Otoom.net On the Origin of Mind.
Martin Wurzinger's theory of system
Martin Wurzinger, February 11, 2006: Thank you Andrius for the interesting letter to Chris Langan's conference regarding CTMU and [EternalLife life after death]. A number of issues have been raised there that at times seem to approach the nature of definition. In that light may I offer a focus that treats those concepts as systems per se (and not more - but certainly not less). For the full details of where I'm coming from see the material on the nature of Mind on my website. I would also cite it as a way of introducing myself to the group.
So, here goes!
Firstly, what is a system? The name implies an identifiable Structure as well as a Dynamic. In other words, a 'system' expresses a certain formality while at the same time going through its paces - it 'does something'. The formality is needed because without it we would not be able to label it one way or another, and the 'doing' tells us something about its behaviour. The two are interdependent; the behaviour is classifiable within the terms of its structure, and the structure portrays an ongoing scenario we can follow according to the format we were able to identify.
Andrius: Compare with Christopher Alexander's idea that recurring Activity evokes structure, and structure channels Activity, which I am thinking of as an [AddTwo operation +2] that adds two perspectives to a structure, namely activity and non-activity from which it arises smoothly.
So far the situation might almost seem trivial, but consider: as we observe such a system, we, the Observer, represent a system in its own right and subject to the same definition we have just applied. For the two to work together (ie, we observe something which has meaning to us) the Pattern unfolding before us must in some way find its re-representation in our own minds, otherwise there would be no meaning. This wouldn't require the Observed system to be meaningless in itself, it simply (?) says the system would have no meaning for us.
Andrius: I am grappling with the relationship between Observer and Observed in my Overview of knowing everything.
To have a format entails expectability. But to what extent? In principle there are two options. Either we apply our pre-knowledge about certain objects, in which case another object (meant quite literally) outside the existing format forces us to re-interpret our erstwhile definition of the system. Or, we consider the scenario in terms of functionality, in which case the options multiply (for example, if a coffee table is replaced by a baroque table we need to reconsider, but if we understand the things as 'table' first and foremost then what particular type of table is being presented becomes immaterial - they are all meaningful).
Andrius: I think that EmotionalResponses are driven by Expectations and I write about this in my page on EverythingWishesForAnything.
Our minds are very good at PatternRecognition. A pattern is a format, and paring away the specific detail we arrive at the object's Abstraction, which is another way of saying we have recognised its underlying functionality. By the way, these kind of thought process can be traced in history; Thomas Aquinas for instance not only discusses proportion but moves on to proportionality, something an Aristotle didn't do! That next higher level of abstraction allows him to speculate about human nature far more powerfully than was hitherto the case.
Returning to the observer and the observed, we can say therefore that a given pattern only then becomes Meaningful to us if our Minds are capable of abstracting to a sufficient degree. The problem then becomes - what is 'sufficient'?
Even a table can be abstracted further, take the geological formation known as mesa for example. A mesa is not really a 'platform to put things on', but the semantic link is obvious.
Further abstractions are possible if the system possesses a high enough degree of complexity (such as the mind of Thomas Aquinas), but does not go further than that degree allows (compare Aquinas with the writings of Sartre for example). Since we are dealing with systems, the same can be said about the other side, the observed.
And here we come to the crux of the matter. Any given system consists of its ObjectRelatedContent as well as its [Latency abstractive potential], the former being more limited than the latter as we have seen. Again, this goes for the observer as well as the observed. However, since the system is defined as a 'system' in terms of its Boundaries as they are convenient for the purpose of the current definition, the potential can be raised by extending its boundaries. We still have our system, but now it represents a subsystem within the set of added functionalities. Naturally, we can apply the same process once again and widen our reference further still.
Continuing along that line we come to a point at which our own interpretative capacity (remember, we are the observer) reaches a limit. This limit is reached as soon as our own abstractive potential becomes incongruent in relation to the framework of what we are trying to observe. The observed system doesn't care - it is us who falter and take recourse to SemanticBridges in our attempts at reconciling the outside with what our minds are capable of expressing.
I would suggest that concepts such as 'God', 'Truth' (note the capital T), 'Good' and 'Evil' (likewise) are such semantic bridges. I suspect this is where Andrius' "God seeks ALL good" comes in (but correct me if I'm wrong). After all, we don't really know what 'good' ultimately means because the all-encompassing system of Life contains abstraction potentials far in excess of what we can make of it with our current understanding. I say 'current' because as we come across events which represent instantiated examples of our abstractions our reference system has been extended and our knowledge base has now expanded. The scientific approach of moving from hypothesis to theory and on to established fact follows that line.
The abstractive potential can be termed Latency. It is the inherent latency of any given system that gives rise to its Unfolding, whether such a system happens to be our Mind, an evolving Organism, an EcoSystem, indeed the Universe. Yet a potential is not completely open-ended. It needs the moment-by-moment Instantiation for the following phase to occur (which means I cannot discourse about Aquinas if I haven't learned how to read, I cannot abstract 'table' if I don't know about platforms, or plants and animals cannot exist unless and until something like a solar system has come into being).
And yet... would the latency as we know as of today have existed at the time the universe settled itself into star clusters? We can trace the developmental process from our vantage point, but would a galaxy somehow Know about organic compounds? There is a possible answer, and it touches on what I call Affinities.
For the time being I would be interested in what others have to say about this so far.
The relevance to Andrius' letter lies in the ideas he presents in the context of the Bounded system defined as SelfStanding; to apply "thinking as human" by positing an Anthropomorphic system; talking about Chicago, Bangalore etc as specific subsystems; and asking as an application of abstraction processes, and residing within one's own mind at that.