(A Relativistic Informational View on 'The Way the World Works')
Montréal, February 14, 2000
Informationally, every conceptual 'thing' has dual identities;
(a) an 'explicit identity' based on the physical properties and causal behaviors of the 'thing'
(b) an 'implicit identity' based on its reciprocal relationship or 'pattern of interference' with its containing ensemble of 'things'
Explicit identity is a special case of implicit identity, in the same way that the explicit registration of intensity of a wave field on a photographic plate is a precipitate of the more informationally complete 'phase' aspect of the wave, which carries the relational interference information.
Implicit identity is constituted by the 'reciprocal disposition' between the 'thing' and its containing ensemble of 'things'. This 'relativistic identity' is more easily visualized in spherical space as shown by Einstein (who addresses curved space 'reciprocal disposition in his essay 'Geometry and Experience'). That 'space', in the context of this 'implicit identity', is a real factor and participant in physical phenomena, as einstein asserts, is evident. And that 'reciprocal disposition' cannot be made explicit is also evident since it is constituted by a finite but unbounded shape (Note of interest: ... the 'circle of elders' in the native north american culture is used to cultivate an 'implicit understanding' of the implicit 'container-constituent' identity unique to each individual).
The game of pool provides an easily visualizable way of seeing the reciprocality of these dual identities, the explicit identity of a ball being constituted by the color, pattern and number on the ball, and its explicit behavior as established in causal transactions (i.e. its explicit behavior is seen in 'actuality space'). The implicit identity, meanwhile, is constituted by the configuration (possibility space) transforming effect as the ball moves relative to its containing ensemble of constituents (i.e. its implicit behavior is seen in 'possibility space').
Informationally, this dual, reciprocal identity of 'things' is complex, having both an implicit and explicit component which are related in a 'whole-and-part' or 'container-constituent' manner. This complex informational view of 'things' complies with the quantum physics requirement that 'the tools of inquiry must be included in the inquiry'. As Lee Smolin puts it; "When we turn to the problem of constructing a cosmological theory we face a key problem, which is that there is no external clock. There is by definition nothing outside of the system, which means that the interpretation of the theory must be made without reference to anything that is not part of the system which is modeled."
The implicit identity and the implicit behavior of a 'thing' can be thought of in terms of the inverted perspective used by Einstein in developing the theory of relativity, where the observer 'rides' the 'thing' rather than viewing it from 'outside' of the system. One can imagine 'riding' a sandgrain in a field of sand-dunes as the dune-field transforms and migrates along a coastline or across a desert region. The sand grain is at the same time (simultaneously) the explicit thing which is behaviing explicitly (causally) relative to the features of the landscape and the implicit thing which is constituting the landscape. In order to see this informationally complete view, which is clearly accessible to us and used by us in our everyday life, as the game of pool illustrates, ... it is more convenient to see space-time as a continuum (i.e. to see motion rather than existence as the essential character of 'the way the world works') and therefore to choose the convention of spherical space, since rectangular euclidian space cannot handle the notion of the primacy of the space-time continuum (which renders matter a derived or secondary aspect).
It is evident that 'UNDERSTANDING the way the world works' in these complex informational terms, ... the same terms arrived at by Gabor in his 'Theory of Communications', leads to very different perception, inquiry and responses than if one starts instead by developing 'KNOWLEDGE of the way the world IS' by constructing a worldview based upon 'material things' and seeing 'the way the world works' in material-dependent terms of the properties and behaviors of explicit things.
Clearly, all of our experience tells us that 'things' emerge and subduct, ... that material constituents 'stand on the ladder' of their containing space, in the terms that Bart Kosko uses in 'Fuzzy Thinking'. In fact, 'fuzziness' can be related directly to the fact that all 'things' possess a dual, reciprocal identity, and using one of Kosko's examples, ... the fuzziness in determining whether a work of art is a work of art or 'not', ...a work of art can be determined as such by its explicit physical properties in conjunction with bivalent judgement (subjectivity), ... or, by its implicit 'reciprocal disposition', ... what the 'work of art', if it had eyes, would see in terms of its transformational impact on its containing ensemble in possibility space (a 'relativistic objectivity'). Since people gather around traffic accidents and disasters, ... and since some paintings repel rather than attract, ... it is easy to recognize that, informationally, we in effect utilize both the explicit and implicit nature of the 'thing' at the same time, in determining whether it is 'art' or 'not'. If we lean too hard on the explicit, we suppress the evolution of the 'thing', and if we lean too hard on the implicit, we debase our history and experience which which is enfolded in the 'thing'. This issue of balance was manifest in Paul Cezanne's famous letter to the Academie des Beaux Arts in 1866 which demanded a return of the 'Salon des Refuses' since he objected to the bivalent 'art' or 'not art' judgement of the administrators and wanted to open the door to an implicit 'possibility space' based assessment component for impressionist art, which had been effectively closed down.
In general, all 'things' have a wave character which is given by their reciprocal 'implicit' and 'explicit' identities, ... the former which is established by its co-participation in the relativistically induced transformation of possibility space (container- content- coevolution), .. and the latter, the special case subset, which is established by the material-causal transformation of actuality space (i.e. the 'mechanical' transformation of of actuality space).
These complex informational relationships are consistent with Eric Ingelstam's following observation, in the awarding of Gabor's Nobel Prize in physics for holography, with respect to the phase relationships between explicit information provided by sound and light, and the implicit information as to 'where it was coming from';
"Light and sound are wave motions which give us information not only on the sources from which they originate, but also on the bodies through which they pass, and against which they are reflected or deflected. . . . And yet, important information about the object is missing in a photographic image. This is a problem which has been a key one for Denis Gabor during his work on information theory. Because the image reproduces only the effect of the intensity of the incident wave-field, not its nature. The other characteristic quantity of the waves, phase, is lost and thereby the three dimensional geometry. The phase depends upon from which direction the wave is coming and how far it has travelled from the object to be imaged." (From the presentation speech by professor Erik Ingelstam of the Royal Academy of Sciences at the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1971)
If the evolution of 'field' is in the primacy over matter, as our modern science would seem to suggest, then our cultural habitude of perceiving matter as the basis for constructing our understanding of 'the way the world works' is 'inverted', relative to the wave view. Thus, the 'image' spoken about in the above description of wave information, can be seen to correspond to 'material things' in a general sense. Looked upon from this 'inverted perspective', ... the wave motions are the implicit behaviors of 'things', the induced transformations of possibility space, within which the 'image' is the material thing. We could therefore restate Ingelstam's comments in the language developed above, of the complex (explicit and implicit) informational nature of things.
Implicit relativistic transformations of possibility space, or 'possibility waves', give us information not only on the sources from which they originate (which appear to be self-referential or self-originating in spherical space), but also on the explicit ensemble of bodies through which they pass, and against which they are reflected or deflected. . . . And yet, important information about the object is missing in an explicit, voyeur or photographic view. This is a problem which has been a key one in informational theory. Because the 'material-image' or 'explicit identity' informs us only of the material-causal effect of the incident possibility wave, not its nature. The other characteristic quantity of possibility waves, space-time phase or 'implicit identity', is lost and thereby also the immersion-based context (container-constituent geometry). The space-time phase is constituted by the relative direction and travel time relationships between the object to be imaged and the constituents of its containing ensemble.
This relativistic informational view of 'the way the world works' accommodates the existing quantum physics and newtonian theory-views without having to rely on any 'hard' dependencies on material things in contradiction to our 'field-over-matter' understanding of nature. In this complex informational view, material things come into play in a 'catalyzing', conceptual role. That is, 'things' are the virtual visual precipitates or images which form in the flow-field, just as the Heraclitean candle-flame has an illusory 'existence' (relatively stable dynamic equilibrium) within the 'aitherial fire'.
* * *
Return to Index of Essays