It can be easy to believe that humans are insignificant. We’re specks of dust on a random planet in a vast universe. Less powerful than elephants. Fewer than ants. But David Deutsch believes that’s all beside the point, because humans possess one unique skill: attaining knowledge. David Deutsch — Oxford professor, father of quantum computing, recluse — convinced Chris Anderson years ago to take over leadership of TED with his ideas about knowledge. In this mind-bending conversation, the two dive into his theory that the potential reach of knowledge is infinite. They explore how knowledge first developed, why it sets us apart and what all of these heady concepts really mean for our present and future.
The central aim of this paper consists in arguing that biological organisms realize a specific kind of causal regime that we call “organisational closure”, i.e. a distinct level of causation, operating in addition to physical laws, generated by the action of material structures acting as constraints. We argue that organisational closure constitutes a fundamental property of biological systems since even its minimal instances are likely to possess at least some of the typical features of biological organisation, as exhibited by more complex organisms. Yet, while being a necessary condition for biological organization, organisational closure underdetermines, as such, the whole set of requirements that a system has to satisfy in order to be taken as s paradigmatic example of organism. As we suggest, additional properties, as modular templates and control mechanisms via dynamical decoupling between constraints, are required to get the complexity typical of full-fledged biological organisms.
This article surprisingly reveals the existence of a very precise spiral rhythm in the emergence of the evolutionary leaps that mark the history of the universe.
The proposed hypothesis is very simple: just as in any musical instrument successive second harmonics (1/3 of the vibrating unit) progressively generate new sounds; these same second harmonics generate all the major evolutionary novelties in universal dynamics as a whole. It is truly surprising that such a simple proposal is found to be precise and categorical when cross-checked against historical data. Let us see.
Fitting our ‘periodic table’ of rhythms to the date of the appearance of matter –the Big Bang– and of organic life, we see that every single instant of the emergence of successive taxonomic degrees of human phylogeny is marked out with utter precision: Kingdom: animal, Phylum: chordata, Class: mammal, Order: primate, Superfamily: hominoid, Family: hominid and Genus: homo! The same then occurs with all the stages of maturation of our primitive ancestors: H. habilis, H. erectus, archaic H. sapiens, H. sapiens and H. sapiens sapiens! Once more, the precision of our hypothesis is repeated in the successive transformations that humanity has experienced in its more recent history: the Neolithic, Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Modern Age and the emergentPostmodern Age! If, as we see it, all these stages resoundingly fit the provisions of the ‘periodic table’ of rhythms that we have proposed, it is more than likely that our hypothesis may also provide the key to glimpse the successive phases yet to be deployed in the years to come in an ever-accelerating process that will eventually lead to a moment of infinite creativity –Omega– within a couple of centuries.
All this is, indeed, unexpected and surprising, but is now almost certain when we verify that the same hypothesis that has behaved with utter precision when applied to the process of global evolution, also does so when cross-checked against the process of development of the individual human being! Within the same time frame, with the same pattern of folding and unfolding, and passing through the same stages, our ‘periodic table’ of rhythms periodically marks out –step by step– the successive phases embryologists, developmental psychologists and spiritual teachers talk of, thus confirming the old idea of phylogenetic-ontogenetic parallelism and pointing very specifically to an astonishing fractal and holographic universe.
It is impossible, absolutely impossible, that all this accumulation of linked “coincidences” –in both the field of overall development and that of individual human development– highlighted in this paper is the product of mere chance. The conclusions that emerge from all this clash head on with many assumptions of predominant materialistic science. Our proposal, which provides a better fit to the presented data, points to the non-duality of energy and consciousness, as posed by many traditions of wisdom. From these pages, we invite all our readers to participate in this emerging experiential and theoretical research in which dazzling prospects can be glimpsed.
Keywords: Crisis darwinism, integral paradigm, alternative hypothesis, divergent-convergent spiral evolution, accelerated rhythm, teleology, singularity, omega point, syntropy, musical harmonics, stationary waves, quantum leaps, evolutive discontinuity, fractal time, holographic universe, big history, macrocosmos (paleontology, anthropology, history), microcosmos (embriology, psychology), ontogeny-philogeny, spectrum energy-consciousness, spiral dynamics, chakras, perennial philosophy, non-duality.
A mathematical basis for spectrum of discrete Electromagnetic Field (EMF) frequencies, that were shown to affect health and disease , was elaborated and generalized . The particular EMF pattern was earlier revealed by us through a meta-analysis of more than 500 biomedical publications that reported life-sustaining as well as life-decaying EMF frequencies. The detected eigenfrequencies could be arithmetically scaled according to an adapted Pythagorean tuning. The particular semi-harmonic scale exhibits a core pattern of twelve eigenfrequency functions with adjacent self-similar patterns, according to octave hierarchy . The mathematical analysis shows that the derived arithmetical scale exhibits a sequence of unique products of integer powers of 2, 3 and a factor √2. These discrete eigenfrequency values can be related to supposed bio-resonance of solitons or polaron quasi-particles in life systems. Bio-solitons are conceived as self-reinforcing solitary waves, that are constituting local fields, being involved in intracellular geometric ordering and patterning, as well as in intra- and intercellular signaling. Additional literature search, revealed very similar frequency patterns in the color spectrum, for wave resonances of nucleotides in aqueous solution, for a candidate RNA-catalyst, as well as for sound-induced vibrations evoked in thin vibrating membranes as reported by Chladny. This collective evidence points at a generalized biophysical algorithm underlying complexity in nature, evidently manifest in both animate and non-animate modalities, coined by us the Generalized Musical (GM) principle. The particular semi-harmonic frequency spectrum may reflect a discrete pilot-wave structure that can be interpreted as a, so called, hidden variable in Bohm’s causal interpretation of quantum field theory and is mathematically expressed as follows:
Although the origin of self-referential consciousness is unknown, it can be argued that the instantiation of self-reference was the commencement of the living state as phenomenal experientiality. As self-referential cognition is demonstrated by all living organisms, life can be equated with the sustenance of cellular homeostasis in the continuous defense of ‘self’. It is proposed that the epicenter of ‘self’ is perpetually embodied within the basic cellular form in which it was instantiated. Cognition-Based Evolution argues that all of biological and evolutionary development represents the perpetual autopoietic defense of self-referential basal cellular states of homeostatic preference. The means by which these states are attained and maintained is through self-referential measurement of information and its communication. The multicellular form, either as biofilms or holobionts, represent the cellular attempt to achieve maximum states of informational distinction and energy efficiency through individual and collective means. In this frame, consciousness, self-consciousness and intelligence can be identified as forms of collective cellular phenotype directed towards the defense of fundamental cellular self-reference.
Reduction of developmental biology to self-referential cell-cell communication offers a portal for understanding fundamental mechanisms of physiology as derived from physics through quantum mechanics. It is argued that self-referential organization is implicit to the Big Bang and its further expression is a recoil reaction to that Singularity. When such a frame is considered, in combination with experimental evidence for the importance of epigenetic inheritance, the unicellular state can be reappraised as the primary object of selection. This framework provides a significant shift in understanding the relationship between physics and biology, providing novel insights to the nature and origin of consciousness.
“Evolutionary research has confirmed that all complex organisms emanate from cellular roots. Further, too, all reiterate through a single cell stage for reproduction. Despite outward appearances, every complex organism remains perpetually attached to an inherent cellular narrative as an intimate co-alignment of mixed cellular ecological units. We are cellular beings, and ever remain thus. Our range of unique human behaviors are therefore derivative, whether manifested as impulsive risk taking or artistic expression. All such human endeavors are our means of exploring a catalogue of necessary information within an obligatory circumstance in which the information upon which we must rely is always equivocal.
Yet, within this complexity, there is hidden unity. Our illusion of singularity depends on the transitory but inseparable conjoining cohesion of all our linked cellular ecologies. And from this emanates the largest Truth: we and the environment are entwined self-similarities. The environment that matters most is not without, it is embedded within our own natural being. And our only sure Truth is our own impermanent and ambiguous transit through this intimate and reciprocating dimension.
Why then is life full of deceptions? At all points in time and for every organism within the informational system that biology represents, the predominating driver is not just access to information, but an active assessment of its inherently equivocal context and quality. Biology’s continuous drama is the struggle to settle a range of unknowns into forms of information that are discretely recognizable as secure. Those actions that sustain us must always travel along that path. It is our simple plight that nothing need be as it seems and, in consequence, our survival is an unceasing battle to overcome inherent untruth.”
In the hard sciences, which can often feel out of grasp for many lay readers, there are “great thinkers” who go far beyond the equations, formulas, and research. Minds such as Stephen Hawking philosophize about the functions and nature of the universe, the implications of our existence, and other impossibly fascinating, yet difficult questions. Stuart A. Kauffman is one of those great thinkers. He has dedicated his lifetime to researching “complex systems” at prestigious institutions and now writes his treatise on the most complex system of all: our universe.
A recent Scientific American article claims that “philosophy begins where physics ends, and physics begins where philosophy ends,” and perhaps no better quote sums up what Kauffman’s latest book offers. Grounded in his rigorous training and research background, Kauffman is inter-disciplinary in every sense of the word, sorting through the major questions and theories in biology, physics, and philosophy. Best known for his philosophy of evolutionary biology, Kauffman coined the term “prestatability” to call into question whether science can ever accurately and precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms. As evidenced by the title’s mention of creativity, the book refreshingly argues that our preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative natures. In this fascinating read, Kauffman concludes that the development of life on earth is not entirely predictable, because no theory could ever fully account for the limitless variations of evolution. Sure to cause a stir, this book will be discussed for years to come and may even set the tone for the next “great thinker.”
Biological evolution is a complex blend of ever changing structural stability, variability and emergence of new phenotypes, niches, ecosystems. We wish to argue that the evolution of life marks the end of a physics world view of law entailed dynamics. Our considerations depend upon discussing the variability of the very ”contexts of life”: the interactions between organisms, biological niches and ecosystems. These are ever changing, intrinsically indeterminate and even unprestatable: we do not know ahead of time the “niches” which constitute the boundary conditions on selection. More generally, by the mathematical unprestatability of the “phase space” (space of possibilities), no laws of motion can be formulated for evolution. We call this radical emergence, from life to life. The purpose of this paper is the integration of variation and diversity in a sound conceptual frame and situate unpredictability at a novel theoretical level, that of the very phase space.
Our argument will be carried on in close comparisons with physics and the mathematical constructions of phase spaces in that discipline. The role of (theoretical) symmetries as invariant preserving transformations will allow us to understand the nature of physical phase spaces and to stress the diﬀerences required for a sound biological theoretizing. In this frame, we discuss the novel notion of ”enablement”. Life lives in a web of enablement and radical emergence. This will restrict causal analyses to diﬀerential cases (a diﬀerence that causes a diﬀerence). Mutations or other causal diﬀerences will allow us to stress that ”non conservation principles” are at the core of evolution, in contrast to physical dynamics, largely based on conservation principles as symmetries. Critical transitions, the main locus of symmetry changes in physics, will be discussed, and lead to ”extended criticality” as a conceptual frame for a better understanding of the living state of matter.
From Jos Leys, Étienne Ghys and Aurélien Alvarez, the makers of Dimensions, comes CHAOS, a math movie with nine 13-minute chapters. It is a film about dynamical systems, the butterfly effect and chaos theory, intended for a wide audience. CHAOS is available in a large choice of languages and subtitles.