Thursday, 24 January 2008

Man is a unified whole of mind-body. In search for the parts that make up the whole.

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts"

The above mentioned quote has been around since the time of Aristotle and is used to explain emergence, as these quotes, suggest, attributed to the pioneer psychologist G. H. Lewes,:

"Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; their sum, when their directions are the same -- their difference, when their directions are contrary. Further, every resultant is clearly traceable in its components, because these are homogeneous and commensurable. It is otherwise with emergents, when, instead of adding measurable motion to measurable motion, or things of one kind to other individuals of their kind, there is a co-operation of things of unlike kinds. The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference." (Lewes 1875, p. 412)(Blitz 1992)"

Emergence was further defined as:

"the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems."(Corning 2002)

and elaborated, to describe the qualities of emergence by this definition in more detail:

"The common characteristics are: (1) radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems); (2) coherence or correlation (meaning integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time); (3) A global or macro "level" (i.e. there is some property of "wholeness"); (4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and (5) it is "ostensive" - it can be perceived. For good measure, Goldstein throws in supervenience -- downward causation." (Corning 2002)"

The ideas mentioned can be used to think further in matters concerned with the ongoing monism vs dualism dispute. The connection of mind and body as it is evident by the following quote:

"Corliss Lamont rightly contends that the fundamental issue is the relationship of personality to body, and divides the various positions into two broad categories: monism, which asserts that body and personality are bound together and cannot exist apart; and dualism, which asserts that body and personality are separable entities which may exist apart. Lamont is convinced that the facts of modern science weigh heavily in favor of monism, and offers the following as scientific evidence that the mind depends upon the body:

- in the evolutionary process the versatility of living forms increases with the development and complexity of their nervous systems
- the mind matures and ages with the growth and decay of the body
- alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs can affect the mind
- destruction of brain tissue by disease, or by a severe blow to the head, can impair normal mental activity; the functions of seeing, hearing and speech are correlated with specific areas of the brain.
- thinking and memory depend upon the cortex of the brain, and so ‘it is difficult beyond measure to understand how they could survive after the dissolution, decay or destruction of the living brain in which they had their original locus.’ (page 76)

These considerations lead Lamont to the conclusion that the connection between mind and body “is so exceedingly intimate that it becomes inconceivable how one could function without the other … man is a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body so closely and completely integrated that dividing him up into two separate and more or less independent parts becomes impermissible and unintelligible.”[1]

The idea of the individual as being a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body has to looked at, from the perspective of 'the whole is more than the sum of its parts' concept, as both modes of inquiry, reductionist and holistic, in collaboration will provide answers to the ongoing problem.

Though science has built up a case of hard facts to defend its stance than the dualist side, however is short-sighted and downright ignorant to dismiss whatever has been with us, in individual and collective level, since the dawn of humanity and continues to be with us all along. Certainly what is for science to examine is not tangible and hard to configure but there is bound to be something to work on.

Ways of approach can be provided by following the perspective of strong emergence, as someone can surmise by reading the following quotes:

"Mark A. Bedau observes:

"Although strong emergence is logically possible, it is uncomfortably like magic. How does an irreducible but supervenient downward causal power arise, since by definition it cannot be due to the aggregation of the micro-level potentialities? Such causal powers would be quite unlike anything within our scientific ken. This not only indicates how they will discomfort reasonable forms of materialism. Their mysteriousness will only heighten the traditional worry that emergence entails illegitimately getting something from nothing."(Bedau 1997)


"the debate about whether or not the whole can be predicted from the properties of the parts misses the point. Wholes produce unique combined effects, but many of these effects may be co-determined by the context and the interactions between the whole and its environment(s)." (Corning 2002)"

Along that same thought, Arthur Koestler stated,

"it is the synergistic effects produced by wholes that are the very cause of the evolution of complexity in nature" and used the metaphor of Janus to illustrate how the two perspectives (strong or holistic vs. weak or reductionistic) should be treated as perspectives, not exclusives, and should work together to address the issues of emergence.(Koestler 1969)"


"The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe..The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear. Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry. We can now see that the whole becomes not merely more, but very different from the sum of its parts."(Anderson 1972)"

Consciousness, a force?

Consciousness manifests something that is going on. Something that stirs up and creates states, world states. A force that materialises by attentive brain function. Brain function an operation that involve processes. Processes are dynamic, they continuously develop and evolve. They are driven as physical quantities constantly take up new values. Varying within ranges, they are variables and as they drive processes along are considered as forces.

Mental processes are dynamic driven by physical quantities acting on brain mechanisms identified by neuroscientists, but not only. Is consciousness, the outcome of mental processes, a force, at par with the other fundamental forces in nature, or derived by a fundamental force or a pseudo-force, a fictitious force?

It is well documented in quantum physics that:

"While the spin of an electron is always up or down when you measure it, it does more adventurous things when you don't."

Measurement an application of our observing powers, a mental activity, a thinking process, the projection of our thoughts, our consciousness to the external world.

Are these not the traces of force? Does this not implicate consciousness? Consciousness can therefore be regarded as a force. Taking that stance we might be able to explain a lot of related and unrelated problems seeking solutions. And not only the fundamentals of reality, the quantum and classical worlds, but even problems that each individual faces in its everyday life course and even exotic problems which stand detached from the concept of reality we know and accept. Find it acceptable.

Monday, 7 January 2008

'Holistic' programming? Is it a base to make sense how our brain and mind work?

"Is the brain 'massively parallel'? Is the brain a computer? Is the self an illusion? Some ideas have an appeal that gets them widely adopted in spite of their inherent unlikeliness."

Triggered by 'surely not?' website.

The brain is a processor. It processes events in the world. Processor or processors irrelevant at the moment as well as parallel, massively parallel or serial.
Quoting from the contents of the website:

"Each processor typically has its own memory and operating system; where the activities of the different processors overlap, the relationship is carefully managed so that they do not have to remain in step, and this requires careful prior programming."

Can we , in any way possible, talk about programming in the brain? Right now, a 'programming' I could think of, is the 'holistic'; some sort of programming based on the holistic approach.

"This does not seem to me even remotely like the way the brain is organised, so far as we understand it. There do not seem to be any good candidates within the brain for the role of processor (neurons are surely too simple) ..."

It is simplistic as an argument as well, in the attempt to build a case against the thought to treat the brain as a computer. The feeling of abhorrence in entertaining such a vile thought takes over, muddles up thinking and deters a more sober approach to the whole issue.

With regards to the neurons and their function in the brain, we should take into account their organisation as reverberated cell assemblies mentioned by John Holland. At the moment there is no need to elaborate of what the processor might be. It suffices to say that components of a brain processor might be the reverberated cell assemblies or groups of them.

Our brain sees the whole, our mind makes a whole while using our 'in-control' consciousness. We always assume that we see the whole picture since both our brain and our mind follow the same 'holistic' programming albeit our 'in-control' consciousness is not as efficient as our brain as it does not have direct access to the brain mechanisms, its access is only indirect via our 'out-of-control' consciousness, and its efforts to emulate brain operations are clumsy. Treats disparate parts as a whole, oblivious to the fact that there are either parts still missing, or parts falsely attributed to the whole, and in the process is making a fool of its carrier.

How can we fathom the holistic premise? Are there any maths which attempt to explain how 'the whole is more than the sum of its parts'? Any such maths might provide the base for elucidating the rules of how 'holistic' programming works. A start would be, by looking at John Holland's mechanisms in agent based systems. How simple rules by being endlessly repeated create enormous complexity. The constrained generating procedures a result of simple mechanisms.

In my mind the holistic premise is what makes the difference and it works in ways I can not explain. But I do abide to the idea that my brain knows better than me, and I follow its cues. It is why I made a copy of this web page to have at hand as what it contains it fitted a (or the) whole. It is part of. It did not happen by chance, it happened because it fitted a whole.

What 'whole' or to what effect still to be decided.