Dear FiSers - I am glad that Pedro has allowed this discussion to continue for a a couple of more days so I can share two items of my work that relate to Terry's teleodynamic-based project.
1. One item is a paper I co-authored with Stuart Kauffman and others entitled The Propagation of Organization: An Enquiry that posits a link between constraints and information. Here is the abstract of that paper. I would be happy to share it off line with any interested parties: Propagating Organization: An Enquiry - Stuart Kauffman, Robert K. Logan, Robert Este, Randy Goebel, David Hobill and Ilya Smulevich. 2007. Propagating Organization: An Inquiry. Published in Biology and Philosophy 23: 27-45. Abstract: Our aim in this article is to attempt to discuss propagating organization of process, a poorly articulated union of matter, energy, work, constraints and that vexed concept, “information”, which unite in far from equilibrium living physical systems. Our hope is to stimulate discussions by philosophers of biology and biologists to further clarify the concepts we discuss here. We place our discussion in the broad context of a “general biology”, properties that might well be found in life anywhere in the cosmos, freed from the specific examples of terrestrial life after 3.8 billion years of evolution. By placing the discussion in this wider, if still hypothetical, context, we also try to place in context some of the extant discussion of information as intimately related to DNA, RNA and protein transcription and translation processes. While characteristic of current terrestrial life, there are no compelling grounds to suppose the same mechanisms would be involved in any life form able to evolve by heritable variation and natural selection. In turn, this allows us to discuss at least briefly, the focus of much of the philosophy of biology on population genetics, which, of course, assumes DNA, RNA, proteins, and other features of terrestrial life. Presumably, evolution by natural selection – and perhaps self-organization - could occur on many worlds via different causal mechanisms. Here we seek a non-reductionist explanation for the synthesis, accumulation, and propagation of information, work, and constraint, which we hope will provide some insight into both the biotic and abiotic universe, in terms of both molecular self reproduction and the basic work energy cycle where work is the constrained release of energy into a few degrees of freedom. The typical requirement for work itself is to construct those very constraints on the release of energy that then constitute further work. Information creation, we argue, arises in two ways: first information as natural selection assembling the very constraints on the release of energy that then constitutes work and the propagation of organization. Second, information in a more extended sense is “semiotic”, that is about the world or internal state of the organism and requires appropriate response. The idea is to combine ideas from biology, physics, and computer science, to formulate explanatory hypotheses on how information can be captured and rendered in the expected physical manifestation, which can then participate in the propagation of the organization of process in the expected biological work cycles to create the diversity in our observable biosphere. Our conclusions, to date, of this enquiry suggest a foundation which views information as the construction of constraints, which, in their physical manifestation, partially underlie the processes of evolution to dynamically determine the fitness of organisms within the context of a biotic universe. A key line from the paper and one that Terry quotes in Incomplete Nature as private communication from Kauffman is: "The first surprise is that it takes constraints on the release of energy to perform work, but it takes work to create constraints. The second surprise is that constraints are information and information is constraint." 2. The second item, which is highly speculative and for which I take sole responsibility, is my extension of Terry's notion of teleodynamics beyond the domain of biology to culture, language, organization, science, economics and technology. I share with you the abstract and would be happy to share the whole article off line with any interested parties. This paper was inspired from the following line in Incomplete Nature: "Although [teleodynamics] is the distinguishing characteristic of living processes, it is not necessarily limited to the biological." – Deacon (2012, 275) The Teleodynamics of Culture, Language, Organization, Science, Economics and Technology (CLOSET) Published in Systema: connecting matter, life, culture and technology Vol. 2, Issue 3, 2014. Abstract: Logan (2007) in his book The Extended Mind developed the hypothesis that language, culture, and technology can be construed as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. This idea is extended in two ways. First by showing that organization, science, and economics can also be construed as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. Secondly we make use of the notion of teleodynamics that Deacon (2012) introduced and developed in his book Incomplete Nature to explain the nature of life, sentience, mind and a self that acts in its own interest. It is suggested that culture, language, organization, science, economics and technology (CLOSET) like living organisms also act in their own self-interest, are self-correcting and are to a certain degree autonomous even though they are obligate symbionts dependent on their human hosts for the energy that sustains them. Specifically it will be argued that the individual members of CLOSET are essentially teleodynamic systems, which Deacon defines as “self-creating, self-maintaining, self-reproducing individuated systems (ibid, 325).” I hope some of my FIS colleagues will be interested in these two articles and will provide me with some feedback. Best wishes - Bob Logan ______________________ Robert K. Logan Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD http://utoronto.academia.edu/RobertKLogan www.physics.utoronto.ca/Members/logan www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Logan5/publications On 2015-02-04, at 6:33 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote: > No problem Bob, we can prolong the NY Lecture some extra days. My concern was > the overload that these final messages ---more intense and argumentative-- > could be causing on Terry's time budget. It is upon him whether he wants to > continue responding in the current regime for instance until February the > 15th (it means 12 extra days) or if he prefers to finalize right now and > afterwards behave as a common participant, limited to two responding messages > per week. We would start the next discussion session some weeks later, so > there might be room for continuing the debate, but as an aftermath of the > finalized Lecture. In my experience, putting limits to things clarifies the > panorama and favors the debate. Very rarely we have had moderation conflicts > in this list--what I personally thank to the general good mood of FISers. > Nevertheless as a moderator I have to take care that we are not invaded by a > cacophony of messages that block interesting exchanges, as happened in the > first years of this list (18 years old!), and that our lecturing invitees do > not get into unnecessary burdens... Navigating in between Scylla and > Charibdis is not always easy! > best--Pedro > > Bob Logan wrote: >> >> Dear Pedro, Terry and Fellow FISers - >> >> I was composing the email below when your email appeared asking us not to >> respond any further to Terry's final remarks. I disagree with this arbitrary >> cutoff as I was about to send out what follows below. It also seems an >> abridgement of free speech to ask us not to discuss an issue we might be >> interested in. Perhaps I am unfamiliar with the ground rules of the FIS list >> but the other listservs I belong to have never attempted to cutoff a topic. >> There have been occasions where they have asked an individual who posts too >> often to not turn the list into their own bully pulpit. Anyway as the guy >> who suggested that we ask Terry to lead a FIS conversation I will exercise >> the perogative to share my thoughts one more time. I would also be prepared >> to accept your restriction if you had given us advanced notice with an exact >> deadline of shutting down this thread. >> Here is what I had written when you sounded the bell as a death knell to >> this discussion which is submitted with respect and the undertaking to abide >> by the referee's decision and not comment on Terry's final remarks although >> I would love to hear from my colleagues their final thoughts on Terry's >> teleodynamic approach - Bob >> >> In order to respect the "only 2 per week" constraint here are my comments to >> the flurry of recent posts in this thread. There is one caveat with which I >> wish to preface my remarks and it is this: >> I am a member of Terry research team and therefore I am biased, but I would >> like to share with my FIS colleagues why I believe the teleodynamic >> approach that Terry has developed is the best game in town for understanding >> the origin of life and the nature of information. >> >> Pedro wrote on Jan 30: >> "At your convenience, during the first week of February or so we may put an >> end to the ongoing New Year Lecture --discussants willing to enter their >> late comments should hurry up. Your own final or concluding comment will be >> appreciated." >> >> Bob's reply: Since Pedro issued the above call for the end of the discussion >> of Terry's provocative paper there has been a flurry of activity. As The >> English author Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) once wrote: "Nothing so >> concentrates the mind as the hangman's noose!" I hope we can carry on a week >> or two more as some of us are just warming up. The first of the year is a >> logical starting point for a new discussion thread but it also corresponds >> to the beginning of a new semester here in Canada and other places in North >> America. I for one was focussed on launching the new semester and my courses >> so I respectfully request that we keep the conversation going for awhile >> longer before we start a new one. >> >> Now I have a few comments to support Terry's teleodynamic approach which I >> present: >> >> Joe Brenner wrote later on Jan 30: >> "we can all easily understand and agree that the incorporation of >> ‘homunculi’, that is, unproven mechanisms, as explanatory, should be >> avoided. In my view, however, Terry has a small army of homunculi at work >> (sic!) who insure that his processes of self-organization, >> self-reconstitution and ‘spontaneous’ self-assembly can take place! The >> finality of using his simulated autogenic systems is “a rigorous physical >> foundation upon which” future complex theories of information may be based. >> If, as I contend, Terry’s approach has failed to take into account the >> fundamentally dualistic physical properties of real systems, it is hard to >> see how it could do so." >> >> Bob's reply: As much as it pains me to disagree with my friend Joe who is >> in general in support of Deacon's approach I have to counter his accuasation >> that "Terry has a small army of homunculi at work": There are no homunculi >> in the autogen model. According to Deacon's approach an incredible >> co-incidence has occurred in which the two self organizing processes of >> auto-catalysis and the self assembly of the crystal-like membranes became >> self-supporting. It is only by a chance event that one can explain how an >> organization of molecules with properties so different from abiotic matter >> suddenly became alive, able to propagate its organization and emerge as a >> self that acts teleonomically in its own interest. That co-incidence is the >> one in a billion or more chance that the by product of a particular >> autocatalytic set were also the ingredients for the self assembly of a >> bi-lipid membrane that could encase the autocatalytic set in a protective >> membrane and that the by products of that self-assembly process provided the >> raw materials for the very same autocatalysis. This is not a homunucli but >> just plain dumb luck or to give it a fancy name an aleatoric event, a one in >> a trillion event, but given the billion year (or multi-trillion second) time >> scale it becomes inevitable that such a rare event will occur. The two >> self-organizing processes that combined to form the purported autogen are >> due to first order extrinsic constraints. That these two constraints could >> be mutually self-supporting and hence create a second-order intrinsic >> constraint provides a non-magical mechanism for how an autogen and >> subsequently life might have emerged. Deacon's claim is not that this is an >> indisputable fact, but, as I read him, it is a valid hypothesis that is >> worthy of further study such as computer-based model building. Given that it >> suggests a plausible model for how a living self might have emerged it is >> worthy of investigation and serious conversation and thought. It has the >> added feature that it provides a mechanism of how information that possesses >> significance for some agent might have arisen. Shannon information theory, >> which I prefer to regard as signal theory, does not deal with reference or >> significance as Shannon himself has admitted in the past. Shannon is no >> shannonian. And Deacon nor I are no deaconians. Terry is offering us a >> hypothesis, which I believe offers some hope that we can understand how >> reference, significance, values have emerged from abiotic matter without >> invoking a dualistic-based explanation. My favourite line from Incomplete >> Nature, which to my mind sums up Terry's approach is: “There is more here >> than stuff. There is how this stuff is organized and related to other stuff >> (p. 544).” >> In essence what Terry offers us in Incomplete Nature is a hypothesis of how >> stuff (abiotic matter) is organized to create information that has >> significance and reference for agents that are selves, which act in their >> own self interest and propagate their organization. >> >> Just recently (Feb 3) Ericsson-Zenith challenged Terry's use of dynamic >> constraints. The autocatalysis and the self-assembly just alluded to are >> dynamic constraints in that they constrain the dynamics among certain >> molecules to form the structures they do. The second order constraint is a >> constraint on the first order constraints that assures that the autogen is >> self-repairing. and hence self-sustaining. >> >> Joe in his remarks that I quoted above also talked about 'unproven >> mechanisms.' All scientific explanations make use of 'unproven mechanisms" >> because a mechanism that is framed within a scientific proposition has to be >> unproven because if it were a proven mechanism it would constitute a >> scientific proposition that cannot be falsified because it was proven to be >> true. As Karl Popper pointed out a proposition to be considered scientific >> must be fallsifiable, which would be impossible if it purports a proven >> mechanisms. In other words we must regard all scientifically based >> mechanisms as 'unproven mechanisms' constantly subject to challenge. The >> autogen mechanism is a hypothesis - nothing more and nothing less. >> >> >> ______________________ >> >> Robert K. Logan >> Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto >> Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD >> http://utoronto.academia.edu/RobertKLogan >> www.physics.utoronto.ca/Members/logan >> www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Logan5/publications >> >> >> >> >> >> >> >> >> On 2015-01-30, at 12:31 PM, Terrence W. DEACON wrote: >> >>> Thanks to Pedro and Bob for these last few comments. Indeed, like >>> Darwin in 1859 we are still just beginning to formulate "one long >>> argument" that will need to be progressively refined in the decades to >>> come. The question is where best to begin the task of synthesizing. I >>> too find the metaphor of searching for lost keys quite apropos, but I >>> would beg your indulgence while I add an elaboration to this metaphor >>> that sheds light on the perspective I have offered. >>> >>> Yes, we must at first search close to the light, even though there we >>> will only find vague hints. But, importantly, as we cover more and >>> more territory we will discover that the light progressively >>> brightens. So long as we keep searching and don't walk out into the >>> dark too quickly, skipping over important territory in between, the >>> entire territory will become more and more thoroughly illuminated, >>> searchable, and familiar to us. >>> >>> I believe that the light is brightest in the domain where we can see a >>> clear relation between the two quite different concepts of entropy and >>> the relationship of both to the concept of work. Admittedly, starting >>> so minimally as I have in this essay seems remote from the interests >>> of psychologists, anthropologists, economists and their kin, who >>> demand an account of human-scale information processes, while at the >>> same time appearing to introduce the messiness of semiotic concerns >>> into the seemingly pristine world of information as a simple physical >>> parameter. But of course the problem is to find the best illuminated >>> middle ground between these two extremes, both still bathed in the >>> darkness of simplifying assumptions that make them seem mutually >>> exclusive— separated by darkness. >>> >>> This is what I am trying to accomplish. Though deceptively simple, I >>> believe that the autogenic model system is just sufficiently complex >>> to provide complete illumination of each of the critical defining >>> features of the information concept—sign medium properties (entropies, >>> uncertainty, constraint), reference (aboutness), significance >>> (function, value, normativity), and interpretation (adaptation, >>> intelligence)—while not artificially simplifying the issue by ignoring >>> one or the other of these facets. >>> >>> Because of its simplicity none of these basic concepts are left in the >>> dark as black boxes or excluded as taboo concepts. But of course, >>> working at such a basic level means that the nature of more complex >>> phenomena as thinking, subjectivity, language, and culture (to mention >>> only a few) are not yet well illuminated by this light. This isn't to >>> suggest that other pursuits in these other domains should be >>> abandoned—for they at least clear away some of the underbrush creating >>> paths that will help to ease the linkage between the different >>> subterritories when finally the light brightens (to continue the >>> metaphor). I just believe that this middle level is where the light >>> best illuminates all the critical foundational issues. >>> >>> I don't expect agreement, but so far I haven't felt that the specific >>> components of this proposal have been addressed in this thread. And in >>> these closing days of discussion (as well as in future privately >>> shared emails after this window closes) I hope to receive some >>> suggestions and constructive criticisms pointing to where I might go >>> next with this approach. >>> >>> Thanks for all your inputs. Terry >>> > > > -- > ------------------------------------------------- > 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) > pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es > http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/ > -------------------------------------------------
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