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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Informationism   Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:43 pm

On the Freethinkers Fellowship Forum I am continuing a long and contentious discussion on several topics loosely related to Deism versus Atheism. This is my latest post in response to an atheist attempt to dispel the "Quantum Mysticism" that he perceives in many of my references to some of the same Quantum paradoxes that Christians and New Agers use to support their various versions of Spirituality. I'm not trying to justify any particular spiritual belief system, but I am attempting to demystify Quantum Theory in such a way that I can understand it rationally. One part of that on-going theoretical investigation is my proposal of "Informationism" as a future paradigm of Science to replace the older belief system of Materialism, that has no logical place for an immaterial deity.



Continuing with our parallel monologs on dispelling Quantum Mysticism:

What is Truth?:
I have been amused by the irony of our disputes over Science/Philosophy, Physics/Metaphysics, Truth/Fiction, Literal/Metaphorical, Real/Ideal, etc, etc. Each of these is a conceptual dichotomy (a yin/yang pair) abstracted from Whole Reality by the human imagination. Like light/dark, none of these half-concepts can exist in reality apart from its conceptual counterpart. Ultimate Reality IMO is all of the above. To assume that there can only be a science/physics/literal/real answer to every question begs the question: "how can we know what's real?" Philosophers and scientists have been debating that puzzler for centuries. So I won't even go there. Instead I'll focus on the more pertinent question for this thread, "what is information?"

The Latin root “informare” meant to give recognizable (meaningful, significant) shape to something. In that sense a sculptor “in-forms” a blank slab of marble with a physical shape to represent a pre-existing image in his mind. In other words, a mental image somehow “causes” physical raw material to take on a shape that, in turn, “causes” cognition in another mind. Scientists and Philosophers are always on the lookout for significant patterns in Nature from which they can extract specific meanings. Those extracted pieces of meaning are then labeled generically as information. But how that “information” came to be encoded in the material of nature is not often questioned by scientists. That’s not considered to be a practical project, so it’s left to impractical philosophers to speculate on the origins of information: e.g. which came first, the informer or the information---the sculptor or the sculpture?



Virtual Reality: In the early 20th century, Einstein perplexed most learned people when he claimed that the "force" of gravity that we all experience with our senses is actually just "curved space". Some scoffed, and asked rhetorically, "how can you curve nothing?". How can something-we-know-is-real be caused by something we assume is non-real? At the time Einstein only had a mathematical answer that made no sense to our senses. Non-mathematicians just had to take his word for it. Eventually, mathematicians and physicists became accustomed to thinking of space-time, not simply as a void, but as a 4D grid of "ideal points" (a scalar field composed of virtual* particles) that were defined, not by their substance, but by the geometric relationships between them. In other words space was composed, not of matter or energy, but of mathematical data (information). Computers have no difficulty manipulating abstract data in such a way as to curve the "space" defined by that information. But most humans are not accustomed to dealing with raw disembodied data in the environment. We normally interact physically with matter and energy, then subconsciously convert them into analogous mental objects, that are in turn, manipulated by the mind as-if they were real objects. What then are these analogies, if not metaphysical metaphors of physical reality---a virtual reality? If Einstein was right, the vast majority of the universe, space-time, is composed of “information” that has not yet become embodied in matter. Hence, the usual assumption that Information is inherently material, cannot be supported in the post-quantum era.

*Wiki: "Virtual" is therefore taken to mean a potential state that could become actual. "Virtual" is not opposed to "real" but opposed to "actual," whereas "real" is opposed to "possible."




Quantum Mysticism:
Some of us, when confronted with exotic mysteries, tend to enshrine them as divine secrets. Others, confronted by anomalies that don't fit their scientific paradigm, cover their eyes and ears, and repeat, "no, no, no, it cannot be". The freethinkers among us though open our eyes wider, the better to see what the problem is, and ask, "what if?" At first, I couldn't absorb the distortions---of my 19th century picture of Reality---caused by the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum sub-reality. I had to agree with Einstein who stated flatly to Heisenberg, “I don’t like your kind of physics”. Years later though, I began to come across some strange comments by a variety of quantum-level physicists, that shed some light on the crux of the quantum/macro paradoxes. Since the "mechanisms" of sub-quantum physics don't conform to the traditional rules of 19th century mechanics, researchers had no appropriate terminology to describe what they were "seeing" in their experiments. For example, an electron's size, position, and velocity cannot be described deterministically like an ordinary chunk of solid matter. Therefore some scientists began to treat them as-if they were metaphorically "wispy clouds of geometry and probability"---form without substance. An unintended result of these pragmatic rhetorical workarounds was to encourage the mystics, who had always viewed the world as fundamentally spiritual rather than material. I’m not prepared to go that far, but I have concluded that most of our traditional “spiritual” phenomena can be explained rationally by replacing those ancient religious concepts with modern “informational” terminology.


Informationism:
So I began to entertain the thought, what if the quantum theory metaphors are literally true and real? What if an electron is actually a definition instead of a mysterious wave/particle? What if energy is a carrier of instructions instead of "the mysterious ability to do work"? What if a force field is a web of geometric relationships instead of "a mysterious place in space where something happens"? As I admitted before, these what-if scenarios don't make any sense to the physical/material senses. But they do make sense to the metaphysical /rational senses of mathematicians and philosophers. Consequently, I have begun to view the world from a different perspective than the Christian worldview I was raised in, and the Logical-Positive belief system that I later adopted. I’m now calling my new personal paradigm "Informationism". It’s not yet an officially recognized scientific worldview. But as time goes by, I think the reality of Ideality will be gradually, grudgingly accepted by thinkers on the leading edge of human understanding. The man on the street may never get-it rationally, but they have always intuitively grasped the fact that there’s more to reality than meets the eye.

From the novel perspective of Informationism, matter & energy are perceptible forms of information; In-form-ation is the process of making things sensible to the mind; and Mind is where Information is created, transmitted, and interpreted. Mind is both In-former and Interpreter. Information is metaphysical stuff contained in physical substrates, but capable of being transformed from one container to another. An empty cup is full of space, which is full of virtual information. An ancient Chinese saying goes; "we value a cup for the space inside"---not for what it is, but for its potential. The form of a cup defines its function---its value. If space is information, then we live and move and exist in a matrix of meaning---potential matter. Unlike material objects though, I can give away information and still have it. Information has always been recognized as useful, even when its reality has been denied. However, due to the post-quantum adventures of science, the 19th century paradigm of Sensible Materialism, Causal Determinism, and Logical Positivism is being remodeled to accommodate the undeniable realities of 21st century Mental Informationism, Acausal Indeterminism, and Statistical Probabilitism. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the many forms of Information, but there’s no need to label the investigation of the unknown as Mysticism. It’s just science probing in the dark.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:47 pm

I'm reminded of a quote that I just read today on the "Emergent Universe Project" website that I linked to earlier...

    "We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding out that we must learn a great deal more about 'and'." ~ Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944)

IMO, information is the "and" that Sir Arthur Eddington was referring to.

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Mon Jul 07, 2008 7:32 pm

FWIW, I have continued to develop the new concept of Informationism with a formal definition:



Informationism


A new post-postmodern paradigm proposed to supersede the obsolete modernist scientific worldview of Materialism / Determinism. ~ In the 19th century, matter was considered to be the fundamental element of reality, space was nothingness, and the concepts of "energy" and "force" were poorly understood. As the 20th century dawned, matter/energy and space/time were re-defined as various forms of the same underlying mathematical laws and principles. Then around the turn of the 21st century, the material essence of the world was diluted even further as computers and information theories began to open up strange new frontiers of virtual realities and multiple universes. ~ Back when Matter/Energy was supposed to be the stuff of reality, that pragmatic worldview excluded any need for intruding metaphysical considerations into physical science. However, as 20th century science evolved at an exponential rate, confidence in the reliability of Reality began to wane. Old-fashioned, stable, predictable materialistic/deterministic Science was repeatedly perturbed by the sub-atomic and cosmological discoveries of strange hidden realities where the ordinary laws of physics were watered-down by invisible particles, indeterminate probabilities, and interfering observer effects. ~ One way to reconcile the new postmodern sciences with the orthodox modern view was to interpret the bizarre new world in medieval terms where the appearance of solid reality is founded upon metaphysical spirituality. That new-wine-in-old-wineskins resolution was followed by many religious thinkers in the form of New Age beliefs and Intelligent Design theories. ~ Most hard-nosed realists, though, simply dug-in their heels, and deflected any metaphysical implications of the new science as signs of a counter-enlightenment religious conspiracy. ~ However, a more progressive approach to consilience might be to update the archaic terms "spirit-soul-god-heaven" and “matter-energy-space-time” with the 21st century vocabulary of Information Theory, and the postmodern sciences of Data Processing Systems. This is how Informationism proposes to reconcile cutting-edge science with traditional wisdom, and to re-integrate practical science with theoretical philosophy.



PS---The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of the FFF, or any member thereof. Smiley
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:06 pm

Informationism thread continued . . .
http://freethought-fellowship.org/forums/index.php?topic=2729.msg37446#new

Quote from: Zeston on June 23, 2008, 08:21:07 PM
So far, aside from some odd ways of measuring things, I see no threat to "the 19th century view of Science" from Quantum Mechanics, other than the pseudoscience that has been passed around by New Agers and the occasion lapse of Reality on this thread.


Gnomon reply:

Pseudoscience versus Information Science

Because I apply some strange new meanings to common words, and I coin new words for unconventional meanings, and I use some ancient philosophical, and recent New Age, terminology in these posts ---holism, metaphysics, vibrations, etc.---my claimed intent to demystify the outer fringes of science may seem disingenuous. Yet I believe that I am sincere in my desire to understand the fundaments of reality as documentaries instead of mysteries. But that practical-sounding objective is usually frustrated by roadblocks of a theoretical nature. So somehow I must learn how to reconcile theory and practice into a unified perspective on reality.

Due to some misunderstandings and misgivings expressed in this thread, it may be helpful to clarify some of the commonalities and distinctions between Science and Philosophy, as they apply to the borderlands of Science. Empirical Scientists gather the data, and identify repetitive patterns. Theoretical Scientists like Einstein use the raw data and established patterns as a springboard to imagine hypothetical modular mechanisms to explain those empirical observations in terms of a universal (holistic) physical system. And Philosophical Scientists are empirical or theoretical researchers who search beyond the narrow confines of a single orthodox, pragmatic discipline in order to discover even-more-general patterns and mechanisms. The ultimate goal of all scientists and philosophers though is a comprehensive "Theory of Everything"---otherwise known as The Truth.

Most of my reading in science topics is authored by the third category of scientists, since Empirical and Theoretical researchers usually publish only in technical journals that are way over my head. IMO the best popular press treatment of the topic of this particular thread---Quantum Mysteries and Cosmological Fantasies---is the book I have referred to before: COSMIC JACKPOT, by Paul Davies. The author was trained as an Empirical Physicist, and worked as a Theoretical Physicist, but in his later years he has been primarily a Philosophical Cosmologist. Like many other theoreticians, he was puzzled and intrigued by the abundant circumstantial evidence pointing to Information (The "Cosmic Code") as the most fundamental mechanism for creating the patterns observed by the more narrowly-focused researchers.

Like me, Davies wanted to find out why the universe seems to be mysteriously mathematical. "In orthodox physics, the fact that nature conforms so efficiently to elegant mathematical principles is left completely unexplained." His philosophical urge to generalize and unify led to the conclusion that, ". . . mathematics and physics should not be assumed to exist separately a priori but should emerge together from a single coherent theory of existence." [I call that theory Informationism.] But he goes on to say, "As long as scientists are fixated on immutable Platonic laws that transcend the physical universe [ideal mathematical objects], the unifications of physics and mathematics will be impossible, and the mathematical nature of physical laws will remain mysterious."

The de-mystified, unified worldview he recommends is "the informational view" . . . "in which mathematics is tied to the physical world even as the physical world is tied to mathematical laws . . ." However, that unified theory will require some kind of rationale for tying matter and mathematics together at an even more fundamental level. His proposal for that rational explanation is that matter and energy emerge from mathematical laws in a literal, not just metaphorical sense. In other words, mathematical mind objects are more essential to reality than matter and energy. And that hypothesis only makes sense if Mind is prior to Matter. But such speculations only raise another mystery: what is Mind?

That's where I tend to go a little farther in my mind probes than Davies is willing to stretch. My hypothetical answer to the ultimate mystery then is this: Everything is Mind---The material universe is essentially a mathematical construct in an Eternal and Infinite Mind. This suggests a resolution to another mystery of psycho-biology: how does the intangible phenomenon we call Mind arise from the mechanical operations of mundane matter and energy? Obviously, the potential for Mind must have been embedded in the laws of nature that emerged from the Big Bang. This suggests that Evolution is merely a series of unfoldings: Primal Singularity from Eternal Mind; Raw Energy from Singularity; Matter from Energy; Life from Matter/Energy; and eventually Mind from the interacting complexities of all that came before. Thus the singularity that went bang was in effect the comprehensive design concept (the blueprint) of the world-to-be.

Of course such an orderly, progressive scenario raises another perennial question: Teleology --- the final outcome results from initial intention. And Davies tackles that old conundrum head-on in the book. The Anthropic Principle of Cosmology has yielded several variations on the First Cause/Deity concept as the postulated Primal-Mind, from which the physical universe emerged. Davies comes very close to endorsing the Strong Anthropic Principle, but finds it too uncomfortably close to the traditional religious concepts of a providential Creator God. However, since I am not a practicing Scientist or Christian, my hybrid prejudices can more easily accommodate the scientific/philosophical/cultural hypothesis of a disembodied creative Mind, that neatly straddles the gap between the supernatural religions and the new Informational sciences.

The result is a worldview that has no need for supernatural meddlings in natural processes, but still satisfies human curiosity with a more-or-less complete story of existence. It covers the history of the universe from Big Bang beginning, to emergence of Human Nature, and then to the here-and-now that we all experience as Life, plus a glimpse of the next chapter in the on-going un-folding of the Author's teleological intent. What this world history does not cover satisfactorily is the pre-beginning and the final denouement. Like the Star Wars trilogy, it needs an episode One to establish the meaning of all that follows. So the interpreter’s imagination is left to fill-in those blanks, with helpful clues from our examination of the orderly patterns of Nature. Some truth-seekers postulate an eternity of what-you-see-is-what-you-get in the form of Multiverses. Others find that some scientifically-updated version of the ancient deity theories to be more reasonable. The Informationism worldview may even be able to reconcile all of the disparate views under the mantle of “Mind is Everything”, because it’s the most universal concept imaginable: it explains everything---except what came before and beyond the universe.

The philosopher’s rational, non-religious God-concept has been called by many names over the centuries: First Cause, Prime Mover, I Am, Brahma, The Tao, etc. But a more recent form of the God-hypothesis has gone by the name of Deism. In that admittedly non-empirical worldview, the postulated Deity is explained as some kind of eternal Principle, or Law, or Mind without any physical form, but with the ability or potential to create physical worlds out of thin air, so to speak. Yet that magic act of creation results in a World where the only immanent "magic" is in the imagination of living physical beings. Not surprisingly, those unfettered meta-minds, influenced by emotional needs, have resulted in a plethora of religious interpretations of Reality, where minor supernatural interventions cater to the day-to-day perceived needs and wishes of individual souls. That’s the kind of emotion-guided rationalization which results in detours from the straight-and-narrow path of a dispassionate search for truth. But then scientists are only human too, so truth remains an elusive target of the goal-oriented teleology we call Science.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:03 am

Interesting stuff and well said. I'll have to get back to it a little later. It reminded my of the following quote and essay by Paul Davies from the book, 'In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God's Presence in a Scientific World'.

    "I believe Panentheism is the theology that most closely matches my understanding of the relationship between God and the physical universe." ~ Paul Davies


Check out some of it here...
http://books.google.com/books?id=N123ZrSR2b0C&pg=PA95&dq=Purpose+Through+Emergent+Complexity&sig=ACfU3U073yPTdUDXarAkynAU5l4A2H5W8w

And more here from Phillip Clayton...
Quote :
Traditional theology looked backward: It postulated God as the cause of all things. Emergentist theology looks forward: it postulates God as the goal toward which all things are heading. Moreover, if God stood at the beginning and designed a universe intended to produce Jesus, then God would have to use deterministic laws to reliably bring about the desired outcomes. Where the deterministic processes, on their own, are insufficient to produce a theologically acceptable world, God would have to intervene into the natural order, setting aside the original laws in order to bring about a different, nonlawlike outcome. Divine action then becomes the working of miracles, the breaking of laws; and God becomes, paradigmatically, the being whose nature and actions are opposed to nature. This opposition of God and nature has been disastrous.

Emergence, in contrast, suggests a very different model of the God-world relationship. In this model God sets in motion a process of ongoing creativity. The laws are not deterministic laws but "stochastic" or probabilistic: although regularities still exist, the exact outcomes are not determined in advance. More and more complex states of affairs arise in the course of natural history through an open-ended process. With the increase in complexity new entities emerge -- the classical world out of the quantum world, molecules and chemical processes out of atomic structures, simple living organisms out of complex molecular structures. Then come complex multicellular organisms, societies of animals with new emergent properties at the ecosystem level, and, finally conscious beings who create culture, use symbolic language -- and experience the first intimations of transcendence.

Conceived according to the model of emergence, God is no longer the cosmic lawgiver. The result is a far cry from Calvin’s God, who must predestine all outcomes "before the foundation of the world." Instead, God guides the process of creativity. God and creatures together compose the melodies of the unfolding world, as it were, without preordaining the outcome. Emergentists note that this God must rejoice in the unfolding richness and variety apparently willing to affirm the openness of the process and the uncertainty of particular outcomes. On this model God’s finite partners are the sum total of agents in the world, and all join in the process of creation. In Philip Hefner’s beautiful phrase, we become "created co-creators" with God.

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2917

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:32 pm

Aaron wrote:
Interesting stuff and well said. I'll have to get back to it a little later. It reminded my of the following quote and essay by Paul Davies from the book, 'In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God's Presence in a Scientific World'.

    "I believe Panentheism is the theology that most closely matches my understanding of the relationship between God and the physical universe." ~ Paul Davies


I started reading the Cosmology books by Paul Davies years ago, and they were partly responsible for my move toward a Panentheistic worldview. Davies had always scrupulously avoided expressing his own personal God concept. So the quote above came as a surprise to me, since I assumed he was still technically in the Agnostic camp. I guess now I'll have to get a copy of the book you referenced. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:38 pm

Well, one of the mods on FFF has pulled the plug on me. Here's my response to his message informing me that he is shutting-down the thread. My crime was hi-jacking the thread to express my own theories on the subject---at great, boring, vexing length.

Obviously I have a different understanding of what has been going on in this thread, but you're the mod, so the plug is in your hands.

I have been enjoying the give and take on this thread, almost like a real forum. But Zeston, Andrew, and sometimes you, can dish it out, but can't take it. They seem to react viscerally to any hint of philosophy or metaphysics. My intention is not to antagonize their tender sensibilities, but it's difficult to discuss fringey topics like this without stepping on someone's toes. Z and A have deliberately stepped on my tender foot-fingers, but I am not hurt by it, because I maintain a philosophical attitude toward philosophical disagreements. I'm sure they don't like it when I tease their self-righteous indignation, but they're so easy to tweak, it's irresistible.

I am aware that the Freethinkers Forum was originally intended to be a place of refuge for Atheists, where non-believers could associate with their fellows, free from the harassment of the faithful. Ironically, I consider myself to be a Freethinker, and a non-believer, but not an Atheist. Does that make me an oppressed minority in this neighborhood? I'm pretty sure that my unorthodox opinions would get a gag order on a Christian forum too.

Anyway, since you suggested it, can I start a new thread on the same topic? I will continue to present my personal theories & opinions, and other members will be invited to do likewise ---whether I agree with their views or not. I shouldn't have to remind you that Jeannie is a member as well as a mod, so she has the right to express her opinions, and to shush disrupters. Apparently you and she have a difference of opinion about who is disrupting who. For what it's worth, I'm on her side. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:15 am

Well you know my opinion of the FFF.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:21 am

Have you ever checked out Interfaith Forums? They have a pretty good mix of all sorts of religious views and they tend to keep things very respectful.

http://www.interfaithforums.com

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:57 am

Aaron wrote:
Have you ever checked out Interfaith Forums? They have a pretty good mix of all sorts of religious views and they tend to keep things very respectful.

http://www.interfaithforums.com

Actually, we are not discussing religious views. The topic is fringe sciences like Quantum Theory and Multiverse Theory. The problem is that some of the posters object strenuously to mixing Philosophy with Science. But my position is that post-Quantum Science crossed the line into philosophy and metaphysics long ago. Refusing to discuss the metaphysics of physics is equivalent to hiding your head in the sand.

Anyway, I was enthusiastically exploring the ramifications of my personal theory of Informationism, which is directly related to my evolving concept of Deism. So I plan to start a new thread on FFF on the same topic. Criticism by those who disagree with me is the whole point of the exercise. But I would prefer that they maintain a philosophical attitude about disagreements, and not get emotional about it. I can't help teasing them when they get huffy. They can dish it out, but they can't take it.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:01 pm

The reason that I mentioned it is because there are atheists and agnostics on that forum as well. The environment isn't as empirically focused as at FFF, but then again the materialist/empiricist centered environment at FFF is part of the reason that you are running into such a wall at FFF IMO.

When people have spent such a large amount of their time and effort building a knowledge base (as it's apparent many of them have) and have their ego so wrapped up in a specific paradigm of thought, they tend to get their noses out of joint when you propose a theory that questions that base paradigm.

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:54 pm

The Informationism concept, as discussed above, is what led me from Agnosticism to the Deism worldview. For those who may have found the basic idea interesting, I have pasted a link to a summary of my Freethinkers Fellowship Forum dialog on a related topic. Actually, it turned-out to be mostly a monolog, since few of the freethinkers were moved to contribute their thoughts, pro or con.

This is an HTML file of an email I sent to my "thesis advisers", only one of whom is a Deist. It's a fairly long and technical thread, so don't expect to cover it all in one glance. Informationism is still a work-in-progress, so any pertinent questions or comments will be appreciated.

Demystifying the Borderlands of Science
http://home.mindspring.com/~johne84570/Demystifying%20the%20Borderlands%20of%20Science_to%20thesis%20advisors.htm

PS---You can click on the YouTube links to see the referenced videos.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:29 am

Thanks for the link. I'll take a look. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:24 pm

As I continue to develop the Theory of Informationism, I frequently add new items to the glossary of technical terminology. This is one I came across on a website by the same name: Enformy. It is similar to the TOI term In-Form-Action except that it seems to apply specifically to the various functions of Energy as it relates to Matter. Energy is defined as the power to cause change. And Change or Difference is an essential kind of Information that the human brain relies on for basic knowledge.

As a noun, the word "Energy" refers to a mysterious "power" that seems to be the motive force behind the evolution of the universe. When you put it like that, it seems kind of spooky, but scientists simply take it for granted, because they still don't know what it "is"; they only know what it does; as a verb: to energize. We don't normally think of another verbal function of energy though: to En-form. Energy can be creative or destructive, depending on the situation. Too little energy and nothing changes; too much energy and order is destabilized; just the right amount of energy, and previously unrelated things become organized into a new entity---a new form of ordinary matter.

For example, a plant leaf absorbs solar energy and uses it to create a molecule of sugar from raw materials available within the leaf cells. Those carbohydrates, with completely new forms and functions, emerge from the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with water and CO2. Hence that creative process could be called "En-form-ation. Yet, in the dark, no photosynthesis occurs. And, if the energy becomes too strong, the plant will wither and die.So, living organisms have evolved complex procedures to maintain the incoming energy at the appropriate level to maintain and reproduce themselves in a changing environment. Those synthesizing procedures and cybernetic systems are analogous to information processing in a computer.

Like some ancient gods, energy is two-faced. The constructive face of energy is Enformy, while the destructive face of energy is Entropy.


ENFORMY

noun: The organizing principle of the universe. ~ A postulated natural force that opposes Entropy in that it causes an evolutionary tendency toward organization, and away from randomness. The Energy principle causes Work; the Mass principle causes Matter; the Entropy principle causes Disorder or Disintegration, and the Enformy principle causes Order or Integration. Ultimately, each of these principles is an instance of the more general principle of In-Form-Action, so each manifestation can be transformed into the other. According to the theory of Informationism, the ultimate Cause of all these power principles is the Will of the God-Mind. Purposeful Will-Power transforms potential into actual. The human mind is able to recognize enformed patterns (gestalts, holons) in natural systems. ~ Modern science recognizes Energy and Matter as the fundamental constituents of the material universe, and it accepts Entropy as an inevitable tendency toward death and decay. But due to a Reductionist bias in science, it has overlooked the mysterious creative power within Energy that causes the evolutionary emergence of novel forms and functions, including Life and Mind. Yet the new theory of Enformy “provides a conceptual framework for integrating the physical, biological, and psychological sciences.”~ "To en-form" is to give form to the formless, or to trans-form one thing into another---as a sculptor forms clay into a bowl. ~See Generic Information. ~See In-Form-Action. ~See website www.enformy.com



Note: Suggestions for improvements of wording and format will be appreciated.


Last edited by Gnomon on Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:15 am

I like the concept. The description works well from a birds eye holistic perspective.

Gnomon wrote:
Modern science recognizes Energy and Matter as the fundamental constituents of the material universe, but it ignores the invisible, immaterial, mysterious power within Energy that causes all change of form and function---both creative and destructive.

I would argue however that modern science does indeed recognize the invisible, immaterial, mysterious power within energy as the four fundamental forces of nature; gravity, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force.

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:26 pm

Aaron wrote:
I like the concept. The description works well from a birds eye holistic perspective.

I would argue however that modern science does indeed recognize the invisible, immaterial, mysterious power within energy as the four fundamental forces of nature; gravity, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force.

Actually, what I had in mind was another aspect of the energy spectrum. The "four forces" are specific functions of the general force we call Energy. But the effects of those energy functions range from Constructive on one end to Destructive on the other, depending on energy density, among other things. Of course, those "effects" are classified according to human value judgments; the essential character of the energy itself doesn't change, only the "message" (the information) it transmits.

We have a scientific name for the destructive aspect of Energy. Entropy is not actually a form of energy, but a function of dissipated energy. Yet until recently we had no technical term for the constructive and creative aspects of energy. I doubt that the term Enformy has broad acceptance among scientists though. It seems to be used mostly by those in Holistic Science fields, such as Systemics, and by those with New Age inclinations. Analytical Reductionism is still the most common approach to scientific endeavors. But Synthetic Holism seems to be slowly gaining acceptance as a valid component of the scientific method.

The concept of Enformy fits neatly into my theory of Matter/Energy as different kinds of Information. Claude Shannon used the thermodynamic term Entropy (to turn inward) as a reference to the degree of randomness in a communication signal. Now I'd like to use the holistic term Enformy (to shape from within) as a reference to the non-randomness (i,e, order, organization) in an energetic system.

Obviously I'm not qualified to make a technical. scientific definition of the Enformy concept. So my use will be merely for personal philosophical purposes. However, I expect that the term might become more widely used by scientists as the various Information and Systems fields develop over the 21st century.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:11 pm

I have revised the definition at bit, but it may still need more tweaking to clearly and concisely convey the intended concept. I suspect that those who deny the progressive tendencies of Evolution (life & mind from matter and energy) will also reject the idea of Enformy as an evolutionary force.

ENFORMY

noun: The organizing principle of the universe. ~ A postulated natural force that opposes Entropy in that it causes an evolutionary tendency toward organization, and away from randomness. Energy is the physical cause of all Change; but the Power principle specifically causes Work; the Mass principle causes Matter; moreover the randomizing Entropy principle causes Disorder or Disintegration, and the organizing Enformy principle causes Order or Integration. Ultimately, each of these principles is an instance of the more general principle of In-Form-Action, so each manifestation is merely one actualization of a protean (shape-shifting) potential. According to the theory of Informationism, the ultimate Cause of all these power principles is the Will of the God-Mind. Purposeful Will-Power transforms potential into actual. Fortunately, the finite human mind is able to recognize divinely-enformed patterns (gestalts, holons) in natural systems. ~ Modern science recognizes Energy and Matter as the fundamental constituents of the material universe, and it accepts Entropy as an inevitable tendency toward death and decay. But due to a Reductionist bias in science, it has overlooked the mysterious creative power within Energy that causes the gradual emergence of novel forms and functions, including Life and Mind. Yet the new theory of Enformy “provides a conceptual framework for integrating the physical, biological, and psychological sciences”. ~ Evolution is known to be expansive and progressive despite the regressive forces of Entropy (to turn inward). Hence the countervailing force of Enformy ( to shape from within) is necessary to permit complex entities to self-assemble from simpler stuff. ~ verb: "To en-form" is to give form to the formless, or to transform one thing into another---as a sculptor molds clay into a bowl. ~See Generic Information. ~See In-Form-Action. ~See website www.enformy.com


Some Deists may object to the assertion that the presumed Power behind evolution is purposeful, but in the Informationism theory a First Cause or Initial Impulse is necessary to get evolution moving in some direction (a force vector). Whether that direction was consciously aimed at some distant goal, or randomly "chosen" by Fate may be debatable, but it simplifies things for me to use the analogy of a willful human decision.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:21 pm

As I develop the concept of Informationism, I am aware that many people of various religious and cultural backgrounds already agree with the basic idea of MInd Over Matter. However, I am also reminded that some of them tend to extend the notion to unscientific extremes. For example, some believers in Cosmic Consciousness accept ESP as an alternative means of communication. Some think we can "talk" to plants, and that water "remembers" substances it once came in contact with. I can see how they might come to such outré conclusions, but I am wary of going too far beyond the limits of current scientific understanding.

In other words, I remain skeptical of such "super-natural" paths of information. Of course, I will change my mind as soon as I can see how it might work within the boundaries of a rationally vetted Information Theory. Analogies and metaphors are handy devices for seeing beyond physical limitations, but they are also dangerous devices in the hands of emotion-driven people, who lack proper respect for the cold rule of reason. Finicky Science can be a party-pooper, but we all need some parental guidance at times. That's why I put my own outré speculations out there for critical review. Any comments?
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:39 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Any comments?

I agree. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sat Oct 11, 2008 4:36 pm

I just read an article about the economic meltdown. It asked a timely question on the public mind: "when my 401k retirement account loses value, where did the money go?" The answer is that it didn't go to some greedy market speculator, it just vanished. That's because the value of a stock investment is not like physical cash in hand. It's just potential value, not real value, until you cash it in. And potential value can disappear before your mind's eye, leaving behind nothing but a memory of what could have been---one possible future fortune.

That explanation reminded me of the Informationism theory. For millenia markets only saw value in "real" things, like gold, livestock, and real-estate. But modern economies have learned to take advantage of the multiplying powers of "ideal" stuff, like paper currency, paper stock and estate entitlements, which are not worth the paper they are written on without a stable system of trust between holders of "real" value, such as cattle and cropland, and holders of IOUs, like dollar bills.

During periods of uncertainty and betrayed trust, such as the current credit crisis, many people wish for the good old days of the gold standard to backup our flammable currency. My older brother jumped on that bandwagon many years ago. But, even then, with no understanding of economics, I could see that ultimately gold is little better than paper as a standard of value. Precious metals and jewels, do have some intrinsic natural value, due to their physical properties. But most of their value lies in the variable opinions of buyers and sellers.

The bottom line is that value is in the mind of the beholder. It is an intangible form of information. Gold, however, is a tangible symbol of value. Yet again, a symbol is a form of information. And since Gold, on the quantum level, is simply another form of generic in-form-ation, its symbolic value is merely a human opinion about a system of angular relationships between insubstantial electrons that reflect light energy in the yellow zone of the color spectrum.

Value and trust are already invisible and intangible, so it's not surprising that money built on such a flimsy foundation can disappear in the blink of an investor's tearful eye.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:05 pm

re-post from Freethought Fellowship Forum:


BORDERLANDS of WEIRD SCIENCE, continued.

I just read an article in Skeptical Inquirer magazine with the title: Quantum Weirdness, An Analogy from the Time of Newton*. It addresses some of the same mystifying scientific and philosophical problems that this thread has discussed. The author begins by going back to Isaac Newton's postulated force of Gravity. He quotes Newton himself, "That one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else . . . is to me so great an absurdity that I believe no man, who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it." Despite the great scientist’s own incredulity, he was forced by his calculations to accept that such an “absurdity” is real and true. And three hundred years later, we no longer think of "spooky action at a distance" as an absurdity. Not because we understand it any better, but because we are accustomed to the idea that that's just the way the world works.

Newton's concern was primarily that he couldn't point to a viable mechanism by which gravity could affect things far away. According to his contemporary Leibnitz, "if gravity transpires without any mechanism . . . then it is a senseless occult quality". So, Newton defensively postulated that space was filled with a hypothetical "substance" called Ether, that was physical but so thinly-spread as to be almost non-existent. Yet subsequent investigations have found no evidence for such an ethereal medium for transmitting gravity. The article's author summarized this empty-set problem in science, as a non-problem: ". . . the borderlands of scientific knowledge have always contained some ideas considered virtually supernatural at the time". And that is the very same point that this thread has been making.

The article goes on to discuss some of the similar "occult" concepts in Einsteinian and Quantum Physics---often called "Quantum Mechanics", even though the precise mechanism is still not understood. For example, the Ether hypothesis was replaced by Einstein with the Gravitational Field. "The field does not transmit the force like Newton's ether; it provides information about the force." Again, that statement unintentionally supports the thesis of this thread: the theory of Informationism**. And that is why I now tend to be more open-minded about some of the "occult" ideas connected to some ancient and New Age beliefs. But I don't have to interpret them supernaturally, because I have come to believe that natural Information may be the missing force or substance in many of the non-mechanical (i.e. metaphysical) “mechanisms” such as the various aspects of Quantum Weirdness that scientists still don't comprehend, but have become accustomed to. As famed physicist Richard Feynman said, "You know how it always is, every new idea, it takes a generation or two until it becomes obvious that there's no real problem".

And yet for every baffling new discovery of science or pseudo-science, there is a long sorting-out period before the flatly wrong can be separated-out from the merely weird. Some of the ideas discussed in this thread fall into that borderland category. And many of them are related to the under-appreciated phenomenon of Probability, which is a result of Order within Randomness---which is defined in Information Theory as meaningful patterns against a meaningless background of entropy. Random Chance makes natural laws statistical probabilities rather than absolute facts. And those lawful loopholes are simply something we have to deal with. Which Science does by empirically testing and re-testing theoretical predictions.

Ironically, the article concludes that the << familiarity makes weird feel normal >> “argument could be said just to transfer any weirdness into a magical process that transforms a mixture of possibilities into a single result in the moment we call the present”. And that is exactly what the strange phenomenon of Probability does. As mentioned in a previous post, the infinite Potential of quantum Superposition is indistinguishable from a statistically Possible future state---which may suddenly, and without warning, collapse into the Actual state we call "the Present". Just as we take the Future (of undefined possibilities) for granted as a given feature of normal reality, we must also accept that scientific reality includes some “magical processes” that we must account for, but may never understand.

That concession doesn’t mean we have to accept all weird ideas as equally true, but that we must make allowances, in our mitigated skepticism, for the possibility that some of the weirdness on the cusp of Science is actually natural and normal, but still strange and unfamiliar.


*Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 2008, page 42.


** “that the information about relationships between things is more fundamental to reality than the material objects themselves“.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:35 pm

WHERE DOES MIND COME FROM?

I have great respect for philosopher of consciousness Daniel Dennett. But I think his brilliant explanation for the phenomenon of Mind is missing a key concept : Information, the essential ingredient of Mind and Consciousness. Here are some extemporaneous notes on pertinent ideas raised in a letter to the editor.

Philosophy Now : Nov / Dec 2008, p31
Letters : Thoughts on Dennett

A reader comments on Dennett's book Consciousness Explained :

<< Daniel Dennett asserts the fundamental mindlessness of reality as an established fact.

This is the hallmark of Dennett's Dangerous Idea: mind emerges from the non-conscious.

. . . they propose the transformation of something into its opposite by the sheer weight of numbers . . .
>>


Physicist Henry Stapp, in his book Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics :

<< . . ."reality" is idea-like rather than matter-like . . .

. . . quantum physics indicates that consciousness is the ontologically primary aspect of reality.
>>

Gnomon comments on the comments above :

Informationism asserts the fundamental mindfullness of reality as a philosophical axiom.

Emergence is not a creation ex nihilo. Whatever emerges from matter was in there all along.

Emergence is a change of form, not a change of essence.

Emergence is a continuous process; it only looks like a sudden appearance because our brain switches from one interpretation to another of the same pattern of information. The old and new patterns are essentially the same. Only the meaning has changed.

In physical reality, nothing can "emerge" unless it existed all along.

There's nothing weird about emergence. What was hidden is now made manifest. What was potential is made actual. Happens all the time.

When you see a man emerge from a house, you must assume he was already inside before his presence became manifest. Dennett seems to be saying that the man (mind) didn't exist before he miraculously appeared in front of the house (matter).

For Dennett, consciousness is a function of complexity in a mindless mechanism. Multiply inert matter over and over until something immaterial such as Life and Mind miraculously appears. I agree, except for the miracle part. If Mind is inherent in Matter, then the emergence of Mind from Matter is a natural evolutionary phenomenon. Informationism is proposed as a 21st century successor to 19th century Materialism.
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:14 pm

Here's some great resources on the "problem of consciousness"

http://consc.net/papers.html
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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:55 pm

Uriah wrote:
Here's some great resources on the "problem of consciousness"

http://consc.net/papers.html

I really like Chalmers take on the essental problems of consciousness. I think subjectivity is somehow directly related to the information or "Reason" that pervades the Cosmos.

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PostSubject: Re: Informationism   Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:05 am

Yeah, he's an interesting dude. A little dry for my tastes, but he's based right here in Tucson and I saw him give a talk at the UofA last year. Really smart guy.
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