I. Our Planatural Edition: A 21st Century PhiloSophia, Earthropo Ecosmic PediaVersion
B. Anthropocene Sapiensphere: A Major Emergent Transitional Phase
The Physics of Symbols Evolved Before Consciousness.
Cosmos and History.
The emeritus SUNY Binghamton physicist, biologist and logician (search) continues his unique expositions of nature’s ubiquitous archetypal matter and symbol complementarity. In retrospect, as Michael Gazzaniga (2108) draws upon Pattee’s corpus, an historic heritage from Greek origins to Neils Bohr may at last attain a 21st century quantification and affirmation. A perusal of this section lately conveys a flurry of similar accounts, see also Corballis & Haberling 2017 for a psychological take.
The human brain appears to be the most complex structure for its size in the known universe. Consequently, studies of the brain have required many models and theories at many levels that involve disciplines from basic physics, to neurosciences, psychology and philosophy. For over 2000 years the two most controversial and unresolved models of brain phenomena involve what we call free will and consciousness. I argue that adequate models at all levels require epistemic complementarity – distinct necessary models that are not derivable or reducible to each other. The primitive irreducible complementarity at all levels is the subject-object distinction required by an epistemic cut. This complementarity first arises with self-replication where a self, the subject, must be distinguished from the non-self, the object. (Abstract)
Paulson, Steve, et al. A Touch of Awe: Crafting Meaning from the Wonder of the Cosmos. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Online August, 2018. In this transcript from the final conversation in the series The Will to Meaning: Seeking the Why of our Existence, as the Abstract says, with Paul Davies, Lucianne Walkowicz and Ard Louis. Each panelist has a philosophical interest, Davies with many books, Walkowicz as Library of Congress astrobiologist, and Louis from his Christian faith. As the second quote says, Davies voiced a strong rebuttal of Weinberg’s 1977 pointless verdict. By a simple shift in perception, our innate human abilities to altogether learn about a fertile evolutionary cosmos could be seen as strong evidence of an intrinsic purpose and destiny.
From the birth of galaxies to the self‐organizing dynamics of our planet to the ongoing expansion of the universe, the more we discover about the evolution of the cosmos, the more acutely we realize the enormity of what remains to be known. Just this year astrophysicists at the University of Nottingham confirmed that there are at least two trillion galaxies in the cosmos, 10 times more than had been previously thought. What guidance or wisdom can the study of cosmology and astrophysics offer us in our search for meaning and purpose? In conversation with Steve Paulson, executive producer and host of To the Best of Our Knowledge, theoretical physicists Paul Davies and Ard Louis, and astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz share their perceptions based on years of gazing upward and beyond our own intimate planet. (Abstract)
Paulson, Steve, et al. Transcending Matter: Physics and Ultimate Meaning. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Online September, 2015. A dialogue in a Beyond the Big Bang: Searching for Meaning in Contemporary Physics series with moderator Paulson, physicists Adam Frank and Priyamvada Natarajan, and philosophers David Kaiser and Tim Maudlin. As the Abstract alludes, the discussion split between two persuasions, with Maudlin and Nararajan holding to “statistical fluke or lucky accident.” In response, Frank and Kaiser expressed an inherent, however elusive, purpose, as evinced by the very real presence of human inquiry, as per the second quote. Another session, posted concurrently, was The Unification of Physics: The Quest for a Theory of Everything with Marcelo Gleiser, Katherine Freese, and Max Tegmark. Again, the options came with opposite views of people as molecular machines, or intended to give meaning to the dynamic cosmos.
Peck, Steven. Life as Emergent Agential Systems: Tendencies without Teleology in an Open Universe. Zygon. 48/4, 2013. It is incredible to witness the quandary that evolutionary theory has gotten itself into, and the conniptions one must go through to advance the field. As an example, a Brigham Young University biologist seeks a way to describe life’s obvious oriented development via repeated tendencies, structural complexities, proactive solutions, niche constructions, and especially individuality in community, yet without any banished, disallowed teleological essence. While evolution increasing appears as maturing, quickening embryo, scientists are not allowed to say so for it would imply something going on and thus a greater genesis reality. Such realizations are not permitted for they would overturn the vested material machine paradigm. And one might add, this dominant male left-brain inquiry is functionally unable to consider an abiding context. In closing, still intent on avoiding the “t-word,” the writings of Henri Bergson (1859-1941) are turned to for a New 21st century Bergsonianism as a way to express that which isn’t supposed to be there.
Life is a relationship among various kinds of agents interacting at different scales in ways that are multifarious, complex, and emergent. Life is always a part of an ecological embedding in communities of interaction, which in turn structure and influence how life evolves. Evolution is essential for understanding life and biodiversity. Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution suggests a way of examining “tendencies” without “teleology.” In this paper I reexamine that work in light of recent concepts in evolutionary ecology, and explore how agential aspects of life are essential for understanding how emergence provides a basis for a process-based metaphysics of life. In support of this project, I will explore how the major transitions of life on Earth have proceeded through increasing levels of cooperation among agents (e.g., mitochondria in animal cells forming a mutualistic relationship), which have allowed further emergences and complexity to evolve. This complexity always, however, emerges in the context of ecological relationships and a nonteleological evolutionary process. Yet, while nonteleological, the progression of life thus far on this planet seems to hold the promise of certain tendencies that seem inherent in life itself. (Abstract)
Persson, Erik, et al. How Will the Emerging Plurality of Lives Change How We Conceive of and Relate to Life? Challenges. 10/1, 2019. As the Abstract explains, a dozen Swedish research scholars took part in an exploratory project to try to get our minds and hearts around imminent capabilities to conceive and begin a “second origin of life.” This is an unexpected, august opportunity which is actually there for the asking and respectful doing. As an initial report, it scopes out educational events, a summary book, public programs and more. Going forward, studies might consider astrolife via biosignatures, artificial and robotic intelligence, synthetic biomolecules and quite more. But in the larger advent of our phenomenal geonate moment, the epic appearance of nothing less than a Second Genesis ought to be appreciated.
The project “A Plurality of Lives” was funded and hosted by the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies at Lund University, Sweden. The aim of the project was to better understand how a second origin of life, either in the form of a discovery of extraterrestrial life, life developed in a laboratory, or machines equipped with abilities previously only ascribed to living beings, will change how we understand and relate to life. Because of the inherently interdisciplinary nature of the project aim, the project took an interdisciplinary approach with a research group made up of 12 senior researchers representing 12 different disciplines. The project resulted in a joint volume, an international symposium, several new projects, and a network of researchers in the field, all continuing to communicate about and advance the aim of the project. (Abstract)
Phipps, Carter. The Real Evolution Debate. What is Enlightenment?. January-March, 2007. Between the incompatible extremes of dated NeoDarwinism and Intelligent Design are many currents and fields of study which presage a new evolutionary dynamic graced by an innate convergence of complexity, cooperation, self-awareness and a spiritual essence. Twelve such broadly conceived areas with an illustrated page each, including the two above, are Progressive Darwinists, Collectivists, Complexity Theorists, Directionalists, Transhumanists, Theistic and Esoteric Evolutionists, Process Philosophers, Conscious Evolutionists, and Integralists. An achievement to gather these altogether, which then cry out for a common translation and synthesis. This article is proceeded by a succinct review of idealist and romantic precursors from Hegel and Kant to Whitehead and Teilhard.
Prigogine, Ilya. Beyond Being and Becoming. New Perspectives Quarterly. Fall, 2004. In an issue on The Scientific Imagination, these excerpts from a recent conversation provide a succinct survey of the late Nobel laureate’s encyclopedic and prescient thought.
If one considers that there was a kind of primordial instability leading to matter, space and time, then one sees that our universe is not an isolated system; it arose from something else. Therefore, to say that the universe was born and will decay and end in thermal death is no longer so certain because of instability. (10) Life is more deeply rooted in the laws of self-organization and coherent behavior that classical science led us to believe. (10) The project for the new millennium is to go against fragmentation. (11)
Primack, Joel and Nancy Abrams. The View from the Center of the Universe. New York: Riverhead Books, 2006. A cosmologist and a writer contend that contrary to revolutions which have appeared to demote human beings to celestial insignificance, people are actually of central import. For example, we are made of stardust, now a rare material percentage wise after dark matter, reside at a middle position spatially and temporally in the “Cosmic Spheres of Time,” have reached a crucial midpoint in earth history, and so on. But these somewhat contrivances are set within the physics model of “Eternal Inflation: The Cosmic Las Vegas,” whence our home universe is but a chance occurrence of life conducive parameters amongst a vicarious multitude of universes. Other authors (Vilenkin) see this scheme as the ultimate denigration. Kudos to Primack and Abrams for trying to put on a happy face, but they are constrained to make excuses for the obselete mechanical paradigm. This website, via a worldwide humankind, documents a genesis cosmos just adawning of which human persons are indeed a pivotally creative phenomenon.
Ravishankara, A. R., et al.
Ravishankara, A. R., et al. Complex and Yet Predictable: The Message of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Senior Colorado State University scientists AR, David Randall and James Hurrell comment on this award which recognizes, some 40 years after nonlinear studies of atomic to atmospheric phenomena began, three pioneer contributions. The first two recipients below dealt with climate dynamics, and the third with a stochastic basis. The four decades since have risen to a worldwise collaboration which our website seeks to document. By this late date, a robust, convergent universality can now qualify a historic, revolutionary affirmation. Across a widest breadth and depth, the natural presence of an inherent, mathematical regularity, a self-organizing source code-script everywhere does appear to be predictably in effect at every scale and instance. See also The Power of Fluctuations by Andrea Taroni in Nature Physics for November 2021.
Syukuro (Suki) Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann, and Georgio Parisi were awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics. At first blush, it appears to recognize unrelated work in disparate fields. Upon reflection, there is a common thread running through their works. Simply put, this year’s prize in physics acknowledges that disordered systems are predictable and that systems that behave chaotically can respond predictably to changes in external parameters. Earth’s climate is one such complex system. The prize also acknowledges that the properties of disordered condensed matter are predictable using methods grounded in sound physics. (1)
Reid, Robert G. B. Biological Emergences. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007. Noted more in A Quickening Evolution, the work is a leading contribution to a 21st century genesis evolutionary synthesis beyond Darwinian mutation and selection to include the prior, constant, generative conatus of self-organizing dynamics.
Reid-Bowen, Paul. Goddess as Nature: Towards a Philosophical Thealogy. London: Ashgate Publishing, 2007. A philosopher of religion at Bath Spa University, UK, who recognizes he is a male author writing about a female subject, reports upon a growing sensitivity to a more fecund, encompassing, and immanent natural presence. By such advances as the new complex systems sciences the cosmos may indeed be appreciated as pantheistic, gestational and pregnant with Divinity in being and becoming. This is in contrast to a current ‘partiarchal physics’ (my term) of a sterile pointless universe which shifts the focus to a remote, transcendent Deity. Which dichotomy seems to beg a complementarity of mother and father, if these qualities could ever marry.
Femaleness and organicism are the primary theological resources for conceiving and interpreting the cosmic whole; a religious orientation that is the virtual antithesis of most patriarchal forms of cosmogonic and cosmological thought. (85) In the Goddess feminist worldview the womb of the Great Mother is the cosmogonic and cosmological construct par excellence. Building upon metaphoric and mythopoetic associations between female reproductive capacities and the structures and processes of the universe in its entirety, Goddess feminism can be understood to affirm a form of ontological continuity between microcosmic female generativity and the macrocosmic reality of Goddess Nature. In a theologically significant sense, the universe is conceived as either female or a female environment/matrix. (92)
Rescher, Nicholas. Axiogenesis: An Essay in Metaphysical Optimalism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010. The University of Pittsburgh emeritus philosopher of “pragmatic idealism” continues apace with erudite volumes. Drawing on deep roots in Greek thought, the title word in the 21st century signifies a universe which by its intrinsic kind evolves and fosters embodied intelligence, a propensity dubbed “noophelia.” Nature is thus suffused by a regular order for this unfolding, optimal purpose, a “noophelic cosmos.” This surmise is seen as parallel to the “noogenesis” vision of Pierre Teilhard, which would then have an affinity with neuroscientist Christof Koch’s 2012 verification. The first quote is also a good summary of Gennaro Auletta’s testament. For some time, frontier thinkers have tried to articulate an ordained option to a pointless multiverse, may one sense that day is approaching?
A world in which intelligence emerges by anything like standard evolutionary processes must be a realm pervaded by regularities and periodicities regarding organism-nature interaction that produces and perpetuates organic species. And so, to possibilize the evolutionary emergence of intelligent beings, the universe must afford a manifold of lawful order that makes it a cosmos rather than a chaos. (133)