On The Move
Registered: Jan 2005
Who invented such clumsy language to refer to systemic behavior? Ugh!
Despite that, Peter, yours was a clear overview, answering lots of my questions, so thanks. I would suggest that 'complexity' is an adjective applicable to a system, rather than a system in it's own right, however.
Indeed, once we translate 'attractor' for 'self-interfering, self-regenerating system' I don't think anyone disagreed with anything I've said (yet). Since 'attractors' as herein described qualify as systems in their own right, I'm curious if that's standard terminology, or if 'NKS' is kind of casual about certain words.
However, you point about steady states in the brain didn't address my question; are those steady states static, or dynamic? In physics, all seemingly-static items are actually a seething, self-interfering self-regenerating interaction of forces; a system, and from the apparent functional definition of 'attractor,' a complex one.
In the standard QM model, any entity can be treated as a collection of photons that we experience as 'stuff' because they develop into 'attractor' states; the positve and negative feedback, the positive and negative (or left-right. or up-down, etc) forces, all balance, within a minimal level of tolerance required to 'keep it together.' That's why it can push back when you push it, right? It's not just sitting there, it's constantly passing messages/forces.
My point about synergy remains; that's what 'complexity' means, since the *existence* of attractors is the 'tell' - that's how you know you are dealing with a complex system; something emergent occurs, that you can't predict from just the known elements. That is the definition of synergy.
You wrote: "Systems quickly settle into a new steady state after a disturbance"
I fear this is an extreme oversight, mistaking the operation of mind for the operation of the universal 'substrate.' I still fear that process physics is doing the same thing.
We are only able to perceive systems - those attrator states displaying a repeatable pattern - and further, can only do so within a fairly narrow range of frequencies, as Gershom points out. Our primary 'substrate' by which to explain our experiences must be those experiences themselves, not the objects we imagine causes them. NKS still inverts that relationship, and hence can never qualify as a 'paradigm shift.' That the oversight appears as an ambiguity, rather than a contradiction is an indication of how close NKS really is to the real situation.
Your statement looks like selection-bias to me; because you can only experience humanly-tunable systems, and via our bodily or other technological systems, you evidently think that all events are systems, but nothing could be further from the truth.
All *knowable* events certainly are systems, and there is some value to suggesting only those should be, or can be, subject to our consideration and efforts.
When you said "These steady states each correspond to the activation of particular combinations of neurons" you claimed almost the opposite. What we consider 'steady' depends upon our recognition of a pattern of experience, not a particular set of neural activation. A pattern in time, not in geometry. A frequency, not an angle.
Your description is a fair one, for referring to the activities of brains; the collection, sorting, storing, and recall of experiences.
But there's something missing as a description of the activities of mind; comparing those patterns, for the purposes of developing new ones requires the intentional application of the synergy principle....which gets glossed over, in NKS, as 'emergent,' which is no better, as a quantitative conceptualization, than ignoring it, as 'regular' science does.
You also said "attractors occuring at the higher levels dependent upon the nature of the attractors occurring at the lower levels" in your description of organisms, and I think that might be too strong a claim.
At some level all attractors/systems have the same nature, making your claim a tautology. "Needs water, proteins and motive power" applies to all levels of human activity, from DNA on up.
In those aspects by which they differ, I don't think such differences have any affect outside the realm of the interactions which keeps any one system stable. IOW, the way the system/attractor keeps it's integrity on *this* level has almost nothing to do with how a larger or smaller system/attractor keeps it's integrity. *Whether* the smaller systems keep their integrity certainly does matter!
A proton, for example, does not have it's structure changed by any chemical (electronic) reaction. Likewise, there is no type of light or material you can throw down a black hole that will break it. But electrons are hardly involved in nuclear interactions, and almost everything tossed into a black hole gets broken. There are always such anti-symmetric relationships involved when you talk about ensembles of attractors/systems.
Referring to the body, the way your musculature keeps things steady is different than the lipid interactions which keep cells alive, even if those muscular tensions ultimately derive from those lipids. Likewise, the ecologic and symbolic interactions which make each of us part of a community, even if those symbols or decisions happen in the realm of lipids or electrons.
Perhaps I should have just asked; what's the difference, in NKS, between an attractor and a system?
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