This chapter continues the survey of Boyd’s scientific Zeitgeist by looking at chaos and complexity theory and the concept of Complex Adaptive Systems, or CAS, ideas that emerged in what is often labeled as the postmodern era. It will also discuss the implications of Boyd’s study of scientific sources for the interpretation of his work. It takes off with the rise of neo-Darwinism. The neoDarwinist perspective dominated the wave of popular scientific literature from the late 1970s onward with the cognitive process often playing a central role. As Jeremy Rifkin noted in 1987, ‘the old Darwinian view of “survival of the fittest” is now being cast aside in some quarters in favor of a new view of “survival of the best informed” ’. Whereas standard neo-Darwinian orthodoxy held that each species up the evolutionary line is better able to utilize scarce resources more efficiently, the emergent theory characterized each species up the evolutionary chain as better adept at processing greater stores of information in shorter time spans.2 Boyd’s very first presentation carries the marks of this perspective, indeed, his ideas about war and strategy are pregnant with Darwinian notions. In the opening remarks in the essay Destruction and Creation, one reads that ‘studies of human behavior reveal that the actions we undertake as individuals are closely related to survival’. Hence Boyd’s statement that the goal of an individual is ‘to improve our capacity for independent action’. In the opening slides of Patterns of Conflict this surfaces again when he discusses human nature. The goal, again, is to survive, and to survive on one’s own terms, or improve one’s capacity for independent action. Due to forced competition for limited resources to satisfy these desires, one is probably compelled to
diminish adversary’s capacity for independent action, or deny him the opportunity to survive on his own terms, or make it impossible to survive at all.