1

It is possible to remove the article the from:

In the previous chapters, we saw the importance of communication.

to obtain:

In previous chapters, we saw the importance of communication.

the is used to further specify the nouns that it precedes. That being said, I don't see how the PP containing the adds more specificity to chapters when compared with the one without the.

3

The sentence is grammatically correct with or without the, as you rightly said. But for me the meanings are very slightly different.

"In the previous chapters" suggests to me that the author is referring either to all previous chapters or at least several contiguous immediately-preceding chapters.

"In previous chapters" is more vague and could refer to, for example, chapters 2 and 5 (if this text appears in, say, chapter 7).

The difference in this case is subtle and maybe a little subjective, but it is there. It is not a concrete change of meaning but the idea it evokes for a reader is slightly different.

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