference in complexity.

    1 · May 10

  • Rainer M

    !
    Certain conditions and situations appear to be chaotic because of their complexity. As soon as the number of factors and uncertainties becomes too large to be comprehended by a single human brain, no pattern can be detected and chaos seems to reign.
    The more detailed comprehension is expected/required, the more complexity on the micro level arises.
    To make a fairly accurate prediction about a situation with millions of factors to be taken into consideration, the task may become too complicated for a single brain and, thus, chaos is perceived.

    May 10

  • Brandon N.

    Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this one. I wanted to let you guys know that I already chose a topic for the follow Saturday, May 17th and it is "Personality Types", which is a topic I'm quite interested in and I know other members have expressed interest in as well

    May 8

9 went

Our Sponsors

Create a Meetup Group and meet new people

Get started Learn more
Allison

Meetup has allowed me to meet people I wouldn't have met naturally - they're totally different than me.

Allison, started Women's Adventure Travel

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy