• MikeL
    644
    Ok, I guess I would call creativity, experimentation, but again potatoes, potartos. It's a fair enough point, throwing out change allows adaptation against a changing environmental backdrop.

    I think I might be on the Dark Side. It's actually quite a bit of fun over here, bit I like to run around between both sides. One thing I need you to clear up for me though, Rich, is what you mean when you say "Just Observe" You've said it a few times now, so I know it has some significance for you beyond just the words, but it is not giving me any direction for my thoughts. Can you be more precise?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    You've said it a few times now, so I know it has some significance for you beyond just the words, but it is not giving me any direction for my thoughts. Can you be more precise?MikeL

    Observation is a skill that is developed over time. It is not reading.

    Trying drawing something, anything or listening to music or trying to learn a new dance step. from a video. Maybe try growing something. Observe life as it unfolds. Really observe. Over time, you see more and more and more. Deeper and deeper. Wider and wider. Don't read about history, observe it closely as it unfolds. Don't read about medicine. Learn to observe your own health and signs that unfold that reveal healthy and unhealthy lifestyle habits. Look around and build the skill of observation. You'll be amazed at how much is revealed.
  • MikeL
    644
    Wayfarer, I am about a third of the way through the paper and you are not going to believe this, but I used to espouse this point of view many years ago when discussing the visual system.

    There was an example I used about vision. I wish I could remember the name of the book I got it from, but it was full of these great examples of abberations to visual processing. If anyone knows it please tell me, I would love to read it again.

    In one of the examples the man's eyes and optic nerves were functioning fine, but the visual cortex had been damaged. As a result he was 'blind' but could see. He could not create a visual impression of the environment in his cortex, but he could dodge telegraph poles and garbage bins while walking down the street by 'sensing' they were there. Of course he could only move very slowly to do this. My contention at the time was that the difference was the difference between Windows and DOS operating systems. In a Windows based GUI you could see instantaneously and react appropriately without have to sought the code.

    It also give a lot more surety about what you are perceiving. I used the example that there was a time when I was sleeping and I heard a noise - a bang. As I was in the netherworld between sleep and wakefulness my mind manifested the sound visually to me. I saw the sound expanding like a sphere. Several seconds later the bang was repeated. I saw it again. It expanded at exactly the same rate to exactly the same size and I woke up immediately and said "Double barrel shotgun." The visual representation of the image gave me certainty. I had no doubt what so ever that it was the same sound. I have no idea if that's what it was (I have been asked), but I am sure of what I saw...heard.

    It also makes you wonder about other animals such as bats where the dominant sense is not vision. Do they actually visualise what they see, like I did with the sound? It might mean we need to redefine the idea of vision.
  • MikeL
    644
    It is your Mind that is observing. It is peering out through your eyes.Rich

    Then what is the point of the hologram?
  • MikeL
    644
    I'm about halfway through the Paper, Wayfarer, and I have to say Hoffman seems a bit all over the map. I get the sense he is trying to turn a pretty big bus, not just one on perception but on the nature of reality and as such his ideas seem to lack a bit of focus - at least to me. I would have liked him to define Objective Reality for me.

    A central problem with his thesis that I can see is that in this virtual MUI world while we cannot directly ascertain from observation how the folder opens, we would question it nonetheless and derive theorems to explain it. That the folder opens would be observable and would contradict the laws of nature as we were building them. We would seek the truth, and that would lead into the explanation I suggested earlier.

    If we forgo any folders, recycle bins, word documents and just get caught in a virtual game, the game would constitute Objective Reality. How do we determine there is a background code by which we can begin our backward trace? The same way we've come out with this virtual world hypothesis that's been around for years. Mathematics.

    I've heard it said that if Jesus or some other entity came floating down to earth on a cloud that would be the proof we need that this world is a computer simulation, so I guess we would be looking for code contradictions where the apparent truth is violated.
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    I commend your persistence, if is quite a difficult paper to read, I found. As I said, I am also struggling with what he's saying, as much as I would like to agree with his basic idea. Again, he puts a lot of emphasis on mathematics but the question I have is, is mathematics part of the MUI? Or is it something outside of it?
  • MikeL
    644
    I haven't got to a lot of mathematical references except the QM ones which he wants to refute, but imagine that the mathematics is the key that unlocks the truth to those stuck in the MUI. It sounds a lot like the matrix doesn't it. Red pill, blue pill?

    I'm just up to his definition of the objective world.

    I think you're struggling not because the paper is difficult so much as disorganised and muddled. I am trying to untangle contradictions all over the place. Admittedly perhaps my lack of grounding in philosophy may be the cause of it. Maybe I don't have the correct definition of terms. Have a look for example at this paragraph I just pulled out, which is where I am up to now.


    "Conscious realism asserts that the objective world,
    i.e., the world whose existence does not depend on the perceptions of a
    particular observer, consists entirely of conscious agents.
    Conscious realism is a non-physicalist monism. What exists in the
    objective world, independent of my perceptions, is a world of conscious
    agents, not a world of unconscious particles and fields. Those particles and
    fields are icons in the MUIs of conscious agents, but are not themselves
    fundamental denizens of the objective world. "

    1. The Objective World consists entirely of conscious agents.
    When I Google conscious agents I get: "The theory of conscious agents proposed by Hoffman and Prakash (2014) takes conscious agents, rather than physical objects and space-time, as fundamental. ... The conscious experience S(N) is the “now” of the conscious agent and the conscious experiences 510 Page 18 S(1)…S(N −1) are its “past”".

    2. Conscious Realism is non-physicalist monism.
    When I Google monism I get: "a theory or doctrine that denies the existence of a distinction or duality in a particular sphere, such as that between matter and mind, or God and the world."
    - if there is no distinction between God and the World, or the computer and the world, shouldn't we be able to see it all?

    3. "What exists in the objective world, independent of my perceptions, is a world of conscious
    agents," -- but hang on, Conscious agents are the conscious experience, so how can they be independent of the perceptions?

    4. "Those particles and fields are icons in the MUIs of conscious agents" But the Objective World consists entirely of Conscious agents (Point 1).

    5. "But are not themselves fundamental denizens of the Objective World" - and yet by definition they are.
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    When I Google monism....MikeL

    'Monism' is any philosophical theory that proposes that there is one substance. Be mindful that 'substance' has a very different meaning in philosophy than in everyday life, it's original meaning is nearer to 'being', so monist philosophies actually say something like, there is really only one real being. An historic form might be - only God is real, all other apparent beings are merely projections of God. That kind of understanding is typically associated with forms of philosophical idealism in which the 'one being' is something like the 'divine intelligence'. However Hoffman denies that his theory is idealism. Quite why he denies this is one of the things that is not clear to me.

    I am very drawn to various forms of philosophical idealism, which is why I initially felt an affinity with Hoffman's ideas. But the more I read of them, the less I understand, and frankly I am getting close to the point of giving up on them.

    But the other thing is, as I said before, I really sceptical that evolutionary biology has the all-encompassing power that Hoffman claims it does - that what we see is only what we're adapted to see. I can actually believe that of most creatures other than h. sapiens. I can perfectly understand that predators are adapted to seek their prey and screen out everything else. But, what is 'sapience'? That is actually a real question. Sapience is usually translated as 'wisdom', which sounds kind of patronising - old guy, grey beard, makes wise sayings - that is what wisdom is to most people. But I think sapience has a connotation of 'seeing through illusions', which is something that crocodiles and tigers are patently not capable of, in my view. And I think h. sapiens can do that. At least they can ask the question, what is an illusion, and what isn't. And I think h. sapiens can arrive at an understanding of truth that is NOT species-specific, but that would be discovered by any other rational sentient being. And furthermore, if evolutionary conditioning is so all-powerful, how come Hoffman's philosophy is able to see through it? What makes his approach different to any other wisdom traditions? They're the kinds of questions that are occurring to me.
  • MikeL
    644
    And I think h. sapiens can do that. I think h. sapiens can arrive at an understanding of truth that is NOT species-specific, but that would be discovered by any other sentient being. And furthermore, if evolutionary conditioning is so all-powerful, how come Hoffman's philosophy is able to see through it? What makes his approach different to any other wisdom tradition? They're the kinds of questions that are occurring to me.Wayfarer

    Yeah, I know where you're coming from. Sometimes you have to sort through a lot of debris to find the gem. I think Hoffman made a good point with the zooming up on the icon of a computer screen as not revealing its inner workings but I think he has failed in his attempt to create a unifying explanation.

    I'll go out for now on this:

    Here's another example where he appears to be arguing both sides of the coin.

    The sun you see is a momentary icon, constructed on the fly each
    time you experience it. Your sun icon does not match or approximate
    the objective reality that triggers you to construct a sun icon. It is a
    species-specific adaptation, a quick and dirty guide, not an insight into
    the objective nature of the world.

    This suggests that if the sun is a representation of the truth, but only a dirty one, then it is pointing right through to the core of the computer. It is either an icon on a GUI that only has contextual meaning or it is the truth.

    I find it easier when I read if I substitute GUI for mind and conscious agents for consciousness.
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    Just as there are no snakes, so there is no Donald Hoffman with objective observer-independent features.Cuthbert

    I just wanted to acknowledge that I kind of blew this criticism off when it was made, but have since decided it was actually pretty fair. (Y)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.3k
    I'm a bit vague on how the term creativity is being used throughout this thread too. It seems to have some other meaning.MikeL

    I think I brought up creativity. I use it in what I believe is the normal way. It means to bring something into existence, to cause the existence of something. The point was, that all living things express creativity, to different extents, but the creations are not what you might normally refer to as a creation, because what is created are the parts of the living creature's body. This creativity is essential to evolution, because it is responsible for the variations found between individual beings. It may appear to you as an odd sort of meaning for "creativity", because we don't normally think of the living being as creating its own body, but why should we not think in this way, if it is true? We do not think in this way because we have been conditioned by the societal pressures, to suppress the idea of a creator. When we see living things as creators themselves, it leads us toward the assumption that there is a creator of life.

    So take Rich's example of moss, or different coloured carrots. The differences which are seen in the moss field, and the differences seen in the colours of the carrots are all expressions of the creative power of the living organisms. I find that seeing these things as creations really helps me to appreciate and enjoy the splendour of life. Instead of looking at "natural beauty" when I look at the vast array of life forms around me, I am looking at the artwork of living organism and I am awestruck by their creativity.

    Try looking at a rainbow chart showing the colours of the visible spectrum. Then take a look through a substantial flower garden in full bloom in the middle of summer. See how the living things in this garden have taken a rather boring "natural" spectrum of six or seven different colours, to create literally hundreds if not thousands of different colours, through the use of different chemical structures. Some of those colours and contrasts are so stunning they can stop you in wonder. When you see these colours as a natural beauty you think wow, that's incredible, but when you see them as creations it blows your mind.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Then what is the point of the hologram?MikeL

    The holographic-like image is the real thing that is being observed out there. The brain is creating the reconstructive wave that is revealing the object.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Let's contrast the "scientific explanation" to the creative mind explanation:

    1) The Creative Mind explanation recognizes the universal, every day experience of the mind which defines "I".

    Science declares it is all a magical illusion that took a very long time to naturally happen and with zero explanation why or how such an illusion can materialized out of a chemical goop.

    2) The Creative Mind is constantly learning and evolving which accounts for the evolution and the process of sharing.

    Science provides no explanation for the process of learning or communications. It just happen without any explanation of why a soup of chemicals might all of a sudden start sharing experiences or even what is an experience other than an illusion.

    3) The Creative Mind seeks to survive so that it can experiment and create.

    Science says the chemicals miraculously developed a need to survive in a form and continues to move against entropy in order to keep such a form until it miraculously decides not to.

    Science essentially provides no explanation other than a series of nonsensical miracles that "just happen" and then "just stop happening". The Creative Mind recognizes and describes exactly what each person experiences and observed every day of life.

    4) In Bergson's analysis everything that is being created is really out there. The Creative Mind is designing into the fabric of the universe (duration) and it is all being shared and observed as part of the universe We are existing in duration. This is real time. Duration is the canvas of the Creative Mind and all of life is involved in Creative Evolution.

    Science claims it is all happening in the brain - everything, illusions and all, without any evidence of this or how this miracle developed.
  • javra
    577
    But if, in the platonic tradition, we recognize non-spatial existence as the true basis of reality itself, we open up an entire realm of non-spatial existence to our inquiring minds. It lies within, or underneath all of physical existence, which, being non-physical, cannot be perceived by the senses, but only apprehended directly by the mind. From this perspective we can apprehend the existence of information at non-spatial, dimensionless points, and the unity of those points through the means of that information.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yo, you still around?

    Wanted to see how this idea might pan out with you (and others). To be explicit, I’m using geometric points as representations of aware agents. Most of this will not be analytically reasoned but, rather, terse ideas thrown out there for potential feedback, etc.

    I’ll first philosophically entertain an existence (or presence) consisting of a singular geometric point—and nothing else. The geometric point, being volume-less, is in this scenario also space-less yet, nevertheless, a perfectly integral unity. Because this singularity is devoid of otherness, it is also devoid of boundaries via which it can gain a quantifiable identity and, therefore, can well be demarcated as a non-quantity whole. This mathematical scenario is rather hard to conceive other than in very, very abstract terms; but, I’ll intuit, it can be likened to Pythagoras’s circle (the circle devoid of a point at its center or of any line(s), via which quantity is represented within his system), to the Neo-Platonist’s “the One” (albeit, as with the singular geometric point, this “One” could in fact be demarcated as a perfectly integral and wholesome non-quantity being), to Kabbalistic notions of Ein Sof, to Eastern notions of the Brahman, and I dare say even to notions of Nirvana or, similarly, Moksha.

    As I remember it, as was addressed in a by now ancient discussion on the old forum, we already agree that it is only once two or more geometric points hold presence that space itself holds presence. What I’m reaching at is that while a singular geometric point can be conceived to hold space-less presence, the presence of two or more points entails the co-dependent origination of space.

    Were we to grant both awareness and creative agency to these geometric points, not only would the presence of two or more points necessitate to co-existence of space but also of time: the creations of one point will occur either before, after, or simultaneous to the awareness/apprehension and/or creation of any other geometric point.

    Again, in the scenario of there being only one geometric point present, there is neither space nor time (because there here is no occurrence of any before or after). Space and time become, allegorically, the shell of the aware agents (for emphasis, when there are two or more of these).

    Abstractly tying this into evolution, I speculate that evolution can be boiled down to “preservation of identity”. I say that this encapsulates all the more complex, empiricism based notions of evolution (begrudgingly, even the “selfish gene” one which I’ve never been able to stand). Now, what is the ontically real identity of geometric points? The spatiotemporal context within which they (again, plural) duel or, alternatively, the perfectly whole/integral being of the limitless here noted by the singular, non-quantifiable geometric point scenario? There are complexities galore in that we conscious agents, as identities, are always a conflux of both aforementioned idealized identities - I so argue. Yet, as with the notion of “we are points of light emanating from the same source”, a notion arguably as old as Akhenaten’s Ra, it is at least arguable that our metaphysically true identity (independent of our beliefs, etc., of who we are) is that of the perfectly whole/integral unity that is both limitless and non-quantifiable.

    Though mumbo jumbo to some, it can further be noted that base natures of people are (overly) selfish and elevated natures of people are (relatively speaking) selfless. This singular geometric point example is, in so many other words, a perfectly selfless being: the pinnacle of elevated nature as viewed from within space and time.

    So, appraising darn well that all this will be largely nonsense to many (most notably, physicalists), what I’m allegorically alluding to—hopefully in a clear enough way—is that evolution, when metaphysically appraised, might be a struggle between different beings to preserve self-identity given a conflux of teloi of what one seeks to become—one of which will be ontically real (right) and the others being illusions produced by the imagination of minds (and, hence, wrong … such as, I’d argue, the illusion that one can become a spatiotemporal controller of all spacetime/physicality, to whose authority all other conscious agents become subjects of … again, selfishness taken to its extreme, at least to my mind). This metaphysical evolution of being/identity then—to fast forward a bit—plays out physically within spacetime between different lifeforms (of varying awareness ability) and, I’d still maintain, potentially among non-living identities as well.

    Ok, I feel I’ve been all over the place in my attempts for concision of basic ideas. Logically, all this would need quite a more robust and coherent means of argument to hold water—I know very well. But hey, I'm aiming for it to make some intuitive sense.

    So, yes, within such a model conscious agents are the only things that are metaphysically real, but the physicality that in part emerges due to the space and time that a multiplicity of conscious agents necessarily entails would be quite real in a physical, everyday sense.

    Not now such how well this would integrate with Hoffman's position ...
  • 0af
    44
    ...he also says 'atoms and molecules' are just as much icons as are any other kind of objects. In other words, he doesn't see atoms or molecules or any other kind of supposedly fundamental physical object as actually fundamental. What is actually fundamental, is conscious experience, and reality comprises entirely conscious agents.Wayfarer

    If I can jump in, I really like the idea above. As you say, "atoms" are just more icons. But (perhaps you'll agree) independent, differentiated conscious agents are also just more icons. If there are only icons, then the mind-matter or objective-subjective distinctions are secondary in theory if hardly in practice. We have an apparently self-organizing system of icons that comes to represent itself via this very theory of a self-organizing system of icons.

    The process catches its own tail ("absolute knowledge") and finds that it is a Mobius strip. It thought of itself as two-sided, the collision of icon and non-icon, but discovers itself to be an "outsideless" or one-sided process. "There is nothing outside the text." But that also means there is no text in the first place. Text and the object described by the text are the same self-enriching subject-substance.

    In retrospect, we can think the idea of the objective in terms of the fragility of the current icon system. Our "model" of unmediated objective (thing-in-itself) reality could be wrong, we would have said then. But this can also be described as an anticipation that our icon-system will simply develop a update that makes it more complex. We or "it" will create icons, perhaps, describing this process in terms of a desire for self-knowledge or stasis (homeostasis: it wants a fixed shape but responds to tensions in its vortext?)

    "Absolute knowledge" would be the icon-system's existence for itself as an icon which it experienced as final in its general form. Obviously the icon-system remains unstable away from this presumably stable core of its awareness of itself as icon-system.

    The icon or the sign can be neither mental or physical. It is the condition of possibility for this and all such distinctions. So it's not the conscious agent that "really" exists but the icon which is revealed to exist systematically. (Obviously Plato & Hegel & others come to mind and are influences.)
  • MikeL
    644
    I can see the attraction of the theory straight away. Let me turn it over for a while and get back to you.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    You'll find life very easy to understand once the money becomes primary. Everything is exactly as it is experienced. No illusions. No miracles. No, it just happens. The moved is there, it is looking out (and in) there, everything is real, and we are all creating and learning. Results: a real real with purpose and an understanding of the nature of evolution through all life. What you lose is lots of fun trying to figure out how chemicals spring to life (this may have a major economic impact of you are doing it for a living).
  • apokrisis
    4.2k
    To be explicit, I’m using geometric points as representations of aware agents.javra

    Speaking then for a physicalist naturalism, I would make a few points.

    A geometric analogy is fine. The very thing of a mark can be understood to bring into sharp contrasting existence the "other" of the general plane whose unmarked symmetry it breaks. There is now a world divided into the locally marked and the globally unmarked.

    You are likely familiar also with Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form (or Peirce's existential graphs) where the primal act of symmetry breaking is imagined as the drawing of a circle. That is now not just a geometric move, but a logical move. The point has an interior and space is marked by a boundary. Logic can be built up by crossing and re-crossing that boundary. As a conception of semiotic origination, it has its advantages.

    And the Peirce imagined it all in terms of flashes of chance or spontaneity - a conception that is more physicalist as it unites space, time and energy in the notion of a primal action or fluctuation. But also, starting with a chance action is more compatible with a mentalistic ontology. It speaks to a fundamental freedom or creativity. So if Firstness or vagueness is the unformed potential that is lacking in all otherness, the most neutral conception of the first step in creation is a pure undirected action of some kind - not merely a geometric mark but an energetic move.

    As Peirce put it:

    The existence of things consists in their regular behavior. If an atom had no regular attractions and repulsions, if its mass was at one instant nothing, at another a ton, at another a negative quantity, if its motion instead of being continuous, consisted in a series of leaps from one place to another without passing through any intervening places, and if there were no definite relations between its different positions, velocities and directions of displacement, if it were at one time in one place and at another time in a dozen, such a disjointed plurality of phenomena would not make up any existing thing.

    Not only substances, but events, too, are constituted by regularities. The flow of time, for example, in itself is a regularity. The original chaos, therefore, where there was no regularity, was in effect a state of mere indeterminacy, in which nothing existed or really happened.

    Our conceptions of the first stages of the development, before time yet existed, must be as vague and figurative as the expressions of the first chapter of Genesis. Out of the womb of indeterminacy we must say that there would have come something by the principle of firstness, which we may call a flash. Then by the principle of habit there would have been a second flash. Though time would not yet have been, this second flash was in some sense after the first, because resulting from it.

    Then there would have come other successions ever more and more closely connected, the habits and the tendency to take them ever strengthening themselves, until the events would have been bound together into something like a continuous flow.

    We have no reason to think that even now time is quite perfectly continuous and uniform in its flow. The quasi-flow which would result would, however, differ essentially from time in this respect, that it would not necessarily be in a single stream. Different flashes might start different streams, between which there should be no relations of contemporaneity or succession. So one stream might branch into two, or two might coalesce.

    But the further result of habit would inevitably be to separate utterly those that were long separated, and to make those which presented frequent common points coalesce into perfect union. Those that were completely separated would be so many different worlds which would know nothing of one another; so that the effect would be just what we actually observe.

    http://www.iupui.edu/~arisbe/menu/library/bycsp/guess/guess.htm

    And of course, modern quantum cosmology would say this is the right way to understand cosmic evolutionary beginnings.

    The Big Bang started in a particular state - the Planck scale. A state of maximum fluctuation. Being as hot or energy dense as it was possible to be, it was as energetically curved or spatiotemporally disconnected as it was possible to be.

    In the very first moment, there was no spacetime backdrop as such as every point of spacetime was so furiously energetic as to warp its own spacetime like an isolated black hole. But the Planck scale was also the "size" where each hot point could first align with its neighbours to start to share relations and so begin to thermalise. Spacetime could start to shed its extreme local curvature and begin to become connected and flattened. Energy could spread and cool. Classicality emerged.

    So the modern geometric approach would understand spatiotemporality as the converse of energy density - a fundamental quanta of action. And this would be represented graphically as curvature. A phase transition where a realm of hyperbolic curvature at every point of space became connected and so collectively flattened as all that unaligned action became aligned in a common direction - a cooling/expanding cosmos running down to its "other" of a perfectly flat and absolutely cold Heat Death. And because this flattening, this act of cooling/expansion "takes time", time itself emerged as a thing to mark change.

    So rather than a geometric point or even a logical cut, modern theory supports a conception of Firstness or Apeiron as a hot fluctuation, the moment spatiotemporal curvature hit a balance between hyperbolic curvature (a point that curves away exponentially from any nascent dimensionality) and then by definition, that flat dimensionality which is the "other" that now exists as the ground from which any such curvature could be said to exist. Already, you get both sides of the deal from the one act, just like breaking the symmetry of a blank piece of paper by marking it anywhere with a black pencil dot.

    Abstractly tying this into evolution, I speculate that evolution can be boiled down to “preservation of identity”.javra

    Yep. There is a selection principle at work with a physicalist concept of creation as to persist, the world has to work. The constraints that emerge and come to dominate must be the constraints that can globally stabilise.

    [EDIT] In case it wasn't clear, what I like about Peirce's "psychological" habit-taking approach is that it tries to stand half way between the two dualistic extremes of brute matter and creative intelligence.

    So the first action is conceived of as a chance fluctuation. Both the materialist and the theist could find common ground in that because there is the irreducible element of creativity and agency in that conception, as well as the dumb energy of an action.

    A fluctuation speaks to both order and chaos at the same time in being some definite suggestive move in a direction, but it is an act of no particular meaning or significance until, or unless, it also proves to have a context. It must spark the change which is the development of the coherent backdrop against which its own existence becomes a mark, a difference that makes a difference.

    So firstness - conceived of naked fluctuation - is nicely poised between the antagonistic world views that demand we begin either with conscious agency or mindless physics. A fluctuation is the least creative thing as an action. But it is still irreducibly creative in being so purely spontaneous or uncaused. And also a fluctuation is very material in being a primal energetic spatiotemporal event.
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    An especially intriguing and curious twist in Peirce's evolutionism is that in Peirce's view evolution involves what he calls its “agápē-ism.” Peirce speaks of evolutionary love. According to Peirce, the most fundamental engine of the evolutionary process is not struggle, strife, greed, or competition. Rather it is nurturing love, in which an entity is prepared to sacrifice its own perfection for the sake of the wellbeing of its neighbor. This doctrine had a social significance for Peirce, who apparently had the intention of arguing against the morally repugnant but extremely popular socio-economic Darwinism of the late nineteenth century. The doctrine also had for Peirce a cosmic significance, which Peirce associated with the doctrine of the Gospel of John and with the mystical ideas of Swedenborg and Henry James. In Part IV of the third of Peirce's six papers in Popular Science Monthly, entitled “The Doctrine of Chances,” Peirce even argued that simply being logical presupposes the ethics of self-sacrifice: “He who would not sacrifice his own soul to save the whole world, is, as it seems to me, illogical in all his inferences, collectively.” To social Darwinism, and to the related sort of thinking that constituted for Herbert Spencer and others a supposed justification for the more rapacious practices of unbridled capitalism, Peirce referred in disgust as “The Gospel of Greed.” — Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy
  • apokrisis
    4.2k
    I was just adding something to my last post that covers that.

    As I argue, everyone wants to bat for one side or the other - brute materialism or creative intelligence. So everyone reading Peirce will feel compelled to demonstrate that he too is really speaking for one side or the other.

    But what if Peirce - as both a scientist and philosopher - was striving to find the middle path that could do justice to both, without collapsing back into either?
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    My feeing about Peirce is that he was, firstly, multi-faceted - certainly neither simple, nor simplistic. So I imagine that he would say something like: in respect of those many issues which are amenable to scientific analysis, then be scientific about them; but that there are also facts that are out of scope for science. I think, as he situated himself in the idealist tradition of philosophy, broadly speaking, he was not atheist - which may not make a lot of difference in respect of his scientific work, but which might be significant in respect of first principles, ethics, and the like. The quote above certainly seems to reflect that.
  • apokrisis
    4.2k
    He was not an atheist. But he also said his theism was unlike that of others.

    So you are still trying to play the game of theism wins - or rather, the theism that maximises transcendental causality, the intelligence that stands outside the world it creates.

    Peirce was explicit enough that his theism sought to maximise immanent explanation. His God would be the least kind of transcendental being. The "divine" becomes another word for pure creative potential.

    And my point is that the same goes for the atheistic materialist - once they are thinking in systems fashion. Material being is inherently spontaneous or indeterministic - as quantum theory avows.
  • javra
    577


    Our two worldviews often converge in multiple ways when it comes to explanations of the physical world. I’m in truth uplifted by this. Yet our differences lie in the metaphysical basic underpinnings. You for instance focus on vagueness as an ultimate beginning; I instead will affirm that the ultimate beginning is unknowable by us *. You view the ultimate end as a materialist form of nothingness (to not confuse it with Eastern notions of emptiness, for example); I instead will affirm that the ultimate end—though its occurrence is contingent on the choices of all co-existing agents—is one of awareness unshackled from the limitations/constraints of space and time (even that which pertain to mind and its thoughts), and, hence, from the boundaries of selfhood (and otherness) … a juncture wherein subjectivity at last becomes, or transcends into, awareness-endowed metaphysical objectivity; else stated, where no difference remains between subject and object (not to be confused with the identity/otherness notion of objects) [* with what the ultimate beginning of space and time was maybe becoming at last apprehended by awareness at this transformative juncture of spatiotemporal finality]. Yet otherwise expressed, the contingently awaiting ultimate end is a juncture where the fist-person point of view at last apprehends—experientially and via logos/ratio-devoid understanding—what it in truth objectively is … it, in my outlook, is the only possible instance of absolute knowledge.

    I’ve little doubt of others’ mistrust and distaste for this perspective I’ve been developing. Still, let it be noted that this final end—otherwise conceivable as the totality of unbounded awareness—is not itself a deity; deities are selves separated from otherness. Nevertheless, from within the framework of my metaphysics, this “omega” can only be stated to exist, if nothing else then as an existent potential with teleological impact upon all sentience (be it via freewill-resultant aversion to it or the converse). Whether this “omega” can then be termed a theistic notion of God/G-d/Divinity or, else, an atheistic construct (due to its lacking of a deity that, as a self separated from non-self, interacts with us), I wholeheartedly presume will be in the eyes of the beholder and his/her perspectives of reality.

    Where all that matters is parsimony in coherently explaining the physical world, we often can cordially debate—and, again, often enough find agreement. But our metaphysical systems are built up differently.

    For now I’d like to address aspects of this difference. By saying “yup” in you previous post to me, I take it you agree that evolution can be partially simplified into a universal common denominator of “preservation of identity”. How do you propose that identity is established if not via awareness which, as awareness, identifies itself as same/identical to itself and different/non-identical to other? Now, if there’s agreement that this identity is established via awareness, then how is the primacy of awareness (an identity known experientially) abandoned for the sake of primacy of matter (an identity known theoretically)? I anticipate that this will reduce to what is the true metaphysical nature of identity.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.3k

    That's quite the post. Let me see if I can, in some way, understand what you are trying to say.

    Because this singularity is devoid of otherness, it is also devoid of boundaries via which it can gain a quantifiable identity and, therefore, can well be demarcated as a non-quantity whole.javra

    The space-less point would not have a boundary itself, but as soon as you assume a multitude of such points, there must be something, reified space or some such thing, which separates one point from another. The singular point, therefore, as a whole, must be the whole of everything, the entire universe, and all of existence, because there is no principle of separation. As soon as we assume something other than the point, space surrounding the point for example, we then allow for the possibility of more points, so if the point is singular, it would be all that there is.

    As I remember it, as was addressed in a by now ancient discussion on the old forum, we already agree that it is only once two or more geometric points hold presence that space itself holds presence. What I’m reaching at is that while a singular geometric point can be conceived to hold space-less presence, the presence of two or more points entails the co-dependent origination of space.javra

    I don't think you should be so quick to assume a spatial separation between points, because there is another way we can go, and that is a temporal separation. Imagine counting, two comes after one, and three comes after two. If the space-less point is separated from itself by a period of time, then we get such a count, one, two, three, four, five, etc.. Each number represents an appearance in time of the point, and without a premise of continuous existence of the point, through time, we have no means for concluding that the appearance of the point, at each following moment, is an appearance of the same point. Now we have a multitude of countable points which are not separated by space. They have order, identity and distinction according to the passage of time, such that one was prior to two, which is prior to three, etc.. We have a fundamental separation between entities (points), with order and positioning of these entities without even assuming the existence of space.

    So we actually can have numerous points without space, and this is a fundamental temporal order, but as soon as we assume numerous points at the same time, then we need spatial separation. The points with temporal separation are identified by temporal order, but how would we identify, and distinguish between the numerous points existing at the same time? We would have to produce a geometry of co-ordinates.

    Were we to grant both awareness and creative agency to these geometric points, not only would the presence of two or more points necessitate to co-existence of space but also of time: the creations of one point will occur either before, after, or simultaneous to the awareness/apprehension and/or creation of any other geometric point.javra

    Suppose there is a multitude of creative points with a temporal order. There is no spatial separation between these points, so if taken together in order, they constitute a continuous self. Assumption of a self establishes that the procession of points is of the same point, at a different time, and therefore continuity of existence . Could the points create a spatial separation through the use of geometry? Can a temporal separation be inverted such that it becomes a spatial separation? By creating this spatial separation, the creative agent would create space.

    Though mumbo jumbo to some, it can further be noted that base natures of people are (overly) selfish and elevated natures of people are (relatively speaking) selfless. This singular geometric point example is, in so many other words, a perfectly selfless being: the pinnacle of elevated nature as viewed from within space and time.javra

    The repetition of the same point in time, over and over again, as temporal order, is the existence of the self. This is the temporal continuity of existence. The selfless act I believe, is to give of one's temporal continuity, in order to create a spatial unity with other points existing at the same time. The question at hand is how it comes to be that there are multiple points existing at the same time. The different points cannot be of a different universe because they exist at the same time. How does it come to be that the points may have spatial separation in the first place, that there may be numerous selves?
  • apokrisis
    4.2k
    You for instance focus on vagueness as an ultimate beginning; I instead will affirm that the ultimate beginning is unknowable by us *.javra

    Again, if one seeks division, one can always find it. But I'm seeking the third path that lies between the very familiar cultural positions of materialism and theism.

    So vagueness is just a word to talk about unknowable beginnings in a rational - that is, retroductive - fashion. If two complementary things came out of creation - like mind and matter, or information and dynamics, or constraints and degrees of freedom - then logically the ultimate beginning is where these two things fold back into each other as a naked unformed potential.

    I like "vagueness" as that comes from Peirce's attempts to get to the root of logic, or reasoning, itself. If you want to come at metaphysics from a psychological or idealistic direction, then vagueness seems a very natural category as it speaks to states of experience before it speaks to states of being.

    And vagueness is about information and uncertainty. Your point is that the beginning is unknowable. Calling it a vagueness is agreeing that it is a state of maximal uncertainty. Then putting on a physics hat, we can understand that in materialistic terms as a state of maximum quantum indeterminism. And when that in turn is understood in terms of the spatiotemporal general relativity, we can cash out a description of a vague beginning as a maximally fluctuating geometry - a "realm" with the most extreme imaginable curvature.

    So that is what I am seeking. A jargon that actually does translate smoothly from one metaphysical point of view to its "other". Whether we describe creation psychologically or physically, it really means the same thing.

    You view the ultimate end as a materialist form of nothingness (to not confuse it with Eastern notions of emptiness, for example);javra

    Well, sort of. The Heat Death is the finality of natural habit becoming eternally fixed. The laws of nature are finally fully expressed.

    So not exactly a case of nothingness. A state of regulated lawfulness has become definite and classical, having started out vague and quantum.

    I instead will affirm that the ultimate end—though its occurrence is contingent on the choices of all co-existing agents—is one of awareness unshackled from the limitations/constraints of space and time (even that which pertain to mind and its thoughts), and, hence, from the boundaries of selfhood (and otherness) …javra

    Pansemiosis would be saying a similar thing, but in terms of infodynamics - consciousness not being accepted as "a thing".

    So yes, in the current era, there is complex semiosis. You have life and mind on Earth doing its best to break down accidental blockages in the greater entropy flow. But in the end, dissipation will become as simple and universal as possible. All particular points of view will disappear. As cosmology describes it, there will be nothing but the cosmic event horizons and the quantum sizzle of black-body photons they radiate.

    So in a sense, "consciousness" - as another word for the process of semiosis - developed and grew complex in the current era. It was located at least on one planet as a human mindfulness. And this is truly exceptional as an event. These human creatures could have the self-reflective capacity to develop a form of semiosis - abstract scientific modelling using mathematical language - that looked to speak to the existence of the Universe itself. That's stunning, no doubt.

    But in the long-run, the Universe will head for ultimate semiotic simplicity again. The work will be done. It can rest, forever coasting into the future as the ultimate peacefulness of a Heat Death.

    (Yep, some rhetorical flourishes of my own here. :) )

    By saying “yup” in you previous post to me, I take it you agree that evolution can be partially simplified into a universal common denominator of “preservation of identity”. How do you propose that identity is established if not via awareness which, as awareness, identifies itself as same/identical to itself and different/non-identical to other?javra

    Well the difference here is now that you are arguing for the bounding constraints to be caused transcendentally from without, whereas I say they arise emergently and immanently from within.

    So it is in fact an evolutionary position. What works is what survives. There might have been an infinite variety of possible states of constraint. But one of them would have been the best - the best at doing the job of constraining the identity of the world in a way that caused the world to keep reconstituting itself. And so that particular way of organising things would have won through by definition. History is the story told by the winning side.

    Again this is a fundamental physicalist concept. Quantum theory understands collapse as the sum over all quantum histories. And as a theory, this path integral approach has been demonstrated to more decimal places than any other physical theory - as with the calculation of the magnetic moment of an electron.

    https://phys.org/news/2012-09-electron-magnetic-moment-precisely.html

    So quantum theory is far weirder than any theistic metaphysics in most people's eyes. Yet there is nothing hand-waving about it. It produces the most precise predictions humans can manage. And the metaphysics it employs is about how things begin in a state of vague everythingness (or anythingness) and then that is collapsed by a principle of selection to find a stable identity. Every electron has a little more magnetic pull than it should, according to classical conception, because every electron feels the same "ghostly" contribution of all the other "kinds of interaction" it could have been.

    When transcendental theism comes up with facts about the detailed state of the Universe that are as remarkable, profound and challenging, then maybe metaphysics would take more notice of its attempted ontic contributions.

    Of course quantum theory is said to struggle to account for the observer half of its formal equations. So that seems to give wiggle room for "consciousness as a transcendental thing". But in fact "observation" is being reduced to thermal decoherence. The informational structure of the Universe in general is doing the (pansemiotic) observing. The path integral or sum over histories story is being generalised so that it applies to the persisting Universe as a whole, not just to the persistent identity of its fundamental particles.

    So the theist wants to make the ultimate observer the mind of God. But that is just so clearly anthropomorphic as to be a non-starter.

    Some theists then try to create a story of immanent divinity. The purpose which drives the development of being is a different kind of "stuff" woven into the fabric of the Universe rather than the big daddy in the sky.

    But talking about a spiritual substance as the source of agency is just good old fashioned dualism still. It perpetuates a mystery.

    And as I say, the cultural war is between a scientific view which in the end has dematerialised its own materialism, and a theistic view which has produced nothing of note in a metaphysical sense these past 500 years.

    Where are any new ideas, let alone the evidence that stands tested to the precision of one part in 1.5 billion?
  • javra
    577
    I don't think you should be so quick to assume a spatial separation between points, because there is another way we can go, and that is a temporal separation.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, but here I’d also be presuming block time rather than some variant of presentism (to generalize: wherein past is collective memory of what was and future is anticipatory forethought of what will most likely be given the logically non-contradictory facts/info of the present … which themselves include the information regarding the past).

    Given the premise that only conscious agents are metaphysically real—or, rather, that the whole of the phenomenal universe is derived in one way or another from conscious agents—I don’t find a means to substantiate block time. Again, I do find a requirement that before and after occur within the first-person point of view regarding apprehensions and creations relative to other and—in a more complex fashion—relative to any cohort of individual agents that can causally affect each other. But this would lead to a variant of presentism.

    Let me know is this does not directly address you’re offered alternatives regarding temporal separations of identity.
  • javra
    577
    The Heat Death is the finality of natural habit becoming eternally fixed.apokrisis

    I can paraphrase this from a different point of view: the ultimate end is the actualization of absolute order wherein a) all conflict vanishes and b) all imperfectly integral identities become an objectively perfect identity/unity.

    Physical entropy--to distinguish it from IT notions--is merely the process of taking paths of least resistance toward the grand finale of this absolute order--thereby being determinstically driven teleologically toward the final end of absolute order. Negentropy, were it to approach this grand final (which is itself metaphysically determinate as end) via its top-down causal abilities, would via its own freewill become more determined/determinate in its actions toward the requirements of actualizing this ultimate end - thereby itself becoming ever-more entropic (following paths of least resistance toward absolute coherence/unity/accord/etc. given contextual constraints).

    Yet there is still the same difference in the basic metaphysical underpinnings of what this final end ontically is.


    Well the difference here is now that you are arguing for the bounding constraints to be caused transcendentally from without, whereas I say they arise emergently and immanently from within.apokrisis

    I don't get what makes you presume this of me. To me, purpose/telos is intrinsic/immanent to awareness. That the ultimate end is determinate has arguably nothing to do with the objectively real telos (sentience will sometimes pursue other teloi) occurring transcendentally from without as something separate from self. Think of universals ... are they in any way transcendentally from without (such that they at the very least are not also simultaneously immanent to psyches)?

    But you still haven't addressed my previous questions regarding the metaphysical nature of identity.
  • Wayfarer
    6.5k
    So you are still trying to play the game of theism winsapokrisis

    It's not a game, and it also may not even be 'theism'. What has happened is that a great deal of traditional philosophy was swept up under the umbrella of 'theism', including a lot that originally didn't conceive of itself as 'theistic' at all, but became incorporated into theology by the Church. (The Platonists were never given a vote.) The discarding of that, or the reaction against it, has many consequences, not all of them conscious or deliberate. It influences the kind of ideas you're willing to consider, often in a subtle way.

    When transcendental theism comes up with facts about the detailed state of the Universe that are as remarkable, profound and challenging, then maybe metaphysics would take more notice of its attempted ontic contributions.apokrisis

    The changes that 'transcendental theism' are concerned with, are first-person. But then, I have already tried, and failed, to explain that. (That's one of those no-go ideas, I think.) Anyway, here you're criticizing metaphysics for being bad science, which is like criticizing a boat for being a bad car.

    Now, on the other hand, I can also agree that most or all of what passes for metaphysics is (to use a technical term) otiose. But it can only be done away with from a point beyond it (as the Buddha does) - not before it has even been understood; and generally speaking, it's the latter which has happened. As a consequence, the culture is falling back to a kind of pre-human condition, even despite its technological achievements ( think that's the basic idea behind Planet of the Apes.)

    So quantum theory is far weirder than any theistic metaphysics in most people's eyes. Yet there is nothing hand-waving about it.apokrisis

    You reckon? You know that a sizeable minority of physicists and popular philosophers hold to there being an infinity of parallel universes, as we have discussed many times. And then there's the most embarrasing graph in modern physics.

    a theistic view which has produced nothing of note in a metaphysical sense these past 500 years.apokrisis

    Other than Western civilization, now showing signs of imminent collapse.
  • apokrisis
    4.2k
    The changes that 'transcendental theism' are concerned with, are first-person.Wayfarer

    The question of how to be a better self is an important one. But my argument - as you know - is that the self is a bio- and socio-semiotic construction. So the answers would have to be naturalistic ones, not transcendental.

    Of course, that evolutionary view of religion means that one would understand in an anthropological fashion why a good religion would capture a lot of social commonsense. So one would endorse religious moral wisdom without then having to believe in the ontic claims that are meant to give transcendental authority to that wisdom.
  • apokrisis
    4.2k
    I can paraphrase this from a different point of view: the ultimate end is the actualization of absolute order wherein a) all conflict vanishes and b) all imperfectly integral identities become an objectively perfect identity/unity.javra

    That's a good translation.

    Physical entropy--to distinguish it from IT notions--is merely the process of taking paths of least resistance toward the grand finale of this absolute order--thereby being determinstically driven teleologically toward the final end of absolute order. Negentropy, were it to approach this grand final (which is itself metaphysically determinate as end) via its top-down causal abilities, would via its own freewill become more determined/determinate in its actions toward the requirements of actualizing this ultimate end - thereby itself becoming ever-more entropic (following paths of least resistance toward absolute coherence/unity/accord/etc. given contextual constraints).javra

    You are now talking about entropification at a more subtle level. But my view then is the dissipative structure one where entropy and negentropy go hand in hand. So rather than the usual simple-minded story - "thermodynamics = disordering" - I am talking about the self-organisation of the structure which creates those paths of least resistance.

    So yes, there is an entropy gradient everything slithers down. But only because of the negentropic construction of that gradient.

    The Big Bang couldn't have gone anywhere unless it had crystallised a three dimensional spatiality - a directional volume within which to cool/expand. The Universe had to build its own internal heat sink to dump all its hot energy somewhere.

    As far as teleology goes, it is hardly the grand kind of purpose that folk traditionally want to credit existence with. Folk want something ringing and exalted to give meaning to the cosmos.

    But so what? Maybe organising a Heat Death seems merely a "tendency" within the pansemiotic telic hierarchy of {tendency {function {purpose}}}. But it is what it is.

    To me, purpose/telos is intrinsic/immanent to awareness.javra

    But bio-semiosis agrees that purpose is internal and agential and first person when it comes to organisms. They have the right modelling machinery - ways to code and remember.

    And then with physio-semiosis, this is what is missing. There is nothing inside a tornado with which it regulates its being, maintains its identity. All that information is contextual - part of the structure of the world in terms of the weather patterns which swept the tornado into local being.

    So the semiotic approach can track telos or top-down finality across that epistemic cut separating life and mind from brute dynamics. It explains both an underlying continuity and the sharp disconnect.
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