• Gnomon
    1.5k
    Well, okay, so when you say "information is physical and metaphysical" you are, in effect, saying that information can be scientifically treated like e.g. temperature without bothering with phenomenological "warmth", that is, as I've said, in a way that is completely physical.180 Proof
    No, that's a "strawman", as you like to say. When I describe Information as both physical and metaphysical, I mean exactly that. In its physical forms, Information is the same matter & energy that physicists, chemists, and biologists have been studying for years. Yet, in its metaphysical forms, Information is the ideas & feelings that psychologists and philosophers are still struggling with today. Moreover, understanding the distinction between them is what Chalmers famously called "the hard problem'. Studying matter & energy is "easy" because they are accessible to our physical senses. But Information is only known via the sixth sense of Reason, which "sees" the invisible relationships between both material objects (geometry) and between mental concepts (ratios, meanings).

    Christof Koch is probably the most prominent Neuroscientist today. Years ago, with his mentor Francis Crick, he proposed that Consciousness would soon be explained by examining its physical Neural Correlates : like a black body radiating physical phenomenal measurable heat. But they eventually found that Consciousness is more like the metaphysical noumenal feeling of "warmth". So, Koch today, has rejected the materialist approach, and he wrote a book on The Feeling of Life Itself. He even subscribes to a modern scientific version of the ancient notion of Panpsychism. My own worldview is similar to that, but it's not a Dualism, because I think Information is both Material and Mental, both Physical and Metaphysical. So, I wrote a thesis, explaining how I came to that conclusion. Everything I say on this forum comes from that Monistic worldview. :nerd:

    PS__In the immortal words of Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here . . . is a failure to communicate." Talk to the Strawman. :wink:

    Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist :
    What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states?
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BT4BWVB/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    Panpsychism: The Trippy Theory :
    Though it sounds like something that sprang fully formed from the psychedelic culture, panpsychism has been around for a very long time. Philosophers and mathematicians Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, physicists Arthur Eddington, Ernst Schrödinger, and Max Planck, and psychologist William James are just a few thinkers who supported some form of panpsychism. The idea lost traction in the late 20th century, but recently, philosophers and scientists such as David Chalmers, Bernardo Kastrup, Christof Koch, and Philip Goff have revived the idea, making strong claims for some form of panpsychism.
    https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/panpsychism-the-trippy-theory-that-everything-from-bananas-to-bicycles-are

    http://enformationism.info/enformationism.info/
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    When I describe Information as both physical and metaphysical, I mean exactly that.Gnomon
    Yeah, in other words, both 'matters of fact' and 'matters of feeling (or speculation)'. The latter has no bearing on the science, however, just as "warmth" has no bearing on explaining temperature.

    In its physical forms, Information is the same matter & energy that physicists, chemists, and biologists have been studying for years. Yet, in its metaphysical forms, Information is the ideas & feelings that psychologists and philosophers are still struggling with today.
    "Psychologists and philosophers are still struggling" only in so far as their assumptions are category mistakes (like e.g. idealism, which conflates epistemology with (in terms of) ontology).

    Christof Koch is probably the most prominent Neuroscientist today.
    Nothing against Dr. Koch but a much more insightful, productive and profound neuroscientist and philosopher currently working today is Thomas Metzinger. Others I find more scientifically interesting than Dr. Koch
    ... Antonio Damasio (SMH & CST), Sebastian Seung (CT), Stanislas Dehaene (GWT), R.S. Bakker (BBT & HNT) ...180 Proof
    Btw, each in his own way shows that "panpsychism" amounts to a woo-of-the-gaps solution in search of a "hard" pseudo-"problem". :roll:
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    The latter has no bearing on the science, however, just as "warmth" has no bearing on explaining temperature.180 Proof
    I suppose that's why some people find Science to be "cold" : it doesn't understand the significance of metaphysical "warmth", as opposed to physical Heat. But this thread is only indirectly about Science anyway ; it's about the philosophical conjecture of a Mind behind Evolution. So, we've gotten way off track. But (strawman warning) I suppose you agree with Daniel Dennett that there is no such thing as Consciousness or Mind -- just neurons creating illusions. :grin:

    PS__Hmmmm. What is the physical substance of illusions ; ectoplasm?
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    I hazard to interpret Dennett's meaning that "consciousness or mind" is not a thing but a process. For me, minding is to brain as breathing is to lungs.

    PS__Hmmmm. What is the physical substance of illusions ; ectoplasm?
    Same as the "physical substance" of e.g. perception or memory.
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    I hazard to interpret Dennett meaning that "consciousness or mind" is not a thing but a process. For me, minding is to brain as breathing is to lungs.180 Proof
    That's exactly my understanding of Consciousness, as the Metaphysical Function of the physical Brain. Minding is what the Brain does. But the "atoms" of Mind are "bits" of Information. A "process" is not a physical "thing" but an inductive inference from observation of Change. For example, a stationary billiard ball begins to move when struck by the cue ball. But we don't actually see any transfer of momentum, we infer it. And the human ability-to-infer-the-unseen (e.g. invisible forces) is (strawman alert) what you call "woo". :grin:

    PS__Materialist scientists infer (imagine) that the Strong & Weak Forces are "carried" by invisible particles of some magical stuff they like to call "Energy" -- which is not quantitative matter, but qualitative "ability to cause change". If that ain't Woo, what is? As usual with woo-stuff, we observe the Effects, but not the Cause, which must be imagined. :nerd:

    PPS__Enformation is Causation

    Causation :
    Hume shows that experience does not tell us much. Of two events, A and B, we say that A causes B when the two always occur together, that is, are constantly conjoined. Whenever we find A, we also find B, and we have a certainty that this conjunction will continue to happen. Once we realize that “A must bring about B” is tantamount merely to “Due to their constant conjunction, we are psychologically certain that B will follow A”, then we are left with a very weak notion of necessity. This tenuous grasp on causal efficacy helps give rise to the Problem of Induction–that we are not reasonably justified in making any inductive inference about the world.
    https://iep.utm.edu/hume-cau/
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    Btw, each in his own way shows that "panpsychism" amounts to a woo-of-the-gaps solution in search of a "hard" pseudo-"problem".180 Proof
    I understand your skepticism of much "science of mind", which strays into woo territory. For example, Parapsychologists tend to view the mind (Psi) as-if it's an intangible substance (dark energy??) out there in the Aether. I just read a section of Information-Consciousness-Reality, in which the author concludes from his review of Classical Physics, Psychology, and Quantum Physics, that the "seeds" of consciousness are inherent in the physical world. That is how Panpsychism explains the "hard problem" of how Objective matter & energy can combine to produce a Subjective perspective. The assumption is that it was not a miraculous effect of cosmic-scale statistics, but a natural process like a "seed" becoming a tree. As with DNA, the design-of-a-tree (its Platonic Form) was already encoded in the seed, waiting to be transformed by the process of metabolism from potential to actual.

    Similarly, the Brain doesn't make Mind magically out of "whole cloth" (pure fabrication), but processes mundane information (the code), in the form of energy & matter, into the meta-physical function we call Consciousness. The same metaphor applies to the Big Bang, in which a tiny Singularity (the seed) gave birth to an evolving cosmic-scale organism that eventually transformed ordinary energy & matter into the amazing Process that allows humans to know-that-they-know -- to become aware of their material surroundings, as well as of their mental milieu (human culture). Materialist scientists still have no plausible explanation for that emergence, other than the random statistical power of large numbers.

    Ironically, the parapsychologists and para-physicists typically base their "woo-of-the-gaps" on that same miraculous ability of Darwinian stochastic mathematics to evolve humans from apes, and trees from slime-mold. Glattfelder quotes skeptical researchers tying to reproduce the "statistically significant" evidence of Psi found by parapsychologists. Although their numbers agreed with the prior Psi research, they concluded that, "due to this data set, we do not believe that humans possess telepathic powers, Further, the approximately 32% correct figure obtained in an enormous number of psi studies remains perplexing". [my emphasis] So believers and non-believers interpreted the same data in different ways.

    I also remain skeptical of any statistical studies that result in evidence for super-natural magic. I keep in mind Mark Twain's quip, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." But my own version of Panpsychism doesn't rely on Las Vegas gambling odds. Instead, it is based on physicist John Wheeler's "information-theoretic paradigm shift", from which he derived the epithet : "IT from BIT". Consequently, I have to keep an open, but agnostic, mind toward the various formulations of the common notion that Mind is inherent in Nature. :cool:
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    PS__Hmmmm. What is the physical substance of illusions ; ectoplasm?

    Same as the "physical substance" of e.g. perception or memory.
    180 Proof
    And that similar substance is . . . . ? Materialists have no explanation for real-ideal phenomena, such as Perception. Can a rock perceive? Does matter have memory? If not, where did those handy functions of minds come from? Neurons store electrical energy in chemical form : a transformation. But what transforms those chemicals into salient memories? Could it be . . . . Information???

    In my post-materialist worldview, the "substance" of mental phenomena is Information. Which is the meta-physical equivalent to physical Energy in its ability to cause change, not in matter, but in minds. Information is meta-physical (Aristotle, not Acquinas), because it causes change in minds, not matter; in dynamic processes, not in static things. :nerd:

    Benedict de Spinoza : Substance
    According to Spinoza, everything that exists is either a substance or a mode (E1a1). A substance is something that needs nothing else in order to exist or be conceived. Substances are independent entities both conceptually and ontologically
    https://iep.utm.edu/spinoz-m/
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    Materialists have no explanation for real-ideal phenomena, such as Perception.Gnomon
    Physicalists do. Read some philosophy of mind and especially some good neuroscience.
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    Physicalists do. Read some philosophy of mind and especially some good neuroscience.180 Proof
    I read "philosophy of mind" and "neuroscience" all the time. But Physicalist explanations always seem to teeter on the edge of the old Cartesian duality gulf : how do you make the Quantum Leap from Brain to Mind? Sure, Mind is the function of Brain, but there is a qualitative difference between objective neuronal wiring and subjective perception. Does a TV camera know what it is looking at? Can you give me a brief summary of the physical explanation for Perception you are referring to. Maybe I missed it. :smile:

    THE NEUROSCIENCE OF PERCEPTION
    Neuroscience explains that we do not experience the external world exactly how we perceive it consciously. Sensors in our body sense electromagnetic waves but we perceive colors. . . . So how do we know what reality really is like? Even though we are able to name the things we perceive, we don’t know exactly how such things relate to the external world themselves and we might never know.
    mariaraujoatbrainsupportdotco" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">https://www.brainlatam.com/blog/the-neuroscience-of-perception-1564?email=

    PS___I enjoy dialoguing with you, because you don't just close your eyes to concepts that don't "compute" from your personal perspective. A lot of religious and New Age beliefs are not a part of my own Ontology or Epistemology, but I remain open to the possibility that they Perceive the world differently from me. I don't just assume they are ignorant or lying. My information-based worldview opened the door to many exotic possibilities, that I previously dismissed, but that beg to be explored. However, I try to remain grounded in empirical evidence, even while my head is in the clouds of Meta-physics.

    PPS___Meta-physics is what we do on this forum. We are not professional empirical scientists here, but amateur theoretical philosophers. Unlike blind & dumb atoms & billiard balls, we exchange meaningful Information instead of impulses of Energy. And that makes all the difference between the Physical world and the Mental realm. :cool:
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    how do you make the Quantum Leap from Brain to Mind?Gnomon
    I can't see how you can still ask this (mysterian) pseudo-question if, as you claim, you're more than superficially acquainted with contemporary neuroscience and relevant topics in the philosophy of mind. Again, mind is what a sufficiently complex brain does.
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    I can't see how you can still ask this (mysterian) pseudo-question . . . . Again, mind is what a sufficiently complex brain does.180 Proof
    Sure. But how does it do it? How does a jello-like mass of electrical & chemical wiring convert incoming energy into Perception, and thence into Conception? Do physical computers & robots have a subjective perspective of their world? Do they know that they know? Is that a "mysterian" question, or a valid scientific & philosophical query? A materialistic description of brains provides a simplistic mechanical answer to what the brain does, but it doesn't explain how or why that transition from Objective to Subjective occurs. Several philosophers of mind have argued that animals & machines could perform their survival functions without knowing why they do what they do. Discerning the difference between Brain & Mind is what Chalmers called the "hard question".

    Transportation is what wheeled vehicles do -- duh! that's their function -- to move people & things from one place to another. That general simplistic notion does not explain the difference between an oxcart and a Tesla -- pulled by spooky electricity instead of normal muscles. Science is the process by which humans learn how the world works. But some scientists do it empirically -- by manipulating concrete matter -- and others, such as Einstein, do it theoretically -- by manipulating abstract ideas. Your quote above indicates the attitude that is satisfied with oxcarts, and labels the notion of electric cars as mysterious speculation.

    You imply that my understanding of Science is superficial. And, it's true that I have no depth in any particular field of scientific endeavor. But my grasp of the current state of knowledge is quite broad, and sufficient to support a personal non-professional philosophical worldview. I am not unaware of the emotional motive behind your tautological "Mind is what Brains do" answer to the "hard question". I too (being presumptive) am a recovering fundamentalist Christian. And I know well the pitfalls of irrational Faith & Spiritualism. That's why I approach all mysteries with a sword of curiosity, and a shield of skepticism. And yet, I have followed the available evidence to a point not far from the worldview I once rejected. But I stop short of making the "quantum leap" of Faith, that all too often lands you in a sticky mire of self-confirming dogma, from which it's hard to escape. :cool:

    Martin Garner -- Mysterian :
    "I can say this. I believe that the human mind, or even the mind of a cat, is more interesting in its complexity than an entire galaxy if it is devoid of life. I belong to a group of thinkers known as the 'mysterians.' It includes Roger Penrose, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, Noam Chomsky, Colin McGinn, and many others who believe that no computer, of the kind we know how to build, will ever become self-aware and acquire the creative powers of the human mind. I believe there is a deep mystery about how consciousness emerged as brains became more complex, and that neuroscientists are a long long way from understanding how they work."
    http://martin-gardner.org/MYSTERIAN.html

    Note -- Martin Gardner was an American popular mathematics and popular science writer, with interests also encompassing scientific skepticism, . . .
    "He's universally acknowledged as the founding father of the modern skeptical movement, . . ."
  • Zelebg
    626
    “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
    ― Alan Watts
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    How does a jello-like mass of electrical & chemical wiring convert incoming energy into Perception, and thence into Conception? [ ... ] Is that a "mysterian" question, or a valid scientific & philosophical query?Gnomon
    How the brain functions and outputs "consciousness" is a scientific problem, it seems to me, and not "a valid philosophical query" as it might have once been. Btw, of course, the brain is not a computer (program); still, the very fact of it's complexity does not warrant the "mysterian" belief that the brain is, even in principle, too complex to sufficiently explain itself (or "consciousness"). Remember Aristotle and the vacuum ("horror vacui" :scream: )? And Lord Kelvin's 'end of science' prediction in 1900? :smirk:
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    Again, mind is what a sufficiently complex brain does.180 Proof

    how do you make the Quantum Leap from Brain to Mind?Gnomon

    I maybe way off the mark but I've always felt that the difference between the mind (humans) and mindless life (bacteria) is greater ergo, harder to explain than the difference between life (bacteria) and the lifeless (stone). This is what Gnomon is probably referring to by Quantum leap.

    Having said that, we've been able to replicate logic, an ability we pride ourselves as possessing, we even go so far as to define ourselves with it, on unmistakably dead matter (computers) while as of yet being unable to create a synthetic cell that can match up to a single bacterium.
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    How the brain functions and outputs "consciousness" is a scientific problem, it seems to me, and not "a valid philosophical query" as it might have once been.180 Proof
    I've noticed that a significant number of posters on The Philosophy Forum seem to be embarrassed by Philosophy as a discipline, because it studies things that literally don't matter : ideas & ideals & beliefs. But those unreal things do indeed matter to the majority of humanity, who know nothing of Science or Philosophy. Perhaps the huddled masses don't matter either. Meat puppets have no intrinsic value.

    I just came across an internet article, which articulates the crux of those opposing values -- what's important. Some view consciousness as a their personal Self (ghost), while others view it as "just another output" (the Mind is what the Brain does). The latter think of humans as machines (meat robots), while others think of humans as something more than the sum of their parts. It boils down to a Reductive versus Holistic worldview. Ironically, those contrasting views are not Objective observations, but Subjective beliefs about the world in general. For the record, I don't believe in immortal ghosts, but I do believe in self-conscious minds in mortal meat costumes. :cool:


    Is it time to give up on consciousness as ‘the ghost in the machine’? :
    * As individuals, we feel that we know what consciousness is because we experience it daily. It’s that intimate sense of personal awareness we carry around with us, and the accompanying feeling of ownership and control over our thoughts, emotions and memories.
    * But science has not yet reached a consensus on the nature of consciousness – which has important
    implications for our belief in free will and our approach to the study of the human mind.
    * Beliefs about consciousness can be roughly divided into two camps. There are those who believe
    consciousness is like a ghost in the machinery of our brains, meriting special attention and study in its own right. And there are those, like us, who challenge this, pointing out that what we call consciousness is just another output generated backstage by our efficient neural machinery.

    https://theconversation.com/is-it-time-to-give-up-on-consciousness-as-the-ghost-in-the-machine-160688
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    I maybe way off the mark but I've always felt that the difference between the mind (humans) and mindless life (bacteria) is greater ergo, harder to explain than the difference between life (bacteria) and the lifeless (stone).TheMadFool
    Yes. But the Enformationism worldview provides a novel vocabulary to explain that vital distinction : the difference that makes a difference to sentient creatures. That theory pictures Evolution as a process of converting simple into complex, and potential into actual. Information (EnFormAction) is the universal Force that causes such progressive change -- from lifeless matter, to living matter, to thinking minds. And that creative Energy exists in both physical and metaphysical forms, just as intangible Energy can be converted into palpable Mass, which we interpret as Matter. :nerd:
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    Meat puppets have no intrinsic value.Gnomon
    They seem to value each another, so I don't see what "intrinsic" has to do with it.
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.4k
    This has been repeated so often that I actually don't need to say it but I'll do it here anyway just in case not mentioning it might sidetrack the reader. What I'm referring to is how evolution is considered as a game of chance - random mutations being the engine that drives adaptation, a necessity if organisms are to survive in an environment that's mercurial.TheMadFool

    Mutation doesn't drive evolution: it permits evolution. Environmental changes drive evolution. Mutation is the noise, not the parameters or the cost function, in a comparable optimisation problem.

    And as for strategies, the imperfection of copying a large amount of data using mindless biological machines with no oversight is the opposite of one. Pre-life physical laws account for this noise, no intent required. What we have evolved instead is strategies for the opposite: the surprisingly high fidelity of RNA copying. If we must infer an intent, surely that was to staunch random mutation? But this too is perfectly explicable in terms of environmental selection pressures.
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    Meat puppets have no intrinsic value. — Gnomon
    They seem to value each another, so I don't see what "intrinsic" has to do with it.
    180 Proof
    As a philosophical worldview, regarding our fellow humans as possessing "intrinsic value" is what makes the difference between love & tolerance for our neighbors, and exterminating masses of them in gas ovens, as-if they are vermin to be eradicated. The alternative view is Instrumental value : what can you do for me?

    The notion of Moral Law, or Natural Law, is based on "intrinsic value" instead of "instrumental value". Novels and movies about sentient robots usually hinge the drama on that very question : "They're just machines, with no human rights, So we can use them, and dispose of them, as we see fit." For millennia, the inhumane treatment of dark-skinned people and animals was warranted on the assumption that they have no Souls, hence no Intrinsic Value. But for early hunter-gatherers (who were animists), the animals they killed were assumed to have some Intrinsic Value, so their Instrumental Value (food) had to be morally justified -- in some cases by begging forgiveness. Was that just a case of primitive ignorance & superstition, or did they know something about the Balance of Nature that modern people have forgotten? :cool:

    Intrinsic value :
    The intrinsic value of a human, or any other sentient animal, is value which originates within itself, the value it confers on itself by desiring its own lived experience as an end in itself. ... Because intrinsic value is self-ascribed, all animals have it, unlike instrumental or extrinsic values.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsic_value_(animal_ethics)

    Natural Law : a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct.

    Animism : the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    As a philosophical worldview, regarding our fellow humans as possessing "intrinsic value" is what makes the difference between love & tolerance for our neighbors, and exterminating masses of them in gas ovens, as-if they are vermin to be eradicated. The alternative view is Instrumental value: what can you do for me?Gnomon
    I see your point, though I characterize them as existential stances rather "worldviews", such as in Buber's terms of I-Thou and I-It, respectively, or Levinas' infinity and totality. Yes, "meat-puppets" do take these "alternative" stances towards each other sometimes sequentially, sometimes simultaneously, and yet rarely, I suspect, take either an "intrinsic" or "instrumental" stance exclusively (for which, unless pathological, we "meat-puppets" are too akratic-heteronomous). After all, even violent bigots tend to love their children and misogynists tend to love their grandmas, no?
  • intpath32
    19
    It's likely there is a neural network of sorts among life that is basically what mother nature is considered to be. Following the principals of thermodynamics, having a huge pool of genes (energy) and allowing survival of the fittest (entropy/order) to do it's work leads to evolution, with humans being the almost perfect final form. I also believe bits (like computer bits) are the basis of consciousness and the neural network of earth. Bits are easy to generate and it is likely they occur naturally. Basically the idea is that god is a machine, a network of connected minds that working together can make any other god tremble in fear
  • fishfry
    2.4k
    In other words, and here's where it gets interesting, mindless evolution through random mutation is exactly what a mind which is as intelligent as us would do given the way things were, are, will probably be.TheMadFool

    Haven't followed the thread, only responding to this. But I don't agree. Say I'm a wooly mammoth and I notice the climate is getting cooler. By random chance I would mate with any old mammoth and if the weather gets colder and I mated with a not-so-woolly mammoth, my offspring would be out of luck. But if I'm a smart, planning kind of mammoth, I would mate with the wooliest mammoth I could find so as to give my offspring the best chance of survival in the coming cold snap.

    In other words planning beats chance. Right?
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    I maybe way off the mark but I've always felt that the difference between the mind (humans) and mindless life (bacteria) is greater ergo, harder to explain than the difference between life (bacteria) and the lifeless (stone). This is what Gnomon is probably referring to by Quantum leap.
    Having said that, we've been able to replicate logic, an ability we pride ourselves as possessing, we even go so far as to define ourselves with it, on unmistakably dead matter (computers) while as of yet being unable to create a synthetic cell that can match up to a single bacterium.
    TheMadFool
    Yes. Like those pioneers of queer Quantum theory, serious scientists have been working, since the turn of a new century, on a plausible theory to explain -- without resort to miracles -- how Life arose from non-life, and how Mind emerged from Mindless matter. And the spotlight is now pointing at generic (universal) Information as the "difference maker".

    is concerned that the Mysterian approach is a cop-out from continuing to pursue the scientific method across the Forbidden Zone into the realm of Meta-physics. Perhaps the most influential proposal at the moment is the Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which attempts to quantify the basic elements of both Life and Mind. What we call Logic or Reason cannot be accounted for by reductive analysis down to a physical Atom of "mind stuff". But, IIT is a mathematical thesis, and the idealized Axioms of math are as metaphysical as it gets. Yet, they are essential to the progress of modern physical science.

    Today, the notion of "Information" has been expanded from its original reference to the ethereal contents of Minds, to the mathematical logic of computers, and even to now being equated with the causal force of Energy. Post-Darwinian Evolution's multi-modal and deductive (principles & laws) logical process, of creating novel things from pre-existing things, is what I call Enformation or EnFormAction. Moreover, it's an Aristotelian Axiomatic theory instead of a Mysterian by-pass, or a religious "Leap of Faith". However, for most of us it's also a "Quantum Leap" across the formerly impenetrable Cartesian Matter/Mind divide. :nerd:

    Information :
    Knowledge and the ability to know. Technically, it's the ratio of order to disorder, of positive to negative, of knowledge to ignorance. It's measured in degrees of uncertainty. Those ratios are also called "differences". So Gregory Bateson* defined Information as "the difference that makes a difference". The latter distinction refers to "value" or "meaning". Babbage called his prototype computer a "difference engine". Difference is the cause or agent of Change. In Physics it’s called "Thermodynamics" or "Energy". In Sociology it’s called "Conflict".
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html


    Axiomatic versus Mysterian explanation :
    I propose that the Enformationism thesis may not solve, but at least, point in the direction of a solution to that philosophical and scientific mind-boggler. Moreover, my approach is axiomatic (self evident) instead of mysterian (occult). The primary axiom of my thesis derives from Aristotle’s theory of causation, in which all observed causes & effects in the world can be inferred to follow from an ultimate First Cause.
    http://bothandblog7.enformationism.info/page8.html
  • Gnomon
    1.5k
    Haven't followed the thread, only responding to this. But I don't agree. Say I'm a wooly mammoth and I notice the climate is getting cooler. By random chance I would mate with any old mammoth and if the weather gets colder and I mated with a not-so-woolly mammoth, my offspring would be out of luck. But if I'm a smart, planning kind of mammoth, I would mate with the wooliest mammoth I could find so as to give my offspring the best chance of survival in the coming cold snap.fishfry
    Sorry to butt-in, but . . . TMF was probably referring to the intelligence behind long-term plans (teleology) instead of short-term utility calculations (more wool good). And the "intelligence" is not in the individual fuzzy elephant, but in the emergent system. Modern scientists are now copying the Chance + Choice model of evolution in order to design complex products that would otherwise take years of trial & error (more wool not so good in a warmer climate). :nerd:

    Evolutionary programming :
    It was first used by Lawrence J. Fogel in the US in 1960 in order to use simulated evolution as a learning process aiming to generate artificial intelligence.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_programming
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    Yes. But the Enformationism worldview provides a novel vocabulary to explain that vital distinction : the difference that makes a difference to sentient creatures. That theory pictures Evolution as a process of converting simple into complex, and potential into actual. Information (EnFormAction) is the universal Force that causes such progressive change -- from lifeless matter, to living matter, to thinking minds. And that creative Energy exists in both physical and metaphysical forms, just as intangible Energy can be converted into palpable Mass, which we interpret as Matter. :nerd:Gnomon

    Is Enformationism your pet theory? I'm inclined to agree that everything is about information. Why? Take a model toy car for example. We convert it into information - a blueprint consisting of instructions on how to build it, complete with pictures from different angles - and transmit this information from, say, the US to a factory in Malaysia and voila! we have exact replicas, indistinguishable as it were from the original, being churned out by the millions. Information! Living organisms too seem similar - genes serving as information carriers.

    On this view though, there's nothing really special about consciousness, is there? We simply need to get matter in the right configuration and out pops on the other side consciousness.

    Mutation doesn't drive evolution: it permits evolution. Environmental changes drive evolution. Mutation is the noise, not the parameters or the cost function, in a comparable optimisation problem.

    And as for strategies, the imperfection of copying a large amount of data using mindless biological machines with no oversight is the opposite of one. Pre-life physical laws account for this noise, no intent required. What we have evolved instead is strategies for the opposite: the surprisingly high fidelity of RNA copying. If we must infer an intent, surely that was to staunch random mutation? But this too is perfectly explicable in terms of environmental selection pressures.
    Kenosha Kid

    Don't mind me saying but you seem to be, I myself guilty of the same error, focused on only one aspect of the evolutionary mechanism that's genetics. I suggest we exercise caution before we jump to conclusions.

    There are two aspects to genetics:

    1. The hi-fi replication complete with error-correction mechanisms during DNA copying

    2. The mutability of DNA despite 1 above

    The situation is rather complex. If adaptation is necessary for survival, DNA needs to be able to mutate considering how the environment may change unpredictably (2 above) . Yet, once an effective adaptation has been acquired, it must be maintained for the period of time the environment is stable (1 above). In other words, our genetic mechanism must maintain a fine balance between fidelity of DNA and mutability of DNA, The situation is akin to guns: we don't want to use a gun but we need to own one (just in case) :chin:

    My posts have been emphasizing 2 above and you've kindly reminded me that's only half the story. Let's then take both together and see what we can make of it? The question is, is owning a gun in the current social climate in the US a good strategy? The answer seems to be "yes"! What does that mean for genetics in re evolution? Is current genetics, as it operates within the setting of long periods of stability punctuated by drastic and random shifts in the environment, a good gameplan? :chin:

    Haven't followed the thread, only responding to this. But I don't agree. Say I'm a wooly mammoth and I notice the climate is getting cooler. By random chance I would mate with any old mammoth and if the weather gets colder and I mated with a not-so-woolly mammoth, my offspring would be out of luck. But if I'm a smart, planning kind of mammoth, I would mate with the wooliest mammoth I could find so as to give my offspring the best chance of survival in the coming cold snap.

    In other words planning beats chance. Right?
    fishfry

    "...IF the weather gets colder..." The point is we have to make decisions without knowing all the relevant information. What sort of plan would you recommend?
  • fishfry
    2.4k
    The point is we have to make decisions without knowing all the relevant information.TheMadFool

    But we do this every day. Perhaps I didn't understand the point. The claim was that acting randomly was better than trying to intelligently plan. I can't understand that. Nobody would live their life like that.

    What sort of plan would you recommend?TheMadFool

    If I think the climate is cooling, I hook up with the wooliest mammoth I can find. Otherwise not. Of course I can't be sure what the future will bring, but we try to make an educated guess and act accordingly. I must be missing something if that's not regarded as obvious.

    In fact even in the area of Darwinian evolution, we have practical experience. Farmers breed crops for consumer demand, for shelf life, and so forth. They don't just grow things randomly and hope for the best. Controlled breeding is super important in farming.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    The claim was that acting randomly was better than trying to intelligently plan. I can't understand that. Nobody would live their life like that.fishfry

    The solution would depend on the problem, right?
  • fishfry
    2.4k
    The solution would depend on the problem, right?TheMadFool

    Thoughtful planning using the best available information, imperfect though it may be, would always be better than acting randomly and hoping for a favorable outcome. I can't fathom your assertion to the contrary. Or if you were paraphrasing the OP, I can't fathom that either.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    Thoughtful planning using the best available information, imperfect though it may be, would always be better than acting randomly and hoping for a favorable outcome. I can't fathom your assertion to the contrary. Or if you were paraphrasing the OP, I can't fathom that either.fishfry

    A simple question: Given what we know and what we don't how would you design evolution? In other words, if you were on the team that designs evolution, what sort of features would make it robust?
  • fishfry
    2.4k
    A simple question: Given what we know and what we don't how would you design evolution? In other words, if you were on the team that designs evolution, what sort of features would make it robust?TheMadFool

    I'd delegate that job to an intelligent designer!!!!
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