Essence, Awareness, Computation, SMN (#1427)
The Computational Paradigm
(#1367) Process Metaphysics and Computational Paradigm
(#1406) Computational Metaphysics
(#1415) SMN, Free Will and Unification of Paradigms
(#1418) SMN, Computational Metaphysics, Free Will and Duality
(#1428) Free Will, Attitude, Awareness, Self Control, Causality, Karma, Cosmic Will, Computation and Consciousness
(#1430) Metaphysics of Virtual Reality
Mathematics of Intension
(#1437) The Chinese Room, Experience, Knowledge and Communication
Computational Processes (proof)
(#1470) Religion/Spirituality, Energy/Information and the Unification of Material and Spiritual Science
(#1663) System Theoretic Metaphysics and the Unification of the Transcendent and Empirical Sciences
Also see other excerpts from my discussions with the Society for Scientific Exploration.
> With this hierarchy there is always a problem of names. > For example, the unified foundation underlying the universe > we experience can be called: > `primary cause' or `essence', or `God' or `Brahma' or > `quantum wave function'. > For me the importance we attach to the name we choose to > use is related to its powers of explanation and how it can > extend our understanding.
The names we use are important but the name is just a label that we use to refer to experiences (in this case intellectual not sensory) of the underlying reality. When discussing the most subtle aspects of reality that are the most remote from everday experience, there is no direct means of grasping it. There are many possible perspectives but no 'correct' perspective. Because the subject is essentially indefinable I usually prefer to leave it undefined and to use many labels otherwise our minds tend to treat it as an 'object' that is well defined. Then we weave it into conceptual frameworks that are neat and which make sense in themselves but we have enshrined only one perspective and we come to rely on that perspective. This can limit the discourse and lead it into narrow definitions that devolve into illusions such as dogmas.
If a label is to be used we must constantly reiforce the fact that it is just a very loose label, in order to avoid judicial reasoning where the word is confused for the reality. For example in Daoism they say:
"The way that can be spoken of Is not the constant way The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;"(Tao Te Ching, 1,2) "There is a thing confusedly formed, Born before heaven and earth. Silent and void It stands alone and does not change, Goes round and does not weary. It is capable of being the mother of the world. I know not its name So I style it 'the way'."(Tao Te Ching, 56)
Or in the Upanishads from the Vedic tradition they refer to the cosmic essence as 'That' or 'It'. It is also refered to as 'Brahman', but when calling it Brahman they make clear that Brahman is not a 'thing'; it is the foundation and essence of all things. It is beyond definition. I.e.
Brahman is "beyond all the elements, and all the letters. There is no commerce with It. It brings all distinctions and developments to end; as such it is utterly unavailing. It is only peace, repose and oneness." (Mandukya Upanishad 12)
Regarding the cosmic essence: > As you say, it is rather the means to discernment. In other words > the cosmic essence is a knowing without discernment. > > A knowing without discernment is a meaning without discernable > differences. This could be a description of intuition or implication > or more generally of implicit meaning.
I would call it discernment without knowing. It is pure awareness, it is the 'seer' or the 'watcher'. All 'knowing' is a function of the mind and all meaning arises in context. Without a context and without the operation of the mind, there is no network of associations to give meaning or knowledge, there is just pure awareness. This is the state of no-mind that is the goal of meditation and is refered to as samadhi or nirvana. It is pure discernment without judgement or the limitation of mental concepts.
In the computational paradigm there is no implicit meaning just as the byte of information '01101010' has no implicit meaning and is just a distinct symbol. Many associations can be asigned to this symbol in different contexts but the computational stream itself does not care for these contexts, it just operates on pure symbols. As the symbols combine and interact in some context they semantically develop meaning but this arises from the functioning of the computational process and is not built into it. For further discussion on the semantic origins of meaning see the comments on "process physics" at: http://www.anandavala.info/TASTMOTNOR/Process%20Physics.html
> Now a `discernable difference' is not of the same order as the > `means of discernment'. The `means of discernment', or we could > say the `potential for discernment', will always precede the act > of discernment.
All systems have both an inner aspect and an outer aspect, the inner is the pure awareness (means of discernment) that allows them to perceive and experience things and thereby interact with other systems. The outer aspect is the observable state of a system (discernable difference) or how it appears to other systems when perceived through the world or the network of information channels that interconnects all systems. The inner aspect is consciousness or purusha and the outer aspect is form or prakriti.
discernment (computation) = pure awareness (purusha) structure (information) = existential substance (prakriti)
Both are essential initial ingredients.
The Upanishads say:
"Know that prakriti [nature, mechanical existence, causality, outer aspect] and purusha [soul, consciousness, will, inner aspect] are both without beginning [prakriti is the representational aspect of information and purusha is the computational aspect]. Know also that all forms and constituents arise from prakriti [the base information medium is the ultimate foundation of manifest form, it is pure semantic representation (prakriti), which underlies the potential for existence. Purusha or computation then animates this and togehter they combine to form ever higher levels of creation]. Prakriti (nature) is said to be the cause behind the act, its instrument and its doer, while purusha (soul) is said to be the cause behind the experience of pleasure and pain. When purusha is positioned in prakriti, it enjoys the constituents born of prakriti [immersion in the perceptual stream, identification with the information stream, partaking in the simulation through the suspension of disbelief and thereby experiencing the phenomenal world or the 'virtual' reality]. This marriage with the constituents is instrumental in its taking birth in good and bad wombs [empirical manifestation or samsara]." (Bhagavad Gita, chpt 13)
> A computational essence would then be a potential for computation.
The computational essence is pure purusha or pure discernment. This is not enough for potential computation. What is required is both purusha and prakriti, both discernment and that which can be discerned, then there is potential for computation.
Consider a standard physical computer, at the very least we need both a CPU (computation, purusha) and memory (information, prakriti). Only then is there potential for computation. When these two interact, then all manner of virtual computational forms may arise. Whole hierarchical structures of programs and data are produced, with low levels building atop each other producing higher levels, up to operating systems and user programs. Within these programs one can produce virtual worlds with virtual objects in dynamic relations. But all of these higher level forms and phenomena ultimately rely upon the underlying CPU and memory.
The need for both CPU and memory is expressed in the Bhagavad Gita as:
"This very body... is called the ksetra [field or information space, memory], and he who knows it is called the ksetrajna [the knower of the field or the computational process, CPU]... Know that I am the ksetrajna in all ksetras... I hold that, knowledge of the field and of its knower is true knowledge." (Bhagavad Gita, chpt 13)
In general, what is required is both an information space or field of discernable differences and also a computational process or stream of discernment. Without the information space there is nothing to discern or operate on and without the computational process there is no discernment so no operations are possible. But given both, we have a computational space or dynamical space of existential states that may change and evolve. It forms a semantic self-excited circuit that can function as a virtual reality generative process. Within the computational space, virtual entities may exist as patterns of information (data) and processes may be defined (programs) that operate on the data. In this way countless information processes can arise and operate on the information space and thereby on the virtual entities and on themselves, (e.g. polymorphic programs).
Any information process is both data and program, both of which are information. The data is existential information describing the state of "that which is" and the program is causal information describing the procedure of "that which happens". Both of these forms of information are encoded as discernable differences within the information space. The computational process then operates on this information space by animating the programs, which channel the computational essence and cause it to activate particular procedures which then operate on the data and programs.
It is in this sense that I define a 'system' as a dynamical pattern of information. It is both made of information (existential and causal information) and it operates on information (input, transformation and output of signals). In this manner all manifest systems are virtual entities, they are semantic patterns within the cosmic information space.
> A potential for computation lies not within the computer but within us, > that is within our consciousness. > In this respect the computer metaphor when pushed too far, like all > metaphors, breaks down.
In the computational analogy there is nothing that is not "within the computer". For example, a computer simulates a virtual world within which an AI character experiences being in that world. Every object and phenomenon in that world is being sustained by the computer in each moment and the consciousness of the character is a stream of the cosmic computational process. I agree that the analogy has limits but this is not one of them. One could say that there is only the computer doing the computations (mind of God) or one could say that there are many distributed threads performing computational processes (individual consciousness), it is just a matter of perspective.
Hence I would re-phrase your statement as: The potential for existential animation lies in the cosmic consciousness, which is our inner most consciousness.
The main limitation of the computational analogy is that a computational thread is determined by the physical dynamics of the underlying computing hardware but the cosmic essence is more like pure consciousness that implies "free will" or a degree of indeterminism that leaves a degree of free choice in each moment. So in this regard the concept of computation is just an analogy for consciousness.
However in other respects, such as the way in which the cosmic essence is woven together to create manifest forms within a context, that may experience each other and interact, in this sense the computational analogy describes the operation of prakriti and the construction of Maya. It cannot say anything about the true essence or purusha but it can describe the process whereby these give rise to a coherent experiential context or phenomenal world.
> discernable differences never come by themselves, as information > theory seems to suppose.
Information theory often isolates out particular low level situations for detailed study, but this then needs to be re-contextualised back into the higher level situations for it to be useful - just like with particle physics. But information theory when applied to networks of systems and communication complexity does not consider the discernable differences by themselves but in the context of communication through complex networks.
> For me the answer to that has been to bypass the idea of information altogether.
This discussion of information and computation is very low-level. What you propose as a 'bypass' of information is simply moving to a higher level - which I agree is necessary to address high level issues. However underlying all aspects of 'language' is the dynamics of information transfer and computation (communication and comprehension). Hence these lower levels are not bypassed but just subsumed into a higher level discourse.
In my own work I also consider things on low and high levels. System Matrix Notation (SMN) and the concepts of information/computation are the low level conceptual foundation but these give rise to a system theoretic context that I describe using Idiomatic System Theory (IST).
> [Discernable differences] come in groups, in systems and importantly > within contexts.
Hence we need to extend the low level understanding into higher level contexts.
> the implications that surround a set of discernable differences are > always of greater significance than the actual discernable differences > themselves.
Only if one is a high level being within the simulated world and operating in the context of high level perceptions and agendas. On a metaphysically low level the only thing that matters is the semantic relations between discernable differences. For example, as a user of a computer it matters to you if your email is addressed to the right person, that is a high level issue. But as far as the CPU and memory are concerned, they are just processing binary data or discernable differences in sematic relation, they neither know nor care about people, emails, addresses and so on. So different phenomena have different significance at different levels and from different perspectives. The information dynamics operate at the low level and this is then perceived and interpreted in some high level context and only then does meaning arise and only relative to a particular perspective.
> Instead of information I have found a better way to deal with > discernable differences is through a language that imparts meaning. > > A language is always contextual and always generates meaning through > the interaction of its discernable differences and the implications > of its contexts.
Most true for high level contexts. I use the conceptual language of IST which is a system theoretic reality generative grammar (hence 'idiomatic' system theory) and others such as C.M. Langan have spoken of a self-configuring self-processing language (SCSPL) where manifest forms are statements within that language and the process of reality is really a linguistic construct. These concepts of 'language' are simply high level mechanisms for conceptually grasping the phenomenon of complex interaction via communication, i.e. information dynamics on a high level of operation. Hence they don't bypass information but rather extend it into higher level contexts. Just as with computers, it is tedious to program in binary data, so this has been subsumed into higher level languages that hierarchically build up a computational idiom out of which all high level computational constructs are built.
> the language of information theory (like much of the language of mechanical > science) is biased in favour of discernable difference and prejudiced against > contexts and the connections of implicit meaning.
It is not that it is prejudiced against these, it is just that these concepts come into play only at higher levels. One could also say that particle physics is prejudiced against politics because it doesn't explicitly treat it. But low level phenomena need to be treated at a low level and high level phenomena at a high level.
> it actually represents a language that highlights multiplicity, separation, > division and especially discernable differences.
That is true, it is at a low level of an analytical approach to reality, hence it emphasises separation.
> At the other end of the scale would be a language that favours the character > of the cosmic essence. > > Such a language will highlight connection, self-similarity, simultaneity > and symmetry.
I agree. That is why I combine both information theory and system theory. System theory deals with 'wholes' whereas information theory deals with 'bits'. Both of these are unified in SMN. The computational information theoretic low level gives rise to an existential system theoretic high level.
> This means that while the cosmic essence can not be directly discerned > it can be implies (connected with) through a contextual language that > attempts to reflect the character of this essence.
Most true. That is why I feel that SMN/IST indicate a fruitful direction of metaphysical enquiry. Because they begin from a very low level information theoretic context that accords with the information theoretic properties of our known reality and they give rise to a high level system theoretic existential context that has compelling similarities to our known reality. In this sense the algorithmic approach represents a conceptual language that reflects the character of our reality.
> The character of this essence includes the concepts of: `connection', > which implies infinite interconnections;
In SMN every system is interconnected with every system. There is a network of information channels through which these systems can communicate and interact.
> self-similarity, which implies a strategy for modelling and for us, a > process of self-reflection, a looking within to discover and realize > the sight within seeing;
In SMN every manifest form is a 'system' and the virtual-reality generative process is itself a 'system'. A system is composed of sub-systems and it participates in super-systems. All manifest forms have the same underlying essence, they are all patterns of semantic information within a self-excited circuit. These system hierarchies build upward toward higher levels in a fractal manner, which implies recuring self- similarity throughout the hierarchy. Hence we sentient beings are like microcosms of the cosmos and we embody within our own being, the cosmic essence of pure consciousness, which we may access and come to know.
> simultaneity, which implies non-locality
Each iteration of the SMN algorithm represents a universal simultaneous moment, indeed the present moment is all that actually 'exists'. The past is a memory and the future is an expectation, both of which are phenomena existing only 'now', but 'now' is a complex phenomenon worthy of detailed discussion some other time. This simultaneity implies coordinated computational processes where information flows through the network in a given moment and each system comes to cognise the other systems.
> and finally symmetry, which implies a potential for symmetry- breaking which > is a physics term for discernable differences. In this general sense > symmetry represents the universal potential that generates discernable > differences.
This describes the underlying information space, which is a balanced field of discernable differences.
> it would seem to me that any metaphysical model would need to > reflect a hierarchical or fractal system involving self-similarity > at every level and that includes the measuring system itself.
This describes the nature of SMN. Even "that includes the measuring system itself" because SMN not only structures computation into an existential context but it is also a model of distributed realistic computation itself.
In Conclusion: SMN is a general algorithm that takes a computational stream and an information space (potential computation) and manages these so as to create a distributed, self-reflexive, semantic network of systems. These systems constitute a reality generative grammar that then self- organises into higher level systems. This context implies connectedness, self-similarity, simultaneity, symmetry, as well as a hierarchical fractal context within which individual systems perceive, interpret, experience and respond to their environment in accordance with their nature. The key limitation of this approach revolves around the nature of consciousness and free will, and the fact that 'computation' is just an analogy for these and cannot capture all aspects of the situation.