Comprehending Chaos – Assessment of structure and Coherency Paper
The concept of chaos is certainly not a subject for a writer to convey with simple clarity, but Margaret Wheatley has done an outstanding job in describing the notion as it relates to both scientific and societal views. There are, however, several instances where many may find it difficult to understand where her words specifically match her meaning.
The first instance I found was when she was discussing the fields of study where the concept of positive chaos is found.
Wheatley mentions the ancient Greeks, modern science, and Joseph Smith’s civil governing principles as “places” where the principle of chaos is introduced as a positive notion. Wheatley’s meaning is that chaos is positive in these “fields of study” or “areas of knowledge”, rather than the popular interpretation of chaos, which is traditionally negative. However, these areas of study are not physical locations, which many people consider as the only definition of the word “place.” Although there are further definitions, such as “any location (of matter, knowledge, or whatever)” not just physical ones, and besides the fact that I personally did not have any trouble seeing the meaning, it is apparent many readers may find “place” too ambiguous. Thus, I believe Wheatley should have used more specific wording in this case.
Furthermore, Wheatley’s words concerning the alignment of chaos, i.e. good or evil, light or dark, were variant. Her meaning was connected to the above mentioned notion where, although chaos is popularly held as “evil” or “dark,” there were certain groups or “places” that held a positive view of chaos. She wanted to show the contrast – although chaos is supposed to be this negative, undesirable darkness, there are beneficial and very natural aspects concerning it. However, I quote a phrase: “the dark heart of chaos.” Throughout the introduction of the essay, we are reading about the necessity and positivism of the concept of chaos, and then comes this line and others like it. What are we to believe? Is Margaret Wheatley a hypocrite? What is she trying to convey with her words?
In truth, Wheatley is showing that, like Gaia, we can pull order and light out of the chaotic void. Thus, the concept of chaos is dark and turbulent and foreboding, but also necessary and positive, as it gives us our order. The mistake many make while reading this essay is to equate light and order with positivism. This is not the case – darkness may be classically evil and undesirable, but the chaotic void is definitely necessary and positive.
Towards the end of the article, Wheatley begins a descent into a deeper, almost religious meaning of chaos. She introduces the “meaning attractor,” which is less of a striking description of “how” and more of an omniscient view of “why.” Through the meaning attractor, Wheatley turns us around in retrospect and shows us how our chaotic wanderings are perhaps not so comprised of “chance” after all. What seemed a mass fusion of chaos and risk now seems inextricably linked by a common attractor of meaning. This is where I hooked in; this is where I saw beyond an interest-grabbing trivial article about current scientific pursuits and viewed a grand purpose, an eternally consequential narrative which tied the early pursuit of comprehending chaos and the later search of understanding the purpose and grand order of our existence with great clarity and remarkably coherent language.