The Snowflake Forum
A dialog, forum, editorial page of the
Including a report of the 2004 Winter Chaos Conference held
March 12-14 at the Country Estate of Jeffrey Goldstein
Convergent or Divergent?
Mathematics of Archetypal Dynamics
Emergence Inspired Metaphysics
Reframing Teacher Preparation
Perceptual Phenomena &
Toward Nonlinear Curricula
Biological Systems & Entropy
Information as Dynamics
Other participants: Matthijs Koopmans, Ira Trofimova, Jennifer Drury, Bob Eldridge, and Neil Edwards
Could not attend: Dick Bird, Jerry Chandler, Ben Goertzel, Rick Paar, and Don Booker
This edition of the forum also includes some dialogue preceeding 2004 conference.
I hadn't been thinking too concretely about a theme, but now that I think of it, a debate between Frank and me would be highly entertaining — no matter what the theme! Speculating freely: How about a debate on the nature and dynamics of human unhappiness? Each of us gets a certain period of time to present our perspective individually, and then the debate ensues...
My perspective will involve outlining the difference between
* the structure/dynamics of a human mind
* the hypothesized structure/dynamics of an AI mind, which will be free from most of the problems that make humans unhappy
Of course, attractors and other chao-concepts will come up along the way.
Frank's perspective will involve: well, you know what Frank's perspective will involve ;-)
I just thought of this about 3 seconds ago, but at the moment, it sounds like it would be a lot of fun.
Of course, Frank and I don't really disagree particularly intensely about anything, but the debate format would be good theater!
Ah ... Generalissimo Franco ...
In my ancient tome "Chaotic Logic", in the chapter on Belief Systems, I try to tackle the problem of distinguishing a high-quality belief system from a low-quality belief system, based on some notion other than "agreement with an objective reality". Partly inspired by the ideas of Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (who you must be familiar with, Frank, being a former Russian lit prof), I introduce the notion of the "dialogicality" of a belief system --- the extent to which a belief system engages in a genuine two-way conversation with the outside world, listening to the outside
world and adapting itself accordingly in significant ways. (I introduce some formalism to capture this notion as well, though the formalism strikes me as only semi-convincing at this point.) This of course pertains to Bohm, who spoke about "Thought as a System" (do you know that book of Bohm's, Frank? That is probably the clearest expression of Bohm's purely philosophical ideas, apart from quantum-physics metaphors).
Much of the cause of human unhappiness, in my view, is a lack of dialogicality in our belief systems about ourselves, and in our "Thought Systems" more generally. The reason for this lack of dialogicality was identified by Freud as being largely sexual in nature -- and while Freud overstated the role of sex a bit, what he had right was that it's our
hard-wired biological imperatives that push our belief systems to be so monological. In short, it's the fact that we're still basically animals, with drives for sex and status and so forth overwhelming everything (most of the time) when push comes to shove.
AI's will not have this issue. AI's will have complete ability to rewrite their source-code, and software tools for studying the internals of their mind (leading to far more detailed self-understanding). If an AI says, "Gee, I wish that events of type X didn't upset me so much" then, it will be able to — within certain constraints — tweak its code and/or its knowledge-and-habit-base so that events of type X don't upset it so much. If it says, "I wish I enjoyed Y more", it will be able to enable this. Bing! Bing! Bing! Result? AI's will have much more dialogical belief systems, because the rigid evolutionary wiring that stands in the way of this in humans, will have no analogue
of AI's will be able to share portions of their minds with each other, ergo the
distinction between "society" and "individual" that we
humans conventionally make will not be so pertinent. It'll be a big bad mind-continuum, neither social nor individual,
but both and neither. A
"mindplex", to use a word coined by my friend Eliezer Yudkowsky
earlier this year (http://www.goertzel.org/dynapsyc/2003/mindplex.htm). Now *that's* dialogical...Ben,
I am open to all suggestions. One of the themes I have been working on is creating a bridge between my own work, which is focused primarily on individuals, and David Bohm's work, which is focused primarily on groups. Basic notion is as Bernstein and Gadamer note that "humanity is ontologically dialogical." Krishnamurti notes that "to be" is "to be in relation" a notion forwarded by Buber and others of course. More fundamentally, I might assert is that this quality of dialogicality is a pattern throughout reality, with perhaps some metaphorical stretching [an art that I am not unknown to apply :-)]. Relativity is an example of 'dialogical" activity with the relationship of mass and gravity. Even the core notions of network theory, now so popular it seems, is founded on a duality of 0,1. Of course I can hear Ben "raving" :-) in the background that this is a perfect of example of the old anthropic scam of prioritizing human consciousness, because actually dialogue should be a mere subset of network theory, not an organizing principle of same, ah but I am an anthropic reprobate and in any event all those 0,1's don't have much to say until they [if they ;-)] conflate into the stringy harmonies of something like human consciousness anyhow. So there :-). But seriously, if that is possible, the notion of happiness as a being with self, first [in ontological sense only] and others in a way that is deeply consonant with that dialogical rhythm of the truth
of being is
worthy of study and quite possibly the backbone of what humanity requires to
avoid being transmogrified into some kind of giant Christian/Moslem madras :-),
morass, alas. Okay, I'll stop for the moment, Frank (
(to Ben of
agreement, though we can pretend to be in disagreement if that makes things more interesting :-).
The point being that the feedback experience that AI's may have as an advantage is not at all lacking in humans. We ride upon the tempestuous seas of our predecessor brains with their Id attractor states constantly drawing our attention to our genitalia and the symbolic activities that comprise our unending attempt to stem the as yet inevitable tide of our ending, i.e. we try to control the world. But let me quote you to yourself, dear mindplex,
on my own behalf :-): "The fundamental self-creating dynamic of self and awareness is extended throughout the more rigid layers of the mind. In a state of mind such as this, inanimate objects may be perceived as You. Everything becomes a You. This state of mind is touched on by Buber in the third part of his book. It is the state of mind of the truly enchanted being: the seer, the saint, the Zen master. Buber rejects mysticissm that is based on finding the self within. True insight, he said, is based on deep and lasting recongnition of the world as You." Geez, I couldn't have said it
better myself :-).
A note however, the first experience of You is paradoxically the experience of the self as other. That is precisely how Buber overcame the long split in philosophy between the individual and the collective which led to Marx on the one hand and Nietzsche on the other. Buber properly found the answer in the self as both the individual and collective simultaneously expressed in the first and in each subsequent act of awareness. The fog rolls in when we succumb to the blandishments of the Scylla and Charybdis of individualism or collectivism as the answer. The answer is simultaneously
both within and without because the within and the without are but two aspects of the same underlying reality.
Thus while AI's may have the edge [whenever that edge arrives :-)] don't rule out the ever adaptive nature of us bio mind dudes. Consciousness is not a competition, but an unending revelation after all. Yours in the most agreeable disagreement, Frank (9/7)
[ed note: in the Snowflake 2002 Buber was mentioned along with dialogic issues.]
Mark Filippi & Goerge Muhs:
The Extended Self:
Dynamics of Nonlocal Individuality
In an effort to explore the distinction between communication and connection in human interaction, a translation of sorts was made between the components of the Johari's Window quadrants, the transitional state attractors and the neurobiology within human bonding.
My clinical protocol applying these principles was presented in depth. The core inquiry concerning the nature of recuperative power in living systems as it relates to interaction was undertaken. The notion of an extended self, where organism dynamically couples with the environment, was used as a key background issue in doctor-patient clinical encounters.
It was proposed that the nonverbal/somatic communication skills support and augment the coherent brain states required to operate in rhythm with shifts in the environment. The emphasis on visual and postural cues was presented and several explanatory models were offered. The nonlocal bond of coherently communicating living systems was examined.
Biologic systems, entropy, and a stroll through phase space
In a collaborative effort with Dr. Mark Filippi, a case report was presented to the group with the protocol described above. The case presented concerned a 3-year female, with a history of seizures and various developmental delays. Results for the initial and follow-up protocols were detailed with special attention to the dynamical quality of her healing patterns. In addition to the clinical presentation, an extensive background on the neurophysiology of the brain and body were presented. A specific application of the 40HZ, or so-called "binding frequency" was explored for it's clinical significance relative to subject's cortical-thalamic entrainment. Principles of biological coherence were revealed as the data was explained. The implications for using nonlinear dynamics to study healing patterns was also discussed.
Sidenote: I saw your post for Steve Rosen's book. It's been my pleasure to know him for the past 6 years through The Lifwynn Foundation. He moved out west a few years back and has been sharing versions of his manuscript with us all along. It's a brilliant work that helped me better understand the dynamics I was studying clinically with my protocols here. :)
9/3/03 “I’m in. Mid-March is dicey at the moment as there are plans for a quantum biology seminar in Baton Rogue. I’d be able to help coordinate rides, airport pick-ups, etc. . . if need be. As for formats, I was ear-to-ear the other day when Bob Porter articulated his vision of “conferring” on the list-serv [CHAOPSYC; Snowflake Forum could serve this function]. If we can pull something like that off — maybe 4 main speakers and then some long discussions and interaction it would suit me fine. I also like the idea of having a simple type of poster session and/or ppt presentation during one of the main meals, FRI/SAT.”
11/21/03 Fred - I'm impressed with the speed this is taking shape! I'd like to present as well, though I'm concerned we're getting close to being full and people keep posting so fast I feel pressed.
The Extended Self: Dynamics of Nonlocal Individuality
In January, I'm launching a training for holistic nurses on the subject of the Extended Self Dynamics of Nonlocal Individuality. This material covers the practical applications of nonverbal communication and nonlocal awareness between living systems. It is based on both my clinical protocol and my brain-based learning background. Ideally, it can be presented as a group exercise that will use some of the tools from Social-Self Inquiry (see link) and Somatics. So in lieu of a quick abstract, I'd like to take the cue from Carlos, et. al. and provide this pre-abstract abstract.
be presented as an interactive discussion. Abstract to follow.
Here's the link I mentioned on SSI - http://www.lifwynnfoundation.org/marks_bro.html
Judith Nagib Humor & Pathos in Prison:
“I am not sure if what I might contribute would be appropriate and therefore welcome. I am working on a draft for a paper, however, to be submitted to the journal, “Consciousness and Emotion” which I will entitle: “Humor and Pathos in Prison”, as I am now a forensic psychologist here. But it has nothing to do with chaos theory. Still . . .”
Humor & Pathos in Prison
Judith Nagib, Ph.D., Psychologist, Taconic Correctional Facility, Bedford Hills, New York
In the several years I have worked in forensic psychology, the psychological processes of the staff have come to interest me nearly as much as the patients. One aspect of staff behavior that I have found curious occurs at regular departmental meetings, mainly the use of humor, irony, wit, caricature and burlesque by therapists when discussing their patients. I interviewed several psychologists at maximum prisons on the West and East Coasts using a phenomenological qualitative research method to arrive at the structure of this type of behavior based on descriptions of their experiences and corroborated by the literature and previous research. The findings reveal a process far more subtle and important for the mental health of the therapist than might be assumed under the naive sense that the term 'gallows humor' provides.
I used pathos to mean - the quality therapists experience about their patients which is all of the following: sadness, pity, tenderness, melancholy, sympathy, sorrow. What complicates therapist pathos, I think, is when the therapist identifies with the patient (transference) or when the therapist is reacting (countertransference) to the patient's own transference to him/her. Another part of this kind of pathos is defensive - - against the depressing awareness of one's ineffectiveness in making any positive difference in that patient's life whatsoever. I know therapists who avoid patients for that reason (it's easy to do that in a prison when the client is "assigned" to you and is not paying for your services). But you know I am polishing up a paper called "Catastrophe theory, humor, and pathos in prison" which will have the cusp in it too, based on the 4 interviews I did a couple of months ago with psychologists who work in New York and California prisons.
Cusp Figure: Perceived Efficacy of Therapy the state variable (1D state space), two point attractors with repellors in between in region of the cusp, single point attractor elsewhere. Amount of humor in staff meetings and pathos are the two control parameters.
Robin Robertson (dropping the first topic of Sci/Fi to mesh with Bob’s Philosophical topic)
Robin’s new topic(11/22/03):
Scintillae of Light: Chaos Theory and Alchemy
Circular Causality (self-reference, feedback/feedforward) is the common denominator that underlies both organic closure and change through the stages of chaos. This new (?) concept most sharply separates non-linear dynamics from the Newtonian world-view. But perhaps this is another case of Old Wine in New Bottles, for circular causality has long lived hidden within the ancient symbol of the Uroboros, appearing spontaneously in Mandalas of all cultures, occupying mathematics for five millennia under the aim of squaring the circle.
This presentation will examine correspondences between modern math/science and Jung's view of alchemy, with a central image being the "scintillae of light" that the alchemists saw appearing within chaos: a lovely image of emergence.
This presentation will link closely with Bob Porter's on "The Breaking of the Old Science, or Old Habits are Hard to Break."
Hi Fred (and all) 9/7/03,
I really like the idea of bringing in some Sci/Fi ideas to really open things up. I LOVE William Gibson's early Trilogy starting with Neuromancer (Count Zero is my favorite and the one I think brings up the most provocative ideas for a Jungian oriented psychologist like me). I'd love to talk about this and also bring in several others, including Ted Sturgeon (especially More than Human), Octavia Butler (the only black female Sci/Fi writer I know of, who has a unique view of things, Ursula LeGuin (who at her best explores areas no one else does), and one Bill Sulis turned me on to: Rebecca Ore's Becoming Alien trilogy. All these people deal not with 'blow 'em up real good' Sci/Fi, but with how humanity has to grow and evolve and perhaps become something other than what it is. Sounds like a wonderful idea for a whole day of discussion to me.
Fred’s note: Ok, I read the Gibson anyway, thanks for the introduction to it. It fits with presentations of Ben and Frank, and perhaps will come up in discussions there. Meanwhile, I also submitted a philosophy abstract, which meshes with Bob and Robin, giving three different perspectives on the subject, and maybe we could make a panel of it. Ideally we should each put a short paper on the web, have everybody read them, and shunt straight to an open discussion at the conference, an idea we threw out earlier.
R: Foundation issues are fascinating because they involve
the underlying foundation of all reality. I'm prejudiced that the math
foundation issues are closer to those of reality that those in, say, physics.
F: This is a very complex proposition; worth a major debate.
R: Yes, as I said, I share the "pure mathematician's" prejudice here. I can never really take arguments from physics all that seriously if they contradict what I think I encounter in the mathematical world that underlies everything.
F: I think the whole platonic/neoplatonic discussion
exceptionally interesting, it is at the foundation of my abstract, and I see
dynamics as providing a middle ground, but not really resolving the basic
issue, an implication of Bob's abstract.
R: Well put: dynamics is indeed a middle ground, but doesn't really resolve the basic issue. That's very deep thinking, Fred, the sort of thing I came to also very slowly.
R: I was also fascinated by Mark's presentation on the Dynamics of Non-local Individuality. I don't know if you realize how much this is part of my clinical work, since you and I don't talk about those things as much. But this whole area is central for me and I actually know quite a bit, mostly from actual experience. I'd love to get involved with this.
Art sent by Robin (12/26/03): Robin sent some remarkable images of great imagination and beauty. They have features of self-replication, self-reflection, self-perspective, illusion, and tessellative interweaving of imagery.
Tentatively, recent work on scientific symbol systems (Leibniz, Peirce, Cantor, Whitehead, and the meaning of chemical symbols ) would be my topic of greatest interest to participants at the Winter ChaoConference. My views have become increasing radical with respect to the logical relations among the sciences and your friends would likely be interested in these alternative approaches to relations (commutative diagrams?) among meanings.
Do you think the conference participants would enjoy reflecting on these images of man's imagination in preparation for the imagining of our internal worlds?
The Best of Hubble (Astronomy, Photography) —
This is a slide show complete with audio.
I found the images humbling. A source of perspective.
[Editor’s note. A couple of us have looked at this amazing slide show. They do not have direct relevance to Jerry’s talk, but they fit the ideas of creativity, archetype, emergence, that pervades our conference, and certainly strikes at our awe and wonder of the universe. See note at end of Robin, who also offers some remarkable self-reflective images à la Escher.]
Please find my abstract attached. Thank you so much for suggesting I
speak about my work. It really opened up a lot of information for me and
I hope it will for others as well.
All the best, Tobi (11/19/03)
CHAOS AT THE CENTER OF CREATIVITY:
EXPERIENCES IN THE CREATION OF VISUAL ART
All creativity has a foundation of chaos out of which comes the emergence of new work. The creation of art can be viewed metaphorically as a nonlinear process undertaken by the non-linear system of an artist. While all works of visual art share a group of dynamics, the non-linear aspects of individual pieces vary.
As a visual artist with a background in chaos theory, I will present some of the nonlinear dynamics inherent generally in the creative process and then discuss experiences of chaos specific to individual works of art. This talk will be based on my presentation at APA, Painting as a Journey of Inquiry, when I was asked to speak about my work. But at this conference, I will reveal instances of chaos that brought the individual works of art into being and then to completion.
I will discuss topics such as: the chaos of the startle response in confronting an image; physical exhaustion as a chaos that can facilitate the creative process; introspection as a chaos that brings up images from the unconscious; the use of blurred images to impart a feeling of chaotic indeterminacy; chaos as an image of psychological liberation; the nonlinear dynamics of water as a symbol for the nonlinearity of the unconscious; the presence and power of hidden chaos in the physical world; the recognition of the symbolism in a painting as an experience of chaos in the viewer; the negative aspect of chaos as a threat to the integrity of the ego; the nonlinear quality of a journey through linear time; and the emergence of the realized self in a world that has both chaos and order.
Images can be seen at: www.tobizausner.com
Darwinian thinking has traditionally predicted a divergent course for biological evolution. The “branching tree” icon of Darwinism, and the use of terms such as “radiation” suggest increasing diversity over time, with the driving force being random mutations in genetic material and the resulting distribution being one of widely separated species.
However evidence is lacking that species have become more numerous over time, and commonalities of form suggest that convergent processes may also be at work. In view of the predictions of Darwinian theory we see surprisingly little variety of form, rather than a lot.
This leads to the question of whether the outcomes of evolution are inevitable. If the evolutionary film were remade how far would the remake resemble the original? If evolution is not in any sense determined than the same processes would be expected to produce widely differing outcomes and we would see the emergence of new species and probably the dominance of a non-human species. If these processes are convergent, then we might expect the same outcomes.
Two books, Wonderful Life by Stephen J Gould and Life’s Solution by Simon Conway Morris take opposing stances on this issue. Based on a study of the Burgess Shale in Canada, Gould argues for a very different outcome in the sequel, while Conway, who also worked on the Burgess Shale, argues it would be essentially the same.
These ideas are discussed in the light of possible mathematical processes underlying evolution, and in particular the role of chaotic attractors which frequently show universality of form despite large differences in the underlying process (Bird, 2003).
Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. Simon Conway Morris. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of Hirtory. Stephen J Gould. Hutchinson Radius, 1989.
Chaos and Life: Order and Complexity in Evolution and Thought. Richard J Bird Columbia University Press, 2003.
The Breaking of the Old Science or Old Habits are Hard to Break.
Bob Porter, Clinical and Consulting Psychologist, Tampa, Florida; Clinical Psychologist and Outpatient Therapist, Directions for Mental Health, Clearwater, Florida; Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of New Orleans.
There are many fascinating aspects of the “new science” of nonlinear and chaotic systems. These include the “strange attractor” behavior of some systems, the “fractal” aspects of many systems, the miraculous processes of self-organization and emergence, and the importance of finding good measures of “chaos”. The fascination is warranted because these aspects capture the rich mystery of nonlinear systems and provide a source for deep metaphors that have broad application. In this paper I argue that in spite of the excitement and energy of the new science, many “new scientists” harbor ideas lodged in the failed features of the old paradigm. The old habits of thinking are hard to break. As a contribution to habit breaking, I propose Winter Chaos Conference participants reflect on three fundamental failures of the old paradigm and three important but infrequently addressed aspects of the new one. The failed concepts are: prediction is the goal of science, reduction is the rationale of science, and key research methods are the use of inferential statistics and the study of stable systems with independent, dependent, and control variables. The aspects of the new paradigm, and the basis for new habits, are: Circular causality happens, all systems are autonomous (but some are more autonomous than others), and key research methods are the use of descriptive statistics and the study of unstable systems’ order and control parameters. email@example.com, www.mindspring.com/~rjporter
(ed note: This is great Bob. Some of my pet peeves, and important to point out that with the new paradigms we have not escaped them.)
Post conference commentary by Fred:
I think our dialogue could continue, and perhaps I will start with a comment on Bob's first point
(the one where we disagreed about indeterminacy. I will make just a couple of points. In his
abstract he claims prediction is not an impressive goal of our researches. I have agreed with this
position for a long time, but I do so on more a matter of what personally interests me about
science, namely understanding the nature of the universe, not in predicting and controlling it
(as claimed by the chief architect of the Enlightenment, Francis Bacon. He even scored pursuit of truth
for the satisfaction of curiosity. Horkeimer & Adorno made much more of this aspect of
Bacon. Bob's complaint I take it stems more from the fact that most of the interesting things now
I think our dialogue could continue, and perhaps I will start with a comment on
Bob's first point (the one where we disagreed about indeterminacy. I will make
just a couple of points. In his abstract he claims prediction is not an impressive
goal of our researches. I have agreed with this position for a long time, but I do
so on more a matter of what personally interests me about science, namely
understanding the nature of the universe, not in predicting and controlling it
(as claimed by the chief architect of the Enlightenment, Francis Bacon. He even
scored pursuit of truth for the satisfaction of curiosity. Horkeimer & Adorno made
much more of this aspect of Bacon. Bob's complaint I take it stems more from the
fact that most of the interesting things now for science to study are usually
working in parametric space where chaotic attractors rule. To this I also agree,
but also point out that conditional probabilities to the effect that given a staring
point, the are specifiable probabilities for being in a particular area or volume of
the attractor. That also brings me to the point I made during his talk, and that is,
that I think that indeterminacy is a result of the finite nature of specifying a point,
every point along a trajectory, for instance. Take that away for the condition
impossible to instantiate, and a theoretically infinite resolution of space and time,
and you would have determinacy. That is my contention at any rate, and that of my
brother, whom I ran this by this weekend while he was visiting. I am not sure how one
would even prove the contrary, that indeterminacy resides in deterministic equations.
Given that is a theoretical issue anyway since we live in a world of finite resolution,
I won't belabor it any further.
I also see two uses of the term "prediction". One is the one we seemed to be operating
on, that of prediction the future of a trajectory. That is the one I consider a trivial
pursuit of science (except in the cases where that is a real goal, predicting where the
baseball will break, or where the rain will fall and when), but in general, I mainly
want to know that certain factors influence the baseball and the rain.
The second meaning of prediction in science is nontrivial for me. That deals with the
likelihood of theories approaching the truth. We know the Popper dictum, that a theory
cannot be proved, only disproved. We have know since Duheim, and reiterated in Orestes,
that one cannot even disprove theories, especially ones in the realm of complexity. But
we still use research strategies whereby we construct a theory, and not just test it with
the same situations that gave rise to it, but in other situations as well. This kind of
predictability I think is quite useful, trying to get a handle on the reasonableness of a theory.
for science to study are usually working in parametric space where chaotic attractors rule. To
this I also agree, but also point out that conditional probabilities to the effect that given a
staring point, the are specifiable probabilities for being in a particular area or volume of the
attractor. That also brings me to the point I made during his talk, and that is, that I think that
indeterminacy is a result of the finite nature of specifying a point, every point along a
trajectory, for instance. Take that away for the condition impossible to instantiate, and a
theoretically infinite resolution of space and time, and you would have determinacy. That is my
contention at any rate, and that of my brother, whom I ran this by this weekend while he was
visiting. I am not sure how one would even prove the contrary, which indeterminacy resides in
deterministic equations. Given that is a theoretical issue anyway since we live in a world of
finite resolution, I won't belabor it any further.
I also see two uses of the term "prediction". One is the one we seemed to be operating on, that of
prediction the future of a trajectory. That is the one I consider a trivial pursuit of science
(except in the cases where that is a real goal, predicting where the baseball will break, or where
the rain will fall and when), but in general, I mainly want to know that certain factors influence
the baseball and the rain.
The second meaning of prediction in science is nontrivial for me. That deals with the likelihood
of theories approaching the truth. We know the Popper dictum, that a theory cannot be proved, only
disproved. We have known since Duheim, and reiterated in Orestes, that one cannot even disprove
theories, especially ones in the realm of complexity. But we still use research strategies whereby
we construct a theory, and not just test it with the same situations that gave rise to it, but in
other situations as well. This kind of predictability I think is quite useful, trying to get a
I think our dialogue could continue, and perhaps I will start with a comment on Bob's first point
(the one where we disagreed about indeterminacy. I will make just a couple of points. In his abstract
he claims prediction is not an impressive goal of our researches. I have agreed with this position for a
long time, but I do so on more a matter of what personally interests me about science, namely
understanding the nature of the universe, not in predicting and controlling it (as claimed by the
chief architect of the Enlightenment, Francis Bacon. He even scored pursuit of truth for the satisfaction
of curiosity. Horkeimer & Adorno made much more of this aspect of Bacon. Bob's complaint I take it
stems more from the fact that most of the interesting things now for science to study are usually working
in parametric space where chaotic attractors rule. To this I also agree, but also point out that conditional
probabilities to the effect that given a staring point, the are specifiable probabilities for being in a particular
area or volume of the attractor. That also brings me to the point I made during his talk, and that is, that I
think that indeterminacy is a result of the finite nature of specifying a point, every point along a trajectory,
for instance. Take that away for the condition impossible to instantiate, and a theoretically infinite resolution
of space and time, and you would have determinancy. That is my contention at any rate, and that of my brother,
whom I ran this by this weekend while he was visiting. I am not sure how one would even prove the contrary, that
indeterminancy resides in deterministic equations. Given that is a theoretical issue anyway since we live in a world
of finite resolution, I won't belabor it any further.
I also see two uses of the term "prediction". One is the one we seemed to be operating on, that of prediction the
future of a trajectory. That is the one I consider a trivial pursuit of science (except in the cases where that is a real
goal, predicting where the baseball will break, or where the rain will fall and when), but in general, I mainly want to
know that certain factors influence the baseball and the rain.
The second meaning of prediction in science is nontrivial for me. That deals with the liklihood of theories
approaching the truth. We know the Popper dictum, that a theory cannot be proved, only disproved. We have
know since Duheim, and reiterated in Orestes, that one cannot even disprove theories, especially ones in the realm
of complexity. But we still use research strategies whereby we construct a theory, and not just test it with the same
situations that gave rise to it, but in other situations as well. This kind of predictability I think is quite useful, trying to
get a handle on the reasonableness of a theory. handle on the reasonableness of a theory.
I expect that I shall be attending the winter meeting. Irina may come as
well. I will likely present a formal mathematics paper dealing with
archetypal dynamics systems, their formal structure a la combinatorial game
theory, some ideas related to describing coherence in such systems using
Conway's surreal numbers. No philosophy this time. I hope that there will
still be some space.
Emergence Inspired Metaphysics: Issues and Limitations with Special Focus on Whitehead's Process Philosophy
It is little known among complexity devotees that the idea of emergence (or concepts with different names but essentially identical to it) has been a continuing source of inspiration for speculative metaphysics during the twentieth century and into the current one. An emergentist current can be recognized in the work of philosophers no less eminent or influential than Whitehead, Morgan, Broad, Alexander, Sellars, Mead, Popper, Weiss, Polyanyi, and more recently Kim and other contemporary philosophers concerned with developing a non-reductive physicalism.
The most sophisticated and systematic of these emergence-based philosophies was the process philosophy expounded by the British mathematician and metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead. Although the usual interpretation of Whitehead's metaphysical system has been to see it as an amalgamation of experientialism and atomic physics, a closer reading reveals it to be emergentist at its core, a fact quite evident in the synonyms Whitehead chose for his ontologically elemental category actual entity (or occasion): "emergent order," "emergent value," "novel concrescence," "process of fusion," "process of becoming actual," "unity of existence," and "organism." Whitehead's conceptualization of process can be understood as a generalization
of the idea of emergence.
In this paper I will survey the role of the idea of emergence in Whitehead's philosophical system as a prelude to a discussion of the inability of his metaphysical constructs to deliver what they promise, namely, their failure to show how something radically novel could actually be generated. I will not only explicate what was responsible in Whitehead's thought for this inadequacy but will also provide several suggestions based on the neo-emergentist research of complexity theory on how a more adequate metaphysics of emergence might be developed.
A Demonstration of New Perceptual Phenomena and a
Discussion of their Implications for Knowledge and Emergence
I want to provoke a group discussion based on striking perceptual demonstrations I will make prior to the discussion. Besides being visually striking these demonstrations are striking because they reveal what I think are new perceptual phenomena—new in the sense of not reported in the scientific literature but old in the sense of relating to everyday human perception. I think these new phenomena have not been reported before simply because vision science has not had the dynamic systems simulation tools which allow the phenomena to be captured and studied. I will use N K Boolean systems to generated dynamic visual contexts that reveal interesting capabilities of human perception.
The new perceptual phenomena include the emergence of pattern hierarchies in pattern perception, the extraction of multiple dynamic patterns from a complex dynamic context; and the dynamic analogue to figure/ground phenomena.
There are, I think, strong implications from these phenomena for the nature of knowledge, particularly for knowledge framed as the relationship between a knower construed as a dynamic system, which is a subset of a universe construed as a dynamic system. While not all themes will have time to be discussed, a menu of candidate themes, which the group may wish to discuss, include but are not limited to:
1. Appropriate Epistemology for knowing how humans apprehend a dynamic universe
2. Perceptual Wholes (Gestalts) as emergent phenomena
3. The nature of representation in knowledge, particularly whether representation is an active enactment versus a passive reception
4. The extension of Bateson’s difference-based epistemology in terms of Kauffman’s Boolean idealization
5. A model of how sorting principles that allow multiple stimuli to be categorized might be abstracted from a single experience with a single example of a category
To see the perceptual phenomena online and to learn about these and other issues go to: http://www.psych.utah.edu/dynamic_systems
Bob, Tobi, Karn, Ira
ABSTRACTS FOR EDUCATION SESSION AT WINTER CHAOS CONFERENCE
The following two abstracts represent applications of non-linear dynamical thinking
to two key areas of education in which there has been heretofore little consideration
of such an approach: teacher preparation and curriculum design.
Reframing the Theory-Practice
Issue in Teacher Preparation:
A Non-linear dynamical Analysis.
Karen VanderVen, Ph.D., Professor, Applied Developmental Psychology, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh
Since teacher preparation began, teacher educators have been concerned with how the didactic classroom knowledge (theory) conveyed in colleges and universities translated and applied to practice. Internships and student teaching have been intended to provide a guided training ground for students’ learning to apply their new knowledge in a real situation (practice). However, the area continues to be problematic, with the continued discrepancy between what is “taught” and the application of what was supposed to be “learned”. On the hypothesis that the theory-practice concept needs to be totally reconceptualized, and that an appropriate lens for doing so is non-linear dynamical systems theory, including the notion of a complex adaptive system, this presentation will offer a reframed analysis of the “theory-practice” issue and its implications for changed pedagogical practices in teacher education.
Beyond The Sequential, Additive Curriculum to the Intellectual Challenge of Dynamic Themes.
Doris P. Fromberg, Ed.D,., Professor and Department Chair, Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University
More than ever, today’s primary curriculum features a linear approach: “ the presentation of an adult conception of knowledge in uniform, narrow and additive ways” with the emphasis on rote memory and correct answers rather than on play. This approach does not resonate with the reality of how young children learn and significantly limits the degree to which they truly understand and integrate what is being “taught”. This paper will apply non-linear dynamical systems concepts such as sensitive dependence on initial conditions, fractals, self-organization, and phase transitions to a non-linear model of teaching practice, Dynamic Themes. Dynamic themes are play-based, cross-disciplinary, enable connection making among diverse entities, and are tied into the reality of children’s individual learning styles.
Chaos in the Triadic Theory of Psychological Competence in the Academic Setting,
The triadic theory proposes three domains of psychological variables that are convenient for analyzing academic competence.
These domains are, roughly, intellectual, emotional, and pragmatic-contextual. It further proposes that variables within and
between these domains interact as an inherently chaotic process. It stresses applications attempting bifurcations leading to improving
academic success, especially for those entering higher education with inadequate pragmatic-contextual attitudes and skills.
It has generated programs at several universities.
See Chapter 20 in Abraham & Gilgen, Chaos Theory in Psychology, 1995: Praeger,
A Psychodynamical Model of Creativity
Carlos recruited them, and writes: “I have just received word from John Briggs and his colleague, John Amoroso,
agreeing to do our keynote on Saturday evening, the 13th. As I mentioned previously, they will be presenting their
latest work on creativity, ... Which is a most appropriate topic for after or during dinner.”
I attended the Summer Boston conference with Dr. Mark Filippi. Although I am a chaos newbie, I am interested in giving a talk on the philosophic topic roughly outlined as "Biologic systems, entropy, and a stroll through phase space".
Hi! I'd like to attend the Winter Conference and perhaps make a presentation/paper. I've been working on some extensions/aspects of the presentation I gave this summer in the area of "What is Information? Information is a Dynamical System" that might fit well with several of the areas listed in the schedule.
I'm trying to establish the/a perspective that 'Information Systems Are Dynamical Systems' within the academic discipline of information systems. (Yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing. We're about 40 years behind the 'computer scientists' in playing the academic 'discipline' game but better late than never I suppose.) The currently popular academic models answering 'What Is Information Systems?" come from practice, data bases, network operating systems, etc., organizational behavior and psychology -'user friendly' models, and management science. My perspective grows out of the MIT system dynamics modeling tradition and tries to link up the feedback structure with the dynamical nature of the behavior. Forrester defined systems in terms of feedback, and I'm trying to reconcile the more formal definitions of information Shannon Weaver, Chaitin, with each other and with this model in order to provide a more or less definitional framework in the model. I think this might fit in with the educational issues session or Karen and Doris, or perhaps the more formal mathematical portions with Bill's session on Archetypes. My current version (subject to revision by the minutes of course) is trying to establish a 'dialog' (emphasizing the feedback and network aspects) model of information context/meaning issues. So this aspect might fit in with Frank's or perhaps yours or Jeff's.
I'm sorry I missed the last couple of Winter Conferences, but glad to see they are back in business. Let me know if you think my stuff might fit in and I'll repackage it as appropriate.
Thanks, Hope to see you in March, Don
[Editorial note. Formal equivalencies between measures of complexity and information theory have been well known in dynamics-time series analyses, but the exploration of information systems as dynamical systems is a great new idea. Bring it on. The concept of feedback is inherent in dynamical systems.]
Ethos: The Organic Intellectual: Participating in Political Change, Changing Political Participating. A discussion of the philosophy behind a political action, dynamical-complexity inspired research project. How to embrace diversity and discourse within the framework of an expanding globalization.
ETHOS is an emerging research group, with a nexus at the University
the evolution of civic culture. The group is involved in several grant
applications for conducting demonstration/research projects in Eastern
international/interdisciplinary scholars is also to develop a pedagogy and
curriculum for bringing the new sciences to a wider audience in different
learning formats. The integration of the arts in the emergence of civic
culture is a vital component of the organisation's efforts. ETHOS also hopes
to add to the understanding of how sustainable/learning research cultures
can evolve in praxis situations. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Fred’s note: Some may detect glimmerings of both Kurt Lewin and B. F. Skinner in here.
Interactions among musical, intellectual, and socialization in early education: Research
11/21/03; sorry a bit longish, but I will probably forgo giving this presentation to make time for others to present)
Department of Psychology, Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines
A central theme in most philosophical lineages is that of the difference between the complexities of that which is observable and the presumed ideal unified forms and laws which may lie hidden and from which they spring. In Western philosophy this issue played a central role in the cosmologies of the early Greek enlightenment, with Parmenides (who said that the essential substance was permanent), Pythagoras, Xenophanes and later Plato and others positing hidden ideals, while other preSocratics and Sophists were more fluid, contextual, and relativistic, such as seen with Protagoras, Gorgias, and Heraclitus (who said that the essential substance was continually changing and that unity and flux derived from a dynamic balance arising from oppositions—the enduring and changing aspects of the river). This central theme has a correlative theme, that of trying to account for change and the emergence of new forms, motion, and different cultures (Herodotus). Other examples come to us from the 12th century European enlightenment which used myth to synthesize and present emerging scientific ideas from Arabic and Judaic cultures, and from many examples in the great European Enlightenment, lying at the foundation for example, of the Galileo affair. Another example is found in Wundt’s distinction between laboratory psychology, which seeks universal laws and a “second”, or “völkerpsychologie” which seeks the diversity of cultural differences (Cole). The history of psychology continues this dynamic between convergent and divergent tendencies, tendencies with which nonlinear dynamics deals (Bird, this conference). The history of the philosophy of science, especially seen in the struggle between operationism (Nuerath) and its various critics (postmodern, post-analytic, philosophical hermeneutics, Horgan, the “new sciences”) also exhibit this struggle. It is also evident in socio-political struggles, such as the global conflicts, and issues like gay marriages, where universal/religious “truths” battle with cultural change. All of these examine the extent to which basic features of behavior of the cosmos, geophysics, evolution, cultural change, and psychology involve stable or unstable, that is long-lived or short lived, fundamental phenomena.
Abstraction and reasoning, of course, lie at the foundation of seeking communalities and unifying principles. Number, geometric form, and analytical mathematics have all played roles in this process, at least in Western philosophy. Nonlinear dynamics (and other systems theories, neural networks, and complexity), with an emphasis on time, change, the balance of interacting convergent and divergent forces (seen in the ratio of control parameters in systems of differential equations), bifurcation, and self-organization and emergence, are well suited for a variety of ways of abstracting the results of science. They employ a variety of visual representation (geometrics), vector calculus, and difference calculus, and related analytical mathematical methods. We have referred to dynamics many times as both holistic and analytical (e.g. Abraham et al., 1990), but will this resolve the debate between a fixed stable universe and the view that the fundamental aspects of the universe are diverse and changing? Perhaps not, but it lends a unique perspective on the issue.
Abraham, Abraham, & Shaw (1990). A Visual Introduction to Dynamical Systems for Psychology. Santa Cruz: Arial.
Bird, R. J. (2003). Chaos and Life: Order and Complexity in Evolution and Thought. New York: Columbia.
Cole, M. (1996). Cultural Psychology: A Once and Future Discipline. Cambridge&London: Belknap/Harvard.
Horgan, J. (1996). The End of Science. New York: Broadway.
Neurath, O. (1938). Encyclopedia and Unified Science. In Neurath, Carnap, & Morris (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. 1. Chicago: Chicago.