Best Possible World: Gateway to the Millennium and Eschaton



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Part of my tar baby strategy in these pages is to reawaken our sense of the mystery of the ordinary. The strategy of materialism, in contrast, is just to put us to sleep, as in the 'slumber of materialism'. Materialism accomplishes this death of the spirit by means of a 'thousand cuts', i.e. by its analysis and reductionism. To resist the atomization of the spirit requires an act of deliberate naiveté. In keeping with the present context, let us reconsider Newton.
Newton was astonished and mystified by his own theory of gravity. Gravity, it turns out, is at once the most mundane and most exotic piece of physics. Imagine trying to explain gravity to a premodern. The hardest part would be to convince them that it even existed. How does one do that? We do that by playing ontology. The first move in any ontology game is analysis. It is like cutting the calf out of the herd. Before that time, the calf and herd were inseparable. Only by gross intervention against that natural order do we accomplish our objectification of the calf vis a vis the phenomenal herd. Look at this process subjectively and historically. Consider our long hard slog from tribal mind to ego mind.
Imagine trying to explain the concept of self-interest to the primitive tribesperson. Even the concept of self would be utterly alien. There would be virtually no such thing as self-consciousness. There would be no comprehension of abstraction. Even today, we are fascinated by Robinson Carusoe. To the primitive mind, separation from the group is identical to death. There is literally no distinction between death and banishment. Now, to us moderns, self-consciousness is something that we have to struggle to overcome.
Only to those of us immersed in the space age, is gravity truly objectifiable. Newton was simply the first citizen of space. Or perhaps it was Descartes who objectified space with his coordinate analysis of it. Be that as it may, the objectification of gravity, space and time went hand in hand, and together they constituted an enormous, and now almost unimaginable, mental leap. We are trying to look at one part of that leap.
The problem for Newton was the 'action at a distance'. How was it that the earth and moon, separated by thousands of miles, could exert a force on each other? Now we know the answer. It is by means of a force field. We simply put a label on the mystery, and it is no longer mysterious, we think. The fact is, though, that centuries later, the explanation of gravity remains the biggest challenge in physics. Only by invoking the Monster Group, the biggest mystery in mathematics, do we even hope to 'explain' the biggest mystery in physics. Our attempted objectification and reduction of gravity is actually turning out to be the reductio ad absurdum of reductionism itself.
What is a force field? It is what we now call a 'counterfactual', i.e. a sometimes useful conceptual fiction. Let us attempt to analyze 'counterfactual'. In order to do so, we must invoke modal logic, a very controversial metaphysical concept itself. To make sense of modal logic we must invoke the concept of 'possible worlds'. Uh, oh! Now I'm in trouble. Am I not about to deconstruct my precious BPW? I would do that gladly, in order to prove my point.
I wish to reconstruct or reenchant gravity. To do so, I must deconstruct its prior scientific deconstruction or reductive analysis. This is a two-step process. First we return gravity to its Newtonian-style, singular, mysterious objecthood, and then we nudge it back into the holistic phenomenal subjectivity of our one and only BPW, i.e. back into the primal 'dream-time'. I am not thereby turning the clock back, but rather advancing it into our Millenarian act of 'final participation'.
If the apple were to become detached from the tree, it would fall, under the influence of the gravitational field, and strike Isaac on the head, thereby propelling him into knighthood. Such is modal logic. How innocuous is it? We analyze modality by the reification of the non-denumerable set of all possible worlds. There are actual forces and possible forces. A force field is just the sum of all possible forces associated with a given source. My charisma is just such an attractive force field. It is the potency or potentiality of my charming presence. It is my magical aura. Is the gravitational aura of a given body any less magical? Certainly it was not to Isaac and his contemporaries. Only now can its familiarity breed our indifference to its mystery.
How do I work my attraction? How does a body work its gravitation? By influence. By sympathy. I vibrate, you resonate. Our spirits are moved to want to come together. If the earth and moon are spiritless, then how are they moved?
In science text books, force fields are reified by drawing in the lines of force, like so many little strings. It is as if the earth had the moon tethered by means of these lines of force. Force may be transmitted by an intervening substance, e.g. a rope. In our case, there is only the intervening emptiness of space. But this can be fixed. We posit the 'ether'. The ether is posited simply as an otherwise undetectable medium with the sole purpose of transmitting gravitational forces and electromagnetic waves. Case closed? Yes, for awhile.
The ether was subsequently deconstructed by Michelson & Morley, and Einstein. Or was it? One explanatory fiction was being replaced by another. Instead of the ether, we now had the space-time 'manifold'. Was that not progress? After all, both space and time are independently and objectively measurable. The deconstruction of the ether, logically, could only be had at a price. The price was the reification of space and time. Prior to Einstein, and going back to Descartes, space and time were independent absolutes. They could be reified only by bringing them into the physics arena where they would logically fall under the sympathetic influence of every other physical entity. And so, notoriously, they did. Instead of two independent abstract entities, we now had a single physical 'manifold' subject to every physical influence.
With Descartes, space and time were the frame of physics, but now the frame had been sucked into the action. The consequence would inevitably be dire. Overnight, our supposedly eternal universe became unstable to self-eradication. There could no longer be a gravitational balance. Now the space-time manifold could and would collapse as if under its own weight. Albert, in a desperate attempt to save the apparent cosmic stability, introduced his 'cosmological constant', and thereby committing, by his own later admission, the 'greatest blunder' of his life. As it turned out, the cosmic appearance would soon be saved by a very much more extravagant device: the notorious Big Bang, in whose shadow we now, oh so, contingently, and, yes, mysteriously, exist. End of story? Not on your life! But I cannot leave Albert unvindicated. Ironically, even the mind blowing extravagance of the Big Bang, it turns out, is not sufficient to save the celestial appearance. Oh, no! Albert's constant has now officially been exhumed, much to his posthumous, but now embarrassing, vindication.
Now begins the fun. It turns out that the physicists have not been able to leave bad enough alone. Things get worse, much worse. Do I chortle? Only with dramatic license, but I do sincerely admonish. There are lessons yet to be learned, even, and especially, by the most learned amongst us.
Matter bends space and time, but how? How does the space-time manifold know how much it is supposed to bend? That information must be communicated, somehow. Communication implies a transmitter and a receiver. Each elementary particle must be able to bend the entire universe, or else none will.

[11/18]


It seems that the choice is yours, and it is obligatory. You will get stuck to a tar baby, and there are only two around. There is the one made of atoms, and the other made of coherence. You pick up on one and let the other ride. All else is mere cacophony.
The materialists are stuck with the atomic baby. The more they struggle to overcome its incoherencies, the stickier it gets. I have spoken of the ultraviolet catastrophe or incoherence. We avoid an infinite mass for the electron by using the topology of supersymmetric non-Abelian gauge theory to turn the electron into a string of finite dimension, all eleven of them! No mean feat!
Next comes the infrared catastrophe. This is just the flip side of the UV problem. If I recall my history, the IR catastrophe was invoked prior to the advent of strings in order to explain quark confinement. That was about its only ever useful attribute. Otherwise, it spells nothing but Trouble. Physicists like to brag about how they finally solved the UV problem (2,500 hits), but they are pretty quiet about the IR problem (400 hits).
I see from the UV list, however, that I woefully neglected a major point. The cousin, or actually grandfather, to the UV catastrophe is the UV cut-off in the black-body radiation spectrum.
The Ultraviolet Catastrophe:
The first crack in the edifice of classical physics came with attempts to explain the colour of hot objects using classical physics and electromagnetism. The light from these objects is a mixture of different frequencies (colours). Observations reveal that such objects have a distinctive spectrum (pattern of energy distribution at different frequencies). However attempts to explain this in classical terms failed abjectly - they predicted instead that the amount of energy would tend towards infinity at the high-energy (violet) end of the spectrum - an ultraviolet catastrophe.
It was Max Plank in 1900 who 'solved' this problem by introducing the Quantum of light. Talk about the Big Sticky!
The UV problem turns out to be almost single-handedly responsible for the shape of modern physics. It is not subtle. The IR problem is more subtle. It is still sneaking up on us. The UV problems provoked most of modern physics; the IR problem provokes only hand waving. The UV problem is a photonic energy problem. The IR problem is just a photonic, or, as in the following example, a gravitonic population problem. It is also emblematic of the incoherence of atomism.
Let us return to our communication problem. Consider galactic superclusters. Our Milky Way galaxy belongs to the Virgo supercluster. Our local Andromeda group orbits within it. The superclusters can be hundreds of millions of light years in dimension, and contain upwards of a hundred thousand galaxies, all moving under a mutual gravitational attraction. Using high-school physics one may easily calculate a typical gravitational force exerted by the supercluster.
Moving on to graduate level physics we would say, following Einstein, that the gravitational force is transmitted by the bending of the space-time manifold, i.e. it is a bulk property of the manifold. Thus we have explained the phenomenon of supercluster gravitation. Should we not leave well enough alone? Perhaps we should have, but it is too late to turn back now. This is the atomic tar-baby in action.
The human mind seeks coherence, and this is true even for atomists. They did achieve an enormous success with the Grand Unified Theory of Howard Georgi and Sheldon Glashow, based on SU(5) symmetry. There was then, however, an irresistible temptation to quantize gravity. There was no way that the atomists could have walked away from this challenge. Only in retrospect might it be seen as leading to their undoing. The intellectual juggernaut of scientific materialism was not about to stop on a dime. And, besides, mere matter no longer mattered. It was the mathematically besotted Pythagorean physicists who would now lead the materialist parade to the brink, like so many Pied Pipers. Resistance was muted. Could their followers not see the looming Monster? There must have been great ambivalence inside the intellectual fortress of materialism, or was it hubris? The atomic tar-baby was now disguised in a mathematical garment of ravishing elegance.
Should we have been surprised by this turn of events?
[I return to gravitons briefly below.]

[11/19]


Indeed, what might we have expected from science with some educated hindsight?
Certainly the existence of atoms should have been no great surprise, having been anticipated for more than two millennia. Predicting the existence of rudimentary chemical reactions forming molecular compounds from the elemental atoms was equally a no brainer.
But could we have anticipated technology? Certainly not in the first instance, but let us examine the question further. If we had set out as materialists, in the footsteps of Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, etc., and not been distracted by Cartesian dualism, then we could have anticipated significant aspects of the Anthropic problem. That is, without being able to appeal to a Creator or to an immaterial mind, there was going to be a lot of explaining to do. There would be placed upon matter a heavy explanatory burden. Without a Creator, there would have to be a gradual evolutionary process providing for the emergence of biological forms. There could then be a partition of the explanatory burden between evolution and its physical base.
Only gradually, over the course of science, has the enormous complexity of the world impressed itself upon our minds. There are two domains of complexity: the physical and the biological. Our understanding of the complexity in each of these domains has grown in an independent but parallel fashion. In the process of attempting to explain one fact, more facts requiring explanation come to light. As our technology evolves, our increasing observational acuity provides us with an ever more detailed picture of nature, with most every one of those details needing to be explained. As the scope of our knowledge expands, there is an exponential increase in the possible correlations in our data, many of which manifest significant patterns.
One of the potentially most significant correlations to be drawn is between biological and physical complexity. To what degree may the biological complexity be taken to be independent of the physical? Logically there must be some dependence, and the preliminary investigations of the anthropic problem indicate there could be a strong dependence. It certainly should not be surprising that there would be.
As our investigative tools become increasingly complex and sophisticated, the measurements they produce will be increasingly removed from and devoid of normal sensory experience. The patterns produced will correspondingly be recalcitrant to verbal description. The abstract nature of the data, and the desire for greater precision, require the quantitative collection and treatment of it. The resulting patterns will then only be amenable to mathematical treatment.
We then have to inquire about the complexity of mathematics, and particularly concerning its correlation with biological and physical complexity. What of our capacity for mathematical cognition? A universal computer or Turing machine is, conceptually, an exceedingly simple device; yet, such devices are able to perform enormously complex feats of calculation and analysis. Their complexity resides almost entirely in the software. Mathematics could be an entirely learned skill. The only issue would be the nature of our learning capacity. The consensus is that our learning capacity is strongly correlated to the complexity of our nervous system.

[11/20]


It occurs to me that I may have been asking improper questions. I have, for instance, asked how it is that mathematics and physics come to be related to each other. That is not a proper question for an immaterialist. The proper question is how did we come to think of them as being somehow separated. Was it merely an accident of our intellectual history that we came to regard mathematics and physics as separate entities?
The impropriety of this question came to light in the above discussion of complexity. In the primal context there would not be separate types of complexity. Ur-complexity, like the ur-cycle or Z-cycle, emerges from the Matrix all of a piece. It is later that we come to see it as existing in diverse contexts. Complexity is the entanglement of diversity. A diverse Creation will necessarily be complex. The complexity will appear in a holographic or holistic fashion. Only as we analyze the holograph does the complexity takes on its analytic guises. It could then appear in the form of the Mandelbrot, the Monster Group, proteomics, string theory, neuroscience, etc. Complexity arises as we extract, or abstract the QRP from the AZO. The emphasis here is on 'we'. 'We' designates the cosmic intelligence of which we humans may represent the greater part.
This shift in emphasis from the part back to the whole may signal a significant shift in, or perhaps a tightening up of, our explanatory and narrational strategy, and that would certainly be the case with regard to the scientific aspect of the story. It simply appears that I was not being sufficiently consistent in my storytelling. I was too easily backsliding into the analytic, atomistic mindset. Does this mean, however, that it will be more difficult to speak to the scientists? That remains to be seen. Inconsistency, though, is seldom beneficial, and especially not when communicating difficult ideas. There will be some reshuffling here as our ducks get a realignment.
It is the math/physics separation that we should be discussing, not the connection. In regard to our strategy, perhaps a Piagetian approach to a developmental cosmic psychology would be appropriate. On second thought, my dialectical, transactional, constructivist, structuralist approach to developmental cosmic psychology may be closer to that of Lev Vygotsky. But let's drop the name dropping for a bit.
The archetypes emerge in constructivist fashion, first AZO, then QRP, with the latter emergence being mediated by X. The separation of Q & P is at issue, with their representation of physics and math, respectively. Together, and along with the bio-cycles, R, they are, 'following' AZO, emerging from the Matrix. It is the zodiacal transactions that do most of the pushing. The incarnational aspect is being mediated by X into R, which then differentiates into physics and math.

[11/21]


I'm getting into even deeper water than usual. I struggle, I flounder, but can I turn back?
The zodiac speaks to phylogeny. A, O & X speak to regeneration. With R we have a reproductive ontogeny on the macro side of the bio-cycle. X & Q speak to incarnation and the bridge between mind and matter. Now we just have to take these, along with Pi, and spin a yarn, but I'm still missing the primal constructs for Q & P.
Q & P are both involved with cycles, projections and symmetries, and let us not forget the quantum 'trinity' of e^i*pi. But I still don't see a yarn. Z & R are cycles, simpliciter. A, O, X, Q and P are crucially and disparately involved in the completion of circuits. P may be a stand-in for X in the mathematical domain. The lack of full symmetry here may be crucial to the dynamic; however, Q & P may be related to A & O, respectively. The Matrix, A and Q express potentiality, and exhibit indefiniteness. They are sources of being. Under the influence of Z, O, X, P and R, Creation is played out on various levels. P operates through Q to enable R. X, P, Q and R are strongly involved with anthropics and incarnation. Pi, particularly in the form of e^i*pi, and operating on M & Q, generates the symmetries that are subsequently broken. These symmetries include those of atomic and particle physics.

[11/24]


I will be away for a few days, and in the meantime I have been reviewing the role of memory. I am further inclined to discount memory in favor of direct perception of other times. Our singular Creation is forever. Access to it is restricted to various modes. Time asymmetry is subjective.
I was going to say that the substance of atoms was related to memory, but that it too restrictive, by the foregoing atemporal hypothesis. Now I can only reiterate that being is relative, mainly to the cosmic self. This is the omnipresent cosmic self, of which we are the reflective agents. Our participation in that presence has been greatly attenuated, but now it will becoming less so, as we gain in our gnosis. Technology facilitates this change, but only at the behest of the spirit. Our sense of temporality is a measure of the attenuation of our perceptions. The archetypes should remain unscathed by this continued downplaying of the temporality of Creation. The logical role of the Logos is unaffected by this issue. The cyclical or circuitous nature of being is emphasized thereby.

[12/2]
Still struggling to line up my loose ducks. The time away has left me with a desire to return to the basics of mind and matter, leaving alone the archetypes, for the nonce.


Meanwhile, I must note the recent review of Simon Conway Morris's new book, Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. It is a surprise to see Morris's explicitly theistic resurrection of a Lamarckian style of teleological convergence, even being neutrally reviewed in the NY Times. He digs up many not previously collated examples of convergent evolution. The Darwinians are accused of treating this evidence with a not so benign neglect. The personal conflict between Darwin and Lamarck has left its scars on the history of biology. Morris points to the 'self-congratulatory atheism' of many modern Darwinians. He takes pains, however, to distance himself from the creationists.
One reviewer takes Morris to task for not giving sufficient credence to the self-organizing ability of matter. We are entitled to wonder anthropically, however, about the extent to which this ability must be based upon the intricacy of the mathematical symmetries which actually comprise what we so glibly refer to as 'matter'. Where would biochemistry be without the Monster as its platform?
A notable link between mind and matter lies in the notion of complexity. The epistemology and ontology of complexity must be closely correlated. Mathematical complexity resides on this divide. Scientific realism pushes us to the side of ontology, even at the expense of forcing us to embrace Pythagoreanism. Why so much complexity in the world? Is there an optimal complexity? How does the value of diversity weigh into this equation? Are our seven archetypes sufficient to account for the complexity?

[12/3]
I find this abstract (Complexity International, 2001) useful, coming from a pickle maker, no less, Russell Standish:


Numerous definitions for complexity have been proposed over the last half century, with little consensus achieved on how to use the term. A definition of complexity is supplied here that is closely related to the Kolmogorov Complexity and Shannon Entropy measures widely used as complexity measures, yet addresses a number of concerns raised against these measures. However, the price of doing this is to introduce context dependence into the definition of complexity. It is argued that such context dependence is an inherent property of complexity, and related concepts such as entropy and emergence. Scientists are uncomfortable with such context dependence, which smacks of subjectivity, and this is perhaps the reason why little agreement has been found on the meaning of these terms.
And from the same paper:
Emergence is that other area of complex systems study that has experienced controversy and confusion. Its importance stems from the belief that emergence is the key ingredient that makes a system a complex system. Putting things colloquially, emergence is the concept of some new phenomenon arising in a system that wasn’t in the system’s specification to start with. There is some considerable debate as to how this happens, or whether emergence can truly happen within a formal system such as an agent-based model Rosen, 1999; Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1994.
These references lead me to a Virginia locale (VCU, VT (N.B. the ouroboric logo)) for biosemiotics. This might provide us, over here, with a counterweight to Santa Fe. A site search at Santa Fe for biosemiotics comes up empty handed. This is more than a bit odd, more than just an oversight.
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