Zoroastrism: key points – BBC – Summary

 

Zoroaster: born in afghanistan 1200 bc in polytheistic environment 98

The Vision of Zoroaster : rejection of polytheism and class structure. 98

The Bare Essentials of Zoroastrianism
.. 98

Zoroaster: born in Afghanistan 1200 BC in polytheistic environment

  1. Zoroaster was born in Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan in approximately 1200 BCE. He was born into a Bronze Age culture with a polytheistic religion (the worship of many gods), which included animal sacrifice, and the ritual use of intoxicants. This religion was quite similar to the early forms of Hinduism of the Indus Valley.
  2. The precise date of the founding of Zoroastrianism is uncertain. An approximate date of 1200 BCE has been established through archaeological evidence and linguistic comparisons with the Hindu text, the Rig Veda.
  3. The name Zoroaster is a Greek rendering of the name Zarathustra. He is known as Zarathusti in Persian and Zaratosht in Gujarati.

The Vision of Zoroaster : rejection of polytheism and class structure

  1. Zoroaster’s birth and early life are little documented. What is known is recorded in the Gathas – the core of the Avesta, which contains hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself. Born into the Spitama clan, he worked as a priest. He was a family man, with a wife, three sons and three daughters.
  2. Zoroaster rejected the religion of the Bronze Age Iranians with their many gods and oppressive class structure, in which the Karvis and Karapans (princes and priests) controlled the ordinary people. He also opposed animal sacrifices and the use of the hallucinogenic Haoma plant (possibly a species of ephedra) in rituals.
  3. When Zoroaster was thirty years old he had a divine vision of God and his Amesha Spentas during a ritual purification rite. This vision radically transformed his view of the world, and he tried to teach this view to others. Zoroaster believed in one creator God, teaching that only one God was worthy of worship. Furthermore, some of the deities of the old religion, the Daevas (Devas in Sanskrit), appeared to delight in war and strife. Zoroaster said that these were evil spirits and were workers of Angra Mainyu, God’s adversary.

The Bare Essentials of Zoroastrianism

  1. Approximately 3500 years old.
  2. Began in Iran.
  3. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s first monotheistic religions.
  4. God is called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and he created the world. Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the prophet, Zoroaster.
  5. The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called the Avesta.
  6. The Zoroastrian building for communal worship is known as a Fire Temple or Agiary.
  7. Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day.
  8. Zoroastrians are roughly split into two groups: a) the Iranians; b) the Parsis

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Wiclif y Hus – – Summary

 

Wyclif: para defender el derecho del Rey: si no estás en gracia no puedes tener propiedades. 95

De controversia académica por Wiclif a conflicto nacionalista 95

Las ideas de Huss: ‘si eres pecador no eres Iglesia’ como medio de reformar la Iglesia. Ergo la Iglesia visible no salva, estamos predestinados. 96

De Huss + nacionalismo checo = hussismo 96


Wyclif: para defender el derecho del Rey: si no estás en gracia no puedes tener propiedades

Nace en Yorkshire, Inglaterra en 1320. Muere en 1382.

En 1374 fue uno de los delegados a la comisión que se celebró en Brujas para considerar si el rey de Inglaterra estaba cumpliendo con la ley inglesa de 1351 que trataba de conciliar los intereses del Rey de del Papa en los nombramientos de los beneficios eclesiásticos. En esta contienda tomó parte con el Rey, alegando que le rey recibe su poder directamente de Cristo. Hasta este momento había sido sólo un académico, ahora empieza su carrera política.

Los tres principios fijos de todo su vida fueron su reconocimiento de la soberanía real, su sentido de la nacionalidad y su desacuerdo con que la Iglesia pretendiera rentas. Su defensa de los derechos de la corona de Inglaterra frente a la Santa Sede se basaban en conceptos teológicos muy poco claros, y pronto recibió acusaciones de herejía. El obispo de Londres de citó pero un motín público impidió la vista. Otro tribunal no emitió juicio por el apoyo que tenía del rey.

Ataca a la Iglesia de Roma (que en esos momentos esta sufriendo el cisma de Avignon) diciendo que si no estás en gracia no puede tener propiedades ni ejercer funciones eclesiales. Esto, en la práctica, anula la iglesia visible. Y los eclesiásticos están ahora muy relajados. El magisterio y la tradición no sirven sin la Biblia. El Espíritu Santo le enseña a cada uno como interpretarla.

Wiclif no funda secta ni movimiento. No fue condenado porque tenia mucho apoyo popular, pero se le quita el derecho a enseñar en Oxford.

Huss: Las ideas de Wiclif alimentan el nacionalismo checo y se encarnan en una comunidad quasi-católica pre-protestante

De controversia académica por Wiclif a conflicto nacionalista

(+1415) De familia pobre, Huss llega a profesor de Universidad de Bohemia en 1396 Allí llegaron las doctrinas de Wiclef y la Universidad de separó en dos bandos: los que apoyaban las doctrinas de Wiclef (mayormente los checos) y los que se oponían (mayormente los maestros alemanes).

Lo que en un principio no fue más que una disputa meramente académica alcanzó resonancia política a partir de 1400, convirtiéndose en una lucha nacional entre los bohemios, partidarios del rey Wenceslao, al que los Príncipes electores habían privado de la corona imperial, y los alemanes, que después de esta decisión se veían empujados a desempeñar un papel de adversarios nacionales -y no sólo teológicos- de los checos. La situación se complicó más todavía con el cisma de Occidente. Como quiera que el papa Gregorio XII -a cuya obediencia pertenecía Bohemiano apoyó los planes de Wenceslao para recuperar la corona imperial, esperaba éste de sus prelados y de la Universidad una estricta neutralidad respecto al cisma pontificio.

El obispo se declaró a favor de unos del los papas Alejandro V de quien consiguió bulas para prohibir las doctrinas de Wiclef. Pero Huss siguió predicando porque gozaba del apoyo popular del pueblo checo, y alegó que solo debía obediencia espiritual al obispo.

En 1412, es una disputa sobre las indulgencias, aunque convence al pueblo contra la Bula de la Cruzada del Antipapa Juan XXIII en la que se concedían indulgencias para financiar una cruzada contra un príncipe, no logra convencer a los teólogos de la universidad, que le denuncian al Papa y es excomulgado.

El hermano de Wenceslao, el rey Alemán Segismundo le pide que acuda al concilio de Constanza en 1414. El año anterior, el concilio general de Roma había condenado las doctrinas de Wiclef. Este concilio de Constanza condena a Huss. El Rey Segismundo lo entrega al brazo secular para su condena en la hoguera el 6 de julio de 1415.

Las ideas de Huss: ‘si eres pecador no eres Iglesia’ como medio de reformar la Iglesia. Ergo la Iglesia visible no salva, estamos predestinados.

Huss se veía a sí mismo como un reformador de la vida cristiana, que fustigaba implacablemente -y a veces exageradamente- los defectos de la clerecía de su tiempo. No es menos cierto, sin embargo, que incurrió en desviaciones doctrinales graves. La causa mayor de ellas sea tal vez una defectuosa comprensión -no siempre claramente formulada, pero presente en toda su obra- de las relaciones entre santidad y función eclesial, según la cual sostenía que una persona elegida para ser sacerdote, papa, obispo, etc., y que fuese un pecador, no podía ejercer «verdaderamente» su cargo, aunque lo ocupase según el derecho vigente, con lo que venía a negar la visibilidad de la Iglesia

En el desarrollo positivo de su teología Huss. seguía casi siempre a Wiclef, lo cual se ve claramente sobre todo en su forma de entender la predestinación, de carácter determinista y en su doctrina sobre la Iglesia. Para Huss la Iglesia es el conjunto de los predestinados a la salvación, con lo cual niega a la iglesia visible, jerarquizada, su carácter salvífico. Sin embargo, su crítica contra Roma es más moderada que la de Wiclef. También se separa de la doctrina católica acerca de la mariología y de la transubstanciación.

De Huss + nacionalismo checo = hussismo

Huss no se presentó nunca a sí mismo como el fundador de una secta religiosa, pero en 1419 se produjo un levantamiento popular cuando el rey Wenceslao trató de cumplimentar la petición del papa Martín V de proceder contra los hussitas incautándose de sus escuelas e iglesias y encarcelando a alguno de ellos. Al morir Wenceslao los hussitas  radicales se dedicaron entonces a la quema de conventos y a la caza de monjes por todo el país. En 1420 los hussitas fijaron los llamados «Cuatro Artículos de Praga»: libertad de predicar la palabra de Dios, cáliz para los laicos, renuncia del clero a los bienes terrenos y al poder civil, castigo de los pecadores, incluso por la autoridad civil.

Los hussitas radicales, con gran poder de influencia en los estratos sociales más pobres coincidían en rechazar los ritos latinos, la Penitencia, Confirmación, Unción de enfermos, purgatorio, intercesión de los Santos, oraciones por los difuntos. Propugnaban la comunión bajo las dos especies, incluso para los niños, así como la misa en checo. En ellos se unían esperanzas apocalípticas de que el comienzo del reinado de Cristo estaba próximo -por lo que habían de ser exterminados los malos y observarse la ley de Dios-, junto con utopías de revolución social y odio contenido contra los alemanes. Aceptaron el cisma como algo inevitable y emprendieron conscientemente el camino que llevaba a la fundación de una comunidad independiente y un sistema propio de ciudad-Estado. En definitiva, en el movimiento hussita intervinieron a la vez mezclados un afán religioso de reforma, herejías sectarias, pasiones nacionales, odio de clases, laicismo y anticlericalismo. Se puede decir que en el movimiento hussita queda plasmado el final de la Edad Media.

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Westfalia, Paz de – GER – Summary

Westfalia, Paz de GER

Firmado el 24 oct. 1648, pone fin a la guerra de los Treinta Años que, por su duración y por la enormidad del escenario que abarca, toda Europa central y oriental, fue agotadora y desembocó en crisis económicas en España, Francia y Alemania.

Tres conflictos en la guerra de 30 años: catolicismo-protestantismo; control sueco del Báltico; Francia vs España

En la guerra de los Treinta Años (1618-48) se habían dirimido, fundamentalmente, tres cuestiones:

a) la disputa religiosa en el seno del Imperio alemán entre católicos y protestantes, asociada a la pugna política entre el centralismo del Emperador, fiel a la causa católica, y los príncipes y nobles, partidarios de la Reforma;

b) los intentos de Dinamarca y sobre todo de Suecia de controlar el Báltico, y a su través a todo el mundo germano; y

c) la disputa entre Francia y España, antigua ya de siglo y medio, por la hegemonía europea.

Dos principios fundamentales: orden IMPERIAL universal y teocéntrico versus racionalismo antropocéntrico e independentismo ideológico

Pero junto a estos enfrentamientos parciales, luchan, dos principios fundamentales:

a) el tradicional católico, que defiende una concepción teocéntrica, basada en principios que pudieran considerarse objetivos, universales y permanente; un orden europeo que debe anteponerse a los intereses nacionales en particular; y

b) el racionalista, defendido por los protestantes, pero también por Francia, que pretende el reconocimiento oficial de la diversidad religiosa, ideológica y nacional de Europa, dando a cada soberanía una independencia total respecto de las otras, y negando toda sumisión a principios superiores. Es una concepción antropocéntrica, racionalista, y por consiguiente individualista, lo mismo a escala personal que a escala nacional, y cuya norma de conducta en orden a la paz del mundo no pudiera ser ya otra que una carta de igualdad o una fórmula de coexistencia dentro de la diversidad, capaz de amparar a una serie de verdades subjetivas e independientes.

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The Great Yassa Of Jenghiz Khan – – Summary

The Great Yassa Of Jenghiz Khan

The fragments of the Great Yassa of Jenghiz Khan which have come down to us through Makrizi:

1. An adulterer is to be put to death without any regard as to whether he is married or not.

2. Whoever is guilty of sodomy is also to be put to death.

3. Whoever intentionally lies, or practices sorcery, or spies upon the behaviour of others, or intervenes between the two parties in a quarrel to help the one against the other is also to be put to death.

4. Whoever urinates into water or ashes is also to be put to death.

5. Whoever takes goods (on credit) and becomes bankrupt, then again takes goods and again becomes bankrupt, then takes goods again and yet again becomes bankrupt is to be put to death after the third time.

6. Whoever gives food or clothing to a captive without the permission of his captor is to be put to death.

7. Whoever finds a runaway slave or captive and does not return him to the person to whom he belongs is to be put to death.

8. When an animal is to be eaten, its feet must be tied, its belly ripped open and its heart squeezed in the hand until the animal dies; then its meat may be eaten; but if anyone slaughter an animal after the Mohammedan fashion, he is to be himself slaughtered.

9. If in battle, during an attack or a retreat, anyone let fall his pack, or bow, or any luggage, the man behind him must alight and return the thing fallen to its owner; if he does not so alight and return the thing fallen, he is to be put to death.

10. Jenghiz Khan decided that no taxes or duties should be imposed … upon fakirs, readers of the Al-Koran, lawyers, physicians, scholars, people who devote themselves to prayer and asceticism, muezzins and those who wash the bodies of the dead.

11. He ordered that all religions were to be respected and that no preference was to be shown to any of them. All this he commanded in order that it might be agreeable to God.

12. He forbade his people to eat food offered by another until the one offering the food tasted of it himself, even though one be a prince and the other a captive; he forbade them to eat anything in the presence of another without having invited him to partake of the food; he forbade any man to eat more than his comrades, and to step over a fire on which food was being cooked or a dish from which people were eating.

13. When a wayfarer passes by people eating, he must alight and eat with them without asking for permission, and they must not forbid him this.

14. He forbade them to dip their hands into water and ordered them to use some vessel for the drawing of water.

15. He forbade them to wash their clothes until they were completely worn out.

16. He forbade them to say of anything that it was unclean, and insisted that all things were clean and made no distinction between the clean and unclean.

17. He forbade them to show preference for any sect, to pronounce words with emphasis, to use honorary titles; when speaking to the Sultan or anyone else simply his name was to be used.

18. He ordered his successors to personally examine the troops and their armament before going to battle, to supply the troops with everything they needed for the campaign and to survey everything even to needle and thread, and if any of the soldiers lacked a necessary thing that soldier was to be punished.

19. He ordered women accompanying the troops to do the work and perform the duties of the men, while the latter were absent fighting.

20. He ordered the warriors, on their return from the campaign (battle) to carry out certain duties in the service of the Sultan.

21. He ordered them to present all their daughters to the Sultan at the beginning of each year that he might choose some of them for himself and his children.

22. He put Emirs (princes/generals or noyans) at the head of the troops and appointed commanders of thousands, hundreds, and tens.

23. He ordered that the oldest of the Emirs, if he had committed some offence, was to give himself up to the messenger sent by the sovereign to punish him, even if he was the lowest of his servants; and prostrate himself before him until he had carried out the punishment prescribed by the sovereign, even if it be to put him to death.

24. He forbade Emirs to address themselves to anyone except the sovereign. Whoever addressed himself to anyone but the sovereign was to be put to death, and anyone changing his post without permission was also to be put to death.

25. He ordered the Sultan to establish permanent postal communications in order that he might be informed in good time of all the events of the country.

26. He ordered his son, Jagatai-baen-Jenghiz Khan to see that the Yassa was observed.

From Mirhond (or Mirhovend):

27. He ordered that soldiers be punished for negligence; and hunters who let an animal escape during a community hunt he ordered to be beaten with sticks and in some cases to be put to death.

28. In cases of murder (punishment for murder) one could ransom himself by paying fines which were: for a Mohammedan – 40 golden coins (Balysh); and for a Chinese – one donkey.

From Ibn-Batuta:

29. The man in whose possession a stolen horse is found must return it to its owner and add nine horses of the same kind: if he is unable to pay this fine, his children must be taken instead of the horses, and if he have no children, he himself shall be slaughtered like a sheep.

From Vartang:

30. The Yassa of Jenghiz Khan forbids lies, theft and adultery and prescribes love of one’s neighbor as ones’s self; it orders men not to hurt each other and to forget offences completely, to sparae countries and cities which submit voluntarily, to free from taxes temples consecrated to God, and to respect old people and beggars. Whoever violates these commands is to be put to death.

From Mahakia:

31. (The Yassa prescribes these rules:) to love one another, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false witness, not to be a traitor, and to respect old people and beggars. Whoever violates these commands is put to death.

From various sources:

32. (The Yassa of J. K. prescribes that) a man who chokes on food must be driven out of the camp and immediately killed; and whosoever puts his foot on the threshold of the tent of the commander of an army shall also be put to death.

33. If unable to abstain from drinking, a man may get drunk three times a month; if he does it more than three times he is culpable; if he gets drunk twice a month it is better; if once a month, this is still more laudable; and if one does not drink at all what can be better? But where can such a man be found? If such a man were found he would be worthy of the highest esteem.(Riasanovsky considers this fragment to belong to the Maxims of J.K., maxim 20)

34. Children born of a concubine are to be considered as legitimate, and receive their share of the heritage according to the disposition of it made by the father. (Beats the law of primogenture in Europe where only oldest inherited) Much more civilized. The distribution of property is to be carried out on the basis of the senior son receiving more than the junior, the younger son inheriting the household of the father. The seniority of children depends upon the rank of their mother; one of the wives must always be the senior, this being determined chiefly by the time of her marriage.

35. After the death of his father, a son may dispose of the father’s wives, all except his mother; he may marry them or give them in marriage to others.

36. All except the legal heirs are strictly forbidden to make use of any of the property of the deceased.

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The Tang and Song Dinasties – – Summary

The Tang and Song Dinasties from Chaos History Of China

Before song: golden era of tang dinasty (A.D. 618-907)

The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule. This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talents into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities, family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the closing days of the Qing empire in 1911, scholar-officials functioned often as intermediaries between the grass-roots level and the government

III. Culturally, the Song (960-1279) refined many of the developments of the previous centuries

  1. Was maintained the Tang ideal of the universal man, who combined the qualities of scholar, poet, painter, and statesman, but also historical writings, painting, calligraphy, and hard-glazed porcelain.
  2. Intellectuals sought answers to all philosophical and political questions in the Confucian Classics. This renewed interest in the Confucian ideals and society of ancient times coincided with the decline of Buddhism, which the Chinese regarded as foreign and offering few practical guidelines for the solution of political and other mundane problems.

JJJ. The Song Neo-Confucian philosophers

Finding a certain purity in the originality of the ancient classical texts, wrote commentaries on them. The most influential of these philosophers was Zhu Xi (1130-1200), whose synthesis of Confucian thought and Buddhist, Taoist, and other ideas became the official imperial ideology from late Song times to the late nineteenth century. As incorporated into the examination system, Zhu Xi’s philosophy evolved into a rigid official creed, which stressed the one-sided obligations of obedience and compliance of subject to ruler, child to father, wife to husband, and younger brother to elder brother. The effect was to inhibit the societal development of premodern China, resulting both in many generations of political, social, and spiritual stability and in a slowness of cultural and institutional change up to the nineteenth century. Neo-Confucian doctrines also came to play the dominant role in the intellectual life of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

Relativismo – Ratzinger – Summary

Relativismo según Ratzinger

SITUACIÓN ACTUAL DE LA FE Y LA TEOLOGíA

Conferencia del cardenal J. Ratzinger en el encuentro de presidentes de comisiones episcopales de América Latina para la doctrina de la fe, celebrado en Guadalajara (México)

El relativismo aparece como fundamentación filosófica de la democracia. Ésta, en efecto, se edificaría sobre la base de que nadie puede tener la pretensión de conocer la vía verdadera, y se nutriría del hecho de que todos los caminos se reconocen mutuamente como fragmentos del esfuerzo hacia lo mejor; por eso, buscan en diálogo algo común y compiten también sobre conocimientos que no pueden hacerse compatibles en una forma común. Una sociedad liberal sería, pues, una sociedad relativista.

En el campo de la política, esta concepción es exacta en cierta medida. No existe una opinión política correcta única. Lo relativo -la construcción de la convivencia entre los hombres, ordenada liberalmente- no puede ser algo absoluto. Pensar así era precisamente el error del marxismo. el problema se plantea a la hora de establecer los límites de este relativismo.

La teología pluralista de las religiones

Según el pastor presbiteriano J. Hick, la identificación de una forma histórica única, Jesús de Nazaret, con lo «real» mismo, el Dios vivo, es relegada ahora como una recaída en el mito. Jesús es conscientemente relativizado como un genio religioso entre otros. Lo Absoluto o el Absoluto mismo no puede darse en la historia. Conceptos como Iglesia, dogma, sacramentos, deben perder su carácter incondicionado.

Afirmar que en la figura de Jesucristo y en la fe de la Iglesia hay una verdad vinculante y válida en la historia misma es calificado como fundamentalismo, verdadero ataque al espíritu de la modernidad.

Por el contrario, dialogar, en su acepción relativista, significa colocar la actitud propia, es decir, la propia fe, al mismo nivel que las convicciones de los otros, sin reconocerle por principio más verdad que la que se atribuye a la opinión de los demás. La fe en la divinidad de una persona concreta -nos dice- conduce al fanatismo.

El recurso a las religiones de Asia

En la teología negativa típica de las religiones de Asia, lo divino no puede nunca entrar por sí mismo y desveladamente en el mundo de apariencia en que vivimos, sino que se muestra siempre en reflejos relativos y queda más allá de toda palabra y de toda noción, en una transcendencia absoluta. El relativismo arreligioso y pragmático de Europa y América puede conseguir de la India una especie de consagración religiosa, que parece dar a su renuncia al dogma la dignidad de un mayor respeto ante el misterio de Dios y del hombre.

Bajo el signo del encuentro de las culturas, el relativismo parece presentarse aquí como la verdadera filosofía de la humanidad. Quien se resiste, se opone no sólo a la democracia y a la tolerancia -es decir, a los imperativos básicos de la comunidad humana-, sino que además persiste obstinadamente en la prioridad de la propia cultura occidental, y se niega al encuentro de las culturas, que es notoriamente el imperativo del momento presente.

Ortodoxia y ortopraxis

El antes sacerdote católico P. Knitter ha intentado superar el vacío de una teoría de la religión reducida al imperativo categórico. Su propuesta tiende a dar a la religión una nueva concreción mediante la unión de la teología de la religión pluralista con las teologías de la liberación. El diálogo interreligioso debe simplificarse radicalmente y hacerse efectivo prácticamente, fundándolo sobre un único principio: «el primado de la ortopraxis respecto a la ortodoxia. Knitter afirma: no se puede conocer lo absoluto, pero sí hacerlo. La cuestión, sin embargo, es: ¿es verdadera esta afirmación? ¿Dónde encuentro la acción justa, si no puedo conocer en absoluto lo justo? El fracaso de los regímenes comunistas se debe precisamente a que han tratado de cambiar el mundo sin saber qué es bueno y qué no es bueno para el mundo, sin saber en qué dirección debe modificarse el mundo para hacerlo mejor.

Las religiones de la India no conocían en general una ortodoxia, sino más bien una ortopraxis. Estas religiones no tenían un catecismo general obligatorio. Más bien estas religiones tienen un sistema de acciones rituales que consideran necesario para la salvación, y que distingue al «creyente» del no creyente, un ritual que abarca toda la vida.

En este caso nadie piensa ya en el seguimiento de un ritual. La palabra ha cobrado un significado nuevo, que nada tiene que ver con el auténtico concepto indio. Si se excluye el sentido ritual que se le daba en Asia, entonces la praxis sólo puede ser comprendida como ética o como política.  Un «ethos» viene, sin duda, excluido en la discusión ética relativista: ahora ya no hay nada bueno o malo en sí mismo. Pero si se entiende la ortopraxis en un sentido socio-político, vuelve a plantearse la pregunta por la naturaleza de la correcta acción política. Es un hecho que también en Asia se proponen hoy concepciones de la teología de la liberación como formas de cristianismo presuntamente más adecuadas al espíritu asiático, y que sitúan el núcleo de la acción religiosa en el ámbito político. Donde el misterio ya no cuenta, la política debe convertirse en religión. Y, sin duda, esto es profundamente opuesto a la visión religiosa asiática original.

New-Age

El relativismo de Hick, Knitter y teorías afines se basa, a fin de cuentas, en un racionalismo que declara a la razón -en el sentido kantiano- incapaz del conocimiento metafísico; la nueva fundamentación de la religión tiene lugar por un camino pragmático con tonos más éticos o más políticos. Pero hay también una respuesta conscientemente antirracionalista: el New-Age.

Para los partidarios del New Age, el remedio del problema del relativismo no hay que buscarlo en un nuevo encuentro del yo con el tú o con el nosotros, sino en la superación del sujeto, en el retorno extático a la danza cósmica. Quiere ofrecer un modelo totalmente antirracionalista de religión, una moderna «mística» en la que lo absoluto no se puede creer, sino experimentar. Dios no es una persona que está frente al mundo, sino la energía espiritual que invade el Todo. La razón objetivante nos cierra el camino hacia el misterio de la realidad; la yoidad nos aísla de la abundancia de la realidad cósmica, destruye la armonía del todo, y es la verdadera causa de nuestra irredención. Hay que renovar los ritos primitivos en los que el yo se inicia en el misterio del Todo y se libera de sí mismo. Si la «sobria ebriedad» del misterio cristiano no puede embriagarnos de Dios, entonces hay que invocar la embriaguez real de éxtasis eficaces, cuya pasión arrebata y nos convierte -al menos por un instante- en dioses, y nos deja percibir por un momento el placer de lo infinito y olvidar la miseria de lo finito. Cuanto más manifiesta sea la inutilidad de los absolutismos políticos, tanto más fuerte será la atracción del irracionalismo, la renuncia a la realidad de lo cotidiano.

Ratzinger: El relativismo, «el problema más grande de nuestra época»

ROMA, 26 septiembre 2003 (ZENIT.org) Nuevo libro del prefecto de la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe

Para el cardenal alemán, el relativismo, según el cual, todas las opiniones son verdaderas (aunque sean contrapuestas), tan extendido incluso «dentro de la teología», «es el problema más grande de nuestra época».

La investigación de Ratzinger busca dilucidar «si el relativismo es realmente el presupuesto necesario para la tolerancia, si realmente las religiones son todas iguales, o si se puede conocer la verdad»

«La tolerancia y el respeto por el otro parece que hayan impuesto la idea de la equivalencia de todas las religiones»

«Sólo si la fe cristiana es verdad, concierne a todos los hombres», de lo contrario se quedaría en simple expresión de una cultura.

Pero, si es posible encontrar la verdad, ¿cuál puede ser la relación entre las diferentes religiones? El cardenal responde con una pregunta: El hombre, «¿no debe ponerse en búsqueda, empeñarse por tener una conciencia purificada y de este modo acercarse –¡al menos esto!– a las formas más puras de religión?».

Por eso, propone, los cristianos no deben «comunicar sólo un conjunto estructurado de instituciones y de ideas, sino buscar siempre en la fe su profundidad más íntima, el verdadero contacto con Cristo».

«Lo que lleva a los hombres hacia Dios es la dinámica de la conciencia y de la silenciosa presencia de Dios en ella y no la canonización de lo existente encontrado de un momento a otro, que exime a los hombres de una investigación más profunda»

Algunos interpretan el hecho de anunciar a Cristo como una ruptura en el diálogo con las demás religiones ¿Cómo es posible anunciar a Cristo y dialogar al mismo tiempo?

MURCIA, 1 diciembre 2002 (ZENIT.org) –Cardenal Ratzinger: Diría que hoy realmente se da una dominación del relativismo. Quien nos es relativista parecería que es alguien intolerante. Pensar que se puede comprender la verdad esencial es visto ya como algo intolerante. Pero en realidad esta exclusión de la verdad es un tipo de intolerancia muy grave y reduce las cosas esenciales de la vida humana al subjetivismo. De este modo, en las cosas esenciales ya no tendremos una visión común. Cada uno podría y debería decidir como puede. Perdemos así los fundamentos éticos de nuestra vida común.

Cristo es totalmente diferente a todos los fundadores de otras religiones, y no puede ser reducido a un Buda, o a un Sócrates, o un Confucio. Es realmente el puente entre el cielo y la tierra, la luz de la verdad que se nos ha aparecido. El don de conocer a Jesús no significa que no haya fragmentos importantes de verdad en otras religiones. A la luz de Cristo, podemos instaurar un diálogo fecundo con un punto de referencia en el que podemos ver cómo todos estos fragmentos de verdad contribuyen a una profundización de nuestra propia fe y a una auténtica comunión espiritual de la humanidad.

Dominus Iesus: Si todo es relativo, el cristianismo no tiene sentido

Presentada la Declaración sobre el carácter único de la salvación de Jesús

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO, 5 septiembre (ZENIT.org).- Si todo es relativo, entonces no sólo el cristianismo, sino incluso todas las religiones, no son más que disquisiciones teóricas inútiles.

Si todo es relativo, si todas las religiones son equiparables, la consecuencia, según constató el cardenal es lógica: «El rechazo a identificar la figura histórica de Jesús de Nazaret con la realidad misma de Dios, del Dios vivo».

La filosofía relativista lleva, en última instancia, a la eliminación de la concepción cristiana de Cristo y de la Iglesia. En efecto, una falsa idea de tolerancia lleva «a marginar a quien se obstina en la defensa de la identidad cristiana y en su pretensión de difundir la verdad universal y salvífica de Jesucristo»

«Esta falsa idea de tolerancia está ligada a la pérdida y a la renuncia a la verdad, que hoy día es experimentada por muchos como una cuestión sin relevancia y de segunda categoría», añadió. Esta tolerancia, que todo lo acepta, y que se despreocupa por la verdad, se disfraza, según desenmascaró el purpurado, por la malformación de conceptos como el de democracia, diálogo o encuentro con las culturas.

Este es el punto débil de la cultura contemporánea: al no existir una búsqueda de la verdad, «la fe ya no se distingue de la superstición, y la experiencia de la ilusión». De este modo, aclaró el cardenal que dirige la Congregación de la Doctrina de la Fe desde hace 19 años, «sin una seria búsqueda de la verdad, el aprecio de las demás religiones se convierte en algo absurdo y contradictorio, pues no existe un criterio para constatar lo que es positivo de una religión, distinguiéndolo de lo que es negativo o fruto de la superstición y el engaño».

«La estima y el respeto por las religiones del mundo, así como por las culturas que han ofrecido un enriquecimiento objetivo a la promoción de la dignidad del hombre y al desarrollo de la civilización, no disminuye el carácter único y original de la revelación de Jesucristo y no limita ni mucho menos la tarea misionera de la Iglesia».

La fuerza de la razón contra el relativismo”, Aceprensa, 17.XI.04

de un coloquio entre el cardenal Joseph Ratzinger, prefecto de la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe, y el historiador Ernesto Galli della Loggia, catedrático de la Universidad de Perugia, 25 de octubre del 2004, organizado en Roma por el Centro de Orientación Política

El relativismo puede aparecer como algo positivo, en cuanto invita a la tolerancia, facilita la convivencia entre las culturas, reconocer el valor de los demás, relativizándose a uno mismo. Pero si se transforma en un absoluto, se convierte en contradictorio, destruye el actuar humano y acaba mutilando la razón. Se considera razonable solo lo que es calculable o demostrable en el sector de las ciencias, que se convierten así en la única expresión de racionalidad: lo demás es subjetivo. Si se dejan a la esfera de la subjetividad las cuestiones humanas esenciales, las grandes decisiones sobre la vida, la familia, la muerte, entonces ya no hay criterios. Todo hombre puede y debe actuar solo según su conciencia.

Pero “conciencia”, en la modernidad, se ha transformado en la divinización de la subjetividad, mientras que para la tradición cristiana es lo contrario: la convicción de que el hombre es transparente y puede sentir en sí mismo la voz de la razón fundante del mundo. Es urgente superar ese racionalismo unilateral, que amputa y reduce la razón, y llegar a una concepción más amplia de la razón, que está creada no sólo para poder “hacer” sino para poder “conocer” las cosas esenciales de la vida humana.

¿La tradición cristiana es compatible con el concepto de libertad desarrollado en la modernidad, en el laicismo? Es un concepto equivocado de libertad el concepto individualista para el cual solo existe, como portador de libertad, el sujeto, el individuo. Es un planteamiento equivocado desde el punto de vista antropológico porque el hombre es un ser finito, un ser creado para convivir con los demás. En consecuencia, su libertad debe ser necesariamente una libertad compartida, de modo que se garantice para todos la libertad. Eso supone la renuncia a la absolutización del “yo” e implica la existencia del derecho común, de la autoridad. Es un gran error considerar la autoridad como enfrentada a la libertad. En realidad, una autoridad bien definida es la condición de la libertad.

La racionalidad es un don de Europa al mundo, también querida por el cristianismo. Los Padres de la Iglesia han visto la prehistoria de la Iglesia no en las religiones sino en la filosofía. Estaban convencidos de que “semina verbi” no eran las religiones sino el movimiento de la razón comenzado con Sócrates, que no se conformaba con la tradición.

Esa necesidad de salir de la cárcel de una tradición que ya no es válida abrió las puertas al cristianismo. Tenemos algo que es comunicable y ante lo cual la razón, que lo estaba esperando, sale al encuentro. Es comunicable porque pertenece a nuestra naturaleza humana común. La racionalidad era, por tanto, postulado y condición del cristianismo y permanece como una herencia europea para confrontarnos, de modo pacífico y positivo, con el islam y con las grandes religiones asiáticas.

El segundo punto de la herencia europea es que esta racionalidad se convierte en peligrosa y destructiva para la criatura humana si se transforma en positivista, si reduce los grandes valores de nuestro ser a la subjetividad.

xXx

Evolution of Cooperation – Robert Axelrod – Summary

 

The Evolution of Cooperation

By Robert Axelrod

Under what conditions will cooperation emerge in a world of egoists without central authority? This question has intrigued people for a long time.

A good example of the fundamental problem of cooperation is the case where two industrial nations have erected trade barriers to each other’s exports. Because of the mutual advantages of free trade, both countries would be better off if these barriers were eliminated. But if either country were to eliminate its barriers unilaterally, it would find itself facing terms of trade that hurt its own economy. In fact, whatever one country does, the other country is better off retaining its own trade barriers. Therefore, the problem is that each country has an incentive to retain trade barriers, leading to a worse outcome than would have been possible had both countries cooperated with each other.

A. Lessons from “the Prisoners’ dilema”

This basic problem occurs when the pursuit of self-interest by each leads to a poor outcome for all.

This maybe illustrated with a game is called the Prisoner’s Dilemma because in its original form two prisoners face the choice of informing on each other (defecting) or remaining silent (cooperating). Each must make the choice without knowing what the other will do.

The rewards are: If both players defect: Both players get $1. If both players cooperate: Both players get $3. If one player defects while the other player cooperates: The defector gets $5 and the cooperator gets zero.

One can see that no matter what the other player does, defection yields a higher payoff than cooperation.

The winner was the simplest of all candidates submitted. This was a strategy of simple reciprocity which cooperates on the first move and then does whatever the other player did on the previous move.

The analysis of the data from these tournaments reveals four properties which tend to make a strategy successful:

  1. avoidance of unnecessary conflict by cooperating as long as the other player does ,
  2. provocability in the face of an uncalled-for defection by the other,
  3. forgiveness after responding to a provocation, and
  4. clarity of behavior so that the other player can recognize and adapt to your pattern of action.

In summary, the best strategy is: Don’t be envious, don’t be the first to defect, reciprocate both cooperation and defection, and don’t be too clever.

B. Lessons from World War I: Live and Let Live

This System emerged during the trench warfare of the western front in World War I. In the midst of this bitter conflict, the frontline soldiers often refrained from shooting to kill – provided their restraint was reciprocated by the soldiers on the other side.

C. Conditions for Stable Cooperation

1. The individuals involved do not have to be rational: The evolutionary process allows successful strategies to thrive, even if the players do not know why or how.

2. Nor do they have to exchange messages or commitments: They do not need words, because their deeds speak for them.

3. Likewise, there is no need to assume trust between the players: The use of reciprocity can be enough to make defection unproductive.

4. Altruism is not needed: Successful strategies can elicit cooperation even from an egoist.

5. Finally, no central authority is needed: Cooperation based on reciprocity can be self-policing.

6. For cooperation to emerge, the interaction must extend over an indefinite (or at least an unknown) number of moves. For cooperation to prove stable, the future must have a sufficiently large shadow. This means that the importance of the next encounter between the same two individuals must be great enough to make defection an unprofitable strategy.

7. In order for cooperation to get started in the first place, there must be some clustering of individuals who use strategies with two properties: The strategy cooperates on the first move, and discriminates between those who respond to the cooperation and those who do not.

D. How Cooperation Evolves

Cooperation can begin with small clusters. It can thrive with strategies that are “nice” (that is, never the first to defect), provocable, and somewhat forgiving. Once established in a population, individuals using such discriminating strategies can protect themselves from invasion. The overall level of cooperation tends to go up and not down.

The foundation of cooperation is not really trust, but the durability of the relationship. When the conditions are right, the players can come to cooperate with each other through trial-and-error learning about possibilities for mutual rewards, through imitation of other successful players, or even through a blind process of selection of the more successful strategies with a weeding out of the less successful ones.

E. The Value of Provocability

One of my biggest surprises in working on this project has been the value of provocability and that it is important to respond sooner, rather than later. I came to this project believing one should be slow to anger. The results of the computer tournament for the Prisoner’s Dilemma demonstrate that it is actually better to respond quickly to a provocation.

F. A Self-Reinforcing Ratchet Effect

Once the word gets out that reciprocity works – among nations or among individuals – it becomes the thing to do. If you expect others to reciprocate your defections as well as your cooperations, you will be wise to avoid starting any trouble.

The establishment of stable cooperation can take a long time if it is based upon blind forces of evolution, or it can happen rather quickly if its operation can be appreciated by intelligent players.

There is a lesson in the fact that simple reciprocity succeeds without doing better than anyone with whom it interacts. It succeeds by eliciting cooperation from others, not by defeating them. We are used to thinking about competitions in which there is only one winner, competitions such as football or chess. But the world is rarely like that. In a vast range of situations, mutual cooperation can be better for both sides than mutual defection. The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others, but in eliciting their cooperation.

Information theory and Entropy – Tom Carter – Summary

 

Information theory and Entropy

Tom Carter

A. How to measure compexity: as the amount of Unpredicted Information

We want to be able to compare two systems, and be able to say that system A is more complex than system B.

Various approaches to this measure complexity have been proposed, among them:

1. Human observation and (subjective) rating

2. Number of parts or distinct elements (what counts as a distinct part?)

3. Dimension (measured how?)

4. Number of parameters controlling the system

5. Minimal description (in which language?)

6. Information content (how do we define/measure information?)

7. Minimal generator/constructor (what machines/methods can we use?)

8. Minimum energy/time to construct

My first focus will be on measures related to how surprising or unexpected an observation or event is. This approach has been described as information theory.

B. DERIVING A DEFINITION OF INFORMATION: i (P) = LOG(1/P)

We would like to develop a usable measure of the information we get from observing the occurrence of an event having probability p .

We will want our information measure I(p) to have several properties (note that along with the axiom is motivation for choosing the axiom):

1. We want the Information Measure to be a non-negative quantity: I(p) ≥ 0.

2. If an event has probability 1 (it is certain that it will occur), we get no information from the occurrence of the event: I(1) = 0.

3. If two independent events occur (whose joint probability is the product of their individual probabilities), then the information we get from observing the events is the sum of the two informations: I(p1 * p2) = I(p1)+I(p2). (This is the critical property . . . )

4. We will want our information measure to be a continuous (and, in fact, monotonic) function of the probability (slight changes in probability should result in slight changes in information).

We can therefore from this axioms derive the following:

1. I(p2) = I(p * p) = I(p)+I(p) = 2 * I(p)

2. Thus, further, I(pn) = n * I(p) (by induction . . . )

3. I(p) = I((p 1/m)m) = m * I(p 1/m), so

I(p 1/m) = 1 m * I(P) and thus in general I(p n/m) = n m * I(p)

4. And thus, by continuity, we get, for 0 < p < 1, and a > 0 a real number: I(pa) = a * I(p)

From this, we can derive the nice property:

I(p) = −logb(p)

This will be our definition of Information Measure

I(p) = logb(1/p)

[This means that the information enclosed in a event, is inversely correlated to the probability of the event: the more probable the event, the less information it carries]

C. Defining entropy as the average Information per symbol

Suppose now that we have n symbols {a1, a2, . . . , an}, and some source is providing us with a stream of these symbols. Suppose further that the source emits the symbols with probabilities {p1, p2, . . . , pn}, respectively. For now, we also assume that the symbols are emitted independently (successive symbols do not depend in any way on past symbols). What is the average amount of information we get from each symbol we see in the stream?

If we observe N (independent) observations, we will get total information I of:

I = ∑ (N * pi) * log(1/pi)

But then, the average information we get per symbol observed will be:

I/N = (1/N) ∑(N * pi) * log(1/pi) = ∑ pi * log(1/pi)

This will be our (actually Shanon’s) definition of entropy: the average information per symbol in a stream of symbols, or the expected value of information:

H(P) = ∑ pi* log(1/pi)

D. What is the maximum amount of unpredicted information that a system may Have

Using the Gibbs inequality to find the maximum of the entropy function above, we got:

0 ≤ H(P) ≤ log(n)

That is, the maximum of the entropy function is the log of the number of possible events, and occurs when all the events are equally likely.

An example illustrating this result: How much information can a student get from a single grade? First, the maximum information occurs if all grades have equal probability (e.g., in a pass/fail class, on average half should pass if we want to maximize the information given by the grade).

The maximum information the student gets from a grade will be:

Pass/Fail : [log (1/2) = 1] = 1 bit

A, B, C, D, F : log (1/5) = 2.3 bits

A, A-, B+, . . ., D-, F : log (1/7) = 3.6 bits.

Thus, using +/- grading gives the students about 1.3 more bits of information per grade than without +/-, and about 2.6 bits per grade more than pass/fail.

E. Other characteristic of this Definition

1. These definitions of information and entropy may not match with some other uses of the terms. For example, if we know that a source will, with equal probability, transmit either the complete text of Hamlet or the complete text of Macbeth (and nothing else), then receiving the complete text of Hamlet provides us with precisely 1 bit of information.

2. It is important to recognize that our definitions of information and entropy depend only on the probability distribution. In general, it won’t make sense for us to talk about the information or the entropy of a source without specifying the probability distribution.

3. This observation (almost :-) accords with our intuition: two people listening to the same lecture can get very different information from the lecture. For example, without appropriate background, one person might not understand anything at all, and therefore have as probability model a completely random source, and therefore get much more information than the listener who understands quite a bit, and can therefore anticipate much of what goes on, and therefore assigns non-equal probabilities to successive words.

[…]

Más allá de la muerte – Ratzinger – Summary

 

Más allá de la muerte

Joseph Ratzinger

A. Importancia de la Pregunta: Qué hay más allá de la Muerte

La pregunta por lo que hay más allá de la muerte ha sido durante largo tiempo dominante en el pensamiento cristiano. Hoy ha caído bajo la sospecha de platonismo; esa sospecha que desde Marx y Nietzsche acosa de diversa forma a la conciencia cristiana.

Habrá de satisfacer además al agudo problema de la responsabilidad política y social de la fe cristiana, sobre la cual se podrá hablar tanto más eficaz y sólidamente cuanto más aclarada esté su relación con la esperanza cristiana.

B. Oposición de Resurrección e Inmortalidad del Alma

(1) La tesis de Oscar Cullmann

Las voces de los teólogos protestantes veían la “inmortalidad del alma” como un pensamiento claramente no-bíblico.

Este rechazo de la idea de la inmortalidad del alma en favor del reconocimiento de la resurrección de la carne como pensamiento más bíblico, se basa en una determinada hermenéutica bajo la que es leída la Biblia. Su contenido central me parece que es la oposición de lo bíblico con lo griego.

A esto se añade la afirmación de que la inmortalidad del alma concedida a la especie humana expresa algo propio v natural al hombre, mientras que la resurrección de la carne solo puede ser dada como gracia por el Resucitador. Esto significa, sin embargo, que junto con la idea de la inmortalidad, también la idea “alma” se hace sospechosa de platonismo

(2) Los problemas

La ciencia ha confirmado la unidad del hombre y su indivisibilidad. Precisamente eso corresponde al tenor fundamental del pensar bíb lico y contradice el nivel dualista que con cierto derecho se puede adjudicar al platonismo.

Pero, aunque con esto se supere una aporía -la del platonismo-, aparecen, sin embargo, problemas no pequeños. ¿Qué pasa con la resurrección de la carne? Si la queremos pensar en forma razonable, y no como algo ‘milagroso’, aparecen no pocas dificultades. ¿La concebimos para todos al ‘fin de los tiempos’? Pero, ¿qué hay entre tanto?, ¿en qué consiste la identidad entre el muerto y el resucitado, si entre ambos solo hay una nada total? Y ¿qué es lo que resucita?

No puede excluirse la pregunta de si algo como el concepto de “alma” no será hermenéuticamente necesario como lazo de unión, e incluso si no se impone a partir de los mismos datos.

(3) Un dato: la dimensión temporal

Troeltsch había formulado el pensamiento de que “las últimas cosas” no están en relación con el tiempo. En realidad, el Eschaton no sería de ninguna forma conmensurable con nuestro tiempo. En correspondencia con esto, el primer Barth pudo decir que el esperar la Parusía significa con otras palabras lo mismo que “tomar nuestra situación real, vital, tan seriamente como ella es”. Indudablemente aquí habría que plantearse cuál es últimamente el contenido real de tales afirmaciones

(4) Una nueva representación: la eternidad como lo totalmente otro

En la teología católica, estas manifestaciones de una filosofía del tiempo-eternidad imponen una exigencia de corregir una representación meramente lineal del fin de los días y, en su lugar, pensar las últimas cosas, juicio y resurrección, coextensivamente con el tiempo: Cada muerte es la entrada en lo otro totalmente distinto, en lo que no es tiempo, sino eternidad. “Eternidad” no viene detrás del tiempo (esto supondría hacerla a ella tiempo), sino que es lo distinto del tiempo, a la par que constantemente actual.

A aquel que se encuentra temporalmente en la tumba se le supone a la vez al otro lado de la línea temporal, como resucitado. Pero, ¿qué significa esto?, ¿hay por tanto algo así como un “alma”?; o bien, ¿qué concepto de tiempo posibilita el pensar al hombre, al mismo tiempo como resucitado y como enterrado?

C. A LA BÚSQUEDA DE NUEVAS RESPUESTAS

(1) Tiempo físico – tiempo del hombre – eternidad

La diferenciación entre tiempo y eternidad significa, como hemos dicho, un avance respecto a la linealidad no reflexionada

La aportación fundamental de Agustín sobre la memoria humana consiste en una diferenciación entre el tiempo físico y el antropológico. El tiempo físico representa los sucesivos momentos de un movimiento, que es datado con ayuda de un determinado parámetro (por ejemplo, el sol o la luna).

La existencia del hombre no se agota evidentemente en un movimiento medible del cuerpo; también los procesos decisorios espirituales del hombre están ciertamente unidos a su cuerpo, y en este sentido son, como decimos, indirectamente datables.

En este tiempo antropológico falta, por un lado, la repetibilidad del hecho físico, y por otro, el absoluto ser pasado que encontrábamos allá.

El fallo de la filosofía del tiempo-eternidad, reseñada arriba, me parece que consiste en que solamente conoce una alternativa sencilla entre el tiempo físico y la eternidad pura, en la cual esta última aparece solo como meramente negativa, como puro no-tiempo.

Si más allá de la muerte reina el puro hoy en el que Resurrección, juicio v Fin del mundo están ya presentes porque allí no hay tiempo, esto haría de la historia un mero espectáculo en el que uno cree moverse cuando, en realidad, ya está todo hecho. Lo cual sería un platonismo fatal, y peor que el de los mismos platónicos.

 

Frente a esto, la descripción correcta del acontecimiento de la muerte, tendría que decir que aquí, el tiempo específicamente humano se separa de su contexto físico-cronológico, y recibe con ello el carácter de definitividad. Esto significa que ambos marcos temporales, el del hombre y el de la historia, no están sin más en una relación sencilla de posterioridad y, a la vez, tampoco son sin más inconmensurables uno con el otro.

Y esto significa también que la historia acontecida del mundo y su definitivo futuro teológico tienen una relación real entre sí, que el obrar del uno no es indiferente para el hacerse del otro.

(2) Rehabilitación del “alma”

No se puede discutir que este concepto sólo de forma vacilante pudo encontrar entrada en la tradición cristiana. Recordemos que el judaísmo intertestamentario conocía ya claras representaciones de la vida y estado del hombre tras la muerte.

En la predicación apostólica el nuevo acento consiste en que Jesucristo es predicado como el que ya ha resucitado. El verdadero punto de referencia de la inmortalidad es menos un tiempo que llega, cuanto el Señor que ya vive.

Ya en la palabra de Jesús al ladrón en la cruz, el “conmigo” añadía un matiz cristológico a la idea del Paraíso. Y en las palabras de San Esteban “Señor Jesús, toma mi espíritu” ahora aparece el Señor mismo como el paraíso en el cual sabe el moribundo que ha de ser asumida su vida.

Así se cuajó la conciencia de una vida a partir del Señor resucitado, que es regalada al hombre ya en la muerte del cuerpo, y antes de la compleción definitiva del futuro del mundo. Se hizo visible que hay una continuidad del hombre, más allá de su existencia corporal.

¿Cómo debía ser pensada esta continuidad y factor de identidad? A partir de los griegos, se ofrecía el concepto del “alma”. Ciertamente, esta expresión estaba cargada por una imagen humana dual, peligrosa por tanto, y necesitada de purificación. Pero esto sirve en realidad para todos los conceptos; también para la palabra “Dios”: el “Dios” griego no era de ninguna manera el mismo que el Jahvé bíblico. Recientes investigaciones han mostrado cómo el pensamiento cristiano se esforzó, en especial en la alta Edad Media, por alcanzar la exigida purificación y transformación del concepto.

Es indiscutible que en la conciencia general se ha impuesto esta visión dual, y que, en consecuencia, son necesarios los esfuerzos por una purificación.

El hablar de inmortalidad del alma nos parece hoy especialmente sospechoso, porque se tiene la impresión de una sustancia metafísica, y por ello consideramos como más adecuado el hablar con conceptos más personalizados, dialógicos. En una concepción dialógica se contestaría: quien está en diálogo con Dios no muere. El amor de Dios da eternidad. Notemos que esto se diferencia del concepto “alma” sólo en el punto de partida de su formulación, y en la línea de pensamiento.

Esto presupone ciertamente que no pensemos la substancia desde abajo, a partir de una “masa” (que por lo demás siempre es cuestionable en cuanto masa), sino desde arriba, desde la dinámica de compleción espiritual. Me parece que es tiempo de llegar a una rehabilitación en la teología, de los tabuizados conceptos “inmortalidad” y “alma”. Ciertamente no están faltos de problemática, y la sacudida de los años pasados puede ser saludable e incluso necesaria.

Fe EN LA INMORTALIDAD Y RESPONSABILIDAD ANTE EL MUNDO

La pregunta bíblica de qué ayuda al hombre todo el mundo si pierde su alma, parece transformarse hoy en la cuestión, ¿qué ayuda al hombre toda su alma si con ello no se sirve al mundo? Pienso que para la vida cristiana se tendría que hacer más bien la proposición contraria: también el escéptico y el ateo tendrían que vivir “quasi Deus daretur” -como si Dios realmente existiese.

¿Qué significa esto? Vivir como si Dios existiese, significa: vivir como si se estuviese bajo una responsabilidad infinita. Como si justicia y Verdad no fuesen meramente programas, sino un poder vivo v existente, ante el que se debe dar respuesta. Obrar como si el hombre que está junto a mí, no fuese una casualidad de la naturaleza, en el que no hay nada importante, sino un pensamiento de Dios hecho carne, una imagen delCreador al cual Él conoce y ama.

La fe cristiana en la inmortalidad del alma no quiere, según su auténtica intención, imponer ninguna teoría sobre algo no cognoscible, sino hacer una afirmación sobre las medidas y la amplitud de la vida humana. Quiere afirmar que el hombre no es nunca un medio, sino siempre un fin en sí mismo.

Una creatura que le observa y ama, siendo Él eternidad, participa también en esa eternidad. Cómo se formula esto, o cómo pueda ser representado, es en definitiva secundario, si bien naturalmente es una pregunta importante.

Todos los conceptos que usemos -también, por tanto, el lenguaje de la inmortalidad del alma-son en definitiva solo ayudas para el pensamiento (en parte también insustituibles), con las cuales intentamos determinar el Todo a partir de diversos modelos antropológicos. En ningún caso, se trata de ganar descripciones del más allá, y así ampliar el espacio de nuestra curiosidad. En su esencia, la confesión de la inmortalidad no es otra cosa que la confesión de que Dios existe realmente.

The Origin of Wealth: Evolution and Complexity – ERIC D. BEINHOCKER – Summary

The Origin of Wealth: Evolution and Complexity

by ERIC D. BEINHOCKER

a summary by Bobby Lopez

Contents

The Origin of Wealth: Evolution and Complexity.. 1

A. Chapter 4: Sugarscape: A model of how an economy originateD.. 1

(1) The Model Setup: simple rules to live: gather and consume resources at hand 1

(2) Results 1: The Rich get Richer. But not because of genetic, nor birth, but as an emergent property: the confluence of all factors 3

(3) Results 2: Population growth causes: wealth growth, improved genetics, population swings, and the rich got richer 3

(4) Results 3: The introduction of trade resulted in: 1) increase in wealth; 2) clustering of trading by regions; 3) prices approached bur never reached equilibrium; 4) sub-Pareto optimal 5) rich got richier 4

(5) Results 4: The introduction of lending resulted in: 5

B. Cahpter 7: How Networks Behave. 6

(1) When networks explode 6

(2) How Boolean networks function 6

C. Chapter 8: Emergence: How the Patterns arise. 8

(1) The mistery of economic and business cycles 8

(2) Lesson from a Beer Industry simulation: business fluctuations does not flatten out, they goes through storm and calm 9

(3) Punctuated Equilibrium: Are There “Keystone” Technologies? 10

(4) A time pattern emerges in nature and economy: power laws 11

(5) Why Are Stock Markets So Volatile? Because of the market order and limit order structure. 12

(6) Conclusion: pattern behavior emerges as consequence of: individual behavior regularities; institutional traits; exogenous inputs 12

D. Chapter 9: How Evolution works in economics. 13

(1) Evolution selects the best ideasa or Business Plan 13

(2) Markets are evolutionary search mechanism 13

E. Chapter 14: A New Definition of Wealth: Fit Order. 13

(1) Economic activity consists in creating order 13

(2) A Proposal: Three Conditions for Value Creation 14

This book will argue that wealth creation is the product of a simple, but profoundly powerful, three-step formula— differentiate, select, and amplify—the formula of evolution

We are accustomed to thinking of evolution in a biological context, but modern evolutionary theory views evolution as something much more general. Evolution is an algorithm; it is an all-purpose formula for innovation, a

A. Chapter 4: Sugarscape: A model of how an economy originateD

(1) The Model Setup: simple rules to live: gather and consume resources at hand

To picture Epstein and Axtel’s model, imagine a group of people shipwrecked on a desert island, except that both the island and the castaways are simulations inside a computer. The computer island is a perfect square with a fifty-by-fifty grid overlaid on top

The virtual island has only one resource—sugar—and each square in the grid has different amounts of sugar piled on it. The heights of the sugar piles range from four sugar units high (the maximum) to zero (no sugar). The sugar piles are arranged such that there are two sugar mountains, one mountain at the northeast corner and one at the southwest corner, each with sugar piled three and four units high.

The game begins with 250 agents randomly dropped on the Sugarscape.

Each virtual person, or “agent,” is an independent computer program that takes in information from the Sugarscape environment, crunches that information through its code, and then makes decisions and takes actions. In the most basic version of the simulation, each agent on Sugarscape can only do three things: look for sugar, move, and eat sugar.

Each agent has vision that enables it to look around for sugar, and then has the ability to move toward this source of energy. Each agent also has a metabolism for digesting sugar.

Thus, each agent had a basic set of rules that it followed during each turn of the game:

  • The agent looks ahead as far as its vision will allow in each of four directions on the grid: north, south, east, and west (the agents cannot see diagonally).
  • The agent determines which unoccupied square within its field of vision has the most sugar.
  • The agent moves to that square and eats the sugar.
  • The agent is credited by the amount of sugar eaten and debited by the amount of sugar burned by its metabolism. If the agent eats more sugar than it burns, it will accumulate sugar in its sugar savings account (you can think of this savings as body fat) and carry this savings through to the next turn. If it eats less, it will use up its savings (depleting fat).
  • If the amount of sugar stored in an agent’s savings account drops below zero, then the agent is said to have starved to death and is removed from the game. Otherwise, the agent lives until it reaches a predetermined maximum age.
  • In order to carry out these tasks, each agent has a “genetic endowment” for its vision and metabolism. In other words, associated with each agent is a bit of computer code, a computer DNA, that describes how many squares ahead that agent can see and how much sugar it burns each round. An agent with a slow (good) metabolism needs only one unit of sugar per turn of the game to survive, versus an agent with a fast (bad) metabolism, which requires four. Vision and metabolism endowments are randomly distributed in the population; thus,
  • Each agent also has a randomly assigned maximum lifetime, after which a computer Grim Reaper comes and removes it from the game.
  • Finally, as sugar is eaten, it grows back on the landscape like a crop, at the rate of one unit per time period.

(2) Results 1: The Rich get Richer. But not because of genetic, nor birth, but as an emergent property: the confluence of all factors

As time passes, however, this distribution changes dramatically. Average wealth rose as the agents convened on the two sugar mountains but the distribution of wealth became very skewed, with a few emerging superrich agents, a long tail of upper-class yuppie agents, a shrinking middle class, and then a big, growing underclass of poor agents.

The Pareto distribution is where the so-called 80-20 rule comes from, as roughly 80 percent of the wealth is owned by 20 percent of the people.

The wealth distribution that the simple Sugarscape model produced was just this kind of a real-world Pareto distribution.

First, we can ask, is it nature? —does it have something to do with the genetic endowments of the players? That is, are all the agents with great eyesight and slow metabolisms getting all the wealth? The answer is no.

Are all the agents born on top of sugar mountains getting all the wealth and those with the bad luck of being born in the badlands staying poor? The answer to this is no as well.

How, then, from these random initial conditions do we get a skewed wealth distribution? The answer is, in essence, “everything.” The skewed distribution is an emergent property of the system. It

All this means that even in Sugarscape, there is no simple cause-and-effect relationship driving poverty and inequality. Instead, it is a complex mix of factors. It is not easy to come up with solutions for the poverty problem even in the highly simplified world of Sugarscape.

(3) Results 2: Population growth causes: wealth growth, improved genetics, population swings, and the rich got richer

Epstein and Axtell decided to give each agent a tag indicating its age and whether it was male or female. Once an agent reaches “child-bearing age,” and if that agent has a minimum amount of sugar savings, he or she is considered fertile. Each period, fertile agents scan their immediate neighborhood of one square to the north, south, east, and west. If they find another fertile agent of the opposite sex, they reproduce. The DNA of the resulting baby agent is then chosen randomly, half from the mother, and half from the father. Thus the child’s vision and metabolism characteristics will be some mix of the two parents. In addition, the baby agent inherits wealth from both parents, receiving an amount equal to half the father’s wealth plus half the mother’s wealth.

The baby agent is born in an empty square next to its mother and father, so if the parents live in a rich or poor sugar neighborhood, the child agent will start its life there as well.

Then three things began to happen:

  1. Over time, both average vision and average metabolic efficiency began to climb, as the most fit members had more and more offspring. As the average of these attributes rose, so too did wealth.
  2. The new birth-death dynamics introduced population swings.
  3. The introduction of genetic inheritance as well as wealth inheritance across generations further accelerated the trend toward the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

(4) Results 3: The introduction of trade resulted in: 1) increase in wealth; 2) clustering of trading by regions; 3) prices approached bur never reached equilibrium; 4) sub-Pareto optimal 5) rich got richier

They introduced a second commodity, called spice. Each square on the board now had a value for how much sugar it held and a value for how much spice it held.

Epstein and Axtell also tweaked their agents’ metabolisms so that they all required some of each commodity to survive.

As a final step, Epstein and Axtell made it possible for the agents to trade. There was no assumption of a market or an auctioneer as in typical Traditional Economic models. Instead, there was just straightforward bartering between individuals. As agents move around the Sugarscape, they encounter other agents. At each turn in the game, each agent looks one square to the north, south, east, and west and asks any players in its neighborhood if they want to trade. If one agent has a lot of spice and needs sugar and another agent faces the reverse situation, both agents could improve their circumstances by trading.

First result was that trading made the Sugarscape society much richer.

Secondly, there was some clustering in the trading networks by geographic region. The combination of geography and population dynamics created heavily trafficked trading routes, the computer equivalent of the ancient Silk Road, as agents shuttled back and forth between the sugar and spice mountains.

Epstein and Axtell could look inside each agent during each period of play and determine how much sugar or spice the agent was willing to buy or sell at a series of possible prices. What resulted was an almost textbook downward-sloping demand curve, along with an upward-sloping supply curve, even though Epstein and Axtell did not explicitly build anything about supply and demand into their model. Also, take into account that he intitial conditions were randomly set, but once the model got going, all the behavior was perfectly deterministic.

The actual prices and quantities traded (indicated by the dot in figure 4-4) never setded on the theoretically predicted equilibrium point (at the intersection of the supply and demand X in the figure).

Prices in Sugarscape move dynamically around an “attractor” (a term we will discuss in chapter 5) but never actually settle down into equilibrium.

Epstein and Axtell also found that there was far more trading than there would be if the system was reaching equilibrium, as in the real world.

The Sugarscape market, however, operates at less than Pareto optimality. There are always trades that could have happened, that would have made people better off, but didn’t. Again, this is because the agents’ trades are separated in time and space,

While trade in Sugarscape does “lift all boats,” making the society richer as a whole, it also has the effect of further widening the gap between rich and poor. In

(5) Results 4: The introduction of lending resulted in:

In Sugarscape, there is only one reason to become a borrower—to have children. Epstein and Axtell introduced a rule that said that an agent can be a lender if it is too old to have children, or if it has more savings than it needs for its own reproductive needs. In turn, an agent can be a borrower if it has insufficient savings to have children, but has a sustainable income of sugar and spice.

What surprised Epstein and Axtell was not that significant borrowing and lending activity occurred, but that a complex, hierarchical capital market emerged. Some agents became simultaneously both borrowers and lenders—in effect, middlemen: Sugarscape had evolved banks! Certain really rich agents took on a wholesale role, lending to middlemen, who then made loans to the ultimate borrowers. In some simulations, the hierarchical chain grew to five levels deep.

These large-scale macro patterns grew from the bottom up, from the dynamic interplay of the local micro assumptions.

B. Cahpter 7: How Networks Behave

(1) When networks explode

Economists have long recognized that certain products, such as e-mail, faxes, and telephones, share a property whereby the greater the number of people who use them, the more useful they become. This is called, appropriately enough, a network effect. Traditional Economics, however, has not historically had much to say about why these types of products tend to suddenly catch fire and take off in popularity.

Picture a thousand buttons scattered on a hardwood floor. Imagine you also have in your hand pieces of thread; you then randomly pick up two buttons, connect them with the thread, and put them back down. As you first start out, the odds are that each button you pick up will be unconnected, so you will be creating a lot of two-button connections. As you work away, however, at some point you will pick up a button that is already connected to another button and you will thus be adding a third.

In random networks, the phase transition from small clusters to giant clusters happens at a specific point, when the ratio of segments of thread (edges) to buttons (nodes) exceeds the value of 1 (i.e., on average, one thread segment for every button).One can think of the ratio of one edge to one node as the “tipping point” where a random network suddenly goes from being sparsely connected to densely connected.

(2) How Boolean networks function

Networks of nodes that can be in a state of 0 or 1 are called Boolean network Imagine a string of Christmas tree lights that blink on or off. Each bulb receives inputs from the two bulbs on either side of it telling it whether they are on or off. We can then imagine that each light bulb has a rule that it follows to determine what it does next period, based on the inputs from the other two bulbs

Basically, three variables guide the behavior of such networks.

1) the number of nodes in the network.

2) a measure of how much everything is connected to everything else. And

3) measure of “bias” in the rules guiding the behavior of the nodes.

Let’s look at each of these in turn and their implications for economic and other types of organizations.

a) Number of nodes in the network: Bigger is usually better

The number of states a network can be in scales exponentially with the number of nodes. A network with 2 nodes can be in four, or 22 , states: 00, 10, 01, and 11. Likewise, a network with 3 nodes can be in eight, or 23

The exponential growth in possible states creates a very powerful kind of economy of scale in any network of information-processing entities. As the size of a Boolean network grows, the potential for novelty increases exponentially. A Boolean network with 10 nodes can be in 210 possible states a An organization the size of Boeing also has inherently more headroom for innovation in the future— the larger number of states in the Boeing organizational network means that there are more potential ways for Boeing to make a living than for my corner coffee shop.

b) Number of connections between nodes. Complexity Catastrophes when a network is big

The mathematics of Boolean networks leaves us with a quandary, however. If large organizations have more headroom for innovation than do small organizations, then why does the mythos of business hold that small organizations out-innovate large ones?

If a network has on average more than one connection per node, then as the number of nodes grows, the number of connections will scale exponentially with the number of nodes

This means that the number of interdependencies in the network grows faster than the network itself. This, then, is where the problems start to arise. As the number of interdependencies grows, changes in one part of the network are more likely to have ripple effects on other parts of the network. As the potential for these knock-on effects grows, the probability that a positive change in one part of the network will have a negative effect somewhere else also increases.

To illustrate, let’s imagine you are the cofounder of a small start-up company with only two departments: product development and marketing. You run product development and have an idea for a new product. So you have a meeting to discuss your plan, the marketing department agrees to it, and you are ready to go—

You grew. You now have an idea for your third-generation product, but something bizarre has happened. You have your usual meeting with marketing, but now before you get the department’s OK, the marketing managers say they have to check the impact on their budget, which was approved by finance. The finance folks say they can’t approve your project until they get an estimate from customer service on the cost of the additional support needed. And customer service has to check with marketing to make sure its plans are consistent with the company’s brand and pricing strategy. All of a sudden, you have gone from three meetings to ten (if all the permutations occur)

Degrees of Possibility Versus Degrees of Freedom The problem isn’t dumb people or evil intentions. Rather, network growth creates interdependencies, interdependencies create conflicting constraints, and conflicting constraints create slow decision making and, ultimately, bureaucratic gridlock.

We thus have two opposing forces at work in organizations: the informational economies of scale from node growth, and the diseconomies of scale from the buildup of conflicting constraints. Taken together, these opposing forces help us understand why big is both beautiful and bad: as an organization grows, its degrees of possibility increase exponentially while its degrees of freedom collapse exponentially.

This tension between interdependencies and adaptability is a deep feature of networks and profoundly affects many types of systems. This tension creates upper limits on the complexity of organisms.

Hierarchies alleviates the size problem. Organizing the network into hierarchies reduces the density of connections and thus reduces the interdependencies in the network. Hierarchies are critical in enabling networks to reach larger sizes before diseconomies of scale set in. This is why so many networks in the natural and computer worlds are structured as networks within networks.

counter intuitively, hierarchy can serve to increase adaptability by reducing interdependencies and enabling an organization to reach a larger size before gridlock sets in.

Who would have thought that hierarchy actually saves meetings? Hierarchy does, of course, have its problems; for example, information can degrade as it travels up the chain, the top may become out of touch with the front line, and a poor performer in a senior role can do a lot of damage.

A related move is to give the units within a hierarchical structure more autonomy.

c) Network bias: Increasing predictability allows for more connection per node

According to Kaufman, nonhierarchical networks exhibit spontaneous order with one or two average connections per node, but went into chaos (thus creating cascades of change and the potential for a complexity catastrophe) at four connections per node or more.

Bernard Derrida and Gerard Weisbuch, discovered a parameter that could change the point at which this phase transition takes place. They called the parameter bias.

Let’s say we pick a bulb and start feeding it Is and Os at random. Our input stream will thus be approximately 50 percent Is and 50 percent 0s. If the output stream was also fifty-fifty Is and 0s, then we could say that the output was unbiased, but if the output was say 90 percent Is, then we could say it was biased toward 1. A high-bias node is easier to predict.

Derrida and Weisbuch found that the higher the bias, the more densely connected a network can be before the transition to chaos occurs. If the average bias is fifty-fifty, then the transition to chaos happens in the range between two and four average connections per node, as it did in Kauffman’s study If the average bias is closer to 75 percent, then the transition happens above four connections per node. At higher bias levels, the network can go up to six connections per node before it trips into chaos. The key point is, the more regularity there is in the behavior of the nodes, the more density in connections the network can tolerate.

In an organizational context, we can think of bias as being a measure of predictability. If there is predictability in the decision making of an organization (the equivalent of the light bulbs’ rules), then the organization can function effectively with a more densely connected network. If, however, decision making is less predictable, then less-dense connections, more hierarchy, and smaller spans of control are needed. Thus, for example, in an army, where regular, predictable behavior of troops is highly valued, it might be possible to get away with larger unit sizes than, say, in a creative advertising agency. Factors that make behavior less predictable, such as office politics and emotions, can limit the size an organization can grow to before being overwhelmed by complexity

If we combine Kauffman’s original result with the later results on hierarchy and bias, however, the phase transition shifts to the range of six to nine nodes. Interestingly, the numbers that come out of the analysis of Boolean networks are quite close to what we typically see for the size of effective working groups in human organizations

C. Chapter 8: Emergence: How the Patterns arise

(1) The mistery of economic and business cycles

Depressions, recessions, and inflation are not exclusively modern phenomena; they are patterns that have recurred since the beginning of recorded history. Time series have a not-quite-regular, not-quite-random character to them. Economists have had very little success in trying to use the irregular historical patterns in economic

The ultimate accomplishment of Complexity Economics would be to develop a theory that takes us from theories of agents, networks, and evolution, all the way up to the macro patterns we see in real-world economies. Such a comprehensive theory does not yet exist, but we can begin to see glimmers of what it might look like. Such a theory would view macroeconomic patterns as emergent phenomena, that is, characteristics of the system as a whole that arise endogenously out of interactions of agents and their environment.

(2) Lesson from a Beer Industry simulation: business fluctuations does not flatten out, they goes through storm and calm

d) The game setup: 4 players are retailer, distributors and manufactures of beer. Compete to lower their cost

Four volunteers are asked to play a game simulating the manufacture and distribution of beer. The game is played as follows. Each participant has an inventory of cases of beer (represented by chips on the game board). At the beginning of each turn, the retailer turns over one card from the deck to get the order from the consumers (e.g., four cases) and then submits an order to the wholesaler. The wholesaler looks at his or her orders from the retailer and submits an order to the distributor,

1) Players incur costs of $0.50 per case for holding inventory (e.g., the cost of storing and securing the beer), and costs of $1.00 per case for running out of beer (e.g., angry customers and lost sales). Therefore,

2) The winner of the game is the one who incurs the lowest cost.

3) Likewise, there is a small delay between when orders are submitted and when they are processed

4) Finally, no communications are allowed between the players other than through the orders. Thus, the brewer doesn’t know what the customer demand is down at the retailer’s end;

The game starts out in equilibrium, with each player getting an order for four cases of beer and shipping exactly that many.

Unbeknownst to the participants, the first several cards in the consumer deck remain at four. Some players may order a bit more or a bit less than four, depending on how risk averse they are. Otherwise, not much happens. Then, suddenly, on one turn, the consumer-order card jumps from four to eight. The players do not know it, but the customer-order level will stay at eight for the rest of the game.

e) The results: a shock in the environment induces a shock in inventories that is amplified over time

According to Traditional Economics, this exogenous shock in demand should simply cause the players to move to a new equilibrium after a few turns of adjustment, with everyone ordering eight, and everyone’s inventories staying constant

In experiments with real people, however, the players inevitably overreact to the jump in demand by over-ordering as their inventory falls. As this wave of over-ordering travels up the supply chain, it is amplified.

Just what kind of behavior leads to such wild oscillations in a relatively simple environment? Sterman has been able to statistically derive the decision rule used by the participants [1]This rule is based on a behavior known in the psychology literature as anchor and adjust. Rather than deductively calculate their future beer needs by looking at all the inventory on the board (which they can see) and incorporating the effects of the time delays and so on, the participants simply look at the past pattern of orders and inventory levels, and inductively anchor on a pattern that seems normal. Their IF-THEN rules consequently try to steer them to maintain that normal pattern. Thus, a participant might anchor on four cases as the normal pattern of orders and then struggle to adjust when things are not normal, for example, “My inventory is dropping, order more!” In an environment with time delays, the anchor-and-adjust rule causes individuals to both overshoot and undershoot, which in turn leads to the emergent pattern of cyclical behavior.

Humans don’t do well when there is a time delay between their actions and the response to those actions

There are two ways to dampen the cycles in the Beer Game: one is to reduce the time delays, and the other is to give the participants more information (e.g., giving the brewer direct visibility into what is happening at the retail level).24

(3) Punctuated Equilibrium: Are There “Keystone” Technologies?

a) What is punctuated equilibrium: phases of calm and storm

Over the century that followed the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, biologists assumed that evolution proceeded in a stately and relatively linear fashion, leading to a smooth pattern of speciation and extinction. Then, in a landmark paper in 1972, the paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould overturned this conventional wisdom and argued that the fossil record shows that biological evolution has not followed a smooth path.2 8

For example, during the Cambrian period about 550 million years ago, a burst of evolutionary innovation saw the takeover of the earth by multicellular life and the creation of most of the major phyla on earth today. Then, about 245 million years ago, during the late Permian period, there was what Gould called “the granddaddy of all extinctions”; when 96 percent of all marine species on earth disappeared

Patterns of punctuated equilibrium show up not just in biological evolution, but in other complex systems ranging from the slides of avalanches to the crashes of stock markets.

Many types of networks self-organize into a structure that has a mixture of very dense connections and very sparse connections. It is just such a network structure that underlies the emergence of punctuated equilibrium in biological ecosystems

The researchers found that if they randomly removed “species” from their simulated ecosystem, typically not much happened. Yet, once in a while, removing a random species would set off a cascade of events leading to a mass extinction. Certain species are very densely connected to other species in the web of food relationships and niche competition. Biologists call these “keystone species”.

b) Technology evolves following evolution patterns: i.e. with emergent properties

Technological innovation proceeds in similar patterns of calm and storm.

Technologies are inherently modular: a car, for example, is made up of an engine, a transmission, a body, and so on. Modules are then assembled into “architectures,” in this case, the design of the car itself

It is innovations in architectures (e.g., the PC revolution itself) that tend to have the big catalyzing ripple effects on innovation. We thus have two of the key features that led to the punctuated equilibrium pattern in Jain and Krishna’s model—sparse-dense networks of interaction, and catalyzing effects from individual nodes.

Technology webs might be subject to cascades of change leading to the emergent pattern of punctuated equilibrium, and that certain technologies could play the role of keystones in those webs.

(4) A time pattern emerges in nature and economy: power laws

Several researchers have shown statistically that stocks do not follow a random walk. The clumpy pattern for IBM stock price shows that the volatility of price movements is correlated in time. This is the stormy-quiet-stormy pattern of punctuated equilibrium A few points skyrocket above, or plunge far below, the rest of the sample. What could lead to such dramatic movements in prices?

The surfacing of news does not explain much of the swing in prices. We have a mystery: why is there so much news-less volatility in the market? The answer to this mystery lies in an interesting observation: while stock price movements don t look much like a random walk, they do look like another phenomenon: earthquakes.

The following straight line on a log-log scale meant that, with earthquakes, there is no “typical” size in the middle of the distribution as there is in body heights. Rather, earthquakes occur across all size scales, but the bigger the quake, the rarer it is—specifically, with each doubling in earthquake energy, the probability of a quake of that size occurring drops by a factor of four. It is thus a slippery slope down

Physicists call this kind of relationship a power law, because the distribution is described by an equation with an exponent, or power.42 Power laws have been discovered in a wide variety of phenomena, including the sizes of biological extinction events, the intensity of solar flares, the ranking of cities by size, traffic jams, cotton prices, the number of fatalities in warfare, and even the distribution of sex partners in social networks.43 Power laws, along with oscillations and punctuated equilibrium, are another signature characteristic of complex adaptive systems.

Pareto’s study of income found a lot of poor, a middle class that stretched over a wide range, and a very few superrich. He found that for every increase of income by 1 percent, there was a corresponding decline in the number of households by 1.5 percent—graphed on log-log paper, this produces a straight line—a power law. Pareto

Power laws reemerged briefly in economics in the 1960s, when Benoit Mandelbrot became interested in the fluctuations of cotton prices on the Chicago Mercantile The fluctuations seemed to have no natural timescale. If he took one section of the graph, say, one hour, and stretched it out to the length of a day, one could not tell which graph was the hourly data and which was the daily data. He then looked at data from other commodities, including gold and wheat, and saw the same pattern—power laws

They found that the fluctuations in stock prices follow clear power laws in the tails of the distribution.

One of the consequences of this result is that financial markets are far more volatile than Traditional Economics leads us to believe.

The size of companies as measured by employees also scales according to a power law. Company sales growth, as well as the GDP growth of nations, likewise scales according to a power law.

(5) Why Are Stock Markets So Volatile? Because of the market order and limit order structure.

The key is that there are two types of trades one can make on most stock exchanges. The first is a market order, in which a trader says buy (or sell) stock X right now for the best available price. The second is a limit order, in which a trader says buy stock X if the price falls to $100 (or conversely, sell stock X if the price rises to $100)

The cause of large price fluctuations was the structure of the order book itself—large fluctuations occurred when there were large gaps between the price levels in the book.

The regularity of the order pattern implied that there was also some regularity in the behavior of the traders placing the orders—a result at odds with the Traditional theory that all trading is driven by unpredictable news events.

(6) Conclusion: pattern behavior emerges as consequence of: individual behavior regularities; institutional traits; exogenous inputs

Complex emergent phenomena such as business cycles and stock price movements are likely to have three root causes:

  1. The first is the behavior of the participants in the system. As we have seen, real human beings have real behavioral regularities, whether it is the anchor and adjust rule of the Beer Game participants, or the yet to be understood regularity that leads to student distributions in stock ordering.
  2. Second, the institutional structure of the system makes a big difference. In the case of the Beer Game, the structure of the supply chain between the manufacturer and retailer created dynamics, that when combined with participant behavior, led to oscillations. In the case of the stock market, the structure of the limit order system, when combined with trader behavior, led to power law volatility.
  3. Third and last, are exogenous inputs into the system. In the case of the Beer Game it was the onetime jump in customer orders, and in the case of the stock market it is news.

D. Chapter 9: How Evolution works in economics

(1) Evolution selects the best ideasa or Business Plan

Business Plans are instructions for creating businesses that can be implemented by qualified Business Plan readers. These instructions bind Physical Technologies and Social Technologies together into modules under a strategy.

Business Plans are differentiated through the deductive-tinkering of agents as they search for potentially profitable plans. While the distribution of experiments created by this process differs from the purely random differentiation of biological evolution, it nonetheless feeds the evolutionary algorithm with a superfecundity of Business Plans for selection to act on.

At some point the plans are implemented and the market renders its judgment. Finally, successful modules are rewarded by gaining influence over more resources.

(2) Markets are evolutionary search mechanism

Following the framework I have just outlined, we can reinterpret markets as an evolutionary search mechanism. Markets provide incentives for the deductive-tinkering process of differentiation. They then critically provide a fitness function and selection process that represents the broad needs of the population (and not just the needs of a few Big Men). Finally, they provide a means of shifting resources toward fit modules and away from unfit ones, thus amplifying the fit modules’ influence.

Markets win over command and control, not because of their efficiency at resource allocation in equilibrium, but because of their effectiveness at innovation in disequilibrium.

the reason that markets work so well comes down to what evolutionary theorists refer to as Orgel’s Second Rule (named after biochemist Leslie Orgel), which says, “Evolution is cleverer than you are.” Even a highly rational, intelligent, benevolent Big Man would not be able to beat an evolutionary algorithm in finding peaks in the economic fitness landscape.

The reason that markets are good at allocation has more to do with their computational efficiency as a distributed processing system (i.e., they get the right signals to the right people), than with their ability to reach a mythical global equilibrium.

E. Chapter 14: A New Definition of Wealth: Fit Order

(1) Economic activity consists in creating order

In 1971 Georgescu-Roegen’, published his magnum opus The Entropy Law and the Economic Process, where he stated that that economic activity is fundamentally about order creation, and that evolution is the mechanism by which that order is created.

The Second Law thus provides a basic constraint on all life: over time, energy inputs must be greater than energy expenditures. All organisms must make a thermodynamic “profit” to survive and reproduce. The design for an organism can be thought of as a strategy for making thermodynamic profits long enough to reproduce, before the Second Law eventually catches up.

Competition for the energy and materials needed for order creation is, of course, intense; plants compete for ground, water, and sunlight, and many species have the strategy of stealing energy and materials from other species by eating them.

Just as in biological systems, the economic process materially consists of a transformation of high entropy into low entropy.

(2) A Proposal: Three Conditions for Value Creation

A pattern of matter, energy, and or information has economic value if the following three conditions are jointly met:

1. IRREVERSIBILITY. All value-creating economic transformations and transactions are thermodynamically irreversible.

2. ENTROPY. All value-creating economic transformations and transactions reduce entropy locally within the economic system, while increasing entropy globally.

3. FITNESS. All value-creating economic transformations and transactions produce artifacts and or actions that are fit for human purposes.

Consequently, low entropy might indeed be necessary for something to have economic value, but defining what kinds of order are valuable and what kinds are not seems rather subjective—order is in the eye of the beholder.

Taken together, the three G-R Conditions say that economic activity is fundamentally about order creation. Faced with the disorder and randomness of the world, humans spend most of their waking hours ordering their environment in various ways to make it a more hospitable and enjoyable place. We order our world by transforming energy, matter, and information into the goods and services we want, and we have discovered the evolutionary Good Trick that by cooperating, specializing, and trading, we can create even more order than we otherwise could on our own.

They select forms of order that meet their needs, fulfilling drives and preferences

In physics, order is the same thing as information, and thus we can also think of wealth as fit information; in other words, knowledge.

Information on its own can be worthless. Knowledge on the other hand is information that is useful, that we can do something with, that is fit for some purpose.

Evolution is a knowledge-creation machine—a learning algorithm.53 Think of all the knowledge embedded in the ingenious designs of the biological world. A grasshopper is an engineering marvel, a storehouse of knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biomechanics—knowledge that is beyond the bounds of current human ability to replicate

A grasshopper is also a snapshot of knowledge about the environment it evolved in, the foods that were good to eat, the predators that needed to be defended against, and the strategies that worked well for attracting mates and ensuring the survival of progeny. There are terabytes of knowledge embedded in a single grasshopper.

We have found the answer to our quest. Wealth is knowledge and its origin is evolution.


[1] Sterman, J. D. 1985. A Behavioral Model of the Economic Long Wave. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 6:17-53.