Re: The Tipping Point

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 15:13:50 BST

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    Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 15:13:50 +0100
    Subject: Re: The Tipping Point
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    In-Reply-To: <[]>; from on Tue, Apr 17, 2001 at 09:17:26AM -0400
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Tue, Apr 17, 2001 at 09:17:26AM -0400, Wade T.Smith wrote:
    > Joe said-
    > > That is because, unlike the TV, we are dynamically recursive, and
    > > feed back (and forward). A TV cannot change the picture sent to it
    > > by a camera, but we can take actions which result in perceptual
    > > change, just as all perception involves some action.
    > That TV/camera dynamic can also be made to feedback, (and change the
    > picture sent to it), by pointing the camera at the monitor. Controlling
    > the 'tipping points' of luminosity and color can result in some rather
    > beautifully kinetic images.

    True. I've done that myself. But does that makes it a better analogy
    in this case?

    > Robin said-
    > >Surely each [grain] is directly affected only by its immediate neighbours
    > Surely each grain is also directly affected by its location in the
    > universe- gravity, pressure of the mass around it, even perhaps tidal
    > forces, at extreme levels of influence.

    Of course. But, as usual, I was taking the word "significantly" as given.

    > The idea that this is a universe of causes, one cause leading to another,
    > cause into cause, with some result waiting for us at some omega point,

    I don't get that last bit. What means "some result waiting for us at
    some omega point"?

    > interesting- leading me to wonder if 'effect' is not the illusion.

    Only if you take "ultimate" to be implied, and if so, then "cause" is
    equally illusory. These are mere links in a chain, or, slightly more
    accurately, nodes in a net of influence, which in one sense is simply
    the settling of the universe into the state of maximum entropy.

    > >So how can you also claim that events on one level influence those on
    > >another, when the former *is* the latter?
    > At any reasonable level of explanation, calling the universe the ultimate
    > cause is unwise, if not untrue.

    That's absolutely true. This only works at the very highest level,
    and of course, as I keep saying over and over again, the concept of
    causation only really works -- or, at least, works best -- if both
    cause and effect are at the same level. The universe (at one moment)
    causes only the universe (at the next moment).

    Actually, there is a very close parallel between the claims that (a)
    a conscious decision causes neural activity, and (b) the universe
    causes any particular event within it -- despite Joe's disparagment of
    the latter notion. Both are top-down causation, and both, in my view,
    are entirely *in*valid.

    Having said which, I'm perfectly happy with conscious activity causing
    neural activity where that can be seen as diagonal causation, i.e.
    normal, horizontal causation *plus* conceptual framework translation.
    At first glance, that *might* also be a way in which the universe could
    be considered to cause particular events, but I tend to feel rather
    sceptical about the real utility of such a tactic.

    Perhaps its only use would be relatively rhetorical, saying something
    like "given quantum non-locality, the universe as a whole (at one point
    in time) can be considered to cause every event within it (at the next
    point in time)". Or, discounting the quantum bit, influence is limited
    to a volume defined by the distance coverable by light within the time
    period concerned. But then we're no longer dealing with the universe
    as a whole.

    > But there is also some real reason for
    > this scientific ape to deal with the universe from a single perspective.

    Why should any particular perspective be given precedence?

    > Such I think is the reason people like gods so much, although any unified
    > theory is godlike. Bringing all explanations, levels, and causes together
    > is the want of consilience, since scientific perspective is 360.

    Sometimes the only way to reconcile differences is to acknowledge and
    accept them, because trying to force a merger between dissimilars leads
    to dissension and the exaggeration of difference.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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