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What is Tychism?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Thychism is a concept that was originally developed and expounded by Charles Sanders Peirce, a late 19th century American philosopher. Essentially, tychism is concerned with the idea that there is an element of chance at work in the way the natural world functions. While acknowledging natural laws as the means whereby the universe avoids a state of chaos, Peirce leaves the door open for the element of chance to have some impact on the way those natural laws function.

The theory of tychism does not involve the concept of what is known as absolute chance. A world that functioned with absolute chance as the foundation would be in a constant state of flux, with no real grounding to provide any type of continuity. Instead, the chance that Peirce outlines in tychism is a component that works in conjunction with an ordered universe that functions according to fundamental laws of operation that do not change over time. What tychism does allow is diversity and variety in the way that humans interact with these laws.

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In tychism, change is not only possible, but necessary. As the universe continues to become more complex, new applications of the basic laws must evolve. It is through this growth brought on by change that these applications come to light and are eventually understood by humanity. The combination of growth and complexity in turn lead to more variety and diversity in creation. Over time, what is newly perceived becomes an accepted part of the natural order and thus becomes part of the basic laws that define parameters for the emotions and mindsets of human beings.

Tychism presents a philosophy that is in opposition to the idea of necessitarianism, which essentially states that all laws are immutable and fully determine the outcome of all things at all times. Tychism, by contrast, adds in the element of potential change that does not necessarily attempt to change basic laws, but does adapt them to an ever more complex reality that allows for diversity of results in different times and places.

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