Re: Abstractism

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 09:13:11 GMT

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    > "Dace" <> <> Re: AbstractismDate: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 10:28:12 -0800
    >From: Joe Dees
    >> >I think Grant's comment is particularly useful here. If we can interpret
    >> >ink blots and clouds as having particular meanings, then evidently we're
    >> >capable of generating information in our minds even when the things
    >> >we're apprehending contain no information themselves. We might
    >> >imagine that the meaning is actually located in the ink blot or the
    >> >but it's clearly in our minds. And if that's the case, then why can't
    >> >same be true of books and computer screens?
    >> Because unlike clouds and Rorshach blots, information is intentionally
    >encoded by meaning-bestowing others in books and email posts (such as this
    >one). Just find a cloud or Rorshach blot that disagrees with you.
    >Interesting how you start your response with "Because," as if what follows
    >in any way addresses my point. It's an unconscious rhetorical trick, much
    >like your habit of starting sentences with "Actually..."
    >To summarize, there are three kinds of form: material, abstract, and living.
    >Material forms have no intrinsic identity. Rocks, dust, and clouds are just
    >random agglomerations of matter to which we apply labels for our own
    >convenience. Artifacts, going all the way back to hand axes, are formed
    >according to our abstract ideas, but the ideas themselves don't inhere to
    >the objects, which are strictly chemical structures. Material forms are
    >made of matter, while abstract forms (i.e. information) are made of
    >imagination. The two shall never meet. While we habitually project our
    >abstractions onto our technological creations, in reality these objects
    >contain nothing but molecules in various configurations.
    >This is not the case with organisms. What defines living things, from
    >bacteria on up, is that their material constituents are intrinsically
    >formed. The matter of the organism is directly identified with its form.
    >Death is simply the disconnection of body from that which continually
    >informs it. Creationism misunderstands life by treating organisms as
    >machines whose form has been imposed onto them according to the abstract
    >idea of a "Creator." Neo-Darwinism retains this myth in the guise of
    >physicalism. Instead of being imposed by divine intelligence, organic form
    >is imposed through a combination of random and environmental forces.
    >Since only organisms contain intrinsic form, to project our abstract forms
    >onto simple, physical objects, as if they literally contained this
    >information, is to engage in a kind of animism.
    Elan Vital is a discredited position that does not allow you to draw such essential distinctions as calling life (and only life) intrinsic, regardless of its status as Homo Sapiens or virus.
    Living things are composed of matter and energy just like nonliving things are; the difference between them is in a whether or not they are comprised of a sufficiently complex configuration to allow them to ingest, excrete and reproduce. Abstractions are those entities, based in the neuronal/synaptic patterns stored in the material substrate brain (which requires even greater levels of complexity than environmental awareness, which in turn requires greater levels of complexity than ingestion/excretion/reproduction (some life forms never have to search for food or discern between food and nonfood, and are in fact not motile)), that appear to the mind that emerges from this material substrate brain as significant or meaningful. There may be existence without life (rocks exist), life without awareness (viruses and plants exist), and awareness without self-awareness (lower animals exist), but there can be no meaning without a mean-er (conscious self-awareness). However, there!
     can also be no meaning without something TO mean (consciousness is necessarily consciousness OF, the necessary subject-object conjunction), thus, meaning is located in the interface between the apprehending self-conscious awareness and the apprehended significant (which nevertheless may itself be a stored and recalled memory). Information is indeed purposefully encoded in artifacts (such as this post); when read, it communicates meaning, the same meaning that the writer intended when he wrote it, or one close to it, and that meaning remains encoded so long as both this post survives and available to be apprehended so long as at least one english-reading human lives.
    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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