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 ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:28 pm

I just came across a website devoted to a term (and thesis) that is very similar to one I coined in an essay describing my Deist worldview in the form of a post-modern scientific paradigm (myth). What I call "In-Form-Action" is the basic tool of creation: the power to give form or order to randomness or chaos. The IFA *** concept was derived primarily from my superficial understanding of Information Theory, Systems Theory, Quantum Theory, and other related notions on the cutting-edge of 21st century scientific understanding.

Understandably, I was pleased to discover that someone else had arrived at almost the same far-out idea, but coming from a different direction. The website uses the term "Enformy" to mean "the organizing principle of the universe" (i.e. that which en-forms), which is also one definition of IFA. The problem is that "other direction" I mentioned. Don Watson is a colleague of Gary Schwartz (The Afterlife Experiments), and his approach falls into the general category of New Age Holism.

So far, no problem. But in one of the Enformy abstracts he says:
<<The theory of enformed gestalts is the most parsimonious paradigm available for describing a broad range of radically related phenomena currently characterized as paranormal under prevailing scientific paradigms. These phenomena include life itself, "water memory," psychic healing, psychokinesis, apparitions, reincarnation, quantum entanglement, wavefunction reduction, multiple personality disorder, and the homing behavior of animals. >>

Since my approach to "paranormal" phenomena has come from the direction of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and SKEPTIC magazine, my opinion on the topics in bold is quite dubious. I have no personal experience with any of those things, so I can't categorically deny their validity. But they don't have any logical place in my current Deist worldview, or my In-Form-Action thesis---except as fictional facets of human imagination. Water memory and psychic phenomena are too susceptible to the distorting forces of Faith for my comfort.

I would appreciate hearing some other views, pro or con, on this topic.


http://www.enformy.com/enformy.htm

***analogous to DNA as a repository of information.
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:47 am

Kinda didn't get it. Sorry.
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Paul Anthony

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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:06 am

That sounds a little like Ervin Laszlo' approach. He labeled it the A-Field (short for Akashic Field) and suggested that it contains all the knowledge required to form universes. His idea is that each time a universe is formed, it may either collapse quickly or expand too quickly to provide the opportunity for life to develop. The A-Field would contain all the "in-formation" from previous universe formations, along with the instructions for doing it again...and again.

He backs up his theory with some heavy science (some of it over my head) but it is an interesting read. Of course, I saw some similarities between it and my theory of Universal Intelligence, so it was encouraging to find others thinking along the same lines. I also appreciate that he doesn't offer a theological explanation for his ideas.
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:18 am

I'm pretty sure that I've heard that term before. The basic principle makes sense to me. It sort of acts as the metaphysical ground or "eros" of the manifest universe.

As for some of the "paranormal" explanations, I don't think they add or detract anything from the initial idea. I think that they are just the result of one interpretation of it.

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:03 pm

Helium wrote:
Kinda didn't get it. Sorry.
In order to "get" the concept of In-Form-Action or Enformy you'd have to be familiar with Claude Shannon's post-WWII theories of information transmission, which raised the question of what information is. It would also help to know something about the current understanding among some Quantum theorists that sub-atomic "particles" are actually made of information, such as mathematical ratios and logical relationships.

That wouldn't sound so absurd if you consider that quarks can't be made of matter, because they are themselves the building blocks of matter. Also Quantum Theory describes electrons not as particles of matter/energy, but as clouds of possibility. In addition, the wave/particle paradox implies that, what appears to be discrete bits of reality, are actually wave crests in a continuous medium of some kind (such as the metaphorical "fabric" of space).

Based on evidence like this, some theorists are beginning to treat information itself as more fundamental than matter and energy. When combined with the Deist concept of God as a dis-embodied Mind, it all begins to make sense that generic Information is equivalent to the Will of God: that which creates (in-forms). Of course, the Enformy folks are focused on utility, so they don't carry their pre-material concept to its logical and ideal conclusion.

Any questions? confused


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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:16 pm

Here's one abstract defining "Enformy" and "Enformation". Again, my IFA thesis agrees with everything except the items in bold. The a-causality and indeterminacy of Quantum theory has allowed spiritualists to assert that they have scientific support for their ghost sightings and water memory. But my layman's understanding of QT doesn't see the connection (information is ideas, not ectoplasm;; it's memes, not magic).

Is it just me? Am I blinded by science? Or is it them? Are they interpreting science in terms of animism or spiritualism?


<<Enformy: The Capacity to Organize
Chapter 19 in Thinking on the Edge, R. A. Kapnick and A. A. Kelly, eds.
Burbank, CA: Agamemnon Press 1993.
Abstract
Life has developed and increased in complexity on earth despite the universal principle of increasing entropy. This indicates the operation of a principle that describes the tendency toward organization, away from randomness. Though life is an expression of increasing organization, studies of life itself are limited because science has provided no theoretical construct for organization per se. Herein, this concept is provided as enformy, the capacity to organize.

Enformy is conserved. It is also intertransformable with energy and mass. Thus, energy, mass, and enformy are three distinct descriptors of the universe. Energy accounts for work, mass accounts for matter, and enformy accounts for organization.

The concept of enformy and its implications not only explains the occurrence of life, it resolves the classical mind/body problem, and predicts the occurrence of telepathy and "ghost" phenomena. Because it also applies to non-living systems, the concept resolves the mysteries of Schrodinger's cat of quantum mechanics and the principle of least action of classical mechanics. Thus, enformy provides a conceptual framework for integrating the physical, biological, and psychological sciences.
>>
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:40 pm

Perhaps non-living systems can be viewed as proto-living systems?

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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:45 pm

Aaron wrote:
Perhaps non-living systems can be viewed as proto-living systems?
I suppose you are referring to something like Laszlo's hierarchy of systems: "pre-organic" (non-living), "organic" (living), and "post-organic" (thinking). Each level is distinguished by the complexity of its information systems. Organic things have feedback loops, and post-organic things have self-reference. In a pictorial analogy with molecular proteins, information folds back upon itself to form new kinds of things with different properties and functions.

I find this novel concept of Information as the substance of reality to be fruitful. But it is also susceptible to the old philosophical side-road of reification. Metaphors which point beyond mundane reality are often mistaken for descriptions of a higher, truer Reality, when they are only embellished, earth-bound idioms. In-Form-Action and Enformy may sound like new technical terms for ancient poetic concepts such as Spirit and Divine Will. But some of the old associations and extrapolations (such as ghosts and psychokinesis) may no-longer fit the more-precisely-defined structure of modern paradigms.

While I enjoy the freedom of creative speculation, I must be careful not to read-into these pregnant notions more than can be delivered in real-time and in the real-world. Hence, anything that smacks of Mysticism will get double scrutiny. Please smack me upside the head if I get too mystical. Suspect
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:12 am

I agree but perhaps the mystics of old were actually on to something. Their interpretations may have been off since they were coming from a a mythic mindset but perhaps there was some sort of underlying truth that they were apprehending. They just didn't have the tools and techniques to properly evaluate their experiences.

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:33 pm

Aaron wrote:
I agree but perhaps the mystics of old were actually on to something. Their interpretations may have been off since they were coming from a a mythic mindset but perhaps there was some sort of underlying truth that they were apprehending. They just didn't have the tools and techniques to properly evaluate their experiences.
I agree. Back when I was first dipping my toe in the bottomless pool of philosophy, Plato seemed to be considered the paragon of a Greek wisdom-lover. But I preferred down-to-earth Aristotle, because idealistic Plato was too mystical for my taste. His talk of ghostly "Forms" floating around in Heaven waiting for a chance to possess the empty shells of physical things just didn't fit my 20th century, secular worldview.

Many years later, my understanding has matured enough to find a place for the Platonic Forms in my updated, 21st century, Deist worldview. However, because the free-form imagination of mysticism can easily go astray, I am just as skeptical of spooky spiritualism as I am of locked-down materialism.


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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: ENFORMY: a pre-physical theory   Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:10 pm

Yes I agree.

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