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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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George Gantz: on 4/12/17 at 11:31am UTC, wrote Thank you Georgina, for your kind words and excellent comments. Clearly, I...

Georgina Woodward: on 4/12/17 at 2:06am UTC, wrote A clearly written, accessible, essay. I like that you have presented your...

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George Gantz: on 4/8/17 at 13:54pm UTC, wrote Conrad - Thank you for your detailed review and comments. I agree we have...

Alexey/Lev Burov: on 4/8/17 at 5:31am UTC, wrote George, Congratulations! More at the coffee shop :^) Yours, Alexey.


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FQXi FORUM
December 16, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: The How and The Why of Emergence and Intention by George Gantz [refresh]
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Author George Gantz wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 17:29 GMT
Essay Abstract

Over the past few decades, considerable progress has been made in explaining how complex, intelligent behaviors emerge in dynamic systems. The overall architecture can now be discerned, although much work remains to be done on the particulars. At the same time, the question of why the universe works this way remains as elusive as ever. There is a direction to the process, and we do not understand the nature of that intentionality. We are left with contradictory hypotheses for why the universe is the way it is. Do you believe that what exists is fundamentally an expression of randomness within mathematical forms? Or do you believe in a cosmic intentionality that provides generative guidance for the emergence and evolution of our uniquely specified universe? I believe this question is, and always will be, from an empirical standpoint, undecidable. Yet our choice of answer is fundamental to how we think about the world and how we live in it. We had best choose wisely. I make an argument for cosmic intentionality.

Author Bio

George Gantz is a writer, philosopher and retired business executive with a life-long passion for mathematics, science, philosophy and theology. He has a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors Humanities from Stanford University, directs the Forum on Integrating Science and Spirituality at www.swedenborgcenterconcord.org and blogs on related topics. His essay The Tip of The Spear earned 4th place in the 2014 FQXi essay contest.

Download Essay PDF File




Ines Samengo wrote on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 18:39 GMT
Dear George, I just read your sunny essay. I search for knowledge when I read this forum, yet you made me joyful. Thanks for that! I must ask the question, however, even if it may sound bitter. If I get you well, you believe that from rational grounds, the answer to your main question is undecidable. Yet, you opt for conscious intentionality, as an act of free will (assuming there is such thing, which you seem to assume). Would it be a good summary to say that your choice is based on the fact that it makes you happier? That you do not want to represent the universe as purpose-less, in your mind, because that would mean choices are only illusory free, and therefore opt for the intentional alternative? Please let me know if I got you right. I myself argue that there are no goals per se, but that we choose to see them. Not exactly because their existence makes us happier, but rather, because their detection allows us to make predictions, and thereby, to be more fit to pass on our genes.

By the way... congrats for the grandson! You did succeed in passing on your genes - in combination with others. Whether your positive view of the world is causally related to such a success is another question (or is it the same question?).

inés.

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 00:48 GMT
Thank you inés. I'm glad my essay made you happy. Yes, I tend to be optimistic, but I believe the evidence for cosmic intentionality is very good, in fact compelling. But one has to be open to the idea. I quite agree that one can hold a rational and consistent belief in randomness, in which case one will also tend to reject or de-emphasize the evidence which I find so compelling.

Your comment about our choosing to see goals, which makes us more fit to pass on our genes, is interesting. I agree with you. I also see, in that statement, one small piece of the intentionality of evolution. Our universe intends us to be successful in anticipating the future and rewards us by passing on our genes. Over time, this leads to increasing knowledge, wisdom and mastery for the whole of humanity.

By the way, there is considerable evidence in recent psychological literature that those with a positive outlook tend to live more positive lives. This idea could lead us into a long discussion of Pascal's wager --- and whether evidence is mounting in favor of the choice he was arguing for.....



Ines Samengo replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 10:03 GMT
I fully agree with everything you say. Best! inés.

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Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 23:31 GMT
Dear George,

I enjoyed reading your poetic essay two years ago; it’s a pleasure to read your new text, both rational and spiritual. Pointing to the metaphysical choice between the fundamental chaos and intentionality, you state that the case is undecidable from the empirical standpoint and suggest strong argument for the intentionality on the ethical ground. Lev and I more than agree with your ethical reasoning, but we do not completely agree about impossibility to decide on the scientific ground. If you remember our two-year old essay, “Genesis of a Pythagorean Universe”, we showed there that the laws of nature are so specific, that only upper Mind can be their source. Briefly, we repeat this argumentation in our text suggested for this contest. However, we still agree that ethical argumentation is needed, since on the ground of the laws of nature one cannot tell why the Demiurge could not be sort of Descartes’ evil demon. Your essay presents the ethical argument in a new and interesting way, and we are giving you a high score.

Good luck!

Alexey.

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Author George Gantz wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 02:04 GMT
Alexey / Lev -

Nice to hear from you again. Ah, yes, the Demiurge strikes again. I enjoyed your essay last time and look forward to reading the new one.

I'll be most interested in seeing how you can sail the empirical arguments through the treaturous shoals between the rocks of Godel and QP. and to hear how the Upper Mind conceives of intentionality.

Cheers - George




James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 06:25 GMT
George,

"I believe this question is, and always will be, from an empirical standpoint, undecidable. Yet our choice of answer is fundamental to how we think about the world and how we live in it. We had best choose wisely. I make an argument for cosmic intentionality."

Your words perhaps indicate the inscrutability of this topic. My idea of a cosmic intentionality involves mindless laws furnishing restraint and direction for our daily flow of actions. Survival involves instinctive mechanisms for living and actually non-living things for physicists like Jeremy England. Goals arise in a decision context, according to Aristotle and we have a remarkably similar cycle of life, death and rebirth from molecular life to galaxies and the universe/s and metaphorical similarities between the human womb and the universe's womb.

I'm not really sure what your cosmic intentionality means, other than my rambling.

I would like to see your thoughts on my essay.

Jim Hoover

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 12:32 GMT
James -

As you say - "... our daily flow of action"

For every action there is intention. Without intention there is mere wandering, and the universe would go nowhere, or perhaps, according to the multiverse, everywhere.

Thanks for reading my essay. I look forward to reading yours!

-George




Harry Hamlin Ricker III wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 15:43 GMT
George, Nicely written, and thought out.

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 20:54 GMT
Thank you Harry. I look forward to reading yours when I have a chance!




Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 23:48 GMT
Dear George. I very much enjoyed reading your essay. Engaging, inspiring and a pleasure to read. I think you are pointing correctly at the gaping hole in science - one that includes the universe's global trajectory towards increasing complexity and at the same time our heartfelt desire for a better existence.

I think it is brave, too, to step out and say this in such an open way, as too often anything optimistic is seen as subjective bias, where pessimistic outlooks are seen as objective. (A correlation between pessimism and being a critic perhaps?)

I am interested in your differentiation between intentionality and agency. Can you enlarge on this at all?

Finally, I think you will find my essay "From Nothingness to Value Ethics" interesting. I am trying to turn the "gaping hole" issue I refer to into something more defined.

best regards, Gavin

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 01:43 GMT
Thank you Gavin. I look forward to reading your essay.

As I said in the essay, intention is a behavior (motion and direction) and agency is an internal conscious capacity, something we only observe in the case of our self. I think the case for intentionality in the universe is clear - that behavior is present and observed at all levels of creation and evolution. Addressing the question of whether there is agency behind it requires a leap of faith, as it were. That's a different kind of conversation for a different day.

Regards - George




William L Stubbs wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 21:51 GMT
George Gantz,

Your essay is interesting and has a sort of metaphysical feel to me, which, based on some of the other essays submitted, does not appear to be out of bounds for this competition. I noticed you tend to personify non-living systems, which, in my opinion, can make them appear to act with intent when, in actuality, they are at the mercy of their environments. This is something I touched on in my essay. For example, you say:

“… flowing water seeks out a stable structure …”

Perhaps it does “seek out,” but maybe it just settles into a stable structure that it had no choice in assuming. In another example, you say of emerging galaxies:

“The system searches through available configurations …”

with a goal of minimizing local entropy. Again, I wonder if the galaxy had no choice but to adhere to the configuration dictated by the laws of physics that applied to the various situations occurring within it.

I may be digressing into semantics here, but I do not believe that when the white billiard ball you speak of in your essay strikes the red one, it intended to strike it. Based on the physics of the situation, it had no choice but to strike it. If, given the physical constraints that should lead to a collision, the white ball somehow changed its course to avoid the red ball; that would signal intent on the part of the white ball, to me.

All this said, I believe I know what you were trying to say, and I think you did a good job of presenting your case. What I am struggling with is whether or not you believe mindless mathematical laws can give rise to aim and intentions; and if so, how? You likely covered this in the essay, but somehow, I missed it. If you could just briefly respond to this question, I would greatly appreciate it.

Regards,

Bill Stubbs.

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 13:20 GMT
Thanks, Bill. Good observations. Semantics are important in dealing with difficult questions. I tried to distinguish my use of the word “intention” from the more common meaning that conflates intention with conscious choice (agency). The billiard ball is not conscious. But it’s movement plays a role in moving the universe forward and, in my definition, demonstrates intention. I would also argue that as we drill down from the apparent determinism of classical physics into the quantum realm, or up into the dynamics of complex systems, it becomes clear that choices are being made manifest in the intention demonstrated at the system level. I do not claim these are necessarily conscious - that’s a different discussion.

To be clear, I do not think mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions. Mathematical laws do not act alone - they have to be activated by intentions. Mathematics provides permissible pathways for intentions to flows.

As to being metaphysical, I believe the FQXi questions (at least the three I have participated in) are fundamentally metaphysical in character, and answering them requires inquiry that extends beyond the empirical. This was a key thesis in my 2015 essay The Hole at the Center of Creation.

Regards - George



Joe Fisher replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 16:58 GMT
Dear George Gantz,

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

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

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 perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Author George Gantz wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 17:38 GMT
Thank you Joe for reading my essay - I look forward to reading yours.

I'm always wary of arguments that begin with that quote of Einstein's, an elegant variation of Occam's razor. Things can be made very simple by choosing not to see the complexity, by avoiding the nuance, or by relying on rhetoric. This was a key finding in my 2015 essay, The Hole at the Center of Creation. That said, while I am a big fan of infinity and zero, I really am not sure the one can stand alone........

Cheers - George




Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 14:00 GMT
Nice essay Gantz,

I am quoting few words from your essay……

Imagine 100 monkeys typing (presumably randomly) on 100 typewriters for a limitless period of time. Eventually, hidden somewhere in the seemingly endless streams of nonsense, they would produce a perfect replica of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. How can you tell the difference between nonsense and a work of art created...

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Author George Gantz wrote on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 14:36 GMT
SNP Gupta -

Thank you for reading my essay and for your remarks. I look forward to reading yours!

As for the 100 monkeys, please note that they type for a limitless period of time. Also, your probability estimate of 1 in 10^10^11 is still quite small compared to the number of quantum multiverses at 10^10^10^7.

Many blessings and good luck with your essay - George




Steven Andresen wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 14:21 GMT
Hi George

You messaged me earlier, me being the author for (Dirty Wet Chemical Universal Awakening) however I have been away camping and hadn't had opportunity to properly respond. I read your essay the other day while on camp, and so briefly revised it again just now. I much enjoyed your ideas, questionings and contemplation's and will be rating your essay generously, in the minutes...

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Author George Gantz wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 14:36 GMT
Hi Steven -

Thank you. I will take a look at your page and respond.

I admit that I intentionally (consciously!) ducked the question of "intellectual choosing" because of the quagmire that besets arguments concerning cosmic consciousness. The speculation that a direction / intention is at work in the evolution of the universe stands on its own and can be observed. The speculation that such intention is a conscious choice of some universal agent is rather more difficult to support and requires a significant leap of faith. This leap is compelling for some and anathema for others.

Cheers - George




Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 15:02 GMT
Dear George,

Very interesting and deep analytical essay. You give constructive concepts and ideas that will help us overcome the crisis of understanding in fundamental science through the creation of a new comprehensive picture of the world, uniform for physicists and lyrics filled with meanings of the "LifeWorld" (E.Husserl).

I believe that the modern "crisis of understanding" » (K.V.Kopeykin "Souls "of atoms and "atoms"of the soul: Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, Carl Gustav Jung and the "three great problems of physics"), «trouble with physics (Lee Smolin," The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next") I believe that the modern "crisis of understanding" is a deep crisis of ontology and dialectics. Your essay gives hope that we will still be able to unravel the "thought of the Creator before the Creation Act" and build a model of the "self-aware Universe" (Vasily Nalimov) . My high score. I invite you to read and evaluate my ideas

Yours faithfully,

Vladimir

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 17:17 GMT
Thank you, Vladimir - I look forward to reading your essay. What an immense breadth of ideas we are all struggling with, eh?

-George



Vladimir Rogozhin replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 18:58 GMT
The winner of the Fields Award, Vladimir Voevodsky said well about the outcome of the "struggle":«… There is a crisis of world science. Real progress will consist in very serious fight of science with religion which will end with their integration. And do not punch my face.»

Cheers - Vladimir

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 22:56 GMT
Well said, although I would point out that It is only a fight to those who are entrenched in their respective dogmas. Humility and curiosity are the virtues to which we should aspire, and which may yet lead us to the integration that both Voevodsky and I foresee.

Regards - George




Richard J Benish wrote on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 17:50 GMT
Dear George,

The poetic flavor with which you've tied together and built up an image of a living, intentional Universe I found curiously comforting.

It's the kind of comfort longed for by Martin Fairweather, protagonist in John Updike's short story, The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe. Unfortunately, Fairweather accepts the 1998 supernova observations as sealing the fate of all life to a cosmic Big Freeze. He therefore finds no such comfort, but rather, sinks into an "estranging fever of depression."

Since you too appear to accept the basic assumptions of Big Bang cosmology, your warm and fuzzy poetry--much as I really do like it--runs into a seemingly fatal contradiction. The Universe evidently intends to permanently put out our candle's brief hour upon the cosmic stage. According to prevailing ideas, we're quite inevitably doomed. Not much love in that.

Nevertheless, I think the gist of your thesis may yet ring true, because I think the prevailing ideas are based on an utterly incorrect conception of gravity.

It is commonly believed that Einstein's theory has been well-tested on scales from mm to the Solar System. Over this whole range, however, resides a vast untested regime: The most ponderable half of the gravitational Universe, inside matter. Gravity may seem to be well-tested over the surfaces of massive bodies, but empirical evidence from below the surfaces of massive bodies is woefully inadequate.

My essay, Rethinking the Universe, draws attention to this empirical gap, as the idea of filling it arises by instinct from the perspective of an imaginary alien civilization who come to discover gravity for the first time. If their prediction for the result of the experiment (which is doable in an Earth-based laboratory or an orbiting satellite) is confirmed, the cosmic implications include an eternal, perhaps even living and loving Universe.

I hope you enjoy it.

Richard Benish

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 18:13 GMT
Thank you Richard - I will look forward to taking your essay for a ride when I have time!

I appreciate your comment. I would, however, suggest that the "fatal contradiction" you refer to is neither fatal nor disheartening. If the universe intended to snuff the candle, then why provide for dissipative adaption and the evolution of sentient beings?

There are contradictions, however! These are essential and unavoidable, a necessary feature of recursive functions and consciousness alike. This was the topic is my 2015 essay: your link text]The Hole at the Center of Creation But nothing to feel discouraged about - just curious and joyful!

Cheers - George



Richard J Benish replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 22:04 GMT
Dear George,

Life and consciousness clearly exist at the present moment. Playing Devil's Advocate, I would then argue that this is a marvelous stroke of luck. Given what is assumed to be known about our primordial beginnings (approximately infinite temperature and density) that this deathly state should, for the cosmic blink of an eye, give rise to all the wonders of conscious life is arguably a quite temporary fluke.

(Continuing as Devil): We may like to invent comforting stories to explain our existence and to animate that which is more reasonably regarded as lifeless stuff, but validating such stories with scientific evidence remains a rather wishful dream. This becomes all the more obvious when contemplating the eventual fate of the cosmos, as it asymptotically approaches zero temperature and zero density--forevermore.

(Exit Devil Mode): I disagree with this dismal prognosis because I think the "something [that] gets [and keeps] the ball rolling" is gravity; that, properly understood, gravity is what maintains (regulates?) the Universe at a constant temperature and density. I have a hunch that you will warm up to the "Rotonian perspective"--as presented in my essay, which explains this as a not only viable but testable alternative.

According to this view--if one is allowed to wax a bit lyrical--the Cosmic Background Radiation temperature may be thought of as the body temperature of a living cosmic organism that never dies. The life-giving mechanisms that you so eloquently described in your essay have always existed and always will.

Poetry rules! When backed by empirical evidence, words are not even needed.

Cheers,

Richard Benish

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 22:51 GMT
Thank you Richard -

Gravity is an EXAMPLE of intentionality, not the cause. Consciousness is not a stroke of luck - it is the final cause (teleologically speaking) to which the universe has been heading since the beginning...

Regards! - George




Richard J Benish wrote on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 07:55 GMT
Dear George,

I would not presume to know that there was a beginning prior to conducting a test of the gravitational interior solutions. Categorical statements about universal consciousness and gravity's role in it surely may need to be revised if it should turn out that prevailing conceptions of gravity and cosmology are deeply wrong.

When a test object is dropped into a hole through the center of a larger massive body, does it oscillate in the hole (standard prediction) or not ("Rotonian" prediction)? Do accelerometers tell the truth about their state of motion, or not?

It is not scientific to pretend to know the answers to these questions before actually doing the experiment. Sadly, this is the standard response to the proposal to conduct the experiment, even as the the idea has been on the books at least since Galileo 385 years ago. What we think we know about gravity derives almost entirely from observations over the surfaces of gravitating bodies. We are way overdue to fill the gap inside matter by at last bringing Galileo's proposal to fruition.

Among the many consequences---if the Rotonian prediction should be supported---would be radical changes in cosmology (and the occurrence of life therein) as argued above and in my essay.

Thanks for your good work.

Richard Benish

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Anonymous wrote on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 22:06 GMT
Hi George,

I like your essay and I like your positive philosophy. It is a much welcome counterpoint to that of Mad Max and his Minions. I wish I could be as gracious as you are....but I need to say it as I feel it. I do think emotion is a part of the mix of reality and is a strong factor in "choice".

For example: I posted on one of the minions blogs "your emperor is totally nude (in Italian)". This minion was a determinist but his emotion (or greed) caused him to delete my post (followed by my score plummeting). Was his choice determined by mathematics?

Do take a look at my essay, before "they" remove this post.

Thank you for your comprehensive, readable, and joyful essay.

Don Limuti

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Author George Gantz replied on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 22:34 GMT
Thank you Don - I look forward to reading your essay. Perhaps I just have a sunnier disposition than many - I do think civility and humor are a better way of getting a message across, but it can be hard not to "rise to the bait" as the saying goes.

Science does not do itself a favor when it is cloaked in arrogance and dismissiveness. But then, neither does religion....

Regards - George



Don Limuti replied on Mar. 23, 2017 @ 03:15 GMT
Hi George,

I could use some of your level headedness.

Don Limuti

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 17:43 GMT
I like this one a lot George..

I strongly agree with your notion of Cosmic Intentionality, although we may differ about its origin. I greatly appreciate that you avoided the view of entropy as disorder entirely, and I think this added to the clarity of your presentation of entropy-related points. Tending toward greater homogeneity is a more useful metaphor. I like the focus on non-linear phenomena driving complexity, and on minimization strategies selecting for islands of order within the parameter space. It suggests that optimization problems found in the Calculus of Variations are a major part of the activity of living beings to maintain a livable state.

I disagree strongly with the notion of the 100 monkeys on typewriters; I don't think they could ever write Shakespeare, for the same reasons I spelled out to DeDeo regarding Borges' example with hexagonal rooms. One needs to also apply some condition of directionality, because a purely random sequence will not duplicate all of the elements of properly structured syntax - no matter how many trials there are. In my essay, I argue that what accomplishes this is non-associativity in higher-d Maths. I relate the Octonions to the Reflexive Universe idea of Arthur Young, as a way to explain the emergence of consciousness.

I'll continue below.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 18:04 GMT
I like that you reject Reductionism as a default position..

I agree that bottom-up does not give the full picture, and that only a balance of top-down creativity with the bottom-up causality shows us the universe as it is. But my conversation with Tevian Dray at GR21 confirmed that there is a directional structuring in higher-dimensional Maths that even a lot of top experts fail to take into consideration. Arthur Young's work takes a process-theoretic view, and focuses on seven stage sequential evolution. This can be put into non-mathematical and personal terms, if the sequential levels of abstraction are strung into sentences.

One, open, as multiplicity and formless nothingness, finds peace in true relation and knows all as self.

A poem from the octonions... And I have several dozen more examples.

I like your inclusion of love and the notion it is universal. I think all living beings serve love on some level, but not all are aware of doing so; it appears that the ability to perceive and acknowledge love as a motivator is a hallmark of higher-evolved species and sentience. If one uses dictionary definitions, it is easy to show that even some rather barbaric acts satisfy the conditions of love service, but being conscious that love enters the picture seems to select for kindness over cruelty, as well as for cooperation.

So I find a lot to appreciate with this essay. While I am not in total agreement, you do hit the mark fairly often, and you are instructive about things that would otherwise be ignored - to our detriment. Thanks for sharing your insights.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 02:17 GMT
Jonathan-

Thank you for your detailed attention and kind remarks. I am presently in Colorado celebrating the birth of another grandson (one more beautiful reason to believe in love as primary intentionality), so a bit behind in my reading, but I will tackle your essay as soon as I can.

While I claim no knowledge of higher math beyond my academic studies, which ended in 1975, I am leery of any claim that math constructively imposes directionality --- except to the extent it has picked up the intentions of its observer/discoverers. I agree however, that there is mystery in math, as your quote suggests: "One, open, as multiplicity and formless nothingness, finds peace in true relation and knows all as self." This statement is quite consistent with the metaphysics of creation I explored in my 2015 FQXi essay The Hole at the Center of Creation. Something strange and mysterious happens when the One is distinguished from the void. At the same time, that distinction is not intention - it is the consequence of intention.

As for the 100 monkeys, let's let them keep typing. Perhaps we will eventually find out who is right...




Robert Groess wrote on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 20:51 GMT
Dear George Gantz,

Thank you for your lucid and upbeat essay. There are many things we agree upon and I am particularly intrigued by your perspective of whether intentionality can be recognized mathematically as a statistical anomaly (such as the group of monkeys on typewriters versus Shakespear himself). While I've heard this argument before, your essay has provided a perspective I did not have before. Thank you for that. I also wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your essay and have in the meantime, given it a rating too.

Regards,

Robert

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 02:28 GMT
Robert - Thank you, I have achieved my aim if I have given one reader a new perspective. Of course, the point of the 100 monkeys analogy was not to suggest we can tell the difference between mere randomness and intentionality on the basis of statistical tests. Any such distinctions become quite treacherous when we are dealing with infinity. Rather, the metaphor is simply trying to point out the absurdity of a metaphysical commitment to randomness. It's a terrible way to live - and a terrible way to think.

Many thanks - George




Graham Walker Cookson wrote on Mar. 31, 2017 @ 12:36 GMT
Mr. George Gantz

Great conclusion!

This essay provided evidence that cosmic intentionality is a reasonable, consistent and complete inference about why the universe is the way it is. We can see that emergent processes exhibit intention, that systems are attracted to particular states while component units behave collaboratively in selecting those states, and that the entire process across and within levels is reciprocal. These qualities define the operative cosmic principle as love. We have the opportunity to embrace and reciprocate this love, with gratitude, joy and delight, and to believe that we are a meaningful part of a grand purpose.

However, where in our current standard model of the universe is the structure required to support cosmic intentionality? I think a greater structure is required to support your idea of a cosmic intention. At the risk of sounding self-promoting, my Reflective Field Theory may provide such a structure. At least, it provides a starting point and structure to expand your ideas. I think you would find my essay Our Emergent Universe interesting. You have my vote of a 10, great explanation of the issues. Philosophical questions need to be addressed like, “Exactly where and how do laws of nature exert influence and order?” I think my model points in the right direction. I would like to read your reaction.

Thank you, Graham

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 02:40 GMT
Graham - Thank you for the vote of confidence and enthusiasm. I look forward to tackling your essay soon. At the moment I am in Colorado welcoming a new grandson - another fabulous reason to believe in the primacy of love as cosmic intentionality!

One of my goals in the three FQXi essay contest I have participated in has been to bring the philosophical issues to the fore. As Maimonides said: "he who wishes to attain to human perfection, must therefore first study Logic, next the various branches of Mathematics in their proper order, then Physics, and lastly Metaphysics." Math and physics, in particular, have failed to come to terms with the metaphysical implications of the end of the Newtonian worldview. See: http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2381

Regards - George




Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 02:00 GMT
Hi George,

Having enjoyed your previous fqxi essay quite a lot (Lev said it should've taken the first place), we've been particularly looking forward to our exchange in this round. So, this is just a little reminder, since the time for that is coming to a close. In that regard, your questions above aren't quite clear to us. Please feel free to clarify them on our page.

Good luck!

Alexey.

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 02:41 GMT
OK!




Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 07:28 GMT
Dear George Gantz

If you believed in the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, then your essay would be even better. There is not movable a geometric space, and is movable physical space. These are different concepts.

I inform all the participants that use the online translator, therefore, my essay is written badly. I participate in the contest to familiarize English-speaking scientists with New Cartesian Physic, the basis of which the principle of identity of space and matter. Combining space and matter into a single essence, the New Cartesian Physic is able to integrate modern physics into a single theory. Let FQXi will be the starting point of this Association.

Don't let the New Cartesian Physic disappear! Do not ask for himself, but for Descartes.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential in understanding the world. To show potential in this 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. After you give a post in my topic, I shall do the same in your theme

Sincerely,

Dizhechko Boris

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 03:29 GMT
Dizhechko -

Descartes is one of my heroes - I wrote a senior thesis on Descartes, Hume and Wittgenstein, but Descartes is the one who continues to fascinate and resonate. Have you read "Descartes Bones"?

I look forward to reading your essay!

-George



Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 08:42 GMT
Dear George Gantz,

Descartes I read a long time ago, when I was 20 years old.

In philosophy I was looking for an answer to the question: "What is the matter?" The answer I not found. Then I went to the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, which allowed me to say that space is the body of God who works wonders. Moving space-matter became the basis of the New Cartesian Physic, which explained the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of which force on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck’s constant to the speed of light.

This and other achievements make me ask you to help me to develop it further in FQXi. Rate my essay.

Sincerely,

Dizhechko Boris

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Wilhelmus de Wilde wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 15:26 GMT
Dear George,

You are a poet, from the flock of starlings , the dancing waves and shimmering surfaces, the sunflower's artihmetic, also the 100 monkeys (I should take a minimum of hundredthousand) and the cause that makes a ball rolling, all these examples are an everyday beauty inviting us to like our life.

Then you continue indeed as a poet: "Galaxies emerge in a cosmic...

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 03:25 GMT
Thank you Wilhelmus - Poetry (in prose form) is a vehicle to convey ideas that reason alone may not be able to convey. It is a beautiful and loving world to me. It was my intention to share this, and I am pleased that you like the effort.

I did read your essay - I did like the poetry of TS Total Simultaneity and TC Total Consciousness!

I wish you well in the contest!

-George




Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Apr. 3, 2017 @ 20:39 GMT
Dear George Gantz,

Thanks for a wonderful essay. My eyes watered at your description of the starlings, and related it to your bicycle racing days. "Wild and crazy fun." Today my wild and crazy fun is mental, but you reminded me of my younger, physical, days of wild and crazy fun.

You place things in perspective. The "crucial difference between intentions and agency. Intentions are behaviors that can be observed. Agency is a quality that must be inferred." Perhaps a slight redefinition of "intention", but the point is that agency must be inferred. Your 'Shakespeare in the monkey gibberish' nicely illustrates that, "it is correspondingly impossible to determine if this universe was written by randomness or by intention." That is key. So how do we decide? I address that in my essay, which I hope you will read and comment on. I loved your "Hole at the Center of Creation", but this year you have surpassed yourself.

You have probably the best thought I have found in this contest:

"The universe has given us life, beauty, joy and self-reflective consciousness – it has loved us. In turn, it is possible for each of us to reciprocate this love."

It is reciprocal. Your grandson "loves the world … and the world loves him back." And so for your new Colorado grandson (where my grandsons live.)

"Choose as you will, but I believe the Universe is meant to be lived in, to be explored, and to be loved."

Yours, in gratitude,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 03:27 GMT
Edwin - Thank you for the kind comments! I enjoyed reading your essay and found it profound and a bit beyond my technical capabilities to absorb completely. IT does look like you are doing well in the contest - good luck in the race to the finish!

-GEorge




Stefan Keppeler wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 14:00 GMT
Dear George,

the topic left room for interpretations, you went for the cosmic scale. You argue clearly, why you prefer to see intention whenever you have the choice. Your essay is nice to read and comforting. I like your pictures, especially the flocking of birds! Myself, I went for the question whether goal-oriented behavior on macroscopic scales is at all compatible with "mindless mathematical laws" on microscopic scales. I answer this question positively and I wonder whether you'd find this conclusion comforting. I'm leaning towards the naturalist side, in particular methodologically, but I also find joy and delight in exploring the universe. We started with different questions and cover different aspects of the topic, but concerning the attitude resulting from the choices you offer at the end of your essay, we do not end up all that different.

Cheers, Stefan

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 18:12 GMT
Thanks Stefan - I enjoyed your essay, which nicely threads the needle between intention as epiphenomenon and intention as a cosmic essential. I have always admired, but never fully accepted, compatibalist arguments. I suppose I'm just an absolutist at heart...

Cheers - George




Daniel de França Diniz Rocha wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 14:55 GMT
Dear George,

Thank you for the comment on my essay. Indeed there is a resemblance between your topic and mine. But I think while I went to a more evolutionary point of view, you went to a very beautiful poetic route. It indeed touched my heart seeing how, indeed, everything seem to self organized, despite the aparent lack of purpose in the universe, and that there is a sense of flow in all of that. This gives a reason to see purpose and not chaos to those who wishes to find a reason to exist, that our life has some value.

When you gave your grandsone as an example of the huge flow of love, as part of the universe's purpose in minimizing entropy, while exploring the environment, did made me a drop a couple of tears. It made me see through your eyes how something so simple can be an atom of the huge large scale principles of the universe.

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 18:19 GMT
Daneil - Thank you so very much for your kind remarks. I shed a tear writing about my grandson, too. Even better, I now have another grandson - one week old - and have been spending time with him as he slowly wakes to the wide world into which he was born. Yes, one can believe the world is deterministic, or completely random, or that our conscious sense of purpose, appreciation of beauty and experience of love is all epiphenomenal. But what a hollow waste that seems to be when we have the opportunity to embrace with all our hearts and our so very rational minds a delightful and joyous experiential and purposeful wonderland.

Many thanks - George




Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 18:43 GMT
Dear George,

Following up on your invitation to comment, I want to say first of all that I like your writing style, which is both friendly and economical. I know that your larger interest concerns the interface between science and religion (or spirituality), and I share that interest.

I find that the notions of ‘randomness’ and ‘intentionality’ are not well defined in the...

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 20:25 GMT
Dan - Thank you for the thorough read and excellent comments. I agree that one can perceive any particular event as random or intentional - but I do not agree that the difference is artificial or, as you seem to suggest, a matter of semantics. It is a real distinction that matters.

To be clear, my aim is not to reconcile emergence with the 2nd law in physicalist terms. I am rather, trying to highlight that the universal process of emergence points to causal influences extending beyond the physical, hence the increasing use of what you call "mentalist" terms. This is intentional on my part, as are the two stories that bracket the essay.

My definition of the word "intention" may be unusual, but it is critical to illuminate the correspondence of emergent processes across the spectrum of physical, chemical and biological systems. I left it to the end to connect the resulting flowing process across levels to a fundamental causal influence - love. This is, indeed, the "top." I am perfectly comfortably ascribing this causal "top," and the mathematical forms which constrain its flow, to divine influence - but I avoid using theological terms because of the antipathy that many have to religious language. Indeed, you suggest that such ideas would "no longer be science." I agree. The question posed in this contest in a metaphysical one. It cannot be answered from within science. See also my 2015 essay - The Hole at The Center of Creation.

Regards - George




Gary D. Simpson wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 12:54 GMT
George,

Hello again. As the contest is ending, I see that I have not commented or scored your essay ...

Flocking birds are amazing. In the Houston area, there are sometimes flocks as you describe. There are also migratory birds such as ducks that travel to and from the coastal area. They fly in V shaped flocks.

Monkeys and typewriters are a favorite topic for the question of randomness. In actual practice though, monkeys tend to hit a single key repeatedly and then make those screaming noises:-) A true random alpha-numeric generator might be a better choice for that example ... if there is such a thing. Once Shakespeare has been created though, you are correct in stating we don't know if it was intentional or not.

Many of the essays use the ideas of entropy and open & closed systems plus information. There might even be a consensus regarding these ideas..

The narrative of the billiard ball and the pool cue is good. A point that I don't think I have seen in any of the essays is the making and the use of TOOLS. A tool has no agency but its creator and its user certainly do.

The idea of an attractor in the solution space is presented in several of the essays. It seems reasonable to me.

Cooperation is definitely an advantage ... AND ... the ability to cooperate and the choice to cooperate are definitely signs of agency.

Regarding reciprocity, it seems like a reasonable idea. I believe that your essay is the only one that I have read that presents this idea. This allows a constraint to move up or down through the hierarchy to all the levels .... if we were in sufficient harmony with the universe, this might even be a way to have one's "will" expressed as an event.

All in all, this was an excellent effort on your part. Well done.

Best Regards and Good Luck,

Gary Simpson

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 14:38 GMT
Gary - Thanks for the thorough read and the kind remarks.

Good luck with the 5D's!

-George




Member Tommaso Bolognesi wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 14:32 GMT
Hi George (addressing both the cyclist and the grandfather),

very well written essay, well structured, a pleasure to read!

Now, following your comments in my page: if you wanted to really force me into one of the two branches of the choice:

1. Universe (or multiverse) from randomness within mathematical forms — intentionality as epiphenomenal, OR

2. Universe from...

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Author George Gantz wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 15:20 GMT
Tomas -

Thanks for the detailed response - is I am drinking my morning latte, I will pretend we are in a virtual coffee shop, intentionally sipping and conversing.

I'm wondering if one might make alternate choices in alternate contexts. For example, choosing (1) for its research implications reflects a reasonable intention to pursue intellectual challenges. This is, of course,...

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 10:16 GMT
George.

An excellent essay, interesting, beautifully written, original, easy to read and with a well argued hypotheses. They were the scoring criteria. But I struggled to rationalise it on first read so didn't comment until perhaps you'd read mine. I'm not sure if you have, but the second read was better, and it's time to chat.

First I firmly agree and conclude undecidability. But...

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 13:47 GMT
Peter (I assume Peter Jackson – it seems you may not have been logged in when you commented) –



Thank you for the careful read and excellent comments. Yes, I did read your essay – I found it difficult to follow but I am in general agreement with key points. Specifically, I would agree that “Nature may meet the conditions for a mathematical universe but it also does so for...

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 21:05 GMT
(sigh) Seems I may not have been fully logged in either... - George Gantz...




Michael Manthey wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 01:46 GMT
Dear Dr. Gantz -

Thanks for your comments over my way ["Causality and Teleology"].

Reading your essay felt like a humanistic version of my own views! What follows is headline-type description of this using your own [well-crafted] words.

"Do you believe that what exists is fundamentally an expression of randomness within mathematical forms? Or do you believe in a cosmic...

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 14:18 GMT
Michael -

Thank you for the detailed review and comments. Yes, there are many parallels between our theses (as well the theses of other essayists). This is one of the exciting things about the FQXi contests - probing the most difficult of questions with a community of excellent thinkers. The result is --- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

You suggest that your model accommodates the simultaneity of the "random" and "intentional" views of the universe. In one sense, I agree with you --- they do appear as two sides of the same coin. However I pose them as opposites in my essay, although the choice between them is indeterminate on the basis of empirical or mathematical investigation.

I do not see that gravity can connect the two. Gravity is, after all, one of the emergent features of our universe. Rather than being fundamental, I would suggest that it is consequential - an emergent property in spacetime that manifests but does not explain cosmic intentionality.

This is clearly worth further discussion --- but alas the contest is nearing an end!

Regards - George

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 14:19 GMT
Sorry - forgot to login. The prior comment is from me. :)




Bruce M Amberden wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 04:52 GMT
Hello George Gantz,

I very much enjoyed your essay; it’s an excellent, literary read. But I think that you assume too much. Given the empirical evidence to date, the universe behaves with mindless, chaotic, deterministic causality according to natural law. If the universe appears to expresses ‘cosmic intentionality’ – well, that is just us anthropomorphizing the universe. Being mindless, the universe isn’t even indifferent.

Causation is the realization that all events are the result of previous events according to natural law. Causation is not reductionist – if anything causation drives emergence and implementation. Determinism and free will are flip sides of the same coin. Free will is a consequence of top-down causation and the loose coupling between complex causal event chains. Both the universe and our minds are causally determined. If they were not, then both would be chaotic and incomprehensible. There would be no galaxies, stars, planets, elements, biology, or us. Without causality, the mind could not form coherent thoughts, as no thought could be the cause of another.

Causal, chaotic evolution is how life and minds with aims and intention arose. Random noise plus natural selection in a chaotic environment driving survival is the engine for the accumulation of complexity and emergence of life.

Intention and purpose are NOT epiphenomenal. A broad look at our accomplishments proves that it is not. Our purpose is our own to make.

As much as I admire your writing, and writing style, I do not think that you have proved your case.

Thanks for the good read.

Cheers,

Bruce Amberden.

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 14:30 GMT
Thank you Bruce -

In a way, your comment proves my point. If you restrict the admissible evidence to the empirical, then it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the universe is deterministic and that intention is anthropomorphic.

I do not see how that is consistent with your statement that intention is NOT epiphenomenal. Nor do I see how one can reconcile determinism and free will. They are not opposite sides of the same coin - the are opposing faces of two different and mutually exclusive coins.

But then again, we are al getting tired at the end of the contest I may be misrepresenting what you are trying to say.... If so, please forgive me.

Cheers - George




Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 08:37 GMT
Dear Sirs!

Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of Newton returned as the New Cartesian Physic and promises to be a theory of everything. To tell you this good news I use «spam».

New Cartesian Physic based on the identity of space and matter. It showed that the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of force which on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck's constant to the speed of light.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential for understanding the world. To show it, I ventured to give "materialistic explanations of the paranormal and supernatural" is the title of my essay.

Visit my essay, you will find there the New Cartesian Physic and make a short entry: "I believe that space is a matter" I will answer you in return. Can put me 1.

Sincerely,

Dizhechko Boris

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 14:42 GMT
Dizhechko Boris -

I did read your essay and found it very difficult to follow. One thread our essays may have in common is the sense that there is a "flow of force" active in the universe that gives rise to aims and intention. This is what I define as cosmic intentionality. My view is that this flow begins outside of space and time - I understand your view to be that this flow is space and time.

Best of luck - George




Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 15:53 GMT
Dear George,

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your fine and evocative essay. The problem seems to be that I’m stuck on the horns of your dichotomy. You ask in the Introduction whether I believe that existence is randomness within mathematical forms – I would say yes, at a physical level. But I certainly would not argue that intentionality is an illusion… quite a...

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 13:55 GMT
Conrad - Thank you for your detailed review and comments. I agree we have much in common. However, as I expressed in earlier comments, I am not I comfortable with a compatibalist perspective that both pure randomness and pure intentionality are simultaneously true. The principal reason is that, for me, the two perspectives have radically different implications for how we view our lives. In the face of my personal experiences, including joy, a sense of meaning, and the impulse to make a positive difference in the future course of the world, I see a metaphysical commitment to randomness (the driving force behind the multiverse speculation) as undermining and negative.

That said, I also recognize the potential confusion of cosmic intentionality with determinism. Part of the appeal of randomness is that it is anti-deterministic. For many, the concept of divine agency is tainted with deterministic undertones, and the sense that personal agency and free will is thereby undermined. There are answers to these concerns - but not in this essay contest.....

As I have said to others, I wish we could have to opportunity to sit down and talk about these ideas over a cup of coffee...... Last day - we are all tired!

Many thanks - George Gantz




James Gordon Stanfield wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 23:57 GMT
George Gantz,

Thank you for reading and commenting on my essay, and I would particularly like to thank you for the question about teleological bias (T-bias). This is a term that I am not altogether satisfied with. First off, the word teleological carries a certain amount of religious or spiritual baggage I wish to avoid. In its most basic definition, I intend it to convey the subjective...

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 14:12 GMT
Jim - Thanks for the detailed comments, and for the clarifications you offer. I agree with your remarks and the narrative of emerging sentience you offer, although we might use slightly different terms. However, my sense of emergence (and intention) extends to the inanimate world. I see the connections, interconnections and reciprocities crossing the life-nonlife distinction, as well as the life-concisousness distinction. It is all the same universe, and the same dynamic. It just looks different in the varying arenas .

Just as you are not entirely happy with the phrase "T-bias" I m not entirely happy with the phrase "cosmic intentionality". It is my best effort to name what I see as the consistent flow in the current of reality towards specific ends. Perhaps I should call this cosmic T-bias --- the universe is biased in particular ways towards particular ends: emergence; self-organization; complexity; life; intelligence; consciousness.

Sincere regards - George




Member Marc Séguin wrote on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 02:17 GMT
Dear George,

Your essay was fun and interesting to read. I really liked how you describe the "cascade" of the evolution of our universe at the top of page 2.

I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I agree that the ultimate questions about the fundamental nature of what we observe is basically undecidable (I gave the analogy of driving simultaneously on two interstate highways in my essay for the previous FQXi contest). I also agree with you that top-down causation and "reciprocal interactivity" are very powerful ideas that can help us make sense of the Universe.

In a model where our world is under the intentional control of a God, your hypothesis that God expresses his cosmic intentionality by "controlling" the outcome of quantum events is certainly possible. Of course, I will point out the standard "objection" to any God-type explanation: it just moves the "problem" one level up. The God level can use its intentionality to give purpose to our level, but then, what gives purpose and intentionality to the God level?

I also have some difficulty to understand your use of the word "love" in relation to intentionality or the "guiding" of the evolution of the universe. You seem to say that if an entity gives us something, that entity "loves" us... Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism "give" us light... do they love us?

I think you argue for your hypothesis in interesting ways, but I still think that we do not have to choose between (nihilistic) meaningless randomness or (unexplainable) godly love... there must be some middle ground, and I am searching for it via the co-emergence hypothesis that I defend in my essay.

The important thing is to keep on searching... I wish your essay does at least as well as last time!

See you around,

Marc

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 14:49 GMT
Marc - Thanks for the comment!

Your comment about "God-type explanations" moving the problem up one level is not limited to God-type explanations. Proving the consistency of arithmetic has a similar problem - one must appeal to an additional axiom (creating an arithmetic of one higher level) to prove consistency of the arithmetic below. The same problem exists in the justified-true-belief model of knowledge - one is inevitably engaged in an infinite regression of justifications in the effort to know that something is true. In one sense, "God" is a response to such dilemmas - an infinite frame within which the infinite nested levels can be contained. In theological circles, God is given "uncreated" status - "who is, and who was, and who is to be", or. more curiously "I am who I am."

You have grasped what I am trying to convey with the word love. At the level of conscious sentient beings, love is expressed and felt and reciprocated in behaviors that we can identify through our mirror neurons. We experience it ourselves, and we have the capacity to recognize it in other beings. And yes, it corresponds to the heat and light of the sun (for example). So, yes, in that sense, Maxwell's equations describe an act of love. Moreover, without Maxwell's equations, love among sentient beings would never exist.

So perhaps the cosmic interconnections will bring us together once this contest is over. We can share a plate of Oysters of Nothingness and play with the amusing and fantastic puzzles of the universe....

Regards - George

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Author George Gantz replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 14:51 GMT
Apologies - logged out. The above comment is mine. - George




Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 05:31 GMT
George,

Congratulations!

More at the coffee shop :^)

Yours, Alexey.

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Author George Gantz wrote on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 13:54 GMT
Conrad - Thank you for your detailed review and comments. I agree we have much in common. However, as I expressed in earlier comments, I am not I comfortable with a compatibalist perspective that both pure randomness and pure intentionality are simultaneously true. The principal reason is that, for me, the two perspectives have radically different implications for how we view our lives. In the face of my personal experiences, including joy, a sense of meaning, and the impulse to make a positive difference in the future course of the world, I see a metaphysical commitment to randomness (the driving force behind the multiverse speculation) as undermining and negative.

That said, I also recognize the potential confusion of cosmic intentionality with determinism. Part of the appeal of randomness is that it is anti-deterministic. For many, the concept of divine agency is tainted with deterministic undertones, and the sense that personal agency and free will is thereby undermined. There are answers to these concerns - but not in this essay contest.....

As I have said to others, I wish we could have to opportunity to sit down and talk about these ideas over a cup of coffee...... Last day - we are all tired!

Many thanks - George Gantz




Georgina Woodward wrote on Apr. 12, 2017 @ 02:06 GMT
A clearly written, accessible, essay. I like that you have presented your view as an option and not the certain truth. I also like that you have considered top down influence. I like the personal touches such as, how your grandson subjectively considers the World. I love watching starlings flock too. There were amazing displays in the evening where I grew up as a child. It is a lovely connection...

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Author George Gantz wrote on Apr. 12, 2017 @ 11:31 GMT
Thank you Georgina, for your kind words and excellent comments. Clearly, I am using the word "intention" with a different meaning - not representing the goal of a conscious agent, but representing the consequential outcome of what some might call the disposition of the system. The billiard ball is perhaps not the best example as it is most often an example of deterministic behavior in a classical system. If we consider this point in the contest of a dynamic system of flocking birds, we can see that the behavior of the system that emerges is intentional (in my definition) but not the goal of an agent, nor the directed outcome from the instincts of the flying birds.



In terms of top-down causation, we have an influence on the consequential outcome of a dynamic system - it is not found in the birds or in the constraints, but in the intention of the system. This is what some have labelled the generative cause (not dissimilar to Aristotle's final cause). This is not bottom-up determinism nor behavior confined by a set of constraints. It is something novel.

Sincere regards - George




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