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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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Peter Jackson: on 4/7/17 at 10:46am UTC, wrote Kigen, Many thanks. I agree there's more to a mobius strip than we...

Kigen Ekeson: on 4/6/17 at 14:35pm UTC, wrote Dear Peter, Thanks for the good words and score boost. I sure could use...

Peter Jackson: on 4/5/17 at 20:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Kigen, I found that a beautifully written essay, interesting,...

steve krieger: on 3/21/17 at 11:57am UTC, wrote Hi Kigen, I was deeply impressed by your essay, which presents a paradigm...

Kigen Ekeson: on 3/13/17 at 17:20pm UTC, wrote Dear Karl, Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. To answer your...

Karl Coryat: on 3/13/17 at 4:17am UTC, wrote Hi Kigen: I found your essay to be quite brilliant — clearly written,...

Kigen Ekeson: on 3/5/17 at 10:09am UTC, wrote Dear David, Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on...

David Cosgrove: on 3/5/17 at 2:14am UTC, wrote William, I found your essay very interesting and quite thought provoking. ...


Steve Dufourny: "Hi Georgina and Mr Sturm, Mr Sturm , sad that you have a problem with..." in The Present State of...

Deserdi Chapas: "Hi FQXI Members: We found the courage to asymptotically take one step..." in Alternative Models of...

Georgina Woodward: "I'd like to share with you a thoroughly revised version of the shorter..." in The Present State of...

Steve Dufourny: "I have improved a lot this theory of spherisation withe quantum and..." in Alternative Models of...

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The Entropic Price of Building the Perfect Clock: Q&A with Natalia Ares
Experiments investigating the thermodynamics of clocks can teach us about the origin of time's arrow.

Schrödinger’s A.I. Could Test the Foundations of Reality
Physicists lay out blueprints for running a 'Wigner's Friend' experiment using an artificial intelligence, built on a quantum computer, as an 'observer.'

Expanding the Mind (Literally): Q&A with Karim Jerbi and Jordan O'Byrne
Using a brain-computer interface to create a consciousness 'add-on' to help test Integrated Information Theory.

Quanthoven's Fifth
A quantum computer composes chart-topping music, programmed by physicists striving to understand consciousness.

The Math of Consciousness: Q&A with Kobi Kremnitzer
A meditating mathematician is developing a theory of conscious experience to help understand the boundary between the quantum and classical world.

January 29, 2023

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Telos and Complexity by Kigen William Ekeson [refresh]
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Author Kigen William Ekeson wrote on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 21:45 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay will present a new way to think about the natural world and the nature of telos using complexity. It is intended as an extended thought experiment: a chance to hypothetically wander “outside the box” of our current paradigms. In order to begin, I will first present a diagram suggesting a causal “common denominator” between all phenomenal conditioned states. In order to do this I will introduce ideas of the philosopher Nāgārjuna, and then develop a general model of causality, based on conditionality. From there, I will develop a topological hierarchy whereby distinct categories of natural phenomena are modeled according to their relative complexity. I contend that it is only in doing so that the function of telos can be convincingly discretized and defined relative to other phenomena that exhibit no teleological properties. I will then show how both quantitative and qualitative modes of describing conditioned states arise as expressions of teleological function. I will conclude by summarizing some of the broad implications of what the entire model suggests regarding telos and the human condition.

Author Bio

Kigen William Ekeson is a teacher and student of Buddhist Philosophy, as well as a fascinated spectator of ongoing evolutions in the Philosophy of Science. He currently resides in Vienna, Austria.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 27, 2017 @ 21:08 GMT
Dear Ekeson,

Thank you for the nice essay on “ a general model of causality, based on conditionality and reality “

Your observations are excellent, with so many nice explanatory illustrations… very nice, for example your words..

“Ours is a universe of complexity, and telos is its highest expression. In order to show how this is indeed the case, a broad model of...

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Joe Fisher wrote on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 16:27 GMT
Dear Kigen William Ekeson,

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.


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David C Cosgrove wrote on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 02:14 GMT

I found your essay very interesting and quite thought provoking. Despite our ways of looking at things (e.g. regarding the fundamental form of universal reality) being qualitatively rather different, I think there could be a fair amount of philosophical commonality between our proposed world-views, esp. in various respects…

E.g. you discuss the constancy of the speed of light (being possibly related to a fastest rate of fundamental change) and reasons for its universal nature – a topic I have often wondered about. And my rough operating hypothesis is perhaps not all that disconsonant with your proposition – where I wonder if the speed of light limit is related to the minimum information transmission time possible between fundamental ‘beables’ (that encode the messages passing along them, akin to cellular automata, of which I imagine our macro-reality is composed?) of a presumed pre-space.

Your hierarchy for different levels of complexity also seems to have relevance towards another question I often wonder about, “Why is every electron fundamentally identical in nature? “

Who told the universe (at the apparently wide-spread macro level) how to make them (and each photon, proton, quark etc) all the same?

In my picture, this could be a consequence of our (partially non-local) macro-level reality being dependent on the (fully local) lower-level structures of pre-space. That is, every ‘fundamental’ particle at our level (such as an electron) is the result of a basic, singular piece of information/code (subsequently transmitted and/or copied) on the underlying patch of pre-space (i.e. a patch using algorithms that have successfully preserved enough basic structure, from elemental change, to lead to universes like ours).

I will have to think further about some of your descriptions, and what implications they might have for my own perceptions of fundamental issues…


David C.

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Author Kigen William Ekeson replied on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 10:09 GMT
Dear David,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my essay. I've spent so many years working on the ideas, that it's a bit of a kick in the butt to not even warrant a valid negative criticism from anyone on here. That you at least found some 'food for thought' has made my day.

Yes, I agree that we both seem to be sniffing in similar directions...that everything is locked into 'change' and information is the key. That's why i found your essay worth reading and commenting on. As I mentioned in my comment to you, I just hold that there is a fundamental algorithm. Of course, things get really interesting once begins to think about the implications of such an algorithm. Still, I see your approach in starting from a 'turbulent sea of fluctuation' as certainly worthy of consideration and will be returning to your essay for another look.

Thanks again and best of luck.



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Karl H Coryat wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 04:17 GMT
Hi Kigen:

I found your essay to be quite brilliant — clearly written, smoothly flowing, and well-researched. If I had a criticism, it's that you had too much ground to cover in only 9 pages (I too suffer from the same problem in these contests). I especially appreciate that you brought Eastern natural philosophy to bear on the current problems with Western natural philosophy, without sacrificing rigor.

I love that you describe the speed of light as the fastest rate that any cycle of change can occur. This shares obvious connections with the Planck constant as the smallest length (time, etc.) that can be measured in principle. Wheeler's "it from bit" essay urged unification of c and h — and I think you've found a way to do it.

I notice that you place advancing complexity as happening between polarization and unification phases. Are you familiar with cellular automata? These experiments find that complexity happens in "finely tuned" regions between order and choas, which could be represented in your models as polarization and unification, respectively. I discuss CA's on p. 253 of my book "The Simplest-Case Scenario" (, which is based on a previous prize-winning FQXi essay.

I'd like to ask, where does technology fit into your picture? Is technology capable of fourth-order complexity? I think there's something to be said for the fact that we humans create technology and thereby breathe ourselves into it in some respects, in ways that don't happen in the inanimate natural world.

I really enjoyed your essay, so best of luck in the competition!

Karl Coryat

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Author Kigen William Ekeson replied on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 17:20 GMT
Dear Karl,

Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. To answer your question about where technology fits into the picture, in my scheme of things, the fourth-order agency is not limited to a central agent. That is, the “agency-context” is system-wide a description that transforms/compounds lower-or-like order complexities (either intrinsically or extrinsically) into its own inner and outer content. Thus, if we would like to make a difficult calculation, we can create and use a computer in order to help us to do so.

If we would like to connect our inner and outer environs by moving dirt, we can create mechanical extensions (e.g. bulldozers) to do just that. Things really get interesting we incorporate other human fourth-order complexities (or their corresponding extensions) into our own agency-context. In such instances, family, society, economics, religions, et al, all become part of our own content. All of these ‘technologies’ are thus always oriented to the ultimate survival of some specific central inner/outer agency-context but in so doing, multiple discrete centers-of-agency necessarily overlap and are co-transformed into each other’s fourth-order agencies.

So, the short answer to your question is that fourth-order agency-contexts necessarily include any and all technologies that they either create or are exposed to, either consciously or unconsciously, as part of their fourth-order content.



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steve krieger wrote on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 11:57 GMT
Hi Kigen,

I was deeply impressed by your essay, which presents a paradigm shift in our thinking around consciousness.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 20:22 GMT
Dear Kigen,

I found that a beautifully written essay, interesting, original, nicely thought out, set out and argued and very well illustrated. It hits all the 'scoring criteria' well, and as all theories should be explored and presented is as valid a proposal as most here.

Going beyond the scoring criteria I have to admit that I remained unconvinced by most, but only because I've seen or explored conflicting theories which appear far more consistent with logic and available evidence.

For instance intrinsic agency is a convenience only leading to infinite regression, where complex particle interactions can be (and are in essays here) shown able to produce the 'courser grain' effects.

Then 'entanglement' can also be shown to be classically derivable, simply(ish!) from a Maxwell momenta not employed in QM's formulation (see my essay and video, a quick glimpse from which is here; 100sec snippet.).

None the less, good essay, currently undervalued so a bit of a boost coming. Do challenge or question any of the above or my own essay.

Best wishes.


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Author Kigen William Ekeson replied on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 14:35 GMT
Dear Peter,

Thanks for the good words and score boost. I sure could use it!

Thanks also for your criticisms. I read your paper and checked out your video. I must admit that as a layman, a lot of the second half of your paper was a bit hard to follow. Still, i really liked your 'spinning globe' analogy. Actually, I think that the same elements modeled by your spinning globe can also be identified in my own Mobius strip model, i.e. the rotating equator=polarity and the poles = unification. I found the Mobius model useful as, being a 2d object, it allowed for the evolution of the system (to a 3d Kline bottle) to also be modeled.

About intrinsic agency leading to an infinite regression...

This is only the case when one assumes/searches for some foundational unconditional entity. My view is that there is no such unconditional entity, at any level of granularity. Rather, the Cosmos is simply a/the vehicle through which the undeniable phenomena of Complexity is expressed. There is nothing that comes about and persists apart from some defining relationship(s). Therefore, if the relative degree of complexity is the only true variable defining micro, macro, and teleological phenomena, then such orders are in fact discrete and do not regress. That is, the freely moving electron exists in a universe corresponding to its own level of complexity. So too the rock or the human.

Thanks again for your critique.

Best of luck in the contest.


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Peter Jackson replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 10:46 GMT

Many thanks. I agree there's more to a mobius strip than we realise. The edges trace the 'twin helix' path of a pair of orbiting charges translating for one thing, which is an adopted model of light in photonics. It also then seems part of the answer for the apparent charge parity anomaly. !f you like video's check this one out which includes it, as well as deriving cosmic redshift without accelerating expansion!. VIDEO .

The point about agency is that we don't have to 'assume' or 'search' for anything, we simply can't avoid it unless we leave reality and go off into metaphysics! That's easy, but gets us nowhere, There's even a 'serious' professionals QG essay here invoking 'The Force' from Star Wars! I don't mind using imagination and thinking outside all possible boxes, but when a real physical solution appears and is available!....!! Wouldn't you choose that too?

Actually I do support an analogy of your hypothesis; Dark Energy as simply a smaller state than condensed matter, so a 'condensate'. It's density distribution is seen as 'gravity'. That has good evidence. We well know it's energy from atomic and other physics, and that it's most of the energy of the universe! I can't then rule out that 'below' the quanta my essay decodes is something with some capacity for Qualia memory or interaction.



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