Coming (or Going?) Around the Bend

Chilhowie, West Virginia, January 27, 1999

Over the last twenty-four hours, since leaving Dallas, I have seen a lot of trucks. I have slept with trucks, ... not the little ones but the big ones with 18 wheels on them and five axles. Trucks are taking over the highways. Pulling into the rest areas, in the middle of the night to be sure, the trucks are parked crosswise over all those chevrons that used to be for cars to line up and park parallel with. The truckers 'read' them in terms of some kind of unwritten hierarchy of the road, ... where truckers are entitled to several more chevrons than car-drivers who have but two measly axles hung with tiny pairs of wheels.

Anyhow, I have gone round the bend, after travelling due east through texas, arkansas and tennessee, and am now heading north on highway 81. It was like summer today, but now that I'm climbing the spine of the Appalachians, i can already feel the bite of the approaching frost..

Back to the trucks. These trucks look like toys, ... they're all the same design, and coming 'round' the bend, I had an insight, ... that the trucks perhaps were toys, and that there was a hollow pipe running beneath the road with a moving magnet in it which was pulling them along. But no, .... that would be old technology. Maybe there was a moving holographic projector running in that hidden pipe which was just projecting the images of the trucks rolling along the highway. No, .... that couldn't be. I have a feeling that if I hit one of them, I wouldn't just drive through it, and be momentarily dazzled by the hologram projector laser, ... there is clearly some solidity in those trucks, ... they show their 'substance' by the brute way they push the air out of its 'space' as they whizz along.

Still, the idea of seeing a truck as a moving disturbance seems somehow useful and 'together', like seeing a salmon or dolphin or killer whale by the tell-trace 'trace' it makes on the surface of the water as it swims just below the surface. The 'wave' principle seems to be there, ... in the limit, things are just disturbances in space; instead of being an independent stack of 'stuff', the essential 'they' of 'things' is their hidden source, just like the trajectory of a zig-zagging welt on the lawn, in the cartoons, due to some crazy mole who is going wild digging tunnels in the dirt just underneath the grass cover.

As a teenager, when I went fishing salmon illegally, and crouched patiently by the gurgling river's side in the light of the full moon, when the lowest tide corresponded with the dead of the night (when the game wardens were safely tucked in their beds), i could see the salmon perfectly without actually 'seeing' them, as they finally came home from their pacific meanderings and up and across the tidal estuaries of even the smallest streams and rivers. What I could never understand is, .... why did they wait for low tide and a full moon, for pete's sake, .... kinky buggers. Anyhow, I never took more than a few at a time and what was taken certainly didn't go to waste. What I took I didn't buy, so I short-circuited the commercial industry but didn't change the 'pull' on the ecology. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Actually, I didn't have the heart to do anything wasteful. When I watched the telltale surface trajectories, and ran out into the tidal shallows with my hip waders and my gaff at the ready, just downstream of their trajectories, the troubled salmon would inevitably turn back downstream and come towards me, seeking to get past me and once more into the safety of the deep ocean. But too late, .... even though they touched me deeply and made my heart beat faster, I was there to take them, and take them I did. But it was alot tougher than 'sports fishing', because you were there, running and splashing and chasing the fish and then lunging after it with the gaff in the finishing coup de grace, it was the difference between bayonet warfare and pressing a button to open bombay doors. Had I known how, I would have said a little prayer to Wakon Tonka, the Creator, thanking him for giving me this little brother who's sacrifice would be celebrated at our dinner table. I am sure I would have said something quietly, under my breath had I been taught that way, .... the experience was too emotional not to. But in some ways, I guess I did say that little prayer, and it gave me a feeling of brotherhood with the fish which would never have come to me if I had simply gone to fish markets or taken the can-openers to a can of sockeye, after-the-fact to the act of taking these precious little lives from nature.

If one wants to promote conservation of the fisheries, perhaps one should encourage young people to fish illegally, in the light of the full moon, in the wilds where the night noises are always unexpected and strange, ...mingled and half obscured in the gurgling of running waters. A mystical place-time where one rejoins the wavy cyclicity of nature, where one can feel that the water rushes not aimlessly, but like a child having turns on a waterslide, ... to embrace its mothersea, to rise and live again in the atmospheric heavens before its 'next coming', as the gentle rain which lovingly washes the dust from the greenery of west coast forestland, making its coat glisten and its colour deepen once again, then seeping down into the brown forest soil to soak and swell root tendrils and bring them nutrients.

When the salmon turns and tries to get back to the mother waters, it is an eye to eye and mind-to-mind experience and the moment is pregnant with emotion, .... each salmon will have its own 'personality' and reactive pattern but the unspoken message encoded in its action will be the same; ... 'no, please don't, ... I am not ready, ... I bear young', or 'I have milt for the roe, ... for the new babies, ...please, not yet!' If it doesn't make you into an ecologist, it may bring on a psychotic episode in later life.

Some people are suckers for seal pups and furry warm creatures in general, ... but when you surprise a fish braving the shallows in the moonlight and see him turn and come back towards you, as you know he will, as you stand between him and the deep blue sea with murder in your demeanor, .... you will never forget the look in his eyes.

Is a fish a 'thing'? .... Is a truck a 'thing' for that matter.

The notion of 'things' is a giant cultural 'con' in my estimation. Nothing we know about things suggests they are 'things' in the sense of being independent 'closed systems' in themselves and having fixed boundaries. We invented the notion of 'things' when we thought the world was composed of little homogenous ball-bearings called 'atoms'. We found out it wasn't like that, that it was all very uncertain and mysteriously energy-material equivalenced and so on, but we never went back to changing this notion of a 'thing'. Besides, at the same time traders and merchants had invented a phonetic language which was based on filling in an inventory of 'thing blanks'. After inventing a hundred thousand name-labels for things, revisions to the nature of 'thing' become very troublesome.

Now, we know that there is no tunnel under the road, with a magnet or holographic projector in it, projecting the image of the truck as it speeds along, and even if there were, it wouldn't handle the material aspect of the truck. But you know, there is really nothing in physics to say that there couldn't be 'equipment' which fabricates matter from energy in a manner similar to the way the laser generates the holographic image. So maybe we could have a machine running under the highway and fabricating a real material truck. Come to think of it, why bother having a machine running under the road do it, why don't we just allow the 'thing' to generate itself?

They say that 'the structure of the organization of a 'thing' embodies a record of its 'know-how' or 'experience'', ... so what if we let the 'experience' of the 'thing' generate its own material aspect? This would certainly solve the mind-matter split. So instead of the truck being a 'thing' which 'moves', it could simply be a moving disturbance in the 'quantum field' (i.e. in the 'ether' as Einstein continued to speak of it, .... the 'latent energy of space').

The point is that when the particle physicists get down to the quark level of subatomic particles, all they 'see' is energy relationships reaching out to embrace something, and by the embrace, producing the stuff which becomes 'material' by virtue of our measurement schema. This suggests that what is 'material'; e.g. a 'thing' is fundamentally energy in a form which, by virtue of how it responds to our tests, ... gravitational response, touch response etc., is classified as 'material'. Meanwhile, general relativity suggest it that material 'things' are just 'kinks' in curved space, just like 'dust devils' on a hot prairie which swirl and become something in their own right, self-engendering out of thin air. As Einstein put it, ... it is not that 'matter bends space' but that the bending of space produces effects which we label as 'matter'.

Perhaps our speeding truck is simply a speeding disturbance in the quantum field. The experience of its materials, which are preserved by energy relationships, is simply regenerating the truck as it moves, like the crazy mole, through the 'ether'. How could we in fact prove otherwise? Heisenberg's principle says that there is this uncertainty about 'things' versus 'waves'. We certainly can't 'brand' a molecule in the truck and say that that same molecule is present a hundred yards down the road. All we can say is that the configuration of molecules is 'similar'. But maybe that configuration is being continuously reproduced by the experience of the materials in the truck, and this is happening continuously to give the impression of a 'truck-thing-in-itself' (the driver would be exposed to the same process, as would all 'things') speeding down the road, when it is being continually reformed out of the latent energy of space, like the moving lawn welt from the wild mole (or the Heraclitean 'flame' relative to the hidden 'fire').

If this sounds wild, this is perhaps more because of our acculturation with the notion of 'things in themselves) than because of any more 'wildness' than what's in our current thinking. Our acculturation is very much tied to language and the need to put labels on things (as opposed to communicating in pure relations or pattern oriented terms). There really is no way to prove that nature is not pure wave phenomena because physics has proven the contrary, .... that this 'quantum duality' is always present, and depends on how we look at and inquire into reality; i.e. whether we do it in terms of 'things' or in terms of 'interference patterns'.

There is much to indicate that the wave view is more comprehensive than the 'thing' view'. For one thing (see how this language is biased, .... I could hardly have said, for one 'pattern', ... ), ... there are extra terms in the probability mathematics of the wave view, which captures the relational phase information. Thus the wave view contains the 'thing' view plus other relational information. This is just reinforcing what we see; i.e. we see patterns first and it is only when we focus in and talk about things that we invoke all the agreed 'thing-labels' etc.

Another 'thing' in support of 'waves' versus 'things' is Zeno's paradox. Remember Zeno, ... good friend of Parmenides, the latter who started this ugly rumour that reality consisted ONLY of 'things' and empty space, and who influenced Plato and Aristotle and that crowd? Well Zeno also proved that 'motion was impossible'. And he used this (he was a very close friend of Parmenides) to support Parmenides assertion that our senses could not be trusted and that we must lean first on our rational (abstract) thought, which was capable of 'perfection' and the 'absolute' where our senses where always associated with the imperfect and non-absolute. The rational-over-intuitive leaning pervades our culture to this very day, and our Y2K neuro-social storm will be an apt commemoration of these 'fine' ideas.

Of course, what Zeno really proved was not that 'motion cannot occur', but that 'things' cannot 'move', he just took 'things' for granted. In his 'arrow paradox', Zeno says;

1. Anything occupying a place just its own size is at rest.

2. In the present, what is moving occupies a place just its own size.

So, 3. In the present, what is moving is at rest.

Now, 4. What is moving always moves in the present.

So, 5. What is moving is always --- throughout its movement --- at rest.

This, rather than being mental trickery, is playing with the same thing that Goedel's theorem plays with; i.e. as soon as one deals in absolute notions (at rest, in motion, 'things', void), there is trouble, since there are no 'absolutes' in nature. What happens is that logical inconsistencies arise; e.g. 'all Cretans are liars' is a proposition which is logically unresolvable because it references itself. Similarly, we could say; God says that satan and evil are bad. God says that the renouncement of satan and his evil works is good, and resisting their temptation is the pathway to salvation. Thus we realize 'good' by renouncing evil, and since we could not renounce evil without evil actually existing, the existence of evil is both implied by the existence of 'good' and must also be good (the goodness of salvation could not be attained without it).

In the case of motion, if the 'thing' is a perfect 'thing' and the 'present' is a perfect thing, Zeno's argument holds. The obvious way out is to make either the 'present' or the 'thing' a bit blurry, and of course, Heisenberg's principle does this for us; i.e. it says that we can't be certain about the extension of the thing (position) and its motion (momentum) precisely at the same point in time; i.e. the uncertainty relates to the notion of 'quanta' of energy. But more than that, the 'boundaries' of things are very blurry when you look closely at them, at the molecular level, ... there is more open space than boundary, .... the space-matter relationships are very similar to the solar system!

The point is there is a lot of problems with the notion of a 'thing', such 'boundaries', and 'closedness', as well as co-resonance and co-evolution as in the case of the magnetically susceptible material or analogous situations which abound in nature and society). Co-evolution says that you cannot define a 'thing' out of the context of its environment. Is the good boy in a cloistered environment still a good boy if he is locked up in a candy store for a week? Is a the priest who is trained in a remote monastery still a holyman if he is kidnapped by a coven of nymphomaniac playboy centerfolds for a week?

Of course, if instead of us all being 'independent things in ourselves', we are 'disturbances in the quantum field', we not only resolve the 'mind/matter' split, but we recognize that we are each a unique aspect of the collective, rather than the collective being a 'sum of the independent parts'.

Could we not 'see' or imagine the truck being continuously regenerated in the form of a disturbance as it went along, kind of like a smoke ring regenerates itself. Since the speed of light is 3 X 10, 000, 000,000 centimeters per second, and that is the basic 'limiter', the truck could be reformed (from energy patterning) in less than one ten billionth of a second. Since we 'see' at around fifty frames per second, ten billion frames per second should be enough to make the reformation process fairly transparent to us.

Anyway, .... time to move north from Chilhowie before the snows come. I shall be thinking about another place-time and another teacher, who runs a magnet under a piece of paper with iron filings on it. As the magnet moves, so moves the pattern, and the teacher will be saying; ... you and I are just like this moving pattern in the iron filings, ... we are a relativistic disturbance in the quantum field. While we are 'of the whole', we are each unique and consist of the psyche which is the experience encoded in the spaces between our apparent material substance, and our soma, the material aspect. The pysche, or evolved experience plays the role of the magnet in my demonstrate to continually reconstitute our material aspect.

Ok children, that's enough for the dry subjects, .... all those who brought their hip waders can come with me for the salmon fishing lesson, ....

* * *

Ontological-Epistemological Issues in Problem Space Illumination

Montreal, February 4, 1999

John L. Casti,

Executive Editor Complexity,

1399 Hyde Park Road,

Santa Fe, NM, 87501

February 4, 1999

Ontological-Epistemological Issues in Problem Space Illumination

'Defining Integrative Biology', in the Nov/Dec '98 issue of Complexity keynotes the issue of 'making sense of the whole by bringing together the parts', in the realm of 'integrative biology'. The terms 'reconstruction', 'reconstructionist' and 'integration' are used in this context; e.g. "The task of the integrative biologist is then the classical one of reconstruction, in short, of making sense of the whole by putting the parts together (once enough parts have been collected and understood.)"

Meanwhile, In the July/Aug '98 issue of Complexity, the essay on 'Complexity: A Philosopher's Reflections' highlighted the view that "Complexity, thus, is best understood as an artifact of our descriptions of reality, and not strictly speaking as a feature of reality itself." That is, as the issue of 'reconstruction' is considered, there are also pending issues on the alternative ontological-epistemological 'illuminations' of the problem space.

It seems that as we pursue the challenge of 'making sense of the whole' we must also pursue the challenge of 'making sense of the whole of how we make sense of the whole.'

This 'problem description' problem seems relevant to the issue of HOW we achieve the 'combining of both bottom-up (reductionism) and top-down (globalism) approaches. In particular, we have the issue of whether 'space-time' relationships will be managed in the process; i.e. will we 'illuminate' the problem space so as to preserve and manage space-time relationships (i.e. will we capture and manage information on relational interference and inter-object space-time geometries) or will we stick to the euclidian tradition of averaging out evolutionary effects over time in order to obtain 'clean' categorization, in a material 'thing' sense?

Since there is much agreement that "to understand living systems fully --- to answer the question 'What is life?' --- requires the study not only of their molecules but also of their integrated functioning", ... it seems that we would do well to retain space-time interference information rather than discard it as we do in our standard 'euclidian illuminations' of problem space, where the clear categorization of the 'parts' comes at the expense of morphodynamical information. When you come to think about it, .... doesn't 'euclidian illumination', which assumes a randomness of inter-thing space-time effects in order to liberate 'things' from their immersing space-time containing environment (quantum, e/m, gravity fields), .... dump the baby out with the bath water? ... i.e. doesn't the euclidian space assumption implicitly pre-suppose that there is no useful non-random information in space-time interference (inter-thing phase), the very 'stuff that evolution seems to be made of?'

Work by Jean Petitot-Cocorda [1] and others shows how our approach in 'illuminating' and 'discretizing' (quantifying) the problem space bears critically on the notion of 'reconstruction'. For example, discretization can be achieved in terms of either 'categorical' or 'non-categorical' components, as differentiated by whether the observer can 'interpolate' within the discretization interval. An example of a 'categorical' discretization would be a classification of animals; e.g. it is not possible to discriminate continuously between 'cat' and 'dog'. While an example of 'non-categorical' discretization would be a classification of colors; e.g. experiments have shown that people have the capability of making fine discriminations within even very small color intervals. Petitot's point is that when we base systems models on 'categorical' discretization schema, this leads to evolutionary modes which are 'catastrophic', while 'non-categorical' discretization leads to 'smooth' or 'hysteresis' type (continuous learning) evolutionary modes. In categorical illuminations (categorical discretization) of problem space, we make catastrophic 'either/or' decisions after considering all of the data.

This type of illumination is 'rational' and 'logical' (involving exclusionary logic) and equates to a euclidian view of exclusionary ('ding an sich' [2]) matter-and-void, definable out of the context of time. In non-categorical discretizations, we make smoothly evolving 'hysteresis' type discernments by a kind of holographic resolution-building process. This process, which allows us to retain space-time relational content, is described by Wheeler in terms of an open-ended game of 'Twenty Questions' and cited in Stewart and Cohen's 'Collapse of Chaos'. This type of illumination is 'intuitive' and utilizes 'inclusionary logic' (fuzzy logic) as described by Einstein (below) in connection with non-euclidian illuminations of the problem space.

A metaphor, and perhaps even a model, for intuitive illumination, is the perturbing of magnetized iron filings on a piece of paper. The iron filings are themselves magnets which 'learn' through the process of remanent magnetization. As they learn, they change their contribution to the overall immersing field in which they are constituent-participants. The regions where the filings have flocculated into little piles can be compared to tangible 'things' or 'facts'. Once the configuration is perturbed (once learning takes place), the immersing field is altered and the entire configuration 'wants' to change (i.e. 'to catch up in its learning'). If there is too much 'friction' on the paper (i.e. too much 'sticking' to older, experiential conceptions of 'things' or 'facts'), portions of the configuration, instead of evolving smoothly, may become more and more 'out of harmony with the whole', and ultimately rejoin the space-time harmony in a 'catastrophic' manner (as in a 'punctuated equilibrium'). Clearly the informational content in this co-evolutional, self-organizing system/metaphor derives not just from the evolving 'thing' or 'fact' flocculates but also from the relational 'mother' patterns of the space-time geometry in which they are immersed and to which they owe their existance. Indeed, there is an innate ambiguity between the two which can only be dealt with using 'inclusionary logic'. It is an awareness of this type of 'substrata shifting' in the domain of word and fact-based understanding which underpins the oral tradition of aboriginal cultures, wherein it is believed that morphogenetically accumulated wisdom must be continually re-interpreted in terms of current (evolving) experience (i.e. the 'old stories' must be continually re-told in modern context).

Thus, the implications of the choice of ontological-epistemological 'illuminating' of problem space are far from subtle with respect to the issue of 'reconstruction' of 'reductionist' and 'globalist' 'parts, ... "once the parts have been collected and understood". To restate the point made in the 'Philosopher's Reflections' essay, "we now realize that reductive explanations also must depend on descriptions". And where we utilize euclidian categorical discretization as a descriptive device, Petitot's work shows that we are distilling out the space-time phase 'transport medium' for morphodynamical information content, and thus precluding a full understanding, including evolutionary aspects, of the 'integrated functioning of the system'.

Non-categorical illuminations of the problem space needed to capture hysteresis type evolutionary effects, are problematic for a good reason. Hysteresis itself (as a physical process and not just as an evolutionary metaphor), involves a fundamental ambiguity between a 'conductor' and the environment within which it is an immersed constituent-participant, a fact which troubles the 'discretization' problem. That is, the changing magnetic field in which a conductor is immersed is effected by the induced magnetism in the conductor, which in turn changes the magnetic field in which the conductor is immersed. By this 'inclusionary' physical process, the conductor becomes a participating constituent of its own environment, which means that it does not have a 'ding an sich' life of its own, but is co-defined with its environment and co-resonates and co-evolves with it. Psychologists such as R.D. Laing ('Politics of Experience') and Lev Vygotsky ('Thought and Language') have similarly described the relationship between the individual and the collective 'social field' in which he is an immersed constituent-participant.

In hysteresis type evolution, the non-categorized constituents gain 'experience' or 'learn' by means of 'co-resonant' and 'co-evolutional' space-time interference effects. This form of 'learning' is generalizable beyond the human experience; e.g. the experience of the earth's crustal rocks in this co-evolutional regard, represents a key piece of 'learning' which has contributed greatly to our understanding of the evolution of the earth and was the 'clincher' in the development of plate tectonics theory.

The point is that the rocks are still 'learning', ... building their remanant magnetic 'experience' in such a way, that no matter what level of detail the rocks are described in, in categorically discretized 'ding an sich' mode, ... the full story of their evolutionary history requires access to space-time relational information, the medium in which the 'story' of their 'co-evolution' with the earth's magnetic field, in which they were immersed constituent-participants, is revealed. Again, the same type of 'learning' mode seems to characterize the individual who co-evolves with the social field within which he is an immersed constituent-participant.

As we move forward towards the challenge of 'reconstruction', the question is raised as to the ontological-epistemological specifics of "the collecting and understanding of the parts". When we remove a sedimentary core from a lake bottom, the fine layering gives a characteristic remanent magnetic field signature which, in combination with paleo age information in the surrounding sediments, begins to tell a morphodynamic 'story' in space-time interference terms. If, however, we describe the rock solely in terms of categorized 'ding an sich' terms, out of the context of space-time relationships, the morphodynamic story content is lost. And if you want to make a grown geologist cry, just pull a deepsea core out of the core barrel without preserving the polar orientation of the core, relative to its containing environment.

The issue of preservation of space-time relationships, and the 'categorical discretization' issue of Petitot, is relevant even to the subatomic level, and emerges in the same basic form in Feynman's formulation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle; i.e. "One cannot build equipment to determine which of two alternatives was taken, without destroying the pattern of interference."

Categorical discretization is a prerequisite to the formulation of causal alternatives. Thus we come back around to the point that the preservation of space-time relational information is incompatible with categorical discretization, or 'euclidian illumination' of the problem space. And without the space-time relational information, we lack the necessary 'articulating substance' for the morphodynamic story-telling.

The clear inference is that the 'wave' view of complex systems, with its extra information on the space-time 'inter-thing' geometry, will be needed to "make sense of the whole". If we restrict our problem space 'illumination' to categorical 'ding an sich' parts descriptions, we can expect our models to undergo 'catastrophic' evolution.

The problem with categorical or 'ding an sich' discretization of phenomenal observations can also be seen in terms of Henri Poincare's [3] message on the assumptions we implicitly make in defining our 'variables' in mathematical physics. That is, in order to be able to assume stable 'identities' for our variables over the life of our problem solving, we must assume that the contents of our problem space is characterized by; 'homogeneity', 'relative independence of remote parts' and 'simplicity of the elementary fact'. While for many problems, the departures from these assumptions can be assumed, over problem time, to be 'random' or self-cancelling or otherwise negligible, ... in the case of complex systems (e.g. those involving hysteresis type evolution), the departures from these assumptions are no longer negligible. That is, we cannot expect to 'make sense of the whole' of the evolution of the earth, for example, by categorical ('ding an sich') discretization of the properties of earth materials, no matter how finely we reduce discretization granularity.

To 'make sense of the whole', when it comes to complex systems in general, we must capture and preserve the space-time relationships associated with the discretized 'parts' since this 'phase' information is the medium by which the morphodynamic history of the system is 'told'. The fact that relative space-time positioning history may alter the 'ding an sich' categorical properties in a non-random way during problem time, renders all three of the assumptions outlined by Poincare 'null and void'. An alternative way to express this is that without the three assumptions holding true, the identity of the variables used in describing the problem may themselves vary during the problem (-solving) lifecycle.

Hysteresis, or evolution in the form of continuous learning, rather than a succession of catastrophic adjustments, is thus dependent on the capture of, and attention to space-time interference patterns. Where categorical discretization of observations is performed, spatial-material properties are defined out of the context of time, thus forcing a euclidian 'illumination' of the phenomenon. Where discretization is non-categorical; i.e. where the 'parts' are described in terms which encompass their space-time relationships, the notion of a space-time continuum is preserved and nothing is done to limit the 'non-euclidianness' of the 'illumination'.

The metaphor of 'illuminating' the problem space begs an analogy with holography, to see what insights it may deliver with respect to categorical and non-categorical discretization.

Holography utilizes space-time phase relationships innately associated with the illuminating source, to illuminate not only the material contents of the subject space, but also their 'inter-thing' geometry. In a dynamical space, holography captures the imagery of the co-evolution of the space and its constituent-participants. While standard non-holographic illuminations, to categorize material contents, are achieved with random space-time phase sources, holographic illuminations are achieved with coherent space-time phase sources.

Starting solely from categorical contents, describing systems behaviors entails the development of 'thing-behavior' models for each part, usually out of the context of 'inter-thing' space (The so-called 'burden of concreteness' of philosophy). Here we are 'stuck' if our categorization of 'things' does not hold up over the interval of system behavior in which we are interested. That is, if we want to recreate the motional behavior in our system space from 'the bottom up', using standard illumination, we must assume 'no morphodynamics' (no 'morphing' of the categories which alter our thing-behavior models). Meanwhile, the holographic process illuminates the problem space with a coherent source so that the space-time interference relationships can be used as a non-categorical base for re-animating system behavior, including morphodynamics. That is, the coherent source illuminates the full dual-aspect space-thing geometry of the problem space.

If we were re-animating the evolution of a fertilized human ovum from zygote to infant, the non-categorical, non-euclidian illumination of the problem space would allow for a smooth hysteresis type of simulation. In the case of the illumination by the random phase source, however, the categorical (ding an sich) based re-animation would be 'catastrophic' since the space-time information would not be available to provide the needed base for morphodynamics and the problem space 'parts' would have to be periodically and discontinuously redefined.

Clearly, there is a consistent 'geometry' here in 'illumination' of a problem space by light, on the one hand, and by reasoning, on the other. In this geometry, categorical discretization associates with the 'rational','causal' approach to perception and inquiry. In this case, the mind utilizes 'explicit memory' which has an innate 'random' aspect to it, which involves explicit and discrete 'table look up'; a kind of statistical cross-correlation between the non-interpolatable 'stand-alone' contents of the memory database with the sensory input; i.e. a process which discards the incoming information on inter-thing space-time geometry. On the other hand, non-categorical discretization associates with the 'intuitive','evolutionary' approach to perception and inquiry. In this case, the mind utilizes 'implicit memory' whose medium is space-time coherency patterns (ref. 'Searching for Memory', Daniel Schacter), and thus is capable of preserving inter-thing space-time relational information.

Focusing on the challenge of "combining both these reductionist and globalist tendencies. In other words, in combining both bottom-up and top-down approaches." to "make sense of the whole", ... without at the same time addressing ontological-epistemological 'illumination' issues, is an approach reminiscent of that advocated in the 'Complexity and Consilience' essay in the May/June issue of Complexity. In the 'consilience' article ('consilience' being the 'interlocking of causal explanations across disciplines'), the author expressed the view that; "The greatest challenge today, not just in cell biology and ecology but in all of science, is the accurate and complete description of complex systems. Scientists have broken down many kinds of systems. They think they know most of the elements and forces. The next task is to reassemble them, ...". But what is not mentioned in either of these 'reconstructionist' perspectives is that much of the reductionist achievement has been done in terms of categorical discretization, wherein space-time interference information has been discarded. What we have retained from these achievements has to do with 'ding an sich'-behaviors stripped of their space-time co-evolutional content.

No matter how much we know in 'ding an sich'-behavior terms, of, for example, zygote-to-infant morphogenesis, there is no way to 'make sense of the whole' without the space-time interference information, which imparts to us the co-evolutional behavioral aspects of the system, and allows a re-animation of the morphodynamics.

In assembling our collection of 'parts' and the understandings of their behaviors as a precursor to 'reconstruction', what we are in many cases missing, then, is the critical information on the 'reciprocal disposition' of 'things' with respect to their containing space. As Einstein said; "Space is a participant in physical phenomena" as is evident in the real-world examples of hysteresis and social systems, where the immersing force-fields co-evolve with their immersed constituent-participants.

The presence of inclusionary 'co-evolutional' behaviors in complex systems means that exclusionary logic, the cornerstone of the rational-analytical-causal approach, is not a sufficiently powerful reasoning tool for 'making sense of the whole'. That is, exclusionary logic cannot deal with issues of overlap between the properties of space and the properties of objects immersed within (occupying) that same space. Instead, inclusionary logic, for example, 'intuition', must be used to 'illuminate' the problem space, since this perception and inquiry mode is capable of capturing space-time relational information; i.e. is capable of providing a non-euclidian (non-categorical) illumination of the problem space.

Einstein described the relationship between intuitive intellection and non-euclidian illuminations in his essay 'Geometry and Experience', as follows; "First of all, an observation of epistemological nature. A geometrical-physical theory [i.e. a pre-categorical-discretization means of 'visualizing' the problem space] as such is incapable of being directly pictured, being merely a system of concepts. But these concepts serve the purpose of bringing a multiplicity of real or imaginary sensory experiences into connection in the mind. To 'visualise' a theory, or bring it home to one's mind, therefore means to give a representation to that abundance of experiences for which the theory supplies the schematic arrangement."

While we often take it for granted, no matter how much detailed categorical knowledge we have about bears, plants, fish, rocks, and water, without the intuition-based knowledge of space time interference effects, ... a fresh partly eaten salmon, broken branches, fresh tracks in the sand just now filling with water, a strong musky smell in the air, ... will fall short of 'making sense of the whole', ... will fail to 'inform us' as to the co-evolutional aspects of being constituent-participants in a 'shared space', ... will not image for us the morphodynamical aspects of system behavior, and will in all likelihood put us on a 'catastrophic' evolutionary path.

Solving the 'reconstruction' problem and 'making sense of the whole' will allow us, at the same time as it gives us an understanding of the 'out there', to expand our own 'sphere of understanding' beyond the radius of 'catastrophic learning' mode and farther on out into 'hysteresis' mode. This we know how to do as individuals, but only rarely do we do it as a collective. What is holding us back is our acculturated persistance in using exclusionary rationalism (categorical discretization) as the prime underpinning of collective undertakings, an approach which as discussed, strips out essential space-time phase information and confines us to 'catastrophic' evolution mode. Meanwhile, high performance, creative teams (e.g. Apollo 13), as and when they sprout up (an environment of collective rationalism is toxic to them) are showing us how to develop inclusionary logic based 'collective intuition' (non-categorical discretization of a shared problem space) which can avert learning through catastrophic evolution and put us on the path of smooth 'hysteresis' mode learning.

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Return to '98/99 Update Page and Index of Essays

[1] Jean Petitot, director of studies at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Paris has over the past twenty years, been developing a 'Physics of the Mind'; i.e to philosophically formulate, ... to scientifically explore and to mathematically model a naturalist theory of 'signifying structures', whether these be physical, biological, cognitive or semio-linguistic. His basic hypothesis is that, in all these domains, the structures are not logical idealities but 'forms' emerging from self-organizing processes in the substrata. The 'physics' which it promises therefore rests on a dynamic of forms, ... on a 'morphodynamic'. In this sense it is a 'semio-physics' [semiotics = interpretation of signs, thus semio-physics, the physics-based interpretation of signifying structures] in the manner of Rene Thom and deals with such themes as "Modèles dynamiques de la cognition spatiale" (Dynamic models of spatial cognition). Petitot is a member of the Center of Research in Applied Epistemology at l'Ecole Polytechnique (Paris) and his published works include 'Morphogenese du Sens' ('Morphogenesis of Understanding') (1985), 'Les Catastrophes de la Parole' ('Catastrophes of the Word') (1985), 'La Philosophie Transcendantale et le Problème de l'Objectivité ('Transcendental Philosophy and the Problem of Objectivity') (1991), and 'The Physics of Understanding' (1992).

[2] The problem of 'knowing' how things are 'out there' in the 'real' world, the knowledge of 'things in themselves' or 'Ding an sich' (Kant) is philosophically troublesome since our only source of information is our own sensory experience. Thus our mind appears to impose an experiential pattern on the things or patterns we perceive as being 'out there', making the true aspect of 'things in themselves' opaque to our view. Thus 'things' would appear to be the synthetic fabrications of our individual experience, and not only that, but since our experience is continually evolving, the experience we overlay on 'things' in order to 'know them', must also be continually evolving, thus building 'bottom-up' from a foundation of 'Ding an sich' entities, can result in unstable structures (e.g. as if we built on a base of logs which are in fact alligators rather than logs.)

[3] Poincare, Henri, 'La Science et L'Hypothese' (Science and Hypothesis), 1902, (Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers). Chapitre IX, 'Les Hypotheses en Physique' begins at,1661,1680