• schopenhauer1
    5.7k
    What is it like to actually "be" a process?
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k

    I don’t know. That can be part of this inquiry. It’s used a lot in philosophy.

    Here are some starting points: Process philosophy argues that the language of development and change are more appropriate descriptors of reality than the language of static being. This tradition has roots in the West in the pre-Socratic Heraclitus, who likened the structure of reality to the element of fire, as change is reality and stability is illusion. Heraclitus is famous for the aphorism that one can never step in the same river twice. (Cite: https://www.iep.utm.edu/processp/)

    Basically it is a series of events happening at once and integrated, and can happen over time.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    What is it like to actually "be" a process?schopenhauer1

    I think one of the foundational process traditions is Buddhism. Buddhists differentiate themselves from the Brahmins, because the latter taught that the real self, atman, is unchanging and self-existent. Sometimes it is described as having a location in the anatomy in the vicinity of the heart. But in any case, it was said to be this 'true self' that migrates from life to life, and remained the same while everything else around it changes; the aim of the spiritual life was to achieve union or identify with this higher self instead of with the ego and its passions.

    The Buddhists denied this, saying instead that 'everything arises from causes and conditions'. That is summarised in terms of the 'five skandhas' of name-and-form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and discriminative awareness 1 . None of these skandhas ( 'heaps') have any independent existence but are instead always understood as a dynamic process - 'this being, that becomes' is an anecdotal form of the idea.

    So what it's like to be a process is, well, what it's like to be human. All humans have, or are, these characteristics and faculties which are constantly interacting and changing, in constant flux. The point of Buddhist practice is to become aware of its transient nature instead of being fixated on it or identifying with it. And Buddhist philosophy extends this process view to everything - there is said to be no unchanging element of any kind. The tendency to try and seize on some element of experience as permanent and stable is a source of frustration.
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    Heraclitus, who likened the structure of reality to the element of fire, as change is reality and stability is illusion.schopenhauer1

    Yes. Metaphysically what matters is that process thinking sees instability as fundamental, and atomistic thinking sees stability as fundamental.

    So both views can see that concrete reality is based on substance. But the process view would see that substantial state as emergent. It would be the result of the stabilisation of instability - the constraint on uncertainty and fluctuation. While the atomist or materialist view would be that stable substance just brutely exists, and then "real change" becomes an illusion. At a fundamental level, all change is merely a rearrangement or recombination.

    What is it like to actually "be" a process?schopenhauer1

    Did you mean some specific kind of process - like a brain's modelling relation with the world? Or a generic kind of physical process - a dissipative structure like a river?

    Process philosophy itself has been pretty much hijacked as a term by theist philosophers. So that shifts you into a different kind of distinction. You wouldn't be seeking a better description of physical nature but talking about what it is like to be participating in the divine cosmic mind. :grin:
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k
    So what it's like to be a process is, well, what it's like to be human. All humans have, or are, these characteristics and faculties which are constantly interacting and changing, in constant flux. The point of Buddhist practice is to become aware of its transient nature instead of being fixated on it or identifying with it. And Buddhist philosophy extends this process view to everything - there is said to be no unchanging element of any kind. The tendency to try and seize on some element of experience as permanent and stable is a source of frustration.Wayfarer

    That’s a good summation of a core Buddhist belief. Here’s a question. Granted I don’t really believe it in terms of illusion, but I’m just trying to keep it in your framework: what makes humans have this experience/illusion of having a self, and a rock does not? Both are presumably processes?
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Rocks are insentient.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k

    Yep, that's obvious. Anything to add?
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Only, why did you ask the question in the first place. :sad:
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k

    What gives sentience to one process and not the other. You know what I meant.
  • Wayfarer
    12.6k
    Oh, the difference between life and non-life. Is that all? Why didn’t you say so? :roll:
  • Anthony
    197
    Process philosophy itself has been pretty much hijacked as a term by theist philosophers. So that shifts you into a different kind of distinction. You wouldn't be seeking a better description of physical nature but talking about what it is like to be participating in the divine cosmic mind. :grin:apokrisis
    Yet we are most definitely participants. We aren't separate from the process/event...we only think we are; thought forms are lain over it and then assume an agency or reality of their own. It doesn't matter what the dogmatic point of departure, science or religion, the truth of the event/process is there regardless of what we think about it. And you are it dreaming of your separateness; even though it seems less illusive, our individual agency is a prime barrier to understanding process/event, and so much more so with any collective agency hobgoblinry. It's far more woo to go on believing something other than that has already been debunked by the new physics: the observer is inseparable from the observed: but I'd say a pure act of observation becomes dumb and mute, inasmuch as it isn't translatable into language and thereby communicable.

    Most inadvertently hide from the event in dogmatic knowledge and invented languages they're dependent on to attempt to relate their dogmatic knowledge (languages are theories, metaphors). Our minds tend to look at their own structure, made of memory and knowledge, or any mental impressions (skhandas), as tantamount to processes and events, but processes and events are inclusive of far more and else than our own sense of observation (including agency, or mutually subscribed policies and standards we attempt to share with others; no two people see the same event unmediated by agency and language which have removed from event/process; agency and language barely if at all communicate with event/process, they're like its crystallized double, enter the homunculus), and it is incontrovertibly separate from any woo notion of intersubjectivity (this concept has gained far too much acceptance by otherwise smart people).

    Regardless of whether it appears to lean on theology or phase space or whatever the order, we are all a part of a massive event and to the extent it can be descried, it is welded to ineffability and fades out at the edges. Existence beyond our agency and language is, I hope, not associated with theistic smuggling; rather, I'd hope it to be an honest point of departure in a fruitful conversation of process/event. Probably, I'd be accused of trying to replace the concept of God with "event." Which wouldn't be a correct assumption, you could say I'm equating ineffability somewhat with event or process. What we can say about it is heavily filtered through the non event/process of our crystallized structures and karma: mental impressions, language, memory/knowledge (semantic, procedural and episodic), magical thinking of mental time travel (past and future preoccupation of mind; obsession with predictability I'd say blocks understanding of the event more than anything), any and all identifications, anything you can name filters it.

    As a vehement adversary of the standard definition of scientific objectivity (which I've seen gets fairly mental with its definitions: absolute conception, view from nowhere), I'd say the event could be actual objectivity. But it would seem the closer we get, the more it's fugitive. For me, the event is original mind, but to the extent we all partake of mind as a moving event or process, its description can't be shared in a way that isn't it something other than it, which belies it. We have communication problems when mutual understanding as constrained by the dominant discipline of one species, that is to say the incorporeal, and therefore not empirical, social element of scientific agency (which is supposed to be exclusively empirical: the idea that the empirical animus would gain in strength by adding more agencies and observers seems totally off and is a subject of debate) masquerading as truth becomes quite isolated beside the Truth as likely coterminous with process/event.
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    What you want to say isn't very clear. But I guess it boils down to a panpsychic claim that there is such a thing as "the mind" and our minds participate in the greater mind that is the Cosmos, or existence, or God's mind, or something.

    Or alternatively, you could be just making the apophatic argument that whatever reality is, however we should conceive of it, it definitely ain't the kind of simple objective material reality of classical ontology. In some sense, the holism of a process view must be the way to think about things.

    Panpsychism can be dismissed as it is not a process view. Instead it is claiming that mind is a substantial property of substantial being. Consciousness "just is" a brute fact of reality. It does not emerge as the result of some particular form of process we might hope to describe.

    But if we are talking about a holistic view of nature - and one that accounts for observers along with observables - then I would say a key point is that the separability of the observer is the crucial thing. The mind, as a natural process, is about semiosis or points of view. It is about being able to step back from the general physical flow of events to then be able to impose some "personal" level of constraint or regulation on that flow. So mindfulness is all about organismic agency. The disconnection - even if it can't be absolute - is how a different kind of connection, one imposing its own wants and needs, could arise.

    Now all this is pretty standard from a scientific perspective if you are a systems type of thinker. The flow of nature is the thermodynamic flow of the Big Bang on its way to its Heat Death. It is the flow of entropy production. And then that driving gradient becomes something life and mind participate in as negentropic dissipative structure - the complex informational organisation that arises to break down any local blockages in that generalised flow.

    Life and mind are then "what it is like" to have that modelling relation with the world. It is how it feels to be an organismic agent with intentions and regulative possibilities.

    So in a general sense, life and mind are not about simply participating in nature. They are about standing aside from that material entropic flow in such a fashion that the flow can be informationally regulated from a "point of view" that transcends it.

    So a process philosophy view - beyond the usual woo - would be anchored in an understanding of the Cosmos as a dissipative structure, a vast entropic flow, and then an understanding of life and mind as a second kind of parasitic process. The cosmic entropic gradient suffers local blockages. They become the food source for more complex structure with the necessary agency and organismic design. Thus life and mind as a process would then have its own more specific description. Biosemiotic is the scientific term I would favour.

    Life and mind can only live in the material world. They colonise its flow. But life and mind must stand apart from that flow so as to live off it. They must be able to form their own information or memory based point of view from whence to plan and act.
  • bloodninja
    308
    could we interpret Heidegger's Being and Time as process philosophy? Dasein is after all not a thing but rather an event of sense making. I guess if process philosophy is a metaphysical claim then that would automatically exclude Heidegger...
  • Anthony
    197
    panpsychic claim that there is such a thing as "the mind" and our minds participate in the greater mind that is the Cosmos, or existence, or God's mind, or something.apokrisis

    A panpsychic claim that there is a mind? A claim that there is a mind isn't perspectivally related to panpsychism. There is no "our" mind...there's only your mind and my mind, because each of our minds (and brains) has to include an a priori state of perception, a wanton, habitual state of mind, memory structures, forms, etc. You participate with the cosmos through your thought-forms, through a storehouse of memories you take as your self and the order you identify with, all at once. However, that there is no "our" mind doesn't mean we aren't compassed by it.

    This doesn't preclude the possibility of each individual having a relationship with the entirety of existence, one which doesn't include the inner, a priori state of others. To limit belief in the mind is to limit belief in perspective, especially in diversity of perspectives. When you see that each individual has his own cosmos, then it isn't hard to understand the power of the mind (or agency) at once with it's limitation.

    If you agree on a definition of mind, then you have to talk about local and nonlocal causality involving mind. Gravity, as a plausible place to start, is action at a distance. Does gravity affect the mind? Yes, it actually dilates time, thereby our minds are influenced by time dilation/gravity. If gravity can effect the mind at a distance, is there anything else that impels the mind from a distance?

    Does everything in existence partake of the same event?
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    A claim that there is a mind isn't perspectivally related to panpsychism.Anthony

    The issue is how we view a "mind". And the contrast here is between viewing it as some kind of process or instead as some kind of property. Is "substantial being" merely emergent, or is it brutely fundamental? And panpsychism usually winds up on the non-process side of the issue when you get down to it.

    You participate with the cosmos through your thought-forms, through a storehouse of memories you take as your self and the order you identify with, all at once.Anthony

    Here you appear to be siding with my own biosemiotic approach.

    By what definition. Not functionalism, first of all, because every object is truly different from every other, as they do not and cannot occupy the same space-time.Anthony

    I disagree as the same function can be realised at many different places and times. New minds are being born constantly. So sure, every organism is an individual. But also every organism is an expression of some common set of functions. As processes, there is a shared history informing what they are.

    Every bottle of my Michelob isn't exactly the same as the next even though it appears that way.Anthony

    But the differences can be insignificant. So that is not an issue.

    Does the beer drinker care? Only to the extent it makes a difference in terms of their purpose.

    If you agree on a definition of mind, then you have to talk about local and nonlocal causality involving mind. Gravity, as a plausible place to start, is action at a distance. Does gravity affect the mind? If gravity can effect the mind at a distance, is there anything else that impels the mind from a distance?Anthony

    Again, are these differences that make a difference to the mind in question? Your response is all over the shop.
  • Anthony
    197
    Again, are these differences that make a difference to the mind in question? Your response is all over the shop.apokrisis

    This sounds like Gregory Bateson. The difference which makes a difference doesn't exist in time and space. All over the shop (shop=place). Haha. That's why I come here don't you know. Thanks for being a mirror to my admittedly, at times, excessively Dionysian mind as it tries to countervail a radically Apollonian human system (in modernity).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    8.7k
    When you're identifying an individual every difference makes a difference.
  • Anthony
    197
    I disagree as the same function can be realised at many different places and times.apokrisis

    But not the same place and time...so there IS always a difference, fundamentally. A function can't occur nowhere or noplace.

    There's a big leap from the difference that makes a difference to a function. The mind doesn't function at anything at all. Buddhists teach practices such as non conceptualization to understand the difference between mental impressions and the mind itself (e.g., hearing is one thing sound is something else). Suspend conception of existence and non existence (what! you haven't learned to use the mind yet? haha). Now, what is your next thought? You can bet it's a mental impression and not the mind itself. Functioning/functionalism is a mental impression insofar as it is conceptual, so dissimilar to mind.
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k

    I'll be honest.. I am not up to speed on Heiddegarian terminology, but this may add a bit?

    Martin Heidegger’s early and late philosophy also presents an analytic-interpretive contribution to process philosophy, without speculative formulations of metaphysical ‘laws of development,’ but with a view to the metaphilosophical and practical implications of process metaphysics. In Sein und Zeit (1927) Heidegger presents what could be called an ‘adverbial model’ of process metaphysics; based on an analysis of human existence (“Dasein”) Heidegger shows that what the metaphysical tradition understood as entities or factors standing in relational constellations—e.g., space, world, self, others, possibility, matter, function, meaning, time—can be viewed as ‘adverbial modifications’ of Dasein, as modes and ways in which Dasein occurs, while Dasein itself is the interactivity of “disclosure” or ‘taking as.’ Since Heidegger’s ‘taking as’ is an understanding that is ineradicably practical, his early philosophy bears certain affinities to the pragmatist tendency in twentieth century American process thought. In Heidegger’s later work, however, human understanding is no longer the dynamic ‘locus’ but more a dimension of the process of being (“clearing”). — https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k
    It does not emerge as the result of some particular form of process we might hope to describe.apokrisis

    "What" is being emerged from the process? I just want you to see the slipperiness of this concept.
  • Shawn
    11.2k
    What is it like to actually "be" a process?schopenhauer1

    Can you explain what you mean by 'being' a process more?
  • schopenhauer1
    5.7k
    Can you explain what you mean by 'being' a process more?Posty McPostface

    Sure, there is me observing the computer and its results and there is the computer computing. What it like to be "computing"? That is a very basic idea. There are interactions of things in the world- what is it like on the "front lines" of these interactions as opposed to simply observing them? The implications have a lot to do with theory of mind of course.
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    This sounds like Gregory Bateson.Anthony

    It is Bateson. Cybernetics was biosemiotics back in the 1950s.

    But not the same place and time...so there IS always a difference, fundamentally.Anthony

    But a difference that matters fundamentally or a difference that is instead fundamentally accidental?

    There's a big leap from the difference that makes a difference to a function.Anthony

    Not really. A function is a semiotic process. It needs signals - feedback - to tell it if it is doing wrong or right.

    So a difference making a difference - to some point of view - is definitional of a function. At the very least, it distinguishes a purposeful function from a mere material tendency when it comes to an ontology of processes.

    The mind doesn't function at anything at all.Anthony

    Uh huh.

    When you're identifying an individual every difference makes a difference.Metaphysician Undercover

    Sure. If you care. But that is epistemology. My claims about process philosophy are ontological. So now it is about the process that is individuation. And nature only seems to care about differences that make a difference in some practical sense. Nature is essentially statistical.

    "What" is being emerged from the process?schopenhauer1

    The "mind". Whatever that is best understood to be.

    (Remembering that there is no reason to think that it wouldn't feel like something to be in a modelling relation with the world - especially when that modelling relationship it is as complex and agential as the one instantiated by a socialised human brain.)
  • Shawn
    11.2k
    Sure, there is me observing the computer and its results and there is the computer computing. What it like to be "computing"? That is a very basic idea. There are interactions of things in the world- what is it like on the "front lines" of these interactions as opposed to simply observing them? The implications have a lot to do with theory of mind of course.schopenhauer1

    This sounds like asking about qualia. How is it like to be a butterfly of sorts(?)
  • Anthony
    197
    New minds are being born constantly.apokrisis

    Nonetheless, there can be no cloning of a mental impression, let alone the mind itself. A mental impression would be the concept of functionalism, like an algorithm with a goal. Whereas, a mental impression has no goal.
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    Nonetheless, there can be no cloning of a mental impression, let alone the mind itself. A mental impression would be the concept of functionalism, like an algorithm with a goal. Whereas, a mental impression has no goal.Anthony

    A perception is an act of measurement. A conception is the theory being tested. The whole of this would constitute the psychological function that is the one of modelling the world in a way that minimises its capacity to confound our agential intentions.

    So again, you are not being clear about what point you mean to make. But the mental impression is the evidence whether the functional goal is getting met. It is not the goal but the signal. That would be why it "doesn't have a goal", and the function is what does.
  • Anthony
    197
    The whole of this would constitute the psychological function that is the one of modelling the world in a way that minimises its capacity to confound our agential intentions.apokrisis
    The agency is automatically confounded. Only the process itself or the event itself, inasmuch as it's incomprehensible, can ever be a perfect, non representational image of itself.

    So again, you are not being clear about what point you mean to make.apokrisis

    I'm not really trying to make a point.
    But the mental impression is the evidence whether the functional goal is getting met.apokrisis
    Meter reading, really. Isn't it interesting how the most important meters, physiological processes and biochemical pathways keeping us alive are autonomic/automatic? See, this is where I'd say we must stretch the definition of cognition to include perfect absence of automation.

    If someone isn't cognizant we say they're incognizant (we'd might say they're incognizant because they don't recognize). There's a redundancy here, though I'm afraid. If you're careful in your definitions, you'll notice that there's only one act of cognition/every moment, picosecond, whatever. After this, we have a re-cognition, a re-presentation of what once was. And I'd say the communication between agency and process/event has to be renewed every moment. It can't be based on representation, excessive classification, or recognition.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    8.7k
    Sure. If you care. But that is epistemology. My claims about process philosophy are ontological. So now it is about the process that is individuation. And nature only seems to care about differences that make a difference in some practical sense. Nature is essentially statistical.apokrisis

    If "nature' was as you say, so that it didn't care about such differences, then why does nature make each individual unique?

    I see that you have things backward. Epistemologically there are differences which do not make a difference to us. That's how we class things as the same type of thing despite each one being unique and different from each other. But ontologically, every individual is different and unique despite the fact that we classify them as the same.
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    The agency is automatically confounded.Anthony

    No it bloody isn't. The psychological process produces the difference between a "self" and a "world". That is the function. To become an agent by gaining prediction-based control over the material flows the world that is "not us" can offer.

    Isn't it interesting how the most important meters, physiological processes and biochemical pathways keeping us alive are autonomic/automatic? See, this is where I'd say we must stretch the definition of cognition to include perfect absence of automation.Anthony

    Sure. You start with the simple and then build up the complexity.

    But the mistake you are making is to presume that the goal would be to escape from unthinking automaticity. Cognition is all about building up so many layers of practiced habit that you can get by with thinking as little as possible to achieve whatever goals you could reasonably have.

    So yes, we need attentional level processes to work out what to do when things go wrong - when we get caught out by a prediction failure. But the general goal being instantiated is always to be able to predict the world with the least cognitive effort.

    So the ideal situation would be the kind of "flow" celebrated in psychology where you can do everything with effortless ease. There would be an absence of attentional effort and hesitation, not the perfect absence of automation.

    If you're careful in your definitions, you'll notice that there's only one act of cognition/every moment, picosecond, whatever. After this, we have a re-cognition, a re-presentation of what once was.Anthony

    I am happy to be careful about psychological science. So if you wanted to talk "frame rates", then it takes about half a second to complete some attentional act, and only about a fifth of a second to make a skilled automatic decision. Habit shortcuts things so we can fire and forget.

    Then when it comes to reportable awareness - the re-presentation of states - that gets us into another whole conversation about the role language plays in structuring human cognition and self awareness. That is a further level of sociocultural regulation, a further level of human habit, that we all have to learn.
  • apokrisis
    5.1k
    If "nature' was as you say, so that it didn't care about such differences, then why does nature make each individual unique?Metaphysician Undercover

    Because it doesn't care enough about preventing differences.

    I see that you have things backward.Metaphysician Undercover

    Of course you do. If you learnt to stand the right way round, everything might look the right way up for a change.

    But ontologically, every individual is different and unique despite the fact that we classify them as the same.Metaphysician Undercover

    Show that nature cares to prevent what it appears to permit.
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