• frank
    5.7k
    still confused by absential. I understand what a key missing from a lock is, or that my pocket is empty, but that seems too specific for what needs to come later in the book. Absence should incorporate enough of the unknown background environment to explain symbiosis and forward evolution.magritte

    So far, I think it means the thing that's missing.

    Would you agree that purpose cant be explained in terms of matter and energy?
  • frank
    5.7k
    interesting, thanks!
  • magritte
    145
    purpose cant be explained in terms of matter and energy?frank

    That's part of the argument under discussion. Most people are economic materialists, they are motivated by more goods, money, and power. Science offers no answer for matter and energy, so far. Maybe Deacon will show us how.

    For liberal theism, this could be rephrased as how much purpose can be explained by mechanistic models? Morality cannot be so easily explained, any moral purpose if not inherent is intentional. I've always been amazed by wild birds' inherent ethics. Some species will strongly aid others of their kind at the risk of life. Others only protect their own young.
  • frank
    5.7k
    I've always been amazed by wild birds' inherent ethics.magritte

    I would weave this back into the fabric of the topic by asking if we're projecting our nature onto Nature if we see morality in birds.

    I have a tiny wildlife preserve in my back yard, so I watch birds a lot. I watch the multi-species community go to war with hawks, I see which species acts as the alarm, which ones are the army, and which ones ignore the whole show.

    Maybe they're just sort of programmed to act that way. A conventional materialist view would be to assume that there really isnt any volition in birds or humans. We just interpret things that way. So I'll be looking for Deacon to address that.
  • Gnomon
    1.1k
    I dont know if it diminishes his point, but absence is an aspect of a lot of things, such as a valley or a positive charge which results from atoms that are missing some of the electrons they would need to be neutral. True?frank
    Yes. Deacon provides many illustrations of meaningful "Absence" in the world. Our understanding of the number "Zero" was long delayed, because the notion of functional absence was counter-intuitive. Now, we take it for granted that an empty orbit in an atom can have a causal effect on other atoms. We are somewhat comfortable with the idea that Negative Space can be attractive, and have positive effects. In many situations, that-which-does-not-exist in a physical sense, still has Potential, in a metaphysical sense. In Taoism, "Wu" (emptiness) is functional Potential. :nerd:

    Incomplete Nature : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incomplete_Nature

    What is Wu? : "The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out (from the walls) to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space (within), that its use depends. Therefore, what has a (positive) existence serves for profitable adaptation, and what has not that for (actual) usefulness."
    https://www.taopage.org/emptiness.html

    Functional : of or having a special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates.
  • magritte
    145
    asking if we're projecting our nature onto Nature if we see morality in birds.frank

    I suppose so. Then we have to ask if the different patterns of behavior serve any purpose at all. Do they help the birds to survive, were these selected or are these a neglected folly of nature? Evolutionary dogma might overstate the case for evolution but here it could still be something else.

    "Functional : of or having a special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates."Gnomon

    Functionality is contextual only to what we can see and perhaps that could open things up for purpose in things we can't see.
  • Gnomon
    1.1k
    Functionality is contextual only to what we can see and perhaps that could open things up for purpose in things we can't see.magritte
    Yes. Humans can imagine functions for things unseen. That is why we create new tools for purposes that are not yet doable. :smile:

    Tools : A tool is an object used to extend the ability of an individual to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tools dates back hundreds of millennia, have been observed using tools to make other tools.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool
  • frank
    5.7k
    In Chapter one Deacon affirms his desire to hold to a materialist approach, which he seems to be defining as nonmagical. He signals that he wants to make use of the idea of emergence and possibly explain delays in comprehending purposeful behavior by pointing to the complexity of the system from which it emerges. He cements the target with this quote from Fodor:

    " f it isn’t literally true that my wanting is causally responsible for my reaching, and my itching is causally responsible for my scratching, and my believing is causally responsible for my saying . . . if none of that is literally true, then practically everything I believe about anything is false and it’s the end of the world.10"

    So I'd say it's important to remember that we are coloring inside the lines of this insight: that if there really isnt any such thing as purpose (in some form), then we're too deeply deluded to say anything at all about the world.

    So thats our starting assumption, right?
  • frank
    5.7k
    Yes, can you provide Deacon's account of Cartesian Theater, gollum legend, and Homunculus fallacy?schopenhauer1

    Chapter 2 is about the homunculus. Remember earlier I postulated that behaviorism brought intentionality into focus? The homunculus helps explain what I meant. Since wanting is usually thought of as a cause, we may resist seeing the idea of intention as an object to be explained. The homunculus represents the dead end for inquiry that's plagued by this mindset.

    This isn't an issue with any contemporary philosophical approaches, but it's something to keep in mind.
  • Gnomon
    1.1k
    In Chapter one Deacon affirms his desire to hold to a materialist approach, which he seems to be defining as nonmagical.frank
    Ironically, Deacon's notion of Purposeful or "Causal Absence" sounds a lot like the ancient notion of "Invisible Spirits" (Animism), which caused real-world effects that could not be explained by pointing to a physical agent. So, I suspect that his detractors will interpret such "absence" as Metaphysical, if not outright Spiritual & Magical. :cool:

    The Power of Absence : “I will refer to this [something-that-is-not-a-thing”; elusive character of incompleteness] as an absential feature
    . . . A causal role for absence seems to be absent from the natural sciences
    .” ___Terrence Deacon
    http://bothandblog4.enformationism.info/page17.html
  • frank
    5.7k
    I was going to say that there's overkill squared in his efforts to put aside the idea of the magically unexplainable, but maybe that's why: the shadow of Descartes.
  • frank
    5.7k
    So for some reason that's not totally clear to me, he wants to hold Chomsky up as an example of homuncularusm.

    After a micro-review of Chomsky's theory of language acquisition, Deacon says

    "Postulating that this algorithmic system is in the mind in this sense is a redescription relocated: a homuncular move that mistakes a map for the territory."

    Yes, but Chomsky doesnt say the algorithm is in the mind. He thinks it's part of the brain. Since we know speech production and interpretation are associated with two distinct brain structures, where else would the algorithm for universal grammar be?

    Does anybody else see it differently?
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Chapter 2 is about the homunculus. Remember earlier I postulated that behaviorism brought intentionality into focus? The homunculus helps explain what I meant. Since wanting is usually thought of as a cause, we may resist seeing the idea of intention as an object to be explained. The homunculus represents the dead end for inquiry that's plagued by this mindset.

    This isn't an issue with any contemporary philosophical approaches, but it's something to keep in mind.
    frank

    I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I just thought that he did a good job showing how many theories are indeed unintentionally putting a hidden homunculus back in there without realizing it. I don't have the book in hand, so I can't give you specifics right now.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Yes, but Chomsky doesnt say the algorithm is in the mind. He thinks it's part of the brain. Since we know speech production and interpretation are associated with two distinct brain structures, where else would the algorithm for universal grammar be?

    Does anybody else see it differently?
    frank

    If I remember Chomsky, he does indeed think that the "mind" is computational in a sense whereby an algorithm (i.e. merge) is constantly taking place for recursive thought generation. I believe he is saying that "merge" now becomes a homunculus of sorts. Again, don't have the book on hand, so I'd have to look.
  • frank
    5.7k
    I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I just thought that he did a good job showing how many theories are indeed unintentionally putting a hidden homunculus back in there without realizing it. I don't have the book in hand, so I can't give you specifics right now.schopenhauer1

    Well maybe I'm the one who has a homunculus lurking in my outlook.

    Could you explain what the non-homuncular approach looks like? I mean, it's more than just having gaps in your theory.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Could you explain what the non-homuncular approach looks like? I mean, it's more than just having gaps in your theory.frank

    I think Deacon is trying to do that haha.. Let's see if he does. It's almost impossible not to probably. Perhaps panpsychism's insistence that the homunclus is just always there in some fashion is a way around it, but perhaps not a satisfactory one. I see the problems basically as always there vs. emergence more than anything rather than "materialism" vs. "dualism" or what not. Let's see how Deacon does against his own backdrop of how others fail.
  • frank
    5.7k
    Let's see if he does.schopenhauer1

    Ok. I'll leave his attacks for now. The goal is to end up with a discerning subject. We just dont want to explain that with... a discerning subject. That's homuncular.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Ok. I'll leave his attacks for now. The goal is to end up with a discerning subject. We just dont want to explain that with... a discerning subject. That's homuncular.frank

    Haha, yes. And the problem with most theories of mind.
  • unenlightened
    5.3k
    So far, I think it means the thing that's missing.frank

    The word in psycho-babble is "desire". The absence of beer that sends one to the fridge. (We don't want to say that the beer in the fridge is capable of spooky action at a distance.) One wants something because it is wanting.

    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the message was lost.
    For want of a message the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

    Such is the traditional power of the absent. England expects every smith to shoe his horses properly.

    In architecture, its a "plan" - a structure that does not exist, and whose absence provokes its creation (or sometimes not).

    Perhaps the discerning subject is also missing, or at least indiscernible.
  • Gnomon
    1.1k
    I was going to say that there's overkill squared in his efforts to put aside the idea of the magically unexplainable, but maybe that's why: the shadow of Descartes.frank
    Yes. Deacon is trying to maintain his credentials as a scientist, even as he crosses the Cartesian line between Soul & Body. But the Matter/Mind "line" is arbitrary, and fair game for Philosophers. That's why, in my Enformationism thesis, "magical" explanations are not necessary. All it takes is a change of perspective, from Physics to Metaphysics. :smile:

    Special Metaphysics : The philosophical science of Metaphysics is essential to my worldview, because, unlike Physics, it allows us to study the immaterial aspects of our reality, such as Qualia (properties) and Ideas (meanings). Such non-things have no objective manifestation, but they do have subjective significance. The name for this kind of deep thinking originated, fortuitously, from Aristotle's encyclopedia of knowledge published in 4th century BC. He didn't distinguish the intangible topics from science-in-general, but he did separate his treatments on the objective natural world of the senses from those of the subjective artificial world of the mind. The Physics volume dealt primarily with hard-science topics that today we call Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy, etc. In the second volume, he dealt with miscellaneous topics that now fall under the generic heading of Philosophy, but also include Psychology, Sociology, History, Ethics, Logic, and so forth.
    http://bothandblog2.enformationism.info/page74.html
  • frank
    5.7k
    In architecture, its a "plan" - a structure that does not exist, and whose absence provokes its creation (or sometimes not).

    Perhaps the discerning subject is also missing, or at least indiscernible.
    unenlightened

    There's an octupus who carries two coconut shells when it explores areas that have no hiding places. When it stops, it climbs inside the shells. Scientists speculate that this is evidence of planning: acting for the benefit of a future octupus, one that doesnt exist now.

    So it looks like the octupus is mostly missing. It only exists for infinitesimal time. The rest is the one who hauled the shells and the one he hauls them for.
  • frank
    5.7k
    Yes. Deacon is trying to maintain his credentials as a scientist, even as he crosses the Cartesian line between Soul & Body. But the Matter/Mind "line" is arbitrary, and fair game for Philosophers. That's why, in my Enformationism thesis, "magical" explanations are not necessary. All it takes is a change of perspective, from Physics to Metaphysics. :smile:Gnomon

    Cool!
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    @frank
    Let me know where you're at!
  • frank
    5.7k

    I'm on the chapter about the self. What did you think of his assessment of information? I'm not sure it makes sense to say that information is ententional, but I wouldn't put too much energy into wrestling with the question. I'm not sure what the consequences would be either way.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k

    Page number or chapter and page?
  • Gnomon
    1.1k
    I'm on the chapter about the self. What did you think of his assessment of information? I'm not sure it makes sense to say that information is ententional, but I wouldn't put too much energy into wrestling with the question. I'm not sure what the consequences would be either way.frank
    I suspect that Deacon views the evolution of Information as a directional process. "To Intend" means to be inclined or directed-toward some goal or end. So, he seems to view "Enformation" as the intentional creation of novel forms. "To Enform" means to form, to fashion, to create. So, in a broad sense the process of Information involves future-directed creative change. Of course, he neglects to speculate on the original Intender or Informer. In my own thesis, I interpret the word "information" as both a static noun and an active verb. As a verb, "To Inform" implies the purposeful intention to convey ideas to someone. :smile:

    Endless Forms :
    “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved." ___Charles Darwin
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/3895-thus-from-the-war-of-nature-from-famine-and-death

    Information :
    * Claude Shannon quantified Information not as useful ideas, but as a mathematical ratio between meaningful order (1) and meaningless disorder (0); between knowledge (1) and ignorance (0). So, that meaningful mind-stuff exists in the limbo-land of statistics, producing effects on reality while having no sensory physical properties. We know it exists ideally, only by detecting its effects in the real world.
    * For humans, Information has the semantic quality of aboutness , that we interpret as meaning. In computer science though, Information is treated as meaningless, which makes its mathematical value more certain. It becomes meaningful only when a sentient Self interprets it as such.
    * When spelled with an “I”, Information is a noun, referring to data & things. When spelled with an “E”, Enformation is a verb, referring to energy and processes.

    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html
  • frank
    5.7k

    I'm in chapter 15.


    :up:
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