Hi Pedro, Indeed, you capture a fundamental point of my work. I entirely agree with your comment about living processes and their internal "informative" organization. The three exceedingly simple molecular model systems (forms of autogenesis) that I discuss toward the end of the paper were intended to exemplify a minimal life-like unit that—because of its self-reconstituting and self-repairing features—could both exemplify an origin of life transition and a first simplest system exhibiting interpretive competence. It is only because these autogenic systems respond to disruption of their internal organizational coherence that they can be said to also interpret aspects of their environment with respect to this. My goal in this work is to ultimately provide a physico-chemical foundation for a scientific biosemiotics, which is currently mostly exemplified by analogies to human-level semiotic categories.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and your mediation of these discussions. Sincerely, Terry On Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 5:34 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan < pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es> wrote: > Dear Terry and colleagues, > > I hope you don't mind if I send some suggestions publicly. First, thank > you for the aftermath, it provides appropriate "closure" to a very intense > discussion session. Second, I think you have encapsulated very clearly an > essential point (at least in my opinion): > > > > > > > > > > > > > *"Among these givens is the question of what is minimally necessary for a > system or process to be interpretive, in the sense of being able to utilize > present intrinsic physical properties of things to refer to absent or > displaced properties or phenomena. This research question is ignorable when > it is possible to assume human or even animal interpreters as part of the > system one is analyzing. At some point, however, it becomes relevant to not > only be more explicit about what is being assumed, but also to explain how > this interpretive capacity could possibly originate in a universe where > direct contiguity of causal influence is the rule." *My suggestion > concerns the absence phenomenon (it also has appeared in some previous > discussion in this list --notably from Bob's). You imply that there is an > entity capable of dynamically building upon an external absences, OK > quite clear, but what about "internal absences"? I mean at the origins of > communication there could be the sensing of the internal-- lets call it > functional voids, needs, gaps, deficiencies, etc. Cellularly there are some > good arguments about that, even in the 70's there was a "metabolic code" > hypothesis crafted on the origins of cellular signaling. For instance, one > of the most important environmental & internal detections concerns cAMP, > which means "you/me are in an energy trouble"... some more evolutionary > arguments can be thrown. Above all, this idea puts the life cycle and its > self-production needs in the center of communication, and in the very > origins of the interpretive capabilities. Until now I have not seen much > reflections around the life cycle as the true provider of both > communications and meanings, maybe it conduces to new avenues of thought > interesting to explore... > > All the best! > --Pedro > > > Pedro C. Marijuan wrote: > > Dear FIS colleagues, > Herewith the comments received from Terry several weeks ago. As I said > yesterday, the idea is to properly conclude that session, not to restart > the discussion. Of course, scholarly comments are always welcome, but > conclusively and not looking for argumentative rounds. Remember that in > less than ten days we will have a new session on info science and library > science. best --Pedro* > ---------------------------------------------------------------------- > > Retrospective comments on the January 2015 FIS discussion* > > Terrence Deacon (dea...@berkeley.edu) > During the bulk of my career since the early 1980s I studied > brainorganization with a particular focus on its role in the production > andinterpretation of communication in vertebrate animals and humans. Onecore > target of these studies was to understand the neurologicalchanges that led to > the evolution of the human language capacity andwhy it is so anomalous in the > context of the other diversecommunication systems that have evolved. This > work was largelyconducted using standard lab-based neuroscience tools—from > axonaltracer techniques, to fetal neural transplantation, to MRI imaging,and > more—and studying a diverse array of animal brains. Besidesevolutionary and > developmental neuroscience, this path led me toexplore ethology, linguistics, > semiotic theories, information theoriesand the philosophical issues that > these research areas touched upon.Indeed, my first co-authored book was not > on neuroscience but on thedesign of the early Apple desktop computers. So I > came at the issuesexplored in my FIS essay from this diverse background. This > has led meto pose what may be more basic questions than are usually > considered,and to reconsider even the most unquestioned assumptions about > thenature of information and the origins of its semiotic properties. > I am aware that many who are following this discussion have acareer-long > interest in some aspect of human communication orcomputation. In these realms > many researchers —including many ofyou— have provided sophisticated > analytical tools and quite extensivetheories for describing these processes. > Though it may at first seemas though I am questioning the validity of some of > this (now accepted)body of theory, for the most part I too find this adequate > for thespecific pragmatic issues usually considered. The essay I posted > didnot critique any existing theory. It rather explored some assumptionsthat > most theories take for granted and need not address. > I believe, however, that there remain a handful of issues that havebeen set > aside and taken as givens that need to be reconsidered. Forthe most part, > these assumptions don't demand to be unpacked in orderto produce useful > descriptions of communicative and informationprocesses at the machine or > interpersonal level. Among these givens isthe question of what is minimally > necessary for a system or process tobe interpretive, in the sense of being > able to utilize presentintrinsic physical properties of things to refer to > absent ordisplaced properties or phenomena. This research question is > ignorablewhen it is possible to assume human or even animal interpreters > aspart of the system one is analyzing. At some point, however, itbecomes > relevant to not only be more explicit about what is beingassumed, but also to > explain how this interpretive capacity couldpossibly originate in a universe > where direct contiguity of causalinfluence is the rule. Although, this may > appear to some readers as aquestion that is merely of philosophical concern, > I believe thatfailure to consider it will impede progress in exploring some > of themost pressing scientific issues of our time, including both the > naturean origins of living and mental processes, and possibly even > quantumprocesses. > In this respect, my exposition was not in any respect critical of > otherapproaches but was rather an effort to solicit collaboration in > digginginto issues that have —for legitimate pragmatic reasons— not been > asignificant focus of most current theoretical analysis. I understand whysome > readers felt that the whole approach was peripheral to their > currentinterests. Or who thought that I was re-opening debates that had > long-agobeen set aside. Or who just thought that I was working at the wrong > level,on the conviction that the answer to such questions lies in other > realms, e.g. quantum theories or panpsychic philosophies. To those of you who > fellinto these categories, I beg your indulgence. > The issues involved are not merely of philosophical interest. They are > ofcritical relevance to understanding biological and neurological > information.So if there are any readers of this forum who are interested in > the issue of the whether reference and significance are physically > explainable irrespectiveof human subjective observation, and who have been > quietly reflecting on myproposals, I would be happy to carry on an email > dialogue outside ofthis forum. > For the rest, thank you for your time, and the opportunity to presentthese > ideas. > Sincerely, Terrence Deacon (dea...@berkeley.edu) > > > -- Professor Terrence W. DeaconUniversity of California, Berkeley > > > > > -- > ------------------------------------------------- > 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)email@example.com://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/ > ------------------------------------------------- > > > > -- > ------------------------------------------------- > 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/ > ------------------------------------------------- > > -- Professor Terrence W. Deacon University of California, Berkeley
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