The Science of Necessity

necessity-is-the-mother-of-inventions

In our previous pots (Intelligence and Being[1] and Natural Purpose is born from Necessity[2])we made necessity a force; a physical law of nature. But, how can that be?

Within metaphysics there is the Necessitarian Theory which puts forward the idea that the “Laws of Nature are the principles which govern the natural phenomena of the world”. But this was more of a nomic debate between must and is [3], and a questioning of free will which is certainly not where we want to go. Necessity is also implied, if not stated, in much of the debate on final causes and purposiveness in biology, and, again, championed by theologians, but that is not where we want to go either.

A surprising upholder of final causes and purposiveness as a driving force in biological design was Kant. For him, mechanistic materialism was not enough to explain biology.[4] Nature needs more than just an understanding of its laws to explain it.

But to avoid the philosophical pitfall of tripping over into theology when unravelling metaphysical ideas, perhaps the best way to tackle this would be through an examination of the information used by systems – mechanical or biological – in order to drive themselves. Traditionally we have called much of this information laws: But how do these laws happen? Why must systems act in a certain way? Doesn’t this obligation imply necessity?

If atoms in water must solidify at 0ºC, and must agitate and become gaseous at 100ºC there is a certain force of necessity involved. Once we have established that all natural-laws contain the element of necessity, we see that necessity is everywhere, running throughout the very fabric of the entire universe, on the cosmic and the sub-atomic levels. Things happen because they must; because necessity demands it.

Science thinks it understands phenomena when it has been able to understand its laws, or, in our terminology, when it has understood its necessity – although knowing that something happens necessarily is not the same as knowing why it happens. It is in this field of trying to understand why, that those who ask the question are drawn into the problematic area of teleology and final causes.

Or perhaps not … The answer to the question of why organised systems come about may have nothing to do with final causes – the finality in each law may be just the singularity of each separate law. Initially, the necessary function of each law may simply be that it works. Nevertheless, once a system becomes complex, it needs the individual elements that make it up to all work in a necessary way.

Could we say that physical laws, and therefore needs, evolve as the system evolves? Structurally there is really nothing static in the Universe, everything is changing or inter-changing. Everything is dynamic, evolving into systems that seem in macro-cosmological terms to be stable.

It is this dynamism that eventually produces, in at least one tiny speck of the Universe, conditions for life. With the emergence of organisms, complexity takes on a whole new form. Really there are three stages of complexity in the Universe: (i) the mechanical stage of organising matter; (ii) the organic stage of evolving life forms; and (iii) the perceptive and idealistic stages in the evolving of minds.

In each stage there are laws or needs which deal with: a) lack; b) the problems of the maintenance and preservation of the system; and c) the needs for adapting, changing and progressing through creativity. The interesting thing here is that at all three stages the systems are liable to fall into internecine relationships with themselves. There seems to be an effort to regulate itself and find equilibriums and conditions which are self-regulatory, but the overall rule seems to be that this is impossible, at least in an absolute sense. While systems seem to strive for regularity and permanence, any absolute permanence seems to be impossible. All systems must eventually collapse, even though this seems to be the opposite of the intentions of the needs.

But, if the intentions are real, then the Universe is imbued with purpose; with a struggle; with the need to overcome its own internecine tendencies and evolve into regularity and permanence or at least to keep moving in that direction through the progressive evolutionary forces of adapting, changing and creating.

Looked at in this way, the final cause is in the process and is embedded in progress and becoming geared towards permanence.

[1] https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3120

[2] https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3117

[3] Internet Enciclopedia of Philosophy www.iep.utm.edu/lawofnat

[4] See Stanley N. Salthe, DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION; COMPLEXITY AND CHANGE IN BIOLOGY, p. 270

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THE DANGERS OF DETERMINISM

 

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Last week we published an article examining the positive depths of the idea of a purposeful, deterministic Universe[1]. However, as some readers pointed out, determinism has also got its negative side, and we are going to look at that now …

It was Kant who warned us of the dangers of allowing God into the equation when tackling the notion that purposiveness exists in nature. For Kant it was quite simple: using God to explain natural science is no good for either science or theology. It produces an overlapping of boundaries and that creates uncertainty in both camps.[2]

But: Why is this so? If we can deduce that the Universe seems to be fine-tuned towards the creation of life[3], what is wrong with attributing that fine-tuning to an omnipotent, eternal force like God?

Well, our first objection is that the concept of God is by no means a neutral one. It has too much semantic baggage, and those that claim ownership of that luggage are adamant about the enlightened stand-point of their perspective. Likewise, it is hard to see religions embracing cosmological arguments as a proof of the existence of God, simply because cosmological fine-tuning is not found in the Scriptures and when seen from the scientific point-of-view, the science undermines the Scriptures or renders them unimportant. If God did fine-tune the Universe, it is very doubtful that It would be the same God who is said to have communicated with us via the prophets. Once fine-tuning, or any other scientific explanation of creation is accepted, the Scriptures no longer make any sense.

So, if science explains the deterministic, fine-tuning of the Universe it cannot use the term God to describe how or what could have been involved in the process that allowed this fine-tuning to come about.

Kant’s own warning was: “We must scrupulously and modestly restrict ourselves to the term that expresses just as much as we know, and no more – namely, an end (purposiveness) of nature … For the purpose of keeping strictly within its own bounds, physics entirely ignores the question whether natural ends are ends designedly or undesignedly. To deal with that question would be to meddle in the affairs of others – namely, in what is the business of metaphysics.”[4]

Of course, what cosmological fine-tuning implies is that yes, things seem to have been designed, or that there seems to be a design embedded in the structure of the Universe, driving it towards a certain end. Whether this end is willed or desired by the Universe is not a question that can be properly answered by science, but neither is it a pertinent question for theologians who would need to try and apply fine-tuning to the scriptures or vice-versa. That would be an absurd task.

The question here then becomes: If the implications of cosmological fine-tuning is a metaphysical question, who should deal with that metaphysics if it goes beyond the scope of theology and science?

To answer that we must consider where metaphysics came from, and we find its origins in Greek Pre-Socratic thought; the same thinkers who gave birth to philosophy and science. Through the Pre-Socratics, and metaphysics, science and philosophy are genetically tied. The first philosophers were trying to explain the essence of reality by defining the essence of nature; this is what science does through theory and experimentation, and it is also what metaphysics does through logic.

Cosmological fine-tuning is a logic-deduced concept derived from scientific data made from observations of the cosmos. It creates a metaphysical field that needs to be explored philosophically, and it implies the existence of a deterministic Universe, or an infinite Multiverse, and that suggests deep, positivistic repercussions for humanity.

Cosmological fine-tuning is a controversial subject for science, as are all deterministic ideas. Physics and mathematics might tell us that the nature of the Universe is incredibly precise and that, without this minute precision in its structure, the Universe would have been incapable of evolving as it did, but this also implies that we are the results of such an incredibly precise mechanism that the least likely explanation is that the cosmos was a beautiful accident exploding out of the Big Bang. And this makes theologists clap their hands and scientists blush.

To save themselves from the theologians, scientists have come up with an equally speculative idea that our Universe is not a real singularity and we should talk of a Multiverse made up of an infinite possibility of universes.

Quantum physics has opened the door to the realm of the speculative and allows, if not demands, very creative thinking. In a way it has pushed cosmology back into the area of philosophy again – especially towards the primal area of the Pre-Socratics. Scientists are now daring to think within the dangerous space of infinity and recently even sacred concepts like time, the Big Bang and Thermal Death have been questioned.

If philosophy is focussed on necessity, and if our necessity is rooted in the survival and permanence of the sapiens species, our humanity, then the positivism inherent in purposiveness has to be embraced, and the fine-tuned cosmos has to be interpreted as a positivistic inspiration for humanity. The Universe has allowed the conditions for life to be created and evolve into a creature that is aware enough to perceive and to try and understand the very nature of its own creator. And if we permit our own destruction, we are threatening the destruction of all perception of the Universe as well … This is philosophy as positive incentive, as a rediscovery of humanity as a vital force within the cosmos.

If we want to survive as a species and evolve as sapiens, then we must embrace concepts like permanence and progress as virtues. But permanence and progress together. Progress seen as that which will create valuable things that can endure. Endurance is what we see when we marvel at the pyramids or when we tackle the classics in literature, or stand before the great masterpieces of art and music. But the value of endurance must not be limited to conservative sentiments that lead to decadence, rather, endurance can only be guaranteed through progress as human and sapiens concept.

[1] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/the-depth-of-determinism/

[2] Immanuel Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, p.209

[3] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-importance-of-metaphysics/

[4] Kant: Ibid, p. 210

Transcendental Reality – from the Big Bang to the Virtual Laboratory of Being, via Plato

Matrix-and-Internet

In order for reality to exist it needed to create an object/subject capable of perceiving it, but in order to do that, it had to firstly manufacture a physical space for that perceiving-subject to evolve in. This needed to be constructed in such a way that life could evolve within it.

The problem is analogous to our relationship with our computers. If we can imagine things from the computer’s point of view … well, from the perspective of an AI computer that would be capable of having a point of view …For that AI consciousness, reality is out of the box that the physical universe is contained in.

Nevertheless, something in that same out-of-the-box reality is responsible for programming the operating system that allows the AI to exist, be conscious of its existence, and even be capable of understanding its own condition as an artificial form of reality created in order to understand the real. Even though that reality is outside of the box and hence alien to the AI’s own immediate environment.

A question arises from this: Could an artificial intelligence ever come to really understand that which it’s been designed to do without being able to leave the box and experience the authentically real for itself?

In fact, this dilemma seems to be a moot point, having been made irrelevant by the fact that an intelligent computer does have access to input from outside. Actually, the imagined world of the Cyberentity would be mostly formed by its perception of the information that it could gather from the Internet, which would be information about the other reality, outside of the box, that is our world.

So, here the analogy breaks down, or does it? Here, perhaps, Plato was right. Everything that exists in the physical world has been created from information uploaded into it from the pre-physical or transcendentally Real dimension.

Thus, we also have the Biblical “God created the Universe in his own image” …

Or perhaps not … Could our physical reality have been a different kind of computer to the ones we are accustomed to be using?

Imagine that we want to build a device that could actually teach us about ourselves by clearly revealing to ourselves what we are from a purely objective stand-point. Our main aim therefore, would be to fabricate something which would provide an objective perception of us and, at the same time, be able to communicate its impartial perception of us to us, in a language that we are capable of understanding.

It might be considered that the best way to do this would be not to invent a super-AI observer of us, who could teach us, like a Messiah (we already know how flawed that process is), but rather to fabricate a virtual, but distorted image of a civilisation, that we could observe from a safe and impartially-perfect distance. If the civilisation were flawed we could learn from its mistakes, if it were perfect and Utopian, we would have a model to learn how to improve our own societies from.

In order to make this didactic universe, we would need to programme an environment capable of evolving in its own original way, but in a direction in which the creation of perception, consciousness, self-consciousness and curiosity were all possible. At the same time, the process would need to be monitored by us, so that, the internal language of the organisms evolving in the process can be learned and understood by us. Only if we allow a language of evolution that’s alien to our own, and therefore objective because distorted image of ourselves will the experiment provide scientifically important results (a mirror-image of ourselves would not give us the distance needed to truly learn from our observations of it). Only if we are constantly monitoring the language in order to understand its idiosyncrasies will we be able to draw purposeful conclusions and enjoy a meaningful experience from the experiment.

The fact that it is conceivable that we, or an Artificial Intelligence, could be capable of conducting such an experiment, opens a mind-boggling window into the question of reality. In fact, the very existence of virtual-reality questions the nature of our own perceived-world in exactly the same way that Plato did. We are not only capable of imagining the creation of a virtual universe, the purpose of which would be to understand our own being, we could also very well be the results of such a fabrication by an entity outside of our own box.

It also tells us that consciousness of the virtual does not have to be a nightmarish experience, like the one depicted in the Matrix films, but rather it provides a purposeful meaning for our existence in terms of the entire multiverse – in and out of the box experience of Reality. If the scenario we have imagined here is correct, and we are the virtual creations of the universe, then it means that we are the objects that the universe learns from, which turns us into the didactic material that the universe absorbs.

And the moral lesson this teaches, is that the essence of the universe is moulded by our example and that is a tremendous responsibility.

Yet, if this is so, what needs to be done?

Perhaps the best way to solve this question will be to create our own virtual-universe laboratory … and by doing so extend reality further into the infinite regressions of the multiverse. Infinity is a reality, but it is found not in expansion but in regression.

What we Forget

Space-Suit17-640x426

Every living creature, and, of course, every human being, has a spiritual tie to nature. It is the cosmos that has created us, moulding us out of itself, and pre-programming us through our DNA to eventually return to it when our physical life deteriorates or is broken and dies.

All spiritual linkage, therefore, should be not with the land or with the country, or with the people who speak our language, but with the Universe.

From this stand-point, human culture has been a steady process of psychologically dis-possessing us from our authentic home, which is the entire Universe. This dis-possession begins with our parents and the immediate family that take possession of us immediately. An initial dis-possession that spreads itself out into the extended family, then our friends and neighbours, and little by little all this dis-possession through kinship dissolves into the great dis-possession by the cultural environment of the state.

WHAT DO WE TAKE? … A) from Feuerbach

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FROM FEUERBACH:

(i) “… human needs determine consciousness

(ii) “The essence of man is the Origin, Cause and Goal of history …”[1]

In THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY, Feuerbach examines the need for God, which he describes as an emotional need. This is true, but within that emotional need is also a need for an ultimate meaning to existence; a need for eschatological meaning; an answer to the question: where are we going?

The problem with this need is that it is easily manipulated: the very essence of religions is an indication of how sentimental attachments to symbols and fetishes can be easily implanted in society. Religions have also shown us how this implantation can be used by interested groups to socialise the masses in a way that is obviously beneficial to the groups that are controlling the manipulation. Religions are always, primarily, forms of exploiting the emotional need for existential and eschatological meaning in order to build easily controllable societies and cultures.

If we accept Feuerbach’s thesis that human needs determine consciousness and that God is an emotional need, we can see that obliterating what God is does not obliterate the problem of God, for, although we can obliterate religious superstition, without a substitute for God, we fail to satisfy the emotional need we have for an ultimate meaning to our existence.

To resolve this dilemma, we need to find another kind of final goal for humanity, one based on scientific and mathematical data, that can satisfy the human need for ultimate meaning and replace the purely mythical eschatologies of our religions. For example, it is a more positive idea if we construct our needs for ultimate meaning on the very physical and evolutionary nature of the cosmos, and our possible role within that evolution itself, rather than waiting for a supernatural End of Days.

We know that the Universe exists, and it is much easier to prove than the existence of God.

We can speculate on the purpose of the Universe in a scientific way, and such speculation can produce far more satisfying and pragmatic results than speculation on the existence of God.

Human purpose in the Universe depends on our relationship with the same Universe, and this idea ultimately leads to an interconnectivity between everything, both material and spiritual, that is lacking in the monotheistic religions that disparage the material in favour of an all-important, but also most-obscure idea of the spiritual.

In order to properly answer where we are going, we have to redraw our home, the where-we-are, away from the ambiguities of God, but not into the abyss of no-place, yet rather into the concrete reality of the Cosmos. Between God and No-God, lies the Universe.

If God is eternal, the Universe created itself out of nothing. If God is omnipotent, the Universe if driven by a blind will that needs sapient organisms (like us) to see.  In God there can be no evolution; no authentic progress, whilst the Universe is always expanding and changing, and we are the conscious part of that evolution and change. In God, we are insignificant; in the Universe and its evolution to self-consciousness, we are a fundamental, purposeful ingredient.

[1] As quoted in Althusser: ESSAY ON SELF-CRITICISM, p.101, (ebook)

IF WE ARE ALONE …

X-FILES-i-want-to

We are either alone in the Universe, or we’re not alone. Until formal contact with an extra-terrestrial life-form is established we can only affirm that: Intelligent life exists beyond the planet Earth or it doesn’t.

Nevertheless, we can statistically try and calculate what the possibilities of life existing beyond Earth are, and yet … does it matter? Well, if a positive, progressive energy can be generated by the conclusion, then yes, it does matter.

*

This week, the media have been latching on to a recently published article from Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute that argues the case that statistically we are most probably alone in the Universe.[1]

The article in question, by Sandberg, Drexler and Ord, called “Dissolving the Fermi Paradox” adds very little to arguments already put forward by Ward and Brownlee in their Rare Earth Hypothesis formulated nearly twenty years ago. Despite this fact, the media have picked up on the FHI paper as if it were a totally new discovery, proving that we must be very much alone.

New or not, the Rare Earth Hypotheses argues that the astrophysical, geological, chemical and biological combinations needed to create the cocktail for the evolution of intelligent life is so complex and needs to be so precise that our own existence is a freak stroke of luck, and that the accident we are is so special and fluky that it is very doubtful that is has been repeated anywhere in our Universe.

Yet, should we now assume this hypothesis as definitive? And if we do accept it, can this ‘we are alone’ perspective be beneficial for humanity in any way?

*

There is an X-Files episode (Redux, the first episode of season 5) in which the hero, Fox Mulder, is in a motel room watching a video of symposium featuring astrophysicist Carl Sagan amongst other, in which the question of the existence of life beyond Earth is being discussed. The actual symposium was held in 1975 and was joint sponsored by NASA and the Boston University.

In this conference, it was argued, in a proclamation by Richard Berendzen, that “the amount of stars in our galaxy alone is so staggeringly large, to the order of 1011 or more; the probability of stars having planetary systems is so high, perhaps half; the probability of those planetary systems might be comparable with our own and that the stars have some kind of ecosphere … suitable for life and it’s not too hot, not too cold … it begins to lead to the sorts of conclusions … that life must exist in the Universe and it must exist quite abundantly.”

Carl Sagan then affirmed that the most optimistic estimates about the number of civilisations there would be in the galaxy is in the order of a million.

Once it had been established unanimously that civilisations had to exist in the Universe, all of the speakers at the symposium expressed the view that contact with an advanced civilisation would have to be positive and enlightening for humanity. With the exception of the scientist and Nobel Prize Winner, George Wald. Wald began his speech with a positive affirmation of life in the Universe, like the others, but ended with a very sobering reflection. The tone of his voice suddenly drops into a melancholy register and he confesses that: “I can conceive of no nightmare as terrifying as establishing such communication with a so-called superior … advanced technology in outer space.” For Wald, such an encounter would be: “The degradation of the human enterprise.” He then went on to describe this enterprise: “One of the greatest of human enterprises is our understanding; something that men have sweated out to the greater dignity and worth of man, and to see the thought that we might attach us by some umbilical cord to some more advanced civilisation, science and technology in outer space, doesn’t thrill me, but just the opposite.”

What Wald is warning us of here, is that an encounter with a superior civilisation would rob ourselves of our purposiveness. And what is implicit in this argument is that humanity could have no meaningful place in any world populated by superior beings, because all our understanding would suddenly be rendered obsolete; and, as such, the human race would itself suddenly become obsolete.

What Wald is describing here, is our reason for being, which is encapsulated in our understanding.  

 

Reflecting on this point, and on our own civilisation at this point in time, we have to conclude that our own lives are very much alienated from this meaningfulness which is our understanding of things, and this displays the tremendous decadence of our system.

But what Wald’s observation also tells us is this: That if we are not alone, it is best to believe that we are alone.

*

If we are alone it imbues humanity with a tremendous responsibility – the obligation to be sapiens; to understand; to develop the human enterprise toward the fulfilment of knowing; to enjoy the meaningful pursuit of becoming knowledgeable; and, through this understanding, participate in the very Being of the Universe.

The Universe can only really exist in a qualitative way, if there is a conscious entity within that Universe that understands that It does exist. The homo sapiens is the species that knows and reflects on that knowledge. Whether or not we are the only species that knows in this Universe, believing that we are fills us with a powerful, driving purposiveness.

Embedded in this purposiveness is a duty to prolong existence in time and increase the quality of that existence, through progress.

And, in order to do that, we have to overcome the deep, nihilistic decadence that infects our civilisation today.

But again, we run into another paradox, because the human enterprise of understanding necessitates the exploration of the possibility of discovering other intelligent life-forms, even though there is a possibility that we may encounter civilisations so superior to ours that our meaningfulness in the Universe will be totally diminished.

However, perhaps this paradox is false. When we do have the technological capabilities to encounter other civilisations the dilemma would no longer have relevance for we ourselves would be advanced enough to communicate on a partnership level with the other civilisation. Likewise, if Ufologists are right, and we are being visited by extra-terrestrial civilisations already, these civilisations are wise enough to disguise their presence from us, precisely in order not to destroy our purposiveness.

[1] SEE: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/27/aliens-exist-survival-universe-jim-alkhalili

https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/25/probably-intelligent-life-universe-depressing-study-finds-7657344/

 

 

 

LOVE, THE REAL & THE IDEAL

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I

Reality is out there, but first it must be brought into view. But what, or more correctly who, can carry out this viewing, if not some biological form blessed with the gift of perception. And what good is being perceived if that which has the power of perception is incapable of appreciating that reality and understanding it in a meaningful way.

The capacity for appreciating, and a desire for understanding derived from that appreciation, is a kind of energy unique to Sapiens species. It is the result of a creative evolutionary process, an evolution unto the power to know and be known, a process possessing such an energetic vitality that we think it is suitable to describe it as a kind of loving, the love to know things. It may well be the same power of transference that we often use the term ‘love’ for, for all kinds of love are desiring processes of trying to know, and wanting to be known. To know one must understand, and there is nothing more vital in the success of human relationships of any level of complexity, from couples to intricate societies, than that of understanding. However, the connections between love and understanding are often not made at all when the term is expressed, producing the many vague forms that the term is used for at all levels of life.

So, if (A) reality is that which has been perceived and the understandings that have been made from that perception; and (B) the perceiving-understanding element in the Universe is the Sapiens species; and if (C) this process of wanting to know is part of what we call love, then, we can affirm (X) that the Universe without Sapiens is a loveless place, but also (Y) that the Universe with Sapiens is a reality embedded with love.

Love (the desire for understanding), is, partly, a power of transference and partly the capacity to receive information in order to make a deciphering of that information received. Love, therefore, may be felt, and confused, emotionally, but its basis is fundamentally intellectual.

And if love comes basically from transference of information, then this is also the foundation of all physics. From quantum particles to the couple in love, unto the stars and galaxies, there is a constant and necessary transference of information going on.

Love is not only that which is desired, it is also that which is needed for reality to take place at all.

In evolutionary terms, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, the highest form of transference-evolution resides in the middle of the cosmological map – in life. And in the Sapiens entities that have evolved in life.

If appreciation and understanding are evolutionary high-points in the development of transference, then love is a result of becoming that is, we believe, still becoming; still developing.

II

The Sapiens relationship with the Universe, therefore, comes through love, and this is the highest form of relationship that exists in the evolving Universe.

This is not a mystical statement; its metaphysical conclusions have been drawn from our scientific perceptions of the cosmos and from evolutionary principles. Truth is in the real as we, the Sapiens, being that Real, with a capital R, into view. The Universe becomes and will continue to become as we unveil it by perceiving it. All meaningfulness is wrapped up in this process of becoming; all meaningfulness is contained in us. We are the centre of the cosmos. All real positivism is contained in this fact.

III

There is another quality involved in love and, as such, in the Sapiens’ relationship with the reality of the Universe, and that is the desire for preservation which in its ultimate form is a longing for the eternal. In this way we can see love in the form of a triad: APPRECIATION + UNDERSTANDING + PRESERVATION = LOVE.

Love triangle

 

Information (2): Vs Religion

In our previous entry (Information 1), we proposed the idea that information is a metaphysical concept that bridges the divide between the material and the spiritual. We argued that information is omnipresent and that it is part of the subatomic fabric of the Universe. Subsequently, information is in everything and that everything is basically information; and, because the end result of information is ‘knowing’, this also makes information (in its complete form as the Universe) omniscient.

Of course, this is all sounds like a description of God, so perhaps we could create a new religion from it … A religion? Another religion? Oh, please, God forbid!

No, we don’t want another religion; but perhaps if we consider information as God and try, in a post-Leibnizian way, to imagine what an Information-worshipping religion might be like, then we may also get an insight into the way religions work as well.

So, if God was Information then how would the Church of Information be different to other religions:

FIRSTLY: There would be an absence of the mysteries that other religions are shrouded in. There is nothing mysterious about Information. The religion would operate without any occult pretensions; its followers would be awestruck and inspired by its magnitude and by its infinite possibilities in the same way that the arts and sciences can be awe-inspiring once one embraces them.

SECONDLY: Information in its pure form is not usually dogmatic, whilst religions are dogmatic. We have shown, in the previous post, that Information can be ethical because the uses we have for Information can be good or bad. Yet, while there is a kid of sin involved, if we use Information in a way that could be fatal to Information itself, there is no divine retribution.

THIRDLY: Information is not ceremonious: the celebration is inherent in the concept itself. Life as a conscious deciphering of information, is itself the celebration.

FOURTHLY: Religions are traditionally based on the idea that there is a better world beyond this one, and hence, this place and life is a mere transition to the other world. In an Information based religion there would be no Apocalypse or Final Judgement, no Paradise or Hell beyond this Universe. Leibniz was right in saying this is the most perfect of Universes, but not because it was created by God, but because it is the only Universe. There is Existence (through conscious, information deciphering entities that, through the objectifying consciousness of their collective subjectivities, allow existence itself to come about) or non-Existence. The final purpose of Information is to ensure that conscious, sapiens organisms can exist permanently in the Universe, and, by doing so, ensure the Permanence of the Universe itself as well. It is through the idea of idea of Permanence that a new optimism arises, that will bury the old nihilisms and point us in a positive direction with deep will for survival.

Without mysticism, dogma, ceremony, an Apocalyptic eschatology or any Heaven or Hell, our religion of Information can hardly be considered a religion at all. The real question that arises here is: Can a positive principle be expected to motivate large groups of people, and create positive revolution, without the vulgar trappings of mysticism, dogmas and promises of Paradise?

But, in order to answer that question, we need to examine the organisations that make religions work. We need to look at Ideology.

The Mind

Molecular Thoughts

Collage of human head, molecules and various abstract elements on the subject of modern science, chemistry, physics, human and artificial minds

Perhaps the greatest miracle in nature after the creation of the Universe, is the creation of the mind. It is through the mind that the Universe is able to be perceived and be made intelligible. It is through the mind that existence is awakened and affirmed. It is in the mind that the cosmos is spread out, and the world that exists, unfolding itself before us whenever we open our eyes and ears, is inside, in the brain, in the mind. What we perceive; that which we are so sure of to the world around us, is in fact an image, being projected back within us. That so much information is able to be absorbed as reflection, in an upside-down way, digested by the mind and turned the right way up again, analysing it, drawing conclusions about it, and creating physical responses to all that information in the body, all in a microsecond instant, is truly incredible.

We know the mind is in our brain: damage that brain and the processing of reality becomes distorted or even totally incapacitated. The brain is in the world, so the mind is in the world too. But, is it? The world is in space, but the mind defies space. From a mountain top you can open your eyes and look at the horizon: how can that space be enclosed in your mind, in the physical space of your brain?

The reality perceived is not reality, it is just a representation of reality perceived on a certain scale and frequency. In fact, most of reality is unperceived by human sensors and we need reason and technology in order to measure and grasp the kind of reality that our dogs and cats, or the flies buzzing around our faces, can perceive quite naturally.

 

As for flies: what must the mind of a fly be like? So tiny is the fly’s brain compared to the magnificent super-computer that is the human mind and yet the fly constantly out perceives us. It flaps around our face, darting through the hairs of our legs to suck annoyingly on the liquid oozing out of our pores. Its compound eyes make our lenses-type eyes seem so primitive. How is it that their pin-prick sized brains are capable of processing the Universe in such a way that time moves slower for them? That is why we cannot catch the fly. No matter how fast we try to slap it, it sees the danger coming fly-minutes before the hand reaches it. In the slow-motion universe that the fly inhabits, it always has plenty of time to calmly fly away.

In order to understand where the mind really is, and not fall into the logical trap of concluding that it is outside space, we need to understand the enormous amount of space that exists in the quantum world. In a sense, we, and all living organisms are in the middle of the Universe as far as size goes.

The Universe is 1026 times bigger than us and 10-26 times smaller than us on the quantum scale. We have to multiply 10 with 26 zeroes in order to get to the limits of the Universe, and divide it by 10 with 26 zeroes to reach the space so small that nothing can fit in it.

Perhaps it is that detail that explains how we are capable of seeing all the way to the horizon and projecting it back inside our mind. The reality spread before us is a quantum perception of it within us, and the space within is just as vast, in potential, as the space without.

All outward exploration is an inner one as well.

The Sublime

Salvador-Dali-00

The sublime experience is one which is elevated and inspires awe. Some would say, an experience that touches us or moves us deeply. Many would say that the experience of the sublime is a feeling that behind the phenomena lies some substantial but inaccessible thing – like God, for instance. Because of this the sublime is often put forward as an example to demonstrate the presence of God in our lives. But, we think this is a total misreading of the sublime.

In fact, the experience of the sublime is not that which points toward the inaccessible at all. The experience of the sublime is really a discovery of the real substantiality of things. What the sublime experience tells us is that there is a substantiality in all things, but habit and closeness have robbed us of the magic of it. A magic which is really based in the simple fact that we are perceiving it.

The first great miracle of the Universe is that it exists. The second great miracle – almost more miraculous still – is that we can perceive it. And the greatest miracle of all is that we know we perceive it. The sublime is the experience of knowing that we perceive existence, and that that is a miracle. It has nothing to do with God.

When we see the light behind the grotesque or the beauty in the monster’s interior, we are making a leap from our subjective prejudice to the universal perception. All sublime feeling is an immersion in the universal, whether that be the universality of our species or the universality of the Universe itself. The sublime is a perceiving that suddenly blasts out of a state of not-perceiving. A great work of art can move us in a sublime way on repeated occasions because it is always opening up different doors for us to perceive things from. However, the sublime sensation of the work will not be generated if we have it hanging on our living room wall or if it is a recording that we listen to every day. The sublime has to be a surprise, a way of snapping us out of our subjectivity. Sometimes it can be an absolute shock, as if we were suddenly pushed under water at a moment of complete lethargy when we had practically forgotten we were even floating.