By Walter Buckley

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I f , o n t h e o n e h a n d , m a t t e r was essentially b r u t e , m e c h a n i c a l a n d i n s e n s i b l e , t h e consequences w e r e clear: n o assemblage c o n s t r u c t e d solely o u t o f m a t t e r c o u l d be a n y t h i n g b u t b r u t e , m e c h a n i c a l a n d insensible—as Descartes h a d d e c l a r e d a n i m a l s t o be. I f t h a t w e r e so, t h e v e r y i d e a o f a conscious machine m u s t be a c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n t e r m s : n o t h i n g c o m p o s e d o f m a t t e r a l o n e w o u l d be c a p a b l e o f t h i n k i n g o r f e e l i n g , a n d m e n t a l capacities ( p e r h a p s v i t a l p r o p e r t i e s also) m u s t s p r i n g f r o m some d i s t a n t , n o n - m a t e r i a l i n g r e d i e n t .

Ross Ashby, the centuries-old strategy of varying one factor is now of use only when the system is fairly simple; when it becomes complex we can only appeal to a special strategy that has been developing perhaps since the work of R. A. Fisher in the 1920's and leads up to current information theory and cybernetics. T h e way not to approach a complex system, Ashby says, . . is b y analysis, f o r this process gives us o n l y a vast n u m b e r o f separate p a r t s o r items o f i n f o r m a t i o n , t h e results o f whose i n t e r a c t i o n s n o o n e c a n p r e d i c t .

I n o t h e r w o r d s , i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e is order i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p a m o n g t h e c o m p o n e n t s w h i c h e n t e r i n t o a s y s t e m . 3 4 Under this definition, we should note, "order" in society can embrace not only legitimized institutional patterns and processes, but also deviance, subcultural alternatives, persistent conflict, systemically structured collective behavior, and the like—as long as they can be seeVi to be functions of the "determinate relations among the parts" of the system rather than random incidents.

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