The Hope and Ethical Challenge Associated with the Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect


(Thanks to Lara Fish for reminding me about the relevance of the butterfly effect to the idea of “enduring ripples”and the video referenced in this post.)

The use of  “rippling” by a psychotherapist encountering a client with death anxiety or by the introspection of a teacher buffeted by the realization that she is often teaching those who have no wish to be taught is importantly similar.  Both the client and the teacher need hope in a seemingly dark moment, and the hope should have a substantial grounding in probability. Andy Andrews story of “The Butterfly Effect” provides a graphic avenue toward constructing that hope.

But rippling and the Butterfly Effect can do so much more. If we take them seriously, they serve as a speed inhibitor for our decisions.  Once we realize that the fate of others might be an extension of our next decision, the enormity of the potential importance of our decisions should weigh heavily on our actions. In other words, our acts have ethical content as a result of their potential to assist and endanger others.

Ethics of Butterfly Effect

Provide one kind of a model for others and you might send someone 2 generations hence to the barbed wire. It makes little sense to act as if we are great predictors of the effects of our actions.  BUT we certainly can make a strong guess that certain actions we take are especially likely to assist the development of others.



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