Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Spontaneous Orders Are Like Good Poetry

Walter Weimer, in his essay "Spontaneously Ordered Complex Phenomena and the Unity of the Moral Sciences," from Centripetal Forces in the Sciences (Gerard Radnitzky, ed.), argues that

The evolution of all spontaneous orders is an essential tension between three sets of principles that regulate change. The first principal is one of creativity or productivity. Such systems exhibit fundamental novelty, change (at the level of particulars) that cannot be predicted in advance. The second principle is that of rhythm, and the progressive differentiation of rhythm. Evolutionary differentiation is rate dependent instead of rate independent. The third principle is that development tends toward opposites, or the principle of regulation by opponent processes. The interaction of these three principles creates an essential tension, a context of constraint, between the previous form of organization, the ongoing state, and future states that may occur. (258)
Great poetry is creative (stems from creativity, and results in more creativity in the new poetry created through its influence), rhythmic (rhythm makes a poem, not line breaks; there is much prose out there with line breaks), and demonstrates counterpoint.

Paul Cantor makes a good case for understanding novels as participating in spontaneous order creation. Weimer's definition of spontaneous orders opens up poetry for the same kind of inclusion.

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