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Butterfly in Church-Land

October 17, 2008


If nothing else, I think I have interesting Titles for my posts.  The content is a little light, perhaps…


So, this weeks subjects are chaos and complexity, in the good old “Cult of Connectivism Kourse“, CCK08.

I am finding the readings this week to be quite interesting, and I think I am making some headway. I have been posting in the moodle forum but haven’t received much feedback there so I thought I would retreat to my blog to continue this discussion with myself. I am feeling like I have become a pariah in this course, both as a result of my own efforts and through the discrediting of my views by Stephen.  I am not necessarily overly saddened by this, and will keep on blogging or foruming away, subject to the constraints on my time. Here goes:

As I understand this chaos/complexity theory issue (they seem almost synonymous, see wikipedia) the basic concept is related to a butterfly causing a hurricane. Tempest in a teapot, anyone?

Complexity has been dichotomized into two components by Weaver:  Disorganized and Organized Complexity. Both are characterized as systems.

DC is a system of many parts (millions) randomly organized and understood through probability and statistical methods

OC is a system that is non-random, with emergent properties, and understood through modelling and simulation

***NEWS FLASH***  This just in:  George comments that “ what something means is a function of how it is connected….again we find ourselves reducing the interactions or the experience of knowledge itself to a function of connectedness…”  (3:40 mark).

On that note, let us look at a definition of reductionism. 

Reductionism can either mean (a) an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or (b) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.  

Question:  Has George used reductionism to explain knowledge?

Stephen proposes eliminative materialism (EM) as the way in which to understand the emergence of connectionism.  Stephen’s view of this is that EM is non-reductionist, that is, it is eliminativist.  Instead of reducing connectivism to its parts, EM asserts the emergent property is greater than the sum of its parts, after eliminating the previous reductionistic theory (See Churchland).

Question:  Is Stephen’s view different from George’s?

To illustrate my findings thus far, here they are in chart form:

    George                              Stephen








The ramifications of these diverse views on connectivism are yet to be explored, but I have a question:

Are Stephen and George talking about the same thing when they use the term ‘Connectivism’? 


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