some of the criticisms we leveled earlier at history and thensocial “sciences.”nBut in doing so it abdicates that very activity—holisticnunderstanding and the enrichment of the world byninterpretation—that characterizes the human Umwelt itself.nThe admonition not to totalize is the most totalitarianncommand of all, since it essentially dehumanizes history.nThe feedback process of human culture is a feedback ofnwhat deconstructionists would call totalizations. The openendednessnof history is created by the competition andnaccommodation of various candidates for the last word, thendernier cri, the formula of closure (including this one); it isnan ecology of absolutisms. Nor is this ecology a randomnplay of flows, without direction or growth; technology,nrecords, and enduring works of art constitute ratchets whichnprevent any return to earlier, less complex states of thensystem, just as genetic inheritance did in earlier ages. Thusnhistory is an evolutionary system, with the three factorsnrequired for evolution to take place: variation (provided bynthe unpredictable paisley of reflexive events), selectionn(provided by the competition and accommodation of “totalizations”),nand inheritance, a conservative ratchet to preventnwhat is of advantage from being lost.nThe only way open is to seek principles of understandingnand descriptive categories that are proper to our own level ofnreflexive complexity. To do this is essentially an artistic,nconstructive, performative, and religious activity, and itncannot fully depend on the capacity for calculation bynwhich we claim to understand the rest of the natural world.n(Even this claim must yield at a certain point. Ultimatelynscientists appeal to the beauty of a theory to justify it beforenthe infinite plenum of its equally consistent rivals.) Historynis an art, even a technology, or a liturgy as much as it is anscience; and it is so not only in the activity of historiographynas research.nIn other words, I am proposing a change in our fundamentalnparadigm of historical and human study. And herenanother set of major scientific advances comes into play.nMost workers in the historical and sociological fields stillnaccept the cultural determinism that was one of the firstnnaive responses of the West to the cultural diversity of thennewly discovered non-Western world. Thus for them thenunits of historical study, human beings, are tabulae rasae,nto be inscribed by cultural conditioning or economicnpressures.nMore recently, however, in fields as diverse as culturalnanthropology, linguistics, twin-studies, paleoanthropology,nhuman evolution, psychophysics, performance studies,nneuroanatomy, neurochemistry, folklore and mythology,nand ethology, it is becoming clear that we human beingsnbring to history and society an enormously rich set of innatencapacities, tendencies, and exclusive potentials. We uncannilynchoose, again and again, the same kinds of poeticnmeters, kinship classifications, calendars, myths, funerals,nstories, decorative patterns, musical scales, performancentraditions, rituals, food-preparation concepts, grammars,nand symbolisms. We are not natureless. Indeed, our naturesninclude, genetically, much of the cultural experience of ournspecies in that period of one to five million years ofnnature-culture overlap during which our biological evolutionnhad not ceased, while our cultural evolution hadnalready begun: the period in which unwittingly we domesticatednand bred ourselves into our humanity. The shape andnchemistry of our brains is in part a cultural artifact. We arendeeply written and inscribed already, we have our ownncharacters, so to speak, when we come from the womb.nSo having taken away one kind of rationality fromnhistorical and human studies, we may be able to replace itnwith another. But in so doing are we not committing thenvery sin—reducing a self-organizing and unpredictablenorder to a set of deterministic laws—of which we accuse thendeterminist historians? Are we not replacing cultural orneconomic determinism with biological determinism? Not atnall. First, to understand the principles governing the individualnelements of a complex system is, as we have seen,nnot sufficient to be able to educe laws to predict thenbehavior of the ensemble. The beautiful paisleys of atmosphericnturbulence are not explained by the most precisenunderstanding of the individual properties—atomic weight,nchemical structure, specific heat, and so on—of its elements.nSecond, the peculiar understanding of the humannbeing that we are coming to is that of a creature programmednrather rigidly and in certain specific ways to donsomething which is totally open-ended—that is, to learnnand to create. Our hardwiring—whose proper developmentnwe neglect in our education at great peril—is designed tonmake us infinitely inventive. Our nature is a grammar thatnwe must learn to use correctiy and which, if we do, makesnus linguistically into protean gods, able to say anything innthe world or out of it.nThus the paradigm change which this line of argumentnsuggests is from one in which a social universe of natureless,nculturally determined units is governed by a set of causalnlaws which, given precise input, will generate accuratenpredictions, to one in which a cultural universe of complexnaturednbut knowable individuals, by the interaction andnfeedback of their intentions, generates an ever-changingnsocial pattern or paisley, which can be modeled but notnpredicted. The meaning of understanding would changenfrom being able to give a discursive or mathematicalnaccount of something to being able to set up a workingnmodel that can do the same sorts of things as the original.nFundamental political concepts like freedom, war, civilnorder, equality, literacy, power, justice, sovereignty, and sonon would no longer be defined in terms of a set of objectivenabstract conditions but as living activities in a one-waynunrepeatable process of historical change. It would be suchna revaluation as occurred in literary criticism in the 19thncentury, when tragedy came to be defined as a process, annorganic and recognizable activity, rather than as conformingnto such rules as the Three Unities. Conceivably thenautomobile has done as much to create political freedom asnany set of laws; yet historical and political scholarship isntaken by surprise by such relationships. Imagine howngovernable the Soviet Union would be if everyone had ancar—or a personal computer with a modem; glasnost maynbe more than what the party bargained for. Is not justicenvery much a matter of talent and personality? Blake said:nOne law for the ox and the lion is oppression. Might therennot have been more equality of certain valid kinds betweenna gentieman and his valet than between an employer andnemployee in a classless society? Is not power the mostnnnDECEMBER 19871 35n