In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action
Prepare to have your mind stretched the way a sack containing cats on methamphetamines would be stretched; in a word, chaotically. Beginning with just a furry tickle, Mr. Samuels puts claws through our perceptions and expectations.
Without delving into the absolute minutiae of the mathematics of chaos theory, for which I am very grateful, he explores and firmly establishes the indeterminacies of reality. Anomalies have become rife in the observational and social sciences as our measurement capabilities and accumulated data have grown. Additionally, Pythagorean physics first wobbled with the establishment of Einstein’s relativity and our slide into uncertainty took a push from Heisenberg’s and Schrodinger’s gleeful revelations regarding uncertainty and indeterminacy.-Schrodinger’s cat being one of that drugged satchel of felines. Descent into the muddy waters of chaos has accelerated with mathematical explorations in quantum physics and discoveries of variability. It has even penetrated popular thinking, albeit sneakily and quietly. Everyone knows what the Butterfly Effect is, for example.
The tendency of complex systems: physical, chemical, biological, economic, social, toward dynamic interaction leading to more efficient organization and adaptability in seeming contradiction of the “law” of entropy, has lent itself to the science of chaology.
And having disestablished the certainties of absolute order and of control, Mr. Samuels turns firmly to human interactions, social, political, and economic. Herein lays the core of this work. Dynamics suffer under restraints, whether of interaction or of inputs, energetic or informational. Therefore centrally controlled economies fail, and partially-controlled economies fail only more slowly. Humans benefit from freedom; stable expectations follow the self-interest of free market actors, and interference for the sake of choosing who will succeed leads to the failure or inefficiency of all. The Libertarian bent of Samuels’ conclusions is clear and satisfying.
I cannot over-praise the scholastic depth and breadth of In Defense of Chaos. Every one of fourteen chapters is immediately followed by a source bibliography. Sources range eclectically from press commentary to in-depth analyses in every imaginable field of thought; Mr. Samuels’ erudition is awe inspiring and daunting.
Having said that, the man’s simplicity of expression, his evocation of well-known similes, and popular examples keep In Defense of Chaos fresh and readable throughout.
I am fronted now with a real limitation as to what I can evoke as a reviewer. Informational density and refreshing insights are so common here that I cannot touch on even a significant percentage of them. This wonderful striving will go on my “Distinguished and Significant” shelf.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.
|Page Count||411 pages|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|
|Category||Science & Nature|