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What is your take on random vs deterministic reality

  1. Determinism is subset/emergent of purely random reality.

    0 vote(s)
  2. Randomness is subset/emergent of purelly deterministic reality.

    2 vote(s)
  1. Oct 4, 2006 #1
    Do you think that 'deterministic' properties we observe in universe are subset/emergent from 'random/chaotic' reality or that 'random/chaotic' behavior is a subset of purely 'deterministic' reality?
    What is the strongest proof you would present to support what you belief?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2006 #2
    Those are odd choices because determinism can't co-exist with chaos/randomness.

    At least how I see it, unless you have something to add.
  4. Oct 4, 2006 #3
    How can we say this? Do we observe and study chaos? Yes. So according to your answer the reality is chaotic completelly. Yet, you defend determinism on other threads.

    We observe order, and causes in universe (gravity) as well as chaotic behavior such as dynamics in atm. So my question is, is completelly deterministic system able to produce at some scales completelly chaotic behavior or is it that completely chaotic universe is able to produce on some scale uniform, ordrly, deterministic behavior?

    If you insist that those 2 cannot coexist, support your claim somehow.
  5. Oct 4, 2006 #4
    Determinism on the fundamental level is universal, it is ever existing and eternal, you cannot have randomness in a fundamentally deterministic system.
    It only makes sense that if the universe is deterministic, then all emergent systems built on this deterministic system are also deterministic.

    Here's an excerpt from wikipedia:

    I'm not a chaos theory expert, but it seems that chaos is also deterministic and not random.
    To me it seems a matter of emergence.
  6. Oct 4, 2006 #5
    dear octelcogopod,

    You are assuming the above. Show that being correct view.

    Its never-repeating, sensitive to initial conditions. Even if god send me down the exact equations of fluid dynamics with all the terms we usually omit for simpifications or we dont know yet we are bound not to predict weather 100% accurate. This is because we can never have perfect initial conditions. This goes back to the fact we will never know initial condition at the begining of the universe. There is emergence of chaos/randomnes. Random is different from arbitrary, because to say that a variable is random means that the variable follows a probability distribution.

    There are many other examples of randomness which appears in the nature. Mathematical sequences that are random proved to be usefull in explaining nature. Random decay of particles. Irrational numbers proved to be significant in physical science. Our statistical treatment of systems which are too complex reveals our bias toward 'determinism'. But i give these only as few examples to chaos/randomness. I wish as not to dwell on it on this thread, as long as you are willing to accept there are chaotic/random patterns in some systems in this universe.

    I would like to further point out that our perception of universe is already stripped down to great abstractions. We do not perceive individual atoms, or force field between them in the totality of our perception of universe. WE do not resolve the finest scales at which this "fundamental" chaotic nature might work. (im just proposing for sake of argument)

    And if we talk of determinism, we have to realise we just talk math. Because we can describe our perceptions in terms of mathematical equations, we observe order/determinism. But math is just a model. (unlees one adopts platonic view, but that not relevant here). If i ask you to present the strongest proof for determinism you have to talk math. (be it indirectly or directly). But here we would get to another completely different question.

    Do not be bothered by my post, i do not claim that universe is random. I just claim that i can observe (and study for living) (not exclusively) chaotic behaviors in physical systems.

    But my question remains, is it possible that universe is all random (hypothesis) where apparent deterministic behavior emerges from it, or vice versa. What is your take on it? If you claim that no chaos is possible, which might be true outside my knowledge, present you theory that would explain the apparent chaotic behavior. (And if that the case you anwered my question, so we all win :smile: )

    [i did not present my take on it yet, so do not let me make you feel like im protecting either of the belief, but still want to stress they are both beliefs because we do not have the answers yet]
  7. Oct 4, 2006 #6
    OK, I believe that randomness/chaos is a perspective, not an absolute truth.
    Something, even anything, can look chaotic when viewed by someone not in the know.

    It doesn't matter if you have 2 particles or 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 of them in the universe, if they are deterministic, then ALL of the universe is.

    I believe your question is a matter of perspective too.
    If you want to define chaos as something that has no precursor event, and that there truly is no explanation for why that event happened, then I say it is unsolvable by us.
    If you are saying that something is chaotic because we lack the knowledge to see every little detail to form a complete picture, then I say it can be BOTH of your options in your question.

    All these forms, sounds, visual experiences, they exist only in our minds exist only as concepts we make in our heads..
    Usually similiar animals inside the universe will form the same opinions for objects, but others might not.
    The object itself may have unlimited potential, depending on the viewpoint one looks at it from.

    Does that give a satisfactory opinion from me?
  8. Oct 4, 2006 #7
    yes and no. More particles might reveal behavior what 2 can not. 10^10000 particles can reveal another property of system. Ex, its only through convergence of expression as some parameter goes to infinity we are able to solve some of the equations of quantum, EM and other mathematical tools we use to symbolize our perceptions. Stability of solutions etc, but thats really not important here, i know you get my point.

    Here you point that we might just be bound to our perception capabilities. Maybe where we see 2particles some other observers might see 10^1000 particles. Im just making a point, i dont know what that means.

    Absolutelly, like many on similar matters.

    Note that chaos is not defined (universaly) and in strict mathematical language, we cannot even describe chaos as we naturally understand it.

    i think we do and will, as far as my imagination can take me into future, lack complete description of all details. Practically i dont think it matters if universe is deterministic fundamentaly or random but its interesting philosophical question.

    sorry to keep you so long on what appears purely belief question. :wink:

    Quote that would signify importance of resolving it in future from einstein:
    "Theory determines what we observe".

    THis is excellent book to introduce you to different line of thinking:
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  9. Oct 4, 2006 #8
    Depends what you mean by deterministic, if you mean that you can't choose then random is deterministic however if you mean that everything is set in motion then there can easily be 2 extremes.
  10. Oct 5, 2006 #9
    Would you expect to build a house of cards by throwing them over your shoulder?
  11. Oct 5, 2006 #10
    why would you not? (isnt this the argument of multiple-universes?). Given enought time, yes. Describe a physical law that prohibits it.

    Just like they generated shakespear works from random word generator.
  12. Oct 5, 2006 #11
    I think that there is no question that cause and effect is a very large part of our universe. However, so is randomness and chaos. Therefore, the Universe is neither deterministic nor chaotic but both.

    If, for the moment, we accept that the Universe was created by intelligent design, then it makes sense that cause and effect plays such a large part so that the system would run and continue to run in an orderly manner; and, yet randomness permits the system to run in an indeterminate manner so that the system could change and evolve in an unpredictable way.

    Why would the designer/creator build a precise clock that never deviates from its preset condition and the entire operation is predetermined throughout its entire life span? How long would and intelligent entity watch a perfect clock run?

    Now, assume that there is no designer/creator and it is all happenstance, even one of an infinite number of universes. Why does this completely rule out randomness and chance when the entire shebang is a random event in the first place?

    I just cannot see how or why Determinism can be such an attractive philosophy when it has so many weaknesses and obvious flaws. Randomness and chance are such a large part of our lives that it cannot be ruled out, done away with or ignored so easily.

    Determinism may be theoretically possible in Classical physics; but, in the light of Relativity and Quantum Dynamics it just does not hold.

    Is it just we humans crying out for order and predictability in a chaotic world, or is it a liberal, left wing plot taught in universities to absolve themselves of personal responsibility and accountability and keep their tenure?
  13. Oct 5, 2006 #12
    Chaos is random from non-randomness. Chaos as we know it is generated from purelly deterministic variables.

    So my question does not give the false choice of universe being either or. My question is, since we observe both chaos and determinism, which one is subset of the other? (if it possible at all to have it like this)

    Chaos can be said to be new kind of order. There are certain universal laws that govern transition from regular to chaotic behavior.

    Concernig your designer theory, maybe a random event cause begining or universe which is producing in certain physical states the deterministic behavior (maybe its only issue of scale, or angle which we are looking at it) we observe.

    Or, maybe a completely deterministic even cause begining of universe (will of creator, some other physical law, etc), which due to its composition (non-linarity and interconnectedness/coupling) is producing the chaos and apparent randomness we observe.

    I am interested which one is your take and why?
  14. Oct 5, 2006 #13
    sneez, I don't think either is a subset of, nor emergent property of the other. I think that they are separate, individual intrinsic properties of the system.
    Yes, Chaos may have a completely deterministic cause but it is random in it's effect.
    Since the the exact position and velocity of every particle in the universe, system, is unknowable,
    indeterminate and in some cases random chaos exists from the Planck scale to the macro and universal scale.
  15. Oct 5, 2006 #14
    Do you propose there is no interaction between them. And how is the influence between them. By what mechanism can 2 opposites coexists intrinsically? If one even is chaotic can it revert back and forth to deterministic? What does that do to your philosophy?

    So you dont think we have wrong model to represent reality, you think reality is indeed modular?

    DO you think the chaos on one scale does not influence the other scale?
    Does each chaotic behavior has each own scale?

    I do not think i understand your intrinsic properties. How many intrinsic properties there are you think. Your thinking implies that determinism and chaos are opposites, which they are not.

    can you elaborate?
  16. Oct 5, 2006 #15
    First, I don't think that there is such a thing as determinism. There is cause and effect, but I don't think that that makes the universe hard or soft deterministic.

    There are also random events that may or not be caused that happen to have random effects or occur at random times. Even in principle there are things and parameters that are unknown and unknowable.

    They are not opposites. they are different types of events and I see not conflict or contradiction. A random event can cause an effect. A cause can have a random effect.

    Determinism only holds up, even in principle, using Classical, Newtonian, Physics. It fails in both fact and principle using modern physics, i.e. Relativity and Quantum theory

    Huh? I don't understand what your asking.

    No, I think that the micro scale effects the macro and the reverse. Scales exist only as a convenient way of thinking about them and working with them. There are no scales there is only a continuum.

    Okay, forget the word intrinsic. I used it only to mean an inherent and inseparable property of the universe.
    I think, in this case that determinism is a way of saying cause and effect and chaos is another word for random, unknowable and unpredictable.
  17. Oct 5, 2006 #16
    What you say is against my knowledge i have of chaos and determinism. If we proceed on other than pure belief, you need to give me clues how you derive what you saying. Do you have any evidence that would support what you are saying, or is that your personal belief?
  18. Oct 5, 2006 #17
    I don't even know how to respond to this in truth..
    Unknowable things != not deterministic.
    We are talking about a concept where at the most fundamental level, there is something that is truly random, where it has no logical, physical or deterministic cause.. It just happens completely out of nowhere.
    This is what the opposite of determinism is.

    That makes absolutely no sense, at least to me.
    They ARE opposite by every definition. A deterministic event is driven by cause and effect, and indeterministic event is not ran by anything, it just happens. It is completely against logic.

    At least for me I always thought chaos in the popular way of using it was something which had no logic.
    Thus you cannot use math to calculate it, you can't study it, you can't even observe it. One day light exists, the other day it doesn't.
    I mean if the universe is as you say, why is everything 'written in stone?'
    Why don't things change?
  19. Oct 5, 2006 #18


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    I was going to say that those were odd choices because they can co-exist without one being the 'subset' of the other.
  20. Oct 5, 2006 #19
    Can you explain exactly how they can do that?

    Imagine a universe consisting of random events.
    The moment something random happens, it turns into a deterministic event as it happens, as it manifests itself. This is because if the event wants to last more than 0 in any kind of time measurment, it must have some kind of physical property that manifests itself, and as it manifests it becomes deterministic, because it is physical.
    But that assumes that there is some sort of system guiding how this deterministic event happens.
    If there are truly no deterministic events AT ALL, then it is indeed just chaos.. There would be no rules, no systems, nothing, I can't even imagine how that would be.

    My point is that there are no inbetweens. You can't have random events in a deterministic universe, UNLESS something from the "outside" is suddenly forced into timespace as we know it.
    But hopefully we are talking about something more fundamental than just timespace, in which case that external event would also be "run" by some kind of system too.

    My bottom line is that I don't see any way that random events can even happen, on the most fundamental scale.
  21. Oct 5, 2006 #20
    There is inbetween. Threre are chaotic events. There is randomness in nature. (At least as far as we know by evidence). If you really want to know what you arguing against, see the book i recomended to you.

    Chaotic events exhibit sensitive dependence on Initial Conditions.
    - The trajectory never repeats.
    -They are nonlinear.
    - The transition to chaos is preceded by infinite levels of bifurcation.
    - The infinite bifurcations preceding the transition to chaos are characterised by the Feigenbaum number.
    - Fractional dimensionality.
    - A Lyapunov plot of the distance between trajectories versus time will exhibit a straight line.
    - The initial points of the first return map always lie above a line making an angle of 45 degrees with the

    Purelly mechanistic non-linear dynamics are example of deterministic chaos (3 body gravitational problem). [if in theory you can start the system with the same exact initial conditions the system will be always behave the same.

    On the other hand on quantum level we are talking non-deterministic chaos. No matter if you have the same god given same conditions, the non-linear dynamic system will not repeat itself. If god started this universe with some conditions, he is surelly not able to do it again in theory of our present understanding of chaos on quantum level.

    2 chaotic systems can be in synchrony without being periodic.

    -In determinism current state determines the future state uniquely!
    -In chaos every point is point of instability
    -Chaotic system cannot be taken appart. They must be analyzed as whole.
    -In chaos whole is not sum of the parts.

    Spontaneous order can arrise from coupled 'disorder'. It seem nature has great ability to cooperate/self-synchronize. Your brain, ecology, life, human psychology, immune response and others are daily examples of the above.

    SO if you could elaborate what do you mean "I don't see any way that random events can even happen"?
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