Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Whitehead and the Philosophy of Science


Alfred North Whitehead's Science and the Modern World, originally published in 1925, redefines the concept of modern science.
Taking readers through the history of modern science, Whitehead shows how cultural history has affected science over the ages in relation to such major intellectual themes as romanticism, relativity, quantum theory, religion, and movements for social progress.
The famed mathematician and philosopher takes readers on a journey into a new scientific age, exploring topics from relativity to religion.
Alfred North Whitehead, one of the great figures in the philosophy of science, wrote this prescient work nearly a century ago. Yet, in an era that has us reckoning with science and technology’s place and meaning in our lives, it remains as relevant as ever. Science and the Modern World puts scientific discovery into historical and cultural context—exploring the effects of science and people on each other.
“It is a work not only of the first importance but also of great beauty. . . . Vivid writing.” — Nature

Whitehead and the Philosophy of Science

by R.E. Slater

Introduction to Process Living and Thinking

I have been somewhat frustrated to discover that the world of science... whether in biology, mathematics, physics, astronomy, etc... has been so ignorant of Whitehead's "philosophy of organism" now described as a philosophy of process or, "process philosophy."

Once apprehended, it becomes immediately obvious - as well as immediately relevant - to any-and-all discussions on any subject matter in the world. From the stories and narratives spoke of in the Jewish and Christian bibles to the evolutionary development of the universe and mankind (sic, Homo-homo-sapiens = modern man), to the construction of artificial intelligence in its quantum states.

Whitehead, should not, and cannot, be ignored:

He must be read, studied, grappled with, shared, and understood as a presenter of a very old and very organic understanding of nature and the universe we live in. Specifically, how nature lives and moves and has its being. How all is organically relational, experiential, and inherently "spiritual" by whatever descriptor is relevant to a study's application.

I know Whitehead's philosophy of organism as the description of how the universe (or, multiuniverse) conducts itself to itself and without itself panrelationally, panexperientially, and panpsychically. There is no other way to describe Whitehead's process understanding of the cosmos.

The organic universe is... well, organic! It is not mechanistic. Not isolated. Not composed of isolated rules and formulaes unto an apparatus' own self. It is not a mash of disparate processes. Nor of nonintegrating processes. Nor is it any mix of the above.

More aptly, an integral philosophy such as Whitehead's process philosophy has been observed since ancient times via stories, song, poetry, or rites of celebration. Once you know it, and understand it, you see process everywhere about.

Forms of Process Living

The ancients may have called it "God" when giving a naturalized process they didn't understand an anthropomorphic name such as "storm, harvest, war, or love." And the more adaptive, synthesizing religions may have described it as a "consciousness, a zen, a transient or immanent predialection of anger, wrath, holiness, or way of being and living."

But in a process evolutionary world - as the kind of world of materiality and immateriality in which we live - what may have started out as one thing has by-and-large given birth to a bazillion things... each as deeply related to the other as it may seem apart from the other... though essentially, and inherently, no singular process is ever "apart" from itself in the sense that it is always inhabiting a universe composed of a "plurality of processes".

Where the One becomes Many, and the Many are One

Meaningfully, a processual world is a world which is, and is becoming. That is, it inhabits an ancient state of "once was" which "now is". In other words, the universe (cosmos) of man and God, flora and fauna, element and force, are separately-and-together in living stages of "Being and Becoming".

Whiteheadian process philosophy then describes us - and the worlds we live in - as worlds which once were breath-takingly alive to potential world realities which have deeply interacted with, and constructed one another, to produce new worlds exuberantly reacting to what once was to what can be.

Whitehead then, wasn't simply describing statism or causally resulting qualities of difference but dynamically interactive-and-responding potential futures birthed from the present which were birthed from the past (eg, portending potentialites becoming actualized occasions).

The Concrescence of Being

He calls this type of outcome process "concrescence" which is the growing together, or coalescence of parts thought to be separate, but never were, nor ever will be. All grows together from the "all" of past potentialities.

Even when birthed temporally "apart" in the concrescing past those concrescing occasions will relationally experience one another sometime later in the present or the future, as all that was becomes all that is:

"Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past." - James Joyce, Ulysses

Adding and Building Upon the Past Processes
Some Whiteheadian scholars like to describe concrescence as "the addition of one potential process to that of the evolving actual other."
Process then is a description of life... a description which needs to be apprehended, understood, and enmeshed in our current topics of interest across the worlds of social theory, politics, economics, science, literature, etc. And, for those Christians still reading this, of God and Christ and salvation, bible, us, and very ecclesiastical structure itself.

A Word About Gare's Observations

Today's discussion on "Whitehead and Science," I thought to be a bit muddled in its recording perhaps due to Arran Gare's kind of rambling voice or due to mine own preference for "tenors via bass" auditory transcriptions.

However, I found if I listened "apart" from the recording, and gave the sound quality a bit of time to get acquainted with Arran's voice, I could begin to hear what he was saying with a little better distinction.

And though I have provided a transcription of his discussion further below, it is not of the best quality. I suppose, in the end, we must buy his book(s) and read Whitehead's own plethora of science books (there are many, as he was a mathematician before he was a philosopher). 

A Final Note

And because Whitehead was a mathematician we'll quickly discover how he methodically, with organization, produces his distinctive form of process theory to which we might add and expand our own over the eras to come.

Whitehead grants a sufficient, albeit, complex basis upon which we might build similarly distinctive - perhaps adaptive, perhaps synthetic - discussions relevant to our eras and observations.

And so, as I and others build-and-expand process theory we must always remember Whitehead's original thoughts - to respect the distinctiveness of Whitehead's processual theory - while realizing other words and thoughts will come forward to his own.

BUT, we must not be so eager to replace Whitehead's words with other words as to discern in the vast cacophony of processual strains found albeit in other religions and philosophies and observations partialized forms of Whiteheadian philosophy.

To remember that these strains are but smaller bits-and-pieces (or larger bits-and-pieces) of Whitehead's organic processual whole which "integrates" us - or "binds" us - backwards and forwards to life's steady drumbeats of evolutionary thought and presence both now and in the past.

Process Thought is Integral

Thus, Whitehead's organic philosophy of process is an integrated and integrating INTEGRAL Philosophy of the world, of life, of us. We can find strains of it in eastern religion; in westernized sectarianism (such as the recovery of liturgy to sterile ecclesiastical settings); in simple family pastimes of fellowship.

Similar to the proverbial elephant being describes as all ears, trunks, or tail, so these multiple varieties of process ways of being and worshipping, may add up together as a near "elephatine" facsimile of Whitehead's cosmic processual whole.

That Whiteheadian processual thought aptly describes:

(1) process-based cosmological metaphysics (the logic of being),
(2) an encompassing ontology (the existence of being), and
(3) when including processual ethics (ways of being),

Why? A processual "beingness" evolves, or becomes, to all other processually adaptives states of "beingness" metaphysically, ontologically, and ethically.

Whiteheadian thought then is complex. And though I have laid out the basics of Whitehead there is far more to it than than has been stated here.

So let this new year of 2024 be the year that I and others become less frustrated with the philosophies of life, science, and society, so that we might see process ual thinking and observation bleed into theories of ecological civilization and society, for instance.

For, as we intuitively know - and native cultures have taught us, such as found in the Native American Indian cultures - aligning ourselves with nature's rhythms and outcomes bearing social justice is a very, very, Whitheheadian thing to do.


R.E. Slater
January 6, 2024

* * * * * * *

Mathematics, Narratives, & Life:
Reconciling Science and the Humanities
Presentation | Arran Gare  |  1.17.46
Cobb Institute   |  Mar 14, 2023


In this presentation and conversation, Arran Gare and Matthew Segall examine work in theoretical biology that might advance the way we understand mathematics and narratives, and their relation to each other and reality, and thereby how we should understand science and the humanities and their relationship to one another.

  • Sponsored by the Cobb Institute Science Advisory Committee.


The triumph of scientific materialism in the Seventeenth Century not only bifurcated nature into matter and mind, as Whitehead pointed out. It divided science and the humanities.

  • The core of science is the effort to comprehend the cosmos through mathematics. The core of the humanities is the effort to comprehend history through narratives.
  • The life sciences can be seen as the zone in which the conflict between these two very different ways of comprehending the world collide.
  • Evolutionary theory developed out of natural history as defended by Schelling, but efforts have been made to formulate neo-Darwinism through mathematical models.

However, it is impossible to eliminate stories from biology.

As Stuart Kauffman pointed out, mathematical models attempt to pre-state all possibilities, but in evolution there can be adjacent possibles that can be embraced by organisms but cannot be pre-stated.

To account for these it is necessary to tell stories.

  • Mathematics provides analytic precision allowing long chains of deduction, but tends to deny temporal becoming and cannot do justice to the openness of the future...
  • While narratives focus on processes and events, but lack exactitude that would allow precise deductions.

In advancing mathematics adequate to life, Robert Rosen argued that living beings as anticipatory systems must have models of themselves, and strove to develop a form of mathematics able to model this

It has been convincingly argued that narratives are central to human self-creation and they are lived out before being explicitly told:

  • Their models of themselves are first and foremost, narratives.
  • If this is the case, might not living beings as biological entities be characterized by proto-narratives in their models of themselves?

Biosemiotics, largely inspired by C.S. Peirce, provides a bridge between mathematical and narrative comprehension, conceiving them as different forms of semiosis ("the signification of language and literature").

The study of life through biosemiotics should reveal how mathematics and narratives should be understood in relation to each other. This could have implications for how we understand mathematics and narratives and their relation both to each other and to reality, and thereby how we should understand science and the humanities and their relationship.

In this presentation and conversation, Dr. Arran Gare and Dr. Matthew Segall examine work in theoretical biology that might advance these efforts. 


ARRAN GARE is an Australian philosopher and Reader (Associate Professor) in Philosophy and Cultural Inquiry at Swinburne University. His main areas of research are environmental philosophy, history and philosophy of science, mathematics and metaphysics, the history and philosophy of culture, and Chinese philosophy. He is aligned with the tradition of process metaphysics, and has published widely on these topics and am the author of a number of books, including Postmodernism and the Environmental Crisis (London: Routledge, 1995), Nihilism Inc.: Environmental Destruction and the Metaphysics of Sustainability (Sydney: Eco-Logical Press, 1996). and The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization: A manifesto for the future (London: Routledge, 2017). He also founded the Joseph Needham Center of Complex Processes Research and the online journal Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy. His current work is devoted to providing the philosophical foundations for a global ecological civilization.


MATT SEGALL is Assistant Professor in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco where he teaches graduate level courses on process philosophy and German Idealism. His recent book, Physics of the World-Soul: Alfred North Whitehead’s Adventure in Cosmology, put Whitehead’s process cosmology into conversation with various contemporary scientific theories, such as general relativity and quantum theory. This book is exemplary of much of Matt’s recent work, which puts ideas from process philosophy into conversation with the natural sciences.


* * * * * * *

Biosemiotics is a field of semiotics and biology that studies the prelinguistic meaning-making, biological interpretation processes, production of signs and codes and communication processes in the biological realm. Wikipedia
Biosemiotics is the idea that life is based on semiosis, i.e., on signs and codes. This idea has been strongly suggested by the discovery of the genetic code, but so far it has made little impact in the scientific world and is largely regarded as a philosophy rather than a science.

Figure 4. A graphical illustration of C. S. Peirce's triadic philosophy and semiotics in epistemology, ontology, evolutionistic theory, psychology, analogic of cognition (modification of Brier 1998b: 188).  |  Published in 1999, Biosemiotics and the foundation of cybersemiotics: Reconceptualizing the insights of ethology, second-order cybernetics, and Peirce’s semiotics in biosemiotics to create a non-Cartesian information science

What is an example of a biosemiotics?

A simple example is a bird song that indicates to the singer's species mates that he is guarding his nesting ground. In biosemiotics, processes taking place inside an organism, such as interpretation of DNA for protein synthesis by a cell, are also regarded as sign processes.

* * * * * * *

Sample of Whitehead's writings and titles


Introduction | Matt Segall
let's go ahead and get started welcome everyone to a special Saturday edition
uh of uh the Cobb institute's offerings I'm Matt Siegel I chair the science
advisory committee here at the Cobb Institute and today I'm very excited uh
to welcome Aaron gare who many of you know that's why you're here he's an Australian philosopher and
associate professor in philosophy and cultural inquiry at swinburne University
as you've heard a little bit about already his his areas of research include environmental philosophy history
philosophy of science mathematics metaphysics and the history of philosophy the history and philosophy of
culture I'll mention just one of his most recent books the philosophical
foundations of ecological civilization a Manifesto for the future which was
published in 2017. today uh Professor Garrett is going to talk to us about
mathematics narratives and life in an attempt to reconcile science in the
humanities so he'll he will speak for about 45 minutes I'll have a couple of questions
for him and then we'll open it up to the larger group for discussion all right so uh with that uh Aaron I'll
turn it over to you very much look forward to your remarks yeah thank you thank you and thank you for inviting me
Presentation | Arran Gare
to make this presentation um I was literally asked to talk on developments and Mathematics
um but I was heavily involved in that about five years ago I'm not a
mathematician it's difficult to give a lecture if you're not a mathematician about Arts ideas and maths
um so um I suggested that I talk about something I've been engaged in more
recently and it's really associated with the development of biosemiotics and the
effort to give a place to both mathematics and narratives and this is
seen by me as part of that broader project of making process philosophy you
know the glossary of civilization succeeding in the straw against um you know the nilas
um and uh the work that I'm engaged in is also an effort to integrate ideas
from various process whilst was particularly personal Whitehead
um but going back to showing and arguing that he has to be recognized as a major
figure in the development of modern process metaphysics you can trace most
of the process philosophers back to him somebody who's generally ignored because he's regarded as a
romantic and the romantics but people who thought to have their hearts in the right place but a bit soft-headed well
if he wasn't like that um but the the work in theoretical biology is also a way of
uniting these ideas in a very practical way that is that um you know I'll be
looking at the ideas of referring to the ideas of Warrington who has very strongly influenced by Whitehead in the
development resist theoretical theoretical biology and the whole theoretical biology movement that he
opted Inspire um leading to Major conferences in the late 1960s and early 1970s and what I
want to do is show the need to integrate those ideas of what items but the ideas of the biosemiotics
parasymmeticians particularly those influenced by purse and that's a way of integrating the ideas of purse and
Whitehead so um I think you need to keep that in mind and
um what I say and what I'm talking about so it's partly an effort also in the
process to rethink the history of process metaphysics um and from my point of view that's
extremely important and it's also illustrating the importance of narratives stories not to be taken as to
sort of entertainment but as Central to orienting ourselves to understanding the
past and creating the future and the way you tell these stories um to some extent determines whether or not
you're going to be successful so one of the most influential works of Whitehead
is science in the modern world we he told a story about you know the development of science situating his own
work in relationship to that and it's that perspective provided by history that I think convinced usual people the
people who you know didn't have any contact with process philosophers to embrace his work and embrace them there
too um um you know sort of forward these ideas
um so to some extent you know what I'll be doing in this is refiguring that
narrative now the um starting point is the um
scientific materialism which um writer defined as what has to be overcome
um Ronnie does Matt has suggested that the
problem now is not so much scientific materialism but pythagoreanism and if you look at the development of
scientific materialism it was associated with new developments in mathematics analog geometry of Descartes the
calculus developed by Newton and so on and uh the development of the notion of matter
is inert it's a atoms moving endlessly meaninglessly as
um what had characterized it or points as um Descartes talked about
um really derived from the mathematics and this is what I think has to be understood now the thing about that
development was was enormously successful and the only way you're going to
succeed in process philosophy is doing Justice to the achievements of mathematics
and also on that basis recognizing the potential of developing better
mathematics mathematics that's more in accordance with the process view of the world
um so um looking at you know that that earlier
history divided by um Martin um it focuses on the 17th century if you
move to the 19th and 20th Century as you can see the kind of scientific materialism
um really um was led by irwinians
um and the concept of life I think has to be recognized as it is Central to
um to all this because it's um you know if you look at the Cartesian dualism
um you don't get very far just looking at Consciousness and then looking at its relationship to the physical world
it's with life that you've got that bridge and so I think that that has to
be the focus of um understanding the opposition between you know the dominant
Pythagorean pythagoreanism and people promoting a process view of the world you know what
you've heard of the Department of darwinian evolutionary theory was the development of neo-darwinism which tried
to make it more scientific and in the process we need much more mechanistic and as it's developed it's Incorporated
information the notion of information so DNA is supposed to encode information
and we're supposed to be machines for reproducing DNA and I think that the um
the development of information science has been really problematic for process philosophers because it's enabled the
proponents of this reductionist uh pythagoreanianism to gain a new release
of Life by claiming now they've got the means to characterize as life and
thought supposedly cognition can be characterized as receiving and processing information and you had the
development of cybernetics so we can be conceived of as information processing cyborgs
um we've now got people first humanists arguing that to lead us to regard ourselves as
Superior to these um to robots as they develop which might become more efficient to process the information and
we should just accept that we'll be succeeded by these more efficient information processes
um that's also associated with the development of scientism you know the success of that oral development has
been associated with the undermining of the humanities um so it's regarded as part of the
entertainment industry and it's clear that you know the humanities areas of universities are now really looked down
upon they've lost in that struggled with two cultures um so that's something that has to be
really struggled against um now that's where also looking at the history of the development of scientific
materialism write it um like most people regarded the 17th
century Scientific Revolution as overcoming or living behind the Medieval World View
um what people like Stephen Truman pointed out was it wasn't so much the um Medieval World View medieval order
that was being reacted against by people like Descartes and Newton and so on but
the Florentine Renaissance um and Mr Florentine Renaissance that
intended the humanities uh you know Petra developing a new form of Education Reviving ideas of the Roman Republicans
and ancient Greeks committed to republicanism a form of democratic
republicanism and from the perspective of people like Descartes I just led to chaos
um so they if they supported anyone it was the um the lesions who had a society
based on Commerce even though they purported to be a republic um and you can see this with um homes
further developing that mechanical review of the world and I think probably being the most important figure for
characterizing society and you can see in hobbs's work a virtual anticipation of the idea that all thinking is just
adding and subtracting in other words pretty much processing information
um the other um
I suppose defect in Whitehead's characterizing with history he gives a
place to the romantics but as I said I don't think that he fully appreciate it just how powerful the ideas of the
romantics were and the extent to which his own thinking was really a development of their ideas
so what you've got is this pythagoreanism that um
sort of integrates into it a kind of logical atomism where the blood or atoms
now bits of information so John Wheeler argued that we probably take to be things or it's a Reconstruction from
bits of information and you know that really supports the
block Universe if you read John Wheeler's work um and supports you know the idea that
uh with now um with the notion of information got the basis for a coherent scientific
worldview that's got no place for the Humanities and by virtue of that it has really got to know a place for what the
humanity stood for or the other side of the um the other development of the advantages which culminate I mean the um
um planting Renaissance culminated I think in the work of guidono Bruno which
was nature enthusiasm which is really a form of process philosophy and also Vico
is a culmination of um you know work on History um the Renaissance was concerned
particularly with Reviving history as it had been defended or developed in Rome
but also in the ancient Greece it's a history is the core of the humanities is something we have to take
really seriously and this is where you get the conflict between you know the humanities and scientism really coming
out into the open or one area where it comes out of the other areas as a service I think the um uh struggle
within biology over how you characterize what life is
now that's a very schematic sort of History um
um of development of um scientism but the thing about narratives is that the
table of being schematic in fact they have to be you know if you write history you always have to leave certain things
out but I think that um what it does is shows how you know the pythagoreanism
um culminates in a prominentian view of the world and this is what nature as
somebody who is um influenced by The Romantics pointed out
um It's associated with the egyptianism of Western philosophers
um and as they put it there was the hatred it did and the idea of becoming their egyptianism
I think they're doing I think honor when they dehistoricize it supposedly
subspecy attorney when they make a mummy of it all the philosophers have handled for Millennia have been conceptual
mummies nothing actual has escaped their hands alive they kill their stuff when they worship these conceptual idolaters
they become a mortal danger to everything when they worship death change age as well as procreation and
growth and for them objections refutations even what is does not become
what becomes is not now they believe even to the point of Despair in that
which is I was normally regarded as somebody who was reacting against Christianity but did you read his
notebooks it's clearly the development of Science and bobsman's work um
advancing that mechanical view that we're at intimacy view of the world that he is really concerned about and he
really is a part of the um um labor of you know these scientists
producing a great edits of concept displaying the rigid regular regularity for Roman columbarium
it's learning exciting the logic and strength and coolness which is characteristic of mathematics and the
column they're in as we're actually with the ashes the dead it's a the deadly
effect of scientism and also in the influence of the books he talked about the aim the science is to destroy the
world I think that if you look at the trajectory that we've been on since then there's good evidence that in this world
view this this culture continues that's where we're going to recommend that so
um looking at the um the development that took place after that
um as I said I think the thing that's um Whitehead left out didn't do justice to was the Romantic reaction and what
you really heard was in Germany um a Revival of
um Renaissance ideas and further elaborating elaboration of them these
ideas have been really suppressed after the rise of Newtonian physics you might have here in Britain and uh few people
promoting it and in France you had people at Russo ditto and so on promoting these ideas
but it was in Germany with these ideas got really developed and a pivotal
figure is clearly can't um is perhaps less um or his main ideas on his radical then
I think they should be um he just started out embracing vico's
ideas that Science and Mathematics are human constructions and thereby putting Humanity back in the center of the
picture and on that basis being able to give a place to a free agency yeah the
extent his political philosophy and so on um but it was really a very big thinker and
um if you read his work you realize that he was never somebody who came up with just a fixed system he's continually
developing his ideas and this is how he was understand understood at the time
um for instance he wasn't simply defending eternity physics he was
influenced by broskovic and leibniz and so defended a notion of matter as active
even when he was sort of trying to limit the influence of scientism
um but it's also in the critique of judgment he wrote some really important
ideas on biology that had a huge influence on shelling
um and he characterized these for the most part as principles of regulative Reason
rather than the more basic ideas of reason because he thought that
ultimately you might be able to justify these ideas making them stickly
but he also in one place suggested that this is more basic than what you get in
the physical sciences and I think that you know one of the interesting things about the mechanical
view of the world why they didn't use that term I think for good reason the machine always implies Organization for
a purpose this is something that Michael Palani really brought out very clearly and if you're studying a machine you're
never going to understand how difficult it's chemistry and what have you you have to understand what its purpose is
you have to have life as something more than a machine in order to understand
what a machine is um so I think that that's what um Shilling took from
um can't and really developed now it can't influence the number of thinkers and for
the most part these people um gave up on the numeral and defended a
form of uh idealism and then Hegel and selling is usually
lumped together with Victor and Hegel as somewhere in between the two
but in fact selling when you read him ideas of natural philosophy is more
fundamental than the work of the idealists where they're examining the categories that people must use in order
to understand the world what he did was naturalize the um transcendental argument
um saying that if science is possible nature must be something different than
it was characterized by people like Newton and daycare you have to fundamentally reconceive nature and he
built on that notion of nature being active and counts ideas about biology to
really defend the process view of the world um and that that fundamental
argument I think should be recognized as the core of process philosophy you know
science requires people who are conscious who can develop science
as part of Nature and you have to understand nature um as such that allows that development
to take place you know like there's that kind of being sort of emerged from nature
um this is where I think you know the the people who are promoting us the idea of
us as information processing inside of all which is a real challenge that has to be combated
um you know they're acknowledging the need for understanding us to get this with you know crude versions of um uh
darwinian epistemology um and this idea that ideas the ones that went out in the struggle for
survival and they're just really forms of information and means of organizing
your information um I think that you have to recognize that that just
doesn't do justice to what science is you know it's associated with understanding and awareness and
Consciousness and so on and that requires a far more fundamental re-characterization of the nature of
physical existence and the The crucial place is
um out of biology looking at what life is and characterizing life and that's
what shelling was doing now in doing that I'm calling for a new philosophical
physics he also suggested that we need a new mathematics I think that this is um
you know really bold move um think about something like Hegel you
know right huge amounts on natural philosophy that had no influence showing
actually had a huge influence on the subsequent development of the sciences and during mathematics people took up
his ideas um and further development I won't talk
so much about his ideas about physical existence but his return very similar in some ways to to whiteheads but the idea
is about mathematics um the idea that we needed um
Dynamic mathematics um let me find that um
a new form of of mathematics appropriate or a dynamic universe and this inspired a slow marker
supporters also and Justice Crossman was influenced by both schwar marker and
shelling to develop a fluid geometry a dynamist morphogenetic mathematics that
would facilitate insights into the emergence in the synthesis of patterns in nature that's how I was characterized
by horiza and that's um come as a successful development of mathematics
that enabled him to model crystallization now his um
this intelligent son living Grossman who he thought didn't have much potential
took up his ideas and developed a whole new approach to mathematics called
extension Theory which he presented as a survey of a general theory of forms assuming yes
they put it only the most the general concepts of equality and difference conjunction and separation
um it was meant as the Keystone of the entire structure of mathematics um if people have read things apart on
isolation of the water as um
differences and similarities similarities similar differences and so on um he actually was studying Grassman
when he developed these ideas so you can see the source of that notion of order in grassman's work the Grossman even
though it is largely ignored at the time um actually provided the foundation for
most of the new forms of mathematics that have been deployed in physics it
was an invented lineians Martin in aradara and the pre-cursor vector algebra
exterior and Clifford algebra how clever with Australian influence by
and uh Whitehead this first major published work I think was universal algebra strongly influenced by cross
plants um later on other printers maybe Snowden Gibbs um
developed ideas that really echoed his work without having read his work but he anticipated
those developments even the organizing transparents um
pencil calculus was some extent influenced by grassland's mathematics
um now William was here um
I use the Craftsman Craftsman's extension theory was also a precursor to
category Theory which is a more recent development in mathematics so let's talk about later on but it's I think really
important to understand always developments in relationship to each other so it was a very powerful tradition so what you know process
velocity should be appreciated as a much more powerful tradition of thought than this normally understood to be and if
people look at books and so on various other figures perhaps um
um let's see
already in Russia for instance um the idea of technology which led to
development of systems theory these are also part of that whole
tradition I thought the thing is they should be recognized as part of a developing tradition which has diversity
of approaches within it but that's characteristic of a healthy tradition
you need diversity for it to succeed well not losing the plot on losing the
core commitment to understand the wireless process now Whitehead
um was usually associated with certain muscle that's trying to reduce mathematics to logic but um I think that
he was um doing far more than that and really had a very different understanding of
mathematics to um Bertram Russell um he characterized it as the science of
patterns but um Everybody wrote about it in various places you know rejecting the idea that
mathematics is just a set of tautologies you know when we say the equal sign of 2
times 3 is 6 implies that it's tautology um
he argued that you shouldn't read that as two threes are becoming six
um so it's got a process orientation to it and you could argue that what he is
really talking about is patterning rather than patterns other patterns of you know or to investigate as the realm
of possibilities you know the Eternal objects and process and reality but
um I think it's better to characterize these as you know the realm of possibilities and recognizing the
reality of possibilities and the need to study those and then look at how those possibilities are actualized
um as a kind of process so that's the core of his whole thinking I think
um along with this commitment to doing justice to all dimensions of our
experience and recognizing that science only reveals some of those some of the
patterns of activity that exist in reality they also defended the you know
classical education the humanities and as I said really uh brilliant histories of Science and
civilization um
um it's interesting reading is characterization of science how similar it is to shelling this it also
anticipates most of the developments of the post logical positivist philosophers
of science uh clearly curing which was probably in direct influence by Whitehead
um like a tasks for this notion of hard cause and you commit sort of term what have you
um so again it's really important to recognize the continuities of this tradition which tends to get locked out
nothing else gets blocked out you know people gain positions and then don't
allowing their students don't get um agonic positions so there's a kind of tendency for the continuity of this
these Traditions to be plus side of
um now looking at the influence of writed on science
um you know his famous for his effort to develop an alternative general theory of relativity but I think
that the more interesting work perhaps is physicist influenced plan but the
potentially perhaps it's because this was taking place in Britain rather than America is the development of
theoretical biology and the importance of people like um Warrington and um
his colleagues in developing the theoretical biology movement um they're influenced by other thinkers
as well the notion of field was taken up and
developed from um Alexander gervich and Lithuanian Russian
biologists influenced um
influenced by other thinkers influenced also by um
phy who also took up the notion of field but the Waddington was particularly influenced
by Whitehead in its characterization of these fields and how they're developed
he wrote on write it and criticized him for being too complex he produced
simplistic ideas perhaps but I think that he was taking over those ideas which you could utilize not worrying
about whether or not he was being faithful to write it so developing the notion of increase of
uh catalyzed piles of development was as he sort of pointed out strongly
influenced by what I did um now you don't normally think of concretions in relationship to societies
of actual occasions because there's a strong tendency to treat that as appropriate to understanding you know
the actual occasions not from that's understood very optimistically but then
you know the compound individual has been a problem for Whitehead ends and right at himself said he'd been
misunderstood in that regarding the letter to Art Sean um so I think that there's justification
for that appropriation of emotion concretions and characterizing the
development of fields as canalized Pathways developments understood as a kind of concretions
an interaction of these fields with the surrounding environment
now the other aspect of his work on those fears was appreciating how they
emerge from each other so if you look at embryology you can see her from a you
know a couple of cells and get that differentiation and in the process
um subfields emerging so you get the field of you know the volume and the high end and then the sub-sub fields of
the digits and what have you and so that Enchanted um whole research project in biology
developed particularly by Brian Goodwin um
it was associated with as I said the notion of Creations necessary path homeareesis the tenancy once a path is
Disturbed to return to its original state but also the examination of how
past could move from I mean the path compete displaced that led to a
different path being taken and these are the ideas that influenced um Rene Tom from the Department of
catastrophe Theory which he um acknowledged rather than graciously but
um I think it's clear that you know got there was a similar kind of
development that had taken place when faradays which was uninfluenced by mathematics was taken up and developed
by Maxwell who is a mathematician and could develop these ideas much more
rigorously um so another example of mathematics emerging from the process view of the
world is that development of uh of catastrophe Theory uh good one was
looking at a different aspect of his work the development of um temporalities you know with temple organization of
Souls and looked at um of statistical mechanics um
the centrality of biochemical feedback loops and living processes but also the oscillations that develop in those and
how those related which was um looking at how you get complex
coordination in multi-celled organisms um that notion of different
temporalities I think is really important it was something that was argued for by
um bergson and take up and developed by the topic
um it tends to get forgotten about but I think it's also been revived by the hierarchy theorists people influenced by
our party I think that it's an important component of the process philosophy that should be taken fairly seriously
um the whole project of theoretical biology
um inspired different developments participants included Stuart Kaufman
um David Bond um
somebody called ibro who also looked at different temporalities a whole range of things there's some
um writing some linked up with um Ilia pregajin in his last years and
Bridget James work to some extent was influenced by the effort to depose that theoretical biology and the way he
characterized the development of a slime mold and how the individual cells
integrate into a multi-solar organism using fluctuations
in chemical accuracy to orient themselves so it's pretty pretty much a development that whole research program
and the notion of disability structures I think you know as a developmental process thinking
um and it's interesting in the way in which brigazine also is critical of the
idea that you could fully characterize reality through mathematics as a major argument that's Renee atonement over
that issue um the other development has a service
hierarchy Theory by Patty was also a participant in the conferences were later Taken up in ecology in
particular by Timothy Allen and then later on by Stan Salter Who provided a
kind of bridge between this theoretical biology movement in Britain and the biosynapticians
um my passenger wasn't invited to the conference apparently because um
which should go on and playing that was too far from the data was Robert Rosen
and uh well it wasn't I think was primarily a mathematician initially but
concerned mainly to develop mathematics appropriate to life and working in
Chicago he embraced and developed category Theory and I think it's
unfortunate you know the category Theory wasn't taken up at the time in the 1970s
um it originated in the workers Saunders McLean
um trying to investigate weather and when different branches of mathematics were dealing with the same objects
uh it was seen as a way of modeling one branch of mathematics per another
um and then developed into a general theory of mathematics William rovere as
a challenge to um to set theory as a foundation of mathematics but I think that it's really
provided a better defense of Whitehead's nation that science I mean mathematics
is the science of the study of patterns
Rosen who took up these ideas and embraced loveria's arguments
um characterized category of theories the general theory of formal modeling the comparison of different modes of
inferential or entitlement structures moreover it is a stratified or a
hierarchical structure without limit the lowest level which is familiarly understood by Telluride theory is a
comparison of different kinds of entirement and different formalisms the next level is roughly the comparison of
comparisons the next level is the comparison of these and so on so
it facilitates an examination of relations to relations
so Rosen was concerned to characterize life mathematically as I said and what
he argued was um what he started looking at nature of modeling generally in
science and in mathematics and breaking with them Saunders McLean suggested that just as
you can model different branches of mathematics you can model physical reality through or mathematics
and the entitlement structures in the mathematics will be those that are
associated with the causal entailments and what you're examining
looking at life the idea that the peculiarity of it was that
um drawing from Neumann organisms have models themselves this is
a condition of them being able to repair um damage to them
um and once they can repair damage to them they can also reproduce themselves so there's the Mr models
um to allow for the possibility of that you have to allow for circular definitions
and in predicativities in mathematics which have previously been excluded by
which of allowing those in predictivities then it becomes impossible to sim simulate
the causal entombments on a computer and they argument that this is because
you're dealing with life life itself something that's much more than just
mechanisms anything that's a mechanism can be modeled on a computer living being as can't
um he emphasized that um you know life is really emergent and the um
when he talks about model it's not as though you've got some kind of map somewhere it's a function of the whole
organism in its environment um
and I talked to Stuart Kaufman about this notion he was very critical of it
um because I think that he understood it in a fairly limited way but I think that you need to take seriously in this idea
that it's not the um um
as he put the um fractionated components that you're
examining it's the functions he's reintroducing through mathematics the notion of there being functions and
associated with that um final causes and this was associated with this
development of um you know systems that anticipate the future respond to what they anticipate
anticipate anticipated systems um now the movement to develop
um theoretically I mean you know theoretical I mean philosophical
brother biological mathematics biomass as it can be called by
um and semino and Andre eresman
um they took their Point of Departure in waslam's work and
um try to further elaborate that notion of
um [Music]
or modeling at um very category Theory
um now pythm as I said was rather critical of
rosin um didn't fully go along with the idea that you can model mathematically all
the relations in human beings and it came to this conclusion quite suddenly
writing and like in a book investigations published in 2000 because
it really broke with what he'd previously believed it was a radical thinker developing
um the whole idea of um once they call them
the order catalytic sets and deriving new
ideas you know being at the Forefront of complexity Theory you came to the conclusion that they've been dominated
by um the sort of assumptions about what science is that came from Newton
developed by Einstein and Bohr which had to be questioned and that is that
through mathematics you can pre-state all the possibilities he said that when you look at what
actually goes on in the evolution this isn't possible they're adjacent possibles that are totally unable to be
represented through your mathematical models so he gave an example of what's involved in that for instance if you
um even to fish short of oxygen started sculpting air
and that gulp there allowed the organism to take in oxygen so it's float tanks
float bladders a whole new development of evolution takes place but it's not
something that you could anticipate you can't represent it prior to that having taken place
um if you look at um what do you call it or Darwin characterizes expectations
developments that end up having a useful function but didn't have a function tool I developed
you can only understand it through these adjacent possibilities being taken up
and when you look at the interaction between organisms and evolution and the way in which new situations are thrown
up by their interactions you can see that there's co-evolution where new
possibilities are addressed in creative ways it can't be mathematically
so even the very radical ideas in biom mathematics developed by rosin are not adequate to
to Justice to life itself um it's on this basis that he
started taking more interest in both wytech and he turned up to one of the Whitehead and conferences that I was at
and also biosemiotics and and that Levy
Carol one of the main figures in the development of Iris and Alex in Estonia
um and was convinced that we've been there to move beyond that notes to semiotics that doesn't doesn't mean to
say you abandoned mathematics just recognizes limitations this is recognition of the limitations I think
that's fairly important and why it is necessary to embrace
um biosemiotics in the case of um Danish thinkers there are principally
influenced by the work of purse in developing biosemiotics but um also take
upon obstacle and take upon our school was in a huge influence in
Estonia where he was born so clearly colors and Estonia really pushed
um Jacob from Oak school's work so I think most of you would know about take upon our school and how he argued that to
understand an organism you have to understand how it defines its environment as its world to then
responds so the world has meaning for it um these are the ideas that taken up and
developed in having you seek phenomology by people like Heidegger but yeah we've
also in the case of humans got with worlds on Mid Falcons and
eigenbuild and the software achieve through reflection
um but the notion of the surrounding World um was also the core of efforts to
naturalize the phenomenology so it's um a core idea of this more humanistic
approach um to understanding what life is um what puts provided was a way
rigorously characterizing what was involved in in the transformation or the the defining of elements in your
environment as science equating the notion of that meaningful
world has a world of science that you then respond to the audience's response to yeah
a person's been like Whitehead um mathematician a major figure in the
development of symbolic logic uh steeped in the history of philosophy um but he characterized himself to
William James as a selenium of some stripe unlike Wright had been influenced by
idealism defended a kind of realism which is confusing but that's how it is
um he defended um metaphysics and I get the basic categories of first and secondness and
thirdness there's actually influenced by dialectical thinking um and he argued that the Emporia is a
most thought based on dualisms about virtue of always thinking in diets
rather than Triads so um in characterizing logic he argued
that there's not only deduction and induction but also abduction which is the creative
component where people conjecture to make sense of what
that experience or would overcome contradictions and their previous ideas using Keppra as an example somebody
looking at the observations of Tico Abra and coming to the inclusion that you could account for is observations if you
saw the sun as the center of the solar system and the orbits being elliptical
rather than circular um
that had a big influence on either development and philosophy of science in
hospital um Lord Russell Hanson patterns of Discovery
um but it's um the audience were taken up beyond that and first himself
um suggested that a huge amounts huge areas of what we understand about the
world could be understood through um his logic which he then characterized as
semiotics um so semiosis was triadically as involving
a sign an object and and an interpretant and that's been triadic allow sport
continual further development as each interpreter becomes a scientific
efforts to understand the object a person literally understood what's
involved in interpreting ideas in the mind but later on provided a much more General definite general definition as
that which mediates between an object and an interpreted since it is both determined by the object relatively to
the interpretent interpret determines the interpretent in reference to the
object in such ways as to cause The Interpreter to be determined by the object through the mediations of sign so
it's a long definition but if you understand it you can see that it's essentially a process in nature
involving a very complex form of causation and that's very much in accordance with
Charlene's thinking um so it's on that process that the um
prior semantitions could take up versus work and rethink
um Jacob front of school's ideas but in doing so it may also extended it far further versus suggestions arguing that
The Interpreter could not just be a symbol an idea but it could be an action
so you think about you know organism interpreting situations the action being
an interpreter which also becomes an assigned rather organisms or for itself
not only that you can also have visited something else as well the generation of form can be seen as an interpretant so a
plant developing in a certain way is really an interpreter
um that is growing towards light and towards the ground and then you've got
endosomiosis is something the communication that takes place within the organism and interpreting lots of
what's involved in DNA [Music]
um being assigned a vehicle didn't you I mean the price of magicians use the term sign vehicle
um a person sort of didn't but anyway um they analyzed this
and in the process were highly critical of the idea that you could particularly
hofmeyer you could categorize this as you know DNA just encoding information
um it's something that involves interpret and interpretent
um and uh the relationship information that was acceptable to hofmeyer was
um Gregory Brighton's notion of the difference that makes a difference it was always understood in relationship to
the whole organism so it's a much more holistic approach
than you get in the information scientists and then just a quick time check for you
we're at about a little bit a little bit over 45 minutes so I don't know
um so the um the reverse
um ready that's taken up by the biosemite digitals they Embrace Patty's work on constraints talking about
semiotic constraints and characterizing emergence and semiotic scaffolding leading to new more complex levels of
organization on that basis um they're
um the reactions to it though within the movement some of them wanting to become
more acceptable to mainstream science and more happier to embrace the notion
of information and focus on codes others about radical according for Bio
hermeneutics influenced by cardigan gadana um now
um mother is that the um they need to be both more acceptable to
science mainstream science and need to embrace the insights of the bio human users in
fact the bioluminesis in my view weren't radical enough because they didn't really give a place to
narratives in the development of life supposing you think about I mean one of the peculiar features of logicians that
focus on propositions pretty much in isolation the um you're reacting against
logical positivism you know pointed out absurdity of that here I suppose
questions always formatted from the perspective of a theoretical framework which itself can be an answer to a
broader question so the different propositions are related to each other
and you can say the same thing about science you know Perth because he was a magician to find particular active
semiosis and it's unfortunate that the plural semiasis is the same as their singular
um when your Chinese might be happy with that but um it means that you can't talk
about them easily but if you think about what's involved in the semiosis in organisms
you can see that you know the development of um the complex organism in epigenesis is a
process of responding to a whole range of science the way I try to eliminate it
was looking at what's involved in the way Builders and innovators built Cathedrals which often took centuries so
over the individual lifetimes we just superseded by the development of the
cathedral the people participating in the development didn't have a rigid plan
they responded to what was going on around the new developments and how you build things that kind of thing and they
were responding particularly to the signs around them so the signs
had made each of them by the to their engagement of this much broader project now if you understand
um you know what's involved in that it's really living out a story of building the cathedral and what I've been
suggesting is that you can see the same thing involved in the development of an organism the inner semiosis which is
connected to um the follow School talked about you know the
surrounding World um being responses to situations where
the particular instances of stimulus is a part of a broader narrative
um and the importance of narratives in life was pointed out by
um Stuart McIntyre and also David Carr I
think made a very strong Pace that um we're always living out stories and
the stories we tell made sense of because we're living out stories and we can re-figure those stories
what I'm suggesting is that this is what's taking place within organisms they're kind of living out of the story
now try to argue for that position um seems to me that you the
person by the semiticians haven't done Justice to the um you know what's really
going on I mean they haven't fully embraced um the kind of ideas that were taken up by Warrington and what you really need
to do is synthesize the ideas of whatington who called for something like bio symbiotics right at the end of his
four conferences and and this person brought some addicts and then you can
see that the sign you know if you look at DNA what is it I mean you know
information science talks about you know how you can get so much through a channel
um through um you know cable or whatever trying to characterize that in
abstraction of this information but it's like looking at a page of print on a paper and saying how many
shapes you can sort of identify on the page it's meaningless unless you see
this as writing that has to be interpreted it's only in relationship to it's being interpreted that it can be
seen as information and I think that this is a feature of science the science
always have to be understood in terms of the broader Fields um that uh
um that they're part of and they're associated with the you know switching
from One path to another whatever you can see that this is um where signs are really important and
you can see how you know science and the environment uh for instance a particular sign was sent off I think it is other
horned grasshopper can lead to Old transformation of the morphogenesis of
the grasshopper so that it develops into a locust rather than a grasshopper with every part of the grasshop would be
slightly different than it would have been otherwise but you can see from that you know the creativity involved in that semiosis and
the semiosis being involved with a whole lot of levels of different
instances of semiasis associated with the different uh fields and subfields
each of those fields having partial autonomy been constrained by their environment
and considerance but not being reducible to them and relating that back to the National concretions you know as an
imminent causation I think that's really important we're also appreciating whether you know the feeling that's so
important to Whitehead ends has its place you know it's when you eliminate any appreciation of that imminent
causation the notion of something having a feeling becomes meaningless but once
you've got that in place then it doesn't it's not a lot difficult and you know to appreciate that and appreciate that's
connected to the science having meaning so this leads to
um you know defense of that motion of narrative and the idea was that um
biasmaticians can give a place to mathematics and as kind of symbiosis and
the causal relationships that are associated with that but also to that more creative side of things associated
with narrative and you can combine the two when there has been efforts to develop a um
um a semiotic notion of mathematics based on purse and modeling by myself done
easy and Mariana even though it was himself didn't
characterize mathematics through semiotics and that links up with the work of or utilize the work of people
like lakov on the role of metaphors and liberation of metaphors in developing
mathematics fitting versus idea of diagrammatic reasoning
um so my work was sort of saying that that's great and that can
um allow the biosynapticians to appreciate providing they integrate their ideas
with what engine's ideas developed by category Theory um and then at the same time you can
recognize this Persian approach to neurotology as opposed to a
structuralist or a hermeneutic phenomologist approach in my view be
superior to both of those and giving a place to the inside so both of them so that's what my work has been involved in
trying to make sense of that and I'm not sure that I've been all that convincing
I'll go over a talk that the biosemiotics conference in last year in
Czech Republic I'm not sure how it went down I really feel that I've got a lot
more work to do in this um but uh that's that's where it stands
and the audio is that with that synthesis of warrington's theoretical trajectory and biosyntheticians you've
got a synthesis of um um process philosophy the Percy and the
whiteheading process philosophy growing upon other ideas which are consistent with the Challenger and tradition and it
really does overcome that opposition between the humanities and the Sciences by putting narratives right down in
nature as part of life
that's it thank you so much Aaron
Dialogue | Gare & Segal
both for the historical account of uh the sort of
stream of influences that some of us may not have known about and also for the theoretical proposals uh to to move the
ball forward um it strikes me that uh in in Whitehead's
own historical account as as you know um in science in the modern world he doesn't
do justice to or wasn't aware of uh the contributions that shelling made in the
uh early 19th late 18th early 19th century to the kind of process um
philosophy and and philosophy of nature that he himself would take up in the 20th century
um and your work is helping to correct that and
um carrying forward this uh work of archeology that that you're
doing I've also been trying to cement shelling in in the lineage of process
philosophy um to point out the continuity there I think it helps illuminate what
shelling was doing to compare him to Whitehead and vice versa so there's so many so many questions I
could ask you and there's there's a very active um conversation in the chat that hopefully
I can draw from as well I think my first question for you would be in regards to uh Pythagoras and
pythagoreanism and the role that mathematics plays in
metaphysics um it seems to me that for Pythagoras and the pythagoreans there was not yet
this sharp bifurcation between say the quantitative and the qualitative and
that uh the pythagoreans obviously felt there
was a very close connection between number and music for example yeah uh and
the idea of ratio as a relationship um that in some sense was was an
aesthetic relationship a Harmony as it were and that the meanings of numbers had to do with these types of
relationships and it was not the kind of calculative quantitative form of
mathematics that we might be more used to in the modern world and so I wonder if there's anything salvageable in the
Pythagorean tradition I don't know you have to salvage that because you have to
appreciate just how important the development mathematics was development of their understanding of the world the
problem is to avoid that permittian and tendency so amenities was really strong
influence but Pythagoras and if you think about principle of sufficient
reason he conclusion he came to understand the world through mathematics is this just one little change and
difference and so on or Illusions since then I defended that pointing out the um paradoxes when you do give a place to
change and you can't make sense of it um you look at the atomas and they were saying okay well how can we have the
appearance of change um with Humanity so what they said there's a whole lot of community and
ones that move in relation to each other so you've got the atoms and the void and
I was sort of pointed out you know that the boy does nothing how can there be any difficult distance
incoherence to that and you can trace you know all these developments the introductor of the motion is displaced
by telezio was dealing with that problem with Aristotle would argued against the atomas by saying well actually they're
located in space so this place is called an ontological status and it will you
know brilliantly to hear them Newton's philosophy and that's some you know the problematic aspect of Newton's
philosophy that it was so coherent that it becomes really difficult to overcome
um but then yeah Newton sort of said that um spacemith is a sensory of the deity
and through which God was active and so when Maxwell was looking at this defending field there he pointed out
well Newton was really a field he was so it was a vulgarization that ended up
coming to dominate yeah I suppose I can see the line from Parmenides saying that being is to a
view of mathematics as merely logical tautologies um and that there's a there's a need to
uh resurrect I think uh I mean in Whitehead's work you get a more aesthetic sense of the mathematical
realm as uh not detached from Aesthetics
I think and and it's a very powerful um tool but I think we've allowed it to
become the master perhaps and I hear you saying um that semiotics can provide us with a
um a sort of General language in terms of which both the humanities and the the role of
narrative as well as mathematics can begin to to cohere and to be understood
as descriptions of the same universe uh right for providing um you know become the
limitations of the biosemite digital display integrating with the um you know Waddington
traditional Fields I think is really important the notion of fears is really interesting because you know in that
whole debate about compound individuals um various people came up with salute
Solutions one of them I think it was Joseph early argued that you needed to give a place to fields in what's
involved in concretions you know the concretions involving appreciation by you know for occasion of the field
within which it's functioning um and I think that uh I found that pretty appealing I mean I haven't spent
a lot of time working on it but because Washington just used the term feel it seems to me that that's a good thing to
build upon and it's lacking in um in person bio semiotics and I think
you've got the same problem that led Charles hard to want to move from Perth
to Whiter you know you edit it or person's work and found it deficient well you've got the same kind of
deficiency I think in Nebraska's you need to incorporate that um we're at Helium
development but the notion of fields itself that's you know really um customers here so you can talk about
that um you know really complex notion um and Ruth along with um
Stuart Kaufman you know want to give a place to real possibilities
um your potentialities um as part of those fields which I think is the right way to go
so just a few weeks ago at the 50th Anniversary conference at the center for process studies there was a presentation
by Benjamin chica on biosemiotics and
he offered it as a friendly challenge to pan experientialists uh
by arguing that you know we really shouldn't be trying to push experience all the way down but rather recognize it
as emerging at the level of life and that the biosemiticians give us a powerful way of
um of understanding and and and grappling with the role that experience as a kind of interpretation might play
um in the Living World um I've always understood purse to be
like Whitehead um if not a pan experientialist at least a pan semi-auticist in the sense that
sign interpretation goes all the way down and so some kind of um experience if you want I don't know
if purse would use that exact word uh goes all the way down and so when you think about speaking of the limitations
of the biosemiotic Paradigm um do you think that there is
um any is there something important being lost when we are unable to recognize that the phys the pre-living
or non-living physical world is also engaged in activities of sign
interpretation and if that is the case what does that mean about the the extent of experience in in the universe yeah
um I think Perth talked about feeling rather than experience I think that somehow you have to get experience right
at the beginning because um otherwise you just can't account for its emergence and that's where I was saying
that um just the um imminent causation of fields and must imply some something
like feeling and holding the whole thing together um in a very Proto way I like the word
protest that we should have sort of minimize it and then talk about how it might develop
um the um the biocentricians for the most part um I get for a parasymatics being
the beginning of semiasis I mean life beginning the semiasis so some wanted to
extend it through the entire crossbar sign Bria I think I wanted to do that which was reacted to by others who
regarded that as leading people to dismiss it as an unscientific
um I've sort of not really gone into it much
um as far as white as it's concerned you know he was interpreted by some as a parent cyclist
and rejected the idea that he was a Panasonic so that's why people took up the mountain of pen experientialism
um I'm happy with the notion of feeling um and would like to think of experience as a
you know more developed kind of feeling but I haven't really um gone into it much
um living in an environment which is really hostile to these ideas I tend to you know take my stand on positions
where I can most easily defend what I'm arguing for and then build out from
there in the case of um Barbieri you know he's promoting code biology and
very critical of purse um so the paper that I gave in Moscow in 2019 was an effort to defend person by
our semiotics in a way that couldn't be dismissed as somehow unscientific by talking about the notion
of conversation so on that basically I he got me to write a paper for a special edition of
the journal um by assistance then he later on asked me to write another paper and since I
was working on narratives which is related to her musics that was just too
far for him he took my proposal um this is what you've got you know this
this constant struggle and then promoting the notion of narrative I've decided to focus on the epigenesis of
multi-star organisms because I think that's where it is code biology proves to be limited he talks about codes as
being a kind of natural convention you know there's no necessary relationship
between the DNA and the proteins that produce that has to be a kind of rhinot type that kind of mechanism that
transforms the you know the order to get in the DNA into the particular kind of proteins but
a feature of molecular organisms is clearly the ability of the organism as a whole to utilize DNA the same string of
DNA to produce different proteins which you know sort of doesn't fit as characterization of what's going on when
other carefully this work but it's clear that you know it's really weak in that area so that's what I've decided to
focus on um yeah it's it's a difficult
issue um because we both want to recognize and Grant what is unique about living
organisms that's uh not present in the non-living world and yet we don't want to so emphasize that difference that it
becomes impossible to understand how life could have come out of physics and chemistry and there are very few
um approaches that get that balance right I think uh yeah I think it's really important to acknowledge that
distinction between life and one life because we're first with you know working in the global ecosystem and you
think that it's necessary to appreciate that this is some people regard that as soon as
possibly incorrect because it implies some kind of elitism you know aren't really opposed to the
um posthumous but I tend to take an egocentric view um but then appreciating you know the
importance of different life forms is some more sentient than others and humans you know being cultural business
somehow um having a unique status
yeah so one last question for you um thinking more about the domain of
mind and Consciousness there's a lot of talk a lot of concern uh a lot of
um almost hysteria right now about the new chat GPT um AI uh applications and
um some people seem to me to be um um
on the verge of claiming that these that these machines are already in a sense conscious and a lot of this has to do
with the ambiguity of the term information as you were highlighting um because if human beings are
understood is if our own Consciousness is understood as just a kind of complicated information processing then
there's no real huge hurdle for uh algorithms to LEAP in
order to become just like we are um and you know personally I'm less concerned about machines becoming
conscious than I am about human beings who think that machines are conscious yeah um and so I wonder what what what would
you want to um bring into this conversation that's so topical right now
well the brother said right at the beginning you know this effort to add information look at us as information
processing cyborgs has been the prime thing that has to be overcome so that's just part of that whole world view
associated with post-humanism the idea that we should replace humans with machines
um admittedly all of in this book on shrinking the technosphere at a brilliant piece on you know this kind of
thinking how um parents would first of all or people as they got sick would sort of cut off
their heads and have um cyborg better organized cybernetics
bodies and later on that decide that they could download their brains onto computers then they would do away with
the entirely that have children first of all that have children and cut off their heads to begin with to make life easier
and attach them to computers and then later on they'd say all you know the heads a bit problematic will just
relaxing the stupidity of it um I think you know people like rosin
are important for saying what's wrong with that we're thinking you know there's a kind of life itself it just
isn't computable in that way yeah yeah absolutely I mean it seems to
me that while machines are becoming uh more and more capable at mimicking
human language human beings are becoming more and more machine-like uh in our
in our Communications and so uh it says though we're meeting that's a problem well I mean Perth talked about this you
know I talked about when you you said that you know you've got Minds you know there's this feeling and so on and it's
all spontaneity possibilities and then it gets habits when the habits become
absolute then you've got matter and you can see that people are transformed the episodes from one to America and
becoming you know this is associated with managerialism you know controlling people so that they become predictable
cobs in the machine then you can replace them with machines