From: Dace (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon 21 Nov 2005 - 00:53:45 GMT
> On Nov 11, 2005, at 11:05 AM, Dace wrote:
> > Their behavior is modulated by a field of influence much like
> > particles in a magnetic field, the difference being that this type
> > of field
> > is based on form in place of charge. Unless you can explain why
> > such a
> > field cannot exist, you must accept this is as the default
> > explanation.
> The thing that sticks out to me is that you say the field is "based
> on form." This sounds very neo-Platonic to me; the idea that The
> Forms themselves have a separate existence outside of physical
> reality, and in fact, pre-existed what Is now. Except Sheldrake's
> idea of a morphogenetic field seems to imply that as new forms come
> into being, the field grows to encompass them, which makes the first
> instance of a new form come into being slower than subsequent
> repetitions of it. This is counter to the idea that all forms pre-exist.
Right. Sheldrake is no Platonist. Like the creatures they govern,
morphogenetic fields evolve into being. They have no eternal existence
outside time but are reinforced by past, similar fields. The longer a given
organic form has been in existence, the stronger the field that maintains it
in current organisms. This is in contrast to Brian Goodwin, who believes
that developmental fields are manifestations of timeless equations. It's
true that such fields can be given mathematical form, but Sheldrake sees
these equations as merely descriptive rather than causal.
> Now I don't know whether or not this is true. I have often wondered
> about Possibility: even if everything is as the reductionists have
> it, with the mechanical aspect being sufficient to explain Cause,
> then wouldn't it be true that before the Big Bang, when it was just a
> singularity with no constituent parts -- wouldn't it be true that at
> that moment, everything that now Is was Possible?
You might want to pick up a copy of *Introduction to Metaphysics* by Henri
Bergson, a very short book in which he outlines his theory of time. Because
time is real-- because it's all really happening and not just the playing
out of a predetermined program-- the future isn't just the fleshing out of
pre-existent possibility but entails the truly novel and unforseeable.
Rather than merely narrowing possibilities into actualities, time is the
production of possibilities.
> Certainly we must
> agree that even before I was born, everything that has happened in my
> life was Possible. Where did this Possibility exist? Was it a Side of
> the great Die that is always being Cast?
You're using possibility in the abstract sense. In this sense it's nothing
more than the shadow of the thing cast back into the past. True possibility
is an artifact of time, a reflection of the open-ended nature of temporal
existence. Where abstract possibility denotes a definite thing which
precedes its actualization, real possibility is vague and undefinable. It's
not that a particular thing pre-exists its actuality in potentiality but
simply that the future is open. Existence doesn't shift from potential to
actual. Rather, existence and actuality are the same thing, while
potentiality is nothing, a mere figment of the imagination. That's not to
say, however, that it's not a useful abstraction. So is 2 + 2 = 4. But
unless you're talking about particular things, all the addition in the world
adds up to nothing. The essence of human mentality-- and the ground of
memetics-- is the useful lie, the nothing that's something. This is why it
makes no sense to reduce mind to brain. The mind is bigger than the brain
because the brain is merely something, while the mind is not only something
but nothing as well.
> > there's nothing known to physics that rules out
> > morphogenetic fields.
> Nor is there anything that suggests these so-called 'fields' exist.
I've been over this before. We cannot comprehend mentality as a compilation
of particles. Nor can we make sense of development and evolution without a
holistic approach to the organism and the species.
> Now, to be fair, I realized some things that would suggest the
> existence of something like a morphogenetic field, during an acid
> trip I had one time. But that acid trip also suggested a lot of other
> things, as well, such as the existence of Hell; that it is possible
> to experience time backwards and forwards; that souls always choose
> to experience Hell by traveling backwards through evolution, slowly
> reincarnating as less and less complex creatures, until they reach
> total nothingness, rather than going straight to nothingness; that
> individual existence is an illusion and in reality each experience is
> not unique but merely composed of elements of similar experience that
> are shared in various combinations by all experiencers, and actually
> link those experiencers to each other, but our minds normally block
> this link from us to perpetuate the illusion of individuality (this
> is the thing that's suggestive of a morphogenetic field); the
> existence of Heaven, in which all Possibility can be experienced
> penalty-free; and that each person is in reality all of their
> ancestors simultaneously.
> Yet, despite having realized these things, I recognize that it could
> have all been a hallucination for all I know, and just because these
> things seem perfectly acceptable as possibilities to me, people who
> have not had such an experience can not be expected to understand
> what the heck I'm talking about.
Right. A theory of life need not depend on the extraordinary. The mundane
will suffice to eliminate reductionism as a logical possibility.
> I mean, can you, for example, propose an experiment that would
> measure the morphogenetic field of an organism,
Sheldrake's trials on the ability of a dog to anticipate the return of its
master demonstrate the existence of a field that embraces both master and
pet. His results were replicated by a "skeptic" named Richard Wiseman.
Wiseman later claimed he had refuted Sheldrake, though it's obvious he
obtained exactly the same results.
> or that would block
> part of an organism or colony of termites from being able to receive
It's well known that killing the queen causes the colony to fall into
disarray. There's no material explanation for this. Nor is there a
material explanation for when the colony operates properly.
> Can it explain things that currently accepted science has a hard
> time accounting for, like cancer and programmed cell death,
How about life itself? What is it that lives? Reductionists cannot
comprehend life, which is why they reject it, along with consciousness,
imagination, purpose-- the whole kit and kaboodle.
> Hello Ted,
> With regard to how complex structures form from much simpler
> I tend to disagree with your statement that "No one has the slightest idea
> how cellular order might arise from molecular disorder".
> In fact, complexity theory (a subfield of chaos mathematics) provides some
> very good explanations of how this happens. "Emergent phenomenon" is the
> term used to describe how complex, organized behaviors emerge from the
> seemingly random interactions of simpler components.
At least in the spatial sense, emergence is synonymous with holism. While
there's no difference in the meaning of the two terms, there's a very big
difference in their memetic charge. Many people who accept "emergent"
without reservation are repulsed by "holistic." Check out the wikipedia
definition of holistic to see the amazing contrast. Reminds me of the
memetic difference between teleology, which places purpose at the center of
behavior and is therefore verboten among reductionists, and teleonomy, which
means exactly the same thing but is considered acceptable.
Biology is never about order in the abstract sense but only in the
particular sense. Why this particular order and not that? This is where
memory comes in, both genetic and holistic. The mathematics of complexity
and self-organization will never suffice.
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