Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Everything Is Always Next
The progressive nature of the universe is self-determinate, not determinate as in the predetermined.
Causes must determine effects in a consistent fashion by virtue of our universe's laws because of the intrinsic logic that we've found these laws to represent.
Such progression is what we've come to call intelligent. In other words, it seems the universe has organized itself in ways that have allowed it to determine it own future - and to do so with predictable consistency.
And these determinations are seen as consequential in an ongoing series of immediate results which are themselves determinative in their turn. No certainty of the predeterminate will be had or needed.
It's this consistency that will give us our expected future with its elements of probability and meaning.
Because all our laws, as far as we're now able to determine, are laws of probability. Not laws from some lawgiver that actuate the certainty of some immutable and ultimately meaningless progression of obeisant commandments and unvaryingly inevitable results.
And if the universe, as logic alone must dictate, cannot have come from nothing, and shows such order and what we conceive of as design, then it can only have designed itself. And if life is part of that design, and its design continues, it would seem that life would need to be a participant in the self-designing process. And that some equivalency of life elsewhere in the cosmos always has been.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Has What Has Happened Had To?
There is no such thing, I've lately come to feel, as the inevitable. The factual assumption that something was unavoidable because otherwise it would have been avoided is now for me a flawed proposition. It's much like saying that if it could have been, it would have been. Or if it hasn't happened, that's because it couldn't have happened - not yet being possible in the "now" of its yet to be fully written destiny.
Except that in tomorrow's "nowness" our destined somethings must continue to be born and flourish - so that tomorrow's inevitability can and will have derived its certainty from what was only possible today. And the day after tomorrow will predictably find a newer version of the inescapable revelations of certainty's evolving role in nature.
What's involved here is/was a basic assumption that the universe is lawful and obeys its laws without question - thus inherently predictable via the concept that unquestioned laws are unquestionably compliant. Random events always reduced to mere surprises from the unknown natural mechanisms that logic has told us must certainly exist somewhere in the cosmos to cause our wonder.
But if that logical assumption is flawed, so is the logic fashioned to fit its implications. Because for one thing, by some unknown reason, we've been given or acquired choices - not in my view needed (even as illusions) if laws that regulate causation are unquestionably reliant. Which makes me think again about the predictability function of these things we describe as laws, and to suspect that, reliable as they are, they will not guarantee that equal causes will have exactly equal effects if at the same time we accept that there is some level of indeterminacy in the universe.
Leaving us with a system that operates with perhaps the highest degree possible of probability, yet to at least the smallest degree short of a certainty. And so I've come to doubt, and effectively disbelieve, the proposition that the inevitable is such because it's truly unavoidable.
And let me add the following as somewhat relevant to the above:
Would not a deterministic universe require all reactions to forces be theoretically predictable to a mathematical exactitude? And that once started, the progress of causative events could not vary one iota from that "time" to the end or endlessness of that universe's time, if either such an eventuality could have been destined to occur?
It's as if somehow the illusion was needed of an indeterminate course in nature so as to preserve the secret from the expected inhabitants of that universe that they were making seemingly necessary choices for no reason except the need for them to believe that to exist at all, such decisions were necessary. (Some trickster god at work perhaps?)
So then is the supposedly pre-directed universe, its causative process without need for intentionality to sustain its effectiveness, nevertheless concerned with deliberately misinforming its formative mechanisms that direction and purpose must be decided by the mechanisms themselves? Doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense as an evolutionary prerequisite. Determinism not making a hell of a lot of sense in turn.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
If there's anything that would seem to require a modicum or more of disrespect in the list of authoritative systemics, it's Game Theory. So here's my latest contribution to that free floating need.
Response to a post at http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/02/too_many_fastballs.php#comments,
self-explanatory as to its purpose::
"The irony here is that game theory, which treats life's strategies as gaming within a set of theoretically presumptive rules, isn't even predictably accurate when compared with our most entertaining varieties of actual games where rules are made to fit. And yet here you seem to be arguing that if strategies were changed, the teams that change them would win more often. Ridiculous. These theories are wrong precisely because they don't account for the innumerable counter strategies that each team can "choose" from within the rules of the particular game.
Then apply this to the game of life where we don't yet know some of the most basic rules, and thus some of the most basic strategies and counter strategies so far devised by biological forms. Game theory which presumes to be operational within those rules can never be more predictively accurate than the accuracy of those presumptions.
(Which I might add, don't even presume there's a significant switch at some point between our short term and long term predictive apparatus.)
Posted by: royniles | February 11, 2010 3:27 PM"
Hope that helps.
10-28-2013: Actually that last bit was quite silly, as I missed seeing the point that all gaming strategies are by their nature deceptive. No-one ever tells the other side or sides what their strategies are unless they will be seen as so unbeatable that the game is destined to be won before it starts.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
An Illustration of Science's Neglect of Purpose as an Explanatory Factor with Regard to Almost Anything
Excerpted from: http://bigthink.com/ideas/18091
Concerning an interview with David Albert. a professor of philosophy at Columbia University, whose research is mostly concerned with issues of the foundations of physics. Titles heading the interview were: Where Philosophy Meets Science and The Profound Violence of Time
It would of course help to understand the following commentary if the entire transcript of the interview with David Albert were to be read first, but there were just too many pages for me to copy here. In any case, I've added the relevant parts to which my comments were directed:
ROY NILES on February 5, 2010, 7:54 PM
Extremely interesting until we get to this part:
“Note that the set of events depicted by the movie being shown in reverse is just as much in accord with everything we believe about the laws governing collisions between billiard balls as is the movie being shown in the correct direction. That is, if you were shown a movie like this and asked to guess — just based on your familiarity with the laws of physics, just based on your familiarity with how billiard balls behave when they collide — if you were shown a film like this and asked to guess whether it was being shown forward or in reverse, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Physicists express this by saying that the laws governing collisions between billiard balls are symmetric under time reversal, okay? And what that means more concretely is — a law is said to be symmetric under time reversal if it’s the case that for any process which is in accord with that law, the same process going in reverse — that is, the same process as it would appear in a film going backwards — is also in accord with that law. So we say that the laws governing collisions between pairs of billiard balls are time-reversal symmetric. Good.”
Me: But this is not true in the sense that we actually would be able to tell. Because the balls originally lost some momentum – one before hitting the other, and then the second losing momentum until running out of room or energy. In a reverse of the filming, the balls would both visibly or measurably gain momentum.
So whatever law is governing collisions between pairs of billiard balls, it doesn’t seem to be the one of time-reversal symmetry.
I can’t help but think that somehow I have to be wrong about this, because I can’t imagine how, otherwise, everyone else in the know here would seem to have to be.
ROY NILES on February 6, 2010, 1:10 PM
But let me comment further relative to this part:
“Once again, it appears as if although the theory does an extremely good job of predicting the motions of elementary particles and so on and so forth, there’s got to be something wrong with it, okay, because we have — although we have very good, clear quantitative experience in the laboratory which bears out these fully time-reversal symmetric laws, at some point there’s got to be something wrong with them, because the world that we live in manifestly not even close to being time-reversal symmetric.”
Me: Because perhaps the world we live in has to contend with purposive behaviors of those forms of energetic activity we’ve designated as living. It’s the reversal of purposive behaviors that can’t be seen or envisioned as a symmetrical process.
I’d go further in proposing that nature’s laws are purposive, life-giving being within that purpose or not.
If so, time-reversal symmetry breaks down accordingly.
And if purposive, we don’t know why, not knowing why there had or have to be laws to begin with (assuming they had a beginning and weren’t always here). But we should know in any case that we can’t reverse, with any form of symmetry, the purposes to which those laws are put.
ROY NILES on February 6, 2010, 3:00 PM
And try reversing the film of these billiard shots and observe the time reversal symmetry.
Add a CommentAddendum: More will be said about all this later, but for now, consider this: Laws have a use, so one could argue that usefulness is essential to their purpose. To reverse "time" would be to destroy that useful purpose - that sequential order in nature that these laws seem universally devised to regulate.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
So if, as the man said, you can't get there from here, how did we all get here from there?
Or, subtitled, Free Will Doesn't Come Cheap
But hopefully we've come to the point where we understand that whether or not the universe be unfailingly deterministic in nature, we and all other organisms are programmed to assume that actions are necessary to fulfill whatever has or has not yet been determined as to their consequences.
Yet there remain those who would argue that regardless of nature's initial programming, biological entities may themselves be programmed to be less than free in their responses - most if not all actions being chosen for them by the confluence of their genetically determined responsiveness and the circumstances that require them. Which would seem to come down to questions of the relative degree of freedom that organisms are under the illusion they are able to operate from. Seems a bit silly when looked at that way, but there it seems to be.
So I choose to forge ahead with some of the inference I've drawn from this mishmash of willfulness or willful-less in any case. And to re-use some of the commentary I had occasion to make elsewhere on the cybernet in response to some of this silliness.
Part of the confusion here is reflected in one respectable writer's comment that people may associate free will with randomness because they think (or want) free actions to be unpredictable. But he added that unpredictability does not require indeterminism - deterministic events can be “random” in the sense that they are not explicable in terms of predictable patterns of events.
But in my view this is just more philosobabble, because it's not about people wanting their actions to be unpredictable, it's about people worrying that their actions aren't predictable by virtue of their own choice! We want to know we have the freedom to predict with some accuracy. We want in other words the right to determine to at least some degree the nature of our own futures, if only for our own protection. And the other side of this coin is that we want the freedom to make such actions unpredictable by others if we so choose to exercise that form of will. And not only do we want nature to have given us that right, we want the freedom to use it in comparative abundance. And it may just be this "wantedness" that has effectively driven the evolution of our intelligence, or all forms of intelligence for that matter.
I responded publicly to other writings, such as some regarding "self-theories in the construction of free-will." These proposed that differences in our dealings with responsibility for our acts were essentially between the "fixed" traits of entity theorists (who tend to respond to difficulty by relinquishing agency) and "malleable" or dynamic traits of incremental theorists (who tend to react by reasserting their agency).
About which I wrote that some of the so-called fixed traits may only be "fixed" with regard to the upper levels of abstractive reasoning available. Which will then affect the self-confidence required to assert power over events that those with lesser abilities may not develop.
All of this based as well on heritable personality behaviors that (fixed or otherwise) reflect strategic approaches to anticipated events on a dominance hierarchy scale - and that also mesh with a continuum scale of competition versus cooperative strategic preferences (or partially heritable skill sets).
Well it was a response on my part that seemed like a good idea at the time.
I went on to say that rather than self-theorists, perhaps they could simply be referred to as self-strategists. Because behavioral traits can be at once both fixed and malleable - the differences in degree involving a variety of determinant circumstances.
And these same writers also talk about the traits stemming from theoretical beliefs, rather than vice versa. The beliefs in turn often self-chosen, relative to free will and deterministic conceptions.
But I'd argue the reverse: that the "theories" in question are more likely determined and or generated by the initial extent of flexibility in the individual array of heritable traits.
And if (as they might still argue) there's cognitive construction of belief involved independent from this element of causation, I'd argue that a prominent factor in this would be the effect of the cultural environment in which one's otherwise internal strategies were operative.
In other words a deterministically religious society develops a range of predictive behaviors consistently different from those found in a society that stresses freedom of thought and action, yet the individual dominance hierarchy strategies can still prevail.
Further, while it has seemed that our instinctive analytical functions are predicated on nature being essentially deterministic in its purposes, I'd argue that our predictive apparatus works from the premise that nature's purposes are more determinate and decisive. In other words the cognitive concept of predetermination (that has to have been a more recent construct) was not likely a mechanical element of life's initial predictive mechanisms.
Accordingly on one forum I wrote as follows:
"We unconsciously assume that nature has a plan, as well as that nature's actions are not only intentional but can be at times directed toward us in particular - and that these intentions in general are evidence of the particular plan that nature has made or has had made for it. So it's not that we feel events are predetermined so much as we feel events are part of nature's planning.
The difference here is this - that we feel ourselves as part of this process, in which we are expected to react to nature's probes in ways that will then allow or even require nature to revise its plans for us (either collectively or as individuals) accordingly."
So that with respect to our approaches to the "free will" problem, the differences seem to lie in the various ways we have learned to interpret nature's apparent (yet ultimately illusory) intentions. And thus to someone who felt that "lesser" animals didn't concern themselves with determinative forces in choosing their actions, I responded as follows:
"Yes, but to the extent that any animal can be said to have a rational component to its cognitive system, its emotional brain will turn to that component for "predictive" assistance - and to the extent that "rational" analysis turns to the functional culture from which it derives its 'learning,' the determinative nature of that culture will have an effect on the emotions. And these emotions, as the final arbiter of choice and action, will in some sense have taken the measure of its "freedom" into account.
And there are different varieties of "determinative" algorithms operating in any biological system that direct interaction among individual entities as a "cultural" force. Quorum sensing for example is to some extent "taught" by the particular bacterial culture extant to its group survival."
Asked for clarification of the "yes, but" proviso, I posted:
"Basically I'm arguing that the freedom each individual or group of individuals has to make decisions, consciously or just through some primordial sense of awareness, is limited by the scope of optional choices available to it through both its heritable strategies and those learned through the immediacy of its experiences.
So when I said "but," that was in reference to what I regard as fact that all life forms have considerations that equate to "freedom of will" to take action built into their functional apparatus, whether they can in any sense conceive of the nature of choice and freedom or not. And this is not limited to what we regard as brained animals. Some or perhaps most single celled organisms have no discernible "brain" area, yet calculate, learn and choose - such learning as a group being necessary for acquiring resistance to antibiotics as one example. (And I also subscribe to the theory that all life forms react as if nature's forces were potentially aimed at them, the purposes for which the organism had fashioned its programming to be wary of.)"
I might add that all of these organisms, including ourselves, tend to operate as if they are a part of whatever plan nature is operating from at that moment. However, it's likely only the humans that contemplate whether we can willfully change the plan counter to whatever "will" we conceive to be the extension of some natural purpose."
And that's how on this day I got from there to here, burning all bridges in my wake.