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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Georgina Woodward: on 4/7/17 at 22:15pm UTC, wrote Hi Dan, I really like what you have presented. It is no nonsense, clearly...

Dan Bruiger: on 4/6/17 at 23:04pm UTC, wrote Sorry, Peter, I have now read your essay and posted a comment on your page....

Peter Jackson: on 4/5/17 at 17:12pm UTC, wrote Dan, 2nd read time. You didn't respond to my post above. I apologise I...

Dan Bruiger: on 4/4/17 at 19:31pm UTC, wrote Hi, George Thanks for your appreciation. I did accept your invitation to...

George Gantz: on 4/3/17 at 21:31pm UTC, wrote Dan - An excellent and well-crafted essay, thanks. You have done a much...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 3/18/17 at 10:17am UTC, wrote Hi DJB, I want you to ask you to please have a look at my essay, where...

Dizhechko Semyonovich: on 3/13/17 at 4:32am UTC, wrote Dear Dan J. Bruiger! I appreciate your essay. You spent a lot of effort to...

Don Limuti: on 3/12/17 at 8:11am UTC, wrote Hi Dan, I liked your essay and agree with its logic. I restate your...


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FQXi FORUM
August 22, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Causes, Goals, and Reasons: Clarifying the meanings of teleology by Dan J. Bruiger [refresh]
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Author Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Jan. 26, 2017 @ 20:19 GMT
Essay Abstract

Teleology is a nebulous and historically troublesome concept that still requires clarification. Some ambiguities in the target question are first noted, and then reformulated in relation to the key notion of agency. Genuine teleology is proposed as uniquely a property of agents, in contrast to varieties of apparent teleology, which involve projections by agents. The question of the mathematical description of goal-oriented behavior is explored.

Author Bio

Dan Bruiger is an independent researcher and amateur astronomer. He is the author of Second Nature: the man-made world of idealism, technology, and power (2006) and The Found and the Made: science, reason, and the reality of nature (2016).

Download Essay PDF File




Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 27, 2017 @ 17:38 GMT
Dear Researcher Bruiger,

Please excuse me for I do not wish to be too critical of your fine essay.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

One real visible Universe must have only one reality. Simple natural reality has nothing to do with any abstract complex musings about imaginary invisible teleology.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Erik P Hoel wrote on Jan. 27, 2017 @ 20:25 GMT
Thanks for the essay!

I like the review aspect of it, and its broad nature. I thought that you were right to ask: "Is the mathematical description of teleological behavior feasible?" You quickly answer in the negative, saying that "Yet, mathematical models are essentially simplistic, whereas nature is essentially complex—perhaps indefinitely so. The prospect of mathematically describing complex processes, leading from molecules to “aims” and “intentions”, is sufficiently daunting to warrant a negative appraisal."

But just because in general things are very complex doesn't mean there aren't simple and generalizable cases of it. Perhaps the mathematical description of teleological behavior in a human is completely impossible with current capabilities, but what of a bat, a bee, a cell, or artificial life and agents? You yourself say that a language of state-spaces and attractors exists - it seems to me that this should be the first place one looks for such a mathematical description, and there are artificial agents simple enough to make the attempt.

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Harry Hamlin Ricker III wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 14:52 GMT
Hi, Well written and I agree with the conclusion. More work needed to define the problem before jumping to a claimed solution..

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Don C Foster wrote on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 15:01 GMT
Dan,

I enjoyed reading your essay and found it very useful. You managed to unknot some long entangled abstractions and clarify the problem space. In particular, I was pleased with your adept deflation of the notion of determinacy; -- “Determinacy and indeterminacy are states of knowledge, not of nature.” You make a substantial argument to that effect, but actually, what was most enlightening was that I didn’t realize one was allowed to slay that particular dragon. It is still found tethered in the yard of some very astute physicists. I appreciated your general argument that it is necessary to distinguish between that which is mental and that which is physical. This is an essential bit of mental hygiene, but one that is difficult to maintain since the former arises from and is thoroughly engaged with the substrate of the latter.

As to “agency,” if you read philosophy on the subject, it feels like a game of golf without the holes. There is certainly clarity in attributing agency to autopoietic entities, yet there is utility in its usage by geologists, “canals carved by the agency of running water.” This roots the notion in a physical context as a more general principle. I noticed that you twice mention the logical possibility that the universe itself might be discovered to be autopoietic. That would be an interesting paradigm to shift.

Regards, Don Foster

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Author Dan J. Bruiger replied on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 18:11 GMT
Hi, Don

Thanks for your generous appreciation.

Just to note that by "agency" I mean original cause, whereas "canals carved by the agency of running water" would be an example of efficient cause.

cheers,

Dan




James Arnold wrote on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 21:34 GMT
Hello Dan

I especially like your critique of AI mysticism: “The programmer, not the machine, specifies the goals of the program.” I’ve been arguing that computers and robots are merely projections of agency as you define it, and that “artificial intelligence” (AI) should be de-mystified as “artificial expertise” (AE).

To the question: “How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?” you have essentially negated it with the thesis that it is intention which gives rise to mindless mathematical laws. And you ask, what gives rise to aims and intention, if it’s not mindless mathematical laws?

You answer is that “nature ‘programmed’ organisms to be self-programming!”, self-programming being what you associate with intention, which you ascribe to “agency.”

But with that answer it seems to me the essay, although very thoughtful and well-written, only begs the question with a different formulation: How can nature program (give rise to) self-programming? You’ve speculated that the cosmos might turn out to be self-organizing on large scales (which would make a metaphysical Nature an agency in your terms). But in positing a dualism of biological systems that manifest agency, and merely physical systems that don’t, you are left with a physical nature that is initially not self-programming, and only then, with the emergence on the microscopic scale of individual biological organisms (“the only agents we know of”), agencies that are. Hence, it seems to me, the fundamental question of how biological agency can arise from physical non-agency is left unresolved.

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Author Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 22:00 GMT
Hi, James

I think you are quit right in your assessment and, yes, the fundamental question remains unresolved.

cheers,

Dan




Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 8, 2017 @ 08:20 GMT
Dear Dan J. Bruiger,

Thank you for the nice essay. You analysed the FQXi question in a fine manner and went into Teleology and artificial intelligence to Robots. You are correct probably those robots will try to self program to fix their own aims…

But will that be a good process to program the robots that way? Will that be helpful or destructive…?

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Author Dan J. Bruiger replied on Feb. 8, 2017 @ 16:40 GMT
Dear Mr. Gupta,

I do not advocate trying to program robots that self-program. In fact I have written critically about the aspirations of "transhumanism" to create artificial autonomous beings. See my book "Second Nature: the man-made world of idealism, technology, and power" (2006)—also available at Philpapers as a downloadable pdf file.

Best wishes,

Dan



Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 03:30 GMT
Dear Dan J. Bruiger,

Thank you, It is thinking and Good policy..

Best Regards

=snp.gupta

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 10:17 GMT
Hi DJB,

I want you to ask you to please have a look at my essay, where ……………reproduction of Galaxies in the Universe is described. Dynamic Universe Model is another mathematical model for Universe. Its mathematics show that the movement of masses will be having a purpose or goal, Different Galaxies will be born and die (quench) etc…just have a look at the essay… “Distances,...

view entire post


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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 06:19 GMT
Hi Dan Bruiger,

Contrasting 'random' and 'intention' (random = not intended) is fascinating; I haven't seen it so stated before. And "determinacy and indeterminacy are states of knowledge, not nature."

I do agree that "mathematical laws cannot give rise to anything that other mathematics." And I am just to the second paragraph!

I haven't come across Bunge for some time, but...

view entire post


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Author Dan J. Bruiger replied on Feb. 14, 2017 @ 20:15 GMT
Hi, Edward

Nice to meet up with you again! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I have had a brief look at your essay and promise to comment on your page. One thing I immediately appreciated was your taking the care to define ambiguous terms, such as 'mind'.

I come from a different perspective, where I don't identify mind with consciousness (much of "mind' or "the mental" being unconscious). So, for me, the question of how the gnat flies and walks (i.e., its behaviour) is different than the question of what makes a creature conscious—or what is the specific role of consciousness for the organism. And so I am still interested in how a system aware of itself can emerge from physical principles—without assuming consciousness in the first place (a consciousness field). It strikes me as no easier to say how a neural structure interacts with a consciousness field (producing awareness) than to say how awareness arises in "dead matter" through Darwinian selection .

I think it is great that physics now takes an interest in consciousness, but the ideas I have seen proposed essentially bark up the wrong tree. I think physics will have to change, to allow a place for the subject alongside the object, before it will be able to find an objective explanation for consciousness.

cheers,

Dan



Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 14, 2017 @ 22:33 GMT
Hi Dan,

You say "I think it is great that physics now takes an interest in consciousness, but the ideas I have seen proposed essentially bark up the wrong tree. I think physics will have to change, to allow a place for the subject alongside the object, before it will be able to find an objective explanation for consciousness."

And you say "It strikes me as no easier to say how a neural structure interacts with a consciousness field (producing awareness) than to say how awareness arises in "dead matter" through Darwinian selection."

Having tried both approaches, I do think it's easier to assume that consciousness is inherent in the universe rather than an artifact. As I answered you on my own page where you asked "how neural nets "couple" with the consciousness field?"

In physics, "couple" means interaction or force. Typical forces are F=qE, the force on charge q of electric field E and F=mG, the force on mass m of gravity field G. So we might hypothesize F=iC, the force on intelligent substance i, of consciousness field C, however I reject the idea of "intelligent substance", i. So where do we go? If we look further we remember F= qE + qv x B. That is we include the force of the magnetic field B on charge current qv. So we might hypothesize F = mG + mv x C, for the force of consciousness field C on momentum mv. What momentum? The momentum of mass flowing in axons and across synaptic gaps. If one plays around like this, one might come up with very interesting results, including the fact that the field energy ~C**2 has mass equivalence and thus couples to itself. Try it. See where it takes you.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 07:16 GMT
I would rather believe in theology again than in genuine teleology. Nonetheless, I am looking for essays that are devoted to what is behind extremal principles.

Incidentally, concerning "The Found and the Made" I came by chance across a posting in sci.math that plausibly explained why both applies. It called "i" an invention. While I am not sure if this is correct, I suspect Pauli was wrong.

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Natesh Ganesh wrote on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 18:59 GMT
Dear Dan Bruiger,

Thank you for a wonderful essay. I truly enjoyed reading it and gained a better understanding of all the terminology that is sometimes loosely thrown around. It influenced my own entry in needing to focus on genuine teleology and using math, a product of human cognition as a tool to characterize it.

Natesh

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Member George F. R. Ellis wrote on Feb. 25, 2017 @ 15:44 GMT
Dear Dan J. Bruiger

great essay, getting at real issues of importance, and taking the philosophical context seriously. The kind of non-simplistic analysis we need.

Appreciated.

George Ellis

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Author Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Feb. 25, 2017 @ 15:53 GMT
Thanks, George

Coming from you, that is a most gratifying compliment.

Dan




Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 19:09 GMT
Dan,

Really good essay. I echo Georges comments. Conceptually built on the same footings as mine which I think you'll like, though I do get even more practical!

In particular I commend;

..the formation of the program itself can potentially be explained in causal terms, for example though natural selection of mutations.

While laws do not govern, a program governs because it is constituted to do so. In other words, while a law is an empirical generalization of observations, a program is a set of commands to achieve an end.

“mathematical laws” and “aims and intention” are compatible with each other insofar as they are alike expressions of human agency. But no further.

'...no aspect of nature can be exhaustively mapped'
.

I applaud you sir. I'll also be very interested in your understanding, thoughts and agreement of mine, which may be a little more intellectually 'testing'!

Very best of luck.

Peter

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Willy K wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 07:45 GMT
With regard to identifying intelligent systems, you suggest autopoiesis with the caveat that there is a resultant limitation that intelligent systems must be self-producing. I couldn’t help but wonder whether my measure for intelligent systems, nurturing capacity directed at the root element, would satisfy that criterion. I don’t think so, since it does not reproduce. On the other hand, it does self-maintenance rather well.

On the Cybernetics work you are referring to, my guess is that it must be Ashby’s Requisite Variety and Conant’s Good Regulator theorem. I am not mathematically informed enough to judge my work in terms of their scholarship, but I am fairly sure the system satisfies ‘homeostasis’ as a condition.

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Don Limuti wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 08:11 GMT
Hi Dan,

I liked your essay and agree with its logic. I restate your conclusion in everyday language as: I can choose but I hate to say it, you are a machine.

You may enjoy my exposition of this...so check out my essay.

I rate your essay as one of the best.

Don Limuti

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 04:32 GMT
Dear Dan J. Bruiger!

I appreciate your essay. You spent a lot of effort to write it.

If you believed in the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, then your essay would be even better. I invite you to familiarize yourself with New Cartesian Physic

I wish to see your criticism on the New Cartesian Physic, the founder of which I call myself.

The concept of moving space-matter helped me:

- The uncertainty principle Heisenberg to make the principle of definiteness of points of space-matter;

- Open the law of the constancy of the flow of forces through a closed surface is the sphere of space-matter;

- Open the law of universal attraction of Lorentz;

- Give the formula for the pressure of the Universe;

- To give a definition of gravitational mass as the flow vector of the centrifugal acceleration across the surface of the corpuscles, etc.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential in understanding the world. To show this potential in essay I risked give «The way of The materialist explanation of the paranormal and the supernatural” - Is the name of my essay.

. Visit my essay and you will find something in it about New Cartesian Physic. Note my statement that our brain creates an image of the outside world no inside, and in external space. Hope you rate my essay as high as I am yours. I am waiting your post.

Sincerely,

Dizhechko Boris

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George Gantz wrote on Apr. 3, 2017 @ 21:31 GMT
Dan - An excellent and well-crafted essay, thanks. You have done a much better job than most at carefully defining your terms and constructing your arguments. I agree with most of your definitions, but am not fully convinced of your conclusion that goals are only to be found in autopoetic systems. However, we do agree that math will never capture the full complexity of the natural world.

I was intrigued by your comment that "nature programmed organisms to be self-programming." The follow-up question (and a theme in my essay The How and The Why of Emergence and Intention) is what programmed nature (e.g. Why is the world the way it is). I'd appreciate your thoughts if you have a chance to read it.

Cheers- George Gantz

“programmed” organisms to be self-programming

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Author Dan J. Bruiger replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 19:31 GMT
Hi, George

Thanks for your appreciation. I did accept your invitation to read and comment on your essay.

'Nature programming organisms to be self-programming' sounds obviously a bit paradoxical. Perhaps it would have been better to say 'nature programming itself to be self-programming'! In any case, there is no need to separate the cosmos into distinct agents, such that one programs another. The challenge is to show how self-organization in the whole can lead to apparent teleology and intentionality in the parts.

cheers,

Dan




Peter Jackson wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 17:12 GMT
Dan,

2nd read time. You didn't respond to my post above. I apologise I can't now recall if you read & posted on mine as I've been a bit swamped. None the less I think yours should certainly be up in the 5's and am scoring it now as time is now short.

If you haven't read mine I hope you get to do so and comment.

Best of luck

Peter

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Author Dan J. Bruiger replied on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 23:04 GMT
Sorry, Peter, I have now read your essay and posted a comment on your page.

Best wishes,

Dan




Georgina Woodward wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 22:15 GMT
Hi Dan, I really like what you have presented. It is no nonsense, clearly and efficiently expressed. Addressing the competition theme, and some of the suggested questions, with sound arguments. Very well done, regards Georgina

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