The Certainty of NonRandomness
The most basic observation about the world is that the world is not random. Despite their infinite complexity – phenomena are not chaotic.
In the physical domain, relationships between objects reveal principles operating at the background of objects interactions. Principles can express either strict laws, or just mere correlations between various quantities in other phenomena.
In the mental field, relationships manifest tendencies, intentions, motivations - all expressing a certain direction. Although mental phenomena do not follow strict laws - as is the case in the physical domain - nevertheless the occurrence of mental events display patterns, which can be even predictable on individual or social levels. Some philosophers question causality, but they cannot deny the existence of patterns in all phenomena they observe - as being 'NonRandom'.
The two certainties of Change and Connectedness necessitate NonRandomness. On one hand, all objects are composites of diverse elements (which change in time). On the other hand these elements are connected through principles or relationships with the environment. If not for the existence of principles to bind the dynamism of change in a set of possible realistic patterns, then there would have been no consistent phenomena to distinguish or observe in the first place.
NonRandomness of the Physical Aspect of Phenomena
NonRandomness is revealed in various expressions. Deterministic laws (such as gravity, electromagnetism, etc.) express predictable interactions. Another expression of NonRandomness is correlation or relationships which are not causation-based (for example correlation between mental stress and physical health). Complex phenomena, which variables are highly sensitive to initial conditions (weather systems,
oscillating chemical reactions, etc.) - also manifest general patterns.
The gist of any pattern is that of NonRandomness.
The most famliar patters are spatial arrangement of elements,
as can be observed in plants and flowers.
In the temporal domain, a pattern can describe a particular sequence of events
(or behaviour) taking place in consecutive phases.
The laws of nature express systematic and consistent patterns,
expressing the flow of causes and effects.
Another bond of patterns is less deterministic, and expresses mere correlating (of increse or decrease of quantities) - which express the pattern's quantitative relationships.
Unpredictability of the outcome of some phenomena means that our knowledge does not encompass the dynamism of changes of all involved factors. For example: it is possible to precisely predict the direction of movement of two or three colliding billiard balls, but when the number of colliding particles amounts to millions, our predictability of what direction a certain particle would follow - is not calculable, and hence the movement is called 'random'. However, even in such 'random movement' (as is the case in colliding gas molecules), a strictly defined pattern emerges on the macro scale. The result of the incalculable or random movements of all molecules is a consistent relationship between the volume occupied by these molecules, and overall temperature and pressure they induce - on the macro scale.
The Patterns of Chaos:
NonRandomness is not synonymous with determinism. In many cases, using deterministic equations to examine a complex phenomenon results in unpredictable outcome, and this unpredictability is called Chaos. However, the unpredictable outcome is not random, but follows patterns. It is ironic that Chaos Theory describes NonRandomness in form of patterns:
"While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity,
electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively
impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states,
and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite
complexity of nature.
Many natural objects exhibit fractal properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc,
and many of the systems in which we live exhibit complex, chaotic behavior." (1)
The words "chaotic behavior" describe our inability to predict the future states of complex systems. An example of studying such systems was Edward Lorenz examination in 1960 of the dramatic effect of small diviations in the values of weather factors (temperature, humidity, etc…) on the outcome of future weather patterns:
"Lorenz had assumed that the difference [in values], only one part in a thousand, would be inconsequential.
However, due to the recursive nature of the equations, little errors would first cause tiny errors,
which would then affect the resulting next calculation a bit more, which would affect the output of
the next run even more. The final result of a long string of recursive calculations would lead to
a weather pattern totally different from the expected values". (2)
This nonlinear character of processes, where small diviations can sharply switch the weather system - is in itself a pattern of processes which outcome is a set of many potentials.
NonRandomness of the Mental Aspect of Phenomena
Mental phenomena do not follow deterministic laws, because the outcome of mental phenomena depends on personal tendencies and motivations - and which vary over time. Intentionality of one's consciousness, and hidden motivations in our subconsciousness - always has a direction, and having direction expresses NonRandomness. In Western philosophy, a distinction is offered between living beings and inanimate matter through the criterion of “intentionality”:
“Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things,
properties and states of affairs….
The word itself, was rehabilitated by the philosopher Franz Brentano
towards the end of the nineteenth century.
'Intentionality' is a philosopher's word. It derives from the Latin word
intentio, which in turn derives from the verb intendere,
which means being directed towards some goal or thing”. (3)
Apparently, “goals”, “directions towards” and “intentions” - characterizing the mental aspect - reveal the essence the way life expresses itself in diverse and distinguished patterns. Studies in psychology investigate various levels or patterns associated with mindsets, such as anger, depression, inspiration, happiness, etc….This is a common observation to Eastern philosophy, which classifies the wide spectrum of the state of mind into ten fields or “ten inner worlds” (ranging from the lowest life state of depression and self-destruction, to the highest state of enlightenment and creativity). One's behaviour is neither fully fixed nor it is random.
1. What is Chaos Theory? http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/
2. Chaos and Fractals http://www.math.cornell.edu/~lipa/mec/lesson1.html
3. Intentionality, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intentionality/