Re: Song of Myself

From: Dace (
Date: Sun Aug 26 2001 - 19:56:55 BST

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    From: "Dace" <>
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    Subject: Re: Song of Myself
    Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 11:56:55 -0700
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    > > Sheldrake is suggesting that the form of an organism somehow stays
    > > with the present, even when its materialization has long since
    > > vanished. This is simply a roundabout way of saying that if memory is
    > > real, it's holistic, not particulate.
    > >
    > And this idea of an ethereal or astral memory, in the complete and
    > utter absence of any site or mechanism for same, is itself an
    > anthromorphization and a (very old) mystically driven error.
    > Platonic Forms, 'somehow' hovering in the celestial spheres, to
    > inform the mundane world, long after their dead carriers have
    > dissolved away; it makes for okay greek literature, and even
    > possesses a seductive touch of poesy, but scientific and
    > empirically veridical, it is not.

    Platonic Forms don't evolve. They transcend time altogether. Sheldrake
    criticizes Goodwin on the grounds that his "generative equations" are
    unaffected by the emergence or extinction of the species whose forms they
    describe. In the morphic model, there's no field until there's a species in
    resonance with its past. As the species evolves, its form changes. Thus
    what it resonates with also changes. Fields evolve right along with the
    organisms they govern.

    > > > Your idea of what genes do is about as plausible as the
    > > > Greek idea that brains existed to cool the blood.
    > >
    > > And the modern habit of equating the mind with the brain is no more
    > > plausible than the Greek view. The mind involves representation, such
    > > as the though, "The telephone is ringing," which refers to an event in
    > > the world. Yet, if the brain is part of the physical world, then it
    > > can't very well step outside that world and represent something within
    > > it. Physical objects abide by a very simple rule: X = X. The thing
    > > is itself, nothing more or less. One atom or molecule or neuron
    > > cannot "represent" another atom or molecule or neuron. Arrange the
    > > neurons any way you please, they're still not going to add up to
    > > anything more than themselves. You can draw an arrow on a piece of
    > > paper, but it's just ink. It doesn't actually "point" at something
    > > else except in our mental interpretation of this ink.
    > >
    > This paragraph demonstrates your complete ignorance of both
    > emergence and of complexity theory (the field in which Goodwin
    > and his colleagues John Holland and Stuart Kauffman are working
    > at the Santa Fe Institute), and makes me wonder if you even know
    > what you mean when you invoke such a term as holism. A system
    > adds up to MORE than the sum of its parts; it is comprised of its
    > components PLUS their interconnections (which is real handy for
    > gene templates). The mind is NOT the brain, but the brain forms
    > the material substrate from which the mind emerges, and this is
    > able to happen when the product of the number of neurons and the
    > complexity of their axonal, dendritic and synaptic interconnectional
    > structure surpasses the Godelian limit, and becomes capable of
    > self-reference.

    This is half-assed holism. The whole is not simply its parts and the
    connections between them. Every machine has connections between its parts.
    That doesn't make every machine holistic. To be whole, the parts must
    create each other along with themselves. The parts of a machine are
    manufactured separately and then placed together. Its form is imposed onto
    it, rather than arising intrinsically, and is separable from the matter that
    comprises it. Living form, on the other hand, is *organically* entwined
    with living matter. This is the meaning of "organism." The organism is
    holistic because it exists intrinsically, in relation to itself. The
    machine exists in relation to its parts and to other objects but never to
    itself, for it has no "self." You can build feedback loops into machinery,
    as Watt did with his steam engine, and speak of the machine as being
    "self-referential" or "self-regulating," but this doesn't mean it exists
    intrinsically. It's still just a bunch of parts designed to fit each other.
    You'll never arrive at holism or self-existence from the starting-point of

    > > > > Every structure
    > > > > in the body has its own distinctive pattern of vibration
    > > > > corresponding to its shape.
    > > > >
    > > > Vibrations do not correspond to shape so much as they
    > > > correspond to size and elemental composition; just check out
    > > > tuning forks. And, BTW, vibrations do not encode the configuration
    > > > or composition of the source, since many different configurations
    > > > and compositions can produce the same vibrational frequency, and
    > > > ocilloscopes and frequency generators can (each) produce many
    > > > different ones. It just isn't feasible, or believeable.
    > >
    > > Tuning forks aren't alive. Living form is fundamentally different
    > > from nonliving form. In the first case, the thing *is* the form. In
    > > the second case, the form of the thing is accidental. A chair doesn't
    > > care if it stays a chair or gets chopped up into firewood. If a thing
    > > is nonliving, it can be made to resonate acoustically anyway you
    > > please. But if it's alive, it's got its own vibe.
    > >
    > Now you're REALLY sounding newage sewage-y! Its own VIBE???
    > And Jesie Arbogast's arm was removed by a shark, whether he
    > CARED or not, as if that has anything whatsoever to do with
    > '*vibrational frequencies*' which supposedly, according to the fairy
    > tale pickling your brain, distinguish life from nonlife in some
    > bizarrely clueless recycling of the discredited 19th century elan
    > vital. Do you think Jessie's removed arm lost it's '*vibrational
    > tendencies*' when it was severed? Did it's loss affect the 'body
    > tune' (oh, GAK!)?

    Sheldrake offers the phenomenon of "phantom limbs" as evidence for morphic
    fields. Unlike an inanimate object, the body wants to be whole. When an
    arm is lost, the individual invariably reports that somehow it still seems
    to be there. This makes perfect sense from the morphic point of view. The
    fields that regulate the structures of the body are arranged in a nested
    hierarchy. Protein fields are nested within organelle fields, which are
    nested within cell fields, which are nested within tissue fields, and so on.
    The field for an arm is part of a larger field embracing the rest of the
    body. So it can't be removed just because the arm it regulated is gone.
    This would explain the sense that the arm is still there in some way.


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