My last major excursion into the issue of messianism was last August. Then, as now there was a bit of a provocation: failed communication. [To set the record straight there has been a subsequent communication in the latter instance]. When communication fails, one is not generally afforded an explanation. One can only surmise. I claim, in no casual manner, to be a reasonable person. When I get into trouble in communicating I can only surmise that it is due to the fact that I intentionally carry or push reason to its limits. It is my nature to be persistent, and I simply persist with reason beyond what most others might consider to be reasonable, politic, or even just polite.
Am I then a trouble maker? Perhaps, in the sense that moderation in all things is often held out as the prescription for avoiding trouble. Can one be too reasonable or too rational? I would say that it depends on the context. I think it is fair to say that our world is in as precarious a situation today as at anytime in its history, and there is the live prospect that things could get much worse before they get better.
Is there a better way? If there is, we will discover it only by reasoning together. And there is the catch: human reason has been much maligned, now as much as ever.
Human reason has been caught between a rock and a hard place. For the last several centuries, the power of human reason has been demonstrated mainly in the domain of science. Science, however, has been unable to discover the source of human reason, beyond speculating that it exists merely as an outdated(?) survival mechanism. The defenders of reason are left defenseless against modern and postmodern cynicism concerning any and all human motivation. Cynicism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the technology spawned by science, lacking more inspired or humane application, is diverted wherever possible to its basest and most dangerous uses.
Down through the ages, when faced with seemingly insurmountable problems of their own, people have appealed to higher sources. This has been seen in both the prophetic and mystical traditions. Is that happening today? The aggressive and nihilistic materialism that lies just below the surface of modernism has seemingly created its own evil twin in the upwelling of reactionary, fanatical fundamentalism now seen around the world. The voices of reason on the spiritual and theological side of the modern world have been virtually silenced by the centuries of systematic brow-beating that they have endured at the hands of the secular intellectual establishment. There is no sign of a reasoned institutional response to the rising chorus of secular cynicism and sectarian fanaticism. These, indeed, are the rock and hard place between which human reason is now skewered.
I see one hope for reason. That is right here on the Internet. Only here might it be possible for individual voices of vision and reason to coalesce into a force to be reckoned with by all the other forces of unreason. Coherence is the name of this game. It will be up to us to come up with the vision of light and reason that can overcome the tide of darkness.
We can put this much trust in our reason only if we can believe that it has a source beyond the material dimensions of the scientific cosmos. Together, we can and must reach for that higher source. Thus this effort necessarily transcends material survival, as it takes on the character of a quest for our own salvation.
We who expect to find a coherence in accord with a higher source of reason can only do so effectively in the context of a salvific cosmology. The mystical and prophetic traditions, wherever they eschew pessimism, open themselves to a messianic drama from within history. Can we ignore that history, that metanarrative of all the human traditions?
Here's the next list: messianism & (Moshe) Idel (192 hits).
MESSIANIC MYSTICS -- Moshe Idel (Yale Univ. Press 1998):
A running controversy with fellow Judaic scholar Gershom Scholem drives Idel's wide-ranging argument about the relationship between messianism and mysticism. Scholem sees the two as incompatible, but Idel offers substantial evidence that they can coexist and, for a number of important thinkers, have coexisted. Idel is particularly interested in opening investigation of cabala (esoteric Judaism) to a rainbow of messianic models. One effect of that interest is the shifting of messianic ideas from a distant, apocalyptic future to a transformative present. Moreover, discussion of tikkun (cosmic repair) as completion of the deity is relevant not only to Jewish messianism, Idel notes, but also to a range of mystical traditions in Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism. The conception of every moment as a gate that may admit messianic transformation of the world imparts a seriousness to everyday action that belies popular perception of mysticism as otherworldly. Idel's treatment of a most intriguing subject will stretch nonspecialist readers but richly reward them, and his thorough documentation points out excellent avenues for further exploration.
'From Celebrities to Zionists, Kabbalah an Endless Source of Solace' -- New York Times/March 20, 1999 , by Edward Rothstein
In a major new book, Messianic Mystics, Idel expands a project he began more than a decade ago, questioning his mentor's views on almost every major issue. The arguments are complex, but they have important implications for understanding Jewish history and popular religious belief.
The notion of messianism is central to these disagreements. For Scholem, the Kabbalah after the 13th century developed a new system for making sense of the trials and exiles that scar Jewish history.
Just as the human body was created in God's image, these mystics believed, so every human act had its counterpart in the divine realm; earthly history was but a reflection of the history of the Godhead; both realms were riven by alienation and exile.
A cabalist, by properly performing ritual, could begin to heal not just the mundane universe but the spiritual one as well. This mythology, a version of which is incorporated into contemporary pop Kabbalah, made Jewish history and personal experience part of a grand theological drama of exile and restoration.
But what happens, Scholem asks, if a savior, a Messiah, promises to complete this process of repair and reparation, bringing the drama to an end? Scholem argued that such a figure would be revolutionary, not evolutionary. A Messiah would shatter the tradition (as indeed, the figure of Jesus did when his disciples founded Christianity). Scholem called messianism a "theory of catastrophe."
In a magisterial essay, "Redemption Through Sin," Scholem described such a catastrophe in the 17th century, when a mentally unbalanced man, Sabbatai Zevi, declared himself the Messiah. Sabbatai engaged in bizarre and provocative acts, even instituting a new blessing praising "that which is forbidden."
[...] But eventually, Scholem suggests, it caused a widespread crisis that undermined the foundation of Jewish faith. Only the spirit of national and spiritual yearning remained, a yearning that led to the Enlightenment and eventually to Zionism.
[...] Scholem sees messianism as dangerous and catastrophic; Idel sees it as a part of ordinary mystical expectations. Scholem says the sense of exile was central to much cabalistic thought; Idel, rejecting traditional views of Jewish history, disagrees.
Scholem stresses the importance of ideas; Idel emphasizes the nature of experience and the mystic's drive toward union with God. Idel values variety and diversity over unity and coherence. (He even wonders if he is being too post-modern.)
One might hope that somewhere between these two scholars there may lie some truth.
And where, you might ask, do reason and mysticism come together?
The following is an edited excerpt of a recent communication.
Yes, there is a whole new world opening up. It is a world that appears to be more amenable to what you frequently refer to as a 'top-down constraint'.
There are, of course, the 'holonomic constraints' of classical physics which, in a purely formal, or 'nomological' manner, recognize macroscopic, i.e. mechanical causation.
Both of us (many of us!) are looking for less mechanical types of causation that would be open to psychological and parapsychological application. And, almost certainly, the quantum, implicate, noumenal and/or pre-geometric realms are less resistant to mental causation than is the classical domain. And, furthermore, from a non-dualist perspective, we would expect any sort of implicate order to have a strongly mental component.
Jack [Sarfatti] and Henry Stapp both see 'qubits' as having a mental nature. Jack uses the hidden variable interpretation of Bohm, while Henry follows von Neumann and Wigner in focusing on the dynamics of the 'collapse'. (I am already rusty regarding Jack's ontology. I will need to consult his new books @ http://www.1stbooks.com.)
Any move toward making physics more hospitable to our minds will, of course, make it more hospitable to all minds. There is likely to be some natural, spontaneous self-organizing, on the part of the cosmic mentalities, into a structure that might have some attributes relevant to theology.
Given some probability of a theo-physiscs, I am naturally inclined to take my questions and concerns right to the top. People engaged in the more traditional brand of physics, even possibly including Jack, see this as a shameless cheat. It is more akin to speculative philosophy (dare we mention it!) than physics.
The bottom line is that I try to take the perspective of the Big Gal upstairs. Unless I were totally incompetent as a creator, there would be certain optimizing strategies that I would endeavor to employ, especially including a maximal participation in the Creation on the part of the creatures, along with certain security measures, of course: viz. Ron P. (I'm embarrassed to admit that I have just run across the notion of 'tikkun' ("Repair of the World") which is the cabbalistic take on Wheeler's 'participatory universe'.)
Jack was my original metaphysical mentor via his first version of Space-Time & Beyond (1975). Now that Jack has returned to physical sanity, he rues his contribution to a generation of metaphysical delinquents, including yours truly.
But, glancing at his recent missive copied to you, there may be some hope of a latter-day collaboration between sanity and insanity.
And yet another missive:
Jack, [ also see http://www.1stbooks.com (Sarfatti)]
Sure, I can meet you in DC. If you would like Ron's participation, you had best make a personal entreaty.
By the way, I have a bit of a Sufi connection, myself. My sometime guru's guru is a Sufi elder who officiates at the dome of the rock. There might be some strategic value there: Location, location, location.
>>I now think I understand both consciousness and gravity and how they connect as physical processes. How they connect is how the UFOs fly. Remember for me physical and material not equivalent. Mentality is also physical. It's Wheeler's IT - BIT distinction. There is a physics of information and meaning that is not purely subjective. Our inner experiences are physical phenomena in the broader sense. I could be wrong, but let's see how my concepts and equations hold up in the normal science process. I will be presenting at APS meetings now.<<
You and I differ mainly in the tail vs. dog department. In the natural, primordial state there is a great mixture of the mental and physical, or subjective and objective. The mental dimension is able to exercise active voluntary coordination and thus is able to overpower the more passive 'physical' dimension. However, when it comes to creation, the mental-physical tables must be turned so that our creaturely egos have a relatively stable and level playing field on which to freely and individually interact. This is ensured by a strictly enforced physics based on the Anthropic principle.
Only as we work out our interpersonal relations, and communication technology, are we able to coordinate our minds on a global scale sufficient to where we can help inaugurate a Millennium devoted to 'tikkun' or cosmic repair, leading to the hierogamos of creation and creator, closing the teleological loop that is history.
Nothing here is particularly original, nor even deep. If I can bring anything to the messianic table it is perhaps a peculiar post-modern bed-side manner that may go with the territory, at the same time as being able to attend to certain academic subtleties, when not hounded by security guards. Also, being able to defer most moral and spiritual issues to an illustrious predecessor is a major leg up on the prophetic incline.
>>The problem is to avoid the creation of new UFO Death Cults like Heaven's Gate. I saw that possibility in Joe which is why I reacted so strongly to try to leash him in. His phrase that he was ready to die for his cause raised my alarm.
Well, I may have managed to involve myself in that mini-eschaton by passing a potentially incendiary piece of info from Rick Doty to Richard Boylan who then broadcast it. Live and learn.
>> It's important you read Stephen's book "The Two Faces of Islam". I need to connect up again with Robert Dickson Crane. His trip is similar to Steve's. I did not know he had been a personal advisor to Richard Nixon when I dated his daughter Maiti 20 years ago.
>>[Later] Read Stephen Schwartz's "The Two Faces of Islam" for some deep enlightening connections on the broader cultural stage that is your main interest beyond the physics
>>Basil Hiley on his webpage http://www.bbk.ac.uk/tpru/BasilHiley.html discusses the "non-mechanical" in depth. Stephen Schwartz and I are relating this to Sufi Metaphysics.
Osama & Co., bless their hearts, are giving us a 'crash' course in postmodern ecumenism. The saber rattling and fence building can go just so far -- at some point we will have to learn to talk to these folks. The Sufi connection will have to be the primary channel. The Christians and Jews will need to demonstrate more than lip service to Allah. It is difficult to believe that 9/11 did not have some cosmic significance. The shouting and shooting will wind down. The cosmology will heat up. Some of them, 'the other face of Islam', are more serious about cosmic matters than we are. We will get more serious, or else....
>>This is beyond ordinary micro-QM and corresponds to Antony Valentini's "avoidance of sub-quantal heat death". Brian Josephson first pointed this out in his "Biological Utilization of Nonlocality" with Fotini Pallikari. Bierman's teleological "presponse" is built in. See also Colonel Robert Hickson's piece in my "Destiny Matrix".
(I'm impressed that you got on with Robert. He did not like my presentation last time -- I may have had more than my share of the wine bottle, but I might still get another chance.) The "philosfawzers" are just beginning to wake up and smell the non-local, 'emergent', irreducible, teleological properties. The general acceptance of just one such property at the biological or psychological level might well do as much harm to the scientific cosmology as a fleet of ufos, IMHO. We may differ on this point.
But, one way or the other, the sky is going to fall on the heads of some intelligent folks. This, especially under the gun of 9/11, is likely to set off a significant intellectual panic. You and I, and just a few others perhaps, have most of their options covered. Coming to us would be like one stop shopping. We would be making it easy for them and us. All we have to do is act naturally.
Aren't I a busy little correspondent!
And more of same...............
I may be wrong or you may be wrong, but we cannot both be wrong! That is the beauty and the 'spirit' of the Jack-Daniels Show.
You have a lot of self-organizing being referenced in your message below [not presently supplied], but I don't see any selves, except after the fact, as a finished product. The Self is Johnny Walker (Wheeler?) come lately.
I would suggest to you and Bohm, and quite a few others that there can be, and logically must be, primordial, virtual, potential selves, wherein resides all the discretionary cosmic potency, because were else could that potency reside?
Your flow of information goes mainly from the objective to the subjective. This may be fairly accurate in our present situation as creatures in the pre-Millennial, pre-Tikkun phase of History. BUT, with the Creator and and with us creatures in the Millennial, Tikkun, psychokinetic, cosmic restitutional phase, that flow of informational bits is increasingly going to be reversed and be flowing from the Subjective to the 'Objective'. That reversal accelerates us beyond the event horizon of the Eschaton. That is one model for the Hierogamos.
If you attempt to work out an eschatology without appealing to an informational ebb and flow as just described, then there is no closure, no cosmic bootstrap. Some such loop is embedded in every mythos known to us. Without some self-containment and self-consistency there can be no cosmic significance. You are left with the Apeiron, dreaded by the Greeks. I am suggesting a basis for the Logos. The transcendental infinities and potencies lie in the subjective-qualitative dimension, not in the objective-quantitative dimension.
Again it comes back to the primordial dog and tail, or chicken and egg problem. I am suggesting to my former physics colleagues that Anthropics and the 'unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics are a sure sign that our physics is at least one big step removed from the true primordial, chaotic Apeiron. What comes between us and the Apeiron is the potency of a virtual Logos or cosmic Self. Creation, thus, is the self-realization of the virtual Logos. The eschaton is the completion of the creation and the restitution of creation to Creator.
Like I say, we can't both be wrong!
This email exchange with Jack Sarfatti continued for several days:
I'll grant you that one of us is confused. Let's see who it is.
You say that I make a category confusion. Well, the game of metaphysics is all about categories. I challenge your categorizing, particularly in regard to mind and self:
I believe I have explained consciousness as a physical phenomenon within the laws of nature in the paradigm of modern science better than any of my peers in the field (Stapp, Penrose et-al).
I challenge your categorization of the mind as a natural phenomenon. That is the whole point of our discussion, Jack.
The theory of emergence bottom->up is given by PW Anderson. The theory of Bohmian downward causation is given by Basil Hiley.
This is where your 'naturalism' crashes on the rocks...:::
There is on Basil's website just one online paper that references the mind: . It nowhere contains the word 'causation', let alone the phrase 'downward causation'.
In your two books, 'causation' appears just three times, each time in reference to 'future causation'. The word 'emergence appears only once in a quote from Anderson.
It would appear, Jack, that you have not been doing your homework. If you would like to begin understanding the issue of emergence and downward causation I would suggest that you start with my page on Creation and follow the hyperlinks therein. What is still the most frequently cited paper on the topic is by Jaegwon Kim, a philosopher of physics at MIT. Here is a review of his paper: PHYSICALISM, EMERGENCE AND DOWNWARD CAUSATION -- Richard J. Campbell and Mark H. Bickhard. Jeagwon has demonstrated that the idea of emergence and downward causation is incompatible with any scientific notion of law-like behavior.
You should also check Google: "downward causation" (1,200 hits) and "emergent properties" (16,000 hits). Together these now constitute the single biggest topic in the philosophy of science. Much of the substance of the Sokal 'Science Wars' concerned this issue.
If you have something useful to say on this topic, you are guaranteed a large and attentive audience. I would suggest, however, that you first put your ideas down on paper, and be sure to include the appropriate references and footnotes.
But let me see if I can save you and others some time by providing a synopsis: this is not meant to excuse your own study. The major issue here is scientific realism. What is real? That is the basis of my challenge to you, to name just one real thing.
You claim to be physicalist: the only real things in the world for you are just those things are necessarily referenced in the laws and theories of physics. This is to say that all of the other sciences and all the rest of human discourse makes reference only to entities of social convenience. For instance, if I speak of a 'heartache', well, there is nothing real being referred to, nothing objective. But even if a surgeon speaks of a 'heart', that too exists only according to the arbitrary functional conventions of anatomical discourse. The heart does not exist as a thing in itself, i.e. it is not an independent causal entity. The heart may be reduced to and explained entirely in terms of physics. There are no vitalistic or downward causal forces pertaining specifically to an objectifiable 'heart' entity. Such is your system of belief. Correct me if wrong.
The developing consensus among philosophers and many scientists is that physicalism is simply wrong, and possibly even incoherent. Atheistic philosophers no longer refer to themselves as materialists or physicalists, but rather as 'naturalists'. They believe in irreducible, spontaneously emergent properties.
The rest of us question this notion of 'spontaneity', especially as it applies to the mind. Spontaneous is simply defined as unlawful. There is no rhyme or reason to the emergence, it is all accidental. Once having emerged, Darwinism presumably takes over. Naturalists, however, have to spend much of their time defending themselves against the charge of 'vitalism'. How else can they explain the downward causation that constitutes real emergence? They point out, in their defense, that Darwin was also a vitalist just because natural selection could not function unless there were real, downwardly causal biological traits upon which natural selection could operate. In other words, the phenotype has to be just as ontologically real as the genotype, in order for genetics to make sense.
In claiming to explain the mind, Jack shares the ontological problem of the naturalists. There must be special (ad hoc?) biological laws and forces in addition to the laws and forces pertaining to the inorganic realm. Where do these laws and forces come from? If they don't come from 'below' then they must come from 'above'. And where is this 'above'?
However, if we are to consider ourselves responsible moral agents, then you and I are partaking of this vital downward causation, every time we act. This is just the emergent, causal reality of the human self or soul or spirit.
What Jack and many others fail to comprehend is the necessary unity of any truly emergent phenomenon. He fails to comprehend the staggeringly obvious idea that consciousness does not and cannot occur in an ontological vacuum. There is no floating consciousness. There is no unattached mind. Jack supposes that consciousness is just another thing, like electrons and muons, independently, objectively existing. Jack egregiously ignores the most basic fact that consciousness exists only for someone. There is nothing in the realm of physics that has this peculiar attribute of existing only for something else.
Jack has totally neglected to address the dual problem of intentionality. The one distinctive feature of all mental phenomena is that they exist only for someone and only about something else. Nowhere in the realm of physics can Jack point to anything that has these basic attributes. Failing to explain what is the very essence of the mind is failing to explain the mind, period.
Jack, you have mesmerized yourself with your formulas. It is time for you to think about what you are doing. If you just want to be a saucer mechanic, fine. But if you want to explain to us the meaning of life and mind, well, that involves categories like intentionality, of which you do not yet appear to have any knowledge or interest.
Here's the funny thing, though. You may turn out to be right about Bohmian-style physics, but for all the wrong reasons. The Copenhagen Interpretation looks about right for someone who is a either a latent or a blatant Cartesian dualist about mind and matter. But for us monists, however, be we physicalist like you or metaphysicalist like me, the Quantum leaps and collapses, and all the dice rolling, just don't wash. This may be the only thing about which we can agree.
Bohm, and you too, are visionaries after your own fashion. You look at the envelope of physics and figure just how far you can push it without being considered clinically whacko. And that is just about how far you push it. And me? Well, that's another story.
I look at the preponderance of the evidence, and I notice something peculiar about it. I notice that it is a movable target. I notice that how one sees the evidence and how one weighs and balances it, depends almost entirely on what sort of worldview one brings to the table. This is pretty much the observation that Thomas Kuhn made almost forty years ago when he wrote about the incommensurability of paradigms.
You are the revisionist, I am the revolutionary. The revisionist may attract more scorn from her colleagues, simply because she shows up on their radar screen. I'm practically invisible. I plant my banner right in the middle of no-man's land, at the empty intersection of every previous worldview. Everything is off of every chart. Messianism?? Well, ho hum, what else is new?
My premise is that every significant worldview must contain some element of truth. But all of them thus far have failed to find the Whole Truth. Everyone so far has been looking for truth in all the wrong places. Then I notice that there exists a logical intersection of all the previous worldviews, an intersection that, almost miraculously, has been totally overlooked. It is the only remaining possibility, and darned if it doesn't make a lot of sense.
Then I see you. You're looking at approximately the same piece of logical real estate, but you're looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope. I am struggling to get you to see this simple fact, or actually feel it, but it keeps slipping off your peripheral field of vision. It remains subliminal relative to your physicalist instincts. If I had a better grasp of it myself, there would not be this problem. I need one of those interstitial, connecting ideas, but it is hard to pin down. [Or maybe not!]
Amazingly, we both agree that there are emergent properties that may exert 'downward causation' on the 'physical' substrate. And furthermore that you and I as humans individually instantiate just such an emergent property, exerting downward causation as for instance when we act as deliberate moral agents.
So far so good. This is saying quite a lot, really. But where's the 'but'?
The 'but' comes with the question of design. I am suggesting that downward causation does not end with us. I am looking at your teleological 'future causation', which, yes, again(!), is a form of downward causation. This is the 'quantum computer in the sky' that once spoke to you. Do you realize that you are not the only one with a computer in the sky? Frank Tipler, a student of John Wheeler, has his Omega Computer as the cosmic endpoint of a Transhumanist evolution. His Omega operates in something of a quantum bootstrap (shades of Geoffrey Chew) fashion. It is teleologically responsible, at least in part, for the apparent Anthropic elements of physics. It is almost literally our Transhumanist God of the Future.
Evidently the Godelian (shades of Douglas Hofstadter) Omega Device (G.O.D.) can exert no inconsiderable influence over our direction of evolution, almost surely including genetic manipulation. Thus do we secure both G.O.D.'s future and our own. This fulfills much of Wheeler's vision of a participatory cosmogony.
So, when it comes to downward causation, is it not logically possible, and perhaps even logically necessary to include G.O.D. in our cosmic creation bootstrap?
The view that I have just presented to you should fit well within your cosmological specifications. It it not quite up to my expectations; however, it may be good enough for government work!
My emendations would focus more on the Anthropically inspired manipulations of the emergent properties, as compared with genetics. I am suggesting to you that the possible and actual emergent properties are not randomly arrayed within physical phase space. There is a pattern to their alignment that particularly impacts the mental aspect. For instance, G.O.D. would be able to influence our consciences in ways that promote our social and future well-being. G.O.D. probably also makes possible or enhances the emergent properties that pertain to technology, both present and future.
And don't you say that your 'cosmic consciousness' does indeed shape the primordial gravitational fields??
This is about as far as your physics may allow you to travel. G.O.D. conveniently provides the connecting vision referred to above. Having gotten this far, it should be much less difficult to then turn your ontological telescope around. That would be the next course.
I should have noted in this previous message that the notion of G.O.D. described herein, is at least functionally similar to Bohm's idea of the downwardly causal Super Implicate Order. Is it not?
Jack, [Later yesterday]
Well, gosh! What then do we disagree about? Perhaps I was not giving you enough credit!
What then about the BPW? With all this possibility of a G.O.Dly design & guidance shouldn't we expect that this world, if not yet perfect, is, at least, perfectible, and mainly by us. We simply combine our previous knowledge of upward causation with our new knowledge of downward causation. Thus could we complete our cosmic sojourn from the Alpha to the Omega, fulfilling our part of the cosmic bootstrap bargain in this BPW.
You and I might disagree on the timing of the Omega point. What time do you prefer?
And then we just have the small matter of the messianic logistics to work out.
We simply see about getting a better mesh between your mathematical formulations and my verbal formulations.
Anything else? We need to see if we can sell any of this to the Sufi's. That would be helpful in the short run.
We ought to run this by R. H. again. And check with A. P. in the meantime.
And there it stands. I don't know to how big a list Jack was copying his replies, but typically it is several dozen.
A lukewarm response from Jack.
I have suggested that he, Alan and I work on a proposal to Robert H., Stephen S., Ron P. and Kit G. I expect to have to do most of the arm twisting.
I might as well put it together here. Need to finesse a couple of things, starting with the physics.
Here are the rest of my messages to Jack:
Sorry for being a little slow on the uptake here. I'm just collecting my thoughts.
Here is my very modest proposal, along with some background.
Among your physics colleagues you have demonstrated an unusual degree of willingness to not only talk about things that touch on the spirit, but also to do something about them, from within a Physics context. This rare trait is something worth encouraging by those of us who are more metaphysically inclined, particularly if we do not subscribe to the notion of the Cartesian or Quantum dualism of mind and matter that is espoused by those many folk of the Copenhagen persuasion with whom you do frequent battle, as well as by most theologians.
[---] and I are not the only ones in these environs, it seems, who share this interest. So perhaps we can widen this conversation, hopefully on a more permanent basis than what we have experienced in the past.
The three of us seem to agree that the events subsequent to 9/11 do lend some greater urgency to deliberations of this nature. The clash of cultures is upon us. Whatever science may offer, directly or indirectly, to promoting reasoned discussions between folk of differing spiritual outlooks is to be commended and actively pursued.
There are many discussion topics that come to mind. Comparing and contrasting the spiritual and technological perspectives on our future would certainly be germane.
But, no, I don't see this as being a debating club. The urgent need is for something more proactive and visionary. That is what we need to be working on.
I suggest a preliminary round of discussion between the three of us, as we hammer out our similarities and differences. We maintain a very informal, evolving position statement, or perhaps just talking points, that we then use to foment a wider discussion. It will be important to maintain a sense of progress throughout, and to keep people on, at least, a parallel set of tracks.
Before this interlude, you and I were discussing 'upward' and 'downward' causation. This may well be where the spiritual rubber meets the physical road. This might be as good a point of departure as any.
You are the main mail-list person amongst us. It will be mainly up to you to manipulate the lists, if you are so inclined.
At an early point we should approach Hickson and Schwartz. I'll be happy to enlist Ron to further facilitate our interaction with Robert.
I look forward to replies and rejoinders from both of you.
This is a good start.
In my mind there is a collaboration here between the physicist and the metaphysicist. The implied duality is no longer between mind and matter (a la Descartes), or between observer and observed (a la Bohr). Now the duality is between downward causation and upward causation, also between the explicate and implicate orders, and this is thanks mainly to your buddy, Bohm.
So now, since there is no longer a logical discontinuity between the two realms, there can be a real collaboration between the upward and downward perspectives. This is where you and I come in. We may, if we so choose, be the originating collaborators. If this collaboration is instrumental in bringing about the final paradigm shift, i.e. introducing the gnostic saving knowledge, then we would be playing a messianic role. Or we are the original participators in a universally participatory messianic denouement to history. Someone has to get this show on the road, or on the net, as the case may be.
We are the Laurel and Hardy of messianiacs (sic). This will not be a difficult act to follow, because everyone will be able and invited to do so.
We just need to try it out in various focus groups to get it down pat. For right now we are privileged to have Alan as our focus group. Why don't we see how he likes our act so far. Where are we weak, where are we questionable. If we can pass muster with Alan, then we're half way to the moon. Next we ask Robert and Stephen to join our little focus group.
It's that simple, Gaston.
Before there is a workshop, you and I would need to agree on a protocol. I see dialog between interested parties, as the starting point, and perhaps even the end point. This is more of a participatory scheme. This is tied to the envisioned scheme of salvation. It is also well suited to the Internet.
If you and I are serious about our messi-mania, then we must bring a sense of urgency to the timing. The end of this year is a long time away. We have our dialog and Internet work cut out for us here and now. Who needs to stand on ceremony?
Besides, you already have your physics books. This is something quite different, certainly less didactic.
There has been no response from Jack since this last message.
I'm thinking about what will be the next topic: Destiny (another look at eschatology), Downward Causation, ...?
Downward causation and reduction are still the biggest topics vis a vis the naturalists. No one other than Jaegwon Kim has made a major issue of the evident conflict between naturalism and non-reductionism. Since Kim, naturalism should be considered incoherent. Kim simply pointed out that a non-reductionist could not be a physicalist. The next logical step would have been to point out that non-reductionism is inherently unnatural. Thus, even the phrase 'natural kind' is a virtual oxymoron if the phrase is meant to have any ontological significance.
Maybe it is time for some more Google. Note that essence carries some of ontological significance of natural kind or irreducible property. 'Psychological essentialism' is an interesting subset. 'Theory of categorization' is a related subset.
What I have found nowhere is the observation that a single irreducible property will cause the sky to fall on materialism and naturalism. If people believe otherwise, then there ought to exist arguments to the contrary, which I have not seen. Jaegwon has barely touched on this larger issue.
There is the epistemic-ontic issue of water as a natural kind, whose essence is sometimes alleged to be H2O, or as something more observable. Here essence might be conflated with substance, but then is water reducible in the usual chemical sense? An idealist, of course, cannot be a substantialist, or can she? No, because an idealist does not respect the epistemic-ontic divide. The concept and substance may not radically differ.
Griffiths, Paul (2002) Is Emotion a Natural Kind?:
[...] natural kinds are categories about which we can make scientific discoveries.
Does this definition imply irreducibility or downward causation?
Fortunately, it is easy to generalize the idea of a law of nature to the broader idea that statements are to varying degrees ‘law-like’ (have counterfactual force). This broader conception of a law-like generalization allows a broader definition of a natural kind.
Many law-like statements apply generally and exclusively to humans, for instance. Does counterfactuality have any sort of ontological implication? 'If I drop a glass, it will break.' Does this say anything about the ontology of glassware, or about the property of fragility? This question also, obviously, involves issues of mereology.
The communicability of concepts must speak to their compositionality, or rather their lack thereof. (Collections vs. sets?) With mere resemblance, then everything can resemble everything else. A manifold of meaning need not subvert the real particularity of meanings. How do we deal with the interstices? Meanings tend toward the analog rather than the digital. So what? Is Plato the subverter of analogical ideas? This is just a restatement of semantic holism.
Jack has not responded to this request just to continue the present conversation. Instead, as you have seen, he is holding out for an advanced payment on some vague idea for a workshop.
I am focusing back on my website and recollecting my thoughts. It is my contention that the materialists, and naturalists have dug themselves into a conceptual hole in regard to the issue of irreducible properties, emergence and downward causation. Once the implied teleology is confronted, the evident coherence of phenomena is no longer amenable to naturalistic explanation.
I am in the process of fleshing out this basic idea on the website, and in a few days I may be ready to confront Jack. In order to do this over Jack's evident non-cooperation I may need to put together an independent cc. list.
Jack is sufficiently perceptive to see that once this conversation comes around to theological issues, most of his alien technology shtick will go by the boards.
I'll let you know when I think have an appropriate 'manifesto'.
Rather than atomic meanings, as prior to Quine, there is a manifold of meaning. How that manifold is verbally dissected is arbitrary. There is a spectrum of meaning. The primary colors are arbitrary. We do not have meaning perceptors per se, except, perhaps, in the case of some 'felt meanings'. There are some instinctive emotions, no doubt. Certain instinctive felt meanings provide the psychic anchors for a multidimensional spectrum of verbalizable, abstracted meaning.
It is this manifold of meaning that is the basis of epistemic and ontic coherence. This manifold must logically have a primordial potency. It is the life force, if you will. And, as Jack might say, it is our 'destiny matrix', looking at it historically, teleologically and eschatologically.
It is this manifold that is the basis of idealism and which is missing from all materialist accounts.
Mathematics has the character of a logical manifold, and is thus a sub-manifold which may provide structure to the larger space of meaning, and provides the symmetries of the spatial dynamics, i.e. physics. The logic manifold provides filler for the numerous gaps or blind spots in the space of meaning, as occur particularly under the 'alchemical' aegis of science. Logic has much to do with the process of abstraction.
There is scant room for epistemic or ontic dualisms in this space of coherence. But is there not the duality of internal and external relative to the psyche: a duality of micro and macrocosm? This could be handled in some holographic fashion. It might, at most, indicate a doubly connected cosmos as is often signified with the gnostic ouroboros.
Using the list: "natural kinds" (5,300 hits):
Commentary on Tom Radcliffe and Carolyn Ray's "A Conceptualist Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" by David V. Ward. This is a worthwhile essay.
But let's get back to the 'manifold of meaning' concept. What I see now is a functional segmentation of this manifold, as in a jointed skeletal structure. There is an increasing refinement of this structure up toward the end, until there is a total and vital plasticity, with a merging of the macro-micro-cosms, which are the ontic and epistemic domains, respectively.
If this is mostly correct, then what? We need to work out the connections between micro-macro-cosms. This is tough to visualize. How does the feedback work, and how do we minimize the implied duality?
The manifold takes on the shape of an ouroboric Adam-Kadmon (4,600 hits), which is also a projection of the primordial human onto the tree of life.
Adam Kadmon- Primordial Man:
The symbol of Primordial Man, the first being to emerge with the creation of the cosmos is common to a number of religious and philosophical traditions. The Upanishads describe a primal man composed of the very elements which were to become the world. According to the Upanishads this "gigantic divine being" is both infinitely far and deposited near the innermost recesses of the human heart. Indeed, in the Hindu tradition, the Primordial Man is identified both with the entire Universe and the soul or essence of all things.
In the Nag Hammadi text, the Apocryphon of John, we learn that this anthropos is the first creation of "knowledge and Perfect Intellect" and the first luminary of the heavens. This Anthropos becomes the heavenly model through which the demiurge forges an earthly Adam. Other Gnostic sources relate how the "archons" (conceived of as female demigods corresponding to each of the seven planets) formed an earthly Adam to fulfill their sexual desire for the heavenly anthropos who was beyond their spiritual reach.
Now we need to give A-K a holographic & toric or ouroboric twist. Still not sure how to divide & connect the noumenal and phenomenal parts of the semiotic manifold.
Articulation ought to be a useful word in the above context. Cosmogony involves the articulation of a semantic, thought-like manifold. The genesis of language and of the cosmos are thus interrelated. In this regard I have spoken previously of the cosmogonic/apocalyptic role of the 'thunderwords' of Joyce in Finnegans Wake. This is a modern version of the logos (also see Zim-zum, syzygy, etc.).
I'm getting set to start a new page. I have mainly been taking notes off-line. I want to address the metaphysical problem of mereology & the articulation of manifolds, and the connections between the semantic and the spatial.
My only mention of a primordial chaos on this website was here. It appears that we may have to 'bother' ourselves with it, after all. This chaos played a major role in the cosmology described on my previous website, but now, in the context of the BPW and of coherence, its role has been diminished. However, its presence on the fringes of reality cannot be neglected.
The stricture of relationalism as applied to the semantic manifold, or mind field, demands coherence. Random sense data or percepts do not exist in isolation. There must be a perceiving self, and there must be a coherent context or background. Also, Leibniz' Identity of Indistinguishables works to minimize random, isolated sensa. And, as with colors, there may be only a finite number of primary sensa.
'Before' Creation there is a primal manifold, Ain Soph Aur, 'divine light' or cosmic potency. Creation is the process of analysis and re-synthesis of this manifold. We articulate the cosmic potency. We realize the Adam-Kadmon, or Anthropos. This is done through a prism-like analysis or decomposition of the pure light into every conceivable combination of primary sensa which we then reconstruct in a teleological fashion into the tapestry of the Metanarrative. Our individual dreaming is the private phenomenal part of this process. Our waking lives are the public part.
The creatures are the articulation of the cosmic self. Atoms are the limit of the articulation. The spatial manifold is logically necessary to support this articulation. That is the raison d'etre of space and time. Physics is the rationalization or habituation of the space-time articulation. It is the semantic manifold that is the locus of coherence and which predominates in the proximity of the Alpha and Omega.
I am reminded of the Ichneumonidae wasp. It lays its egg on an orb weaver spider. While living off of the vital fluids of the spider, the wasp larva instructs the spider to weave a cocoon where it will take up residence when the spider is depleted. I suspect that our relation to God is not unlike that of the larva to the orb weaver. Our dreams are the flesh of God -- this much has been imputed to certain fungi. The world is our cocoon. The omega is our metamorphosis. And so on. The more we understand, the more we will see nature as metaphor. The role of weaver may be reversed. It may be God who instructs us. There is also a greater mutuality in the dependencies. Since this is not a repeated cycle, all the mutuality must be present in a bootstrap manner. Analogies are meant to stretch the mind, not limit it.
I need a way to bring together the macro and micro-cosms. Functionality is the key connecting factor. On the smallest scales we have bio-functionality. On the largest scales we have anthropics and teleo-history. This functionalism is the basis of coherence. This is the basis of the upward and downward causation.
The point to get across is that functionality exists only in a cosmic context. This is its one rationale. There cannot be partial functions. Functions can exist only within a rational telos. This is the basis of the cosmic self. The epistemic meets the ontic at the function. Downward causation exists only if the irreducible property is intelligible. These properties must comprise a coherent network. Has this not been the assumption all along? Perhaps it was not sufficiently explicit.
The epistemic and ontic meet in the coherent network. This argues against spontaneous emergence. This is where the 'skyhook' comes in, and there can only be one hook. This is what Kim argues against. He sees that downward causation implies coherence. How do we argue this against the naturalists? Whitehead's processes may speak to this issue. Can the above material on articulation help? Articulation is the substitute for evolution.
You just cannot escape meaning. This is how Aristotle tried to correct Plato's disjointed forms. Ari looked to the manifold of life. This is what panpsychism is about.
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