I. Our Earthuman Edition: A 21st Century, PhiloSophia, eLibrary of eCosmos, PediaPedia Resource
B. An Earthropo to Ecosmo Sapience Finds a Phenomenal, Independent. UniVerse to WumanVerse
Brockman, John, ed. The Third Culture. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. The divide C. P. Snow saw in 1959 between the two cultures of literature and science is now being bridged by scientists with a gift to communicate their work to the public. The book includes vignettes of and dialogue with Stephen Jay Gould, Brian Goodwin, Lynn Margulis, Daniel Dennett, Francisco Varela, Lee Smolin, Stuart Kauffman, and many others. The website for active, on-going discussion at this frontier is www.edge.org.
Brockman, John, ed. This Idea is Brilliant. New York: Harper Perennial, 2018. The latest annual question from the Edge.org salon, which asks What Scientific Term or Concept Ought to be More Widely Known? Over 200 responses from frontiers thinkers such as Irene Pepperberg – Cognitive Ethology, Jonathan Losos – Natural Selection, George Church - DNA, David Christian – The Noosphere, Janna Levin – Principle of Least Action, Andrei Linde – Non-Returnable Universe, Sam Harris – Honesty, Lee Smolin – Variety, Amanda Gefter – Enactivism, Frank Wilczek – Complementarity, and Juan Enriquez – Paleoneurology are collected. Quite an array, well meaning, mostly isolate, but bereft any glimmer, the very idea, of a greater reality and creation from which to gain any unified significance. An intrinsic animation seems broached by Carlo Rovelli and Anthony Aguirre on Relational and Indexical Information, along with Terrence Sejnowski’s Universe of Algorithms, Sheizaf Rafaeli’s Networks, and Don Hoffman’s Holographic Principle.
Bruteau, Beatrice. God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World. New York: Crossroad, 1997. A philosopher and theologian integrates the nonlinear sciences of complexity with Christian tradition to envision an unfolding universe engaged in the emergence of divine providence. As a contemplative, Bruteau concludes that to share in the sacred life by these insights one ought to live as a mindful participant of this self-creating universe.
Buiatti, Marcello and Giuseppe Longo. Randomness and Multi-Level Interactions in Biology. Theory in Bioscience. Online May, 2013. Florence University, Italy, and CNRS – Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, philosophical biologists (search each) and colleagues take on this ultimate “to be or not to be” issue with regard to the phenomenal purpose, or its absence, of this earthly, and cosmic reality we come to find our regnant selves within. By various terms and turns – chance, contingency, accident, stochastic, or law, determination, necessity, program –a profligate nature seems to spawn myriad seeds, creatures, now bioworlds, of every variety for better or worse, yet whose intricate, emergent presence and our witness begs an innate, implicate guidance. The authors discern, as a clue, a recurrent cellular “bio-resonance,” analogous to “the well established notion of resonance in physical non-linear dynamics.” With a systems biology in support, a recovered sense of evolution as an actual embryonic development brings further insight. We remain in a decades-long dichotomy whence a scientific opposition of anything teleological going on is at much odds with robust evidence for life’s nested self-similar, reciprocal scales of complexity and cognition. Something rather than nothing is more apparent than “random” selection alone, but still in deep need of its motive explanation.
The dynamic instability of living systems and the “superposition” of different forms of randomness are viewed, in this paper, as components of the contingently changing, or even increasing, organization of life through ontogenesis or evolution. To this purpose, we first survey how classical and quantum physics define randomness differently. We then discuss why this requires, in our view, an enriched understanding of the effects of their concurrent presence in biological systems’ dynamics. Biological randomness is then presented as an essential component of the heterogeneous determination and intrinsic unpredictability proper to life phenomena, due to the nesting of, and interaction between many levels of organization, but also as a key component of its structural stability. We will note as well that increasing organization, while increasing “order”, induces growing disorder, not only by energy dispersal effects, but also by increasing variability and differentiation. Finally, we discuss the cooperation between diverse components in biological networks; this cooperation implies the presence of constraints due to the particular nature of bio-entanglement and bioresonance, two notions to be reviewed and defined in the paper. (Abstract)
Buiatti, Marcello and Marco Buiatti. Chance vs. Necessity in Living Systems: A False Antinomy. Rivista di Biologia. 100/1, 2008. A Florence University evolutionary biologist and Trento University neuroscientist post an extensive contribution to this fraught, huge issue of life’s extravagant profligacy. From the theoretical frontiers, a resolution may yet accrue if at prior effect to “random” mutation and selection, the generative presence of complex, self-organizing, dynamical systems are factored in. This is a theoretical advance of the past decades, not available to the vested neoDarwinian synthesis which denies, and excludes anything else going on. While the authors quite note a “disorderly” flora, fauna, and environs, seemingly bereft of “design” but with an abiding “benevolence,” something more must be at work, otherwise we would not be here at all to wonder and worry over it. Search Buiatti, Longo, for other entries in this 21st century to finally come to grips with this ultimate quandary.
The concepts of order and randomness are crucial to understand ‘living systems’ structural and dynamical rules. In the history of biology, they lay behind the everlasting debate on the relative roles of chance and determinism in evolution. In the present paper, we will give an up to date version of the problem going beyond the dichotomy between chance and determinism. To this end, we will first see how the view on living systems has evolved from the mechanistic one of the 19th century to the one stemming from the most recent literature, where they emerge as complex systems continuously evolving through multiple interactions among their components and with the surrounding environment. We will then report on the ever increasing evidence of “friendly” co-existence in living beings between a number of “variability generators”, fixed by evolution, and the “spontaneous order” derived from interactions between components. We will propose that the “disorder” generated is “benevolent” because it allows living systems to rapidly adapt to changes in the environment by continuously changing, while keeping their internal harmony. (Abstract)
Callebaut, Werner and Diego Rasskin-Gutman, eds. Modularity: Understanding the Development and Evolution of Natural Complex Systems. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Reviewed more in Part V, this volume complements: Schlosser, Gerhard and Gunter Wagner, eds. Modularity in Development and Evolution. (2003). Altogether they report in detail and breadth the discovery that nature repeats, by way of semiautonomous components and entities, the same creative pattern and process over and over. So another aspect and perspective serves to reveal an iterative, repetitive, “modular” universe.
Capra, Fritjof. The Hidden Connections: Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life into a Science of Sustainability. New York: Doubleday, 2002. Fritjof’s latest essay on how an apprecitation of the systemic relations between component entities or objects, as exemplified by the symbiotic cell, can provide natural, ecological principles to guide the self-organization of sustainable, humane communities.
When we study living systems from the perspective of form, we find that their pattern of organization is that of a self-generating network. From the perspective of matter, the material structure of a living system is a dissipative structure, i.e., an open system operating far from equilibrium. From the process perspective, finally, living systems are cognitive systems in which the process of cognition is closely linked to the pattern of autopoiesis. In a nutshell, this is my synthesis of the new scientific understanding of life. (71)
Capra, Fritjof and Pier Luigi Luisi.
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Senior scientists and philosophers join their lifelong physics, chemistry and biology experience to achieve a unique illumination of the particulate mechanism to integral organic revolution. Capra is an Austrian-American physicist and environmentalist, known for his classic The Tao of Physics. Luisi is an Italian biochemist, whose works are The Emergence of Life and Chemical Synthetic Biology. He founded “Cortona Week” summer conferences to study “natural science and the wholeness of life,” while Capra leads the Center for Ecoliteracy in California. The outline covers four main aspects of The Mechanistic Worldview, The Rise of Systems Thinking, A New Conception of Life, and Sustaining the Web of Life.
Over the past thirty years it has become clear that a full understanding of these issues requires nothing less than a radically new conception of life. And indeed, such a new understanding of life is now emerging. At the forefront of contemporary science, we no longer see the universe as a machine composed of elementary building blocks. We have discovered that the material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships; that the planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system. The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain, but also the immune system, the bodily tissues, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system. Evolution is no longer seen as a competitive struggle for existence, but rather as a cooperative dance in which creativity and the constant emergence of novelty are the driving forces. And with the new emphasis on complexity, networks, and patterns of organization, a new science of qualities is slowly emerging. (xi)
Carr, Bernard, ed.
Universe or Multiverse?
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
The volume contains selected Templeton conference proceedings on the import of string-type physics theories which seem to imply a vast multiplicity of random cosmoses. Each cosmos, as it branches and bubbles into existence, contains an arbitrary set of basic parameters. Life and persons can only occur by a rare concatenation of favorable values. Yet this present universe which contains human beings to measure and cogitate has an uncanny fine tuning of crucial parameters. Whatever to make of all this in terms of an anthropic principle? The main players weigh in – 27 men and 1 woman (Renata Kallosh) – with Paul Davies is given the last word.
The most obvious way to establish a link between life and cosmos is to postulate a ‘life principle’ (or, extending this to encompass observers, a ‘mind principle’). (498) The assumption of a link between laws and product states such as life inevitably amounts to slipping an element of teleology into physics. This is very unfashionable, but I believe it is unavoidable if we are to take life and mind seriously as fundamental rather than incidental features of the universe. And the bio-friendliness of the Universe suggests that they are fundamental. (499-500)
Carsetti, Arturo. The Emergence of Meaning at the Co-Evolutionary Level. Applied Mathematics and Computation. 219/1, 2012. The author is a University of Rome philosopher of science and editor of the Italian Journal for the Philosophy of Science La Nuova Critica. The paper can be an entry to his prolific, innovative scholarship, and appears in a special issue “Towards a Computational Interpretation of Physical Theories” (search Calude). It proceeds to describe a complexifying cosmos as an oriented procession of organizing, articulating, and recognizing itself. Google the author for his website and other writings such as his 2010 edited volume Causality, Meaningful Complexity and Embodied Cognition (Springer). In that work, his chapter “Knowledge Construction, Non-Standard Semantics and the Genesis of the Mind’s Eyes” waxes in similar fashion. Carsetti’s writings are typical of this interdisciplinary endeavor which tends to dense prose that can becomes its own end, not yet engaging a greater, existent creation. But true to his Romanic roots (search Dowek also) he casts back four centuries (second quote) to compare Galileo’s prescient paean with our late generative, algorithmic nature.
At the biological level what is innate is the result of an evolutive process “programmed” by natural selection. Natural selection is the coder (once linked to the emergence of meaning): at the same time at this level the emergence process is indissolubly correlated to the continuous construction of new cognitive formats in accordance with the unfolding of ever-new mathematics, a mathematics that necessarily moulds coder’s activity. Hence the necessity of articulating and inventing a mathematics capable of engraving itself in an evolutive and self-organizing landscape. In this sense, for instance, the realms of non-standard models and non-standard analysis represent, today, a fruitful perspective from which to point out, in mathematical terms, some of the basic concepts concerning the articulation of an adequate intentional information theory. This individuation, on the other hand, presents itself not only as an important theoretical achievement but also as one of the essential bases of our very evolution as intelligent organisms. (Paper Abstract, 14)
A Singular Universe of Many Singularities: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context.
Eden, Amnon, et al, eds.
The Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment.
Berlin: Springer, 2013.
The Harvard astrophysicist and author contributes an invited, big scenario for this volume of some features and many worries about a looming “artificial posthuman superintelligence.” This chapter, and whole book (search), then proceeds to encapsulate our Ptolemaic quandry. A multi-media educator about earth, life, and human in a dynamic cosmos, Chaisson favors energy flow as its prime, metric force, other writers tend to an informational vector. Although a nonequilibrium thermodynamics is said in play, which spawns emergent complexities, the nonlinear systems turn is not taken. An Arrow of Time appears shot from an initial singularity across physical, galactic, biological, lately cultural expanses and phases, from universe to us. But the author demurs that it has no intended target, as the third caveat quote.
Nature’s myriad complex systems—whether physical, biological or cultural—are mere islands of organization within increasingly disordered seas of surrounding chaos. Energy is a principal driver of the rising complexity of all such systems within the expanding, ever-changing Universe; indeed energy is as central to life, society, and machines as it is to stars and galaxies. Energy flow concentration—in contrast to information content and negentropy production—is a useful quantitative metric to gauge relative degree of complexity among widely diverse systems in the one and only Universe known. Accelerating change is supported by a wealth of data, yet the approaching technological singularity of 21st-century cultural evolution is neither more nor less significant than many other earlier singularities as physical and biological evolution proceeded along an undirectional and unpredictable path of more inclusive cosmic evolution, from big bang to humankind…. Nor is new science (beyond non-equilibrium thermodynamics) necessarily needed to describe cosmic evolution’s interdisciplinary milestones at a deep and empirical level. Humans, our tools, and their impending messy interaction possibly mask a Platonic simplicity that undergirds the emergence and growth of complexity among the many varied systems in the material Universe, including galaxies, stars, planets, life, society, and machines. (Abstract)
Epic of Evolution.
New York: Columbia University Press,
Astrophysicist and author Chaisson updates his grand scenario of cosmic development from a singular beginning through particle, galactic, stellar, planetary, chemical, biological, and cultural epochs to our penultimate moment of self-recognition. If humankind can intentionally achieve a sustainable peace and planet, a radical new Life Era can begin. But as tacitly within the old mechanical model, an imagination of a greater genesis does not creep in, the question is never broached. What is Eric’s epic, its narrative story, plot and point. (Bill Bryson’s popular A Short History of Nearly Everything has the same deficit) Many pages of one thing after another, Darwinian selection rules, nothing is really going on. The ratio of men to women in the brief bibliography is a typical 30:1, might it be that a feminine right brain is absent, so long excluded, which could indeed witness animate patterns and purpose?
We elucidate the modern paradigm of cosmic evolution – an astrobiology, a cosmogenesis, a whole new scientific philosophy – whereby changes, both gradual or episodic, and generative or developmental, in the composition and structure of matter have given rise to galaxies, stars, planets, and life. (xv) ….our generation on planet Earth, along with any other neophyte technological life populating the Universe, stand on the verge of slowly becoming a meaningful factor in the future evolution of the universe. This is a transition of astronomical significance – a fundamental change from matter’s dominance to life’s dominance – indeed the dawn of the second great transformation in all of history. (436) And what we find, quite literally, is that we are more than products of the Universe, more than life in the cosmos. We are agents of the Universe – animated, cultural instruments commissioned by the Universe to study itself. (442) Together with our galactic neighbors, should there be any, we may eventually gain control of the resources of much of the Universe, redesign it to suit our purposes, and, in effect, ensure for our being a sense of immortality. (442)