| Chaos – the science of the global nature of systems. It is distinct from the popular but infinitely more vague “holism” in its strict adherence to mathematical modeling and its lack of consideration for belief systems and their postulated effect.
Dynamical System – systems in constant flux. This includes the human body and several of its sub-systems. These are not always chaotic.
The Butterfly Effect – also called “sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” A common characteristic of dynamical systems that allows tiny bits of input to potentially create massive changes in output.
Feedback – activity in a system that promotes change (positive) or stability (negative). All chaotic systems display this, and many dynamical systems.
Fractal – this has a number of definitions and characteristics. Most simply (but incompletely) put, it is a geometric shape that typically branches or in some other way repeats its over-all shape at various scales.
Fractals are created by non-liner dynamics, and might be said to provide a border between order and chaos.
Fractals are significant in the body when they form anatomical parts that we are trying to control. They seem distinctly unpredictable in their response to provocation, and are therefore difficult to track in a common critical pathway or protocol.
The nervous tissue is certainly a fractal, and (according to the dermatology literature), so is the skin. Perhaps this explains why deforming the skin can produce so remarkably variable a response.
I propose that the normal separation of the body into hard and soft tissues is not nearly so useful as its separation into systems or organs that are fractal and linear.
On this site there are several essays that speak both directly and metaphorically to the issues of chaos and the management of dynamical systems.
See “The Nonlinear Being” and “As Two Rivers Meet.” In my book “Shallow Dive,” see, “The Shapes Within.”
See also the reference list, “Fractal Geometry in Anatomy.” The article in “Scientific American” is especially good and easily accessible.