The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision, is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.”

The systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the material and physical universe, based on observation, experiment, and measurement, and the formulation of laws to describe these facts in general terms.

In these terms, science must be deterministic.
No systematic study of anything might ever be made if not starting from the conviction that a given set of causes will produce the same results, over and over again. No laws attempting to describe any facts in general terms might be formulated unless starting from the same premises.

On the other hand, it was science itself which had taught us that:

It’s impossible to determine, with absolute precision, both the position and momentum of an electron

The same ‘uncertainty principle’ can be extended to other pairs of “complementary variables, such as length of time and energy“.

And there are countless other examples of ‘in-determination’ which have been documented by scientists during their search for the ultimate truth.

Any chance of reconciliation?

Well…
To start, I’ll note first that ‘determinism’ is a concept which had started its career in philosophy while ‘science’ has a more ‘complex’ origin. It might have been initiated by Christian theologians trying to ‘guess’ God’s will only they were attempting to fulfill that task by closely watching Nature – which was seen as the very embodiment of God’s intentions.
In this sense, scientific determinism can be understood as the conviction that Nature must make perfect sense – must be completely explainable, simply because God’s creation – which includes Nature, must be perfect.
OK, and since all theologians agree that no human will ever be able/should ever pretend to know God, what’s the problem in accepting that Man – collectively speaking now, will never learn enough to find a complete explanation for everything?

‘And what about the atheists?’

What about them?
Oh, you mean the people who are sure that God doesn’t exist? Who are just as sure that God doesn’t exist as the staunch believers who are perfectly confident that God not only exists but also micro-manages everything? Under the Sun and beyond?
I’ll just leave it there…

On a deeper level, there is no contradiction between ‘determinism’ – philosophically speaking, and scientific thinking. As long as we keep these two ‘apart’, of course…

‘So you are going to accept that science will never ‘know’ everything AND that ‘everything is a consequence of the previous state of affairs’ ‘ ?

Well, again…
The key word here is “inevitable”!
Determinism is ” the philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision, is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs
For a philosopher it is very easy to say ‘inevitable’. Even more so for believing philosopher.
For a scientist… how is a scientist going to say that something is ‘inevitable’? ‘Philosophically’ speaking, of course… as in ‘with absolute precision’?!?

Specially since entertaining a truly ‘scientific attitude’ means, above all, to be prepared, at all moment and without any notice, for all your previously held convictions to be contradicted by new evidence…

‘What are you trying to say here?
That everything revolves around the manner in which each of us relates to the meaning of his own interpretation of each concept?
That truth itself is relative?’

‘That man is the measure for everything?’

Yep!
AND that man is also responsible for the consequences his own actions! In front of his own children, before everything else.
For no other reason than it will be his own children who will bear the brunt of his own decisions.

Additional reading:
Science as Falsification“, Karl R. Popper.
800 Scientists say it’s time to abandon “Statistical Significance”
“Protagoras”
“On the Essence of Truth“, Martin Heidegger
“Suicide now leading cause of death among children aged 10 to 14 in Japan

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The Earth is covered by atmosphere.
Some of the gases might have belonged to the original ‘cloud’ which had given birth to the solar system. Others have originated from the Earth itself. And still others are a ‘consequence’ of ‘life’. Oxygen, for instance. And some of the CO2.

The land crust has rocky cliffs and fertile plains.
While the rocky cliffs are a consequence of geology, the fertile topsoil is the consequence of the elements having eroded the cliffs, the debris being transported by flowing water, plant life taking hold and slowly transforming some of the minerals into organic matter, animals eating some of the plants and transforming them into feces, micro-organisms digesting/recycling those feces together with the dead plants and animal carcasses… And so on.

Primitive life forms, Bacteria and Archea, “are organisms whose cells lack a membrane-bound nucleus, mitochondria and other membrane-bound organelles…. All the intracellular water-soluble components (proteins, DNA and metabolites) are located together in the same volume enclosed by the cell membrane, rather than in separate cellular compartments.

More ‘sophisticated’ life forms are organisms which have “a nucleus and organelles bounded by internal phospholipid membrane systems. In contrast to bacteria and archaea, eukaryotes may be multicellular. Animals, plants, fungi…. “
So, in this case, living cells have internal divisions, each surrounded by ‘secondary’ membranes. Furthermore, this type of organisms may consist of more than one cell. Many of them – including us, humans, actually comprise many layers of cells. Skin, muscle, bones, ‘internal’ organs, brain… Each of them carefully constructed using building blocks taken, with the help of the digestive system, from the environment.

Making a parallel between a humble unicellular organism, let’s say an amoeba, and a proud ape we’ll notice that the role played by the amoeba’s membrane is fulfilled by a host of the ape’s organs. Skin, lungs, digestive system and kidneys are the first to jump up for attention. On a closer examination – amoeba’s membrane keeps the organism together and acts as a locomotion device besides performing the respiratory, digestive and excretory tasks, the ape’s bones and muscles start to beg for attention

But what about the brain? What role does it play? What is it? An ‘internal organ’ or just another descendant of the membrane?
I’ll let you make that call.
I’ll only mention that the brain ingests information, digests it and then ‘excretes’ decisions. Which coalesce into ‘fate’/’destiny’, are remembered as ‘history’ and eventually end up as ‘tradition’.

I was arguing yesterday that life, as a biological phenomenon, depends on membranes doing their jobs.
Keeping the inside in, the outside out and managing the transit of substances. Nutrients in and excretions out. For some organisms, their ‘membranes’ also act as a thermo-regulators.

‘Watching’ a membrane in action, one might get the impression that it has been endowed with a certain ‘awareness’. The membrane acts as if it were aware of the differences between its inside and its outside. It recognizes what belongs where and keeps them there. It also recognizes nutrients for what they are – and lets them in, and excretions for what they are – and where they should be.
OK, the membrane does what it does simply because it was ‘pre-programmed’ in a specific way, according to the genetic information each organism has received from its predecessors. There’s nothing supernatural involved here. For what we currently know, anyway…

Watching, as a dispassionate outside observer, the evolutionary process unfolding one might get the impression that life itself has a certain awareness.
‘Rules of life’, read genetic information passed along from one generation to another, are diligently updated to fit the changes in the environment. Nevermind that the whole process is ‘impersonal’, ‘goal-less’ and is fueled by haphazard trial and error, the end result is what we currently consider to be ‘learning’!
That’s what we try to code into our artificially intelligent machines, don’t we?

Further more, recent research points out that individual organisms share information with their brethren.
Bacteria can share antibiotic resistance genes through lateral transfer.
Physarum polycephalum, a unicellular organism, seems to be able to share information already learned when it comes in contact with other members of the species.
Plants “can “talk” in several different ways: via airborne chemicals, soluble compounds exchanged by roots and networks of threadlike fungi“.

Since communication itself is a process which implies the ability to differentiate between a ‘run of the mill’ situation and one special enough to warrant the effort to ‘talk’ about it, I find all these to be compelling arguments for life itself to be considered as implying certain forms of awareness.

According to ‘science’, life is nothing but a process through which (genetic) information is passed, with small alterations, from one generation to another and during which the environment is, however minutely, changed by whatever the living organisms do during their lifespans.

‘Individually’ – organism by organism, life takes place inside a ‘membrane’. Which you might call it ‘skin’, if you like.
That membrane separates the ‘inside’ – the living organism, from the ‘outside’ – otherwise known as the ‘environment’.
Each individual organism continues to be alive for as long as the membrane manages to keep the inside in, the outside out AND to properly regulate the exchanges between the inside and the outside.
This being the moment when we need to remember that each living organism needs to eat, to drink, to breathe and to excrete. Meaning that it needs a more or less continuous flow of certain substances from the outside and to periodically clean itself. And the moment to understand that each organism continuously changes its environment. By incorporating some of it while feeding/breathing and by ‘polluting’ it when ‘throwing out’ the by-products of its metabolism.

For all the activity above to take place, each individual organism needs to follow some ‘rules’. It’s ‘membrane’ needs to ‘know’ which substances to allow in and which to keep out. Which substances to throw out and which to keep it.
To perform all these duties, the membrane itself needs to be organized in a certain manner. For all to happen as it should, the ‘interior’ has to be organized in a certain – and specific, manner.

On the other hand, for any (set of) rule(s) to make sense, it has to be congruent to the situation it ‘attempts’ to manage. For instance, the rule about what substances are to be ‘allowed in’ has to be adapted both to the specific needs of the organism following it AND to what substances are available in the particular environment in which that organism attempts to survive/thrive.
Since the environment in which the living process attempts to take place is subjected to continuous change – both as a consequence of organisms living in it and as happenstance happening, the ‘rules of life’ cannot be ‘set in stone’.
For life to continue in a consistent manner, it has to preserve its rules while for life to survive in an ever-changing environment it has to adapt its rules to fit the changes in the environment.
This being where evolution takes charge.

That’s why the life we’re familiar with, ours, is comprised of successive generations of many individual organisms which somehow pass genetic information (rules of life) from one another. The fundamental ‘trick’ which makes everything possible being that during the ‘passing’ process the genetic information is slightly altered.
Sometimes with beneficial results – those individuals thrive and, eventually, new species appear. Other times, the results are tragic. The individuals which receive bad – read unfit, rules of life do not survive.
Equally tragic is the fate of those species, otherwise ‘successful’ until that moment, which, at some point, are confronted by so momentous changes in their environment that they are no longer able to adapt. Dinosaurs are the first examples which come to my mind but the list is so long that we’ll never learn about all of them.

A pessimist might conclude that life is all about species and that individuals are expandable.
Au contraire, mon cher ami. Since there’s no way in hell – or in heaven, for anybody to know which individual organism has that particular piece of information which will enable their successors to survive the next alteration in the environment it would be rather dense to consider any individual as being expandable. In fact, it was the ‘individualization’ of the living process that made possible the evolutionary process.

Life is about both individuals and species, simultaneously and with equal importance.

I’ve been asked this – who wasn’t?, for so many times that I’ve lost count…
Only the last instance was different.

The context was a lot more serious than usual. We were discussing ideas!
Individual, social, freedom… and we were doing it in English – my ‘second’ language. Hence I was a tad more alert than when chatting away in Romanian.

Have you noticed that in English ‘you’ has three meanings?
A singular ‘you’, a plural ‘you’ and a formal ‘You’ which covers both singular and plural.
In French we have ‘tu’ for singular and ‘vous’/’Vous’ for both plural and formal.
In German ‘du’, ‘inhen’ and ‘Sie’. Only ‘sie’ – starting with small s, as opposed to capital S, means ‘they’…
In Romanian, ‘tu’, ‘voi’ and ‘Dumneavoastra’/’Domniile Voastre’. Literally, ‘Your Lordship’/’Your Lordships’.

I’m not going to delve into Humboldt’s linguistic relativity hypothesis at this point. It would be very interesting but I have something else in my mind.
I’m going to answer the question ‘personally’. Influenced, indeed, by Maturana’s opinion that human consciousness (self awareness) has blossomed at the intersection between our brain power, our ability to communicate verbally with each other and our emotionally driven memory.

So, who am I?
Just one of you…

Neither of us could have existed independently.
None of us could have given birth to themselves… obviously. But also none of us would have been what we are today without having been raised by and educated in our respective communities. By the ‘you’-s to which each of us belong.

On the other hand, none of these communities would have ever existed without the individuals who compose them AND without those individuals being self aware enough to notice their existence. ‘Their existence’ meaning both the existence of the individual personalities which compose the communities and that of the communities themselves.

To simplify matters a little bit, we – as individuals, depend on the well being of the communities to which we belong while we – as communities, depend on the self-awareness of the individuals who animate each of the communities.

If we add the piled up consequences of all the decisions we – as a species, have ever made we end up with ‘culture’ and the present state of the environment which surrounds us – also known as ‘civilization’.
I’ll leave these for another time.

Indeed!

Only there are a few hurdles which will have to be negotiated first.

Which ‘truth’?

Mine?
Which will set me free?
Theirs?
Which will set them free?
Or ours?
Which will set us free?

What is Truth in the first place?

What I believe in?
What we believe in?
Something which is out there and we learn about incrementally? In a collective manner but individually driven?

How can we find it? If ever, of course….

Agree to something which has worked until now?
Listen to what those around us have to say about the/any matter?
Do your ‘own homework’?
All of the above, in a respectful manner?

Freedom is too bothersome?!?
Have you considered the alternatives?


Nowadays, too many individuals are afraid of freedom. Specially of other people’s freedom, since other people’s freedom might bring in ‘unwelcome’ change.
Other people’s freedom might challenge our established way of life.
And why risk it?

Still interested?
History strongly suggests that societies which had considered the stability of their ‘established way of life’ to be more important than the freedom of any individual member to respectfully question everything have eventually failed to preserve that over-cherished way of life. Simply because those societies had not allowed their individual members to adapt their mores to the changes which inevitably alter the ‘environment’.

Conclusion?
Liberty is of utmost importance.
For both individuals and societies, equally.
And, as a matter of historical fact, real – as in ‘truly functional’, freedom can be achieved only together. By the individual members of a society, acting in concert. Through a robust mechanism of checks and balances – a.k.a. real justice, based on mutual respect between the members of the society attempting to maintain this arrangement.

Warning!
Since we currently experience a growing distrust among the members of many societies – America and Western Europe included, no wonder that actual individual liberty is sliding down a dangerous slope.
Simply because nobody is going to defend the liberty of somebody they do not trust/respect.

Undeva în Romania….

Unul dintre motivele pentru care l-am împușcat pe Ceaușescu a fost ‘distrugerea satului românesc și a tradițiilor sale’.
Foarte mulți dintre copiii țaranilor care au refuzat atunci să-și părăsească rosturile s-au risipit acum în cele 4 zări ale pămîntului….
Și nu neapărat din cauza ‘mizeriei’. Cei de-aici aveau antenă de satelit!

The Genetics of Design

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 9.48.36 pmWhat connects us to other people? One commonality: we share an evolutionary path with similar internal templates. That’s what the ‘House Experiment’ demonstrates so well. Asked to “draw a house as if they’re five years old,” people draw almost identical images, without looking at anyone else’s work, no matter where they come from. The drawings above are by eight people, born and/or raised in eight different countries in three continents.

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 5.40.08 pmCultural preferences sometimes creep in, such as in the house above, by someone from Morocco, Northern Africa – but, most often they do not. In fact, it’s astonishing to see two people, at different events, coming from opposite sides of the planet, draw nearly identical houses, as below:

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 5.42.09 pm

It just goes to show, no matter our background, we are more the same than we realize and what we most like to see, what most grabs our attention – is pre-set…

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https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/178/733/780.jpg

Last time I checked, for a rebellion to make sense, it had to be against some precise thing. Otherwise…

On the other hand, there are only two kinds of freedom.
‘Against all others’ – which starts as anarchy and very soon becomes atrocious dictatorship. Where the dictator is free to rule and the oppressed are free do obey. Or to attempt to climb into the dictator’s shoes…
Or ‘with all others’. Also known as ‘democracy’. The real thing, of course, not the ‘mob rule’ variety which is currently creeping upon us.

Hence the only sensible rebellion would be the one against any form of dictatorship and ‘executed’ in concert with the rest of the oppressed.

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