Typo in line 7 (correction) experimentally determine whether or *not* it "works" as proposed.
On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 1:20 PM, Terrence W. DEACON <dea...@berkeley.edu> wrote: > Gordana's response provides a wonderful opening for digging into some of > the most challenging and subtle issues lurking behind this essay. > > For now I will respond to the comparison between autopoiesis and > autogenesis and what can and cannot be learned from each. In many ways this > comparison is at the center of the conceptual challenge I offer. > > First, autopoiesis is a philosophical concept. Though various model > systems have been proposed that purport to embody its logic, it is not an > empirically testable hypothesis that would allow one to experimentally > determine whether or n to it "works" as proposed. > > Here is the definition that Maturana and Varela provided in 1980: > > [an autopoietic system as one that] "constitutes itself ... as a concrete > unity ... by specifying the topological domain of its realization ..." "So > an “autopoietic machine” is one that collectively produces its material > components as well as the network of relations between them that > constitutes their unity in a discrete physical location." > > These latter properties are not attributed to any separate and distinctive > mechanism over and above the closed co-production of components and yet are > essential defining attributes. Indeed, this organization is described as > the "fundamental variable which it maintains constant" (p. 79). > > In simple terms, autopoiesis is a highly abstract account of what must be > the case for something to be a living organism. In this respect I consider > it to be an updated restatement of Kant's concept of the self-organization > that constitutes an organism, with the added stipulation that it also > somehow [how?] determines systemic unity and coherence. > > Here is Kant in 1790: > > “An organized being is then not a mere machine, for that has merely motive > power, but it possesses in itself formative power of a self-propagating > kind which it communicates to its materials though they have it not of > themselves.” (p. 558) and “... every part ... is there for the sake of the > other (reciprocally as end, and at the same time, means).” (p. 557) > > Kant concludes that this isn't sufficient to determine intrinsic teleology > (and by implication insufficient to determine that the concepts of function > and adaptation, much less information). And that these are not intrinsic > attributes of organisms. I believe that that he is right to concludes that > these attributes alone only provide justification for assuming that > teleological attribute are descriptive glosses, not intrinsic to > organisms—assigned from a sort of extrinsic transcendental perspective. > > In a striking parallel, the evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane gave > the following definition of life in 1929: “A simple organism must consist > of parts A, B, C, D, and so on, each of which can multiply only in the > presence of all, or almost all, of the others.” (p. 245) > > The fundamental problem is that the autopoiesis description requires—but > does not provide—an explanation for how organizational unity is generated > and maintained. Like Kant and Haldan M & V merely assume the presence of > some means of maintaining this co-productive unity of interdependent > components. And yet, it is individuation of a self (a beneficiary) that > "acts on its own behalf" (to quote Stu Kauffman's definition of autonomous > agency) that is the critical feature that enables us to locate intrinsic > teleological organization. > > I argue that autogenesis is, in contrast, is an empirically testable model > system, whose attributes can be verified or falsified. That among these > attributes are those that constitute autonomous agency, self-repair, > reproduction, and even evolvability in a limited sense. And finally, that > this is what allows us to precisely identify the intrinsic presence of an > interpretive dynamic for which reference and significance (i.e. the > assignment of value) to a discrete physical individuated system. Not > surprisingly, M & V argue that autopoiesis is a separate phenomenon from > reproductive, evolutionary, and representational processes (and they deny > the reality of representation, which is a central attribute being explained > in my proposal). > > Where we are in agreement, however, is that the dynamic that constitutes > living should also be the dynamic that constitutes mentality. But given the > differences listed above and described in my essay, to confuse these two > concepts is to miss the very essence of my argument. Moreover, as I > indicated at the conclusion of my essay, the analysis of reference and > significance that can be formalized using this approach still is a long > ways from an account of the phenomenology of human subjective experience. > In Incomplete Nature I argue that mental experience is at least a second > order variant of the dynamics that characterizes autogenesis. > > So although some have claimed that autogenesis provides an empirically > realizable exemplar of a process that could be characterized as > autopoietic, I think that this misses the crucial point. Autopoiesis theory > fails to even describe what is most essential: the nature of the dynamic > that generates the coherent individuation of an autonomous agent. Not > surprisingly, it has nothing constructive to say about information theory > and how it might be possible to formalize a theory of reference and > significance. Indeed, as M & V claim, these don't really exist as physical > phenomena but are rather givens in some sort of solipsistic embodied > idealism. > > As for studying the problem at many levels from bacterial communication to > social organization, it should be clear that I believe that the conceptual > challenge demands that we work at many levels of information science (in > the broad sense) at once, recognizing that the ultimate goal is to get > beyond our current methodological dualism. As I noted, my goal in this > essay is only to work at the very bottom of the problem in recognition of > the fact that without this most basic foundation the larger goals will > remain out of reach. > It is the possibility of legitimizing reference and significance as > scientific concepts with solid empirical foundation that makes it > reasonable to imagine such a larger vision, as Pedro has intimated. I > believe that succeeding at this lowest level project could provide a new > perspective for understanding subjective and social phenomena, and possibly > even help to identify and implement a novel approach to "computing." > > — Terry > > > On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 12:34 AM, Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic < > gordana.dodig-crnko...@mdh.se> wrote: > >> Dear colleagues, >> >> Even though I agree with all Jeremy writes in his new post, I would >> still return back to the opposite side (where Pedro’s previous post left >> us) and try to think about the big picture. >> I am sure there will be many FISers who will take the challenge of >> discussing the details of construction of an autogen as a bridge between >> meaning and mechanism. >> >> In his first post, Jeremy wrote: >> >> “Terry and the Pirates have a long standing rule: One cannot employ as >> explanation that which hasn't yet been explained. Failing to hold this >> standard opens researchers up to merely taxonomical work, positing forces, >> properties and capacities defined solely by their consequences, in effect >> mistaking questions as answers. Hence, our focus on exploring reference at >> its earliest possible emergence, and explaining exactly how that emergence >> occurs, since emergence is also a question, not an answer, an explanandum >> not an explanans.” >> >> “We Pirates do what we can to stay on the epistemological methodist >> side of things.” >> Epistemological methodism is explained as the opposite of epistemological >> particularism, which is the belief that one can know something without >> knowing how one knows that thing. So according to epistemological >> Methodists, for me to know implies not only that I know *that* I know >> but even that I know *how* I know. It is a very strong assumption. >> >> It seems to me to exclude constructive approaches to knowledge >> generation. When we construct, we simply use elements that suit the purpose >> of construction. There is no very hard requirement to understand bricks. >> How do we conceptualize knowledge and knowing? What does it mean “to know” >> and “to know that we know”? How detailed, precise and formal knowledge >> should be for me to claim “I know”? >> For example I can say: we know that the universe consists of >> matter/energy in space/time. But how much indeed do we know about it? Only >> a small fraction (<5%?) of the content of the universe seems to be made of >> matter/energy while the majority of the universe is made of dark >> matter/dark energy and at the moment we do not know what they are. This >> sounds like a very pessimistic view of our present knowledge. However I >> strongly believe that this state must be temporary and that a new >> break-through will come soon. It may happen in the similar way as in the >> time of Planck, who solved the problem of the ultraviolet catastrophe, (a >> prediction of late 19th century/early 20th century classical physics that >> an ideal black body at thermal equilibrium will emit radiation with >> infinite power). Some assumptions (something that we believe we know and we >> probably even believe that we know why we know) are simply wrong. >> Knowledge is a dynamic, nonlinear, adaptive, learning system. >> That is why the suggestion to study information not only on the level of >> physics and chemistry in a well-defined simplified system, but on many >> different levels of abstraction is relevant. Some people (Alexej Kurakin >> for example, (Kurakin, 2011)) see fractal structures that govern generation >> of information, from atoms to human societies, and one can learn about the >> properties of one level from the observed patterns on some other levels. The >> reason to look at the fuzzy “big picture” at the same time as we construct >> much more coherent, crispy and convincing detailed aspects of it is that >> they are inseparably connected. The role of unexplained pieces in the >> theoretical framework is as placeholders. Like in *lazy evaluation*, we >> do not do anything about it until we learn more at some point. >> >> (In programming language theory, lazy evaluation, or call-by-need is >> an evaluation strategy which delays the evaluation of an expression until >> its value is needed (non-strict evaluation) and which also avoids repeated >> evaluations (sharing). The sharing can reduce the running time of >> certain functions by an exponential factor over other non-strict evaluation >> strategies, such as call-by-name. >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazy_evaluation) >> >> This is not meant as a critique of Terry’s approach, which is >> fascinating elegant, and refreshing among many fuzzy discussions about the >> nature of reference and significance. However, connections and integration >> with other levels and perspectives on information might be instructive and >> worthwhile, especially from Terry who has done so much research on higher >> levels. Such as e.g. in Harrington et al. (2001). “Science, culture, >> meaning, values: a dialogue” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. and >> of course even more in Deacon T. (2012) the Incomplete Nature: How Mind >> Emerged from Matter. Norton & Company >> >> What might be interesting on the synthetic side (as the opposite side >> of the analytic one as presented in the New Year’s Essay) would be >> integration of levels that Terry has in the Incomplete Nature, based on the >> dynamics of information, where information has different meaning on >> different levels of abstraction/organisation. In the similar way as an >> autogen, as a self-organizing unit that preserves itself *dynamically* >> and grows via a combination of autocatalysis and self-assembly, our >> knowledge grows dynamically and the meaning of pieces changes accordingly. >> In other words, it is not only self-organizing but also self-generating. >> Different scientific domains support and regulate each other; different >> “domain-specific” (or “science-specific”) models can help better >> construction or generation of knowledge of the whole as well as of the >> details. Specifically, it might be useful to connect to computing (as >> information dynamics), as Pedro suggests. >> >> Computing (Rosenbloom, “The Fourth Great Scientific Domain”) seen as >> information dynamics, goes together with the physical, the biological, and >> the social. The project of naturalization proceeds by connecting all four >> domains. (Dodig-Crnkovic, 2014) The attractiveness of the project as >> Terry’s (as presented in the Incomplete Nature) is in its contribution to >> the naturalization of reference and significance – concepts that still are >> highly mystified in the eyes of many. >> >> At the end, I have two questions. >> >> First the particular one. I would like to know what exactly is the >> difference between autogenesis and autopoiesis? It seems to me that >> autogenesis as it looks like from Terry’s Opening Essay is a step before >> the whole system can be integrated and said to be alive. On the other hand >> *autopoiesis >> is the process of life of an organism* such as cell with all properties >> of a living organism. Autogen seems to me as a chemical automaton while >> autopoetic system is alive. The theory of autopoiesis is descriptive and >> qualitative. It does not make the insights made by Maturana and Varela less >> important. Understanding *autopoiesis as cognition* makes a vital >> connection between mind and matter. Like Pedro, I also believe that study >> of the behavior of prokaryotic cells such as bacteria is useful as it can >> reveal a lot about information processing as social cognition (Ben-Jacob, >> Becker, & Shapira, 2004; Ben-Jacob, Shapira, & Tauber, 2006, 2011; >> Ben-Jacob, 2008, 2009a, 2009b) (Ng & Bassler, 2009; Waters & Bassler, >> 2005). >> >> There is a lot we don't know about such complex systems as bacteria but >> we can learn relevant things even if we apply “lazy evaluation” strategy >> for many parts in the model. In other words, it should be possible and >> reasonable to build knowledge even though we do not know (enough) about >> parts we build from and their mutual interactions. >> >> My second question, the general one, goes back to Pedro’s post: how >> the New Year’s Essay connects to the big picture with four great scientific >> domains? >> >> With best regards, >> Gordana >> >> >> >> References >> Ben-Jacob, E. (2008). Social behavior of bacteria: from physics to >> complex organization. The European Physical Journal B, 65(3), 315–322. >> Ben-Jacob, E. (2009a). Bacterial Complexity: More Is Different on All >> Levels. In S. Nakanishi, R. Kageyama, & D. Watanabe (Eds.), Systems >> Biology- The Challenge of Complexity (pp. 25–35). Tokyo Berlin Heidelberg >> New York: Springer. >> Ben-Jacob, E. (2009b). Learning from Bacteria about Natural Information >> Processing. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1178, 78–90. >> Ben-Jacob, E., Becker, I., & Shapira, Y. (2004). Bacteria Linguistic >> Communication and Social Intelligence. Trends in Microbiology, 12(8), >> 366–372. >> Ben-Jacob, E., Shapira, Y., & Tauber, A. I. (2006). Seeking the >> Foundations of Cognition in Bacteria. Physica A, 359, 495–524. >> Ben-Jacob, E., Shapira, Y., & Tauber, A. I. (2011). Smart Bacteria. In L. >> Margulis, C. A. Asikainen, & W. E. Krumbein (Eds.), Chimera and >> Consciousness. Evolution of the Sensory Self. Cambridge Boston: MIT Press. >> Dodig-Crnkovic, G. (2014). Modeling Life as Cognitive Info-Computation. >> In A. Beckmann, E. Csuhaj-Varjú, & K. Meer (Eds.), Computability in Europe >> 2014. LNCS (pp. 153–162). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer. >> Kurakin, A. (2011). The self-organizing fractal theory as a universal >> discovery method: the phenomenon of life. Theoretical Biology and Medical >> Modelling, 8(4). Retrieved from http://www.tbiomed.com/content/8/1/4 >> Ng, W.-L., & Bassler, B. L. (2009). Bacterial quorum-sensing network >> architectures. Annual Review of Genetics, 43, 197–222. >> Waters, C. M., & Bassler, B. L. (2005). Quorum Sensing: Cell-to-Cell >> Communication in Bacteria. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, >> 21, 319–346. >> >> >> >> >> http://www.ait.gu.se/kontaktaoss/personal/gordana-dodig-crnkovic >> http://www.mrtc.mdh.se/~gdc/ >> >> >> >> From: Jeremy Sherman <mindreadersdiction...@gmail.com> >> Date: Sunday 18 January 2015 03:41 >> To: fis <email@example.com> >> Subject: Re: [Fis] Fis Digest, Vol 10, Issue 11 >> >> It would be satisfying perhaps to think of our collective work as at >> the forefront of the development of what will become A Grand Domain of >> Science, but I would say the better trend in current science is toward >> careful integration between domains rather than toward established grand >> divisions, which seems a more a classical approach. Doesn't information >> play out in the biological and the social domains? Isn't our most ambitious >> goal here to explain scientifically the relationship between information >> and the physical domain? >> >> Whether modest or foolhardy as Terry suggests or of some other stature, >> Terry's approach addresses the source of the great schism in all academic >> and intellectual circles: Physical scientists are appropriately barred from >> explaining behavior in terms of the value of information for some >> end-directed self about, or representative of anything. But biological and >> social scientists can't help but explain behavior in those terms. Focusing, >> precisely on possible transitions from the physical domain to the living >> and social domains is exactly what a scientific approach demands. >> >> Lacking an explanation for the transition from mechanism to >> end-directed behavior (which is inescapably teleological down to its roots >> in function or adaptation--behaviors of value to a self about its >> environment), science is stuck, siloed into isolated domains without a >> rationale. >> >> To my mind, this makes the implications of meticulous work at the very >> border between mechanism and end-directed behavior anything but modest in >> its possible implications. In this I agree with Pedro. With what we now >> know about self-organization-- how it is footing on the physical side for a >> bridge from mechanism to end-directed behavior but does not itself provide >> the bridge, we are perfectly poised to build the bridge itself, through an >> integrated science that explains the ontology of epistemology, providing >> solid scientific ground over the absolutely huge gaping hole in the middle >> of the broadest reaches of scientific and philosophical endeavor. >> >> Whether Terry's work or someone else's work bridges that gap, I predict >> that, at long last, the gap can and will be finally filled, probably within >> the next decade. As ambitious researchers this would be a lousy time for >> any of us, Terry included, to stick to our guns in the face of substantial >> critique revealing how a theory we embrace merely provides a new, more >> clever way way to hide or smear over the gap pretending it isn't there, >> which is why I would love to see this discussion refocus on the article's >> detailed content. Though the implications of this research at the >> borderline may be grand, the research, in the doing, is as Terry implies as >> modest any careful scientific work. >> >> Jeremy Sherman >> >> On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 5:06 AM, Moisés André Nisenbaum < >> moises.nisenb...@ifrj.edu.br> wrote: >> >>> Hi, Pedro. >>> I didnt receive th image (Figure 1. The Four Great Domains of Science) >>> Would you please send it again? >>> >>> Thank you. >>> >>> Moises >>> >>> 2015-01-17 9:00 GMT-02:00 <fis-requ...@listas.unizar.es>: >>> >>>> Send Fis mailing list submissions to >>>> firstname.lastname@example.org >>>> >>>> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit >>>> http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis >>>> or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to >>>> fis-requ...@listas.unizar.es >>>> >>>> You can reach the person managing the list at >>>> fis-ow...@listas.unizar.es >>>> >>>> When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific >>>> than "Re: Contents of Fis digest..." >>>> >>>> Today's Topics: >>>> >>>> 1. Re: Beginnings and ends---Steps to a theory of reference & >>>> significance (Pedro C. Marijuan) >>>> >>>> >>>> ---------- Mensagem encaminhada ---------- >>>> From: "Pedro C. Marijuan" <pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es> >>>> To: "'fis'" <email@example.com> >>>> Cc: >>>> Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:43:40 +0100 >>>> Subject: Re: [Fis] Beginnings and ends---Steps to a theory of reference >>>> & significance >>>> Dear Terry and FIS colleagues---and pirates, >>>> >>>> Just a brief reflection on the below. >>>> >>>> (From Terry's last message)... >>>> So my goal in this case is quite modest, and yet perhaps also a bit >>>> foolhardy. I want to suggest a simplest possible model system to use >>>> as the basis for formalizing the link between physical processes and >>>> semiotic processes. Perhaps someday after considerably elaborating >>>> this analysis it could contribute to issues of the psychology of human >>>> interactions. I hope to recruit some interest into pursuing this goal. >>>> >>>> In my view, any research endeavor is also accompanied by some >>>> "ultimate" goals or ends that go beyond the quite explicit disciplinary >>>> ones. In this case, say, about the destiny of the constructs that would >>>> surround the information concept (or the possibility of framing an >>>> informational perspective, or a renewed information science, or whatever), >>>> wouldn't it be interesting discussing in extenso what could that ultimate >>>> vision? >>>> >>>> I mean, most of us may agree in quite many points related to the >>>> microphysical (& thermodynamic) underpinning of information, as it >>>> transpires in the exchanges we are having--but where do we want to arrive >>>> finally with the construction activity? I tend to disagree with >>>> localist aims, even though at the time being they may look more prudent and >>>> parsimonious. Putting it in brief, too briefly!, and borrowing from >>>> Rosenbloom (P.S. 2013. On Computing: The Fourth Great Scientific Domain) >>>> the idea is that information science, properly developed and linked with >>>> computer science and mathematics, should constitute one of the Great >>>> Domains of contemporary science. The informational would go together with >>>> the physical, the biological, and the social: constituting the four great >>>> domains of science. See Figure below. Rather than attempting the >>>> construction of another average or standard discipline, information science >>>> is about the making out of one of the “great scientific domains” of >>>> contemporary knowledge. >>>> >>>> More cogent arguments could be elaborated on how to cover >>>> sceintifically the whole "information world" (human societies, behaving >>>> individuals, brain organization, cellular processes, biomolecules) and the >>>> problem of interlocking--crisscrossing a myriad of information flows at all >>>> levels. But the point is, "ends", although unassailable, may be as much >>>> important as "beginnings". >>>> >>>> Thanks in advance for the patience! >>>> >>>> ---Pedro >>>> >>>> >>>> >>>> >>>> >>>> *Figure 1. The Four Great Domains of Science*. The graphic shows the >>>> network of contemporary disciplines in the background; >>>> while the superimposed “four-leaf clover” represents the four great >>>> scientific domains. >>>> >>>> >>>> -- >>>> ------------------------------------------------- >>>> Pedro C. Marijuán >>>> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group >>>> Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud >>>> Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA) >>>> Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X >>>> 50009 Zaragoza, Spain >>>> Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& >>>> 6818)firstname.lastname@example.org://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/ >>>> ------------------------------------------------- >>>> >>>> >>>> _______________________________________________ >>>> Fis mailing list >>>> Fis@listas.unizar.es >>>> http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis >>>> >>>> >>> >>> >>> -- >>> Moisés André Nisenbaum >>> Doutorando IBICT/UFRJ. Professor. Msc. >>> Instituto Federal do Rio de Janeiro - IFRJ >>> Campus Maracanã >>> moises.nisenb...@ifrj.edu.br >>> >>> _______________________________________________ >>> Fis mailing list >>> Fis@listas.unizar.es >>> http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis >>> >>> >> > > > -- > Professor Terrence W. Deacon > University of California, Berkeley > -- Professor Terrence W. Deacon University of California, Berkeley
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