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Humanity in a Creative Universe

STUART KAUFFMAN
2016

Hinge of History
  • We have forgotten that we are, first of all, alive, and alive in a becoming biosphere, a rich and almost unfathomable becoming, as we shall see, in ways we cannot prestate, yet is somehow coherent. This theme of becoming into the ever-new, largely unprestatable, Adjacent Possibles we ourselves persistently create is a main theme of this book.
  • Reason will often fail us: not only do we not know what will happen, but we often do not know what can happen.
  • In quantum mechanics, the outcome of a quantum "measurement" could have been different, so the present could have been different. This is a minimal ontological requirement for a free will.
  • The Poised Realm breaks the causal closure of classical physics and allows quantum and poised realm mind to have acausal consequences for the "meat" of the brain and body.
The Foundations
  • The Pythagorean dream gave rise to reductive materialism.
  • In 1640, Descartes set the framework of modern science, with his famous Substance Dualism:
    • res cogitans: thinking stuff attempting to preserve our "subjective pole"
    • res extensa: his mechanical worldview, which hoped to be our objective worldview that would, with Newton, become classical physics.
    But res cogitans failed because, put simply, no one could see, then or now, how res cogitans could "act" causally or otherwise on res extensa. With this, we literally lost our minds.
  • Reductive materialism robs us of our humanity as we are "entailed." The entire becoming of the world since the Big Bang is "entailed" by underlying physical laws "outside the universe" .
  • Newton invented his three laws of motion:
    • Law 1: A body continues in straight line motion unless disturbed by an outside force
    • Law 2: acceleration of motion, in velocity or change of direction, requires a force, F = ma; force is equal to mass times acceleration.
    • Law 3: every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
    Newton's laws yield classical physics, causally closed, and an entirely "entailed" view of the becoming of reality.
  • Aristotle had four causes:
    • The material cause of a house is bricks or wood or stone.
    • The formal cause of a house is its design.
    • The final cause of a house is your desire to build it, your "telos."
    • The efficient cause of a house is the set of builders stacking bricks and the sculptor chiseling marble.
  • Determinism no longer implies predictability for we cannot measure initial conditions to infinite accuracy. Living reality consists in ever-new Actual conditions that acausally yield unprestatable ever-new adjacent-possible opportunities that enable, but do not cause, new Actuals to arise, enabling yet new unprestatable Adjacent Possibles in a persistent becoming beyond our knowing.
  • Einstein proposed that the "wave-like" property of light was somehow also associated with "particle-like" behavior of photons of ever higher energy inversely proportional to the wavelength of the light.
  • Bohr formulated a theory of the atom in which electrons were in orbits around the nucleus at discrete energy levels.
  • There is no "energy" in the Schrodinger equation, a central point that means that whatever is "waving" in the Schrodinger wave equation is neither energy, or by Einstein's famous E = mc 2, matter. Because the wave equation is "linear," the sums and differences of two or more Schrodinger waves can also propagate. This will yield the puzzling "superposition phenomenon" of quantum mechanics.
  • Almost all interpretations of quantum mechanics support the outcome that a quantum measurement is entirely ontologically indeterminate. The randomness is not merely "epistemological" in that, like the chaotic coin whose behavior is deterministic and entailed, we just cannot predict the determined outcome.
  • Newtonian classical physics is not changed by quantum mechanics. Given the initial conditions of the unitarily propagating Schrodinger wave equation, the squares of all amplitudes sum to 1.0, and their time evolution is entirely entailed by the Schrodinger equation.
  • Aristotle's law of the excluded middle refers nothing being in the middle of "true" or "false". The Schrodinger cat paradox and Feynman's formulation of superpositions fail to obey Aristotle's law of the excluded middle.
  • A famous American philosopher, Peirce, at the turn of the twentieth century, rightly pointed out that Actuals and Probables do obey Aristotle's law of the excluded middle, but Possibles do not obey the law of the excluded middle. "The cat is on the mat" is a proposition about an actual. "The probability of 4,933 heads out of 10,000 coin flips of a fair coin is 0.442" is a proposition about probabilities. "The photon possibly did and simultaneously possibly did not go through the left slit." These statements are not contradictions.
  • A new interpretation of quantum mechanics:
    • res potentia: ontologically real Possibles
    • res extensa: ontologically real Actuals, linked hence united by measurement.
  • In quantum mechanics two quantum variables, say two electrons, can be independent or "entangled." If entangled, the two are no longer separate particles, but in a mathematical sense, one system described by a single wave function. Quantum mechanics implied that were the physicist to prepare the two entangled electrons to be measured to spin up or spin down for the other, rather than left/right, and then if the two entangled electrons were far apart, say meters or millions of kilometers, the instant one of the two was measured and turned out to be measured spin up, the other would instantaneously be spin down. Since nothing causal can travel faster than the speed of light, no causal influence can achieve this instantaneous coordination. "Spooky action at a distance," said Einstein.
  • If the universe is purely Actuals, and all that happens is causal and limited by the speed of light as in special and general relativity, we seem to have no framework to think about nonlocality.
The Nonergodic Universe Above the Level of Atoms
  • This "it can" is the antientropic process I wish to point out. What becomes Actual enables what next becomes Possible.
  • The stochastic Gillespie algorithm gives up detailed causality. What happens is what is possible to happen, drawn from a random choice among the reactions for which there is at least one copy of each needed substrate, and a random choice of waiting time for the reaction. The Gillespie algorithm assumes fixed boundary conditions. If we do not have the fixed boundary conditions, we do not have a mathematical model of the physical system and cannot integrate the differential equations, and so we cannot deduce the trajectories of the balls whose behaviors, not deduced, are therefore not entailed.
  • The idea that we cannot follow altering boundary features and altered chemical kinetic equations in detail on a small-enough spatial scale may very well be correct. If so, we cannot even write "effective equations" and reductive materialism again fails.
A Creative Universe
  • Darwin show us that we use "function" all the time in biology. Critically, functions of parts of organisms are typically, if not always, subsets of the classical physics causal consequences of a part of an organism.
  • But if there are only causal consequence happenings in physics, in which there is no way at all to discriminate a subset of those causal consequences that are "functions," what legitimizes the use of the word "function" in biology? And if "functions" are legitimate in biology, we will find that we cannot reduce biology to physics!
  • Physicists use the phrase "ergodic" to mean, roughly, that the system will visit all states in a long-enough time. In standard statistical mechanics, the meaning of ergodic is that the system will visit all small volumes of state space at some time. Above the level of atoms, the universe is vastly nonergodic. This has physical meaning; as noted in Chapter 3, history enters when the space of the possible is very much larger than what can occur. The universe will not make all proteins, organelles, cell types, organs, and organisms, in the indefinite hierarchy of complexity of ever-greater nonergodicity up from atoms.
  • Immanuel Kant, in the Critique of Judgement, said, "In an organized being, the parts exist for and by means of the whole." He was thinking of living organisms.
  • The whole exists for and by means of the parts. This collectively autocatalytic set is a Kantian whole, or autopoietic system.
  • The capacity to define a function as a subset of causal consequences that can be improved in evolution further separates biology from physics, which cannot make the distinction among all causal consequences into a subset which are functions. Since we cannot prestate the evolution of ever-new functions, we can have no entailing laws for the evolution of the biosphere.
  • Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene (1976) as if DNA replicators were the heart of biology, and the organism merely a "vehicle" for the selfish gene in evolution. I completely disagree. Organisms are autopoietic self-creating wholes that achieve functional sufficiency, often improvable, as the biosphere becomes. No laws entail evolution.
  • Genes, given encoded protein synthesis, play a fundamental enabling role in allowing wide exploration of DNA, RNA, and protein space, hence new functions, but it is the functional closure/sufficiencies of organisms as Kantian wholes, not the genes they carry along, which is the heart of life and its evolution.
  • Hume discusses the naturalistic fallacy: We cannot deduce "ought" from "is." He is right if one thinks only of knowing the world. Yet once "doing" enters the universe, instrumental "ought" is implicit.
  • Free will and choice demand that the present "could, counterfactually, have been different." This is not possible in classical physics, bound by what actually happens.
  • The number of functions of say a screw driver can be considered to be a "nominal scale", it is indefinite and just a list of labels.
  • Measurement data can be classified as:
    • Nominal: cannot be ordered in any way - exmaple: list of labels
    • Ordinal: order of the values is important - example: non-numeric concepts like satisfaction as measured in a survey.
    • Interval: tells us order and difference between values - examples: time or temperature. But there is no true zero value.
    • Scale: tells us everything such as order, difference, and zero - examples: weight and height.
  • The frame problem involves our incapacity to prestate propositionally all relevant contexts in which a particular object might find some use.
  • Artificial intelligence has never solved the frame problem by any algorithm based on propositions, for example a finite prestated propositional list of some uses of an object, where that list is called a set of "affordances."
  • "Darwinian preadaptations," which does not imply foresight on the part of evolution, but merely that these causal side effects, are called exaptations. Boundaries play no causal role; they create an "enabled" phase space.
  • The antientropic process is radically emergent and radically co-creative.
  • Epistemological means relating to the theory of knowledge, especially with regards to its methods, validity, and scope.
  • If the biosphere, the most complex system we know in the universe, is entailed by no law, it is "foundationless" in the sense of not being entailed by any such law. Then the biosphere does not fit the Pythagorean dream that all that is has foundations, preferably mathematical.
  • Jury rigging is using one or more objects or processes via causal consequences of each alone or together in new ways to achieve a new functional end, not the normal uses of the objects or processes.
  • Economic theory assumes sometimes responsible free will, rationality, consciousness, and preferences.
  • In well-formulated optimization problems, we can formulate mathematically what an infinitely rational agent might do to optimize his or her expected utility, based on his preferences, while there are indefinitely many ways to be less than infinitely rational.
  • The curves of supply and demand in a Cartesian coordinate system cross at some point where supply equals demand, and the market "clears." The concept of "equilibrium" in economics is just "markets clear."
  • Competitive general equilibrium is a theorem by Arrow and Debreu (1954) where a list or "vector" of prices exist such that given applicable probability distributions, all markets "clear". CGE is a foundation of economic theory for it proposes that there is a "yes" answer to the allocation of scarce resources in which all markets clear.
  • Game theory, invented by von Neumann and Morgenstern, is based on (prisoner dilemma) a prestated "payoff matrix" showing for each of the two prisoners what happens, his or her payoff, if she cooperates or defects and if the other prisoner cooperates or defects. Mathematician John Nash formulated the concept of solutions to games, called pure- and mixed-strategy Nash equilibria. But game theory is inadequate to the real world in its supposition that one can prestate the payoff matrix of the game along with a prestated set of actions or strategies.
Are We Zombies with, at Best, Witnessing Minds?
  • The antientropic process is enormously nonergodic and concerns aspects of the abiotic universe above the level of atoms where as complexity increases, the phase space of possibilities becomes ever vaster and is explored ever more sparsely. All this is a becoming, a status nascendi.
  • I will propose a new Triad: Actuals, Possibles, and Mind, to be carefully defined herein, where mind acausally observes Possibles mediating quantum measurement, transforming Possibles to new Actuals, which then acausally enable new Possibles for mind to observe again, hence in a continuous status nascendi. This is a type of radical panpsychism; wherever measurement occurs, so do consciousness and free will.
  • The proposal that mind acausally "mediates" measurement is in principle testable. One way would be to show that human conscious attention nonlocally, hence acausally, can alter the outcome of measurement.
  • Descartes set the stage for modern science in the period around 1640 with his famous substance dualism: res cogitans and res extensa. Res cogitans was "thinking stuff," and res extensa was the external third-person objective view of a mechanical world. "I think, therefore I am" was his starting uncontestable proposition. But skeptics emerged rapidly: how could res cogitans, "thought," affect the real world, res extensa?
  • Aristotle had said, "No first cause"; that is, no uncaused processes can occur. Everything that happens has a cause, which became with Newton and Laplace, the causal closure of classical physics. The causal closure of classical physics leads directly to the "stalemate." There is nothing for conscious mind to do.
  • Our subjective pole includes our ordinary sense that we sometimes act with responsible free will. It is recognized by all that the determinism of classical physics seems to preclude responsible free will due to the causal closure of classical physics.
  • Actualism is the view, given determinism, that only what Actually happened is what can or could happen.
  • In classical physics, we can have an epiphenomenal conscious mind. That mind cannot alter the becoming of the actual classical physics world.
  • Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts (1943) published a seminal paper that founded modern artificial intelligence, where they invented "formal neurons" or logic gates with excitatory and inhibitory inputs which would "fire" if the "weights" of excitatory inputs minus the weights of inhibitory inputs exceeded a preset threshold. Lacking feedback loops, this would be a "feedforward" formal neural network.
  • The language game issue seems unapproachable by propositional-based artificial intelligence. And, of course, our legal talk assumes a sometimes more than epiphenomenal conscious mind sometimes capable of responsible free will. Both are precluded on classical physics.
A New Proposed Dualism
  • Res potentia may also afford an answer to the puzzle that in quantum mechanics, if measurement is real, measurement instantaneously changes the wave function. If instantaneous, it cannot be causal, for casual influences cannot travel faster than the speed of light.
  • Measurement, if real, takes a system that does not obey the law of the excluded middle to a state that does obey the law of the excluded middle. The failure of the superposition "state" to obey the law of the excluded middle is exactly why physicists say we cannot assign a "real state" to the superposition, until we get the result of measurement, when a state, true or false, can be assigned to the quantum system.
  • Probability statements obey the law of the excluded middle.
  • The hypothesis that possibilities are ontologically real is a very big step for us. We have thought for millennia that only Actuals are ontologically real.
  • Possibilities are not located in space but in time up to special relativity.
  • "Realism" is concerned only the "actuals" of res extensa. Recent theoretical and experimental work (Groblacher et al. 2007) casts strong doubt on "realism," claiming that realism must be abandoned, along with locality. The postulate of ontologically real Possibilities affords a new and perhaps the best explanation for four mysteries in quantum mechanics: nonlocality; the instantaneous change in wave functions upon measurement; "which-way" information; and null "measurement" occurring where no direct measurement occurred.
  • The universe is nonlocal in the precise sense that no causal influence can travel faster than the speed of light. Hence, instantaneous nonlocal correlations cannot arise causally.
  • If res potentia, ontologically real Possibles, and res extensa, ontologically real Actuals, the former not obeying the law of the excluded middle for quantum superpositions, the latter obeying that law after measurement, is right and the two are linked by quantum measurement, there can be no deductive mechanism for measurement. The logic is very simple: "The X is possible" of res potentia does not logically entail the "X is actual" of res extensia.
Beyond the Stalemate
  • In the Poised Realm (Kauffman et al. 2014), there are two acausal means by which quantum mind can have repeated consequences for the "classical" brain and body:
    • quantum measurement, if real and acausal;
    • acausal quantum decoherence and recoherence in open quantum systems
  • The Schrodinger waves propagate time reversibly in closed quantum systems that do not lose phase information. However, in the presence of decoherence, the Schrodinger equation no longer propagates time reversibly. Decoherence is a "dissipative" term, removing the time reversibility of closed quantum systems.
  • Decoherence is well established. Peter Shor proved a theorem regarding "qubits" in quantum computers. These can each begin to decohere. Shor proved that with the injection of "information," these decohering qubits could recohere to full quantum coherence.
  • A group at U.C. Berkeley (Engel et al. 2007) measured quantum coherence in chlorophyll, the light-harvesting molecule where an electron absorbs a photon, jumps to an excited state, and migrates to a "reaction center" in the chlorophyll and drives the energy requiring synthesis of glucose. This is photosynthesis and one of the main ways energy enters organisms.
  • There is an entirely separate means by which recoherence can occur: quantum measurement of a decohering quantum variable can fully restore coherence by collapsing the system to a single coherent wave function. Decoherence, compared to full coherence, may localize the wave function in a way that helps speed search for the reaction center target in light-harvesting molecules.
  • There is an optimal degree of decoherence in the Poised Realm that is best for some biomolecular functions. In the Poised Realm a single molecule could simultaneously "try" many different reactions.
  • We can hope to harness the Poised Realm to create nonalgorithmic trans-Turing systems that are not discrete state, discrete time subsets of classical physics, as is the Turing machine. Such a system is not, therefore, algorithmic.
Toward a Quantum, Poised Realm, Classical Theory of Mind-Body
  • I shall propose that conscious experience is testably associated with quantum measurement. Part of the reason for this hypothesis is that we do not experience quantum coherence, only the results of quantum measurement.
  • The binding problem is a subset of the problem of the unity of consciousness.
  • An older hypothesis, avoiding the unity of consciousness issue, was that there were grandmother cells that fired if and only if you saw your grandmother.
  • There is a current reigning hypothesis to achieve binding. Groups of neurons in your brain oscillate at different frequencies; a common one is 40 Hertz. Memory arise at the same phase of the oscillation, they are bound.
  • A testable alternative for the unity of consciousness is quantum entanglement. If consciousness is associated with measurement, the resulting "qualia," the philosophic word for experiences, are strongly correlated, which may yield a binding and a unity of consciousness.
  • The brain is at a temperature of about 300K, which corresponds to photons in the midinfrared, mild heat. Such photons can easily cross the brain. And such photons can become entangled, and entangled photons have been found in cells. Thus, it is physically conceivable that a set of quantum variables, such as receptor protein quantum variables, or microtubules, can become entangled. Thus, in principle, "desired" sets of quantum variables can be entangled. Then the measurements of these give a specific set of correlated measurement outcomes and, by hypothesis, correlated qualia. This may constitute a unity of consciousness.
  • William James was perhaps our greatest psychologist. He proposed "atoms of consciousness" and then wanted combinations of these atoms to yield experiences that could be both new and whole. Consider a house made of bricks. The house is surely different and whole, compared to the bricks of which it is built. But, pointed out James, this newness and wholeness is only seen by an outside observer. From the point of view of the bricks, there is just a pile of bricks, each independent of the other, each an independent atom of consciousness. James never solved his combination problem.
  • The wave function for n entangled particles cannot be written as n separate wave functions but only as a single wave function in which we cannot even speak of the n particles as separate; they are "one" wave function. If measurements, indeed with correlated outcomes, are associated with conscious experience, we may achieve both a unity of consciousness and new wholes, just as James hoped, solving his problem of "combinations."
Toward an Ontological Basis for a Responsible Free Will
  • The standard free will arguments are as follows:
    • Per classical physics, there is no free will, the universe is deterministic, and the present cannot have been different; also consider the issues of Actualism and not knowing initial conditions.
    • Per quantum physics, free will exists but it is random, so it is ontologically free if measurement is real and ontologically indeterminate, but it is not responsible.
  • The Born Rule rule gives the probability that a measurement on a quantum system will yield a given result.
  • If they have free will and decide "nonrandomly," why is the Born rule obeyed? There just may be the inkling of "preference" and "intent" here.
The Strong Free Will Theorem
  • The Strong Free Will Theorem regarding the measurements of two entangled spin 1 particles:
    • Nothing in the past of the universe determines the outcome of measurements.
    • There can be no mechanism for measurement (independently supported by res potentia and res extensa linked by real measurement).
    • Then the stunning: The two entangled electrons jointly decide with free will and do so nonrandomly!
    It is important that nothing in this theorem requires the physicists to have responsible free will. From the theorem: "In the present state of knowledge, it is certainly beyond our capabilities to understand the connection between the free decisions of particles and humans, but the free will of neither of these is accounted for by mere randomness."
  • Radin's experiments (2012, 2013) very tentatively suggest that distant humans focusing attention on the outcome of the two-slit experiment can alter measurement seen as alterations in the intensities of adjacent interference bands.
  • Consciousness is not an emergent property of biological evolution, but like mass and momentum, a feature of the universe itself, used by evolution.
  • The famous infinite regress in von Neumann's formulation of quantum mechanics where there is an uncertain epistemic cut; at the near end, consciousness mediates measurement, and at the far end, the classical apparatus records so mediates measurement with no human consciousness. But we solve this indeterminate location of the epistemic cut: However the classical world may arise, it presumably remains also quantum in its fermions and bosons base. If these quantum variables are conscious and carry out measurement, the classical apparatus comprised of them can also carry out measurement via the conscious measurements of the fermions exchanging bosons.
  • If they freely decide, why do the results fit the Born rule? The simple idea is that each independently has a preference, or intent, to decide with probabilities 50 percent up and 50 percent down, so we have not only a free-willed deciding, but a proto-responsible deciding by the electrons or other fermions with alternative quantum states and potentially an awareness of that preference or intention, hence experience of will by the electron.
The Subjective Pole and the Quantum Enigma
  • Reality does not exist until our choice of experiment to ask nature a question, and nature's answer, which we measure or infer. Then we, free willed and conscious, and nature jointly co-create reality. This is the enigma. Reality seems to require us. Reality does not exist separately from us!
  • All things in the universe are information theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe" (Wheeler 1990).
  • A history of philosophy:
    • Hume asked what justified "induction." Nothing, he said, except that induction had worked in the past, so that justifies induction. But Hume pointed out that this is a circular argument and so it is no justification of induction at all.
    • Popper was driven to "disproof" as the criterion of science by the fact that the universal inductive claim "All swans are white" cannot be proven, but a single black swan disproves the claim.
    • Quine's wonderful point is that no hypothesis confronts the world alone, but in a "web" of claims about the facts of the situation and a web of interwoven hypotheses about the world.
  • Third-person verified science is great, but it is not all that we need to make sense of our lives in our world and be alive in that world.
  • Objective Reduction proposes that quantum superpositions are branching "possibilities" in the very structure of space-time. Note that this holds that superpositions are possibilities. Bursts of consciousness and choice happen at reduction.
  • A standard objection to quantum mind is that it may be free, but because random, cannot be responsible.
The Creative and Unentailed Quantum Evolution of the Universe
  • Central to the Schrodinger equation is that, if coherent, it propagates with time reversibility. Or, summing over the squares of all the amplitudes, these always sum to 1.0, so the equation is said to propagate unitarily.
Beyond Pythagoras
  • The Strong Anthropic Principle: How did our universe come to have the fine-tuning of the constants? One answer is God, who tunes the constants. The second answer is a multiverse.
  • The Weak Anthropic Principle: of course we find ourselves in a universe with the constants tuned to allow life.
  • We can view our foundational laws and constants, not as fixed, but as evolving enabling constraints that could have evolved.
  • Consider the idea that laws and constants may emerge from the higgledy-piggledy of Wheeler (1990) and evolve to enable a highly complex universe to come to exist and, more, persistently become a yet more complex status nascendi. This will require a means for laws and constants to evolve with some form of heritability, as well as why diversity and complexity "win."
  • Lee Smolin has voiced the idea of "precedence." Here constants and aspects of laws may have precedence, as in the common law. Those values of the constants or details of the laws that are "used" more have more precedence and can eventually become "fixed."
  • The Quantum Zeno Effect: If a quantum superposition is measured in some basis, one result can be a single wave function, an Actual fulfilling the law of the excluded middle. Then, slowly, that is, quadratically in time, new wave functions flower, first near, then further from the initial measured wave.
  • The central idea I propose is that quantum variables co-measure one another rapidly and induce the quantum Zeno effect, thereby co-trapping one another in a tiny subset of their possible states and nearly stopping the propagation of the Schrodinger wave.
  • Self-Organization in the Origin of Life, Agency, and Ontogeny
  • Life requires energy. Sources of energy include solar photons, lightning, hot thermal vents in the ocean floor, sulphur compounds, and others. Recently bacteria living only on electrons and their flow have been found.
  • Life must be based on the catalyzed, hence, kinetically controlled and reasonably rapid, formation of a set of molecules that catalyzes its own formation from chemical building blocks supplied from the outside. Such a set would be "collectively autocatalytic" in the precise sense that no molecule catalyzed its own formation, but the formation of another member of the set, and such that the set as a whole jointly catalyzed its own formation from outside chemical building blocks.
  • The emergence of life is spontaneous and an example of "self-organization" and "order for free," fully independent of the details of what the abstract "molecules" were.
  • Reactions that give off free energy, are "exergonic," and occur spontaneously. Other reactions require the input of free energy and do not occur spontaneously; these are "endergonic" reactions.
  • If we wish to link exergonic and endergonic processes and repeat whatever they do, the system must complete a work cycle. Real cells do complete work cycles.
  • Carnot showed that maximum energy efficiency of a work cycle such as his heat engine occurs if the work cycle is done "infinitely slowly," or adiabatically.
  • Agency, without invoking consciousness and responsible free will, can be had by uniting molecular reproduction in protocells able to do work cycles, to sense their worlds, evaluate "good or bad," and act on those evaluations.
Knowing and Being in the World, Aspects of Our Humanity
  • Richard Melmon raised the issue that language probably started as metaphoric, or even gestural, not propositional. Metaphors, such as "Juliet is the sun," are neither true nor false, but they can powerfully elicit responses that can orient our lives. With them we sometimes solve the frame problem of computer science that cannot be solved propositionally.
  • The Frame Problem to most AI researchers is the challenge of representing the effects of action in logic without having to represent explicitly a large number of intuitively obvious non-effects.
  • If no prestated set of propositions can exhaust the meanings of a metaphor, and if mathematics and logical entailment require propositions, then no mathematics can prove that no prestated set of propositions can exhaust the meanings of a metaphor.
  • If mind evolved from the start, what has been its role in evolution? How widely has our conscious and free-willed behavior played a role in the evolution of the biosphere?
Beyond Modernity?
  • "Down with the clerics up with science for the ever betterment of mankind." This leads to the Industrial Revolution, then to the modern world, and then to whatever postmodernity or post postmodernity may be. We remain disenchanted. There is no magic in the entailed world of Newton. What is missing?
    • First, Darwin, narrowly taken, underestimated collaboration. The problem is evident in utilitarianism: the greatest good for the greatest number. But how shall that total good be apportioned among the great number? Utilitarianism has never answered that issue,
    • A second aspect of modernity is its overreliance on rationality. If we cannot know what can happen, reason fails us. But we must live forward anyway. We must more consciously attend to the fact that we do live forward without knowing and attend to how we do so, and ask, what is wise.
    • Third, the Age of Reason downplayed our emotional lives. Our fulfillment, our flourishing as humans alone and woven into our roles in our multifaceted societies, is driven by and mediated by our emotional lives, our only biological evolved source of value.
    • A fourth aspect, of major importance: we miss spirituality at a fundamental level. We give our faith to science and rationality. The most important problem confronting mankind is to reinvent the sacred!
    • Fifth, we have progressively lost contact with Nature, teeming in teeming cities denuded of the Tangled Bank; Nature, which is our home and we are of it, not above it.
    • Sixth and new, we have not recognized the enormous influence of the ever-larger Adjacent Possibles we knowingly, and also with no intent, co-create and are almost ineluctably drawn into.
    • Seventh: A vision of an emergent web of our thirty or more civilizations, able to respect the sacred roots of each, yet able to co-create as well.
  • We profoundly need an overarching mythic structure to sustain the emerging global interwoven civilizations.
  • Among the themes of that mythic structure beyond that of modernity are as follows:
    • Beyond Smith and Darwin as support for selfishness as the best or dominant driving force in the self-organization of society.
    • Beyond overreliance on reason. We live into the future without knowing even what can happen and have for thousands of years.
    • A centrality for our rich emotional mature lives as individuals and in our social structures the dominant source of motivations and values and the pursuit of interwoven Happiness of which Jefferson wrote, but no each for each, but among us, beyond wealth where enough is enough.
    • Spirituality as central to our lives and fulfillment.
    • Rapprochement with Nature, no longer ours to wrest our due, we of Nature and a planet not to rape.
    • An ever-clearer understanding of how wisely to garden the Adjacent Possible into which we rush, but cannot prestate, with possible new forms of governance.
    • We as creative in a creative universe, all a status nascendi of becoming, alive together, unfolding in an unknowable way. What is our wisdom?
These notes were taken from Stuart Kauffman's book Humanity in a Creative Universe


© 2020 Cedric Joyce