Jeff Noonan. Embodiment and the Meaning of Life | Review by Prof John McMurtry

This book seeks to explain the meaning of life from a materialist standpoint where it faces its greatest challenge – the certain death of our embodied being. Jeff Noonan lucidly argues across metaphysics and moral and social philosophy for the ultimate meaning, not meaninglessness, of human life created by the limit of certain death. The implicit assumption is that there is no otherworldly life after death, or immaterial God source, or destiny of the individual soul beyond this world or any supra-or-extra-terrestrial meaning.

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A Journey to the Source of Consciousness | Prof Mark Solms | Psychology Today

Reproduced from: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness Here is a 13-point synopsis of a book I published in the U.S. last week: The Hidden Spring. 1. The great 19th-century physiologist Johannes Müller believed that animate organisms “contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things.” Helmholtz, Brücke, du… Read More

The Hard Problem of Consciousness (2021) & The Neurobiological Underpinnings of Psychoanalytic Theory and Therapy (2018) | Prof Mark Solms

This paper sets out the neurobiological underpinnings of the core theoretical claims of psychoanalysis. These claims concern (1) innate emotional needs, (2) learning from experience, and (3) unconscious mental processing. The paper also considers the neurobiological underpinnings of the mechanisms of psychoanalytic treatment — a treatment which is based on the aforementioned claims. Lastly, it reviews the available empirical evidence concerning the therapeutic efficacy of this form of treatment.

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The ethics of complexity and the complexity of ethics | Minka Woermann & Paul Cilliers (2012)

In this paper, we investigate the implications that a general view of complexity – i.e. the view that complex phenomena are irreducible – hold for our understanding of ethics. In this view, ethics should be conceived of as constitutive of knowledge and identity, rather than as a normative system that dictates right action. Using this understanding, we elaborate on the ethics of complexity and the complexity of ethics. Whilst the former concerns the nature and the status of our modelling choices, the latter denotes a contingent and recursive understanding of ethics. Although the complexity of ethics cannot be captured in a substantive normative model, we argue that this view of ethics nevertheless commits one to, what we term, ‘the provisional imperative’. Like Kant’s categorical imperative, the provisional imperative is substantively-empty; however, unlike Kant’s imperative, our imperative cannot be used to generate universal ethical principles. As such, the provisional imperative simultaneously demands that we must be guided by it, whilst drawing attention to the exclusionary nature of all imperatives. We further argue that the provisional imperative urges us to adopt a certain attitude with regard to ethical decision-making, and that this attitude is supported and nurtured by provisionality, transgressivity, irony, and imagination.

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The Virome: A Template for a Regenerative Future | Dr Zach Bush MD

What is the virome and how and why is it produced by the microbiome and human cells? In this 35 minute video, Dr. Zach Bush, M.D. elaborates on critical distinctions pertinent to human and planetary health as we look for solutions to respond to pandemic and endemic viruses. Learn how viruses have made the adaptive and resilient life that is exemplified in the mammals of our epoch, and how the toxins we’ve introduced on a massive scale create extinction level stress on the planet and ultimately destroy the fabric of this life within and around us. Ending the cycle of pollution is key to human and planetary health. Even though it may seem daunting, there is so much we can do to overcome these challenges and co-create a better future for our global community.

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Where is the organism? drifts and other histories in biology and in immunology | Nelson Vaz et. al | 2011

This compilation of essays brings together fundamental reflections on the historical drift of living systems and the immune system. As such, this book – like any foray that makes use of a biological look – essentially deals with organisms and histories. Yes, that seems obvious. Inescapable. And it is at the heart of what is obvious that the texts that follow explain and reaffirm. So, at the same time that we notice the triviality of talking about organisms and histories every time it comes to Biology, we are surprised to realize that the most common way of asking questions in contemporary Biology buries these two concepts. It is because, when presenting an organism that lives crushed between two forces: the first coming from random genetic mutations, and the second arising from the selective pressures of a threatening environment, this official way of raising questions about the natural world creates an organism that is determined and hostage to its genes. So, based on this condition, we talk about information replicators, and pre-formation and adult-centered explanations are accepted, apparently without problems, as shown in the first paragraph of an important book, Darwinian Medicine: “If a DNA strand can code the plans for the adult organism, why are we unable to regenerate a lost finger?” (NESSE; WILLIAMS, 1994); or, yet, statements like the one that appears highlighted in a colored text box in the middle of a recent article in the journal Nature: “It is an intriguing idea that you can peel your genome and reveal your future” (PEARSON, 2008). That is to say, in this explanation centered on the genes, it does not matter the history that happens in the living of the organisms, which, incidentally, there are not even seen as a relevant problem, because they are mere carriers of the information genes and passive responders of cruelty of a natural environment very similar to British society. It seems that the question of “how are organisms reproduced (produced again) each generation” has historically been replaced by a question about “where is the information that is transmitted to the offspring”. One asks for nouns instead of verbs, and with that one answers: “molecules (metaphysics) of life” instead of processes of living. And, with this way of asking, biology arises exaggeratedly focused only on two problems: 1) on the genome of organisms, thus making development unnecessary, the dynamics that would make it possible to explain the dynamic construction of living beings; and 2) in adult living, in which the issues of the struggle for sex and survival can be shown more easily in some specific cases of mammals. Together, these two arguments create a very deep gap between fertilization and the adult individual, already produced and looking for sex and food.

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The origin of species by means of natural drift | HUMBERTO MATURANA-ROMESIN & JORGE MPODOZIS | 2000


In this article we propose that the mechanism that gave rise to the diversity of living systems that we find today, as well as to the biosphere as coherent system of interrelated autonomous living systems, is natural drift. And we also propose that that which we biologists connote with the expression natural selection is a consequence of the history of the constitution of the biosphere through natural drift, and not the mechanism that generates that history. Moreover, we do this by proposing: a) that the history of living systems on earth is the history of the arising, conservation, and diversification of lineages through reproduction, and not of populations; b) that biological reproduction is a systemic process of conservation of a particular ontogenic- phenotype/ontogenic- niche relation, and not a genetic process of conservation of some genetic constitution; c) that a lineage arises in the systemic reproductive conservation of an ontogenic-phenotype/ontogenic-niche relation, and not in the conservation of a particular genotype; d) that although nothing can happen in the life history of a living system that is not permitted by its total genotype, whatever happens in it arises in an epigenetic manner, and it is not possible to properly claim that any features that arises in the life history of an organism is genetically determined; e) that it is behavior what guides the course of the history of living systems, not genetics; and f) that that which a taxonomist distinguishes when he or she claims that an organism belongs to a particular species, is a particular ontogenic phenotype/ontogenic niche relation that occupies a nodal position in the historical diversification of lineages.

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Process Physics: An organismic neo-Whiteheadian physics (International Whitehead Conference 2017) | Jeroen van Dijk

Process Physics is a new way of doing physics that has been developed by Australian professor of physics Reg Cahill and his co-workers. It very much agrees with Lee Smolin’s line of reasoning (2019) that our modeling of nature should be a relational monadology, just as envisioned by Newton’s main opponent Gottfried Leibniz. Smolin holds that a lot of our problems in contemporary physics come from our Newtonian way of ‘doing physics in a box’. This is a way of doing physics which isolates our target of observation from the rest of the universe (including the observer) and then problematically extrapolates its findings to nature-as-a-whole.

In contrast, Process Physics can be characterized as a neo-Whiteheadian, habit-centered, biocentric way of doing physics without a box. It starts out with an initially undifferentiated homogeneity of noisy, self-organizing background processuality which gradually turns out to give rise to an ever-more complex network of dynamically evolving relationships. It does so by setting up a stochastic, self-reference-based modeling of nature in which all self-referential and initially noisy activity patterns are ‘mutually in-formative’ in the sense that they are actively making a meaningful difference to each other (i.e. ‘in-forming’ or ‘actively giving shape to each other’). In this way, the system evolves from its initial featurelessness to then ‘branch out’ to higher and higher levels of complexity – all this according to roughly the same basic principles as naturally developing neural networks or slime mold foraging patterns (Burchett et al. 2020).

Because of this self-organizing and noise-driven branching behaviour, the thus emerging relational network can be thought of as habit-bound with a potential for creative novelty and open-ended evolution. Furthermore, three-dimensionality, (quasi-)classical behaviour, and gravitational, relativistic and inertial effects are spontaneously emergent features within this evolving web of interrelations. Also, the network’s constantly renewing activity patterns bring along an inherent present moment effect, thereby reintroducing time as the system’s ‘becomingness’.

As a final point, subjectivity – in the form of ‘mutual informativeness’ (which is also used in Gerald Edelman’s and Giulio Tononi’s extended theory of neuronal group selection to explain how higher-order consciousness can emerge) – is a naturally evolving, innate feature, not a coincidental, later-arriving side-effect or epiphenomenon.

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Teaching and health: a biological view | Professor Nelson M. Vaz (1999)

Abstract Living systems are structure determined systems. Teaching is never feasible, but learning is inevitable, a comment by an observer about some aspect of the constant changes occurring while life goes on. Teachers are all those who open up spaces for conviviality and allow congruent changes to take place. There are no instructive interactions in nature. Health and the biology of living systems are phenomena studied in different domains. What is healthy or unhealthy for humans, is defined by human culture. As biological phenomena, health and disease are relational configurations of the organism and its medium. From this perspective, individual health is a social phenomenon.

Key words Health Education; Epistemology; Education; Health

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Why Grandmothers May Hold The Key To Human Evolution | Kristen Hawkes | The Grandmother Hypothesis

Consider the hypothesis that increased longevity is a key to the evolution of human life history and other features that distinguish us from the great apes. The Grandmother Hypothesis implies novel challenges for ancestral mothers and infants that favored the evolution of the distinctly human preferences for joint attention that underpin our cultural lives. Anthropologist Kristen Hawkes explores the connections that link our grandmothering life history to men’s status competition, which propels so much in human affairs, including the economic productivity that is a hallmark of our lineage.

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