Comments

  • A Robert De Niro Theory of Post-Truth: ‘Are you talking to me?’
    There's more to truth than opinion, more to truth than just belief.Banno

    But are you agreeing there is more to truth than a world of real facts?

    That was the important point I wanted to make. Yes, there is a reality out there ready to bite false belief on the bum. But what grounds truth just as much is the self that stands holding the other end of that truth-telling relation.

    The socially constructed nature of truth has to be accepted to then make a distinction between the good and bad in our current habits of truth-telling.

    That is the subtlety which I sense you may be skirting.

    There are just true statements and false statements.Banno

    This is what I mean.

    I can understand what it might mean for statements to be judged truthful. The relationship between some self and some world is being foregrounded. Truth is provisional on the functionality of a relation, not on the claimed brute state of either one or the other.

    But to just call statements true or false feels ambiguous. Are they true because they conform to a state of the world or a state of belief?

    No, they are true because they work in some long-run sense. They are true because a community of minds will arrive at such a judgement given sufficient time to inquire fully. They are true because a community of thinkers no longer doubt them in their heart.

    Sure. The job of logic is to exclude ambiguity. But it can't simply assert that ambiguity doesn't exist.

    And that seems a very central point in any battle against post-truth attitudes. We have to grant social constructionism if we are to insist on truth being properly constructed within society.

    Sure, people can think what they like. But then there is still the social view with the most functional grasp of "the truth of the world".
  • Is 'information' physical?
    In Aristotle's scheme, final causes work on various levels - even mundane creatures have a final cause or 'telos'.Wayfarer

    So this is another thing I've regularly repeated. Biology can internalise that kind of information. That is what the epistemic cut permits.

    The Cosmos just has a pansemiotic tendency. Biology can encode semiotic functionality. Sociology can encode a human notion of purpose.

    But there's also a sense of an ultimate end, to which all the particular causes are directed.Wayfarer

    Well this is where the advantage of constraints-based thinking shows. The Cosmos can have a tendency. And yet we can - for a while, in our own limited way - defy that. The flipside of constraints is that they also create freedoms.

    So you are stuck with the notion of "only one end". My view demands orthogonal ends. In the middle of an entropifying Cosmos, it is not a surprise that we would find a height of complexification.

    It is a yin and yang thing. Even the Heat Death is both a state of order and disorder. Entropy is not the simple thing folk make it out to be. To be carefully disordered is a strict kind of order.

    But in any case, the salient point is that it is not simply non-existence or nothingness; so I think there's a problem with appropriating the notion of a 'final cause' but then adopting the 'thermodynamic imperative' in place of that.Wayfarer

    Did I call the Heat Death a state of non-existence? It might be maximally nothing - the ultimate featurelessness. But that is also a great big something in that it is an eternally continuing and expanded featurelessness.

    Remember that the Heat Death is defined as the asymptotic approach to absolute zero degrees kelvin, or the minimum possible energy density. We only arrive there when the Universe has reached a vacuum state balance in which it expands and dilutes exactly as fast as it can quantumly fluctuate and radiate.

    The Universe still changes just as much, but the changes can no longer make a difference. It's like the Red Queen's race at the Cosmic scale - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Queen%27s_race

    Such a beautiful idea!
  • Is 'information' physical?
    Perhaps you might spell out the end-point of the 'thermodynamic imperative' - what it is all heading towards. This, I presume, will be what you see as the 'final cause'.Wayfarer

    Right then. The thermodynamic imperative is not pointing towards anything particularly grand. Just a Cosmic heat death.

    So it represents the constraint, the final cause, that is a globalised tendency towards some state of ultimate mathematical simplicity.

    If you wanted to, you could spin that as some deeply spiritual goal. It sounds like a state of maximal oneness or quietude. The Universe folds back into the depths of itself, let's go all its passing localised cares, and goes ... Ommmmm!

    You can view the Heat Death as the ultimate failure of meaningfulness or celebrate it as the arrival at some ultimate state of elegant self-integration. There are plenty of anthropomorphic angles you could apply.

    I don't have a strong feeling either way. Rightfully, the fate of the Cosmos is pretty much a neutral thing. Neither victory nor tragedy. We don't actually have to value it, do we?

    But if you want to manufacture some kind of personal meaning from the thermodynamic imperative, there is definitely the practical concern - the question of why do we humans keep tending towards a certain kind of entropic end as living creatures?

    And then if you are after a purely aesthetic judgement - and why not, it's fun - I think it's quite neat if the Heat Death can be shown to have Platonic necessity. It is one of your revered mathematical objects.

    If symmetry can be broken, then this is the image of symmetry breaking taken to its ultimate limit. This is the image of maximum simplicity. Physics can hope for an ontological "theory of everything" as particles, forces, spacetime dimensionality, the constants of nature, the whole shebang, are indeed a Platonic object waiting at the end of time. The Universe is the crystalisation of an abstract limit on unbounded "everythingness".

    So it is quite possible to dress up the Heat Death poetically. It can sound just like something really special. The secret of existence. The ultimate knowledge. The creation of eternal order.

    We can say these things with a straight face. ;)
  • Is 'information' physical?
    I can't recall what you said in this particular matter....Wayfarer

    That also happens with great regularity. Right now I really ought to be going and having lunch.
  • Causality & Laws of Nature in response to Wittgenstein & Hume
    Uh huh.

    I get that you see the world through the eyes of a reductionist ontology. You don't abide with holism or systems thinking.

    Your loss.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    Perhaps you might spell out the end-point of the 'thermodynamic imperative' - what it is all heading towards.Wayfarer

    Again? Even I feel I have repeated myself enough. :)
  • A Robert De Niro Theory of Post-Truth: ‘Are you talking to me?’
    There's a type of relativistic thing going on, such that folks can express the same view in different ways; one truth writ differently.Banno

    It's an important topic. As usual, I would argue that the notion of "objective truth" itself is a non-starter. We can't combat post-truth simply by saying there is reality that must be properly described, a world of facts that ultimately holds us speakers to account.

    That absolutism can't work as speech acts are as much about the self as the world. Or semiotically, they are tokens of a self~world relation. They state the truth of that - the relation - rather than the truth of the world (or the self) in any direct sense.

    But still, there is something very important about the Enlightenment project. There is something very dangerous in the relativism that has now slid all the way down to proto-fascist Trumpian alternative fact reality. There is a notion of truth communication to be defended.

    So - in terms of socially engineering that happier outcome - I would argue that what we need to guard against is the stratification of social discourse. The control over discourse by the entrenched elites. Or now in a social media/reality TV world, the development of algorithmic bubbles. And this seems the reverse of that elitist control, in that now it is the over-democratisation of opinion that is the problem.

    Trump does neatly represent this divide. He is a creature of the swamp, yet sells the social media response to the fact of being control by an entrenched elite. He played the Randian ideal of "the boss" in a reality show. He actually seems to love living in a fake world of gold living rooms and arcadian golf courses. He represents the greatest possible disconnect from reality we can imagine. And so he becomes the ideal candidate to lead a mob seeking nothing but comforting simplicities in a world quite deliberately made too complex for any but the elite to be advantaged.

    So truth is currently under assault from two directions. There is the more traditional control over "the message" that is how an elite maintains its position within a stratified social hierarchy. And then there is the mob counter-response. Social media has really become the enabler of that.

    The traditional media was often a tool of the elite. No denying. But the traditional media also did embody some level of Enlightenment commitment to a common notion of truth.

    Again, no absolutism allowed. But the traditional media got that meanings are social. And so "the truth" ought to reflect some "whole of society" point of view. We would find truth in whatever, in the most universal way, cemented a human relation to a humanised world.

    That is why a truth-telling society doesn't ignore its poor, its disadvantaged. That is why a truth-telling society is "realistic" about its relations to the wider ecological and material resources upon which it must depend. The traditional media did try to take this whole of society perspective of what counts as "the truth".

    Now the post-truth assault is coming strongly from both directions. The elite have become increasingly happy to lie. The institutional constraints against the likes of Murdoch have become very eroded. Governments see spin as a necessity - because the population is no longer easily made compliant when moments of "national necessity", like another war or financial correction, arise.

    And the mob mentality now has its own new vehicle. The early internet was very much built on democratic, enlightenment principles. Now it has evolved into a realm of post-truth bubbles.

    So truth-telling relies on tying the widest sense of self to the widest sense of the world in an ongoing habit of interpretance or pragmatic communication. That is what has to translate across all the levels of discourse, all the bubbles of thinking. There must be a unity about the social point of view that functionally preserves the people we want to be - culturally, economically, environmentally.

    Even scientific truth gets criticised from this point of view. It is great to have a really objective cosmic view of "the world". But in the end, it is going to come back to how we need to think in order to continue to flourish. The truth is about this relationship if we are being practical about our habits of truth-telling.

    So the linked essay touches on a vital issue. Society needs to pay attention to the way it institutionalises the collective habit of truth-telling. The elite and the mob are evidence that we are long way from an ideal balance.

    The corrective medicine would involve doing what it takes to bolster the collectivising view. The difficulty is knowing how to best do that.

    For instance, Trump could be here and gone next week. The pendulum could swing. The US might institutionally embrace some kind of informational reform having had such a close brush with disaster.

    Or we could wait for the next GFC to wash everything away in an act of creative destruction. The irreality has to have an end, even if it is amazing the show has been kept on the road up to now.

    Do we need some dramatic intervention, or will the situation naturally take care of itself (the truth of the world being at least that recalcitrant).

    In the meantime, if you look for it, there is plenty of truth-telling happening even on the internet. The new media is exposing plenty. There is a lot of positive to point to as well.

    Anyway, from a philosophical viewpoint, post-truth is not about a lack of truthful objectivity about the world. It is about the social fragmentation of the story-telling. Speech acts are always about the self as much as the world. And it is the health of the collective self, the communal speaker, which is at the heart of these post-truth concerns.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    But the entire point is that Plato was concerned with a real basis for value, an objective 'domain of values'Wayfarer

    The mathematical forms were a pretty convincing motivation for positing a concrete realm of abstracta. Philosophy began with the realisation that the world had this necessary immanent capacity for deep order.

    But as you say, Plato then tried to tack on some rather anthropomorphic notions on top of that. He wanted to place "the Good" at the top of the chain of being. It was the light that illuminated the forms and caused them to be received as the impressions in a material world.

    So yes, beyond the formal causes, there must be the final causes. That seems to make sense. Something must breath enough meaning and purpose into the possibilities of mathematical form to then cause them to become instantiated. The mathematical forms represent a set of free choices. Then someone, or some principle, has to make that choice for some reason.

    In my semiotic/physicalist metaphysics, it is pretty obvious what plays the part of The Good. The animating purpose is the thermodynamic imperative - the general drive to self-organising simplification.

    So again, it is no problem for me to point to the generic least action principle at the heart of Cosmic existence. We now even have the information theoretic maths to model and measure what we are talking about metaphysically. We can produce inductive confirmation of the metaphysical claims we might make.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    But metaphysics and phenomenology are different matters. You want to subsume them to science, and you act as though this stance is itself supported by science; but this is circular reasoning, and you are thus assuming a standpoint that you are called upon to show is free of that very assumption.Janus

    Metaphysics and phenomenology couldn't be more connected. Epistemology doesn't get going until we accept that we find ourselves already thrust into the world in a state of conditioned perception. "Metaphysical" presumptions are already in play by the time we realise that there is this thing called "phenomenal experience".

    So no circularity. We start by recognising we are already caught in the bind of a hermeneutic circle. The idea of "raw feelings" is just another of the things that folk are talking about.

    So the task is to haul ourselves out of this unthinking state and move towards some better considered position. Hence the method of scientific reasoning. We accept the necessity of making assumptions. And then we turn a bug into a feature. We consciously state we begin with a guess and then deductively work through its consequences, inductively confirm its advantage.

    It is not circular but hierarchical. Axioms are footholds to lift ourselves to a viewpoint that has some greater advantage.

    Of course you can question the nature of the progress being made by any particular hierarchical excursion. But that is simply itself a meta-practice of the same epistemic technique. At least it is if your question is "reasonable".

    I am talking about reporting how experience seems to us in its 'first person' immediacy, not its objective contents but its subjective quality. I believe this is something we all know; we know what it is, subjectively speaking, to experience ourselves in relation to a world of others, not as some objectivist description about it, but as subjective immediacy.Janus

    Again, I can only say that this is a cultural conception which we all have to learn. So the "first person" claim very much does have to be put in scare quotes.

    Even animals must be thought to emjoy such a subjective quality of life, or experience.Janus

    Again, I can only repeat that of course we would expect animals to have a biological sense of self. I have pointed out how perception is based on the very ability to make a self~world distinction. And yet also, we have no reason to think that animals are aware of this self in a third person descriptive fashion.

    They would be extrospective, not introspective. They would simply "be themselves" in experiencing "the world". They wouldn't do the linguistic thing of experiencing themselves as beings in the world. The self and its qualia would not switch from being subjects to objects as a matter of conception.

    This shows clearly what I say above; you keep defaulting to thinking I am talking about "thinking about consciousness" in some objective sense; you just cannot seem to get outside your presuppositions in order to understand what I am saying.Janus

    It's not a default. It is what psychological science has to tell us. The social default position is that we are self-aware creatures in some innate way. It is very much against the grain of popular opinion to say that our habit of objectifying our selves, our experiences, is the product of linguistic behaviour.

    So yes, you keep refusing the consequences of this understanding. You maintain, despite the facts, that there is "raw feeling" in some pure first person sense.

    But the first person point of view is a view constructed via a third person stance. It is not itself fundamental. At best - as a phenomenological project - it is only an honest attempt to recover what might be a pure first person point of view. It would be our best go at imagining our state of mind with the least cultural en-framing. Just the "raw feels".
  • Is 'information' physical?
    IN the context of a discussion about Platonic philosophy, the 'higher plane of being' is the domain of forms.Wayfarer

    Hmm. I thought you were referring to a realm of meaning, value, wisdom and consciousness rather than a realm of mathematical abstracta.

    I'd say that Plato's forms are easy to understand in terms of constraints or immanent limitations. They are the shapes, the structuration, that stand at the edge of material possibility. And this connects to the initial discussion about information/entropy.

    So the realm that maths inhabits is the zeroed realm where dimensionality and energy have gone to their effective material limit. A code, for example, is dimensionality constrained to a 1D sequence that is then composed of 0D points. The natural numbers are just such a structure - with the addition of the points being arranged in an ordinal sequence. The code contains a message in that it points the temporal direction for acts of counting.

    So everything about mathematics can be understood as a limit description on dimensioned materiality. There is a world of action and direction. Then there is the antithesis of the "realm" which is the emergent limit on actions and directions. The reduction of actions and directions produces this ghostly space of the zero-d - an infinite wasteland of discrete points, which can then be semiotically imbued with private meanings.

    Once entropic existence is reduced to a set of bare marks, then the marks can take on unlimited meaning within a new level of semiotic mechanism. That is, us humans can describe the structure of the Cosmos in terms of constructive patterns. We can build systems of constraint using our mathematical templates - our ideas about triangles, numbers, manifolds, and so forth.

    So Plato's realm is what springs up at the edge of material existence. It is the "flattened" view of the whole produced by dimensional constraint going to its extreme. Collapse dimensionality and energetics - actions with directions - and you wind up with patterns of marks that can be used semiotically to encode the world just collapsed.

    Is a triangle real? Well our concept of a triangle certainly encodes the core facts of spatial geometry. We can throw away nearly everything - all entropic irregularity or actual dimensionality - to arrive at a limit state description in terms of a number of sides, a sum of internal angles, a quantification of a compact surface in terms of its ultimate simplicity.

    Where does this triangle exist? Well, in our minds, in our habits of conception. But also it "exists" in the world as a particular ideal limit - a constraint on 2D dimensionality using the least number of 1D edges and 0D vertices. So it doesn't really exist in the world as limits are where existence finally ceases to exist. There are no perfect triangles in a materially real world, just their asymptotically close approximations.

    So my point is - connecting again to the OP - is that the "higher plane" really exists in the semiotic view. There is an epistemic cut that divides reality into its entropic material sphere and its semiotic informational sphere.

    Existence or being can be accounted for as the constraint on potential. In the beginning, the Cosmos would have been unlimited materiality - just pure unbounded fluctuation. An infinity or chaos of action and direction. In expressing every possible action and direction, this vagueness would have been no kind of action or direction in any proper sense at all.

    Then out of this "everything goes" conflict, constraints would have to emerge. All the conflicts would start to cancel each other out, leaving only what counts as the simplest harmonies or resonances. In quantum cosmology terms, this is exactly the path integral or sum over histories approach. Order must emerge from chaos. Free action must still find its long-run equilibrium balance.

    And so the dimensionality of initial cosmic chaos would be reduced. It would collapse towards the definite three spatial directions and the one collective temporal dimension we experience. The maths of symmetry and symmetry breaking are particularly good for describing this natural self-simplifying tendency. Physics is deeply mathematical because symmetry maths encodes the greatest possible states of simplicity. Symmetry maths explains why the goal of the Cosmos is to become as reduced in direction and action as it can get - the ultimate imperative that is a Heat Death.

    But in this story of entropification - the slide towards greatest equilibrium simplicity - is then to be found the other side of the coin, the informational realm that emerges ever more strongly as dimensionality is flattened and simplified. As the Universe heads towards the closest it can get to zero-d constraint, that produces the new possibility of negentropic semiosis. You can get the counter-action of regulating the material world through zero-d systems of symbols, marks or codes.

    Plato's realm comes alive in our hands. Ideas about numbers, triangles, and other abstracta, can be turned from being the deadened limits on materiality to the formative constraints we place on still lively materiality. As long as there is a little heat left in the Universe, we can mine it, regulate it, for some privately created meaning or purpose.

    Of course, overall, our human-centric semiosis or negentropy has to be entropic. We must produce waste heat whenever we do work. But for us, Plato's realm is a higher plane of being in that it is a place from which we can actually act and give direction. It encodes the physics of the world in a way that is real, but also in a way that is causally reversed in that we are imagining the patterns as not emergent but constructed. We reframe the entropic truth of the world in a way that is technologically convenient.

    Now you may see that as a spiritual move. Plato's realm is somehow accessing something divine or actually transcendent.

    But the semiotic story is only of a faux transcendence - an epistemic cut. We extract a story about limits so that we can impose those limits on nature through acts of entropic construction. If I want to build things, I can have in mind a kitbag of ideal shapes, like triangles, cubes, planes, etc.

    Plato's higher plane exists in our imagination as the entropic world turned around on itself. So it "really exists" as being a realm of physical limits or ideal constraints. But it is really a mirror-land in that it is this physical realm imagined in terms of the constraints being constructable. The causality is flipped around from being top-down to bottom-up.

    (Although of course the causal relation between the forms and the physics is precisely what created all those Platonic ontic puzzles - the allegory of the cave. It was clear that the constructive approach of actual mathematics was in conflict with the fact that in nature, limitations are emergent. Platonic debate recognised the disjunct, but failed to resolve it. Hence the dualism that has bedeviled the subject ever since.)
  • Is 'information' physical?
    Sure. The regulation of instability is something I've started to focus on because of the recent discoveries in biophysics. It is actually quite revolutionary for the philosophy of biology, as well as also being very much a central concern of psychological science.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    That's solely because I go to the trouble of trying to explain it, and you don't understand it.Wayfarer

    I asked about this "higher plane of being". You've said a lot but nothing that counts as an explanation. What is it? How is it? What is it? Where is it? When is it?

    I mean you could have replied that it isn't really a plane, nor being, nor higher. All that is suggestive of some psychic, transcendent, stuff - a Platonic realm of ideas, or dualism realm of spirit. You could have said it was a poor choice of words and you didn't mean to reify intuition, feeling and value as if they were perceptions of an alternative reality that ordinary rational perception fails to see.

    I would still dispute any mystical, non-natural, non-biological, account of our ability to know reality this way, but we might have been more on the same page. But once you make claims about the literal existence of "a higher plane of being", its a different metaphysical ballgame. And I haven't seen you stacking up the justification to take that seriously.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    Do formal and material conditions or universal laws exist? How do they maintain their existence?darthbarracuda

    History locks them in. When a wavefunction collapses, an event has now happened in some spatiotemporal location with a definite energy. By the same token, it's possibility of happening anywhere or anyhow else has been removed. So the past is a memory that constrains. Actions become ever more limited by their environment.

    The same applies over all scales. If a river branches at one point, then that removes the possibility of it bulging and breaking at a host of other points. The branching is an accident. But it leaves a permanent mark that grows to have real effect on everything that follows.

    If the hierarchical system imposes stability on its base layers, it is only because the base layers are capable of being arranged in some way.darthbarracuda

    Yeah. My ontology always IS fundamentally two-way or complementary. You've picked that up. It is the basis of the systems view.

    The workings of the composite is done through the combined efforts of the parts, but it's still the parts doing the work.darthbarracuda

    Now you are being reductionist. The parts do the constructing, the whole does the constraining. And so the whole shapes the parts that are re-making its wholeness. (Haven't we been through this 1000 times?)

    So work is being done from both directions. And importantly for this discussion, the stability of the parts is due to their contexts of constraint. It is not inherent but emergent.

    Of course once we start talking about substances - like metal, or rock, or plastic, or glass - we conveniently overlook this bigger picture.

    Even protons and electrons are fundamentally unstable - stable only because of a marked lack of their anti-particles in the near vicinity.

    When I turn on a light, it is clear that the lightbulb requires a voltage source to work.darthbarracuda

    And now we are into the human engineered view of the world when we create machines made of rigid bits. Somehow examples of artificial things seem canonical examples of nature at its best.

    Why are folk always stumbling into this obvious ontic mind-trap?

    So the demonstration here is that things require other things to keep them hoisted in existence and if there cannot be a physical entity that pulls itself up by its bootstraps, then there must be something non-physical that ultimately keeps everything existing. Which we presumably call God.darthbarracuda

    Perhaps a rigid mechanical understanding of nature would require you to then imagine a God to wind the clockwork with his circular prime mover, adjust the hands with the occasional miraculous intervention.

    Me? Nope, don't need divine cause. I don't make the mistake of thinking the Comos to be rigid mechanism.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    It's not atomistic as I mentioned how the environment plays a role in how the body survives. The point is that the existence of x is explained by the existence of y which is explained by the existence of z, just like how a laptop rests on a table, which rests on the floor, which rests on the Earth, etc. An "Aristotelian" (not "the" Aristotelian) demonstration is that this hierarchical explanation ultimately follows back to the prime mover.darthbarracuda

    But his hylomorphism led towards both a prime mover and prime matter. So there was some ultimate form/purpose (like the global shaping hand of circular motion), and also some basic formless notion of "stuff", a prime matter. Or what Plato called the chora, or receptacle.

    So my modern approach understands hierarchical causality as being about constraints and degrees of freedom. This tracks back to Aristotle's dichotomy of prime mover and prime matter. Or top-down functional cause vs bottom-up material cause.

    The laptop, like the floor, the planet and the cosmos on which it rests, is subject both to universal laws and particular material initial conditions. It has to rest on formal or functional conditions as much as material ones.

    So in claiming the existence of x is explained by the existence of y, you are only telling the tale of material causality. And you are making a big mistake in presuming that stability is a property simply inherited from baser levels of being rather than it being the property a hierarchical system needs to impose on its "base layers".
  • Is 'information' physical?
    What is the evidence, what is the context, what is the domain of discourse for such a science? Which science is it?Wayfarer

    I didn't say it had to be a recognised science. I was arguing that Western philosophy actually does employ "the scientific method of reasoning".

    This is Peirce's point. The practice of reasoning - which may have reached its early high-point in Plato's academy - is a process of abductive guess, deductive theorising, and inductive confirmation.

    And note the importance of there being "an academy". Like Peirce says, reasoning is all about a community of minds. So it is a mechanism for arriving at common agreement. The academy was a step up because it wasn't individuals muttering to themselves. It was all about the power of dialogue to flush out ideas with clear consequences that could be judged.

    Likewise the academy led to texts. Stuff had to get written down so it could be shared directly with students. Earlier philosophers wrote poems. But a new rational or dialectical style of argumentation was developed to "show the workings, show the justifying" in definite fashion.

    So there is a method for advancing philosophical concerns. My criticism is that you don't think the constraints ought to apply to your talk about "a higher plane of being". You are saying there is another way of knowing, just as valid if not better.

    Again, I say well show me. And so we go around the same circle again.
  • Is 'information' physical?
    I'm not seeing this as a good summary of some Aristotelian position - scholastically revisionist, or otherwise.

    In particular with regards to the persistence of something: a human body persists because its parts persist, which are made of atoms, which have electrons, protons, neutrons, which are made of subatomic particles, but also because the body is in an environment that is not completely hostile, etc. The explanation of one thing's existence gets pushed onto another thing. Which forms a hierarchy.darthbarracuda

    This smashes together a whole bunch of ideas.

    But quickly, hierarchy theory doesn't have to rely on atomistic foundations. All it has to claim is the possibility of entification over multiple scales.

    So higher levels of organisation stabilise and simplify the lower levels from which they emerge. The story is about the functional regulation of instability.

    Is a living body composed of subatomic particles? Or is it more properly composed of functional organic chemistry?

    The cell is realm of hot metabolic activity where molecular machines are constantly falling apart and reforming. The show is kept on the road because the information encoded at a higher level in DNA is enduring enough to keep pointing the way. And then energy flows through the molecular structure in a fashion that keeps it constantly reforming just a bit faster than it falls apart.

    So once your model of causality includes functionality - formal/final purpose - then the stability becomes a top-down feature. The information that endures at the higher level is what regulates the stability of its material/effective parts.

    Atomism does presume the opposite. A grounding substance just passively exists. But quantum physics and thermodynamics challenge that ontology. Even particles become contextual things - instabilities regulated by the information content of a history, or an environment.

    So you are talking about hierarchical order in a sense that is very atomistic and reductionist, not particularly Aristotelian.

    Then hierarchy theory as understood in modern holistic systems thinking offers a self-grounding story of how stability is a feature that develops through the semiotic regulation of instability.

    The ground floor of being is now understood as being the most radically unstable or indeterministic state of affairs - a sea of fluctuations, a chaos, a vagueness. Then constraints emerge to tame that, give it direction. Information builds in levels to create functional structures that endure. And thermodynamics speaks to that overall function - the imperative to entropify. Every hangs together because it is falling down the same hill - the slide from a Big Bang to a Heat Death.

    So a human body persists because it has the informational machinery to preserve a functional idea of itself. It can harness a flow of entropy to rebuild itself faster than it would otherwise fall apart.

    See - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867416302082
  • Is 'information' physical?
    If you want to claim that the higher plane of being is an ontological foundation to being, you will need to show how that isn't just a hollow formula of words.

    I'm agreeing that the unreasonable effectiveness of maths, the existence of a Hard Problem, the poverty of Scientism, the nature of personal values, are all important philosophical issues. But I am questioning the vagueness of your proposed unifying ontology.

    It sounds perfectly well-intentioned and it is certainly rooted in cultural tradition, but you need to subject it to proper philosophic examination. And that winds up being "scientific" in that theories have to be contested on evidential consequences. Conclusions must somehow be "showable".