Cosmos Café: Integrating Science, Art, and Time [6/5]

(Douglas Duff) #1


Show notes

Taking off from Geoffrey’s forum post in the ‘Infinite Commons’ on “Rethinking Time,” in which he reviews the ideas of physicist Carlo Rovelli, the Café crew launches into a transdisciplinary dialogue on the relationship between science and art: how they differ in their ways of knowing, yet what they share in their social and creative practices? And how might we bring them together with spirituality in an ecology of practices? This all fits in with Geoffrey’s second 20-year plan.

He asks: How can art and science, respectively, change the way each other is done? This opens up a discussion of how science and art actually are done, as major social, political, and economic enterprises. Then we turn to questions at the edges where physics, philosophy, psychology, and poetry meet…

Questions such as: Where does consciousness fit into the universe? At the quantum level, or only much higher? Or is it there at every level? And where are we as observers, perceivers, and participants in reality? And what about time? When time is no longer required as a variable in quantum physical equations—if everything has its own time, with no shared present, as Rovelli speculates—then what happens? Is time still a real part of the universe? Or just ‘in our minds’?

So many cosmic questions! Yet as Ed remarks: so what? How does all our quantum philosophizing affect the world we live in? (That is to say, our many worlds, our many times.) There other practical concerns, such as: How does one weightlift in a lucid dream if there is no gravity?!

As usual, the conversation jumped around. Much more happened than is reported in these notes. Watch or listen for yourself, and let us know what you think.


Geoffrey Edwards
John Davis
Ed Mahood
Marco Morelli
Doug Duff
Mark Jabbour

Recorded: June 5, 2018



Plus the brief discussion in the Rethinking Time thread. As well as the postings in this thread prior to the CCafé session itself.

Seed Questions

  • Why do I care?

Context and Backstory

(Geoffrey Edwards) #2

Cool! I guess I will have to be there! Sorry about today, I had some errands to run for a couple of grants whose deadline was today!

(Marco V Morelli) #3

IF you can make it…we just need to know by Thursday, which is our new deadline for deciding the following week’s topic. If nothing is decided by Thursday, we will fall back on a chapter from Haraway (for now). @johnnydavis54 has offered to lead the session on the first chapter, whenever we get to it.

(john davis) #4

Great! So I will not prepare for the Haraway next week but focus attention on Rovelli. I especially appreciated your comments , Geoffrey, about our previous models of time experiment and Rovelli’s theories. We have already investigated synchronicity and serendipity. Maybe we can expand on those ideas? I am much fascinated by the Janus faced nature of our time. How we may have capacity for remembering the future and creating the past. I imagine we could amplify some of the themes in next week’s gathering. I look forward to developing these imaginal possibilities.

(john davis) #5

I am confirmed that we will postpone the Haraway so we can develop the Rovelli variations upon a theme by the Neo-Futurism(s) arising from the ashes of Eliot’s Wasteland. I hope we can collectively re- create a low resolution grand narrative out of the twists in the mobius strips of our minds in motion at the next cafe. I have come across this video to compliment some of the deep dives we have done as many of us are quantum challenged. I hope a transdisiplinary effort can emerge for those of us who are already brain fried from over exposure to so much posturing around the new physics. I am not competent to judge what Irwin concludes but like his clarity. I think I get it.

(Ed Mahood) #6

'Twould be nice if we head in that sort of direction. The brain-frying, of course, comes predominantly from non-physicists who often don’t really grok what the physicists themselves are – for the most part – reticent to assert. There are very deep unanswered questions that have far-reaching implications but those implications are only relevant once the underlying data and its reasonable interpretations are clearly understood. Irwin makes clear that this is not yet the case as there are other interpretive frameworks that may be worth thinking about seriously.

To my mind, there is a simple core question that we laypersons need to ask ourselves, regardless of which theoretical stance seems to be dominating at any particular time of the day, be it deterministic (which admittedly is showing lots of signs of wear-and-tear), non-deterministic (a much better word than random, which is misleading), or, as Irwin and his colleagues are trying to advance, code-theoretic, namely: what does [a given interpretation] mean for my own understanding of how reality “works”? That is: What does it allow? What does it prohibit? And, most importantly, how does it support/contradict/enhance/restrict my own experience?

Of course, it should also be recognized that such a depth of understanding is totally irrelevant for many things that we could be doing or that need to be done. There is little political activism, for example, that needs be grounded in a quantum-or-other-physical-understanding-of-reality. But, for those of us who are sometimes more interested in the roots, in contrast to the branches, of reality, these day-trips can be immensely exhilarating. They also shine at least some indirect, but not blinding, light on other, non-physics-based approaches to the topic, like we will be experiencing in our upcoming Sri Aurobindo projects.

Thanks for the clip, John.

(Ed Mahood) #7

Just a quick follow-on to the video … some thoughts that came up along the way:

Primarily, I would like to pick up on a theme that @johnnydavis54 has brought up more than once: namely our current industrial-model of education (IME) and its deficiencies. Irwin does an excellent job of deterrorizing the subject matter. It’s easy to see how most laypeople, having been subjected to the IME can get lost, overwhelmed and intimidated trying to grasp what Irwin is saying. To his credit, he takes a slow, measured, and very clarification-rich approach to what he has to say so that the revulsion-threshold that must be overcome is rather low. Nevertheless, it re-emphasizes the need for serious, near-time reform, say, in the direction of Gidley’s (to mention only the most recent thinker where the notionality arose) postformal education.

There is a massive push and pressure for more STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) in school, but unfortunately no comparable, yet just as necessary simultaneous push for (I’ll call them) “arts” (for lack of a better word at moment). The mere fact that Irwin’s group is developing a “third ontology” that is language-metaphored (whereby it is also possible that it is actually language-based) underscores the need for listeners who are comfortable in both domains.

If anyone is wondering what kind of activism might be recommendable at the moment, I’d say education is always a safe bet. I consider it a central life-determining domain. Yes, we need ecological activism and social activism. Lord knows we humans are screwing up just about everything we touch, but it is one thing to march for (or against) something, and it is another to know why you’re marching at all. Given the current crisis in education and the state of understanding that too many graduates of too many institutions of higher or other learning are exhibiting once they leave those institutions, the centrality of the issue becomes more apparent. We are woefully unprepared – structurally, institutionally, socially, politically, and economically – to meet our real needs in this area. (For example, as Irwin points out, we will most likely leave our current biosphere “soon”, but we also know that we’re going to take our wasteful, inefficient, and destructive mentality with us … if we don’t off ourselves beforehand.)

There is a huge number of statements, assertions, topics, subject, and themes in this video that one could take exception to or one could explore in more detail. What struck me – at the detail level – is how many of the topics and themes that have come up in the Context-and-Backstory-section listed CCafé sessions were revisited in this talk. The three that hit me the hardest were the Meru, Mereon, and Young sessions: statements like (~@6:00) “We live in a geometric reality.” The repeated references to “lattices” (~@30:00), “projections” (~@33:00), “symmetries” (~@1:05:00), “Fibonacci chains” and phi-relationships (~@1:10:00), and especially language efficiency (~@1:15:00) are examples of this.

His excursion into “interconnectedness” (~@45:00) was strongly parallel to what Haraway had to say on the subject in the video clip I posted elsewhere.

His statement that “Consciousness is likely non-computable” dovetails as well with our recent mullings on AI and singularity, too. Rethinking, revisiting some of these previous sessions could also be worthy preparation for our get-together next Tuesday.

I think what I’m trying to say is that there is a very rich web of interconnections right here on our own little platform that are well worth taking some time to engage in more depth.

(john davis) #8

I agree, Ed, and I hope we can take up this challenge. My strongest feeling has been that as we become more self-reflexive about our group dynamics that might give us smoother access to more creative field effects. I also imagine that unless the walls come down between the humanities and the sciences we are not going to get close to colonizing Mars and the rest of the galaxy. We will blow up at the launching pad!

(Geoffrey Edwards) #9

There is a fledgeling movement for STEAM rather than STEM in some sectors and countries, less in the US, I have to say, but countries like Australia and New Zealand and to a lesser extent, Canada, have been promoting the wider focus, that is, including the arts. Interestingly, some of the support for STEAM is coming from the business world, because the introduction of the arts often transforms business opportunities to a whole new level.

I haven’t made it all the way through the Irwin clip, but I do plan on thinking through a bit more some of the science in preparation for next Tuesday’s meeting.

Regarding education, although I agree, the education model has remained frozen and largely unchanged despite massive changes in our scientific understanding of how learning takes place, there is need for deep, systemic change and it isn’t going to happen without some kind of global crisis. The current education system has too many vested interests to be susceptible to incremental change. It is like the qwerty keyboard, which was designed to slow typing down - our current education practices interfere with learning as often as they facilitate it. But change to our education practices requires challenging how our power structures are involved, radically changing our learning environments and abandoning the static classroom, reintroducing play at all levels of learning, and abandoning our current evaluation-centric approach, at the very least. A tall order.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #10

So, I listened to Unwin all the way through and I have a few comments. Overall, I love the careful way he explains things, although I disagree with a few of his statements. Well, not disagree exactly - I find that he suggests more than he can actually motivate. But on the key idea that the fundamental nature of reality my be a “code”, I don’t disagree. I have three issues with statements he made along the way :

  1. He said the universe is “expanding faster than the speed of light” … umm, no… not the way he said it. at least, not the way I understand these things. The universe may be globally expanding faster than the speed of light, but locally it is expanding sublight. Think of it this way, if you look one way out to the limit of what you can see, because the universe is expanding, the furthest you can see is moving at a high speed away from you - near light speed. If you look in the other direction, the same is true. But scientists believe the universe is much bigger than the parts we can see (because of the inflationary universe model), so if we were to compare the speeds of different parts of the universe to each other, we might conclude that globally, it is expanding faster than the speed of light. But we would never observe such a thing locally.

  2. Unwin states that entanglement effects occur in “no time”, and technically, as you would expect, he is correct. But it is also believed that the INFORMATION about the change cannot propagate faster than the speed of light. So, to use Bateson’s phrase, that information is “a difference that makes a difference”, an entangled event will make no concrete difference to the universe at any speed greater than the speed of light. It is a conundrum, but these conundrums are at the heart of modern physics, and there are no simple ways out of them.

  3. He notes that recent work suggests that wormholes may be the same as phenomenon as quantum entanglement. Again, the way he says this might lead the non expert listener to say, wow, so warp drive is a given. But quantum entanglement occurs at very small scales - it is unclear at this point how entanglement scales to large sizes, if it does at all. This may actually be an argument AGAINST warp drive, in that the only form of warp drive possible might be microscopic and not macroscopic at all.

My problem is that he makes suggestive statements that are not technically wrong, but that are sometimes misleading. I much preferred his argument about the limits of consciousness, which is a very conservative way of reasoning and yet which leads to astonishing ideas. And his ideas about coding and language are well expressed and not, in my understanding, problematic, although, to be a purist, he is presenting one theory among several others, including Loop Quantum Theory (i.e. Rovelli’s approach) and String Theory. Like Rovelli, he argues that String Theory requires too many extra dimensions, but I am not sure that I agree entirely. String Theory is grounded on the idea of replacing one-dimensional particles with two-dimensional strings, which is a very elegant idea. It just so happens that once you accept that idea, you are forced to adopt a universe with many more dimensions than are visible, but Unwin’s approach also requires a higher dimensional universe, just not as many as are needed for String Theory.

(Mark Jabbour) #11

Yes [education is], and/but it, education, begins at birth (learned, or operationally conditioned by rewarded behavior), but wait … now it is known that life in the womb also contributes to one’s “personal reality” @Douggins , or personality , which is now known to be partially (50%) gene based (humans are not a ‘blank slate’), and that some of that genetic structure is “hard wired” from human (and mammal, and reptilian, and has been suggested, Ed, maybe plant) evolutionary past, and even before that - earth, wind, and fire, i.e. cosmogonal. So given that , we can return to the question of individual behavior as “free” or determined, yes? Most psychologists now think it’s only a matter of how much is free, 0,1, or 5%? Even it’s 1% - that’s important, of value.
[Damn, this is like a class, school, and I’m way behind in reading, lectures, video-watching, etc. I’ve been skipping class, so I’ll stop now and try and catch up for Tuesday.]

(Ed Mahood) #12

And it is nudges like this that make it fun around here:

Working backward through this: yes, “we are stardust” as some like to say. but atoms are atoms are atoms (among other things) and we swap them out with environment from the beginning of our tenure here (and I don’t care where you start counting) until the end (ditto).

And plants? Steiner tells us flat out, “you betcha” (well he said it in German and it was a lot longer than that), but even a casual glance at Arthur Young’s process model reveals a rather strong implication that he agrees with Steiner in some way on some level. (I’m very interested to see what our friend Sri Aurobindo has to say, for I am guessing that he’ll provide you with “some kind of support” for that contention as well.

But as for our genes … well, I’m just going to say this: I’m not completely clear on what the phrase “hard wired” means. I may have the so-called “alcoholism gene” but I may not ever become an alcoholic. I may not have the “diabetes gene”, but I may nevertheless become a diabetic. And that’s something worth reflecting upon.

In our other recent discussions, this notion of “predetermined” has come a couple of times, and we’ve all, more or less or to some extent, have agreed that that might be too strong a word, so perhaps – and it’s not a bad choice – “predisposed” is a better word to use. For some reason(s) we humans for sure (and I’m guessing other species as well) may be able to not be completely determined by what is often considered “hard wired”. Granted, it doesn’t happen in ALL cases, but the moment it doesn’t happen in even one, we have an anomaly and things are suddenly very interesting.

Throw, say, epigenetics into the mix and we’ve got an even more lively ball game on our hands. On top of that, while we’re at it, let’s add the U of VA research (I only mention them because they’ve done the real grunt work so far) into reincarnation and “past memories” (some of which may be genetic and some not necessarily), and we’ve got, as far as I’m concerned, a delightful “witches’ brew” of “knowledge” to contend with. My point, at the moment, being that whatever it is that we are “identifying” as our “personality” or “personal reality” or [fill-in-the-blank] is much more multifaceted and multilayered and polyvalent and [fill-in-the-blank] than we can actually handle at the moment. Whatever it is (most) science is looking at (for this is the accepted nature of science at this point in time) is one facet/layer/whatever (maybe, if we’re lucky, two) and we’ve always got to keep the bigger picture in mind. I’m a big supporter of @johnnydavis54 and his continual case-pleading for “alternative ways of knowing” for, if nothing else, they, by definition, imply “alternative ways of searching/looking/learning”. We’ve got a big job on our hands.

And then there is the “numbers game”. The genetic difference between chimps and humans is 2%, but what a 2% that is. To use Bateson’s phrase: that’s a difference that makes a difference. Or, what about “junk DNA”? Well, thank goodness, that’s what it used to be called; now, it’s just non-encoding DNA (meaning that it doesn’t generate protein sequences). What portion of the human genome does that represent? 98%. Another difference that probably makes a difference, for the 50% of which you speak is that it is probably 50% of the 2% that we have just started understanding (the encoding part). There is SO much more to figure out yet.

And that’s analogous to what we know about the universe itself. All our current physics can really account for and (partially) explain is about 5% of what’s there (the other 95% being so-called dark matter and energy, which we are probably not any more clear on than the human genome). And that means for me, at least, that there are a whole of lot of open questions, and I’m not ready to come down firmly on any side of any given issue.

Yes, I’ve got a lot of balls in the air and I’m definitely not the world’s best juggler, so what I’m always on the lookout for are clues, tips, hints, or whatever that may help me either (a) reduce the number of balls or (b) increase my dexterity.

This is what I like about presentations such as Rovelli’s; this is also what I like about clips such as Irwin’s: It is not a matter of completely understanding everything they are saying, for as @Geoffrey_Edwards points out, a lot of it isn’t undisputable this-is-how-it-is, rather there’s a lot of saying “is” when what they probably mean is “I think” or “it kind of appears to be”. And as Geoffrey also poignantly pointed out, it is at those places that the biggest chance of misinterpretation and then misrepresentation by laypersons can occur. It is certainly important to be able to “suspend one’s disbelief” when reading literature, but it is equally important when engaging most science as well.

And I, for one am certain, that you’ll show up as well prepared as any of us. Should be a worthwhile chat.

(john davis) #13

Thanks, Geoffrey, for sorting some of this out for us. I would also wonder if we could focus attention upon some of the themes that you develop in this essay you shared in a previous post?

I bring this up as we are constantly engaged in this tug of war between Big Science and the Humanities. More complex narratives and poetry can compliment the Human Sciences. Let’s explore cultural fields!

(Mark Jabbour) #14

Hello @achronon (et all). This is not easy for me as my technology is outdated. I’ve got 4 devices and they don’t all interface equally, so I’ve got to “juggle” it so as not to lose this or that “bookmark”. Just came across an article in Psychology Today about Laws & principles w/r/t Psychology - specifically, Evolutionary Psychology w/r/t @Douggins topic, and also @ZacharyFeder 's paper, and all the rest of what is being discussed here - Free Will, Art, Education, Philosophy, discourse, or, “a theory of everything”. As I stated earlier, I’m working on a book about Election 2016, which was a big topic of discussion here, earlier; and I’ve come to the chapter (i’m on the 2nd draft/rewrite) wherein I reference and quote from this site (with permissions, of course) which is in some ways mind blowing! Now, I’m looking back at that which I wrote almost 2 years ago, and what you (some of you) said, and am updating with footnotes, … and so … like I said, somewhere, the book is my ‘theory of everything’, and yet I have to try and function here, & in real life (which we all are), i.e. i’m not in prison! Or am I?

(john davis) #15

Rovelli implies that there is no one time that we can point to as a standard. Time, he says, is our emotional response to losing things. Which reminds me of this celebrated poem. Bishop’s gay lover committed suicide but how does she convey this? That loss is one experience among many events happening in a cascade of complex responses. Her reticence may come also from her reluctance to self disclose as this was back in the fifties when such a relationship caused scandal. This is a dilemma that the poet tries to capture and the philosophical physicist contemplates. There may not be one time but there is one art!

One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like ( Write it!) like disaster.

(Marco V Morelli) #16

I watched / listened to both presentations, and I’m behind on the physics, for sure. (I appreciate upping the difficulty level for this remedial student!) But one thing that strikes me about both talks (a patterns I’ve noticed elsewhere) is that the scientists seem to be trying really, really hard to bring the ‘consciousness’ (or ‘transcendental,’ or ‘observer’) factor into their equations, and this seems to require mindboggling complexity and paradox (angels dancing on a quark, it sounds like to me) all just to say that something to the effect that consciousness must be somehow be involved in physical processes—either as a background condition, an evolutionary telos, or an enabling condition for determining a possible reality.

No doubt, there is something indisputable about the predictive power of modern physics. There is beauty in proof. There is undeniable value in the capacity for actualization. The fact that we humans can fly and land an airplane, communicate with Mars, or observe objects in vast as well as atomic scales is miraculous, and represents the power and truth of physical theory combined with engineering and everything else it takes (social & political mobilization, imagination & creativity, etc.) to create predictable events through technology.

However, it just seems to me it would be a whole hell of a lot easier, less confusing and mentally tortured, to admit that, in fact, consciousness is primary and absolutely must be part of any physical equation, implicitly at the very least. It’s like, we love Descartes ’ coordinate mapping system, but miss this essence of his most fundamental (infamous) equation: Thinking = Being.

I would say, for the axiom of my system of reality: There is C.

Now let there be Light, and little c, and everything else which may be constant or measurable in the Cosmos. Now let us describe things in terms of each other, which I think is Covelli’s basic point regarding time. Time is a transcendental fiction. There are only events, which we triangulate to measure things to a common standard. As for the big T: he has no need for that hypothesis anymore.

And yet, we experience time. What is the nature of this experience? As far as I can tell, physics has very little to say about the actual experience of time. (Heidegger, by contrast, say what you will about him, has a lot of interesting things to say about what it means to be in time.) So but Covelli says, I guess we have to talk to the psychologists! (But it would be better, of course, if the neuroscience would catch up, so we can try to find the basis of time inside our neurons.) At the beginning of his lecture he concedes that philosophers have their own conception of time, as poets have theirs; etc. Does that mean we get our Time back now, after it has been reduced to nothing?

As far as I can tell, the only real way to study anything is phenomenologically: What is it that actually appears, and what can you say about that? This puts us in a hermeneutic circle, since what we say affects what appears. Using language, then—which certainly comprises the building blocks of any world that includes conscious being—we resolve our reality. But, which appears to whom? There must be consciousness or some form of primary perception for any phenomena whatsoever. So then, there would be as many ‘times’ as there are modes of perception. Which is actually where we started from. (Wasn’t the point of physics to establish an objective reality out of the confusion of subjectivity?) Loop quantum gravity indeed!

Ink painting by Gao Xingjian

I was reminded while prepping for this talk of Zen master Dogen’s famous discourse on Rivers and Mountains, and that old Zen nugget:

“Thirty years ago, before studying Zen, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers. When I had more intimate knowledge, I came to see mountains not as mountains and rivers not as rivers. But now that I have attained the substance, I again see mountains just as mountains, and rivers just as rivers.”

As it happens, the most recent Weird Studies podcast episode is on Dogen, so he’s been on my mind. (How does that happen, in time?) The suggestion here is perhaps even more radical than it appears contemporary physics would allow. What if reality is precisely as it appears to be?

(john davis) #17

St Augustine said he knew what Time was until he tried to talk about it. Bergson said Time was duration, a continuation of what no longer exits into what does exist, between the before and the now and the now and the after, an undivided flow where the universe continually decides how it will appear and how it will evolve. This sense of becoming has more of a process feel that I dont get in Heidegger. I never got the idea of Being, so cold and abstract. I do like that Rovelli quoted Proust. I think he is trying to bridge the Humanities and Science and this is a good direction to go in. It is getting wierd. I did enjoy our maps of time. It seems they demonstrate how idiosyncratic time can be. I imagine this is what Gebser was getting at, how subjective unfolding of time is not like clock time at all.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #18

I would agree, @madrush, although There is C seems to be a logical statement, that is, Assume there is C and then see what follows. Somewhere between philosophy and logic. Science has a harder time with this, however. Remember, science used to have such a statement, in the very early days of the « modern » era, the time of Newton and Leibniz, but it got thrown out, not so much because of Descartes but more because of Bacon. And C has been absent for the past 350 years. Furthermore, modern science, if it accepts « C », does so at the pinnacle of the pyramid of science - physics is at the bottom, along with mathematics, then there is chemistry, then biology, above that ecology, and then there is C. You want to put it back in at the bottom. I know you are pointing out that both Unwin and Rovelli are hinting at such a thing (and Penrose along with them), but there are no tools, no formalisms, no methods to do that. And science needs those things, or it is stalled. I know @johnnydavis54 will say, « ah, but there are models, and tools, and things », but those don’t connect up to the mainstream formalisms and methods, which work by collective consensus. Science will likely get there, but it has to do so in its own quirky, roundabout way, and there are no shortcuts. Rovelli, and Unwin, are trying to find formslisms and theory that connects the dots, but it ain’t easy or someone would have already done it.

Then we throw out all of modern physics, from the atom on down? We can « see » none of those things. I don ‘t think you are really arguing to throw out explanations, and it seems to me that explanations always involve hidden things. However, if your argument is that the arguments are too complex to be realistic, I think even they (the scientists) would agree with you. It looks like epicycles again (i.e. circular orbits on circular orbits on circular orbits used to explain what turned out to be elliptical orbits) - too much complexity is a bad sign.

Rovelli is careful to state that the idea that time is a psychological construct is his own idea. I must admit this is the one aspect of his thinking that I don’t follow and don’t understand. How can time be a construct of memory if memories unfold in time! I wish I did understand this point.

Anyway, my two cents.

(john davis) #19

Eventually, Geoffrey, the scientist will have to go within as actors and writers and poets do to find the patterns that connect. The view from nowhere is no longer tenable. We, and the Cosmos, interface.

This would usher in a qualitative science practiced by Goethe and a handful of others. It does no good to exclude science from this “observing observers” phenomenon. We are not going to get to an Ecological Civilization without a Perciever. This is infinitely more complex than theoretical physics.

A perceptual system is front, center, inside, outside, up and down. Then we can move. That is what our brains do, move our bodies in space. Without the capacity to register the effects of a perceptual space there is no way we can orient ourselves in any world, physical, imaginal, sleeping or waking or lucid. The Body Electric is not reducible to the scientistism(s) that we are straight jacketed by.

And then there is the question of culture, which you have brought up before. Science, like the arts, is not value free as the following quote from Isabel Stengers point out. Scientists are cultural workers.

." In order for the scientist’s work to be possible, to gain importance and to achieve consideration, an innovative scientist has to form alliances with the state or industrial powers, so as to get them to decide that they indeed need the kinds of results he is working to obtain. He has to achieve academic recognition, he has to succeed in mobilizing the world, which includes getting the resources needed, and finally, he has to produce a public representation of this field; to have it accepted as scientific." Isabel Stengers

So I believe there is plenty of room for theories and models interacting in ways we cant yet predict. And where have theories come from without good modelers? Such as Anaximander and Copernicus and Galileo? They were aware of, and were using their senses in highly creative ways. They were doing semiotics, studying signs, and the triadic nature of signing in a Peirciean sense, rather than the stale dyadic Saussurian signifier signified split.

As Peirce said, we are sign systems, within sign systems, another possible Cafe topic. One that might include the ecological dimensions that Bateson tried to model. I hope we can flesh this out.

(john davis) #20

I came across this interesting talk by Richard Tarnas that resonates with many of the themes that emerged in our Cafe today. What is the Modern Self and how did we get here and where are we going? He refers to Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. This book is another mountain I have yet to climb that I would like to invite us to study after we do Sri Aurobindo. A deep dive!