View single post by JG6789
 Posted: Tue Aug 14th, 2012 08:46 pm
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Joined: Mon Apr 23rd, 2012
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Mark wrote: I've been wondering if "turning point" is a misnomer in historical discussions. I am convinced that nothing in history is inevitable and "turning point" implies that after that after a certain point, all events had to lead to one conclusion. Without being too technical, I would submit that chaos theory (or what I understand of it--my wife is a math whiz and has tried to explain it to me) suggests that every action could be a "turning point" in history because every action, no matter how small, causes important results on a much larger scale. If every action is a turning point, can ANY action truly be called what we mean by turning point? I like to see history as countless actions and reactions that interact with each other to produce results that require people to take new actions. Hope I was clear enough. I also hope that if someone can correct or enhance my understanding of chaos I would be most appreciative!


Interesting analysis.  I tend to come to similar conclusions from a determinist perspective (chaos doesn’t represent the non-existence of deterministic laws, but rather our inability to account for all of them…).  In a real sense, if history could not have gone any other way than how it did, then there are no turning points…if, that is, your understanding of turning points requires that there be contingency.  I tend to see it differently.   Even without contingency we can recognize where events changed significantly in some way, and identify this change (or the causes of such change) as “turning points”.  This is what these debates kind of boil down to, in my opinion. 

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