Re: Song of Myself

Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 03:43:27 BST

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    Subject: Re: Song of Myself
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    On 26 Aug 2001, at 11:56, Dace wrote:

    > From: <>
    > > > 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.
    Whether a species of starfish is dead or alive, five arms
    mathematically works best from a geometric stability point of view,
    just as five legs does for rolling chairs.
    > 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.
    This would make the genetic evolutionary evolution of the organism
    causally responsible for the changes in such a field, rendering the
    very idea, much less the existence, of such a field Occamically
    superfluous. Why doncha borrow one of those groovy field
    detectors from the scientologists?
    > > > > 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.
    Some machines explicitly are, such as *resonant* circuits. And on
    another level, holistic is EXACTLY what machine systems are.
    The function of most machines cannot be performed by any of their
    parts, or all of them, unless they are interconnected with each
    > To be whole, the
    > parts must create each other along with themselves.
    Kind like genes do, ayy?
    > 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.
    That's because we build it. We also build genetically engineered
    living organisms. And your point is?
    > 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."
    Most animals do not possess conscious self-awareness, either.
    This is sounding like a spiritual thing with you; the MR you
    describe seems to be a god-substitute which at the same time
    functioins as a soul.
    > 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
    > physicalism.
    There is no other place from which to start besides the physical
    universe in which everything resides (you would perhaps suggest
    the patriarchal monotheist alternative of psychism)?
    > > > > > 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.
    This is not what causes the phantom limb syndrome; the cortical
    areas subtending the registration of sensation from the limb via its
    nerves continue to receive input (electrical signals) from the afferent
    nerves that still exist between the brain and the point of severance,
    the ones that formerly carried impulses from the now absent limb.
    The just-so story here is demonstrably incorrect.
    > Ted
    > ===============================================================
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    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
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