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Meditations

The Nature of Chaos
By Martin LeFevre
Sep 19, 2018, 4:46pm

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We live in chaotic times, almost by design it seems. Chaos is one of those words that seem clear but few can define coherently. Is there actually chaos in nature? And does the present chaos of man hold a deeper potential?

Take this recent headline in the Washington Post: "Trump's foreign policy has devolved into chaos." Rational people would all agree. Even his cult followers in the citizenry and Congress would tend to agree---with the caveat that there's a method behind Trump's madness, and his chaotic presidency is giving Republicans 'wins' on policies they've long wanted to inflict on the nation.

So is there a method behind the madness of the Trump Distraction? Not where Trump and his troglodytes are concerned certainly. They don't know what the hell they're doing. But in a deeper, 'metaphysical' way, perhaps.

Let's begin at the beginning. Scientists often say, "The universe began in chaos and evolved toward increasing order." That's taken as a given, but it isn't true, and it has tremendous implications for our worldview.

Order cannot evolve out of chaos. There was simply a different kind of order in the early universe, out of which new orders and complexity evolved.

So the universe began with order and will end (however it ends) in order. Only humans generate chaos in any meaningful sense of the word.

To what then does 'cosmic chaos' and 'chaos theory' refer? An excellent example is the formation of the earth/moon system. When the earth was coalescing, there was no leftover material that formed our disproportionately large moon, as scientists once thought.

For years they couldn't figure out how the moon came to be. Then, in the 1960's, a scientist put forth a theory involving a Mars-sized planet called 'Thea' striking the earth at precisely the right angle, throwing off a massive amount of orbiting material, which coalesced, in an astronomical blink of an eye, into our moon.

When the moon rocks were brought back from the Apollo missions, this theory was confirmed. They discovered that the moon has the same composition as rocks on the earth (Thea must have been completely obliterated). So was this collision an example of chaos evolving into order, or order generating a new form of order?

Obviously it was the latter. And just as clearly, 'chaos theory,' as it applies to nature, is a misnomer. It should be called 'evolving order theory.'

Given that only humans generate chaos, then what is chaos, and does it have any meaning or possibility beyond the increasing disorder of the present world?

We can define chaos as runaway contradiction and a complete lack of rationality on the cognitive level, and utter disharmony and instability on the emotional level. As Bob Woodward's latest book attests, America's 'chaos president' embodies both.

If we don't focus on this one small man however, larger patterns emerge. We can see that a bad national trait and a rotten national philosophy gave rise to Trump. The national trait is having things both ways. America's foreign policy has operated on that 'principle' for decades, since the end of World War II.

Philosophically, the inane idea that we 'create our own reality' has seeped into and saturated the national consciousness over the last 40 years. If you put the two together, Donald Trump is not an anomaly, with his so-called war on truth, but a natural outcome of social predispositions and cultural trends.

Clearly, extremely self-centered people, who believe 'all truth is relative,' and 'we create our own reality,' see no problem with having things both ways. I can say one thing one hour and the opposite the next, because I'm entitled to choose what's real and what isn't at any moment according to my whims and circumstances. Hence we get a president that someone in his own White House calls, "a fucking liar."

Extremely self-centered people inevitably generate chaos and disorder because they don't believe they are lying, just reflecting the changing, relative nature of things, and doing what everyone does to some degree.

Is there a potential for creating something new beyond this assault on the notion of truth and order beyond the whims of men and women? Is Trump pushing decent people toward the ongoing discovery of the truth, which is far beyond journalistic accuracy? That depends on whether we use the chaos to question 'first principles' and ignite insight, or just give up and go with the fecal flow.

There is no fixed truth. Genuine insight is pre-verbal and pre-conceptual, always of the moment and true. Whether there is truth beyond the fleeing actuality of insight is another question.

******

Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. lefevremartin77@gmail.com


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