Archive for the ‘reality-physics & philosophy’ Category

Gleiser begins by posing the question of whether there are fundamental limits to how much of the universe and our place in it science can explain, with a concrete focus on physical reality. Echoing cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz’s eye-opening exploration of why our minds miss the vast majority of what is going on around us, he writes:

What we see of the world is only a sliver of what’s “out there.” There is much that is invisible to the eye, even when we augment our sensorial perception with telescopes, microscopes, and other tools of exploration. Like our senses, every instrument has a range. Because much of Nature remains hidden from us, our view of the world is based only on the fraction of reality that we can measure and analyze. Science, as our narrative describing what we see and what we conjecture exists in the natural world, is thus necessarily limited, telling only part of the story… We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery… It is the flirting with this mystery, the urge to go beyond the boundaries of the known, that feeds our creative impulse, that makes us want to know more.

via The Island of Knowledge: How to Live with Mystery in a Culture Obsessed with Certainty and Definitive Answers | Brain Pickings.

The view of totality, its attendant conception of reality called “Total Being,” and the understanding of the dynamic of realization—the relationship between individual practice and realization—begin to articulate the nonhierarchical view of the Diamond Approach. As we plumb the depths of our immediate experience, at some point, we can begin to uncover the underlying implications of its view. From the vantage of totality, we can discern not only the distinctness, the validity, and the experiential universe of that particular view but also the relationship of one worldview to another. Doing so unleashes the inherent freedom of reality, and reality shows its delight by leading us to other views and further mysteries. This is the upshot of uncertainty: We are loosed from the search for final meaning into a life of limitless adventure.

via Newest Book by A.H. Almaas: Runaway Realization | Science and Nonduality.

The fact is we all suffer from cognitive egocentrism. We all seem to intuitively assume that we have won what I call the ‘Magical Belief Lottery.’ We cherry pick confirming evidence and utterly overlook disconfirming evidence. We automatically assume that our sources are more reliable than the sources cited by others. We think we are more intelligent than we in fact are. We rewrite memories to minimize the threat of inconsistencies. We mistake claims repeated three or more times as fact. We continually revise our beliefs to preempt in-group criticism. We regularly confabulate. We congenitally use our conclusions to determine the cogency of our premises. The list goes on and on, believe you me. Add to this the problem of Interpretative Underdetermination, the simple fact that our three pound brains are so dreadfully overmatched by the complexities of the world…

via The Semantic Apocalypse | Speculative Heresy.

lw: Recognition of the Human Condition.

Consciousness, biology and quantum hypotheses. [Phys Life Rev. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI.

Conscious cognition is therefore a distinct kind of brain event. Many of its features are well established, and must be accounted for by any adequate theory. No non-biological examples are known. Penrose and Hameroff have proposed that consciousness may be viewed as a fundamental problem in quantum physics. Specifically, their ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (Orch-OR) hypothesis posits that conscious states arise from quantum computations in the microtubules of neurons. However, a number of microtubule-associated proteins are found in both plant and animal cells (like neurons) and plants are not generally considered to be conscious. Current quantum-level proposals do not explain the prominent empirical features of consciousness. Notably, they do not distinguish between closely matched conscious and unconscious brain events, as cognitive-biological theories must. About half of the human brain does not support conscious contents directly, yet neurons in these “unconscious” brain regions contain large numbers of microtubules. QM phenomena are famously observer-dependent, but to the best of our knowledge it has not been shown that they require a conscious observer, as opposed to a particle detector. Conscious humans cannot detect quantum events “as such” without the aid of special instrumentation. Instead, we categorize the wavelengths of light into conscious sensory events that neglect their quantum mechanical properties. In science the burden of proof is on the proposer, and this burden has not yet been met by quantum-level proposals. While in the future we may discover quantum effects that bear distinctively on conscious cognition ‘as such,’ we do not have such evidence today.”

In Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us Dennett on the dignity and art-science of making mistakes — he offers what he calls “the best antidote [for the] tendency to caricature one’s opponent”: a list of rules formulated decades ago by the legendary social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport, best-known for originating the famous tit-of-tat strategy of game theory. Dennett synthesizes the steps:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

via How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently | Brain Pickings.

“Embodied cognitive science appeals to the idea that cognition deeply depends on aspects of the agent’s body other than the brain. Without the involvement of the body in both sensing and acting, thoughts would be empty, and mental affairs would not exhibit the characteristics and properties they do. Work on embedded cognition, by contrast, draws on the view that cognition deeply depends on the natural and social environment. By focusing on the strategies organisms use to off-load cognitive processing onto the environment, this work places particular emphasis on the ways in which cognitive activity is distributed across the agent and her physical, social, and cultural environment (Suchman 1987, Hutchins 1995). The thesis of extended cognition is the claim that cognitive systems themselves extend beyond the boundary of the individual organism. On this view, features of an agent’s physical, social, and cultural environment can do more than distribute cognitive processing: they may well partially constitute that agent’s cognitive system. (Clark and Chalmers 1998, R. Wilson 2004; A. Clark 2008, Menary 2010).”

Wilson, Robert A. and Foglia, Lucia, “Embodied Cognition”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <;.

via Embodied Cognition (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Andy Clark: “I’m working on predictive processing as I’ll call it, which is just a particular model of how you build up models to get to grips with the world as a living creature. The basic idea is that we try to predict our own sensory flow using a multi-layered structure. What I think is interesting about it is that internal processes deliver perception and action as being computationally built in just the same way. They sort of squeeze cognition out because you don’t need it any more, it’s all done by the stuff that is doing perception and action. And that stuff, precisely because it’s doing perception and action, rolls the world in at any point in which that’s going to be a useful strategy.”

via Interview: David Chalmers and Andy Clark | New Philosopher.

The internal portion of the extended mind.

“The organization of the brain is affected by experience, and therefore, it has to be exercised, experimented, and because of this nature of our brain, we are constantly rewired and reorganized. It becomes clear that we henceforth cannot think of our relationships with objects, with the other or with ourselves without interrogating this self-transformable basis of our subjectivity.

We cannot understand the becoming empirical of the transcendental without exploring the space opened by neural plasticity. This means that the « outside » of the humanities loses its monstrosity to become the material exteriority without which criticism is reduced to the relativism and polymorphism of cultural studies. Reciprocally, the « inside » of the Humanities may renew their old conception of the plasticity of all frontiers.”

via >>> TRANSEUROPEENNES ::The future of Humanities.

//A move of humanities toward an openness to the humanity of the quest to understand, perhaps.

“This may strike you as very unlikely. But the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that we are more likely to be in such a simulation than not. If such simulations are possible in theory, he reasons, then eventually humans will create them — presumably many of them. If this is so, in time there will be many more simulated worlds than nonsimulated ones. Statistically speaking, therefore, we are more likely to be living in a simulated world than the real one.” –  Olimpia Zagnoli

via Is the Universe a Simulation? –

-Follow-up from previous post

“Math is so effective in describing the world, he says, because physical reality is a mathematical structure. He calls it the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (M.U.H.). What exactly this means is a big question, which is never fully answered. Mr. Tegmark’s argument is that all physical properties of an electron, say, can be described mathematically; therefore, to him, an electron is itself a mathematical structure — as is everything else, including us. “You’re a pattern in space-time,” Tegmark says, and he is not just speaking metaphorically. Well, it’s true that the trajectory of a human is a pattern in space-time, but does it mean that a human is this pattern? What accounts for consciousness, for example? “I think that consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways,” Tegmark says.” – Edward Frenkle

via ‘Our Mathematical Universe,’ by Max Tegmark –

– Must read this one! It’s a great next step from the “Quantum and the Lotus” and “Meeting the Universe Halfway” – from physics of reality to pure math.