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Satyavarapu Gupta: on 2/21/17 at 3:30am UTC, wrote Dear Dan J. Bruiger, Thank you, It is thinking and Good policy.. Best...

Edwin Klingman: on 2/14/17 at 22:33pm UTC, wrote Hi Dan, You say "I think it is great that physics now takes an interest in...

Dan Bruiger: on 2/14/17 at 20:15pm UTC, wrote Hi, Edward Nice to meet up with you again! Thanks for your thoughtful...

Eckard Blumschein: on 2/13/17 at 7:16am UTC, wrote I would rather believe in theology again than in genuine teleology....

Edwin Klingman: on 2/13/17 at 6:19am UTC, wrote Hi Dan Bruiger, Contrasting 'random' and 'intention' (random = not...

Dan Bruiger: on 2/8/17 at 16:40pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr. Gupta, I do not advocate trying to program robots that...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 2/8/17 at 8:20am UTC, wrote Dear Dan J. Bruiger, Thank you for the nice essay. You analysed the FQXi...

Dan Bruiger: on 2/1/17 at 22:00pm UTC, wrote Hi, James I think you are quit right in your assessment and, yes, the...


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FQXi FORUM
February 21, 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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This essay's rating: Community = 6.8; Public = 6.4


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).

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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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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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