Chaos vs Disorder – diverse meanings, perspectives, and issues

{Many url references to chaos and disorder at the end}

Once I interpreted/created a useful distinction between two concepts, which I labeled “chaos” and “disorder”.  I remember a motivating quote, related to the Greek origins of the word: “Chaos is the font of order“: Order emerges from Chaos; whereas disorder is the result of the decay of order. In many situations chaos precedes order.

I believe this distinction, between the positive CHAOS and the negative DISORDER, is one – of many – we need to make to survive/thrive. The many wildly different uses of these two terms by many famous persons – as revealed in these quotes – illustrates that this distinction is not well known.

Imagine the superposition of 50 songs – it would sound like noise (disorder), “possess a randomness”. But with an algorithm, one might retrieve each song. This is a crude metaphor for chaos, in my usage of the term.

As scientists begin to discover a new domain, their early works often appear as chaos – a moving towards order. The “order” ascribed to “established theories” is actually added by those who “tune up” the initial semiotic forms as presented by the original innovators. For example: Newton, Darwin, Einstein, The Quantum Team.

In metamorphosis, the caterpillar decays into disorder, while the imaginal buds appear in chaos as they emerge as the viable and beautiful, ordered biology, the butterfly.

The collapse of society today produces disorder. The work of activists trying to organize is initially chaotic, leading hopefully to viable order.

Much use of the phrase “order out of chaos” confuses the distinction.

There is a call, by many: we must first destroy old order so that new order may spontaneously arise. This hypothesis, for the spontaneous (unintentional, leaderless) emergence, by fragments from the collapse of order (disorder) has zero verification – it is a deceptive myth. New order doesn’t arise from the fragments in disorder. However, nu order emerging (but not yet  “adequately ordered”) appears as disorder (but is chaos).

A variation is the cliche that “things must get worse before they can get better“. A rationale for this belief is that the opposition or block to change must be first removed (destroyed, becoming disordered) to permit the new to emerge. This ignores the nature of emergence to first have the appearance of chaos (a lack of order – but not disorder). The blocking of emergence is a real and significant factor, but the removal of the block is never sufficient.

That “agency by activists creates the new order” is also a myth. The planning and actions by early activists never strongly determines the new emergent order, although Founding Revolutionaries do leave their mark.

References – confusion of different meanings for these terms. Scientific, Current re Trump, & Alternative Media.

As synonyms:
In physics:
Cosmogony / Chaos:
Chaos to Cosmos
Stuart Kauffman Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order” 1991 pdf :
Kauffman, “Origins of Order“, Book Review 1993:
Ilya Prigogine – Order Out of Chaos  book 1984:
James Gleick: Chaos: Making a New Science  book   1987:
Dee Hock – Chaordic Organizations:


Many Quotes about Chaos, Order, and Disorder
Chaos vs Order: The Root of Ideology Jon Hanson (short video)
Trump > Order Out of Chaos:
An interesting view of BRICS being Order Out of Chaos:
Orwell Today website | Order Out of Chaos, Staged Events (current):
Alex Jones Conspiracy Theory – Order Out of Chaos:
Revolution > Order Out of Chaos:
Nietzsche’s “From chaos, comes order”
Freemasonry ORDO AB CHAO – Gnostic Warrior website:


Self Help Website for Students – Order Out of Chaos FaceBook:
RealTime Paradigm Blog by Joan, Out of Chaos Comes Order:
Pattiann Rogers, POEM: The Origin of Order:
 A Mathematical Symphony – Chaos and Order – Video Production:
Prince – Album and Song – Chaos and Disorder:

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.



  1. […] Nu order emerges from chaos (in mythology, the “font of order”), which characterizes the changing “states” [—-] where order is coming to be, but not yet usefully manifest – which can cause us difficulty. Chaos is quite distinct from disorder: disruption or destruction arising from the decay and collapse of order. As order begins to emerge from the yet not adequately coordinated components (chaotic), we are often frustrated because we don’t comprehend how, in complex/turbulent systems, order emerges at the edge of chaos. For activists, this chaos is quite distinct from the disorder experienced when infrastructures fail and no one seems to know what to do. That is NOT chaos, in the sense used here, but disorder. [Chaos vs Disorder] […]