The talk given by Dr McGilchrist at Darwin College, Cambridge U… no words…

  • The talk given by Dr McGilchrist at Darwin College, Cambridge U… no words…

    Posted by Gary on May 15, 2024 at 5:15 am

    I was totally drawn in and deeply moved by the lecture given here by Dr. McGilchrist…

    It is a powerful tour de force, in my opinion. And there are a number of important issues that are touched upon in this penetrating critique of our current predicament and the catastrophe that is in the making if we are not capable of changing direction and understanding, moving away from a perspectival structure of consciousness that Gebser called ‘Mental/Rational’ that, in Iain’s approach, is overly dependent on the left hemispheric perspective and is no longer serving us and has now entered a phase of degeneracy which has now put us on a path to mutually assured devastation.

    There are some critical references to a number of different sources, but the one that jumps out at me personally is the work of theoretical biologist, Robert Rosen, who showed that living organisms, as relational systems, are fundamentally and categorically distinct from fabricated mechanisms. We have fallen into the ‘trap’ of the ‘mechanistic formalism’ which insists that everything is computable, algorithmic, simulable and strictly deterministic. What Rosen shows is that living organisms are NOT formalizable and have NONE of these characteristics that mechanisms manifest. Why should this be?

    Because organisms are CLOSED to efficient causation while mechanisms are OPEN to efficient causation, and the relational models of organisms incorporate ‘closed causal loops’ operating on a dynamic continuum, which allows them to be adaptive to context, while mechanisms do NOT have such a feature in their relational models. And this makes all the difference. While mechanisms are confined to the mechanistic formalism, organisms are not. While the semantic/analytical description of mechanisms (ie. their meaningful functionality) is EQUIVALENT to the syntactic/synthetical description (ie. their structure–if you know the structure of a mechanism you can reliably predict its behaviour–its behaviour is NOT responsive to external context), the semantic/analytical description of organisms EXCEEDS the syntactic/synthetical description. To describe the dynamics of a ‘complex’ organism requires impredicative mathematics, while one can use predicative mathematics in the case of the ‘simple’ mechanism. The function of a living organism is context-dependent. To utilize the mechanistic formalism to model a living organism is a misleading, de-vitalizing reduction that, effectively, removes the life, the experiential consciousness, the Bergsonian elan vital, from the organism. This is an irrational and unjustifiable reduction that reduces the irreducible. Rosen shows this to be the case, based on a mathematical analysis, which emphasizes the critical importance of the particular characteristics of the relational structure of a living organism that take it into a totally different category from constrained relational structure of the mechanism that, by definition, must admit to the mechanistic formalism and the ‘ontology of states’–ie. that its formal model can be segmented into ‘states’ and the ‘laws’ that govern their temporal evolution. Living organisms are beyond formalizability. They manifest experiential primary consciousness; mechanisms do not and can not. This is now being shown to be secondary and connected to the idea that organisms are ‘quantum systems’ characterized by quantum information, which is now being shown in the work of computer engineer, Federico Faggin, and quantum physicist, G Mauro D’Ariano.

    Gary replied 1 week, 1 day ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Whit Blauvelt

    May 15, 2024 at 4:51 pm

    Yeah, Rosen’s great. Coincidentally I’m reading neuroscientist Christof Koch’s latest, Then I Am Myself the World, which doesn’t cite Rosen at all, but comes to parallel conclusions on just the issues you mention. Basically, to Koch (and Tononi’s integrated information theory, in which Koch collaborates) consciousness is primary, and objective things are secondary. Hmm, where have we heard that before?

    • Gary

      May 15, 2024 at 9:24 pm

      I agree with regard to the work of Rosen which gets frequently undermined and derided because it goes against the predominant belief system that comes from the left hemispheric worldview, just as Iain maintains. This reduces everything to a mechanism. Rosen pushes back against this irrational, massive reduction imposed on living organisms. Mechanisms are open to efficient causation–they are not autopoietic the way that organisms are, and they are not products of biological evolution as living organisms are. I have examined his books, ‘Life Itself’ and ‘Essays on Life Itself’ and they are full of deep insights that are fully supported and argued for effectively, in my opinion. And the implications of this work are enormous because they advocate for an ‘old/new’ worldview that holds that it is relationality that is the ground of ontology, NOT materiality. Believing that materiality is primary is like believing that what I am seeing on the screen on my computer as I am typing this is what is really going on inside the computer hardware linked up to the display. It is the idea that ‘if I can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist.’ But this leaves something important out. Which is a fundamental distinction between ‘existence’ as physical actuality, and ‘reality’ as the relational quantum substratum.

      I need to check out Koch’s latest work. He was a stuck-in-the-mud materialist at one point, I think. And then underwent what Jeffrey Kripal calls ‘The Flip’ and changed his mind. He certainly writes a lot but I am not sure how much of it is actually new and of value. I hope that it is. My next book purchase is going to be Jeffrey Kripal’s new book, ‘How to Think Impossibly’ which comes out mid-July. I am planning to go hear him talk about the ideas he brings forward in the book at a conference at the Pari Center at the end of June.

      What I am really getting excited about are the ideas of Federico Faggin, who was a co-inventor of the computer microprocessor, regarding the primacy of consciousness and the idea that matter is derivative, and the concept of a ‘quantum panpsychism’ that connects consciousness to quantum information. I admit that I don’t fully understand it all as yet–I need to take a closer look at the relevant papers that are co-authored by Federico and Mauro D’Ariano to try to get a better handle on it.

  • Niels Hoffmann

    May 15, 2024 at 6:48 pm

    Yes, impressive. I saw it live. And Iain’s amazing work of empirical evidence for the two opposite thought processes of the two hemispheres.

    They are both deep truths for relationally connected branches in any network. The deep truth is the reductionist mechanism for sorting all branches in a network in order of distance from a node, it does this irreducibly, branch by branch until completion, reducing the process from n dimensions to one dimension without reducing the network!

    Note, that the sorting process itself is identical for the two hemispheres:

    The Left Hemisphere projects in the direction from an origin to all nodes in the network.

    The Right Hemisphere extends backward upstream from the destination. This leads to the start of every branch containing the distance to the destination. Since we start from branches connected to destinations, the goal can be a bigger canvas as a single attractor field.

    Rosen admitted that his opinion of the non-computability of the RH’s goal-seeking process only relates to the current mathematics of nondeterministic science. Consequently, the discovered RH’s goal-seeking process becomes a New Science of deterministic differentiated noncomplex complexity, outside the domain of classical partial differential forms. In recent years there is increasing evidence of nature and life following goals purposefully. A potential new paradigm for science as envisioned by Thomas Kuhn.

    Opinion is the main cause of paradoxes! The well-understood curse of incompleteness in current science as expressed by top scientist leading the development of Covid vaccine.

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